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Archive for September, 2018

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to The Quiet Knitter for another Celebrating Indie Publishing! The book in the spotlight today is Ed’s Dead, a wonderfully dark and thrilling crime read from one of the wittiest and skilled authors Scotland has to offer.


Book Feature:

Book Description:

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“A high-octane read.” – Maxim Jakubowski 

Meet Jen. She works in a bookshop and likes the odd glass of Prosecco… oh, and she’s about to be branded The Most Dangerous Woman in Scotland.

Jen Carter is a failed writer with a rubbish boyfriend, Ed. That is until she accidentally kills him one night. Now that Ed’s dead, she has to decide what to do with his body, his drugs and a big pile of cash. And, more pressingly, how to escape the hitman who’s been sent to recover Ed’s stash. Soon Jen’s on the run from criminals, corrupt police officers and the prying eyes of the media. Who can she trust? And how can she convince them that the trail of corpses left in her wake are just accidental deaths?

A modern noir that proves, once and for all, the female of the species really is more deadly than the male.

My Thoughts & Review:

Russel D. McLean is an author that I’ve had on my radar for a while, but never quite got round to reading, a fact that I am so glad that has been changed now.

Jen Carter is really having a tough time, her relationship with boyfriend Ed is toxic, she no longer wants to be in a relationship with him and somehow ends up killing him one night. If that wasn’t complication enough, she then has a body to dispose of and the unexpected bounty of cash and drugs, oh, and evade the hitman sent to collect the debt owed by Ed. Things are a mess around Jen, and just as she thinks life is calming down, bodies start to mount up around her.

With a pace that doesn’t let up, this is a brisk and caustic read. The colourful characters make this such a cracking read, the humour and subtle wit that are woven throughout the dialogue really grab the reader, making this a book you do not want to put down. There were moments reading this that I found myself thinking things couldn’t possibly get worse for Jen, things couldn’t possibly get more murky and then McLean swiftly leads the reader on a merry wander down a dark alley, littered with danger and corruption.
The descriptive quality of the writing makes this an incredibly immersive read, you cannot help but be able to envision the settings in this book.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it’s dark, it’s witty and it’s a cracking read!

You can buy your copy of Ed’s Dead via Amazon UK

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Karnas Wheel Cover

** My thanks to the publisher and to Anne at Random Things Tour for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Secrets present. Secrets past. Secrets in India, where Stephen’s grandfather is a lowly functionary in the engine room of the Raj. Secrets at home, held tightly by Stephen’s half-Indian, half-Scottish mother. Only by uncovering what has been hidden can Stephen win Julia, a woman with secrets of her own… 

Set in St Andrews, Scotland before the millennium; among the early-Twentieth century jute mills of Dundee; in the industrial underbelly of colonial Calcutta and on the epic plains of ancient India, Karna’s Wheel is a poignant story about love, inheritance, and the things which make us what we are.

‘Karna’s Wheel is compelling, multi-layered and beautifully written.’
Chris Given-Wilson, shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2017.

My Thoughts & Review:

Karna’s Wheel is a book steeped in history, with a narrative that switches between different times and settings. The story follows Stephen as he searches for his history and to make sense of the line that passed before him.

Initially I found that I took a while to settle into this book, it’s the kind of book that deserves your full attention and needs it, the detail that’s woven throughout the narrative makes this such a immersive read.
The characters really bring this story alive, each of them so vastly different and playing such an important role in the lives of those connected with them. Their decisions and actions impacting on so many people and at the same time giving a lesson in history and life, especially the Raj. The exploration of the characters is something that really stands out about this read and one that probably left quite a lasting impression on me.

Descriptions of the settings are so crisp and vivid, the language used evokes clear images of the periods, and no matter how vastly different Dundee and Calcutta are, they both felt so impressive, so detailed, so terrific.

I have to say that after reading this, I really wanted to find out more about jute trading and the connections between Scotland and India. Don’t you just love it when a book inspires you to start looking for knowledge? Something sparking an interest you didn’t know you had.

You can buy a copy of Karna’s Wheel via Amazon UK

 

 

Karna's Wheel Blog Tour Poster

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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

DI Alec McKay is back.

Jimmy McGuire, a washed-up comic, is found dead on the streets of Inverness, his body garroted. Back in the 1990s, McGuire had been half of a promising double-act until his partner, Jack Dingwall, was convicted of rape.

Soon after, a second corpse is found in an abandoned industrial site on the edge of the Moray Firth. The body has been there for some days and has also been garroted. The victim turns out to be a former musician turned record producer, who had also been the subject of rape allegations.

Meanwhile, DI Alec McKay and DCI Helena Grant are still wrestling with the fallout from one of their recent cases following an acquittal.

As the body count rises, the police think they have the killer in their sights. But McKay is concerned that the evidence is too neat so when he realises there will be a final victim, he fears that time is running out …

My Thoughts & Review:

Having thoroughly enjoyed the previous books of this series, I was pleased as punch to find out that the author had written a third novel featuring the wonderfully sarcastic Alec Mckay. But my real excitement was the thought of a trip back to Inverness and The Black Isle with the author. He has a fantastic way of describing settings and locations that give the reader the full technicolour experience.

As with any series, I would recommend reading the books in order as it will make more sense and explain the sequence of events and links between characters. The book opens with DI McKay and his boss DCI Helena Grant discussing a previous case, the whys, the wherefores and the things to avoid happening again. But running alongside this police procedural tangent is a narrative of a woman who seems frightened, unsure about the situation she is in and her travelling companion. And if that wasn’t intriguing enough, the reader is also given a glimpse into the mind of the first murder victim, Jimmy McGuire as he meets his end.

Taking great care to link back to the previous books, Alex Walters gives readers answers and conclusions for things that happened in the first two books, but, and I really want to stress this point, he somehow makes sure that readers who pick up Their Final Act to read as a standalone will be able to dive straight in with sufficient details to explain the previous case and links between characters without bogging it down.
Although, I still have one niggling question unanswered … will there be a fourth book in the series that might answer this? Or will this be one thing that we never find out about?

Plotting is topical, the themes give readers plenty to think about. And as the story progressed, I found that I was trying to piece together the clues to work out who might be behind the killings and why, but as always, Walters only gives you so much information to work with, ensuring that when you do reach the end of the book, you’re stunned!

You can by a copy of Their Final Act via Amazon UK

 

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Today I am thrilled to welcome you to my post to celebrate another brilliant book from Bombshell Books, an imprint of Bloodhound Books specialising in women’s fiction, chick-lit & romance. The book in the spotlight today is The French Escape, which was published on 20th September 2018.


Book Feature:

Description:

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It’s fair to say that Flick has had a terrible year. Her beloved father died, she had the wedding of her dreams and only hours after the ceremony her husband ran out on her. 

Brenda, fed up with her daughter living like a hermit, decides to drag Flick off to France to stay in a chateau. What could be better than an idyllic escape?

But when they arrive Flick discovers the chateau is all but abandoned.

The only upside of her French escape is the handsome and mysterious neighbour, Nate.

Nate loves his life living in the cottage on the grounds of the abandoned chateau but that is about to be put in jeopardy…

Can Nate and Flick ever learn to come to terms with the past and find love again?

 

Description:

Having enjoyed Suzie Tullett’s previous books, I was thrilled to find out that she had a new book coming out! There’s something really lovely about Suzie’s books, maybe it’s the way that she writes, maybe it’s the way she creates her characters, or maybe it’s just the book I need at the time, but each of her books has been a delight to read.

Readers meet Flick as she and her sleeping mother are on their way to a mysterious French holiday destination, well mysterious for Flick as her mother hasn’t really given her much detail other than where to programme the satnav for. But when they arrive, Flick is astounded, they are staying at a chateau, albeit one that looks in need of a massive overhaul, but breathtakingly beautiful.
Interspersed through Flick’s story, is narration from Nate, someone who has a history that he wants to keep securely locked away and likes living in the relative remoteness of the woods.
Both of these characters has their own struggle, they are trying to rebuild their lives and find a way to move forward. I think it was Nate’s story that was the most intriguing, what secret is hiding in his past, why doesn’t he want to be recognised?

The wonderful descriptions of the settings and the food are simply wonderful, the chateau sounds so full of character and the icy cold shower sounded like such a shock to the system! I could almost see the picturesque views, the market in town, it just all came to life from the pages.

Aside from Flick and Nate, there are some really fun and quirky characters in this book, each of them so very different from the other, and I will admit there were ones I took more easily to than others. Brenda, Flick’s mother, bless her heart, just wants the best for her daughter. And as a mother I could sympathise with her, I could understand why she would do whatever it took to make her daughter happy, her methods might not be the most straightforward, but she has a heart of gold. Julia was another character I liked, always there to pick up the pieces for her nephew, always there with a word of wisdom or dole out a sharp reminder that life isn’t easy.

The French Escape is a lovely romantic comedy, it has the great “will they, won’t they” element to it, it’s the sort of escapism that you want from a book. A good story, great characters and enough mystery to keep you hooked!

Highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of The French Escape via Amazon UK

 

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the tainted vintage

 

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

 

Description:

In the small Czech town of Vinice the mayor has been found dead in his wine cellar.

Detectives Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky are called to the scene and soon realise that despite appearances, Mayor Slansky’s death was most definitely not from natural causes.

Almost immediately, the close-knit community closes ranks to try and brush the unexplained death under the carpet with the minimum of fuss.

Dvorska & Dambersky are drawn deeper and deeper into secrets that many hoped would remain buried forever and they’re forced into pursuing an investigation where their own lives are put in danger.

The Tainted Vintage is the first book in a wonderful new series set in and around The Czech Republic, an area rich in history, literature and culture that still remains largely unexplored by contemporary crime fiction fans.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I picked up this book I didn’t expect that it would be such an enjoyable and engaging read, something about the setting, the characters and the plot instantly grabbed my attention and held my attention captive.

I have to admit that The Czech Republic isn’t a setting that I am overly familiar with when it comes to books, and can’t actually think of any recently that I’ve read that even have characters travelling there, but will say that authors are missing a trick! What a fantastic location and the way that Blanchard brings it alive, the landscape, the history … it all becomes so vivid.

The story line is one that inspires intrigue, the town mayor discovered dead in his own wine cellar and everyone apart from the detectives is happy to believe a heart attack was the cause. Paired together are the most unlikely of detectives Jane Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky, who are determined to investigate the matter and find out the truth. But this pairing works, they make for great detectives and I look forward to meeting them in future novels.

History is something that plays an important role in this plot of this book, and I will say that it is written in a way that really gives the reader pause for thought. Tracing back to the war, there are crimes buried in the histories of characters that shock not only those around them but the reader too.

Well written, well paced and a great start to what looks to be a very exciting series!

You can buy a copy of The Tainted Vintage via:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

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** My thanks to the wonderful Karen at Orenda Books for my copy of this book and Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of the blog tour**

 

Description:

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story … with a tragic heart.

My Thoughts & Review:

If there’s one author you need to read it’s Louise Beech, this wily wordsmith has a unique gift when it comes to crafting a beautifully evocative tale that will capture the heart of readers.  You will often hear people throw the phrase “this is the best book yet” when they read the latest offering from an author, but in this case I truly believe that The Lion Tamer Who Lost is Louise’s absolute best book yet!

Without rehashing the plot, I will say that this is an incredibly moving and poignant read that flows beautifully.  The characters are so vivid and real, you can feel their anguish, their frustration, their happiness and become so invested in them, they become part of you.
This is a love story like no other and it draws emotions from the reader in a way that I cannot explain.  It was likened to the sort of book that brings on a therapeutic cry, a bit like the way that Beaches starring Barbra Streisand never fails to make me weep, and I found that whilst reading this I went through an entire box of tissues.

The most exquisite thing about Louise’s writing is that she portrays emotion and the fragility of it so sympathetically, so understandingly, but with a frankness that does not shy away from the magnetic pull of it.

If you want characters that you can take into your heart, a plot that carry you off to the wilds of Zimbabwe and back again, and writing that will take you on an emotional journey then this is the book for you.  I cannot recommend this highly enough!

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final.jpg

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** My thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The tattooing world is one I am familiar with, and so the plot of this book immediately appealed to me. The idea that a serial killer is out there, removing inked artwork from the bodies of his victims, leaving the police no idea why or for what purpose absolutely grabbed my attention and had me frantically racing through the pages to find out more.

This is quite a dark and addictive read, there are certainly chapters that you feel that you cannot put the book down after reading, definitely a case of “one more chapter” …
Characterisation is good, there are plenty of interesting personalities to keep readers glued to the book and I think there are a couple that will appeal to the audience. Marni Mullins, who discovers the first victim instantly appealed to me. There was something about her that struck me as damaged but strong, like she had rebuilt herself and was determined not to crumble or fall apart again, even though things around her were hellishly messy.
And we can’t have a book with a serial killer without mentioning them and their dangerous and depraved ways! Belsham writes the perspective of the killer so frustratingly well, little snippets of information breaking free in the narrative but never enough to give away the identity. This is a killer who will stop at nothing until his mission is complete, he knows what his goal is and doesn’t plan on making any silly mistakes to give himself away. He is meticulous in his methods and not afraid to get his hands dirty (probably a good thing really, skinning people would get a wee bit messy I’d think).

Alison Belsham has written a very impressive debut, it’s dark and gritty and has a plot that will keep readers hooked and slightly disturbed.
Just to be on the safe side, I think I will keep my tattoos safely under my clothing for a while … just in case.

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Overkill Cover

 

** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan for my copy of this book and Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.
A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that this author is a new name to me, but when the description of the book is as intriguing as this then you just have to dive straight in! There is something quite refreshing about discovering a new author, you have no preconceived notions as a reader about their writing style, their characters or what the plot may hold. This journey of discovery was an enjoyable one, being able to watch the characters evolve seeing the plot twist and weave around on itself in ways you find inexplicably exciting and with such an explosive and emotive opening, this was a book that held me captive!

Symon has a wonderful writing style, her vivid descriptions of settings conjured such crisp images in my head, I almost felt that I was able to see Mataura, smell the farms, feel the closeness of the small community… it all flows so beautifully from the pages. However, Symon’s talents don’t stop here, she takes great effort and time to create a cast of characters that readers instantly feel a spectrum of emotion towards. From the murder victim and her family, to the local Mataura police constable Sam Shephard, I think I went full circle with shock, sadness, confusion, anger, disbelief and surprise. Sam is delightfully sarcastic, her humour is peppered throughout the narrative, providing a welcomed lightness to an otherwise dark thriller. Her tenacity is matched by her honesty, which can at times be a downfall for her, but this in turn makes her endearing to readers. This is a character I would very much like to meet again!

There is an incredibly “real” feel to this book, the issues at play in the plot are ones that impact on many: love, hate, fear, honesty and secrets. The way that the plot pulls together is superb and leaves you with a satisfying conclusion. Now I just have to hope that there are more books lined up with Sam Shephard …

You can buy a copy of Overkill via:

Amazon UK
Orenda Books eBookstore
Waterstones

Overkill Blog Tour Poster

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For today’s post on Celebrating Indie Publishing I am thrilled to share a review of a book that has been much loved since we discovered it earlier in the year. If you’ve followed The Quiet Knitter, you might have seen the review of the first book of the Teacup House series in July 2018 and I am pleased to say that it’s time to share the review of book two.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Stevie’s mum is having a party, so she’s baked a delicious cake for all the guests.

Stevie’s tiny toy rabbits, Silver and Fig Twitch, would love a taste of its yummy purple icing.

How will they get their paws on some?

It’s time for an adventure outside the Teacup House!

 

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

After falling in love with the Twitch family in Meet The Twitches, I quickly ordered a copy of the second book of the series for my mini bookworm so that we could continue with our fun filled adventure with the rabbit family of the Teacup House.

Picking up from their adventure in book one of the series, we catch up with Stevie and her mum as they prepare for a party to introduce themselves to their new neighbours. But when the toy rabbits are involved, you just know that there will be fun, laughter and daring missions.

As the title and gorgeous cover suggest, there is a cake involved in this tale. And what  cake it is! The purple icing is enough to lure the two youngest T

witches into a daring mission across the kitchen, weaving between obstacles to get enough icing for a cake of their own.
Whilst Fig and Silver are on their adventure, readers find out a little more about Stevie. She’s still not 100% sure about living in the country, life is much different from the city and she misses her friends. Meeting the new neighbours brings much apprehension for Stevie, and it seems that the adults are still making plans about her and for her without asking her what she thinks.

As with the previous book, Meet The Twitches, the illustrations are bright and crisp, they bring the story to life and compliment Hayley Scott’s writing perfectly. Being able to see the wonderful cake, the way that Fig and Silver make their way around the obstacles in the kitchen make this a truly magical read and had us in fits of giggles as we read.

We cannot wait for the third book in the series which is due out in October, The Twitches Meet a Puppy!

You can buy a copy of any of the books in the Teacup House series via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

About the Author:

Hayley grew up in and around Berkshire and after a short stint in magazine publishing, her boss encouraged her to apply for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA where she gained a Distinction. In 2006 she won an Escalator Award from Writers Centre East and a Grant for the Arts to write her first novel, Jar Baby (Dexter Haven, 2012).

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Another Rebecca Cover

** My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

A gripping psychological family drama about Rebecca Grey, a sensitive girl who’s spent her childhood caring for her alcoholic mother, Bex. They lurch from one poverty-stricken situation to another until Rebecca is hospitalised with exhaustion. While there, she has an illness-triggered hallucination which entangles her deeper than ever into her mother’s psyche. As an art student, Rebecca can’t understand why she is repeatedly impelled to paint a white horse in a blue landscape. And then there is the boy with yellow hair who she glimpses from the corner of her eye.

Bex’s life was frozen by a shocking tragedy when she was nineteen. Her ‘great grief’ caused her to make a decision which nobody must ever find out about. Rebecca has been implicated in her mother’s lies since the moment of her birth, a fact that her father, Jack, has no inkling of.

As Rebecca gets to know her father’s new family, the gap between her and her mother widens. The mystery of Bex’s dark past comes into focus when an old woman she has never met contacts Rebecca, claiming to be her grandmother.

The thunder of hooves is getting closer for both Rebecca and Bex and the blond-haired boy is more and more often in Rebecca’s dreams. Can Bex continue to keep Rebecca in the dark about the circumstances of her birth, or will the final twist in her tail set Rebecca free to make a new life of her own?

Adapted from a short story written by the author when she was an art student, Another Rebecca was inspired by the painting There is no Night by Jack B. Yeats.

My Thoughts & Review:

This was a book that veered away from my usual reads but seemed to grab my attention when I heard about it.

Told from the perspectives of three characters, Rebecca and her parents, readers are taken on a journey through the years of the family, building up a clear picture of these people and their lives. In the beginning I was a little confused, the opening chapter is a little different from what I’m used to, snippets of what seems to be dreams and thoughts from an unravelling mind but it’s worth sticking with the book, the reward is a unique and thought provoking read.

By using narration from differing perspectives, readers can glimpse into the mindsets of each character, make some form of a connection with them and their plights and glean some understanding of each of them. Whilst not all characters will appeal to readers, there are times where you find yourself sympathising with each of them whilst reading.

This is a poignant tale that delves deep into the fragility of family and the connections of the members. The topics covered in this book make for interesting reading, mental health and addiction are complex ones and they are well written by the author.

You can buy a copy of Another Rebecca via Amazon UK

 

As part of the blog tour, there is a giveaway running to win either a paperback copy of an ecopy of this book, so be sure to check out some of the other stops on the blog tour for your chance to win.

Another Rebecca Blog Tour Poster

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