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Archive for December, 2019

As Christmas draws closer I thought it might be nice to feature a Christmas book in the spotlight. Today’s book is Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea by the lovely Rachel Griffiths.

  • Title: Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea
  • Author: Rachel Griffiths
  • Publisher: Cosy Cottage Books
  • Publication Date: 15th November 2019

Copy purchased via http://www.amazon.co.uk

Description:

This winter, curl up with the new festive novella from the author of The Cosy Cottage Cafe series.

Driving around unfamiliar country lanes, while enduring the scorn of her teenage daughter, wasn’t how Pippa Hardy thought she’d start the Christmas holidays, but her satnav seems to be more confused than she is.

Joe Roberts has had a difficult year following the loss of his mother. Added to this, he’s trying to run his own business while dealing with pressure from his sister about when he’ll finish renovating their mother’s house. So when his best friend, Luke Hardy, invites him to a remote Welsh cottage to join his family for Christmas, it seems like the break he needs.

Christmas at a cottage by the sea sounds appealing, but sometimes having all the people you care about together in one place can be a festive recipe for disaster — especially when unexpected guests arrive.

As snow falls, carols play and Pippa and Joe face the ghosts of Christmas past under the mistletoe, they realise that there might actually be more than festive magic sparkling between them.

My Thoughts:

There’s something so lovely about grabbing a book by one of your favourite authors, and as soon as I hear that Rachel Griffiths has a book due out I have a pre-order in. I was absolutely thrilled to see Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea pop onto my Kindle last month, but I did have a sneaky preview of this book in my role as a proofreader over at Noble Owl Proofreading.

Pippa Hardy is a character that many readers will connect with, she’s a wonderfully kind and compassionate character that cares deeply about her family and friends. Being a mum, sister, daughter, friend … her time is spent putting everyone else first. So this Christmas, with her daughter being that little bit older, Pippa can look forward to a break and relaxing. Finding an old friend joining their family gathering makes Pippa falter, but that’s not the only expected guest to appear.

A Christmas tale usually needs laughter, mishaps and love, and Rachel Griffiths gives her fans all of these and more! I laughed at the way things played out, I gasped in shock when revelations were uttered and I smiled so much while reading this story. The wonderfully rich details woven throughout make this such a treat for readers, the atmospheric setting comes alive through Rachel’s writing, you can smell the mince pies that are baking, you can see the delights in the farm shop and the Christmas market … she has such a way with words that you feel you’re there, watching the story play out right in front of you as if it were on a TV.

If you’ve read any of her other books, you will know that there’s a cosy loveliness that emanates from the pages, and in Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea, Rachel Griffiths manages to pull together characters that are genuine, and relatable, some may well remind you of your own family members. Their lives reflect a lot of what we have going on around us and seeing them struggle and find a course to follow is ultimately heartwarming.

It’s fair to say this book is also a wonderful escape from the festive madness of shopping, wrapping, cooking … it’s the perfect accompaniment to a hot mug of cocoa, tea or coffee, one warms the stomach and the other warms the soul.

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  • Title: The Blood Acre
  • Author: RJ Mitchell
  • Publisher: Matthew James Publishing Ltd
  • Publication Date: 12th September 2019

Copy received from damppebbles blog tours for review purposes.

Description:

Fresh from his exploits in The Shift, Constable Angus Thoroughgood finds himself assigned to Community Policing in the crime-ridden Briarknock area of Glasgow — an area known for its horrific drugs problem, violent petty crime, and unemployment. It’s also home to The Creepers, a notorious team of housebreakers whose reign of terror must come to an end.

However, it’s not just The Creepers that Thoroughgood must contend with. Working with his partner Harry Currie, the Scottish detective must battle corruption within the force and work to stop a plot that would destroy cities across the North of England, discovering a fabled piece of Glasgow criminal folklore along the way — the Blood Acre.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that this author and his series were entirely unknown to me when I first heard about The Blood Acre, something about the description appealed to me and I wanted to find out more.

Short chapters mean readers move quickly through the pages as the story unfolds. The setting was well described by the author and he clearly knows his way around Glasgow, bringing it alive on the pages for his readers to experience. This coupled with the atmospheric writing really made the book quite a vivid read, especially when it came to the crimes that were committed and the investigations of them. You just have to look at the opening chapters for the level of detail you can expect throughout. These scenes were fascinating and so intriguing. I can’t say that my knowledge of safe-cracking was ever extensive, but after reading this, I feel like I understand better what they do in the films with the plasticine looking stuff and how delicate they need to be with the other compounds they use.

Although this is part of a series, I found that I was able to read this without having read the previous books. I got to know Thoroughgood and his partner Harry Currie through the narrative and witnessed the dynamic between them, and watching them work together made for an interesting read.

I do love seeing local dialects popping up in the narrative, it adds a sense of the location and is often a wonderful tool to bring the characters to life. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that will sit and try to work out how certain words will sound in the accents from the book … so it was great to see that here, although I do wonder if readers may have some difficulty translating them/ navigating around them as some Scots words can be a little tricky.

About the Author:


Robert James Mitchell was brought up in Stirling. Mitchell was initially detailed beat duties out of the former Blackhill Police Office and then Baird Street Police Office in the former ‘D’ Division, or the North, as it was known to all the men who served in the division. In January, 2007, while recovering from an appendicitis, Mitchell decided to write the first draft of ‘Parallel Lines: The Glasgow Supremacy‘, drawing heavily on his own experiences and featuring the characters of Detective Sergeant Gus Thoroughgood and DC Kenny Hardie.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spitfiremedia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rjmitchellcrimewriter/

Website: https://rjmitchellauthor.co.uk/

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I’ve decided to make today a Celebrating Indie Publishing day, sometimes there are just so many brilliant indie books that I won’t have a chance to squash them all in on Fridays. So I’m sharing a review of a book I discovered by chance. Today’s post sees a delve into the world of a historical novel, WWII to be precise. The book in the spotlight is The Knife-Edge Path by Patrick T. Leahy, published by Amsterdam Publishers in 2019.

  • Title: The Knife-Edge Path
  • Author: Patrick T. Leahy
  • Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers
  • Publication Date: 6th December 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Driven by destitution in war-torn Berlin, a beguiling woman is cornered into accepting a precarious role in espionage to keep from being thrown out on the street.
As Geli Straub becomes the seductive Mlle. Simone Miroux, on orders to discover whether SS officer Kurt Langsdorff is all he seems to be, her plot to betray him falters on conflicted feelings. Drawn past the point of no return into his life, she cannot sell him out.
How, then, is she to save him without shedding the identity of the woman who deceived him, and on whom her life depends?

My Thoughts:

All too often espionage tales feature a lead character that goes deep undercover, risks everything for the good of their country … willingly. But The Knife-Edge Path is different, here we have a protagonist who is left with little choice but to take on a guise and act as a spy for the SS.

Geli Straub plays a dangerous game when she “agrees” to become Mlle. Simone Miroux for an SS officer to spy on one of their own. Asking favours of her new SS friend is dangerous, and initially she thinks nothing of using her connections for information, cigarettes … whatever it is that she might need. However, the life of a double agent is a precarious one, never knowing who’s watching and if everyone is who they say they are. For Geli/Simone this is only one aspect that is making life difficult. Whether as Frau Straub or Mlle. Miroux, she is a target of suspicion, her motives are questioned and her life is in danger.

Delving into the world of WWII espionage, the author takes readers on a journey filled with intrigue and danger as his characters face perilous situations and risk everything for what they think is right. As she gets to know SS officer Kurt Langsdorff, Simone Miroux sees there’s a side to him that is at odds with his SS facade and develops feelings for him that she knows she shouldn’t have, clashing with her mission and potentially putting everything as risk.

The writing is everything I would look for in a book set in this era, crisp details of the characters and their lives, the unnerving feeling of danger lurking ahead, the harrowing details of atrocious acts carried out in the name of the Third Reich and above all, it’s hugely emotive.

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Celebrating Indie Publishing today sees a review of Heleen Kist’s latest book, Stay Mad, Sweetheart, a thought-provoking read that has readers shouting and cheering in equal measure.

  • Title: Stay Mad, Sweetheart
  • Author: Heleen Kist
  • Publisher: Red Dog Press
  • Publication Date: 13th November 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

There’s a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.

Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.

But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?

My Thoughts:

Heleen Kist is a hugely talented writer who never shies away from the harsh realities and uncomfortable truths. In Stay Mad, Sweetheart, Kist offers readers a glimpse into the world of a devastated friend who will utilise every skill she has to track down those responsible for tormenting her best friend online, and ultimately pushing her to commit suicide. Cyberbulling is something we are becoming more and more aware of in recent years, and so seeing how data scientist Laura approaches her investigation is fascinating, her frustrations at things never being straightforward or easy are understandable and realistic.
But Laura isn’t the only character that readers follow, the narration comes from the perspective of Suki, another hugely intelligent character. Through Suki, readers see another side of Laura, the side of a client who is frustratingly busy and unable to engage in the discussions necessary for the successful conclusion of the biggest deal of Suki’s corporate financial career. And there’s also Claire who is trying to pull off a conference, against impossible odds, and juggle things as best as she can to prove she deserves a promotion and the recognition that comes with all of her hard work. The lives of these three women are linked, and like many women they face hostility, discrimination and sexism.

Through her writing, Heleen Kist ensures that readers are engaged constantly, but they are also furious and horrified at what they read. The characters are ones that many will connect with, will perhaps recognise from their own circles of friends or family, but most importantly, these characters are ones that readers cannot help become invested in.
The plot is emotive, immersive and utterly compelling. It forces readers to think and has them pondering the dangers of social media, the ramifications of mob mentality when it comes to the frenzied activity we witness across the various platforms. It reminds us that sexism and bullying exist in many workplaces and situations, and it is totally unacceptable.
Revenge and justice are vastly different, and there is a fine line between them. In chasing for justice, what happens when you become so focused that it borders on obsession? When do the actions of the pursuer become unacceptable and too like those they are pursuing? Kist throws so many questions to her readers, asking them to stop and think about everything they read and look around at the world around them.

A hugely engaging and powerful read, one that I think will have people talking for quite some time, and would be perfect for book groups.

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