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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Barbara Henderson’s latest novel Wilderness Wars, an eco thriller set on a Scottish island. And if this wasn’t brilliant enough, Barbara has also written a guest piece for today’s stop on the tour “The Supernatural in Wilderness Wars”.

Wilderness Wars Ebook Cover with Quote

** My thanks to the lovely folks at Cranachan Books and Barbara Henderson for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take par in the blog tour **

 

Description:

What if nature fights back?

Still in a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.
And, far in the distance, a misty outline.
Skelsay.
Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.
And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em, and her friend Zac, realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can Em and Zac persuade the adults to believe it before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit to being a huge fan of Barbara Henderson’s writing, I have been since I read her first book Fir for Luck. There’s a richness in the words that she skillfully weaves together to paint a vivid picture of the story playing out before your eyes.
Like in each of her books, strong characters come to life from the pages and lead readers on a merry adventure through the book.

Em is a young lass who has moved with her family, and several other people to an uninhabited island named Skelsay with the plan of building a luxury hotel and holiday resort. Immediately I felt a connection with Em, something about this feisty young girl made my heart soar with pride. She’s not too happy about the family’s move, she wanted to stay in Glasgow, not move to a remote island, especially not to cramped living quarters or being cooped up with her annoying little brother so much. There’s something in Em’s personality that readers will be able to connect with, she struggles to comprehend the adult world and the decisions they make at times. Whilst she’s not an adult, she does have the makings of a mature head on her young shoulders, demonstrating that she can understand the importance of doing or saying the right thing at times.

As you might expect from the description of the book, the atmospheric setting plays a very important part in the tale. The vivid imagery conjures a bleak yet intriguing landscape and as the construction work gets underway, it’s not hard to envision the various changes to the surroundings. The way that nature takes on a sinister edge makes this such a gripping read, is the wilderness really turning on the construction workers and their families? Is this all in the imagination of Em and her new friend Zac?

The plotting is exciting and the intrigue interwoven throughout makes this the sort of book that you want to race through to find out how it’s all going to come together, find out what lies ahead. It’s a truly remarkable novel and one that I would heartily recommend to readers old and young.

You can buy a copy of Wilderness Wars via:

Cranachan Publishing
Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

Guest post by Barbara Henderson:

Unbelievable!

A supernatural eco-thriller? For children?

It’s not the genre that would spring to mind when scanning through the 9-12 Market, the readership most likely to read and enjoy my books. Does it need a supernatural element at all?

For large chunks of Wilderness Wars, nothing supernatural happens at all – The workforce moves to the island and spend time setting themselves up as a community: tidying and arranging and organising their lives. Beginning to form a routine. The mishaps and accidents, at the beginning at least, feel utterly commonplace, as if the islanders are simply beset by a little bit of bad luck.

But bad luck on its own does not make for a compelling story. It’s simply not enough. Barry Cunningham, the publisher who famously gave a wee manuscript called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone its first break, has said that the single most important feature he looks for in a story is ‘a formidable opponent’.

There are one or two characters who might fall into this category, but the core idea of the novel ‘What if nature fights back’ requires that the wilderness itself become the opponent, the threat, the one who has it in for my characters.

It is a formidable enemy: Weather, land, sea, plants and creatures unite in my book in a single purpose: to force the tiny workforce of construction workers and their families off this island once and for all. This requires a considerable jump in the imagination: I am asking the reader to suspend their disbelief, and to accept that the whole of the natural world can co-ordinate itself to fight back, to draw the line, and to say: this far and no further.

And yet, is a simple enough concept, and one that readers, so far, have engaged with pretty readily. Just like in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, where the liquid turns a range of colours and the transformation into the monster simply happens. Readers aren’t giving scientific facts: they are given an outcome, and the outcome is the only thing which matters.

The only other flash of the supernatural in Wilderness Wars is Em’s vision. She has a vivid dream of the worst possible outcome, if the adults do not agree to leave the island. Step by step, the various of her vision appear in real life, and she now understands the inevitable destruction which awaits. It sets up the final climax of the novel, a life and death sort of jeopardy which, I hope, propels the reader forward.

Without the supernatural component, it would be a story of predictable morality: look after your environment, respect the wilderness. Yawn, yah-de-yah – a lecture book with no drama.

On the other hand, with the terrifying concept that you have incurred the wrath of the whole natural world around you, it becomes a tense survival story, a chase, a war. There are battle lines and strategies, and ultimately, a final showdown. It delivers all the lessons and provokes all the thinking the boring version would, but subtly hidden within A BARRAGE OF DRAMATIC LIFE AND DEATH ACTION.

I know which version I’d rather read!

 

About the Author: rpt

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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As it’s Friday I am delighted to share another post with you to celebrate independent publishing.  Today’s post features a book that is so different from any other I’ve read recently.  The book in question is Orchard View by Deborah Miles, and Deborah has kindly taken some time out to answer some questions about the ups and downs of being an author.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house.

Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace.

“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision.

But had they?

His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Orchard View intrigued me from the moment I heard about it, the book suggested a puzzling mystery and a tale quite different.

Have you ever read a book where the setting has felt like a character in the story? It seems to take on a persona that comes to life through the narrative? Well in this book, the house at the centre of the tale, Orchard View takes on a leading role. Interestingly readers get to “hear” the thoughts of the house as various events take place over the years and this really adds something different to the book and made it stand out to me. The old saying “if these walls could talk” really comes into play when you see the house wishing it could speak up about the bones that are discovered early on in the story.

The story is told through a series of recollections of the inhabitants of the house and those connected with it. The really interesting part for me was that the house seemed to have strong opinions of the people and most definitely a favourite family. To keep the stories linked, Miles uses the voice of the house and the presence of the neighbour next door, so that no matter what year it is in the story and which residents are staying in the house there is always something to connect them.
It’s pretty true that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and you might not always know your neighbours as well as you might think, and this book really reinforces that notion.

It’s quite hard to review this book without giving anything away, there are things I would love to point out about characters or the way that the plot weaves together but that might inadvertently give something away! I will say that the characters are well thought up and there may or may not be ones that get under your skin, have you wanting to shout and have you wondering about them. This is the sort of read that I found impossible to put down and once I’d finished reading it, it was still running through my head.

You can buy a copy of Orchard View via Amazon UK

 

 

Author Feature:

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Author bio & image courtesy of Amazon UK

Deborah Miles is married with three grown-up children and lives in Kent.

She has worked in banking, tourism, education and social services, and has hosted international students for over 30 years.

Her interests include: genealogy, self-improvement, home computing, web design, D.I.Y/gardening, pen friends and writing.

Deborah is independently published and created the imprint Against the Flow Press for her first novel, Orchard View.

Deborah always enjoys hearing from readers!

 

 

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

I find writing can be very therapeutic. It’s great to get my frustrations down on paper and then turn them into fiction that others might enjoy reading. I love creating my characters, and sometimes I get so attached to them that I change the storyline for them.  I also love finding ways to kill them, and my Google search history is quite alarming!

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

I have a story in my head at the minute, but current events in my personal life are preventing me from sitting down and writing it, and what I have got down on paper so far, is not what I wanted to write. I’ve got a couple of issues with the plausibility of the story. I have discussed my storyline with a solicitor friend, and she came up with a completely different, legal way of achieving what I wanted to do in the story, but somehow that isn’t working for me. I feel like I’m banging my head at a brick wall, trying to get the story written the way I want to write it.

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

Ask me this question on another day, and you’d probably get a different answer. Today it would be Donna Siggers’ novel Broken. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and some scenes and characters are still playing on my mind.  It’s the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait for Part 2. I considered answering A Good Night’s Sleep by Stefanie Simpson, but despite it being one of the best indie books I’ve read, it’s a tad racy for my pen.

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

I was recently given a Fitbit, and spend a lot of time walking on the spot whilst reading ebooks on my tablet. It looks silly as it sounds, and I don’t really like anyone in the room while I’m doing it, but I’ve lost 11lbs so far so that’s got to be good for me.  When not writing, I review books on my blog, againsttheflowpress.blogspot.co.uk. I am currently enjoying novels by other indie authors, but I read traditionally published books too.

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

I suppose I would have to answer ‘yes’ to this question. I like a calm, neat and tidy area to work in. Ideally I want to be on my own in the house. Even the cat can be a distraction! The room I work in is also important. Last year I moved my desktop into the den at the front of the house, but found I didn’t like that room. It felt wrong and stifled my creativity. So I moved it back, and immediately felt my creative juices flow again. I must have my housework jobs and other tasks done before I can sit down to write. I suppose that is my way of clearing my mind of any potential interrupting thoughts.

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

My next book has a working title of The Legacy. I am writing the back-story for the deceased at the minute.  Basically it’s about greedy relatives expecting an inheritance. There are a number of murders committed by someone who hopes to increase their share of the estate and a twist of the tale at the end. In Orchard View, I tell readers upfront who the killer is, but I haven’t decided yet whether or not to reveal the identity of the killer at the beginning this time.

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

My debut novel is called Orchard View. Without giving too much away, it tells the story of a house and its various occupants from 1960 through to 1996. Orchard View is the name of the house and I see the house with strong female characteristics – maternal, nurturing and protective. She has her own voice in the story, and comments on some of the situations that occur. The story begins in 1996 when the current owner, a builder, finds some human bones in the garden.  We learn quite quickly the identity of the killer, and what happens to the builder, and others, as a consequence of his find. I don’t think it’s too dark, but it does underline that we do not know our neighbours as well as we might think!

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

Consider reading something by an indie author. There are some truly gifted writers out there who are not traditionally published. And, if you like what you read, then help them out by leaving a review, or at the very least a rating.

 

Social Media Links:

Blog: http://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahMiles7
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/againsttheflowpress/

 

A huge thank you to Deborah for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing and sharing her thoughts about writing. I have to admit, I have been known to march on the spot when I’m doing the ironing or cooking, although I’ve not tried it whilst reading … yet!

 

 

 

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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

Harriet has begun to despair of her life.

With a failed relationship behind her, a business on the rocks and a flat that’s falling apart around her ears, she could really use some luck.

Elena Banbury, née Guseva, an elderly but imposing Russian woman who is Harriet’s neighbour and landlady, frequently entertains the punters at Harriet’s jewellery stall with tales of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the treasures of Fabergé. But Harriet sometimes feels, guiltily, that she could do without the endless errands that seem to fall to her as Elena’s friend.

Then, unexpectedly, when Elena dies, she leaves all her worldly goods to a grateful Harriet. In time, however, it becomes clear that others are shocked by Harriet’s good luck, too. Shocked… and very, very unhappy.

Challenged in court by Elena’s family who live in Berlin, Harriet is forced to give up her inheritance and long-dreamed-of plans for a new business, and start her life again. But with her reputation in tatters and the memory of Elena tainted, Harriet knows a great injustice has been done.

Against the advice of her friends, family and lawyers, Harriet sets off on her own, very singular journey to Berlin.

In the weeks that follow she meets rich and poor, the glamorous and the criminal, the honest and the secretive, and begins to see that perhaps she has something to learn from them all. Something to learn about herself, and something to learn about her priorities.

She knows she has to fight for justice. But, when she meets the scholarly, perceptive Neil, who generously tries to help Harriet in her mission, but who is struggling with a complicated marriage, she must also decide if she’ll fight for love, too.

My Thoughts & Review:

A Single Journey is a character drive novel that weaves together tales from differing timelines. The book opens in 1933 with Elena and her mother fleeing Paris, fearing the dangerous Russians who had already killed her father, before moving to modern day London where readers meet Harriet.

Elena from the epilogue became an old woman that delighted and entertained the customers at Harriet’s jewellery stall, helping to turn curious glances at pieces into sales, or making sure that prices left Harriet a little room for profit. Elena’s tales from her Russian childhood often making for a fascinating back story on a piece of jewellery for sale.  Sadly, it’s only upon Elena’s death that Harriet finds out more about this woman she knew of as her landlord and friend, not realising just how much she had meant to her.
Harriet inherits Elena’s estate which is a huge surprise for her and those around her, but Elena’s family in Berlin are not happy about this turn of events and soon take matters to court, forcing Harriet to give up the inheritance.
Picking up the pieces of her life after this humiliation, Harriet heads off to Berlin, chasing a mystery. And what she discovers changes how she sees things, her determination to see justice done and do the right thing leads her out of her comfort zone but it makes for an interesting read.

The historical details woven throughout the tales certainly make this quite an intriguing read and I have to admit to being fascinated by some of the things I read. The harrowing
events make for compelling reading.
Well defined characters really help readers get a good grasp on the plot, and whilst there are numerous characters, the author has taken the time to ensure that they stand out to the reader. You get a good feel for the personalities that are part of this book, which I think makes this such an enthralling read.
Pace wise, I would say that this is more of a “slow burn” type read, but it works well with the mystery element of the plot.

You can buy a copy of A Single Journey via Amazon UK

 

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Friday’s seem to roll around so quickly, and that’s never a bad thing when it means that it’s time to share a review of another great book from an independent author or publisher. This week is the turn of Death Rope by the wonderful Leigh Russell.
Death Rope was published by No Exit Press on 26th July 2018.

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** My thanks to Katherine at No Exit Press for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

THEY SAY SUICIDE. SHE SAYS MURDER.

Mark Abbott is dead. His sister refuses to believe it was suicide, but only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel will listen.

When other members of Mark’s family disappear, Geraldine’s suspicions are confirmed.

Taking a risk, Geraldine finds herself confronted by an adversary deadlier than any she has faced before… Her boss Ian is close, but will he arrive in time to save her, or is this the end for Geraldine Steel?

My Thoughts & Review:

I think it’s safe to say that I am a huge fan of the Geraldine Steel series by Leigh Russell, and having discovered this series part way through, I wasted no time in catching up with the previous books.
Death Rope is the eleventh book of the Geraldine Steel thriller series and it’s a cracker!
Mostly told from the perspective of the detective, readers soon become swept away with the investigation of the death of Mark Abbott, what initially looked like a suicide is soon unearthed as murder and makes for a complex, head scratcher of a case.

For me, the magic in Russell’s writing comes with the clever characterisation that she weaves into her books. It never fails to impress me that each character is so real, so different and so unique. The various personalities seem to jump off the pages as you read, and you find yourself thinking of them as “real” people.
Not all of the key players in the plot are identified straight away, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this would make it hard to follow. Leigh Russell is a master at creating several separate strands to her plot, revealing small details that are just enough to give readers a glimpse at another aspect of the plot and making them wonder how it all links up. I really don’t want to say anything about the plot

As always with Leigh Russell’s writing, there is nothing gratuitous and the power of suggestion is used well. The way that tension simmers away throughout the book is key, readers are aware at times that something is very wrong, and there is an undercurrent of unease bubbling away all the time regardless of the focus being on the investigation or Geraldine’s personal life.

Whilst this is the eleventh book in the series, I would say that you can read this as a standalone. There is enough detail to keep readers in the loop of past stories without bogging down fans of the series, but I would recommend reading the previous books to fully appreciate the character and the cases she’s worked on.

You can buy a copy of Death Rope via:

Amazon UK
No Exit Press (Publisher)

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** My thanks to Mel at Mirror Books for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

When the bound, hooded corpse of an unidentified man is found propped up against a gravestone in the central cemetery, Axel Steen is assigned the case.

Rogue camera footage soon suggests police involvement and links to the demolition of the nearby Youth House, teeming with militant far-left radicals. But Axel soon discovers that many people, both inside and out of the force, have an unusual interest in the case and in preventing its resolution.

With a rapidly worsening heart condition, an estranged ex-wife and beloved five-year-old daughter to contend with, Axel will not stop until the killer is caught, whatever the consequences. But the consequences turn out to be greater than expected – especially for Axel himself.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve been on a bit of a Scandi crime appreciation spree recently, watching some fantastic Norwegian TV and reading some impressive books, so it seemed like a natural choice to pick up a copy of this to read.

Unrest is a Danish police procedural which features maverick detective Axel Steen, a man who it seems on the face of things is very troubled. A seriously disturbed sleep pattern sees him turning to regular use of cannabis, but this never seems to help stave off the erotic dreams he has about his ex wife. His waking hours are spent baiting and taunting his colleagues and superiors, missing his five-year-old daughter and fearing death. His choice of home is perhaps not the best when riots erupt in the district of Nørrebro. From his home, he has a view of the area as fire breaks out, protesters rally and all hell breaks loose. A phone call brings him into the middle of the danger zone, a body has been discovered in the local cemetery and worryingly, the body of the deceased wears the same guise as the autonomists rioting in the streets.

Steen’s methods are unorthodox to say the least, and he’s not looked upon favourably by his superiors, being reminded by the police chief that he’s on his final warning several times. But somehow, this roguish ways make him quite an appealing character. Readers will feel an affinity with him, he wants answers, he wants to solve the case regardless of the dangers. The juggling of his career with personal life makes for some tricky times for Steen, bringing his young daughter to the morgue so that he can attend a post mortem in one instance, trying to ensure that she has cartoons to watch whilst he attends a less appealing sight.

The writing is superb, there is a real sense of setting with wonderfully vivid descriptions. Tensions of the riots feel so claustrophobic and the danger so real, which makes for quite an unsettling read … I loved it! The clever plotting means that the reader experiences an investigation that is methodical and complex against a backdrop of political unrest with some great characterisation.

Unrest is the first in the Axel Steen series and I really cannot wait to see what happens in the next books.

You can buy a copy of Unrest via:

Amazon UK

UNREST_blog tour 2018 (V2)

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** My thanks to Black and White Publishing & Netgalley for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Having recently read and enjoyed The Italian Chapel by the same author, I eagerly picked this book up to read.

Set in Scotland during WWII, the reader is immediately immersed in the lives of some truly special characters. The Ross family soon become figures you connect with, each of their separate personalities springing from the pages as you watch them going about life on Kirk Farm in the Highlands. The impending departure from their farm leaves each member of the family feeling bereft. The entire local community pulling together to help harvest the crops, soon realise that there is more work than they can cope with, and it is decided that the Italian POWs billeted nearby could help with the work to be done.

In amongst this story of people pulling together, there is a wonderfully intriguing tale of someone not being as truly honourable as they might seem. Someone is out to undermine the good work and war effort, a spy lurks within the community and it’s not long before events turn sinister, changing the lives of so many people.

The human element to this book is what makes it stand out for me, there were several times that I felt my emotions threatened to run away with me whilst reading this. In more than one instance I was very aware of the tears running down my face as my heart went out to the characters in this book. Paris has a great skill of creating characters that feel so real and authentic, even when there are personalities that are less than wholesome, you cannot help but feel some empathy towards their plights.

As with the author’s previous books, the attention to detail is superb. Vivid descriptions of settings and scenes bring the story alive and give the reader the feeling that they are there in the moment. You can feel the chill of the night, the cramped farmhouse and hear the rumble of the tractors.

Highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of Effie’s War via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

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** My thanks to Finn at HarperCollins for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Play with fire and you get burned…

A gripping crime thriller, from a new star in British crime fiction. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin.

Five men burnt alive.
In the crippling heat of August in Rome, a flat goes up in flames, the doors sealed from the outside. Five illegal immigrants are trapped and burnt alive – their charred bodies barely distinguishable amidst the debris.

One man cut into pieces.
When Detective Inspectors Rossi and Carrara begin to investigate, a terror organisation shakes the city to its foundations. Then a priest is found murdered and mutilated post-mortem – his injuries almost satanic in their ferocity.

One city on the edge of ruin.
Rome is hurtling towards disaster. A horrifying pattern of violence is beginning to emerge, with a ruthless killer overseeing its design. But can Rossi and Carrara stop him before all those in his path are reduced to ashes?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Despite being the second book in the Detective Rossi series, I was able to break my own rule about not reading books out of series order. For those that want to follow the series, the first book A Known Evil was published earlier this year. I should say that A Cold Flame does read well as a stand alone book, but to get fuller picture of the characters and their backgrounds I wonder if it might be a good idea to have read the previous book first.

There are so many things that I want to say about A Cold Flame, the plot in particular, but this is definitely a book that you do not want spoilers for. It’s the sort of book that it’s better to go into blind and allow the momentum of it all carry you off.
I would say that this is an intriguing, and well written novel. The characters are multilayered and feel realistic.  Plotting feels very current and with the different strands to it, there is plenty to keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats.
Conway writes some incredibly detailed descriptions of settings and sights, which in turn allows readers to “see” and “experience” things through his characters, even down to the details of holding a gun, it all seems so striking.

Short chapters keep the pace of this brisk and whilst the pace does slow a little in the middle of the book, it is necessary to allow the audience to take stock of what has occurred so far and ready them for what happens next.

On the whole, an interesting and exciting read that will keep readers guessing.

 

About the Author:

Aidan Conway was born in Birmingham to Irish Parents and has been living in Italy since 2001. He holds an MA in Irish Writing from Queen’s University Belfast and has been a bookseller, a proofreader, a language consultant, as well as a freelance teacher, translator, and editor for the United Nations FAO. He is currently an assistant university lecturer in Rome, where he lives with his family. A Cold Flame is his second novel.

Blog Tour - cold flame

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Description:

Hellcorp sparkles like a blood-black diamond. Satan’s got his work cut out in this darkly comic crime tale. A cracking read! – Mark Leggatt

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

My Thoughts & Review:

After featuring the author of this book on Celebrating Indie Publishing last week, I was so curious about his book that I just had to read it! Who doesn’t like a bit of dark humour with their crime? I certainly do, and was thrilled to see that this book definitely hit the mark.

The Devil is a fantastic character and the most unlikely detective, but detect he must in order to prove himself to God and legitimise Hell before taking a much needed break. It would appear that The Devil isn’t the only smart thinking one around, God tasks him with a challenge that proves to be less than straightforward. But to make matters trickier, The Devil is cast into human form, an injured one at that, and ends up in hospital in Glasgow. Thankfully he encounters Dr Jill Gideon, the Terry McCann to his Arthur Daley, well it would seem that she is the one that keeps him from getting into some serious trouble at times.
What then follows is one of the funniest, madcap reads of this year. The scrapes they end up getting into make this such an entertaining read and you cannot help but laugh out loud in places whilst seeing logic in what The Devil says and agreeing with him.

Whitelaw’s style of writing makes this such an enjoyable read, it’s clever and funny with just the right amount of dry wit added in for good measure. Both Dr Gideon and The Devil are brilliantly created characters, they work well together and remind me a little of the main characters in the TV show Lucifer.  And even though he’s the bad guy, you can’t help but like him, there’s just something relatable there.

A quirky and enjoyable read, and one I would highly recommend.

You can buy a copy of HellCorp via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

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I am bursting with excitement today as it’s time for another Celebrating Indie Publishing. Friday never seems to come round quick enough, the day I dedicate to screaming from the rooftop about the great indie publishers and authors, and today I am delighted to share a review of a book that’s firmly reserved it’s place on my top books of the year list!

The book in the spotlight today is … The Italian Chapel by Philip Paris.  It is published by Black and White Publishing in March 2018.


Book Feature:

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Description:

Orkney 1942. Forbidden lovers, divided by war, united by a secret act of creation.

Amid the turmoil of the Second World War, a group of Italian prisoners is sent to the remote Orkney island of Lamb Holm. In the freezing conditions, hunger and untold hardships of Camp 60, this ragtag band must work together to survive.

Domenico, a talented artist, is among them. He inspires his comrades to create a symbol of peace during these dark days of war, and out of driftwood and scrap they build the Italian chapel: a beacon of hope and beauty in a world ravaged by war.

The chapel soon becomes a place of love, too. When Giuseppe, another POW, falls for local woman Fiona, he decides to hide a token of his love there . . . the secret of which is unveiled for the first time in The Italian Chapel.

Based on an incredible true story, this heartbreaking and inspiring tale tells of forbidden passion, lifelong friendships and the triumph of the human spirit.

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This is such a beautifully written tale that calls out to the heart and soul of readers, there’s something so deeply moving in the way that Paris has taken the story of the chapel on Orkney and brought it to life with some exquisite writing.

I loved the way that the author took the time to lay a steady foundation for his characters, giving the reader an opportunity to get to know these POWs, see the volatility of the situation they were in and the struggles that faced them as they learned to adapt to their foreign surroundings.  The work undertaken by the POWs on Orkney was on an epic scale, creating foundations and building the causeways that would later link the islands of Orkney together.
The real special aspect of this is that some of these personalities are based on men who were there at the time, giving readers a wonderful personal link to the events taking place.  I appreciate that Paris took the time to include notes at the end of the book to let readers know what happened after the war to the men mentioned (where possible).

The story of how the chapel came into existence is a special one and I have to admit that I’ve always admired the chapel and it’s beauty but never actually looked into the history of it, never taken the time to appreciate the significance of it and I am forever grateful to this book for highlighting the story and the work of the team of men behind it.  Whilst part ficionalised, the story recounts the hard work and skill that was necessary to create this beautiful chapel.  The human element to the story is what really pulls the reader in, feeling a connection with characters and their lives really makes this stand out and feel so real.

Philip Paris has a wonderful way of bringing his writing to life, the descriptions of the chapel, artwork and people really conjure vivid images whilst reading this, and after reading this I did go and look up the chapel online to see more images to fully appreciate the intricate and awe inspiring details.  The inclusion of the detail of Palumbi’s iron work had me feeling a lump in my throat, his love of a local woman driving him to leave a lasting memento behind.

Such a special story, written with sympathy, sensitivity and attention to detail.  And one I would highly recommend.

You can buy a copy of The Italian Chapel via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

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Description:

Meet the Twitches, four tiny toy rabbits who live inside a Teacup House.

They belong to a girl called Stevie and she loves playing with them. But guess what? These toy rabbits have a secret. They come alive when Stevie isn’t looking!

Open up the Teacup House – and meet four little rabbit heroes with big ideas!

My Thoughts & Review:

This was a book that I first saw on Twitter, the buzz pre publication from the author had me intrigued and once I looked up more information on the book I knew it would be the perfect book for my little bookworm for adding to her bookshelves.

Meet The Twitches is a delightfully charming tale about a young girl named Stevie who we first encounter in her flat in the city, she is unhappy that her life is being packed up in preparation for a move to the country.  The arrival of her favourite grandmother, Nanny Blue, brings much happiness as well as a very interesting box for Stevie.
The box contains the most wonderful surprise, a teacup house, complete with little garden, wee front door and lots of rooms for the inhabitants of the teacup house.  Only there are no dolls in this house, instead there is the Twitch family.  A family of four little bunnies, Gabriel, Bo, Fig and Silver who come to life whenever Stevie isn’t looking.  The Twitch family are inventive, exciting and utterly wonderful characters.  Beautifully bright and crisp artwork bring the tale alive, providing some fantastic images from the story, especially when it comes to the enterprising inventions of the eldest of the Twitch children.  The mishaps and mischief that is occurs makes for a delightful read and coupled with the lovely illustrations this is the perfect book to share with your children.

The book is aimed towards readers aged five and over, it would probably be a good stepping stone into books with chapters and little more to read after moving on from picture books.  We read a chapter or two at bedtime and were breezing through the book in no time, the temptation to read on once the little one had fallen asleep to see what would happen was almost too much once or twice.

We enjoyed this book so much that I preordered the next book in the series as soon as I heard that it was available.

A magical and exciting tale that takes readers (young and old) on a journey and reminds them to enjoy the little things around them, like a teacup house or fried egg sweets.

You can buy a copy of Meet The Twitches via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones
Wordery

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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