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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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** My thanks to the folks at HarperCollins for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

My Thoughts & Review:

Billed as being a book that fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale might like, this is step into a dystopian America in the not too distant future. A future that sees the freedom of speech severely restricted for those possessing XX chromosomes. Females are fitted with a device that counts the words they use, but they are limited to 100 words per day. The penalty for exceeding this limit is severe and acts as a deterrent for most, a thousand volts of electricity jolting through the veins the consequence.

Jean McClellan is one of the women who wears a counter and is becoming increasingly frustrated and angered by the regime. She worries about the sort of world that her young daughter is growing up in, she worries for the indoctrination of her eldest son, but the most alarming thing is the acceptance of the silence.

The very idea of limiting communication highlights just how important language is. By implementing a means of controlling the use of language, the powers that be are effectively silencing those who disagree with their ethics and methods. Removing women from the workforce, limiting their access to funds and electronics almost returns them to a pre 1950 state, women being the ones who remain at home to raise a family and run the household, regardless of the fact that many of the women held respected positions within society prior to the current administration being in place.

Characterisation is what really made this book stand out for me. Jean never really believed in what the Pure Society spouted. Her place was in the lab working on a cure for aphasia (impairment of the brain impacting on the ability to speak or use language). Her work was important to her and she loved what she did. The introduction of the daily word counters means she has to choose her words wisely, pick which conversations are worth taking part in and when it is wise to defer to her husband to ‘have a word’ with their sons. Her determination to be heard was brilliant, and I think many readers will feel a connection with her and begin to think about what action they might take if in the same position.

Such a powerful and thought provoking read, it’s one that stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

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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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Welcome along to another Friday here on The Quiet Knitter, and I am delighted to share an author feature with you! The author in the spotlight today is the lovely Kate Vane, so grab a cuppa and join us for a wee chat!


Author Feature:

kate vane author image

Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

 

 

 

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

I feel like I’m always learning. With each new book I’m asking a question – a series of questions – which I can’t yet answer. Whether it’s research, or craft, or the mysterious world of the imagination, it’s curiosity that drives me.

I also enjoy developing business skills as an indie author. I actually like tinkering with spreadsheets and data and finding my way round new software!

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

I love the freedom and independence of being indie but it can also be a burden. It means you’re responsible for everything and don’t have colleagues to fall back on. Having said that there’s a great indie author community online and I get buoyed up by the fantastic book bloggers who I’ve got to know both as a reader and an author.

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

That’s hard! Ruth Rendell’s Barbara Vine novels were a big influence on me when I started writing. In terms of recent novels, I’d be very happy if I could write something like London Rules by Mick Herron. I love the combination of strong characterisation, twisty plot, dark humour and sharp observation of contemporary events. And he writes beautiful prose as well.

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

I love gardening. We have a small pond and some bird feeders – and a few untidy areas – to encourage wildlife. I also like walking. We’re lucky to live right by the coastal path in South Devon.

Other than that, it’s mainly reading, audiobooks, podcasts and the occasional TV box set!

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

I don’t go in for rituals but I think routine is good. It gets you in the right frame of mind. I like to be up early and to write first thing. I try not to go online until my morning break, and then I go back to writing.

After lunch I generally do other tasks – writing blog posts, reviewing, marketing etc. Depending on what else I’m doing, I may do a second stint of creative work late afternoon or early evening.

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

I used to be superstitious about discussing work in progress but I suppose after four novels I can be more confident that I’ll finish what I start! My main project is the first novel in a series, which features two minor characters from Brand New Friend.

Tilda Green is an activist news blogger, and Freddie Stone is an old-school crime reporter. I thought they would make a great combination with their contrasting interests, strengths – and of course flaws!

In the new novel a murder which provokes a vocal online response but leaves a community saying nothing leads them to join forces to work on the story.

I’ve also got a back-burner project – a humorous mystery novel set near my home, in Torquay. It’s fun to work on and gives me a break from the other book which is much grittier.

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

I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro technique – where you do work in timed sprints. I’ve also started timing my social media use. If the clock is ticking while you’re on Twitter or whatever, you soon decide whether that article on what a commentator you’ve never heard of said about a random celebrity’s response to a politician’s Instagram feed is really a good use of your precious minutes or just an excuse to avoid working!

 

A huge thank you to Kate for joining me today, it was wonderful to get an insight into her writing process and find out more about her new book (which I will have to add to my groaning mountain of books to read). I love the idea of writing in timed sprints and have seen it used to good effect by academics (namely my sister in law), wonder if that might work with writing reviews!?

 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook: /k8vane

 

 

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

Wherever Paolo went, Claire had got there first. The gigs, the parties, the enigmatic artist he was sure he was in love with. He would never have joined the group if it hadn’t been for Claire. And maybe, if he hadn’t, no one would have died.

Journalist Paolo Bennett learns that Mark, an animal rights activist he knew as a student in the 80s, has been exposed as a former undercover cop. A news blog claims Mark was the fabled spy who never went back, who liked his new life better than his own.

Paolo wants the truth. He wants the story. Despite everything, he wants to believe his friend. But Mark isn’t making it easy for him, disappearing just as everyone wants answers.

Was their group linked to a death on campus, one the police were strangely reluctant to investigate? Why is Mark’s police handler lying dead in his garden?

And why does Paolo suspect, even now, that Claire knows more than he does?

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/brandnewfriend

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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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As part of the blog tour for this brilliant book, I’m thrilled to be able to share my review again!

The Quiet Knitter

I do love Fridays, especially when there’s the promise of good books and sunshine…well up here with the way the weather goes, it may be summer but the sun sometimes forgets to make an appearance!  Today I am delighted to share a review of a book that is part of a superb series, the “Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty” series set in Canada.  The Language of Secrets is written by Ausma Zehanat Khan and has the sort of writing that will move a reader, haunt them and undoubtedly keep them hooked until the very final word!

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

Description:

AN UNDERCOVER INFORMANT HAS BEEN MURDERED… BUT WHOSE SIDE WAS HE ON?

TORONTO: A local terrorist cell is planning an attack on New Year’s Day. For months, Mohsin Dar has been undercover, feeding information back to Canada’s…

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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 Margaret Skea, author of the Munro series and a fictionalised account of the early life of Katharina von Bora.


Author Feature:

Portrait

Margaret Skea grew up in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’, so is no stranger to conflict. Her passion is for authentic, atmospheric historical fiction, and now living in Scotland she chose a Scottish story for her first novel series.

Turn of the Tide won her the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best 1st Time Novelist 2014, and the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. Both follow the fortunes of a fictional family trapped in the long-running and bloody historic feud between the Cunninghames and Montgomeries, known as the Ayrshire Vendetta. The third volume is due in May. In the meantime she has turned her attention to 16th century Germany to bring a little known, but hugely influential woman – Katharina von Bora – out of the shadows. She is also a prize-winning short story writer and her first collection Dust Blowing includes some of her prize-winning stories.

 

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

Can I cheat and mention two?

The first is interacting with readers. There is nothing more satisfying, having written a book, than to hear that it has impacted positively in someone else’s life.

And secondly, while I’m writing, the most exciting part of the process is the joy of seeing characters coming to life on the page: growing and developing, sometimes in quite unexpected ways.

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

That’s easy – the need to market and promote both myself and the books. While I love talking about books and the craft of writing, I don’t enjoy the (essential) selling aspect.

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

I guess this is another way of asking what is my all-time favourite book. Going by the one that I’ve re-read most times it would be Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. There is one point in that book at which I always have a lump in my throat no matter how many times I read it. (And I’ve read the book and watched the film multiple times.) I’d love to be able to stir a reader’s emotions to that extent.

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

I’m a Christian first and a writer second, so my priority always has to be out-working my faith, whether that is through my writing or in other aspects of my life. Consequently I strive to keep a balance between writing and responsibilities within my church and in the home, as well as making time for family and friends.

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

I can concentrate much more in the mornings, so in an ideal week I will write four of five mornings per week and I always set myself a target of 1000 words per day. Sometimes I manage more, sometimes less, but if I can achieve a word increase (after light editing) of 5,000 per week then I’m on track.

I’m not very good at self-discipline, though, so for the last 3 books I have gone to somewhere other than my own house to write, where I can neither be distracted by anyone else, or (worse) distract myself!

I do find deadlines concentrate the mind, so if I have one coming up I find I can write for many more hours in a day. But one essential for me is silence. (I can just about cope with the sound of the central heating, on the basis that without it I’d be miserable!)

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

Book 3 in the Munro series (Turn of the Tide, A House Divided) is with the editor just now and I hope it will be available in May.* I don’t have a title for it yet, though, which is a wee headache. And within the next fortnight I shall be beginning the second (and final) novel based on the life of Katharina von Bora (the escaped nun who became Martin Luther’s wife.) I hope to have it out in time for Christmas 2018. After that? Who knows? What I do know is that for the foreseeable future I am likely to stick to historical fiction and probably in and around the 16th century.

*Book 3 in the Munro series has now been published with the title By Sword and Storm.

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

The latest published book is Katharina: Deliverance, which came out in October 2017. It is a fictionalized account of the early life of Katharina von Bora, up to the point of her marriage to Martin Luther. (The second book will finish her story.) She is a fascinating and enigmatic character who came alive to me through travelling around Saxony following in her footsteps. As to why anyone should read it – this is what the reviewer on the Discovered Diamonds website said –

     ‘First, a confession. All I really knew of Martin Luther was an impression of a man  

   in monk’s garb (incorrect) nailing parchments to church doors in the dead of night

  (also incorrect) and schoolboy giggles when reading about a diet of Worms. Thus,

  when this book arrived in my inbox, my heart rather sunk a bit for it is not a period

  that I am particularly well-versed, or even interested, in.

  However, any misgivings I may have had were dispelled completely by the time I had

  reached the second page. The quality and style – written in the first person and the

  present tense – didn’t so much grab me as to physically haul me back through the

  centuries and wouldn’t let me go until I had read every single word.’

 

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

To readers? – Don’t waste time finishing a book that isn’t to your taste. There are too many good books out there and you’ll never have time to read them all.  And to writers? – Treat your readers with respect and never, ever short-change them by giving them less than your best.

 

 

Buy links:
Turn of the Tide (Book 1 in the Munro series)
A House Divided (Book 2 in the Munro series)
By Sword and Storm (Book 3 in the Munro series)

Katharina: Deliverance

Dust Blowing and Other Stories

 

A huge thank you to Margaret for joining me today and sharing a little about herself. I have to admit, there are a few books that I read regularly that can pull the same emotions from me, regardless of how many times I’ve read them before. I sympathise about the distractions, I’m awful for being distracted by absolutely anything … even favoring doing a load of ironing instead of what I should be doing!

Social Media Links:

Website: https://margaretskea.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaretSkeaAuthor.Novels/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/margaretskea1

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