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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for My Name is Nobody by Matthew Richardson, a thrilling tale of espionage that looks to be one of the top reads this year!  I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you today and hopefully it entices you to find out more and read the book.

Description:

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‘I know a secret. A secret that changes everything . . .’

Solomon Vine was the best of his generation, a spy on a fast track to the top. But when a prisoner is shot in unexplained circumstances, and on his watch, only suspension and exile beckon.

Three months later, in Istanbul, MI6’s Head of Station is violently abducted from his home. With the Service in lockdown, uncertain of who can be trusted, thoughts turn to the missing man’s oldest friend: Solomon Vine.

Officially suspended, Vine can operate outside the chain of command to uncover the truth. But his investigation soon reveals that the disappearance heralds something much darker. And that there’s much more at stake than the life of a single spy . . .

You can buy a copy of My Name is Nobody via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Guest Post:

DEVISING A MOLE HUNT FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

As a lifelong fan of classic spy fiction, I have always wanted to try and write a mole-hunt story of my own. To see if I could construct a narrative that deceived the reader in the same way as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Casino Royale.

The key question was how to make the concept of the mole relevant again for the modern world. My answer was to redesign that timeless thriller conceit: the enemy within.

The real conflicts today are the invisible ones. The enemy we fear isn’t a country, but something we cannot see.

From that, my codename was born. A mole that embodied the fears that are all around us, that keep governments and intelligence agencies up at night. This mole would be a traitor for our times.

Their codename? Nobody.


My thanks to Matthew Richardson for joining me today and to Laura Nicol at Penguin for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this brilliantly thrilling read.

Follow the blog tour:

My Name is Nobody Blog Tour

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Published: 29 June 2017

 

Description:

CALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very beginning this was an easy and enjoyable book to read despite me singing Space Oddity constantly in my head (and sometimes aloud much to the dog’s confusion).

We follow the tales of Thomas Major, a scientist who accidentally becomes a spaceman and ends up on Mars.  But we also meet the Omerods – Gladys, Ellie and James.  Ellie and James are the grandchildren of Gladys, they are living with their grandmother whilst their father is in jail.  15 year old Ellie is stretching herself to the limit to make ends meet by working numerous jobs, caring for her brother and grandmother and praying that no one finds out that Gladys has Dementia.
It was at this point I began questioning how this would all come together, how on earth (or Mars!) these two strands of plot could weave together….but I should never have worried, David Barnett is a master in his craft.  Carefully, the plot pulls together to form a wonderfully uplifting and heart warming book.

The wonderful cast of characters are superbly drawn, Gladys despite her issues never fails to make a reader laugh.  Her situation is lightened sensitively through humour making it feel all the more realistic, so much so that I could see my own grandmother in her.  The personalities of all characters really shine through, and for the reader it’s a rare treat to “meet” people you become so invested in.

I feel that mention has to go to the descriptiveness of Barnett’s writing, the view from the spaceship was really something else.  It was so vivid, so wonderful, and I felt that I could see it.

This will definitely be book spoken about in 2017, it’s poignant yet funny and it has a wonderful cast of characters that will warm the heart readers.

You can buy a copy of Calling Major Tom via Amazon.

 

About the Author:

David Barnett is an award-winning journalist and author based in West Yorkshire. He was born in Wigan, Lancashire, in 1970 and has worked in regional newspapers since 1989. He is the author of the Gideon Smith alternate history series from Tor Books, beginning in 2013 with Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. David is also the author of Hinterland (2005, reprinted 2008), Angelglass (2007) and The Janus House and Other Two-Faced Tales (2009), all published by Immanion Press, as well as popCULT!, published in 2011 from Pendragon Press. His work has been translated into Czech, Russian and German. He is represented by the literary agent John Jarrold. David is married to Claire, also an award-winning journalist, and they have two children, Charlie and Alice.

See David’s website for mote information davidbarnett.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for Hunting Angels by Conrad Jones and share an extract from this haunting crime thriller.

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Description:

When an author is asked to help the police with the investigation into a double murder by identifying occult symbols, which had been carved into the victims, he is plunged into nightmare and forced to go on the run. Hunted by law and a powerful cult, he has to stay one step ahead to survive.

 

 

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Extract:

“What were you about to publish about us?”

“About who exactly?” he asked angrily. “Let me out of this fucking chair before I piss myself.”

“About the Order of Nine Angels.” She stared into his eyes and he sensed the contempt she felt for him. The name Nine Angels sent a shiver of fear through his brain. He’d been investigating their order for months. At first, he thought they were just another cult with delusions of grandeur, but the deeper he looked, the more his initial impressions melted away. The evidence proved that this order was far more powerful than any other he had investigated. It was also far more dangerous.

“This is bullshit, lady.” He laughed, although there was a touch of panic in his voice. “Let me out of this chair and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. I’m busting for a pee and gasping for a drink and you’re beginning to wind me up now.”

“You’ve been snooping around us and we don’t like that.”

“It’s my job to snoop around people, that’s what I do for a living.” Malcolm tried to keep his voice strong but his words were thick and slurred. “Let me out of this thing and I’ll talk to you.”

“You’re not moving from the culling chair until you’ve told us what we want to know. How long you spend in it before you talk is up to you.” She leant close to his face, her nose inches from his. He could feel her putrid breath on his cheek. He realised that he couldn’t move his head at all. It wasn’t the drink that stopped him from moving, it was a clamp of some description. As he regained the feeling in his body, he felt cold metal encircling his skull. “This is no game, Malcolm Baines, Young Reporter of the Year, and be assured that you will die here. The manner of your death is determined by you. Tell us now and it will be quick, lie and you will know suffering as you could never imagine suffering to be.”

 

Follow the blog tour:

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Welcome along to my Friday post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  Today I am delighted to bring you a wonderful book from Black & White Publishing and share my review The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin.


Book Feature:

Published: 4 July 2017

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Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.

At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.

My Thoughts & Review:

I was lucky enough to win an early copy of this book through a blog giveaway over on Bleach House Library , pop over and check out Margaret’s reviews sometime.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society sounded like the perfect read to take on holiday with me, the sort of thing that I could pick up and put down (if I had to) and generally sounded like a nice change of pace from my usual crime reads.  But when I started reading this book I realised I had underestimated the pull it would have on me.  Soon I was caught up in the stories of these women, invested in each of their heartbreaking tales of hardship and struggles and feeling so connected with this book.  Various of the members of the Ludlow Ladies’ Society has a secret hidden in their past that they’ve tried to overcome, or have kept hidden for one reason or another.  Ann O’Loughlin carefully lays bare each of their pasts, shares their dark secrets and allows the reader to come to terms with the deep sadness that each of these women has endured.  Whilst I found some of the tales saddening, I also felt pride that the women reached forms of closure in order to move on.

The way the sewing group is woven through the book is wonderful, this community of women supporting each other and their friendships and loyalty keeping each other going at times of hardship.  The idea that they create memory quilts to commemorate events in their village or the people within it is a lovely one, but some of the memories unearthed are not the most pleasant.  The ladies decide to create quilts for the exhibition in the town hall with the first prize being the chance to meet Michelle Obama and show their exhibits at a special show.  The emails that are interspersed throughout the narrative with the progress of the group and their task make for some brilliantly funny reading, the chairwoman, Kathryn Rodgers comes across as trying to be professional but failing slightly in her attempts which just makes this even funnier.

On the whole, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and found I was reaching for the tissues occasionally (honest it was my hayfever!), it is a story rife with emotion and spirit.  It’s the sort of book you read and find you’ve become invested in the characters, you begin to care what happens to them and care about what has happened to them.  When an author can evoke this level of emotion and attachment from the reader then  you just know the book is a special one, I will be sure to look out for more books by this author as I enjoyed her style of writing.

You can buy a copy of The Ludlow Ladies’ Society  via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Margaret Madden at Bleach House Library and Lina Langlee at Black & White Publishing for the opportunity to read an early copy of this.


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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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Published: 6 July 2017

My thanks to Canongate Books & Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

Description:

I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

My Thoughts & Review:

“How to Stop Time” has to be one of the most wonderful and beautiful reads of 2017 so far, from the moment I started reading I was fully invested in the tale of Tom Hazard and barely managed to stop reading before bedtime.

There is a magic in the way that Matt Haig writes, picking up any of his books allows the reader an escape into whatever world is being conjured – whether it’s modern time or Elizabethan England and there’s certainly ample atmospheric detail to make the reader feel that they are right there in the moment with Tom.

Tom is an interesting character, who by his own admission is cursed with an affliction that means he ages at a slower rate than the rest of humanity.  Whether it is a curse or a blessing, it has allowed him to live a life that means he has observed some of the turning points in history, and thus has a unique outlook when it comes to certain things.  Weaving through the fabric of Tom’s life, the reader is given glimpses at the threads that make up this character, his time in Elizabethan England, his voyages to the South Pacific and the people he meets along the way.  Each new acquaintance has their own tale to tell, and each leaves an impression on Tom.

This is very much a story that captures the imagination of the reader, and perhaps for some their heart too.  I found the historical aspects of the plot were fascinating, they were brought alive through Haig’s skilful writing, the mystery element was tantalisingly addictive, the story was poignant and utterly brilliant.

I cannot recommend this “How to Stop Time” highly enough, there is something very special about this book, the story and Tom Hazard stay with you long after reading this. Other readers may take something different from this book, and I think that reading groups may well enjoy this one for the questions that it throws up about the unpredictability of humans, the idea of living in a moment as opposed to living within the confines of an anxious mind worrying about the past or what might happen in the future etc.

And that cover….well it’s just beautiful.

You can buy a copy of “How to Stop Time” via:

Canongate
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

About the Author:

Matt Haig was born in 1975. His debut novel, The Last Family in England, was a UK bestseller. The Dead Fathers Club, an update of Hamlet featuring an eleven-year-old boy, and The Possession of Mr Cave, a horror story about an overprotective father, are being made into films and have been translated into numerous languages. He is also the author of the award winning children’s novel Shadow Forest, and its sequel, The Runaway Troll. A film of The Radleys is in production with Alfonso Cuaron. Matt has lived in London and Spain, and now lives in York with the writer Andrea Semple and their two children.

66 metres

 

Description:

The only thing worth killing for is family.
Everyone said she had her father’s eyes.  A killer’s eyes.  Nadia knew that on the bitterly cold streets of Moscow,  she could never escape her past – but in just a few days, she would finally be free.
Bound to work for Kadinsky for five years, she has one last mission to complete.  Yet when she is instructed to capture The Rose,  a military weapon shrouded in secrecy,  Nadia finds herself trapped in a deadly game of global espionage.
And the only man she can trust is the one sent to spy on her…

“A masterfully paced action thriller that takes readers to unexplored depths. The first novel in J. F. Kirwan’s Nadia Laksheva series introduces a heroine that readers are bound to fall hard for.” BestThrillers.com

My Thoughts & Review:

Being a fan of spy thrillers I was keen to read 66 Metres to see if it lived up to the immensely intriguing book description.  The cover states this is “A chilling thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!” and they’re not wrong!
From the opening pages the reader is faced with an intense storyline and is first introduced to a young Nadia Laksheva who is yet to face up to the harsh realities of her dysfunctional family.  As she ages she learns that her father was not the man she thought he was, not a saint, but a killer.  Her sister is a drug addicted prostitute and her mother is a cold and distant figure who is quick to remind her that her father was a killer.  Combine these things with the harsh freezing temperatures of Russia and you begin to see the insufferably difficult life that Nadia is living.  Seeing a way out, a means of escaping this torturous existence for herself and her sister Katya, Nadia takes the “option” given to her by Russian mob boss Kadinsky.  I say option, because really the only other choice would be a concrete overcoat or perhaps ventilation holes in their heads.

After undergoing rigorous training at the hands of Russian experts, Nadia is ready to take on her 5 years of missions for Kadinsky in return for her and Katya’s freedom.  The final mission means the end is in sight, but Nadia needs to complete it successfully first.

Thankfully I read this book whilst on holiday so I could curl up on a deckchair in the sun and completely shut off from the world around me for a few hours.  This is definitely a book that you want to keep reading, you want to find out what is going to happen next, see what characters will do next and find out whether Nadia comes out of this all unscathed.

Characterisation is brilliant, Nadia develops well throughout the book and her motivations become clearer as the reader gets to know her.  The glimpses of the vulnerable side of her really bring her to life.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s all too easy for authors to keep their trained assassins as cold hearted and strictly functioning “machines”, but here the author has gone under the surface of this character to give readers a real insight to Nadia which I think does make her more likeable.
The switching perspective between characters adds to the intensity and intrigue of this book no end!  Being able to step into the mind of the “baddies” always makes the plot more exciting, but here some of the “baddies” showed remorse for some of their actions, or showed humility which I found caught me off guard and in turn had be liking this book even more.

The descriptive abilities that Kirwan possesses are incredible – I’ve never dived, don’t really think it’s something I would ever do but just reading the underwater scenes had me feeling like I was there, in the wrecks with Nadia and the dive crew, the way it played out on the page was almost hypnotic.  I will admit to initial worries that some of the information about the diving would be too technical for me to grasp but somehow Kirwan has managed to portray the dangers and the ecstasy of diving clearly and concisely so that even a heathen like me can understand it.

A breakneck paced spy thriller that will leave you holding your breath in anticipation of what might happen next!  Now I just need to wait patiently for the next book in the series………

You can buy a copy of 66 Metres via Amazon

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the blog tour:

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PP and The Hungry Sheep

 

Description:

This short story was based upon the winter of 1963 which saw the country in the grip of severe snowfalls and record breaking cold temperatures. January and February saw many of the Saddleworth villages cut off for days on end. Many of the homes had no electricity as the overhead cables had collapsed under the weight of freezing snow. More than ever the camaraderie and neighbourly support was felt and shared by all in looking after each other. The severe weather caused the sheep from the surrounding Moors to take refuge in the village where farmers and villagers came together to provide emergency shelter and food for them.

 
Our Thoughts & Review:

Yes, “our” thoughts, because today I am joined by my mini book addict to review this lovely book.  Being almost three, I thought this book would be perfect for my daughter as it combines some of her great loves; snow, sheep and lovely bright pictures.  She absolutely loved this book, and it’s now a regular feature in the bedtime book pile (which seems to be growing at an alarming rate!).

With delightful and bright illustrations this book quickly catches the eye of younger readers as well as older ones, and they remind me of the illustrations in books from when I was a child, so there was something comforting and homely about reading this story.  The bright images were crisp and clear so that my little one could point to various pictures and tell me what was happening etc on that page.

The book tells the story of a bad snowfall in the village of Diggle and how it has a great impact on the villagers, Policeman Pete ensuring that people are helped to safety when their homes are without electricity.  The children of the village seem to be having the most fun with the snow, building snowmen and having snowball fights.  Everyone seems to be pulling together to make the best of a tricky situation until Farmer Bill and Policeman Pete discover a flock of hungry and cold sheep who have come down off the Moors in search of shelter and food.  In a show of wonderful community spirit, the local villagers pull together to ensure there is shelter for the sheep and hay is brought for them.

The tale has great feel to it, showing the power of community spirit and the importance of helping each other when difficult situations arise, which is an important message to explain to children.  The way in which the author presents this will appeal to younger readers as the story is fun, they will be able to grasp the concept of the sheep needing help because they are cold and hungry and it helped to create the idea of a friendly police officer who helps people like our other favourite, Fireman Sam.

Living in a rural setting like Diggle, we found this story particularly fun and will be buying some more of the books to expand our collection.

You can buy a copy of Policeman Pete & The Hungry Sheep via Amazon

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Policeman Pete’s Home Safety Tips

Policeman Pete asks that all children should try to learn their full name and also their mummy and daddy’s name. As soon as they are able the child should know their full address.

For the last of Policeman’s Pete’s tips for safety around animals please visit Books From Dusk Till Dawn – https://booksfromdusktilldawn.wordpress.com/ and check out Whispering Stories http://whisperingstories.com/ for tomorrow’s tip.

 

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