Friday, 23 February 2018

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

This story is perhaps even more relevant after the events in Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a few days ago. Yet another horrific mass murder in a school.

I have to admit, a few pages in and the tears came. It's his voice, his innocent little voice robbed of his childhood as the sound of unimaginable horror, violence and destruction rolls towards him through the school corridors.

His days of worry-free play ripped from him as he cowers in a school closet knowing his world is changing forever, and yet at the same time not knowing how or why.

The reader follows his grief, guilt and confusion in the wake of his personal loss. It's hard to feel sad when all you remember is the anger. It's even harder when you don't understand the concept of loss and death.

I think what really pulls at the heartstrings isn't the loss per se, but rather the neglect of the child who survives. Mother and father are too engrossed in their own personal problems to pay attention to Zach. Feeding him, noticing his bed-wetting or when he disappears for hours. Zach becomes an invisible victim of the assault.

Barring a few moments when six-year-old Zach sounds and thinks like an adult, Navin does an excellent job of keeping the dialogue and narrative at the level of a six-year-old child throughout the book. The author shows the full range of emotions a family in this situation goes through, especially the anger and the thirst for revenge. A heinous event like this leaves permanent wounds and scarring.

It is an emotional and poignant read. The last few chapters made the tears trickle again, perhaps because the whole idea is painful and makes me feel powerless. On the other hand it's because Navin captures the essence of this child and the emotional turmoil so well. It's an upsetting yet extremely beautiful read.

Buy Only Child at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @rhiannonnavin @panmacmillan @MantleBooks
Visit rhiannonnavin.com

Thursday, 22 February 2018

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

What I enjoyed most about 29 Seconds is the way the author changed the playbook. As a reader you think you know exactly what kind of read you're in for after the introduction to Sarah and the predator at her heels, then suddenly the focus changes entirely.

The topic of sexual harassment is on the tip of everyone's tongue at the moment, due to the revelations about Weinstein and quite a few other Hollywood bigwigs. The #MeToo movement has resulted in a landslide of women and men coming forward to talk about their experiences at the hands of abusers.

Sarah finds herself, like many other women, in a daily struggle to avoid the advances of the man in charge of all of her possible career advancements. Technically it doesn't mean she can't get a promotion or be acknowledged for her academic achievements if she is willing to do what he wants and when he wants it. Imagine being blackmailed for sexual favours every single day and trying to fight the systemic abuse our society ignores on a major scale.

How many times are the victims demeaned, destroyed and ridiculed when they try to expose the abusers. To Invalidate and blame the victim is the name of the game. Not really surprising that victims don't speak out against their abusers.

For me the most intriguing part of the premise was the question. I'll admit I pondered what my response would be, would have been fifteen years ago and which person I would pick. So the answer for me is a yes, and I wouldn't worry about it like Sarah or suffer from a guilty conscience either. By the way don't tell the police I said that.

Logan writes a captivating story, which is driven by the protagonists desperation and fear. It's a premise, which will make readers think and definitely talk about the book. Both the sexual harassment and the possibility of a crime without repercussions are excellent standalone topics for a story, but together they make an exceptional read.

Logan knows how to capture the heartbeat of public opinion and describe exactly what we wish for in the dark recesses of our minds. The only thing I want to know is, where is my Russian?

Buy 29 Seconds at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @TMLoganAuthor @BonnierZaffre

Monday, 19 February 2018

#BlogTour My Mother the Liar by Ann Troup

Today is my stop on the BlogTour for My Mother the Liar by Ann Troup. Unfortunately I'm half a day late and a dollar short, due to a misunderstanding about scheduling. Without further ado here is a psychological thriller with a killer twist. Be prepared to doubt them all!


About the Author
Ann lives in Devon in a small house just a pebble's throw from the beach. She shares her home with her husband and a small white dog, both occasionally allow her to be inattentive to them so that she can write.

Follow @TroupAnn @HQDigitalUK
Visit anntroup.wordpress.com or anntroupauthor on Facebook
Buy My Mother the Liar


About the book
Every family has its secrets…

From the author of The Lost Child, and The Forgotten Room. Perfect for fans of The Secret Mother and Linda Green.

Two dead bodies. A lifetime of secrets.

When Rachel Porter’s estranged mother dies, she returns to her family home filled with dread about having to face her past, and the people who populated it.

Little does she know that there are dead bodies waiting to be discovered, and a lifetime of secrets are about to untangle.

Secrets kept by her mother, the liar.
Review
This family has more secrets to hide than a squirrel hiding nuts for winter. It seems to be a never-ending trail of despair, betrayal and abuse. Talk about dysfunctional family and destructive relationships. There just seems to be no end to it.

The story begins when Frances and Rachel meet at their mother's house to clear it after her death. I'm not sure either of them, or the hired help, are quite prepared to be confronted with mummified corpses hidden in tins and suitcases.  Not exactly what you expect to find whilst rummaging through memories and old ornaments. Then again you just never know what kind of secrets people are hiding under their supposedly perfect exterior.

With that shock begins the unravelling of  what is left of a family. Leaving the surviving members to cope with the memories, nightmares and the lies.

I have to admit Troup spins an intricate tale of desperation and hidden secrets, the kind you would rather not know about. Perhaps some things should remain buried, especially when the discovery of said secrets have the potential to destroy lives. Pathological lying appears to be a wee bit contagious, as the guilty point fingers at the innocent, oh wait there are no innocents in this scenario, and none of those involved are free of blood on their hands.

By the end of the story the reader is faced with the question, what would you do to keep your deepest and darkest secrets buried? Would you lie a little, would you kill?

Troup is a connoisseur of twisted characters and scenarios. Her killer plays the other characters like an expert violinist, whilst managing to appear innocent of any wrongdoing. My Mother the Liar may just make you wonder about your own mother. What kind of secrets is she hiding, eh?

Buy My Mother the Liar at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


#BlogTour Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood


Today is my stop on the BlogTour for Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood. A venture into urban fantasy with a lot of potential for future development. At the end of this post you have the chance to win a signed copy of Nature of the Witch by Helen T Norwood (Open to UK only).

#About the Author
Helen lives in the UK with her husband, two children and one diva-like cat called Tiger. Helen, like many others, was captivated in her childhood by books from the likes of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and any books which took her to new worlds and showed her places of magic and mystery. She has enjoyed writing and creating her own magical worlds from a young age. She is currently writing the second book in the 'Nature of the Witch' trilogy which will be out soon.
Follow @ThinkFitFoodFam (Helen Norwood) on Twitter or Helen T. Norwood on Goodreads
Visit thinkfitfoodfamily.com
Buy Nature of the Witch


About the book
Many years ago, magic prevailed in Britain. It was a time when chosen women followed a path forged by Mother Nature herself; a time of witchcraft, of the brotherhood of the Gwithiaz and of the terrifying Creatures.

This has all passed from memory a long time ago. But now, magic has returned. Kiera is the first witch the world has seen in centuries, while Jack must learn the ways of the Gwithiaz. They must not only master their crafts, but also overcome their differences and work together if they are to survive the dark enemy that lurks in the shadows.

In the rugged Cornish landscape where it first began, the two face the dreaded Kasadow: an ancient evil that has awakened and is ready to destroy them, and their magic, once and for all.

Review
The epilogue introduces a fairly complex premise of witches, the brotherhood of the Gwithiaz and bloodthirsty Creatures. The Gwithiaz are sworn to protect the witches, who are selected by Mother Nature as her daughters on earth and given powers to boot. The Creatures are set on destroying, actually more or less eating, every single witch.

Fast forward many centuries and the last Gwithiaz is tasked with waiting for and finding the last witch, and everything is love, peace and harmony. Oh wait, maybe not because it turns out there are still a few Creatures running around looking for some crunchy delicious witches to snack on.

Nature of the Witch is about trust, friendship and learning to control your own power. Mother Nature and the natural ability we all have within us, and the way we can use it.

The premise allows for more books to follow in this story. The reader will want to know where Kiera goes from here. Are there any more of her kind out there? Will she learn to control and use her powers? Are the Gwithiaz completely trustworthy and do they really have a fatal Achilles heel?

Norwood presents an initially intricate epilogue and then eases into a story that is undemanding and yet intriguing, which is an interesting contrast and one that equates to more readers. A small cast of characters puts the focus on dialogue and the storyline. It's a read with a lot of potential.

Buy Nature of the Witch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

















Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Nature of the Witch by Helen T Norwood (Open to UK only). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 18 February 2018

#BlogTour Blue Night by Simone Buchholz

I have been looking forward to introducing you to this unusual gem of a book. It puts the darkness in the word Noir with its sharp-tongued dialogues and very confrontational style. There are no candy floss scenarios lurking in these pages. Welcome to the BlogTour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz. 


About the Author
Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her
husband and son.
Follow  @ohneKlippo (Simone Buchholz) @Orendabooks  or @FwdTranslations (Rachel Ward, Translator)
Visit simonebuchholz.com
Buy Blue Night


About the book
After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital, Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…
(Translated by Rachel Ward)
Review
Chastity Riley  is to the 21st century what  Horst Schimanski was to the 80's, the only difference being gender and that Riley doesn't have a sidekick, but she does surround herself with the outsiders and rebels of society. Her own group of friends, colleagues and handy contacts. Not exactly upstanding citizens, but very much people who are interested in justice. Well, let's say their own kind of justice.

Riley finds herself isolated at work, restricted and demoted after making a series of serious mistakes in her role as a high ranking state prosecutor. She is assigned the case of a John Doe, who was beaten viciously and left to die. She has her own way of gaining his confidence and making him talk by building a rapport via food and beer. Meanwhile he seems to be ten steps ahead of her and willing to reveal information, which in turn points her in the direction of a major criminal operation.

This is Noir with an interesting staccato like pace and style added to give it a more brash, realistic and curt feeling. Buchholz doesn't have any words to spare. Her dialogue is abrupt, sharp and to the point. Often giving the appearance of an afterthought or emotional revelation rather than the bittersweet moment of honesty it actually represents.

Interspersed between the dialogues and functioning as a chapter divider of sorts are comments or statements made by the main characters in the book. As if some random reporter were asking them for a running commentary every now and again on the situation at hand or on the particular time-frame and year the characters are in. The comments are given purely from each character's own perspective, which gives the whole story an element of critical audience watching from the peanut gallery. It is an innovative approach and adds to the general Noirish feeling of the book.

I was raised in Germany, and speak the language at native level, so I can say with absolute certainty that certain idioms and common phrases get lost in translation. It is a common element of translation, but is more evident in certain languages and has nothing to do with the translation or expertise of the translator. So, with that being said I can't wait to read this again in the original language.

Buchholz has a refreshingly new provocative voice, and I have no doubt she will stand out amongst a sea of writers. She has a take no prisoners attitude when it comes to the validity and eccentricity of her characters, and her plot. Blue Night is to books what a shot of whiskey of is to the world of liquor. It takes your breath away and then it burns until a warmth settles into the pit of your stomach. That's the kind of mark and statement Buchholz is making.

Buy Blue Night at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

#BlogTour Come a Little Closer by Rachel Abbott


Rachel Abbott is one of the UK's most successful bestselling independent authors and I am delighted to be taking part in this brilliant BlogTour for her newest novel Come a Little Closer featuring DCI Tom Douglas. As part of my post today I am taking part in a Writing Challenge, which includes the first paragraph as a writing prompt and four items that have to be included in the challenge. To top off this blog post my review of this captivating read is at the end.


About the Author
Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England, and spent most of her working life as the Managing Director of an interactive media company. After her company was sold in 2000, she fulfilled a lifelong ambition of buying and restoring a property in Italy. She now splits her time between homes in Italy and Alderney, where she writes full time. She has published six full length novels and one novella, and her seventh Come a Little Closer was released 13th of February 2018.

Follow @RachelAbbott on Twitter or RachelAbbott1Writer on Facebook
Look out for #ComeALittleCloser
Visit rachel-abbott.com and rachelabbottwriter.com
Buy Come A Little Closer


About the book
They will be coming soon. They come every night.
Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.

Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.

These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice - and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there? How many more must die? Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?


Writing Challenge
Rachel Abbott has written the opening paragraph to a dark and twisty thriller and challenged bloggers to finish the story. Armed with just the opening paragraph (in bold) and four key objects (a bath, a facebook post, a single lightbulb and a glass of sweet sherry) from Come a Little Closer, we have to finish the story she started.

Prompt
Gemma had been afraid of the dark for as long as she could remember. As a child, she had blamed the cold, ancient house they had lived in – its endless corridors had too many closed doors for people to hide behind, too many secrets concealed in the shadows. But now there was no excuse. Her flat was modern, open, with huge windows.
It made no difference, though. Each night of the long winter months as she stood outside the block, she imagined all the doors she would have to pass before she reached her own, wondering if the lights in the hallway would be working, or whether they would flicker and go out, leaving her blind in the inky black void. Alone with her fear.

Perhaps she had always known that this day would come. She took a deep breath and stepped into the silent entrance, her heels tapping out a warning that she was coming on the polished concrete floor of the long corridor.
--------
To distract herself from the shadows and the imagined dangers lurking in the dark corridor she thought about what she would do when she finally reached the threshold of her door. A steaming hot bath filled with blue bubbles smelling like fresh ocean waves, well at least what she wished the ocean smelt like. Fishy, salt infused air doesn't really inspire the same imagery. The bath water had to be piping hot, so her skin would turn a lobster red, because tepid just wouldn't cut it. Relaxing in the bath also meant spending time with her latest acquisition from the small book shop around the corner. Engaging with fictional characters, preferably hot as hell with a penchant for danger and wild wild women, was her guilty pleasure.

Needless to say Gemma was the wild woman in this fictional scenario. Books made the hair on the back of her neck stand up and replaced her worries with faux fear. It wasn't the same as feeling real fear. Facing her demons, facing her life. As a treat she would have a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice cream. Just a small one, enough to placate the inner chocolate addiction, but not enough to alert the cult for the overweight, also known as Weight Watchers. A bowl of ice cream that would melt into a puddle of liquid chocolate, as she languished in the steaming water. To take the edge off she would usually allow herself the pleasure of a small port glass of Bailey’s liqueur, except she had emptied the bottle during her last bath-time excursion, so the only thing left with any alcohol content was a bottle of sherry her mother had given her last Christmas. Not that Gemma was a sherry drinker, but hey when needs must then a glass of sweet sherry it is.

She breathed in deeply, a fragrance flashback triggered the scent of her bath suds in her nose. Gemma let out a little sigh of anticipation, which came out in more of a stuttered gasp as her nose captured a whiff of something acrid instead. She turned her head towards the smell, increasing her pace in anticipation of a possible danger, although her head was saying ‘maybe a cat has marked their territory’ her gut was whispering ‘maybe the psycho is sat in the shadows waiting for the perfect prey to come along.' Yeh, her inner voice was a bit of killjoy and a scaremongerer.

Why was the corridor so void of any light? It was darker than usual, right? Gemma was sure of it. Instead of a warm yellow glow every five meters or so, the light in the corridor had been reduced to a single source of light. The lightbulb above apartment 13b. Gemma’s apartment. The one place she felt at ease, at home and safe. Was that a sound? Her breath started coming in short gasps.The pacing had become a fast walk, almost a pathetic panicked run. Gemma tore open her handbag and searched franticly for her keys. 'Almost there, Nearly there,' she panted. There is something, someone in the dark, waiting for her. Wanting to hurt her. She can feel it.

The keys jangled in her shaking hands, as she tried to insert the keys in the lock. Not an easy task while you’re looking over your shoulder every few seconds and expecting a blow to the head with a heavy object at any minute. Or a gloved hand covering her mouth, cutting off her air and dragging her backwards towards her violent death.

Okay. Open. She slipped through the doorway and slammed the door shut as fast as she possibly could. Lock, chain, bolt. Inside. Safe and breathe. Exhale.

Gemma tossed her shoes off and threw both bag and coat onto the nearest piece of furniture. Pulled her phone from her pocket to take a quick peek on social media before her bath. 'Just for a few minutes,' she muttered to herself. She was looking forward to the heat, the alcohol. Numbing herself from the inside and outside kept her sane when the fear threatened to overcome all her senses.

Gemma felt the anxiety fall away slightly, as she read snarky memes, political rants, bouncy goats and a facebook post with cute fluffy kittens.
She saw, rather than heard the note being slipped under her door. Out of the corner of her eye, a white sheet of paper with bold black letters. Every instinct screamed at her to ignore it, but another part of her was drawn to it. Her legs buckled as her brain processes the words...I'm waiting outside in the dark for you Gemma. Do you wanna come out and play?
------------

Review
There can be no doubt Abbott is honing her skills with every book, as her plots become more intricate and her characters become like old friends to her readers.

Rachel Abbott likes to skate between the black and white areas of right and wrong, to shed a light on the vulnerable in our society, and the secrets hidden in plain sight. In Come a Little Closer the hidden, the missing and the ones who go unaccounted for are given a voice, albeit a small one.

This is the seventh book to feature DCI Tom Douglas, and it feels as if he is just getting settled in for the long run. He is a straight talker with a penchant for breaking the rules, and yet his worst enemy is his own guilty conscience.

Have you ever asked yourself whether someone would miss you or question your whereabouts if you suddenly disappeared? How long would it take for someone to notice you are gone? There are plenty of men, women and children without a support system, who just vanish from the face of the earth and fall prey to people seeking the invisible of our society.

There is another important aspect of this story the author has slipped in, which is perhaps far more important than the main plot. What can you do when someone you used to love becomes an abusive insidious leech you can't get rid of? When the system can't help you and it ends up protecting them instead of you?

DCI Douglas is flummoxed by his new case and isn't sure where to start. A young woman with no identity, who seems to have gone to her death willingly or rather to her murder. It seems as if she might not be the only one. Where are these women coming from and who are they?

A few decades a ago I went to a seminar led by a leading FBI profiler and expert on paedophiles and serial-killers, and he made two adults, myself being one of them, pretend to be children walking on the pavement. He played the perpetrator in the car. He winds down his imaginary window and says something quietly, I couldn't hear so I stepped towards as he said Come a little Closer and grabs me and throws me in his imaginary car. That is exactly the kind of criminal Abbott is excellent at imbibing and then creating on paper. The type we are surrounded by, but never see coming, because we are taught from a young age to ignore our gut instinct. In a way we are all Judith.

This is just a little taste of the compelling read and the questions you may encounter. Rachel Abott writes a fast paced riveting thriller that pulls the reader in opposite directions. The plot is nefarious and also simple in its complexity. It's realistic, which makes it relatable and there are aspects of it that will ring true for some of the readers.

Be prepared for a read you won't want to put down.

Buy Come a Little Closer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.



Thursday, 15 February 2018

The London Book Fair 2018 launches inaugural UK Book Blog Awards


It's official! The hunt to find the most influential book bloggers, bookstagrammers and booktubers in the UK is on! click here to find out more

Press release: London, 14 February 2017: The London Book Fair is delighted to announce the launch of the first ever UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF – a new initiative designed to celebrate social media influencers and their important contribution to the book industry.

A new feature for LBF 2018, this will be the first time this community has been officially recognised and rewarded by the British publishing industry.

Bloggers, social media influencers, members of the publishing industry, and the general public are invited to nominate the best book blogs, bookstagrammers and booktubers across three categories:

Book Blogger of the Year
Bookstagrammer of the Year
BookTuber of the Year

Once the shortlist has been revealed, a panel of judges will select one winner in each category, who will be honoured at a special awards ceremony at The London Book Fair. In addition, the Fair will introduce new seminars and networking events aimed at bringing the social media influencer community closer to the publishing world.
Jacks Thomas, Director at The London Book Fair commented:
“Book bloggers are an increasingly important part of the book world. Their passion for authors, genres and books is integral in reaching new audiences. We’re really excited to be launching the inaugural UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF and recognising the crucial role social influencers play in the promotion of books.”
The awards are open to any blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer that features books published in the UK and/or UK authors. To put forward a nomination, or to nominate your own blog/Instagram account/YouTube channel visit: www.londonbookfair.co.uk/UKBookBlogAwards

For further information please contact Edwina Boyd-Gibbins at Midas Public Relations on 0207 361 7860 edwina.boyd-gibbins@midaspr.co.uk

Go to www.londonbookfair.co.uk Follow @LondonBookFair

So, this is happening and can I just say finally! It's about time the UK book industry took note of the effective marketing machine on social media powered by hungry and happy bookworms. Bookbloggers, Bookstagrammers and Booktubers who create hype, share their recommendations and reviews all over social media are an underrated tool of the publishing world.
Enter your favourite Bookbloggers, Bookstagrammers and Booktubers, and you can even enter your own BookBlog, Bookstagramm or BookTube!


The LONDON BOOK FAIR UK BLOG AWARDS Terms and Conditions-

- THE UK BOOK BLOG AWARDS 2018 are open to any blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer that features books published in the UK and/or UK authors. The blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer may be based anywhere in the world.

- Blogs, Instagram profiles, and YouTube channels can be entered by the brand owners, affiliates, or members of the public

- The deadline for entries is 12pm (noon) on Friday 2 March 2018 (the “Closing Date”).

- Judging: entries will be judged by a panel of judges, who will select a Shortlist within each category as well as a final Winner in each category.

- The Judges’ decision is final on all matters and no correspondence will be entered into.

- If the judging panel feels that none of the entries in a category reach the standard outlined to them in guidance notes, The London Book Fair may (under exceptional circumstances) cancel the category.

- The Winners will be announced at The London Book Fair, 10-12 April 2018

ENTER Book Blogger of the Year

ENTER Bookstagrammer of the Year

ENTER BookTuber of the Year

London Book Fair Show Dates
Tue 10th April: 09:00 - 18:30
Wed 11th April: 09:00 - 18:30
Thu 12th April: 09:00 - 17:00

Location
Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London, W14 8UX

Do you have a favourite Bookblogger, Bookstagrammer or BookTuber? Go ahead and nominate them now!

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

This has a distinctive 70s/80s film and tv vibe, which isn't always a given even if it is roughly set in that era. (Stranger Things vibe is a more accurate reference for younger readers) It also has a Stand By Me flair, that essence of nostalgia and friendships formed in childhood, and to top it off Tudor delivers a subtle layer of creepy horror a la Stephen King.

It has the innocence of days gone by, days when children played outside all day and stayed out till dark. Before technology captured the youth of today and started captivating them with visions of the future. A long time before the monsters who come for our children multiplied to an insurmountable number.

It's 1986 and Eddie and his friends use chalk men to communicate secret messages to each other. The kind of game that appeals to the secrecy children covet even if it lacks any kind of complexity.

Eddie's story starts when he witnesses an extremely violent accident, which binds him to the victim and to the man who helps to save her. Mr Halloran becomes a confidante and a saviour to Eddie, whilst Eddie becomes the instrument of his demise.

A few decades later the horror of their childhood is brought back to life when one of the boys decides to rake up The Chalk Man murder, and so begins a journey to the past to discover the truth and the lies.

Tudor brings the whole package with this story. The tension increases as the tale unfolds, and the reader can feel the creepy vibe throughout. The Chalk Man takes on a life of his own, especially in Eddie's dreams and daily life. It's an absorbing read and the ending is the cherry on top of the ice-cream sundae.

Oh and FYI Tom Baker is the best Dr.Who. Just Saying.

Buy The Chalk Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

#BlogTour The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the Blog-Tour for The Story of our Lives by Helen Warner. It's a testimony of love, loyalty and friendship between four friends throughout the good and hard times. Unconditional love and support over twenty years.
About the Author
Helen Warner is Director of Daytime for ITV where she oversees a wide range of programming from ‘This Morning’ to ‘The Chase’. Previously, she was at Channel 4 where she was responsible for shows including ‘Come Dine With Me’, ‘Coach Trip’ and ‘Deal or No Deal’.

She lives in Essex with her husband and their two children and she writes her books on the train to and from work.
Follow @HQStories
Buy The Story of Our Lives
About the book
Four friends. Twenty years. One powerful secret. Everyone remembers where they were on 31st August 1997, the day Princess Diana died.
Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa certainly do -– a beautiful cottage in Southwold, at the start of an annual tradition to have a weekend away together.

Every year since, the four best friends have come back together. But over time the changes in their lives have led them down very different paths. And it’s when those paths collide that the secrets they’ve been keeping come tumbling out.

One Day meets Big Little Lies in this unputdownable read about four friends, one long-buried secret and the histories we all share.

Review 
Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa are a close-knit group of friends. The reader follows them through their trials and tribulations over a period of two decades. They meet every year at the same time to celebrate their friendships and all the changes in their lives. Pregnancies, career changes, marriages, affairs, betrayals and life in general.

There is a fair amount of victim blaming when it comes to Amy and her situation. 'If only she was a little tougher. If she stood up for herself it wouldn't happen.' This is a common reaction and misconception when it comes to domestic abuse, the assumption that it is just about the victim not being able to stand up for themselves. Even her friends are quick to place the blame on her.

It's easy to ignore the obvious, when it comes to domestic abuse. The hard part is supporting victims, despite the fact they may go back to their abuser. It takes an incredible amount of courage to leave a situation of complete control, isolation and fear.

I have this rule of thumb when it comes to books or stories I read. If the characters or premise evoke any kind of emotion, even if it is anger or irritation, then the author has done their job. So with that said let me just have a grumble about Sophie and the way she reacts at the end. Can we all just say hypocrite. Her indignation and anger are misplaced, and ironic to say the least. Talk about selective memory and being judgemental. Okay, I feel much better now.

Warner has created a story that will resonate with a lot of readers, especially those who understand the complexities of friendships between women. Friendships that stand the test of time, relationships with people who exhibit loyalty under extreme duress and are willing to stand by you through your hardest times. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

The Story of Our Lives is an ode to the special connections we make in life, about the paths we choose and the mistakes we make. It is also about the people who walk with us instead of away from us when things crumble and fall apart around us.

Buy The Story of Our Lives at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Monday, 12 February 2018

The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Fear, shame and confusion go hand in hand in this story. Lou is still haunted by her past and the way it follows her like a lingering bad smell.

Unfortunately this tale of grooming and abuse carries the misnomer of love, because that is what paedophiles convince their victims it is.

What is even more tragic is how many people confronted by these scenarios or read about them think that it is about a convoluted love story. It isn't, it's about a child being preyed upon by a sexual deviant.

It isn't a vivacious Lolita seducing an unsuspecting older man, and then crying rape after the event. This is how the majority of society sees situations like this. It is easier to put the blame on a naughty little girl than to accept we have men and women in our midst who want to have sexual relations with children.

Lou has to live with the doubts of others, the recriminations and the guilt of not knowing whether she was to blame, and yet at the same time fearing the person she knows was to blame.

After the death of her father she returns home to sort his belongings and his house, and finds herself drawn to the man who took her childhood away from her. She walks a fine line between complete terror and the need for Mike to admit his guilt. Nothing too outlandish or unachievable until she stumbles upon proof that he is in the middle of stealing another childhood.

The Fear is a crime hidden within a crime with a stark layer of reality throughout. As a reader you feel empathy for the child Lou used to be and the adult still suffering from the fallout of being groomed by a predator. Although Lou feels guilty for getting revenge and trying to save someone, I applaud her temerity and her courage.

I think Taylor has written a well-timed story in the midst of the #MeToo movement and chorus of voices speaking out about abuse against girls and women in our society. Shedding a light on the hypocrisy victims encounter and the fear that sits in the back of their neck for the rest of their lives. It's a captivating read with some hard home-truths. At the same time it is an equally compelling psychological thriller, so kudos to Taylor for bringing the two together.

Buy/Pre-order The Fear at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @callytaylor @AvonBooksUk
Visit cltaylorauthor.com

The Fear - Pub. date 22.March 2018 published by Avon Books Uk

Read The Accident by C.L. Taylor

Read The Lie by C.L. Taylor

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Taking into consideration that this is an eyewitness narrative, which I find preferable when it comes to Holocaust themed books, and an important historical account, I do wonder if Lale Solokov subconsciously or inadvertently romanticized the more uplifting parts of his story.

Memory is a tricky thing at the best of times, recalling memories made under extreme duress and/or trauma can sometimes interfere with the way we interpret memories.

I believe he made life seem simpler and less traumatic than it was. His relationship and encounters with Gita read like a complicated romance novel, and because of that some of the scenarios seem improbable.

When he or rather the author, relates the more brutal and heinous events there seems to be a reluctance to be cruel and honest. There is no such thing as gratuitous when it comes to laying bare the crimes of the Holocaust.

Again I am not sure whether that was Lale or the author changing the narrative just slightly to make the romance pop more or if it was just easier to focus on a more pleasant scenario. To remember the positive of meeting her instead of the negative of fearing she would die.

Like many survivors, Lale sat on his story for many decades. It wasn't until Gita died that he decided the world needed to know his story. I can imagine he felt terrible survivor's guilt and guilt in general for perhaps feeling like he contributed to the demise of many victims. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to see the physical proof of his personal trauma on real people. Being responsible for marking his fellow humans like cattle.To him it would have been irrelevant that he had no choice. Survival is an instinct, and I am glad a lot of survivors lived to tell the world about the heinous crimes of the Holocaust.

As I said before, the stories of survivors need to be told, without them there is more chance we will repeat the past. Morris does that in a sensitive way, and she brings a little lightness to a very dark story.

Buy The Tattooist of Auschwitz at Amazon uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @BonnierZaffre

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

I adore this series. Arden is an incredible writer and possesses the ability to recreate the feeling of an old Russian master with the flair of a nouveau writer.

The author combines the magic and essence of Russian folktales with the creativity of high fantasy, and lets the reader experience the darkness of old tales told in front of fires, and the power of ancient myths.

At the end of the first part of the trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale, we left Vasya grieving for her father and protected by Morozko. In this second part she decides she wants to travel the world, to discover things beyond her village. Thanks to the new local priest everyone thinks she is a witch, which means she is a pariah and in danger.

So begins her venture into a world of rules, fear and cruelty. One Morozko would rather she didn't experience at all, even if she has been gifted with a magical stallion, who will protect her. He struggles with his emotions towards Vasja and the inevitability of their separation.

In both books the author has made a point of shedding a light on the inequality between men and women, and how it impacts those who are deemed to be less equal than others. Part of Vasja's drive to be free is connected to the limitations she experiences as a woman. The title is very apt in that sense. There is no freedom, but plenty of restrictions, and any deviation from the rules can ruin a reputation.

Once again Arden balances the mystical with exceptional storytelling and leaves the reader with the feeling of reading a Russian classic. It feels timeless and ancient.

I am really looking forward to The Winter of the Witch, the third part of this trilogy. Katherine Arden has proven herself to be a writer and storyteller of great skill, and I wager a few decades from now her Winternight trilogy will receive the recognition it truly deserves.

Follow @arden_katherine
Visit katherinearden.com
Buy The Girl in the Tower at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Read The Bear and the Nightingale Winternight #1
Coming August 2018 the conclusion to the Winternight Trology The Winter of the Witch

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

#BookBirthdayBlitz Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella


Join me today to celebrate the Book Birthday Blitz for Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella. Find out all about this debut fantasy novel and read my review. You can also win a signed copy of Ashael Rising (see giveaway below).
About the Author
Shona Kinsella is the author of Ashael Rising, (Unbound, 2017) the first in her series, The Vessel of KalaDene. She is also one of the editors of the British Fantasy Society’s fiction publication, Horizons. When she is not writing or wrangling her three children, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.

Follow @shona_kinsella on Twitter or ShonaKinsellaAuthor on Facebook
Buy Ashael Rising (The Vessel of KalaDene book 1)
About the book
Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of those taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Ashael meets Iwan in the forest, neither realise that she is the one the Zanthar are looking for. The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on her shoulders.
Review
The Zanthar are an ancient race and the enemies of the so-called Cams, which are small communities of people who live from and off the planet they inhabit. They are a peaceful people and believe in the strength and powers of their healers. One of those healers is Bhearra and she is training a young woman called Ashael. The young woman seems to have more than an affinity for healing. In fact recently she has started to do more than she should be capable of.

The Zanthar think she is part of a prophecy, a vessel of some sort that will allow them to regain power they lost many centuries ago. They place a spy in the small community to weed out the so-called vessel, in an attempt to kidnap her and usurp her power.

Ashael has no idea where the power comes from, and she certainly has no idea how to wield it, which could mean the difference between life and death. The Zanthar also don't seem to be completely convinced she is the magical being in question or rather how to get the vessel to work in their favour.

Loyalty and trust play a pivotal role in this story. Would you betray someone you love to save another? How do you choose who to save in that situation? Then there is the question of endless power corrupting, is Ashael in danger of being corrupted by this newly acquired status?

This is quite a strong debut, which is not an easy feat when it comes to fantasy. I think Kinsella has tossed her training wheels aside and is well on her way to navigating the book world with skill and a lot of creativity. It will be interesting to see where she takes The Vessel of Kaladene.

Buy Ashael Rising at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Many thanks to @shona_kinsella & @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources
GiveawayWin a signed copy of Ashael Rising (Open Internationally) click the link below to enter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 4 February 2018

#BlogTour Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb


Bringing this fantastic Blog-Tour to an end today, and it has been a humdinger of a tour with some fantastic blog posts. Steph Broadribb is making her mark on the book world in a very big way.
About the Author
Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. Her debut
thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit  number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.
Follow @crimethrillgirl & @Orendabooks on Twitter or @crimethrillergirl on Facebook
Visit crimethrillergirl.com
Buy Deep Blue Trouble
About the book
Single mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson's got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is thratening a comeback, and Lori needs JT - Dakota's daddy and the man who taught Lori everything - alive and kicking. Problem is, he's behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Ale Monroe. Bring back-on-the-run felon, Gibson 'The Fish' Fletcher, and JT walks free.

Following Fletcher from Florida to California. Lori teams up with local bounty hunter De McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT's life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up. Lori's hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she's got to get right, or she'll lose everything...

Breathlessly paced, and bursting with high-voltage and edge-of-your-seat jeopardy. Deep Blue Trouble is the unmissable next instalment featuring one of the most memorable and fearless female characters in crime fiction.
Review
Following on from the success of Deep Down Dead (Lori Anderson #1), Broadribb brings us another fast-paced adventure with her feisty female protagonist Lori Anderson, bounty hunter extraordinaire. A story that doesn't pull any punches, entertains the reader and yet delivers a warm-hearted emotional read at the same time,

One of the personality traits that makes Lori such a driving force, is her hot-headedness. It is also what stands in her way, especially in this story. She becomes her own worst enemy when she sees discrimination and chauvinism in every work situation. Not that it doesn't exist, however sometimes we are less inclined to evaluate our own behaviour or our own frame of reference.

Lori cuts a deal to save her mentor, her ex-lover and the father of her child. She has to bring in a fugitive she has apprehended before, in order to keep JT alive. Sounds like a simple job except said fugitive is a killer, and someone seems intent on screwing with the case and with her personally.
To make matters worse, and her life a wee bit more complicated, Lori still hasn't told JT the whole truth about Dakota. Avoidance is an excellent strategy as far as she is concerned.

Deep Blue Trouble brings action to the table with a subtle layer of snark and the suggestion of what women have to deal with when they work in a domain predominantly inhabited by men. The characters are strong, the premise is compelling and most importantly the combination of those things promises more Lori Anderson books in the future. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Broadribb has a natural flair for writing. It appears to just flow like a sweet melody, but with a lot of sass and violence. Lori Anderson is set to be a permanent fixture on the landscape of crime, and Broadribb in the book and literary-world.

Buy Deep Blue Trouble at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Read Deep Down Dead



Friday, 2 February 2018

#BlogTour Almost Forever by Laura Danks


It's my pleasure to start off the Blog-Tour for this unexpected delight of a read. Laura Danks brings the expected and yet still manages to capture her readers and take them along for the duration of this very emotional ride.

Follow @auradanks @HQDigitalUK on Twitter or LauraDanks on Facebook
Buy Almost Forever
About the book
Can love truly conquer all?

When a vicious attack leaves Paul in a coma on his wedding day, the doctors fear he will never wake up. But his fiancée Fran will never give up hope.

Fran has always known Paul is the only man for her, from the first moment they locked eyes as children to the day he finally told her he loved her. Paul can’t leave her, not now their lives are just about to begin. Love will always find a way… won’t it?
Review
I'll admit I was expecting a different read based on the blurb and the cover. I was actually pleasantly surprised and recommended it to a friend before I had even finished reading the book.

The reader follows Fran on her path to adulthood, her first crush and kiss, and how she experiences the first throes of passion. The confusion she feels when she finds herself lusting one brother and loving the other one. Just the general befuddled state of any teenager during the great hormonal hike and emotional minefield of love, lust and crushes.

The story is about Fran accepting the love she feels and the man she loves, only to nearly lose him during a random act of violence. She finds it difficult to cope with the situation, she doesn't want to have to let go of him.

For me Almost Forever is much more than just a love story. It is a tale of hope, perseverance and about life after the worst case scenario. How a teenage infatuation grows into a fierce loving relationship. A no holds barred dissection of her life up to that point in time.

Danks brings emotions to the table, albeit with a fair bit of drama, and isn't afraid to shy away from what some readers really want and still deliver the predictable yet satisfying ending. Danks also brings the expected, and yet still manages to capture her readers and take them along for the duration of this very turbulent ride of emotions.

Buy Almost Forever at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Thursday, 1 February 2018

Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart

There are definitely comparisons to be drawn to The Talented Mr Ripley, just with main characters of the opposite gender.

I think at one point I lost the plot and wasn't sure who was pretending to be whom. It was a wee bit confusing at times, which is probably what made this a less enjoyable read. Too disjointed, and not enough clarification.

We begin at the end and return to the beginning to understand how Jules and Imogen get to know each other, and how the two of them end up the way they do. The longing for a connection and a friendship leaves one of them dead and the other hiding.

It's a story of lies, delusions and about the social status of each girl. How the desire to belong and be friends becomes an obsession, which culminates in an uncontrollable internal anger.

Personally I think the story was flighty and underdeveloped. It lacked clarity, and the characters were weak versions of what they should have been. It could have been so much more, despite the similarities to the aforementioned book.

Buy Genuine Fraud at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @elockhart  @BonnierZaffre