Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Golden Orphan by Gary Raymond #damppebblesblogtours

Golden Orphans Cover Image

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.

 

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher Parthian Books and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.

The Golden Orphans is a tale of an artist who is fleeing his past and present, arriving on Cyprus to bury a friend.  In fleeing his own demons, he becomes entangled in those of a man haunted by his dreams.

When I started Golden Orphans I wasn’t sure it was or me, yet by the end I loved it. I have read some outstanding thrillers during the last year and what I loved about this one was the feeling of sparseness in the writing. Yet this is deceptive because it is in fact a complex and addictive read. Not layered with tons of twist and turns, you are sucked into the story by a rich and absorbing tale written with superb charactrisation.  A literary thriller with the emphasis being on character and emotion, rather than reams of action. Of course there are twists and turns, this is first and foremost a thriller, but as the air shimmers in the landscape, those twists are much more low key,

My favourite part of the book was the rich variety of characters. From Russian Olagacs, to barmaids and creepy ‘drug dealers’ and many more.  No one is who they initially seem to be and as a result I was forced to evaluate my thoughts as the story progressed, wrong footed by events as they unfurled within the novel.  At the end, I realised I had misjudged them all and I felt haunted by their far from certain fates.

I was left haunted by both the story and the characters and fascinated by the way the writer uses art to try to explore the dreams of a tortured mind.  I have not come across this before and it gave the novel a unique edge.

It is a story with elements of a thriller, mystery and an historical drama. As a reader the way the writer cleverly combined them into a story about murder and betrayal, delivered for me a read of the finest calabre.

It is without doubt a first class literary thriller with a cinematic quality to it, that delivers on every level.

You purchase  The Golden Orphans can be purchased from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Waterstones, Book DepositoryNook and Kobo.

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About the author.

gary raymond author photo

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

You can follow the author on Twitter and Facebook.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Bouncing Back with a Bang by Geraldine Ward. #poetry

Bouncing Back with a Bang Cover

 

“Life is full of twists and turns, stops and starts. Living on a bizarre rollercoaster, Geraldine Ward is now bouncing back with a Bang.”
In a poetry collection that aims to to rock the senses and fill the reader with powerful imagery and heartfelt truth, Geraldine Ward’s mixture of critical and realistic social observation and humorous asides, will fully involve you in her journey of self discovery and take you on the ride of your life.
“Geraldine Ward’s poems take a slanted look at this world. They skilfully shine a light on those things we wish were different, the abuse we suffer or inflict.” – Reuben Woolley, Editor of “I am not a silent poet.”

Review

I would like to thank the author and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

This collection of poems covers a wide range of topics from the type of tea she likes to drink, to the threat humanity poses to the survival of the worlds bee population. It is an eclectic mix of powerful poems about social exclusion and wry observations about everyday life.

The thing I most loved about this collected works was the range of subjects it tackles, giving the reader a window into the emotional mindset of the poet and those issues that influence her art. For me, poetry only works if the poet writes verse that reflects the issues that they care about, because only then will the reader be able to connect with them. It was clear to me after reading Bouncing Back With A Bang that the writer was passionate about reflecting the world around her and her own experiences.

My favourite poem in the collection has to be I do not drink Peppermint Tea, which I don’t, but not just because of that. It’s the descriptions within the poem itself, which perfectly sum up why I prefer normal tea or better still coffee.

I just want something warm inside me,
If I wanted something fruity I would just eat fruit

Poems work best when they resonate with the reader and Bouncing Back With A Bang was full of such poems. I walked beside the river talked to me of the peace I find when walking along the river bank, far from a world that seems fragmented and full of angry voices. It in places such as this, my mind can rest and that feeling of peace is summed up perfectly in this poem.

I walked beside the river to make the good times roll
Some say the good die young,
Elder statesmen left,
By brook, briar and rose
I finally find peace

I grew up a little scared of poetry, but as I have got older, I have learned to enjoy the beauty of the language and the unique way it can evoke memories and feelings. I am now on what seems like an endless quest to collect my favourite poems. Both I do not drink Peppermint Tea and I walked beside the river will be part of that collection.

Bouncing Back With A Bang is a funny, emotional and insightful collection of poems, all of which are very accessible. I enjoyed all of them and hope Geraldine Ward’s lovely poems come to be enjoyed by many other readers, who in taking that journey of self discovery with her, will learn more about themselves as well.

You can purchase Bouncing Back With A Bang from Amazon

About the author

Geraldine Ward Author Picture

Geraldine Ward is an author, mother and performance poet. Her publishing credits include children’s poetry and fiction, most recently ‘Mark’s Magic Farmyard and Other Stories’, a novella about mental health called ‘Caring for the Carer’ and ‘Now’ poetry to name but a few.
She has had individual poems published in literary magazines including ‘The Blue Nib’ edited by Shirley Bell, ‘I am not a silent poet’ edited by Reuben Woolley and ‘Writers Cafe Magazine’ edited by Marie Lightman.
In November 2017 she was one of only three poets appearing on a pre recorded podcast for BBC Radio 4 Front Row, describing her writing process for National Write a Novel Month.
Geraldine’s hobbies include playing piano, song writing and singing and learning the ukulele.

You can follow the author on her website and Twitter.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Fourth Victim by John Mead.

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The Fourth Victim

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of peace, tranquility and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder.
Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with her head bashed in, down to a mugging gone wrong. The victim deserves more. However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC in return for an honest review.

The Fourth Victim is your classic police drama, just like the ones I wish they made more of on TV. It has a solid storyline with believable characters, whose damaged personalities mean you can never guess their real motivations. As a reader I was kept wondering, right to the end, about who really held the ultimate responsibility for the murder of the three victims. It’s full of tension and enough plot twists to keep thriller readers happy. What impressed me the most was the writer didn’t overload the story with unnecessary sub plots; every tangent taken away from the actual investigation into the murder of the girls was designed to tantalise us with added apprehension. For me no one felt safe from possible harm, even police officers like Julie Lukula felt like they were skating on thin ice, which could break at any moment.

Characterisation was really well done. Not one character felt under written and though flawed, those traits were what made them enjoyable to read about. My favourite had to be Inspector Merry, who progressed from not really wanting to be a front line police officer and a rotten husband to remembering why he joined to police in the first place. It’s hard to discuss the killer without ruining the story, but be reassured that evil, twisted, manipulative and scary sum them up to perfection. The realisation about why these girls were killed is chilling in its plausibility.

The very best thing about this book for me was how real it felt, the classic themes of a team fighting against the pressure of cuts, while still having to bring a killer to justice, meant it could be set in any real life investigation. The process of slowly untangling the story leading up to the killings and feeling of anxiety building up like a pressure cooker about to explode, all combined together to give me as a reader an exciting read.

I would happily recommend it to all lovers of this very varied genre.

You can purchase The Fourth Victim from Amazon and Waterstones.

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About the author

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Born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built. I was the first pupil from my local secondary modern school to attend university. I have travelled extensively during my life from America to Tibet. I enjoy going to the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that I am an avid ‘people watcher’ and love to find out about people, their lives, culture and history.  Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in my novels are based on real incidents and people I have come across. Although I have allowed myself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

You can follow the author on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ The Dragon and the Lumberjack by S W Ellenwood.

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The Dragon and the Lumberjack

Thomas feared he played Jack too well…
The sequel to S. W. Ellenwood’s debut novel, The Janitor and the Spy, picks up six months after Thomas Thornhill’s nightmare mission in Amsterdam. On his own, he now goes under the alias of Jack Montferrand and seeks to gain entry into the oldest and most dangerous triad in Asia to find Them.
On the inside, he found the triad not as stable as he thought, forcing him to prove his trust and worth to them at every turn as new rivals sprout up. He plunges his hands deeper into the filth and the alias of Jack where he starts to wonder where Thomas ends and Jack begins.

I’m delighted to welcome author S W Ellenwood to booksaremycwtches with an extract from The Dragon and the Lumberjack..

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3. “Damn! You Americans can sleep through anything,” Lei Lei commented loudly, waking Jack up from his nap on the pool table.
Jack laughed, but it turned into a wheeze of pain as he sat up from laying on his chest for hours.
“Need me to rub some lotion on it?” Lei Lei said as she placed a plastic bag with a yellow smiley face on the table.
Jack laughed the question away. “Thanks for the food. How long have I been asleep?” Jack opened the plastic bag and took out the white Styrofoam box.
“I don’t know,” Lei Lei said, “probably a couple of minutes because I ran into Ink on the way up here, which is why I came.” She leaned on the pool table as Jack ate. “I was hoping to catch you alone to ask you some of my own questions.” She leaned closer to Jack, and he noticed her sharp green eyes. “How does a sexy man like you end up in such a dirty business like this and so far away from home?”
“I pissed the wrong people off.”
She raised an eyebrow, her face still coming closer. Jack wanted to back away, but the thoughts of upsetting the sister of the Dragon Head didn’t go well in his mind. “My, they must have been pretty mad to make a big man like you run.” Her voice slowed, and his heart raced.
“Well, they weren’t that mad.” Jack’s stomach growled.
Lei Lei smiled. “We will continue that conversation later. You go ahead and eat.” She stood back up.
Relief washed over Jack. “Thanks, I am a bit hungry.” Lei Lei sat at a table and watched Jack eat. “So, how does it look?”
“Pretty good,” commented Li as he entered the lounge. “Ink still has it.”
“It never left him, like you,” commented Lei Lei.
Li flipped her off. “Can we get going on with our business?” said Li, obviously wanting to move the conversation forward.
“What business?” asked Jack taking another bit of his Orange Chicken.
“Red Pole business. Did Lóng tell you not to be an ass?” Lei Lei asked Li.
“Yes mother,” said Li. “He told me all the details too, so you don’t have to worry.”
“Can I at least finish my food?” Jack said, a tad bit bothered.
“We will have food at the meeting,” snapped Li.
“Can I at least see what my new tattoo looks like?” Jack got up from the pool table.
“Turn around,” Lei Lei ordered as she whipped out her phone and took a picture of Jack’s tattoo. Jack put his shirt back on, then looked at the picture. He was impressed by the speed and detail that Ink did it in, though it had taken the majority of the day. No one would have known that though by just looking at it. The dragon’s wingless body slithered up Jack’s spine towards his head. Its red scales resembled the color of blood eerily well.
“Ready now?” Li stood next to the back exit.
Jack gave Lei Lei her phone back. “Yeah.”
“Don’t be a stranger,” said Lei Lei as Li and Jack walked out.

You can purchase The Dragon and the Lumberjack from Amazon UK and US.

About the author

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S. W. Ellenwood is thankful to have a close-knit family of two parents, a brother, and two sisters. A homeschooler who graduated college from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, Ellenwood loves all forms and genres of stories and was inspired by The Lord of the Rings films and his parents to write. You can find Ellenwood writing his next novel at the local coffee shops or playing table top games with his best friends.

You can follow the author on Twitter and his website .

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ The Janitor and the Spy by S W Ellenwood.

 

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The Janitor and the Spy

Baby wipes are not the best at cleaning up blood or what happened to Thornhill in Amsterdam.
They told Thornhill it would be a simple spy mission that he was more than eager to take on, but of course, it wasn’t.
It didn’t take long after meeting the contact for Thornhill to question if he or anyone else connected to him was going to be able to make it out of Amsterdam alive. Passing strangers on the streets became potential hitmen and dinner with criminals became safe heavens as Thornhill seeks to find answers from an old man named Golay.

 

Thomas Thornhill 1&2

 

Today I’m welcoming author S W Ellenwood to booksaremycwtches with an extract of his boo! The Janitor and the Spy.

2. Thornhill swiped through pictures of the coffee shop where he would be meeting Golay. The walls were a dark red except the one behind the counter, which was covered by a huge, black chalkboard, one that Thornhill would have loved as a kid. The rest of the room was set up like an ordinary coffee shop: small four-chair tables littered the main floor, and there were pairs of black leather armchairs in the corners and at the back. “So, all I need to do is talk with him and see what’s up?”
“That’s it,” said Mallory, nodding, her ponytail swinging slightly.
“Then why is Jones my support?” asked Thornhill in bewilderment, looking at Jones in the rearview mirror. “I could understand sending another young agent, like Oaks or Westfall, but a former Marine sniper? Little overkill.” Jones chuckled. “See, he agrees with me,” said Thornhill.
“I didn’t assign the agents, I’m just the handler. I would take it as a sign to not take this mission lightheartedly.” There was a hint of worry in Mallory’s voice. “He will cover you from a lookout point across the street.” A 3-D map of the street came up on the tablet, showing the precise position Jones would have. A small construction site on an adjoining street, coupled with the coffee shop’s wall-sized windows, gave Jones a perfect view of its interior and exterior. “You will also be armed.”
Thornhill frowned. “With what?”
Jones reached into a compartment between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, pulled out a black handgun, and handed it to Thornhill. It seemed to absorb the light hitting it; there was no reflection or gloss on it.
“A regular Glock nine millimeter with optional silencer, one of the most common handguns in Europe,” said Mallory. “We retrieved it from a stash of confiscated guns in France, no strings. What makes it different is the bullets.”
Thornhill took out the clip to study one of the bullets. The tip of the bullet wasn’t rounded like a dome, but flat, like a spearhead. “Armor-piercing rounds?”
“Indeed. Each bullet cost about three hundred American dollars.”
Thornhill’s eyes widened as he whistled. “Glad to know how much a life costs.” He carefully placed the bullet back in the clip, hoping he wouldn’t have to use it.
“We’re here,” said Jones as they pulled up to the Mauro Mansion hotel.
“You will be meeting Golay at the Rusland coffee shop at eleven tomorrow,” Mallory said. “We will use your smaller earpiece to keep in touch and record the conversation for analyzing and training purposes. You and Jones will log into Silence at ten-twenty tomorrow via earpiece, understood?”
“Understood.”
“Good. Ending session. Be safe.” The tablet went black, and a young valet with red hair and blue eyes opened the car door and said in Dutch, “Welcome to the Mauro Mansion.”

You can purchase The Janitor and the Spy from Amazon UK and US.

About the author

Thomas Thornhill - 7191806_orig

S. W. Ellenwood is thankful to have a close-knit family of two parents, a brother, and two sisters. A homeschooler who graduated college from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, Ellenwood loves all forms and genres of stories and was inspired by The Lord of the Rings films and his parents to write. You can find Ellenwood writing his next novel at the local coffee shops or playing table top games with his best friends.

You can follow the author on his website and Twitter.

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Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson

Visions ISBN 978-1518802393 Visions of Zarua cover

Visions of Zarua

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past? An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.

Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate. Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past..

 

In a beautiful guest post writer Suzanne Rogerson talks about the wonderful inspirational places that influence her writing. 

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I take inspiration from the world around me and I’m especially drawn to the beauty of nature. I love to capture the details in my writing and that can often be the most fun part for me, researching the landscape and going back through my drafts to add the little touches that will bring my world alive.

My husband is a keen fisherman so before the kids came along we’d spend weekends and holidays exploring the countryside by various rivers. While he fished, I’d wander off with my camera and spend hours capturing images from the sweeping views to the minutest detail of a dew drop on a spider’s web.
In the evenings while he baited up the river, I would bait the area nearby to try to draw out the wildlife. I saw mice and rats regularly, and once I even saw a pair of shrews fighting which was surreal.
He’d sometimes fish late into the evening, or overnight so I know what it’s like to be outside after dark. Sometimes it’s so dark you can’t see a thing and at other times you can read by the light of the moon. I know how your heart races as you rush through a horse field blinded by darkness, every sense on high alert, and the fear that seeing a pair of inquisitive eyes lit up by torchlight can induce.
Seeing the mist rising from the land in the pre-dawn light is magical. It’s such a rewarding experience being outside and though I didn’t manage to write much at the river bank, I’ve used those experiences to enhance my writing.

A local place I adore visiting is Bushy Park, Surrey. It’s a wonderful place to dabble in photography with the variety of waterfowl by the lakes, herds of wild deer (red and fallow) that are accustomed to seeing people, friendly squirrels who’ve take food from my hand and even the occasional fox slinking through the gardens during daylight hours. You can often hear the distinctive call of the green woodpecker, see the patient, still form of the grey heron waiting for a fish to pass him by or the bright flash of a jay disappearing into the trees.
One morning I remember the majestic sight of a herd of red deer swimming across the lake and the steam rising from their bodies as they climbed out the other side.

Another place close to my heart, which I still dream of making my home one day is the New Forest in Hampshire, England. I love the history and the unique experience of driving through the gorse covered landscape spotting ponies, deer, donkeys, cows and sometimes foraging pigs. It’s also a beautiful place to ramble and explore. I have plans to set a book there one day, but for Visions of Zarua I just drew on my love of the place and dotted in a few small details.

Every May, when the hawthorn trees are in full, glorious bloom I think of Hawthorn Cottage. The secluded home where Paddren grew up is a place I wish existed. Within the hawthorn enclosure stands a picturesque single story cottage surrounded by a herb garden. It also has a small pond and a stable for their three horses. It’s the only place Paddren is happy to call home and where Varnia feels most relaxed when she’s not out in the forest.

Redstone Manor in Herristone is named after the distinctive red stone found around another of my favourite places – Ross on Wye and the Wye Valley. Many of the quirky homes you pass are made of this beautiful material and I love how the red soil stays on your shoes. It’s as though it wants you to take a piece of itself home with you.

I love the natural world and I think this has helped me create more believable realms for my readers to enjoy.

You can purchase Visions of Zarua from Amazon.

You can also enter a giveaway – Win 3 x Paperback Copies of Visions of Zarua (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.g

Enter by following this LINK

About the author.

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Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.
She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.
She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.
Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

You can follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, and her website

Visions of Zarua

Extract ~ Blog Tour ~ The Failsafe Query by Michael Jenkins.

The Failsafe Query - Cover Image

The Failsafe Query

The Failsafe Query is a gripping thriller set in the contemporary world of modern British espionage. Sean Richardson, a disgraced former intelligence agent, is tasked to lead a team to search for Alfie Chapman, an Intelligence officer on the cusp of exposing thousands of secrets to the media. This includes a long lost list of Russian moles embedded since the Cold War, one of whom remains a public favourite in the British parliamentary system. The action moves with absorbing pace and intrigue across Central Asia and Europe as the puzzle begins to unfold through a deep hidden legacy. Tense, fast paced, and insightful, The Failsafe Query twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic finale.

The Failsafe Query

 

I’m delighted to be able to share an extract from the Failsafe Query with everyone today.

Over to the author Michael Jenkins who introduces to the background of the extract he is sharing.

This is an introduction to the dangerous and sadistic antagonist, Natalie. She is a highly trained Russian agent and part of Directorate S of the SVR (Russian foreign intelligence service). She is one of a number of ‘sleeper’ intelligence agents placed into western European countries to gather covert intelligence without official cover. Natalie has a cover story (a legend) that gives her access to parliamentarians but has now been given a task by Moscow to chase Sean down and find out what he is up to. Her plan isn’t going well at this stage and she is fuming with her inept Russian agents from the GRU (The Russian Military Intelligence branch).

Natalie’s frustrations and impatience had now become insidious, but she had a new plan. Her powerful and influential resolve meant she knew she had Gregory where she wanted him and that he would do whatever she wanted.
‘I don’t care what your normal procedures are on these tasks, Gregory – it’s a fucking shambles and won’t work.’
She knew he wouldn’t disagree, and it was now time to get him to bend his operational rules.
‘You lot haven’t been able to maintain surveillance on the farm, you don’t know what’s happening there, who has been coming and going and you can’t follow more than one vehicle at a time – so we’re blind to what the fuck they are doing.’
Natalie stood and looked out of the window into the moonlit gardens. She clutched her black hair and put it in a ponytail, adjusting it using the reflection. She was incensed. She was right and always right, and no one would stand in her way of doing things the way she wanted them to be done – even if she didn’t have experience of hard-core surveillance operations. She poured herself a glass of vodka and took her Arcus 94C high-power pistol from her bag. She loved the feel of the Bulgarian weapon in her hand and it eased her tensions when she gripped the walnut handle firmly.
‘We don’t have the resources I need,’ Gregory said.
‘Bullshit. You’re responsible for this and, in the words of the British, you need to get a fucking grip of it.’
‘I need better men to get this done properly.’
‘Properly? I’ll give you fucking properly,’ she said, raising the weapon. Solid and beautiful, she stroked the smooth stainless-steel barrel, feeling an urge to fire the first of its thirteen-shot capacity right into Gregory’s head. Natalie turned and walked towards Gregory, releasing the safety catch. ‘I’m dealing with a bunch of fuckwits and you need to get sharp quickly.’
‘We are sharp, and I’m not convinced we can do anything more than what we are doing. We’re all well trained in this you know.’
Natalie began to fume. ‘You idiots haven’t given me anything so far, I’ve had to do it all myself. I really ought to pump a bullet into you right now and get someone in who can do a better job of this for me.’
‘We haven’t had anything to go on though.’
Natalie took one stride and smashed the weapon into Gregory’s head with a sharp backhand swipe. Her ring cut his cheek with a sharp slice, and blood began to pour down his face.
‘Don’t make me fucking angry ever again,’ she growled.

You can purchase The Failsafe Query from Amazon UK and US.

You can also enter a giveaway to win 5 x PB copies of The Failsafe Query & a spy linkage map (unframed) (Open Internationally)

The Failsafe Query - Giveaway Prize

To enter follow this LINK
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the author

The Failsafe Query - Author Pic

Michael Jenkins served for twenty-eight years in the British Army, rising through the ranks to complete his service as a major. He served across the globe on numerous military operations as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers. His experiences within the services involved extensive travel and adventure whilst on operations, and also on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that he led or was involved in. He was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity.  He was awarded the MBE on leaving the armed forces in 2007 for his services to counterterrorism. The Failsafe Query is Michael’s first novel. He has started work on his second spy thriller, The Kompromat Kill, and hopes to publish it the spring of 2019.

You can follow the author on TwitterFacebook and his website.

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Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~ The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley

the twisted web

A social media shaming. A killer with a message. A deadly combination.  When the body of a man is left in the city centre set up as a realistic police crime scene, DI Hannah Robbins is forced to enter a world that can break a person, a case and a reputation. Social media platforms light up and Hannah is pitted against the raging online monster and a killer who has already lost everything. Can she catch the killer and put him behind bars or will she become part of his sadistic game?

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I’m delighted to welcome author Rebecca Bradley to booksaremycwtches today with a fascinating guest post about the perils of social media. 

Thank you Rebecca for taking the time to write such a wonderful guest post. 

Hello, first of all I would like to thank Susan for having me on the blog today. I really appreciate it.

I want to talk about social media. That thing in our lives that without realising it, we are all a little addicted to. My latest novel, The Twisted Web looks at how social media can affect a person’s life and more specifically how online public shaming can ruin a person’s life even though all the behaviour happens online the effects can be felt very much in that person’s real life.

The inspiration for the story was Jon Ronson’s book, So, You’ve been publicly Shamed. It’s a non-fiction read that I would happily recommend to everyone who uses social media.

And in that vein, I thought I would talk today about the good and the bad I have myself experienced on the social media networks.

First let’s look at the bad so we can finish up on the good. We don’t want to end the post on a downer do we? As well as blogging I use Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook I am a member of several groups. Groups if you aren’t aware are where you gather with a specific purpose – to talk about books, to talk about Diabetes, to talk about dogs, etc. I was a member of a group specific to one of my own health needs. I had been a member for quite a while and though I didn’t post very much I was a healthy lurker, reading regularly to gain all the information I could. I would also respond to other people’s posts sometimes.

One day I thought I would try and be helpful and gave some information that I thought they might be interested in. Boy, was I wrong. Everyone piled in to tell me how wrong I was to have posted and how I was hurting people. Can you imagine how that feels? I was trying to be helpful, to what I saw as a supportive group, and I was being told that I was hurting people with what I had said. Everyone piled in and no matter if something had been said already they kept on repeating their point. It was relentless.

In the end I couldn’t take any more and left the group. I think since that point I have been very cautious about what I say online and can often be found deleting comments after I have written them in case I offend anyone. Online spats can very easily get out of hand because there is no body language or tone included. You can only read the words and words can easily be misconstrued. I remember hearing somewhere that when you’re talking to someone words make up only a small percentage of the communication – body language and intonation make up the rest and we don’t have that online.

I fared better on Twitter. Twitter was the place where I made real friends. People I am friends with now in real life. I’m not talking about the Twitter of now which is a seething mess of anger and retweets. I’m talking five plus years ago when people had conversations. They talked to each other a lot more. It serves more like a news channel nowadays, but back then it was a water cooler. We would gather to chat and chat we did. It was because of Twitter that I attended my first Harrogate crime writing festival and it was there I made friends and have continued to make friends. Twitter was a real place of social interaction. You can use it to meet people online who have the same interests (crime fiction) and it’s great for that. Just look at the book community and the crime writing community on there. They are thriving and kind and considerate.

It is Twitter that is the culprit in The Twisted Web. Twitter that destroys lives. This is because it is such a fast-paced beast. If an event occurs in the real world it is on Twitter and being spread within minutes. There is no stopping it or slowing it down. All you need is one tweet to start it off. If you have a few people saying the same thing then an avalanche can start. You see it time and again with many news items.

But… I do still like Twitter. It’s a little harder to use, to break through the noise, but people are still there and still talking.

Which is your favourite social media site and why? I’d love to hear from you.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon UK and US.

About the author

Rebecca Bradley - photo

Rebecca is the author of four novels in the DI Hannah Robbins series, Shallow Waters, Made to be Broken, Fighting Monsters and The Twisted Web as well as a standalone thriller, Dead Blind.

She lives with her family in the UK with their two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep Rebecca company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, Rebecca was medically retired from the police where she finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

Rebecca now runs a consulting service where she supports crime writers in making sure their fiction is authentic so they can get on with telling a great story. You can find details of that HERE.

You can follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, her website and Instagram.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ That Deplorable Boy by Jasper Barry

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Is Max Fabien the loyal secretary and faithful lover of the marquis de Miremont? Or a handsome trickster who regards lying as an accomplishment and any sexual quarry as fair game?
Miremont’s heart tells him one thing, his jealousy another. But his obsessive passion for Max must remain a dark secret. And, when his estranged wife brings their eighteen- year-old daughter to Paris to make her debut, the strain begins to tell.
The once-calm atmosphere of the Hôtel de Miremont swirls with gossip, mistrust and danger and Miremont is faced with an impossible choice.
Meanwhile the secrets of Max’ past continue to haunt him. Has the time has come for him to claim his not-so-rightful destiny?
That Deplorable Boy is the second part the Miremont series, charting the course of a gay love affair between an aristocrat and a former servant in Belle Époque France. Rich in period detail and set in the grand châteaux of Paris and Burgundy, the novels explore the suffocating social codes of the time and the conflicts and perils they bring for those who must live outside them.

Review

That Deplorable Boy is a historical drama set in 19th Century France, sequel to the wonderful The Second Footman and written by Jasper Barry.

It continues the story of the forbidden love between Max, an ambitious footman and his lover the privileged Marquis de Mirenant. Now a ‘couple’, even though their relationship must remain a secret. It delves into the perils such men faced if their relationships were discovered and the social barriers between those that serve and the ruling classes.

As with the first book I loved the rich historical detail and the continued emphasis Jasper Barry places on character and story. Not resting on his laurels he developes both Max and Mirenant’s back stories. We get to understand more about Max ‘s troubled early life and the reason Mirenant finds it so hard to trust, when we meet the wife he is separated from.  Real trouble and strife is encountered when we meet Mirenant’s her, who is the worst type of the quintessential French aristocrat, demanding, vain and dismissive of those lower in rank to her. No wonder Mirenant, his sexuality aside, could never love her. Then we have poor damaged Juliette their daughter, for whom my feelings varied thoughout. It’s what makes Jasper Barry’s books a joy to read, the rich emotional detail he invests in his characters.

Yet again I loved that the author cares enough about these two wonderful characters that he doesn’t rush the story. He continues to  tease out their ever evolving relationship slowly. It is a delicious feeling of indulgence to read a book that is allowed to runs its course, without contrived plot devices only there to speed up the narrative.

Once again this book is about the relationship between these two men, their feelings and motivations, as they negotiate the boundaries that often prevent them being honest with each other about their feelings.    It felt refreshing to focus on how they are ever changing, especially  Max who this time battles more with the ghosts in his past, his wish for social advancement versus the love of a deeply tortured Mirenant.

What more could you ask for, than a book full of obsession and jealously.  The writer keeps us guessing, is Max a deplorable boy or a young man capable of great love?

Read this wonderful book to find out.

You can purchase That Deplorable Boy from Amazon UK and US.

The Deplorable Boy

About the author

Jasper Barry graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English and has worked in advertising, then in journalism. Jasper lives in London with too many books and three obstreperous cats.

You can follow the author on his website Jasper Barry ,  and Twitter

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Paris In The Dark by Robert Olen Butler.

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‘A morally complex and beautifully written thriller with a delicately portrayed love story at its heart. A cut above’ – John Williams, Mail on Sunday

Autumn 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front. Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission. Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees? And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

Fleetly plotted and engaging with political and cultural issues that resonate deeply today, Paris in the Dark is a page-turning novel of unmistakable literary quality.

‘Written in a hard-boiled, staccato style, Paris in the Dark is an intelligent, stylish thriller, and so atmospheric that the pages reek of Gitanes and coffee’ – Antonia Senior, Times

‘A top historical espionage thriller, tautly plotted and told with humanity and realism. Rich characterisation and an authenticity that I found gripping from the first page to the last’ – C J Carver, Author of Know Me Now (The Dan Forrester Series)

‘Butler’s prose is a cut above. His descriptions of First World War Paris under the shadow of Zeppelins, and the threat of ground-based bombings, are exquisite – his storytelling admirable. A first-class literary thriller to lose yourself in and mourn when the last page is turned’ – David Young, author of Stasi ChildStasi Wolf and A Darker State

‘Butler skilfully paces the narrative, balancing deception, misdirection and reveal with historical realism, quality writing, and insightful modern perspective’ – Nick Triplow, author of Getting Carter

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

This is a thrilling historical drama/crime thriller about Christopher Cobb, journalist and spy, searching for a bomber in war shocked Paris during the World War 1.

Reading the high praise for this book from a reviewer in the Times and other authors, I feel like mine simply can’t match up! So I’m just going to say it as it is. Paris In The Dark is all the things they are quoted as saying, intelligent, stylish, exquisite and insightful, but above all this, if you simply looking for a great book, this is a wonderfully entertaining read. At a time when I’m feeling a bit pressured in every area of my life, because I’m so badly organised, this book, grabbed my imagination, kept me entertained from page one to the very last page. The world around me simply faded into the background. I was immersed in war time Paris, gripped by the drama, embraced by the atmosphere and in love with the romance between Cobb and Louise. David Young talks of mourning when the last page is read and I did, I had enjoyed it so much, I wanted to stay in the story. Entertaining reads such as this, remind me of being cwtched up with a book as a child, not yet caught up in adult drama’s, where the world simply failed to exist when I was reading and I captured that feeling again with Paris In the Dark! I’m tired of being an adult, I want to be off to Narnia with a case full of books such as this!

The story itself reads like a dream. We have a classic thriller set in city besieged by the German army and it seems German operatives set on taking the war into the heart of the city. It works because the writer captures the peculiar atmosphere that grabs cities during war by giving us Paris clinging onto a semblance of normality, people have to live and love even during war, yet also delivers on the fear and paranoia that grips those residents trying to cling onto routine. He also gives us oodles of exciting drama, using bold storytelling to tell of the physical dangers Kitt encounters as he seeks to protect the people of Paris from the acts of terror.

Character wise Kitt Cobb is the perfect ‘hero’, determined to do his duty and save other’s from harm. Classic hero material and sometimes as a reader you need that, you need someone you can cheer on, a character that has you biting your nails to the quick, fearful that he will be killed. I adore him. Kitt Cobb is not perfect, but who wants perfect, I just want him, because he was reassuringly solid, with a strong moral code. Of all the books I have read this year, he is one of my favourite characters and I not ashamed to say, that if I could, I would invite Mr Cobb to lunch, just so that I could spend lots of time with him.

Though this is part of a series of books, its reads brilliantly as a standalone, which is how I read it, but I will be going back and adding Kitt Cobb’s other adventures onto my too read pile.

You can purchase Paris In The Dark from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author.

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Robert Olen Butler has published sixteen novels—The Alleys of EdenSun DogsCountrymen of BonesOn Distant GroundWabashThe DeuceThey WhisperThe Deep Green SeaMr. SpacemanFair WarningHell, A Small HotelThe Hot CountryThe Star of IstanbulThe Empire of Night, Perfume River—and six volumes of short fiction—Tabloid Dreams, Had a Good TimeSeverance, IntercourseWeegee Stories, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Butler has published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream, edited with an introduction by Janet Burroway.

In 2013 he became the seventeenth recipient of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and has received two Pushcart Prizes. He has also received both a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. His stories have appeared widely in such publications as The New YorkerEsquireHarper’sThe Atlantic MonthlyGQZoetropeThe Paris ReviewGranta, The Hudson ReviewThe Virginia Quarterly ReviewPloughshares, and The Sewanee Review. They have been chosen for inclusion in four annual editions of The Best American Short Stories, eight annual editions of New Stories from the South, several other major annual anthologies, and numerous college literature textbooks from such publishers as Simon & Schuster, Norton, Viking, Little Brown & Co., Houghton Mifflin, Oxford University Press, Prentice Hall, and Bedford/St.Martin and most recently in The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, edited by Richard Ford.

His works have been translated into twenty-one languages, including Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Polish, Japanese, Serbian, Farsi, Czech, Estonian, Greek, and most recently Chinese. He was also a charter recipient of the Tu Do Chinh Kien Award given by the Vietnam Veterans of America for “outstanding contributions to American culture by a Vietnam veteran.” Over the past two decades he has lectured in universities, appeared at conferences, and met with writers groups in 17 countries as a literary envoy for the U. S. State Department.

He is a Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor holding the Michael Shaara Chair in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Under the auspices of the FSU website, in the fall of 2001, he did something no other writer has ever done, before or since: he revealed his writing process in full, in real time, in a webcast that observed him in seventeen two-hour sessions write a literary short story from its first inspiration to its final polished form. He also gave a running commentary on his artistic choices and spent a half-hour in each episode answering the emailed questions of his live viewers. The whole series, under the title “Inside Creative Writing” is a very popular on YouTube, with its first two-hour episode passing 125,000 in the spring of 2016.

For more than a decade he was hired to write feature-length screenplays for New Regency, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Universal Pictures, Baldwin Entertainment Group (for Robert Redford), and two teleplays for HBO. Typical of Hollywood, none of these movies ever made it to the screen.

Reflecting his early training as an actor, he has also recorded the audio books for four of his works—A Good Scent from a Strange MountainHellA Small Hotel and Perfume River. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree from the State University of New York system. He lives in Florida, with his wife, the poet Kelly Lee Butler.

You can follow the author on his website

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Book Promotion ~ Giveaway ~Another Kind of Magic by Elizabeth Davies.

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“I am a cat. But I am no ordinary cat. I am a witch’s familiar. I am also a woman, with a woman’s heart and a woman’s frailty.”
Nearly two hundred years have passed since Caitlyn was trapped by supernatural forces and black magic, and she has known many mistresses. This time, the witch she is enthralled to is Joan, wife of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales.
At first, this mistress appears no different to any of the others Caitlyn has served – until Llewelyn captures William de Braose, and Joan falls in love, risking everything, including Caitlyn, to fulfil her desire.
Caitlyn, meanwhile, has her own cross to bear in the form of the gallant and reckless Hugh of Pembroke…

Giveaway

Win Tote bag and a signed paperback copy of each of the three books in the Caitlyn series. (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize

Follow the link to enter.

You can purchase this book from Amazon

About the author 

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Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…

You can follow the author on her website, TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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