Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Abandoned by Sharon Thompson.

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Peggy Bowden has not had an easy life. As a teenager her mother was committed to an asylum and then a local priest forced her into an abusive marriage. But when her husband dies in an accident Peggy sees an opportunity to start again and trains as a midwife.

 

In 1950s Dublin it is not easy for a woman to make a living and Peggy sees a chance to start a business and soon a lucrative maternity home is up and running. But when Peggy realizes that the lack of birth control is an issue for women, she uses their plight as a way to make more money. Very soon Peggy is on the wrong side of the law.

 

What makes a woman decide to walk down a dark path? Can Peggy ever get back on the straight and narrow? Or will she have to pay for her crimes?

 

Set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 1950’s The Abandoned tells the story of one woman’s fight for survival and her journey into the underbelly of a dangerous criminal world.

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Review

Many thanks to the author Sarah Thompson, publisher Bloodhound Books and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of The Abandoned in return for an honest review.
When it comes down to it, we all read because we love a great story! We want to be entertained, amused, thrilled and distracted from the world around us. Asking the writer to take us on a journey into a saga far removed from the chores and stresses of everyday life.
Sarah Thompson does that and immersed me in the often violent and male dominated world of 1950’s Dublin. She also gave me a heroine, who though not your typical honest and decent female protagonist, is gutsy, a survivor and ruthless. Yet she has a softer side to her that keeps you immersed in her story, needing to know as the blurb says, can she survive the violence that surrounds her.
The book is full of atmosphere and period detail. You can almost feel the often brutal and hostile world that surrounds Peggy seeping of the pages into your subconscious. Ireland in the 1950’s was not a city that celebrated strong independent women. Crime, religion and free-thinking were the domain of men. Peggy as a character is so addictive, because she refuses to conform to the stereotypical role of women in that period and as modern women you can’t help but feel a certain affinity with her. You may not approve of the ways she seeks out a role for herself, but you can’t help but be fascinated by her and the world she lives in. Peggy is living in a world determined to pigeonhole her, but at the same time refuses to allow her to carve out a fulfilling role. Therefore Peggy is left with little choice but to take the few chances open to her.
The Abandoned is a fabulous historical thriller and though I disproved of Peggy’s actions, I thoroughly enjoyed her story. I loved the setting and the way the writer carved out her life in a way that reflected the period she lived in.
I’m looking forward to more from Sharon Thompson.

 

The Abandoned can be purchased from Amazon

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Sharon Thompson author.

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Sharon Thompson lives in Donegal, Ireland. She is a member of Imagine, Write, Inspire. This is a writing group, under the mentorship of HarperCollins author Carmel Harrington. Sharon’s short stories have been published in various literary magazines and websites. #WritersWise is her collaboration with writer, Dr Liam Farrell. This is a trending, fortnightly, promotional tweet-chat with corresponding Facebook page and website (www.writerswise1.wordpress.com). Its mission is to encourage and support writers to reach as wide an audience as possible. Although she mostly writes crime fiction, Sharon does have a fun-side and she writes the quirky Woman’s Words column for the Donegal Woman wesbiteSharon Thompson. Writing Fun is her writing page on Facebook.
She can be followed on Facebookher webpage and Twitter.
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Blog Tour ~ Guest Post ~ Forget Her Name by Jane Holland.

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Rachel’s dead and she’s never coming back. Or is she?
As she prepares for her wedding to Dominic, Catherine has never been happier or more excited about her future. But when she receives an anonymous package—a familiar snow globe with a very grisly addition—that happiness is abruptly threatened by secrets from her past.
Her older sister, Rachel, died on a skiing holiday as a child. But Rachel was no angel: she was vicious and highly disturbed, and she made Catherine’s life a misery. Catherine has spent years trying to forget her dead sister’s cruel tricks. Now someone has sent her Rachel’s snow globe—the first in a series of ominous messages…
While Catherine struggles to focus on her new life with Dominic, someone out there seems intent on tormenting her. But who? And why now? The only alternative is what she fears most.
Is Rachel still alive?

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I would like to thank the writer of Forget Her Name Jane Holland for taking the time to write a guest post.

Also my thanks to Rachel Gilbey for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

Growing Up in a Family of Writers

Most of the writers I meet are first-generation writers. Their parents did other things than writing, and the decision to become a writer came out of left field. Often I hear how they struggled for years against the secret fear that they were ‘frauds’ and felt they needed permission to write.

I’m the polar opposite of that situation. I grew up with the understanding that not only was writing a normal activity, but that women, in particular, were successful writers. My mother was a bestselling novelist whose romance and suspense fiction sold millions. My father was chief sub-editor on the Times when I was at primary school, and later became a classical biographer, writing about the lives of the Roman emperors. My elder sister was also a prolific novelist during my teens.

In our household, it was forbidden to disturb anyone writing. That was a given. In her heyday, my mother wrote all day long, though almost never in the evenings. Later, she wrote most mornings, then watched televisions in the afternoons, and retreated to her room to read during the evenings, being a prolific reader.

We were all prolific readers, in fact. The house was crammed with books, most rooms shelved, often with double rows on each shelf.

And nothing was censored. I was a late reader, not learning until I was eight, but then read whatever I wanted from an eclectic range of grown-up prose, plays and poetry. We were all major film and television buffs too, loving everything from Hollywood to Fawlty Towers to foreign films with subtitles. I was hooked on film in my teens, and would get up at 6am to watch epics like Lawrence of Arabia before school. Again and again, learning all the lines. To me, story was story, in whatever form it came, and I loved story.

Oddly though, I didn’t become a novelist until my thirties. I became a poet and literary critic instead. But all those years I was secretly writing fiction too. I often wonder how I shifted from that literary poet to someone who now makes a living from popular fiction. Because my novels are not poetic. Far from it. My prose is simple and straightforward, though hopefully not unsubtle. I want everyone who picks them up to take pleasure from them, not just a handful of educated readers.

All the same, I like to think poetry made me leaner as a writer, less prone to waffle, more aware of word selection – ‘le mot juste’ that poetry relies on. Then there’s the importance of sentence structure rhythms, the need to keep a reader on their toes, to lull, distract or seduce them into a particular mood. Some of my earlier novels (I wrote six historicals as Victoria Lamb) were quite wordy, full of artful sentences and long paragraphs. While it’s true to say that every novel requires a tailored narrative approach, my style evolves with every novel, and I love that continual learning experience. If the day ever came when I didn’t stop every few lines to rejig a sentence or change a word, or ponder where to break a paragraph for best effect, I would probably give up writing out of sheer boredom.

I’m sure my mother, who sadly passed away in 2000, felt the same. And though she only read a few of my novels, and only one that was actually published, I’m sure she would have reassured me on the style front. I read her diaries frequently, where she discusses the writing process and her own struggles with it, and we chime on most matters. Although I could never hope to compete either with her global sales or her incredible output – roughly 170 novels written over thirty years – it’s a comfort to read a phrase like ‘wasn’t able to write a word today’ and know that a few days after that lament, she was back on track, knocking out five thousand words in a few hours. There’s hope for me yet.

Of my own five kids, only my youngest is a writer. I encourage her every day!

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Author Jane Holland 

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Jane Holland is a Gregory Award–winning poet and novelist who also writes commercial fiction under the pseudonyms Victoria Lamb, Elizabeth Moss, Beth Good and Hannah Coates. Her debut thriller, Girl Number One, hit #1 in the UK Kindle Store in December 2015. Jane lives with her husband and young family near the North Cornwall/Devon border. A homeschooler, her hobbies include photography and growing her own vegetables.

Jane Holland can be followed on TwitterlFacebook  and Author Facebook page.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Cargo by J C Macek III.

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Over the years Anthony Peterson has amassed a fortune, numerous properties, a trophy wife and a reputation for ruthless business dealings. He is a man who is used to getting his own way.
But when Peterson wakes to find himself locked in a metal shipping container, with only a cell phone and twenty-four hours of air left, he begins to unravel.
Desperate to escape Peterson soon learns that there is more to the container than he first realised. And when the kidnappers call and demand ten million dollars, while threatening to murder and rape his beautiful wife if he doesn’t comply, Peterson must fight to meet their impossible terms or face being left to die alone in the darkness.
Why has Peterson been targeted?
Who are those responsible for his kidnap?
And will Peterson make out of the container alive?
Cargo is an edge of your seat thriller about the choices we make.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher Blood Hound Books and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC copy of Cargo in return for an honest review.

Cargo is exactly what it claims to be on the cover, an edge of your seat thriller. Without any doubt it’s fast paced and kept my attention throughout. There is a compulsion to keep turning the pages to discover the fate of Anthony Pearson, who’s life hangs in the balance. You know he has a limited time to save his life and that of his wife and this helps to build the tension to the point your reduced to a state nervous trepidation about what you’ll read next.

Most of the character’s are less than likeable. But that’s fitting for this often violent thriller, about the choices we make and the price we pay. I can’t say I liked Anthony, because I didn’t, yet the writer kept me turning the pages, still wanting to know want happened to him. You don’t have to like a character to be invested in their story and fate, the writer just has to make it exciting. I wanted to know if this ruthless businessman deserved his fate! Why he had been kidnapped. It is a thriller that does what it is meant to do, it thrills!

Cargo can be purchased from Amazon.

J C Macek III 

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He began writing at a very young age and launched his professional writing career after graduating from Louisiana State University with a BA in English Literature.

His first noteworthy professional writing was in the world of entertainment journalism. He became a movie, TV, book and music reviewer which soon expanded to film history columns and celebrity interviews. Over the years, J.C. has become known in his professional life for interviewing bands such as The Cult, Judas Priest, Faith No More, The Zombies, Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry,  Queens of the Stone Age’s Nick Oliveri and KMFDM.

After writing literally thousands of articles, columns, reviews and interviews for multiple print and online magazines, J.C. published his first novel Seven Days to Die: A Jake Slater Mystery in 2016. He followed this success in 2017 with a collection of short stories and novellas entitled The Pretty Good and Pretty Representative Stories of J.C. Maçek III. This collection continues the hardboiled detective saga of Jake Slater with the new novella The Pestilence of Spring: A Jake Slater Mystery.

J.C. is also an actor, musician, director and film producer. His most recent film is [Cargo], produced by J.C. and written and directed by James Dylan. As producer, J.C. also took the commission to write the novelization to [Cargo] which will be published by Bloodhound Books in early 2018.

J.C. lives in Southern California with his wife, daughters and a veritable zoo full of pets. He is currently working on more Jake Slater crime novels starting with the thriller Hard Core and is looking to expand the mythos of [Cargo].

The author can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Hydra by Matt Wesolowski.

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A family massacre
A deluded murderess
Five witnesses
Six Stories
Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher Orenda Books and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of Hydra in return for an honest review.

Sometimes reading a book scares me, because you sense that you are holding in your hand a novel that is both clever and unnerving, but also written by supremely talented writer! What if you fail to do it justice?

From page one to the very end, I felt a tingle of anticipation that seemed to curl it’s way around every nerve in my body. Your never sure if the memories of the key witnesses are true or not, or if they to are hiding secrets of unimaginable horror. I was consumed by a feeling of dread all the time I spent reading Hydra, almost as scared to stop, as I was to keep reading!

The writer weaves a web of such skill that as a reader, I kept having to reevaluate my thoughts. There was no let up in the suspense and the compelling feeling,  that you too are caught up in the web of horror surrounding the massacre of a family. It is a thriller, a first class one, but it has an element of horror, that will leave you with an urge to check your doors are securely locked and to be sure the windows are too.

It has at it’s heart a story about a web of secrets, actions and lies. It delves into the darkest recesses of minds that most of us would struggle to understand. From this the writer weaves a story that will haunt me for sometime to come and which I feel has seeped deep into my subconscious.

It is superb. It’s thrilling. But most of all it’s confirmation of a talented young writer, whose talent is recognised and nurtured by a publisher, who cares about delivering first class stories to it’s readers.

Thank you all involved for the chance to read it.

Hydra can be purchased from Amazon and other great booksellers.

Author

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

The author can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Blog Tour ~ Guest Post ~ Unbroken by Madeline Black.

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For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented… difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand.

Violently gang-raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.

Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage.

Yet, after growing up with a burden no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. But the road to piecing her life back together was long and painful. For Madeleine, forgiveness was the key. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It is the ultimate act of courage.

In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her moving and empowering story, as she discovers that our lives are not defined by what knocks us down – they are defined by how we get back up.

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I would like to express my thanks to Madeline Black for taking the time to write a guest post about her hugely powerful book Unbroken and the story behind it. Her strength in speaking out not only as an act of self healing and to help other victims, makes me very proud to be part of this blog tour.

My thanks also to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part.

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Story Healers

If anybody told me a few years ago that one day I would be sharing my story, giving TV and radio interviews and writing a book I would never have believed it. But on 22nd September 2014, I decided to share my story publicly and it was posted on the website of The Forgiveness Project and I completely underestimated what the impact would be.

I wrongly assumed that people would feel about me the way I did after being raped; disgusted, contaminated and worthless. My self-esteem was so low that I thought that being raped was a reflection of me somehow.

So pressing the share button on my Facebook post that day was one of the bravest things I have done, as not many of my friends or family knew about my rape or that it had been so violent and near fatal.

Within moments I received so many responses from people I knew in the form of comments, texts, phone calls, emails, gifts and visits. Mostly telling me how shocked they were as they no idea about my past. Someone of my friend’s also disclosed their stories of rape and abuse to me too feeling I would now understand their secret. And then I started to receive messages from women and men that I didn’t know who thanked me for sharing my story as it had happened to them too. In the first two weeks of sharing my story 25 people had privately messaged me, three sharing their story for the very first time.

I started to understand that sharing my story wasn’t about me any more but what it could do for others and I it encouraged me to carry on to give a voice to people who couldn’t find theirs yet. The founder of The Forgiveness Project, Marina Cantacuzino, often refers to us as “Story Healers” rather than “Story Tellers” and now I completely knew what she meant by that.

Sharing my story that day has opened doors for me in ways that I never imagined and I have been invited to share my story at events, conferences, schools, radio and TV. One of the most amazing things that I have taken part in was to be interviewed for BBC Radio 4 by Sir Trevor McDonald on the One to One show talking about redemption. It was delightful to meet him but what took place after the programme was aired was more evidence of the power of sharing our stories.

I was contacted by a friend who told me that her mother had been listening in and she went on to tell her daughter that she felt exactly the same whilst I described my feelings of the guilt that I had brought it on myself and the shame of what would people think if they found out.

My friend asked her mother what she was trying to tell her and she went on to disclose that she had also been raped as teenager and that morning was the first time she had told anyone about it. She broke 64 years of silence and it made me wonder how many other people are out there living with a secret cloaked in shame that they never dare to reveal and could potentially take to their grave. My friend’s mother sharing her story of rape had a profound effect of me and every time I speak now I think of her.

It took me many years to find my voice but I won’t be silent any more and I will continue to speak out to help end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence. We have seen recently with the recent #MeToo phenomena that when one person speaks up it encourages others to find their voice too and I will speak now for all those that cannot find their voice yet.

Unbroken can be purchased via Amazon

Author Bio

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Madeline Black has used her voice to speak out for the victims of sexual violence.  A victim of sexual violence herself, she has shared her story in print and TV/Radio to help those who listen to her story.

Married and working as a psychotherapist, she lives in Glasgow with her husband, three daughters, her cat Suki and dog, Alfie.

You can learn more about Madeline Black on her webpage and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Second Cup by Sarah Graye.

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Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.

Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?

Review

I would like to thank Sarah Graye and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC of The Second Cup in return for an honest review.
The Second Cup is not an easy read at times, dealing with difficult issues such as depression, suicide and grief. It focus on the lives of a group of friends who have all reached a turning point and face choices that will affect the path they take and the friendship they share. But it is a worthwhile read and an enjoyable one at that. Though enjoying a book which focuses on such issues seems the wrong thing to say, maybe it should be more that it is rewarding and enlightening for the reader.
Despite the difficult themes, it is a book written with a deep understanding of the problems faced by all the characters and gives us all hope that with support and a willingness to accept help, life doesn’t need to be hopeless or futile.
The characters are all well rounded and highly likeable. Their flaws are understandable and help us to see the world from their point of view. The writer makes you care about the characters within the story and avoids the clichéd way some novels dismiss subjects like depression, while remaining open and heartfelt.
The only thing that troubled me was the number of threads within the story. It’s not that it is difficult to follow; Sarah Grayle skilfully guides you through the interactions between the group of friends. I just felt personally that it would have been an even better story, if the narrative was tighter and there was more focus one or two characters, rather than four.
But this is a very personal reaction and not an indication of the quality of the story and the reward gained from reading it. It is an ensured debut and I would certainly look forward to following the writer’s career and future books.

To be in with a chance to win a copy of this book, then follow this Link.

The Second Cup can be purchased from Amazon.

Author Bio

SarahMarieGraye

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.

Sarah can be followed on Twitter.

 

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri.

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The Crown of the Andes, one of the world’s most precious and beautiful sacred objects, has been stolen right off the stage at Satterling’s Auction House in New York City. Five pounds of magnificent baroque gold that ransomed the Inca Ruler Atahaulpa, and hundreds of perfect Colombian emeralds, all gone without a trace! Will this legendary treasure be destroyed for its gold and emeralds? One woman is dead and another one in hot pursuit.

Review

I would like to thank the author of The Matter of The Crown Linda Ferreri and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC in return for an honest review.
If you like a easy to read thriller with lots of fascinating historical information, then The Matter of The Crown if a good one to pick.
It has a cast of likeable characters, especially the hero of the piece, Italian Policeman Baldo and the heroine Claire Bliss. Both of whom are engaging and very likeable.
It has twists and turns a plenty and takes the reader from the beauty and mystery of Italy to the dazzling skyscrapers of New York. There is plenty of adventure and mystery within its pages to keep you reading and is written by an author with an obvious passion for her story.
For me and this is simply a personal judgement, the segments of historical background affected the flow of the story and I would have preferred less of it within the novel. It is though all fascinating stuff and you should certainly not be put off by this, because others will love it! Reading is a personal experience and what works for one, may not for the next person.
If drama with an historical element to it, with a heroine who faces a personal journey is your reading taste, then give The Matter of the Crown a try.

The Matter of the Crown can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio 

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Linda Ferreri is a well-known art lawyer and author.  Her books include novels about the Crown of the Anes, a novella entitled The King of UNINI, and whimsical hand-illustrated iBooks.  She is known, also, for her drawings.   She divides her time between Italy and the United States, and lectures widely around the world about art and history.  Her next novel is in progress.

Linda Ferreri can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Standstill by J A Marley #Thriller.

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Even the deadliest criminals leave a trail…
When a psychotic policeman drags the young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix out of bed, he could not imagine he was about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption and coercion follow the corrupt Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny just where he wants him.
But Harkness isn’t the only officer with Danny in his sights. Christine Chance is getting closer to him while doing her best to be a mother to her seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?  And does he have what it takes to use the streets of modern-day London to pull off the theft of the 21st Century?
Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed.

Review

Many thanks to the publisher Bloodhound Books, author J A Marley and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC copy of Standstill in return for an honest review.
Crime thrillers are a massively popular genre, which makes it difficult for any book to stand out among the thousands published each year. To succeed it needs to have an element that makes it different in some way from all the other highly enjoyable thrillers that the reader has to choose from. One such component is that the ‘hero’ is meant to overcome the ‘bad guy’ after a thrilling series of chases and deadly encounters and this is what makes Standstill stand out! The ‘good guy’ Danny, is in fact not so good himself, he is in reality just significantly less bad that his nemesis Detective Inspector Harkness.
Don’t get me wrong Standstill has all the traditional elements of a thriller, it’s fast paced, gritty and violent. It starts with a bang. The villain is evil and determined to cause trouble on a scale London has not seen in a while. The stakes for many of the characters are high enough. Potential for death is littered within its pages, while the ‘hero’ is determined not to allow the villain, to derail his plans to pull off an audacious robbery. It is full of twists and turns and is a first class thriller, with an anti hero, you will find yourself wanting to succeed, even though you know that he is flawed and a criminal.
This is why I enjoyed Standstill so much, it stood out and keep me reading well past the time I would normally be snuggled up under my duvet.
I could see this as a TV programme and a great one at that! It grips you and draws you into London’s criminal underworld and the world of an unhinged Police officer, who cares little for the role of protecting the public from people like Danny.
Importantly I forgot the world around me and was lost in the fantasy of the book, which dared to take the traditional elements we expect in a thriller and twist them to give the story an original and exhilarating feel.
I can heartily recommend Standstill to existing thriller fans and those looking to discover why thrillers have so many dedicated readers.

Author Bio

John Marley, 27April2016, photographer Bronac McNeill

John A. Marley’s writing career started with a poem about two brothers who both liked sausages, their names were Butch and Dutch and his Primary School teacher Mr. Murray liked it so much it made the main noticeboard at the entrance to Holy Child Primary School in West Belfast.  A little older but none the wiser, he ended up as a film journalist in his native Northern Ireland, contributing to local newspapers, BBC Radio Ulster and latterly writing as the main film critic for the glossy magazine, Northern Woman.

John’s love of good stories came from the Irish predilection for telling a good yarn and the fact that there was nothing quite like sneaking away his Dad’s battered paperbacks to read even though he knew they were meant for adults and not kids. And so pulp fiction such as The Edge Westerns by George G. Gilman, the adventure novels of Alistair MacLean and the thrillers of Jack Higgins all served to whet his appetite for a good story told at pace.

These days, his reading tastes still focus on thrills, spills and good plot and he can’t walk by a James Lee Burke or an Elmore Leonard without pausing to read a few pages…even if it is in a busy bookshop.

John A. Marley is also a TV producer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming and formats for both a UK and international audience. His eclectic portfolio of high-profile shows include Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAFBritain’s Flying PastStaraokeBest of FriendsSkatoonyNoel’s House PartyThrough the KeyholeSMTV:Live/CD:UKHow Euro Are You? and live coverage of “The Oscars” with Barry Norman.

John runs his own production company Archie Productions which he launched in 2008. Prior to setting up his own indie, John enjoyed a wide and varied career in television with creative roles at Talent Television, Planet 24, Carlton Television and Walt Disney UK. John’s broadcast media career started in his native Northern Ireland as a radio host.

J A Marley can bee followed on Twitter.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Turning For Home by Barney Norris

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‘Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’

Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.

As lyrical and true to life as Norris’s critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, which won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.

Review

I would like to thank the publisher Doubleday, author Barney Norris and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC copy of Turning For Home in return for an honest review.
I recently heard blogger Savidge Reads talk on his Youtube channel about how some books just ‘chime’ with you as a reader. It’s a perfect way to explain, how there are books that for one reason or another, make a connection with a book lover, which will never be broken.
Without any doubt this book will forever be one of my most cherished reads and started off 2018 with a resounding five star rating. It will take a supreme effort for another book to knock it from the dizzying heights I have placed it on, among my all time favourite reads. Much like Tin Man, which was my favourite book of 2017, Barney Norris’s second novel is hauntingly beautiful and will stay with me for some time.

It is rare for me to find myself emotionally connected to a book, but it was instant with Turning For Home.  Both main characters seemed to speak to me and I loved them both without question. I wanted throughout, to take a journey with them, to wherever Barney Norris had decided their fate lay. He made me care and captured my heart from the opening sentence.

We all want to read great books and Turning for Home is an outstanding piece of literature. One for which Barney Norris should be celebrated and showered with praise. The prose is lyrical and speaks straight to the heart of the reader of love and the complicated relationships we form, with the many strands of family and loved ones throughout our lives. Barney Norris has an intrinsic understanding of human frailty and how the dreams we have of the lives we will lead, are tied up with the reality of experience and the pain of giving of ourselves to others. His writing reminds me of the poetic style of the late writer Helen Dunmore, whose book The Lie was imbued with a tale of haunting simplicity and yet was at the same time astonishingly intimate.

If you want to step into the pages of a great book then this should be there on the top table.  It filled me with wonder and and joy. It’s an emotional read at times, but it gives you hope that even when life shatters the dreams you held dear, new ones can hold you closeted in their safe embrace. It said to me that we are more than the day to day routine of work and responsibility; we are indeed both dreamer and builder of castles in the sky.

Barney Norris is one of Britain’s finest young talents and Turning For Home is a crowning achievement confirming all the promise he displayed in his first novel Five Rivers Met On a Flooded Plain. Both are the work of a wonderfully talented writer and I am excited to see all the books he will write in the years to come.

Turning For Home can be purchased from AmazonWaterstones and all good bookseller’s.

Author Bio

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Barney Norris is a critically acclaimed playwright, poet and author. For his debut full-length play Visitors, which ran at that Arcola before transferring to the Bush in November 2014, he won the Critics Circle Award 2014 for Most Promising Playwright. He was also shortlisted for the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Most Promising Playwright, the Writers Guild of Great Britain 2014 award for Best Play and the Best New Play Award at the Off West End Theatre Awards 2014. Visitors received rave star reviews in publications such as the Guardian, The Times, the Telegraph and the New York Times. His first non-fiction book Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill was published by Seren in February 2014, and his first book of poetry, Falling, was published by Playdead Press. He is the co-artistic director of theatre company Up in Arms, and from the autumn of 2015 will be the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. He has a BA (Hons) from the University of Oxford and an MA (Hons) from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Barney Norris can be followed on Twitter

 

Blog Tour ~ Review~ Divine Poison by AB Morgan.

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For a community psychiatric nurse, Monica Morris has an unhealthy interest in poison, and when, on impulse, she buys an antique Ship’s Doctor’s Cabinet with a set of leather bound journals she becomes fascinated by the content.
A few days later, she discovers the body of her patient, Jan Collins, and although police assume suicide by overdose, Monica is not convinced.
When more unexplained deaths involving poisoning occur, Monica realises they are linked and so does DS Adams who is investigating. But how are they connected? And why?
When it becomes obvious that she’s unwittingly stepped into a trap set for someone else, Monica’s career, her own sanity and her life are placed at risk. But where can she turn to for help?
Review
I would like to thank Bloodhound books, the author and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of Divine Poison in return for an honest review.
If you’re looking for an easy to read but thoroughly engaging thriller, then Divine Poison is a book you should consider buying. Focused around a Monica a community mental health nurse who finds herself caught up in the unexplained deaths of some of her patients.
One of the things I really liked, was how the writer captured the sometimes perverse sense of humour shared by many working in healthcare and the emergency services, to deal with troubling situations and emotions. It’s a unique coping mechanism and AB Morgan weaves it into her story, giving the character of Monica a genuine edge to her.
As a character she works wonderfully, is funny, caring and flawed. She suffers from the stress of her job and the drama she comes across, but resilient as she is, carries on determined to see the mystery is solved. Perfect lead character material in fact. You want the characters to survive, especially Monica who I quickly came to care about.
The story itself is full of twists and turns. Monica is left wondering who she can trust and so are you as a reader. The way BK Duncan incorporates the sinister agenda of some of characters into the story, without revealing too much, means that right to the end, your left wondering who did what to whom and why! Motivation for murder and the length some will go to protect their agenda, is perfectly balanced with Monica’s overwhelming need to find answers to the mysterious deaths of her patients.
From page one to the last, Divine Poison is an enjoyable read.
Divine Poison can be purchased from Amazon.
Author Bio.
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Alison Morgan started writing a couple of years ago to address that niggling question: could she write a book? The answer was a simple yes. She’s had to retire from the NHS a little earlier than planned, but has discovered a new passion. Writing. Her debut novel, A Justifiable Madness, was published by Bloodhound Books in September 2017 attracting great reviews for its refreshing premise and dark humour. With two further novels being published at the beginning of 2018, it seems Alison has a promising future as an author. Divine Poison is the second novel to feature Monica Morris, a mental health nurse, as the main protagonist in this crime mystery, but there are no plans for a series. Alison’s third suspense novel, The Camera Lies, steps away from the field of nursing and into the world of real crime documentary films.

Alison lives with her husband Andy and their dog Sadie, in a small village north of Bedford. She’s not the type to let life get in the way of adventure and so, always up for the next challenge, she decided to have a proper midlife crisis and learn to ride a motorbike. In August she passed, first time. Her husband was impressed until she swung her leg over his prized Triumph and roared off with a big grin on her face. ‘Research for the next book,’ she cried. The fourth book is under construction and does indeed feature motorbikes.

AB Morgan can be followed on social media sites FacebookTwitter

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