Book Review ~ What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell.

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On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, their relationship growing increasingly intimate and unnerving.
As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history: his formative experiences of love, his painful rejection by family and friends, and the difficulty of growing up as a gay man in southern America in the 1990s.
Startlingly erotic and immensely powerful, What Belongs to You tells an unforgettable story about the ways our pasts and cultures, our scars and shames can shape who we are and determine how we love.
Longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction

A Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

A Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Review

As part of my series of blog posts about LGBT fiction, I’ve read a book that won’t appeal to everyone, which is sad, because it’s an incredible piece of literature! What Belongs to You by Gareth Greenwell deals with the themes of loss, rejection, identity and culture and how all these shape the adults we become.
The formative years of our lives can have a huge impact on how we navigate the extraordinarily chaotic nature of relationships we form as adults. Gareth Greenwell has written a book which captures with astute honestly, the damage that can be done to LGBT people by the negative judgment of family and community. Especially when as young adults they are struggling to accept their sexuality and place in a world, which sees them as different from what’s considered ‘normal’.
Telling the tale of an American lecturer who meets Mitko, a hustler with whom he enters a relationship of sorts, veering from instant sexual attraction to anguished rejection. It’s honest in its depiction of their sexual relationship and though powerfully erotic, this is not eroticism designed to titillate or shock, but a candid look at a relationship born from a need for physical contact.
Both the main characters are deeply flawed and damaged individuals, which makes them fascinating to read about. I found myself swaying from sympathy to deeply felt frustration towards both the American and Mitko, as both take advantage of the other’s weaknesses. Yet at the same time I found it equally effortless to care about them, because they are so damaged.
I recently saw a review that stated the book was boring because nothing happens, for me that misses the point of the story. It’s not full of action, of events, or grand gestures, but is a moving depiction of two men and the bond that connects them. In fact it is a master class in character led storytelling.
What Belongs To You will stay with me for some time to come and is a story I think will stand the test of time. So intricate that the more times it is read, the richer the reading experience will be!

What Belongs To You can be purchased from Amazon

 

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Psychosis by Roger Bray.

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When Hazel disappears, the police are convinced that her husband, Alex, has killed her.  Three years after his conviction for murder, Alex and his sister, Alice, are devastated when their last appeal is rejected by the courts. With nowhere left to turn, Alice must start to put her life back together.  Living in limbo herself, Alice has a chance encounter with Steve, an ex-solider turned PI who offers to look at the case files. Steve is convinced that the prosecution’s case is shaky at best, but can he find out the truth before it’s too late for Alex?

Review

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

My absolute favourite thing about this book was the superb way the storyline was built up by the author Roger Bray. This top notch thriller is like a jigsaw puzzle, in that he feeds you the pieces of the story and builds it up into a completed picture. If fast based thrillers are your cup of tea, then this book will feel different, its about the investigation and the building of a case to free a wrongly convicted man. Evidence used to convict him is slowly pulled apart and a new picture built up of the actual events leading to Hazels disappearance. It’s fascinating and exciting and utterly compelling. I read on because I needed to see how the final events that freed Alex or left him in jail. Its quite masterly in how it all works and your left feeling very satisfied at the end!

The characterisation works perfectly.  Steve, ex-solider was by far my favourite of the two main characters. Sometimes Pi’s can come across as a bit gruff and unbelievable! But he is warm, funny and caring and I rapidly came to like him.  I wish he would feature in more books, because his background and skills need more stories built around him.

Definitely one of my favourite thrillers so far this year. It’s solid, fascinating and a very rewarding read.

You can buy Psychosis from Amazon.

About the author- Roger Bray. 

Roger Bray Author Pic

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops. My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider. Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing. Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school. So here we are, two books published and another on track. Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

The author can be followed on his WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ Coming Darkness by Susan-Alia Terry.

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Archangel Lucifer lives a comfortable life of self-imposed exile with his vampire lover, Kai. When the other Archangels come to him with a problem — Heaven is gone and their Father is missing — he refuses to get involved because not only is it not his problem, but it’s probably some elaborate ruse they’ve cooked up to lure him back into the fold. When he’s personally attacked, he finds that he’s wrong on both counts. There are other powerful gods at work, gods who believe the current creation is flawed and must be destroyed.
Kai is thrown off balance when Lucifer disappears, and his life begins to spiral out of control. In the past, he never cared that he was looked down upon and called Lucifer’s pet. But with Lucifer absent, he’s left to navigate a world that doesn’t respect him. Since the only true currency is respect, he must gain it the only way his enemies will understand, through blood.

I would like to thank the author Susan-Alia Terry to my blog today with an extract from her book Coming Darkness. Many thanks also to blog tour organiser Rachel Gilby for the invite to take part in the tour.

Extract

When Michael appeared at the gate, Lucifer was secretly glad he had placed wards preventing him or any other unwanted family from coming any further. Otherwise Michael would have been on the porch spoiling his recently repaired mood. He should have known that his annoyingly pedantic brother would not let this go. If it involved what Michael perceived as his duty—and everyone else’s—he would be relentless, refusing to give an inch until he’d had his way. Of course he wouldn’t accept his non-involvement, why should this time be any different?
“You know, I’ve always loved the sea. It has the unique ability to cleanse the soul of unpleasantness,” Lucifer said, knowing Michael could hear him easily, despite the kitty-corner positioning.
“You are not on the sea,” Michael replied.
“And you, brother mine, are tedious and predictable.“
There was no immediate reply, although Lucifer knew he was still there.
“I didn’t realize you hated us this much.” It surprised Lucifer to hear a touch of sorrow in Michael’s voice.
Lucifer sighed, tamping down the sudden wave of guilt. “I find it hard to believe that you actually care,” he replied honestly, no longer wanting to hold on to pretense.
Again, Michael took a moment to reply. “At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Still stroking the cat in his arms, Lucifer stood and walked with her to the arched porch entrance, down the stone steps, and then along the winding path to the entrance gate. Once there, he made no move to invite Michael in but gazed at him over the waist-high gate.
“Making me the enemy seemed the right thing to do.” He looked down at the cat and gave her a particularly thorough scratch under her chin. Blissed out, her purrs rose in volume, and she raised her head giving him more access. “How does that work, exactly?”
“Things just… got out of hand,” Michael replied with a helpless gesture. Still scratching, Lucifer said nothing but instead tilted his head to the side examining the obviously uncomfortable archangel. “It was an idea. One of many, actually. It just… seemed to catch hold. Before we knew it, it was out of our control. For what it is worth, I am sorry.”
Lucifer hadn’t expected the honest confession—or the apology for that matter. If The Old Man was indeed behind this sudden reversal, he no longer cared. Warmth bloomed in his chest, and tears stung the corners of his eyes. It surprised him that it took so little to ease his soul. He kissed the top of the cat’s head and bent over to put her down. When he stood straight again, his smile was warm and happy.
“It did work out exceptionally well for me though, don’t you think?” He laughed, crossing his arms and leaning on the gate.
“If you say so.” Michael’s perplexed look said he was being humored.
“I do, and you’re jealous.” Lucifer’s smile widened, and he waved away Michael’s impending protests. “How could you not be? I get to do as I please, live as I choose.” His voice lowered conspiratorially. “And it some circles, my power rivals that of The Old Man himself.” He chuckled, shaking his head.
“Must you call him that?” The others were used to it, but Michael always looked scandalized when he used that appellation.
Lucifer toed the ground around the gate. “When I left and changed my name, He stopped being my father,” he said quietly. “I’ll call Him whatever I choose.”
Michael took a breath to say something but luckily heeded the warning glare thrown his way. That was an entirely different argument, and Lucifer refused to engage.
Still leaning on the gate, Lucifer straightened slightly and looked off into the distance. Swept away by the momentum of truth telling he said, “I hated you for a long time. Hated The Old Man even more for letting you get away with it. Then one day it occurred to me that I had everything I ever wanted. I didn’t have to debase or compromise myself in any way to have fear and respect.” He looked at Michael. “I realized that my dear brothers had given the humans to me on a platter—and for that, I cannot hate you.” His tone grew wistful, “If anything, I feel sorry for you. You run around doing The Old Man’s bidding, bearing the yoke of responsibility—when you could be free.”
Sensing a rebuttal, he altered the topic. “True, I have the fan club of idiots to deal with.” He gestured toward Canes Inferni compound across the river and shrugged. “But they can be amusing, so I can’t complain.” He pushed off the gate and brushed imaginary dust off his pristine cream suit jacket. He’d felt the stirrings of past affinity, and his voice held regret when he said, “Although I’ve enjoyed this time to clear the air, if you’ve come for more—to try and convince me to help—you’ll leave disappointed.”
“You don’t know everything. Let me explain, please.”
Lucifer studied him. Michael’s stoic mask had slipped. He saw urgency, but also… fear? What did Michael have to be afraid of? Concern, yes, but fear? Lucifer was intrigued and decided he’d listen. “Fine. Explain.”

You can purchase Coming Darkness from Amazon

About the author.

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They say it’s never too late to find and pursue your passion. Turns out they’re right. Although Susan loved to read, she didn’t start writing until she was in her late 40’s. A stint in grad school helped her hone her craft, and now she happily spends her days making up stories and figuring out how best to emotionally (and sometimes physically) torture her characters.

The author can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Abel’s Revenge by Ross Greenwood

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This is a story about a city. As with all others, it’s a place of violence. There are murderers, and they live among us.
This is also a tale about a couple — sometimes friends, occasionally lovers, but always partners. Dan and Olivia are fighting modern battles; the ones parents have over a lack of money, time or peace.
An escalating serial killer terrifies the streets and homes. The body count rises as their relationship crumbles. Society reveals its dark side, and no one is safe. Dan and Olivia experience this first-hand as danger closes in.
Will Abel’s reign of terror ever end?
Who will live and who will die?

Review

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

So what were my favorite elements of Abel’s Revenge?

The strong central characters in Abel, Dan and Olivia, all of whom were well crafted by the author, have to feature at the top of that list.  I like a great thriller, but I also need characters whom I enjoy reading about. Now it might seem strange to say I enjoyed reading about a serial killer, but I did, because Abel is damaged and fascinating at the same time. He is egoistical and deranged, yet it’s these very elements that keep you reading, especially when the author teases you about his identity within the novel. He is also not one dimensional, their are layers that are not lost in the madness, but highlighted by the writer.  Then there is Olivia and Dan an everyday couple struggling with parenthood and work, caught up in the nightmare Abel has created. They are used with huge affect to show how a crimes never occur in isolation, the nervous hysteria draws many people into the whirlwind of fear, feeding Abel’s already deranged state of mind.

Another reason I loved this book, was the humour! You might not expect it in a story about a self declared agent of retribution and egoistical serial killer. But it’s there and I giggled more than once. Even some of Abel’s more bizarre moments had moments of dark hu mour and gave this fantastic thriller an edge missing from many other similar books.

The story itself is highly enjoyable, especially the effortless way the writing flows between Abel’s manic episodes and Dan and Olivia’s reaction to events and family issues. It has the edginess of a thriller with the added benefit of the human drama behind the murderous events holding a city in its thrall.

You can purchase Abel’s Revenge from Amazon.

About the author. 

Ross Greenwood Author Image

Ross Greenwood was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until he was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. He then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.
Ross found himself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually, so he says “when things had gone wrong.” It was on one of these occasions that he met his partner about 100 metres from his back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. And, according to Ross, he is “still a little stunned by the pace of it now.”
Lazy Blood book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave the author the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep he completed it in the early morning hours.
Ross Greenwood’s second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by Bloodhound Books, and in September 2017, Fifty Years of Fear was published. All his books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour.
Ross Greenwood hopes you enjoy reading them.

Ross can be followed via his WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ From A Low And Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan.

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Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war.

Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe.

John’s past torments him as he nears his end.

The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

Review

Many thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I’m a firm believer that some books call out to a readers soul, that the story within the pages, resonates with them in ways they may not be be able to explain, but they understand in an instinctive way.  From A Low and Quiet Sea is one of those books for me.

We have a story that brings the lives of three men and their complex narratives to readers using language that flows like poetry from the page. The imagery that Donal Ryan creates with the written word is subtle, but imbued with such emotional depth, that you carry it with you, long after you’ve fished reading the book.

My mind returned to the lives of Farouk, Lampy and John, many times after I turned the final page, because the heart of the book lies within their lives, thoughts and emotions. It spoke to me of loss, pain and grief, yet also quiet triumph in the face of adversity.  All three men have a haunting quality to them and I when I looked at the world through their eyes, I could almost feel how and why they searched endlessly, for a home that could shelter them from all they had lost.

The refugee, the dreamer and the penitent are by far some of the most powerful creations I have read about in recent time and I will miss them.

You can purchase From A Low and Quiet Sea from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author. 

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Donal Ryan is from Nenagh in County Tipperary. His first two novels, The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December, and his short story collection A Slanting of the Sun, have all been published to major acclaim. The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize for Literature (Ireland), and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards; it was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize. The Thing About December was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and the title story of A Slanting of the Sun won the writing.ie Short Story of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. His third novel, All We Shall Know, will be published in autumn 2016. Donal holds a Writing Fellowship at the University of Limerick. He lives with his wife Anne Marie and their two children just outside Limerick City.

From A Low & Quiet Sea Blog Tour Poster

Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Barry And The Chronicles by Alun Davies. #youngfiction.

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Barry encounters an evil force of Witches intent on capturing the minds of young children with a view to making themselves more and more powerful. Barry finds other Spiders along the way to help him stop their plans and together they battle for the upper hand.
Throughout the story there are constant references to The Spider Chronicles because it is a book of instruction, philosophy and meaning whose teachings are to be both followed and believed if good is to prevail over evil. Sometimes the content is easily understood but it cannot always be so and readers of all ages must seek the many messages being delivered.
The way Barry’s life evolves is quickly read but hard to forget; there are many threads to follow and weave. This story could stay with you for years to come.

Review

Many thanks to Clink Street Publishing, the author Alun Davies and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC of Barry and The Chronicles in return for an honest review.
This is a book is a charming tale of a spider who battles the forces of the evil witches, with the help of other spiders. It is told in way that challenges the young reader to delve into the messages within the story, of what it takes to be brave and stand up for others. Overall I enjoyed the story, which was told in a way most young readers could follow. It has grand themes which will excite them and a hero who is brave and determined, without using language they may struggle to read. I like Barry and I think young readers will to, because he is simply made of the stuff that hero’s are made of, bravery and an sense of adventure.
I do think the story would have benefited from illustrations throughout and though I think some readers may struggle with some of the grander themes in the book and need parents to read with them, shared family reading time is one of my favorite things and I think this book is perfect for this.

I can’t wait to share this with my god children.

Barry And The Chronicles can be purchased from Amazon.

You can follow this link to watch an animation with music written by the author.

About the author. 

Originating from the South Wales Valleys, Alun Davies had a varied and extensive career including roles in the Civil Service and international trade and accountancy practices before starting his own business. Now retired he lives in London with his wife and three grown up children. In his spare time he writes music and has written original songs to accompany the release of the animation.

Alun Davies can be followed on Instagram and Facebook.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Midday by David Lyons #Thriller.

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When his alarm goes off at 7am, successful bank manager Vincent assumes he is waking up to an ordinary working day. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Darragh, a young man with aspirations to become a gangster, forces his wayi nto the Dublin penthouse Vincent shares with his lover Ryan, telling Vincent he has until midday to steal eight million euros from the banks he manages. If he doesn’t return by the deadline, his boyfriend will receive a bullet to the head.

But all is not as it seems.

When the clock strikes midday, will they all be alive?

And who is really in danger?

Review

I would like to thank the author, Bloodhound publishing and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of Midday in return for an honest review.
When you read the blurb for a book, you wonder if the words they use such as unpredictable really describe what you are about to read. Well bugger me, they certainly do when used in connection with Midday. All the action takes place between 7am and 12 midday on the same day and as a result the story is tight, thrilling and explosive. It is like being on a roller coaster, you go up, rapidly down, tight thrilling turns and this is what it’s like reading this compulsive read. I was convinced I knew the path the writer was leading me down and I was proved very wrong. The story and the writing are first class. I love thrillers to be action packed, but not at the cost of characterisation and we get to know the background to all four characters, which are weaved into the fabric of the story. I was delighted to have what most pleases me in this genre, fast paced plot, strong believeable characters and a plot you can believe in. No time to get bogged down in details, yet on point to the extent, you literally can’t pull your eyes away from the page.

I often say I would happily recommend books to friends and family, and it’s true all the time and in connection with Midday. If you want a storyline that we excite you than this is the book to be reading. Give it a go because if you love thrillers, it would be a shame to miss this one.

 

You can buy Midday in ebook and paperback from Amazon.

About the author.

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Dublin-born author David B. Lyons has a new twist on the psychological thriller. His debut, Midday, will be released on March 22nd and promises readers a thrilling ride. It’s the story of the same extraordinary morning, told from the perspective of four different characters.

David comes from a journalistic background. He worked, mainly, in the areas of football and music reporting for over 12-years, notching a few awards along the way. He tried to write creatively in his spare time, but found the formulaic writing nature of his day job a hindrance. He met with producers about both a play and a TV pilot he had written, but both fell short of being green lit, much to his disappointed. However, it gave him the opportunity to fulfil a life-log dream of finally penning a novel. He completed a BA Hons Degree in Creative Writing and soon after, completed Midday. Three months later, that debut was picked up by Bloodhound Books and early buzz suggests a promising writing career lies ahead for the thirty-nine-year-old.

He now lives in Birmingham, UK with his wife Kerry and daughter Lola. He has read fiction all of his life and notes Dean Koontz as a real inspiration. He is also a big fan of Gillian Flynn as well as rising star Liz Nugent.

David Lyons can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Blog Tour ~ A Forsaken Friend by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pope. #IntelligentChickLit

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No-one said friendship was easy.

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.  But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…  It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.  Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.  The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heart-warming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND. 

Review

I would like to thank the authors Sue Featherstone and Susan Pope , publisher Lakewater Press and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of A Forsaken Friend in return for an honest review.
It’s confession time, I am not a big Chic Lit reader, so when I was offered this as a review copy, I thought about it carefully, worried that I wouldn’t be able to do a fair review, one the book and authors deserved. You write a book and put your heart and soul into it, then you place it in the hands of someone you have never met and trust they will adore the story you have crafted with love, it must be hard and writers are incredibly brave!
When I looked at the book description, it describes itself as Chic Lit with attitude and it has that in spade loads. It’s also funny, very funny in places. It deals with issues such as relationships and how fractured they can become, yet still at their core remain strong and necessary. We face with Lee and Teri issues such as grief, love and the vagaries of modern life.
After reading it I realised it wasn’t just Chic Lit with attitude, it’s intelligent and relevant to our everyday lives and most importantly it’s fun to read. I found myself nodding, laughing and feeling genuine sadness at those points where the story dealt with issues of loss. Chic Lit is a vibrant genre, much loved my millions of readers and there is reason for that, they deal with often complex issues with a lightness of touch that reflects how people interact and live their lives.
I found both Lee and Teri are to be fabulous characters, even when they were behaving badly they were warm and easy to like, we can all identify with them and their actions in some way. As friends they work, because although the friendship is fractured, it is realistic. How many of us fall out with close friends, or go weeks without seeing them, yet we are still friends, even if occasionally that relationship seems one sided or full of drama.
This is a great book to read. Fun and with a depth to the storyline most people don’t associate chic lit with, which is a shame, because there is a reason so many people love it. I glad to say not only did I love it, it has redefined my attitude to chic lit and I look forward to yet more of Lee and Ali’s lives.

A Forsaken Friend can be purchased from Amazon in ebook form and as a paperback.

About the authors.

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).
Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Failing Friend, in their Friends trilogy.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.
Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra. They blog about books at Bookloversbooklist.

The Sue Featherstone can be followed on Twitter at @Sue_Writer and Susan Pope at @wordfocus.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ End Game by Matt Johnson. #Thriller

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The final instalment in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay series, as his past continues to haunt him…

Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout. Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.

Review

I would like to thank the author Matt Johnson, the publisher Orenda books and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of End Game in return for an honest review.

End Game is a fabulous ending to a superb trilogy. From page one to its final chapter I was engrossed and furiously turning the pages to reach the epic ending.

You become invested in characters when the writing is as good as this and my nerves were on edge throughout, wondering at the fates of our heroes. Robert Finley is such a superb creation, you can tell he was written by an author who has experience in both the armed forces and the police. He feels real and imbued with characteristics such as integrity and resourcefulness, which we expect in those that serve to protect us. That’s why I liked him so much, he felt real and plausible in every way.

It is full of twists and turns that wrong footed me. I was forced to reevaluate where I thought the story was going and who I thought were the characters I could trust. The narrative perfectly balancing characterisation and story, because for me, thrillers need to be intelligent as well as action packed. End Game was both.

It is a superb read and a book I would very much recommend.

You can purchase End Game from Amazon.

A bit about the author.

Matt Johnson Author Picture

Matt Johnson served as a soldier from 1975-78 and Metropolitan Police officer from 1978 -1999.

His debut novel Wicked Game – a crime thriller – was published by Orenda Books in March 2016. The sequel Deadly Game, was published in March 2017, the finale End Game, in March 2018.
In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.

Matt was eventually persuaded to give this a go, and one evening, he sat at his computer and started to weave his notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He used his detailed knowledge and recollections to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing and terrorism.

I could be argued that Matt Johnson is living proof PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers.

Matt is represented by James Wills of Watson Little, Literary Agents and by Kaye Freeman of Andromeda Talent. The former for all literary, audio, tv and film rights; the latter for all public speaking engagements.

Matt Can be followed on his blog and on Twitter.

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ The Deal by S C Cunningham.

The Deal 3D-3-small

 

A Paranormal Thriller for those who dare to believe that there is something else out there…
At the age of four, Amy was taken…She survived.
A week later, another little girl was taken…She didn’t.

Angry that a bad man has gotten away with murder, feisty young Amy Fox makes a deal with God. When she dies, if she’s been a good girl, would God let her sit on a cloud for a while, invisible, to get bad people who slip through his fingers?

Her deal and God long forgotten, career girl Amy mysteriously dies. Her lifeless body is found beneath a London underground commuter train.

She awakens in the afterlife to discover an international network of like-minded souls who’ve all made the same deal. A sophisticated MI5-esque justice machine sits in the skies, protecting, righting wrongs, tracking criminals, and working within strict rules of play…all against time.

Each country’s Unit shares intelligence, surveillance, and resources to deactivate dangerous situations. The only evidence they leave behind during their earthly visits is a small white feather sashaying to the ground.

In a chaotic world, powerful adversaries try to close her Unit down. A complex SAS vigilante has been assigned to work as her partner, but with his jealous violent ex-girlfriend on her heels and with her own vendetta to settle, Amy has never worked so hard in her entire earthly life. She has to wonder if making a deal with God was a mistake.

Extract

Brompton Court Train Station

He stood in the shadows, watching her fight her way through the barriers, one hand clutching the phone to her ear, the other balancing a tall iced latte and holding it aloft over commuters’ heads.
Amy shouted into her mobile, competing with the station’s hum.
“Urrgh! I’ve got the hangover from hell, Sal…sorry, what did you say?” She squinted her eyes from the pain, vowing never to drink again.
“What am I going to do, Ames? It’s that bitch Dartagnia. She’s been promoted, and she’s driving me crazy. I swear I’m going to kill her.” Sally’s voice whined through the phone.
“Don’t let her get to you, hon. There’s a little shit-stirrer in every office. Just suck it up. Life’s too short. Leave it to karma.” Amy hugged the phone tight into her ear, took a slurp of much needed coffee, and continued.
“What you need is a little protective Labradorite tumble stone in your pocket. That’ll keep her at bay.”
“You and your crystals. What a load of baloney,” tutted Sally. “No, what I need is a little protective knuckle duster in my pocket and to chuck her into the bay. God help me, I’m gonna kill that woman.”
“Revenge only gets you in trouble, Sal, and comes back threefold. She’s not worth it.” Amy bit her lip and crossed her fingers, justifying her own revenge plan because it was different, he was an evil, murdering, child abuser.
“I don’t care. I’d gratefully do time for that woman.”
“Just let karma do its stuff.”
“Stuff karma. Who’s got time to wait for blinking karma? I want her dead, now!” groaned Sally. “Do we know any hitmen?”
“No, I don’t know any hitmen,” Amy sighed.
Fellow commuters turned to look at her. She’d spoken a little too loudly. She gave them an apologetic shrug and turned away, whispering into her phone.
“Funny as it may seem, my contact list is fresh out of hitmen. You’ve got to calm down, hon. Maybe I should get you a Smithsonite stone. It’s really pretty. You’ll love it.”
“Fuck off with the blinking crystals, for god’s sake. What about some cyanide crystals, or ammunition? Can you get me some ammunition?” Sal had no time for the crystal hocus-pocus.
Amy sighed. “No, I can’t get any cyanide or ammunition.”
Her fellow commuters started to move away.
She carried on before Sal could continue.
“You need to calm down. Smithsonite is a stone of tranquillity. I know what you’re like. You get all ugly-obsessive-revengey. It’s so not a good look, hon.” A surge of nausea hit Amy. “God I feel ill.”
As she squeezed through barriers, a wave of hurried, stressed commuters flowed in behind her. Well used to the rush hour chaos, she surfed the tide with ease. Tripping and bumping to the polite British murmur of ‘sorry…ooops,’ ‘sorry…so sorry.’
The heaving travellers made their way across the forecourt, down the steps, and onto the busy platform. She strained to hear her friend’s reply.
“You’re a useless drinker, two drinks and you keel over…wish Dartagnia would, do us all a favour. Give me the biggest fucking stone you’ve got. I’m gonna fucking throw it at her.”
“Now, that’s not helpful.”
“I’m gonna tie ten of them to her handcuffed body and throw her in the Thames.”
“Sal…”
“I know, I know…you see the effect she has on me. I hate the way she brings out the bitch…grrrrrr! I can’t help it. Nor can anyone else in the office. We all look forward to her days off or when she phones in sick. There’s such a nice energy in the place when she’s not there,” Sally sighed. “Miss High-and-Fucking-Mighty is always belittling us, always having the last word, charming to our faces but stabbing knives in our backs as soon as we leave the room. We call her the smiling assassin.”
Sally continued, barely coming up for air.
“She loves it when we fuck up, loves pointing it out and getting us in trouble, thinks she knows it all…and she generally does…grrrrrr! If we’ve done something, anything, you can bet she’s done it bigger and better. I bet if I say I’ve had a morning shit, she’s had two. She’s all about one-upmanship. Why are some women such annoying dicks? Surely, we’re all on the same side? Bitch, bitch…bitch, bitch…BITCH.”
“You don’t like her then.”
“No, I bloody don’t…and I’m gonna do something about it.”
Silence.
“Like what?”
“Murder.”
“Murder is not the answer, honey.” Fellow commuters glanced over their shoulders. “God, I need some drugs.” Amy rubbed her forehead as the throbbing became unbearable. She turned to notice the stares. “Headache tablets…I NEED HEADACHE TABLETS,” she shouted, for their benefit.
“What?”
“Nothing. I’ve got a stinking headache.”
“If murder isn’t the answer, then what is?”
“Asking the Angels for help, then leaving it to karma…they’ll sort it for you, but you have to ask. Otherwise they can’t help.”
“Yeah, like they’ll listen to me. Fallen angels maybe, but I’m not sure they do hit requests. They’re not the Mafia, Ames.”
Silence. Amy could hear Sal’s heavy breathing.
“Are you picking at your cuticles? Hands down, now,” Amy barked.
“Why can’t blokes see her for who she is? See past the teeth, tits, short skirts, and promise of a cock suck?” Sally moaned. “Bet she’s lousy at it, she has one of those skinny, small, thin-lipped mouths that so doesn’t know how to enjoy a good meal…surely, blokes can stop thinking with their dicks once in a blue moon. Have you got a stone for dicks?”
“Well, there is one for impotence—Pink Beryl, I think it’s called…”
“Ames…shut up!”
“Maybe a nice bit of Smoky Quartz and a Sunstone. You can wear them in your bra.”
“I don’t need no bleedin’ stones. I need a drink—a double gin and tonic would just about do it right now.”
“It’s 8.30 a.m., hon.”
“Urrgh…so? It’s blinking five o’clock somewhere.”
Taking a leisurely drag of his cigar, he watched Amy’s blonde head weave along the jam-packed platform, looking for a place to stand. She found it near the outer edge halfway down the tunnelled station. He flicked the smouldering stub to the floor, covered it with the tip of his shiny black patent shoe, and twisted firmly. He flicked ash from the cuff of his suit, stepped out of the shadows, and followed her. He loved the ‘click-click’ sound of his shoes as he walked. It made him feel important.

The Deal can be purchased from Amazon.

About the author 

The Deal - Siobhan C Cunningham

Author of The Penance List, Unfinished Business and The Deal,  Siobhan C Cunningham (S C Cunningham) creates Paranormal Romance and Psychological Crime Thrillers with a skilled mix of fuelled tension, dark humour, and pulsating sex scenes. Having worked in the industries she writes about, her novels offer a fresh level of sincerity and authority, rare in fiction.

Abducted as a child, she survived; and every night for months afterward, she prayed to God, asking for a deal. This personal journey sparked the fuse behind the intriguing and riveting fictional world she portrays in The Deal, the first in The Fallen Angel series. Twenty years later Cunningham crossed paths with a violent serial attacker, sowing the seed for her mind-bending thriller, The David Trilogy; The Penance List, Unfinished Business, For My Sins.

An ex-model, British born of Irish roots, she married a rock musician and has worked in the exciting worlds of music, film, sports, celebrity management and as a Crime Investigator for the British Police (Wanted & Absconder Unit, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Investigations Hub).

Her first novel, The Penance List has been adapted to film screenplay.
She is the proud mother to contemporary Artist Scarlett Raven and owned by three dogs.

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