Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~ The Second Cup

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

Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also 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.

Faye is left wondering how to move forward – and whether or not Jack’s best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack’s death ripples through the lives of her friends too.

Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him.

Is Beth about to take her own life?

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Today I have Sarah Marie Graye, author of The Second Cup, joining me on my blog as part of the books first anniversary blog blitz.

When I reviewed the novel as part of the original blog tour, I felt that it was written with a deep understanding of the problems faced by all the characters.

I felt that Sarah Marie must be close to the main issues she has written about and so have asked her to explain her inspiration for the book.

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My initial inspiration for The Second Cup was “the butterfly effect”: the concept that a butterfly flapping its wings could be the beginnings of a tornado.

Its an example of “chaos theory” and the idea that you can be going through life relatively carefree and then a tornado can come along and knock you off your feet. With chaos theory, these tornados can have unexpected beginnings, so they are not something you can plan for.

One example of such a tornado is an unexpected death especially a suicide. Even though we know that were all going to die, when someone takes their own life it shocks and unsettles us.

Id finished university and was working full-time when a friend of a friend killed themselves. I was one step removed from what was happening, but because I was the person my friend chose to lean on, the suicide had a massive impact on my life.

Id never met the person who killed themselves, so I didnt go to the funeral. And I didnt really know much about them and so was finding out about who they were from the point of view of their death, not who they were when they were alive.

Id been diagnosed with depression aged nine and felt I was always more aware of my own mortality than the average person. So the suicide seemed to affect me mentally in a way nobody else was. I found myself dwelling on all the different might-have-beens.

Then, 10 years ago I was rushed into hospital for emergency lung surgery. The surgery didnt go to plan: I needed more surgery and spent the next year in and out of hospital, including a period in intensive care.

When youre in hospital, youre no longer in control of your own life right down to someone else deciding when you eat and when you sleep. You end up spending a lot of time inside your own head with only your thoughts for company.

I found myself dwelling on what would have happened if I hadnt pulled through: if everyone who knew me had to deal with me no longer being there. I couldnt get past the thoughts, so I decided to keep a journal to see if that would help.

My words started to grow into characters and ideas and I realised I had a story to tell. So I decided to study an MA Creative Writing to help me work through my ideas and build a tangible story.

In hospital, the tea rounds help break up the day. Run by volunteers, your cup of tea also comes with conversation and each tea round lifts the mood of everyone on the ward. It made me hyperaware of the role tea plays in British culture and the restorative qualities we attach to it. So it became my motif for the story a symbol of surviving the tornado.

The Second Cup has many characters, many threads and many ideas. Its meant to represent the way our thought processes jump about when were trying to process something unexpected. Its meant to leave the reader feeling a little unsettled, unnerved. The idea behind the tea anecdotes is to help ground the reader, to give them a break from the chaos.

About six months after my novel was published, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I realised that Beth, one of my characters, had many of the same symptoms and so I wanted for her to be diagnosed too. So I published an extended edition in February with character interviews.

The interviews allowed me to give closure to the story in a way I wasnt expecting. After finishing The Second Cup, I didnt expect to write again. But since publishing the interviews, I started work on a second book – another butterfly effect story called The Victoria Lie which is currently with my editor and I hope to publish soon.

My review originally published in January. 

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.

You can buy The Second Cup from Amazon
You can also enter a giveaway to Win 3 x Signed copies of The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye (Open Internationally) by following 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

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Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester in 1975, to English Catholic parents. To the outside world Sarah Maries childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing, until aged nine, when she was diagnosed with depression.

Its a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision, including the one to write a novel.

Sarah Marie wrote The Second Cup as part of an MA Creative Writing practice as research degree at London South Bank University where she was the vice-chancellors scholarship holder.

Sarah Marie was diagnosed with ADHD in November 2017 and published an extended edition of The Second Cup in February 2018 that included character interviews so she could diagnose one of her characters with the same condition.

The author can be foll

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Yellow Bills by Michelle McKenna #childrensfiction

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Mya loves planes and wants to be a pilot when she grows up. As luck would have it she comes across a flying school run by lieutenant Drake who awards his pupils splendid pilot hats when they graduate. Mya wants to join the class but there’s just one problem. She’s not a duck! Could Goose the little duckling with big flying ambitions be the key to Mya getting her pilot’s hat? Or will Mr Sour the teacher who never quite made the grade have other ideas…Inspired by authors such as Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl and Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, Michelle weaves a story with the humour and invention of Nick Ward’s ‘Charlie Small’ series meets Dick King Smith’s wonder of the animal world.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.
The Yellow Bill is a sweet, funny and charming tale of a young girl who wants to learn to fly and the ducks who befriend her.
I loved that it’s a story full of adventure, with a sense of innocence that reminded me of the books I loved when I was young. Michelle Mckenna taps into a world beyond the all consuming world of computer games and takes the reader back to days spent in the garden, when a tree can become a lookout station and a hole in the hedge an entrance into a different world. It’s that sense of a less complicated world, which makes this book so special.
The character of Mya is perfect. There is still a tendency to make the main character male, because boys are considered more adventures! So I was so excited to come across a story, where the ‘hero’ is a young, feisty, determined girl, who is daring and enterprising. It’s a book I would share with my god children, because it has a main character that shows them that following your dreams is possible if you are given the freedom to fly. Goose is the perfect friend for Mya, because he believes in her and encourages her to get her pilots hat, when so many tell her to keep her feet planted firmly on the ground.
A special mention must go to Steven Johnson who has brought Mya, Goose and the other characters to life in a series of charming illustrations that capture Mya’s sense of adventure, Lieutenant Drakes proud haughtiness and Gooses, the determined and brave little duck.
I will sing this books praises to anyone looking for a book for their children.

You can purchase this from Amazon.

About the author

Michelle McKenna

During the day Michelle works part time in an office in London and then gets home to her full time job looking after two little fab ones. Michelle has been writing stories on and off for years but The Yellow Bills is the first time she’s had the confidence to put her children’s story into print.She finds her inspiration for writing is on the train journey to and from work.When she was younger one of her favourite stories to read was (still is) Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In fact she loved it so much she used to try and think of ways to see how she could change her name to Alice. She was about seven so had to listen to her Mum, who said she couldn’t change her name until she left home. By the time that day came she decided she didn’t mind being called Michelle after all.Michelle’s other favourite’s are Roald Dahl’s, The BFG and The Little Vampire by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg.

The author can be followed on Twitter and her website.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Needle Song by Russell Day.

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Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it.

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

Review

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

Every  book has a unique story to tell, it’s very own song to sing. If the song is loud enough and sweet enough, it will lodge itself within you. Needle Song had me within a few pages singing along, addicted to the words and the story they had to tell. It’s not a fast paced pop song, more  like a sweet languid celebration of story telling at it’s best.

The characterisation is wonderful, from the perfect partnership between Doc and Yakky and a host of supporting characters all of whom rise off the page to greet you when you start to read. The best thing about this book for me had to be the partnership of these two main characters. They are my new favourite crime solving duo. The chemistry between them is perfect, one who enjoys the challenge of proving his friends innocence and the other his less than enthusiastic partner. If course crime fighting teams are common place, but occasionally a new one stands out and that is the case with Needle Song.

The writing is unrushed and allows you to relax  into the story. By the end it has me feeling like I was amongst old friends. It envelopes you and time outside of it’s pages seemed to pass without notice. I liked how the writing felt indulgent, no rushing, just allowing the story to unravel over time.

I was immersed in this story as I say in the shade of my garden to the late night tranquillity of my bed. If you like books character driven with a touch of soul within it’s pages, this is the book for you.

You can purchase Needle Song from Amazon

About the author.

Russell Day

Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard.

The author can be followed on Twitter

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Star Jumpers by Zoe Baxter.

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Star Jumpers: The Lion Roars

Four Teens: One Quest: A World of Magic and Adventure It was no ordinary zipwire flight. Thrust into the magical world of Hadrixia, flame-haired Zara Bulmer and her three teenage companions must thwart the Dark Ruler of Hadrixia in their quest to locate the Stone of Exerith. The fate of the Empire depends on their success…and safe return to Star Camp. On their journey, the foursome must tangle with vicious creatures like the horn-headed Warnoks and the venomous web-tailed Tarquids. Will they succumb to the persuasive chants of the fire-loving Brozigs or be mauled to death by the tree-swinging Harnts? The friends join forces with Hadrixian teenager, Quinn, and encounter the kindness of Semyon, an aged wizard potionmaker.  Will Zara fulfil the destiny bestowed upon her before the sun sets on the last day of July? Or will the Portwall to the Outside remain sealed, imprisoning the four intrepid teenagers in Hadrixia, consigning them to a future of chaos, destruction, or even death? There’s only one way to find out:  Welcome to the perilous world of Hadrixia…

Review

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

Star Jumpers is aimed at YA readers and it was a fun and exciting read.  The story takes us and four friends to a different world, which is full of magic, heroes, evil dictators and a plethora of alien creatures.

The characters are all fun and likeable. They can sometimes be jealous of each other and fractious, but their young kids, developing into teenagers.  It all makes them so real and easy to identify with and I enjoyed the hours I spent in their company. Though Zara is the  main character, each of the others is given a voice and the team dynamics work perfectly. I even enjoyed disliking the evil dictator, just want you want in a ‘baddie’.

The story is a real page turner and I spent many enjoyable hours reading it. I especially loved that the young characters are in charge throughout, so many YA authors are so busy trying to attract adults, they lose sight of what makes a great story for younger readers. Not Zoe Baxter, she delivers an adventures, fast paced, exciting story, that left me hoping for a sequel.

I would definitely recommend this to any young reader and to parents looking for a story to read to their children; as my mother read books like the Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe to me.

You can purchase Star Jumpers from Amazon

You can also enter a giveaway here to win a Star Jumpers paperback, bookmark and postcard (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries only 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.

Star Jumpers

About the author.

Zoe Baxter is the author of the Star Jumpers series, a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure set in the Dark Sky Park of Northumbria. An avid scribbler, she lives in a world filled with vicious and venomous creatures breathing down her neck, and has even been known to take the odd zip wire flight in the name of research.

The author can be followed on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Remember by Shervin Jamali

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As Daniel watches the life ebb from her body, he wishes they’d had more time and knew each other when they were young. His wife surprises him by insisting that they did. And then she’s gone.
Daniel knows this can’t be true. Can it? They only met later in life, so why would Grace’s departing words hint at a shared youth? Haunted by this notion, Daniel journeys into the past to discover the truth.

Review

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

I’m very glad that I decided to read this very moving novella about love, loss, friendship and second chances.  It’s not easy to write a balanced and captivating story in this shortened novel form, but Shervin Jamali does so beautifully, gifting the reader with a deeply moving tale.

Daniel and Grace’s love story is told with a delicate hand, the journey they take to be together is bursting with emotion and yearning. Both characters are written so that they are easy to love, their flaws adding depth to their personalities.

There is a spiritual element to the couples love, that normally wouldn’t sit well with me, but in this case, it gives the story it’s originally. It’s handled well and is not allowed to dominate the story.  In all senses this is a about love and that is what makes it special.

For me the best parts were those that focused on their love affair and all Daniel was willing to do to keep it alive. I liked both the main characters and missed them both when the book ended and You can’t ask for more than that from any book you read.

You can purchase Remember from Amazon

About the author. 

Shervin Jamali Author Image

Shervin Jamali has been writing for as long as he can remember as he had so many stories “locked away” but it wasn’t until he completed the first draft of ‘The Devil’s Lieutenant’ (2016) that he decided to turn his writings into books. His books are the perfect outlet for his daytime job as an IT consultant and he looks forward to the day he will be a full-time writer.
After having lived in sunny Florida, Shervin Jamali now resides in Knoxville, Tennessee. In his spare time, Shervin likes to put together jigsaw puzzles whilst contemplating plots for his next book.

The author can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Bitter End by Anne Evans & Robert D Tysall.

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The Bitter End

Paul finally has his life back on track. After losing his wife, Helena in a horrific car crash, he has found love with Sally and moves into her country cottage.

As a former high-ranking Naval Officer, Paul now works as Head of Security at MI5.

Paul has no memories from before he was ten years old. An accident left him in a coma for 9 months.  But was it really an accident?

Soon Paul starts to have flashes of childhood memories, all involving his childhood friend, Owen.

Sally introduces him to her friend, Juliet, the owner of a craft shop. Paul is shocked when he is introduced to Juliet’s partner, his old friend Owen.

Flashes of memories continue to haunt Paul, particularly the memory of his first wife Helena burning in the car crash.

As dark things start to happen, and local people begin dying in horrific accidents, Paul must face his past and will end up fighting for his life.

Review

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

For me The Bitter End was dark, scary and a very addictive read. I was enthralled throughout and frankly more than a little bit terrified in places. So much so, I was glad to be reading it at a time I was not alone in the house. I admit I’m scared easily, but this fantastic book left with the urge to constantly check behind me when I was reading. While next doors cat, who loves to spend her days in my garden or asleep in my lap, was studied for unusual behaviour! The twist and turns gave the book and added element of tension and left me turning the pages as rapidly as possible to see who ultimately won, Paul or the dark elements behind the horrific events. The story really reels you in and holds to tight within its embrace and your caught in a trap almost, wanting to look away and yet not being able to, because you need to know that evil does not win. It’s a fantastic concept and gives this book an edge that helps it stand out from other equally great thrillers on the market at the current time.
I am hoping this is not the end of Paul who was a fantastic character, a great combination of nice guy, but with emotional and psychological issues that date right back to his childhood. You can’t help but root for him, wanting him to recover from years of emotional heartbreak and not be engulfed by a force determined to wreck havoc on the world around him. The supporting characters are great as well, Sally his partner, was great and I admit, that I even wanted the cat, despite being a bit of a devil, to not be destroyed in the maelstrom.
The Bitter End is what I look for in a thriller, jaw dropping action, great characters, lots of twists and turns with an extra bonus, elements of horror that left me feeling unnerved and more than a little frightened. I hope that these two writers work together again, because it is a great partnership.
If you like thrillers then this is a great one. Fans of Dean Koontz will love it, but so will any reader that just wants an addictive, tension filled read.

You can purchase The Bitter End from Amazon

About the author’s

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Ann Evans was born and bred in Coventry, West Midlands, and started writing just for fun after giving up her secretarial job to have her three children.

Having caught the writing ‘bug’ there was no stopping her, and as her children grew up, she continued to write for a variety of genres. She spent 13 years at her local newspaper as a Feature Writer as well as working freelance on magazine articles.

She also writes books for children, young adults, reluctant readers and some romance. (Ann Carroll) Her first adult crime novel, Kill or Die was published in 2017 by Bloodhound Books.

Having worked with writer/photographer Robert D. Tysall for many years through magazine work, Ann and Rob teamed up to write the supernatural thriller, The Bitter End – Ann’s first collaboration with another writer.  This will be published by Bloodhound Books in the summer of 2018.

Anne Evan’s can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

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Robert Tysall was born and brought up in Rugby, Warwickshire, and played the sport the town is famous for in his youth, until he discovered a passion and talent for photography, music and writing poetry and song lyrics. His career so far has been a busy mix of being lead vocalist and percussionist in bands plus working as a professional freelance photographer.

He is currently in a 60s, 70s & Beatles duo, and lives in Warwickshire with his wife, Heather. He has two grown up children. Rob is multi published on the photographic side of things with countless magazine articles, generally working alongside writer Ann Evans.

For many years he has dabbled with ideas for stories and finally the time felt right with this book. It seemed a natural turn of events for both Rob and Ann to team up and write The Bitter End together.

With his debut novel completed, now there’s no stopping him, and two more book collaborations with Ann are currently in the pipeline.

Robert Tysall can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

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Cover Reveal ~ Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray.

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Blood Ribbon

When there’s more than secrets buried, where do you start digging?
When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted.
Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back twenty-five years.
The police, however, aren’t convinced, so Brooke and Rod must investigate the cases themselves.
As secrets from the past start unravelling, will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or is that one secret that will stay buried forever?

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I’m chuffed to be part of the cover reveal for Blood Ribbon having enjoyed the author’s two previous books. This one looks like it’s going to be another fabulous read and I can’t wait to review it soon.

You can pre-order Blood Ribbon from Smashwords and Amazon.

About the author

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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.

Roger Bray can be followed on TwitterFacebook and his Website.

Blood Ribbon Cover Reveal

 

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Love and Death in Shanghai by Elizabeth J Hall

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Love and Death in Shanghai
by Elizabeth J. Hall
Paperback original, £9.99

A fast-paced debut novel about a young man’s search for love and adventure in exotic Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s inspired by a family story.
“This is a riveting account of a compelling and erotic story.” Jill Dawson, author of ‘The Great Lover.’

Shanghai 1924. Sam Shuttleworth joins the Municipal Police looking for adventure and to escape his working class roots in Lancashire. Shanghai is a glamorous, fascinating place – with an extremely dangerous criminal underworld. Sam rises through the ranks and marries his glamorous Russian lover Lulu, but the relationship is tumultuous, with infidelities on both sides.

In the 1930s, as Japan invades China and moves into Shanghai with appalling violence, Sam has to negotiate between warring sides, and wonders if he will ever find peace amidst the chaos of his relationships and the bloody events of his career.

Review

I would like to thank the author Elizabeth J Hall and blog tour organiser Anne Carter for the ARC in return for an honest review.
It is a fact of life that I’m not going to enjoy every book I read! It doesn’t mean that the book is bad, it just didn’t appeal to me. Sadly this was the case with Love and Death In Shanghai. Yet it has many elements that will appeal to other readers.

Rather than not review, I thought I would explain why I didn’t enjoy it, then why you should still go ahead and read this historical novel, that is brimming with atmosphere and period detail.
Personally I didn’t like either of the main characters, Sam or his Russian wife. In fact I found Sam to be too needy and dominating, while his Russian wife felt too clichéd. Both characters lacked warmth and I couldn’t feel any sympathy with their plight. Rather than erotic, the sex scenes felt laboured and repetitive.
Now this might all seem negative, but please don’t let it put you off reading this novel, because I am a great believer that no two people enjoy the same book, for various different reasons. I only read other reviews once I have read a book and formulated my own thoughts. Having not enjoyed Sam’s adventures, I took a look at how other’s had felt and I totally agreed that here are many reasons why Love and Death in Shanghai has so many five star reviews. For example the way it captures the violence and chaos in Shanghai is well done and you can feel the horrors Sam sees and the violence he and his colleagues are subjected to. I also loved some of the back characters, whose warmth and humanity attracted me to them, Lulu’s sister and father for example, whom I loved in equal measure.
If you are looking for a historical drama, then you should give this book a try. I didn’t work for me, but it will for many other readers. Literature is found in many diverse genres for a reason, we are all attracted to different styles of writing or characterisation. One reviewer not liking a book, when there are many five star reviews, should show you that one or two three stars or lower, does not make a book bad or poorly written. Each review is a personal experience to a story. Look at the reviews as a group and most importantly of all, if the story appeals, give it a go. You and I are not the same and nor are the books that will make our reading hearts sing.

About the author

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Elizabeth J.Hall works in politics in the UK. Love and Death in Shanghai, her debut novel was inspired by the life and death of her uncle who worked in the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1920s and 30s. Elizabeth’s first memory is of her mother crying when she received a telegram reporting his assassination.
Elizabeth lives in East Sussex with her husband. After a degree in French, she trained as a teacher with a particular interest in social and health education. She worked in the USA, West Africa and London before becoming a consultant, developing programmes of health education abroad, including Central Asia and Russia.

The author can be followed on her website Website

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