Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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A taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller, reminiscent of Play Misty for Me … from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost…

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and the killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. She wants yours, and in exchange she will share some of hers. The ones she knows. But she doesn’t know everything.

Why has Stella’s mother, Elizabeth, finally returned fourteen years after leaving her with a neighbour? Is Stella’s new love, Tom, a man who likes to play games, exciting … or dangerous?

And who is the mysterious man calling the radio station to say he knows who killed Victoria? Tonight Stella’s final show may reveal the biggest secret of all…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

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

Louise Beech is a rare thing among writers; she can write across many genres and does so which such ease that you are left wondering what she will turn her hand to next, but as a reader you’re always confident that it will be surprising, beautifully written and exquisitely emotional. Call me Star Girl is yet another triumph, played out over one long night that stretches into the dawn, it’s about the death of a girl and the Stella a radio host, whose troubled past threatens to tear the world around her apart.

It’s hard to write a review about a book you loved, so worried are you that you will fail to do it justice. So here goes, why did I love Call Me Star Girl?
The luxury of spending time with a myriad of characters that are so complex and nuanced that spending time with them is an all consuming affair. Stella who is deeply troubled worms her way under your skin, so much so, that moving onto a new book, while she is still troubling your thoughts, seems like a betrayal in some way. Why she affected me so much is simple, abandoned as a young girl, caught up in a love affair that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, I wanted to save her, create a world where she could flourish. But only the writer can control her journey and you sail along with Stella and Beech, trusting them both not to destroy your hopes for an ending you can cope with. Her pain, her simple need to always be loved, reminds me of a young girl now a mother herself, whose need to be always loved, never again abandoned, could only in her head be ensured by having a child herself. Beech captures that exquisite and painful need, the ache of abandonment that seems to seep deep into a person’s very epicentre, that never quite goes away and wraps it up in the character of Stella, creating a damaged women, who ability to function is always caught up in the past she can never quite escape. She is a character I felt consumed by as a reader and one that will trouble me for quite some time.

As for the story itself, it’s not a fast thriller, it’s like a spool of thread, that slowly unwinds, revealing the story layer by layer, with the tension building, creating a gentle feeling of unease and maturing into chest thumping pressure. Beech through the voice of Stella and her mother unhurriedly reveals the dark secrets that bind this mother and daughter and which threaten their present, which I loved, because it allowed me to luxuriate in the story itself. I was put on edge slowly and as the feelings of panic built up for these characters, so they did it for me to. I turned each page never knowing where the twists were going to come. It all felt very claustrophobic on times, as the night progresses so does the feeling that the secrets all the main characters are keeping will no longer be able to be contained. I loved the way that the chapter’s alternative between present events and the past, building up a picture of what led the characters to where they are now and helps us to understand why they are projected head first into a night where secrets lead to Stella demanding answers to a life marred by loss and abandonment. Beech for me is saying that all actions have consequences and for some the devastation they wreak can never be contained.
This is another superb read from the author and proves as a writer she should never be pigeon holed into one genre. Thankfully she has found a publisher that celebrates this and never seeks to limit its authors to the same style of story.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

 

About the author

Louise Beech Author Photo

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon.

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The heart-stoppingly tense next instalment in the richly atmospheric, bestselling Sam Shephard series … for fans of The Dry

 

Death is stalking the southern South Island of New Zealand…

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

 

‘Vanda Symon’s fast-paced crime novels are as good as anything the US has to offer – a sassy heroine, fabulous sense of place, and rip-roaring stories with a twist. Perfect curl-up-on-the-sofa reading’ Kate Mosse

Review

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

What can I say other than The Ring Master is another superb book from the hugely talented Vanda Symon! I have been a massive fan since I read the first in this series, Overkill and was anticipating an exciting read when I started the new book and oh boy was I a happy reader when I finished his novel. It is electrifying, has a fabulous female lead, taunt and well paced story and I loved it.

What’s not to love. It has a sassy, independent female lead, who is a natural detective, with an intuitive understanding of the criminal mind. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect, but then who of us are?   Her impulsiveness often gets her into trouble, but at the same time, it is what makes her a great character, you never know how she is going to react and it gives her an edginess that is often lacking in other fictional female detectives.  In this novel she has gone from being  the only police officer in small town New Zealand, to detective training in Dunedin and is very much at the bottom of the ladder, with a boss that actively derides her.  Yet she doesn’t let this crush her, Sam is made of stronger stuff and she is determined to find the killer of a young talented student, even if this places her own life in danger! It’s what I love most about her, the passion and unwavering determination to track down a killer and be the best detective she can possibly be.  Sam is a masterly creation and I could read about her forever and not get bored, because as the book series moves forward, so does she, ever developing and evolving as a character.

As for the story itself, it is intelligent and perfectly paced.  We are pitched head first into the murder of a university student and from there we follow Sams determined pursuit of the killer.  Frequently the writer took me down a dead end, making me think for a moment that I had figured out who the killer was, only for me to realise too late I had been utterly fooled.  I loved that, I hate figuring out who did what too soon and so this book was an utter delight to read.  Vanda Symon weaves a masterly tale, so utterly compelling that putting it down to do boring things like go to work, was actually quite painful.  I didn’t want to be ripped away from the cocoon the story had weaved around me and I certainly need to be sure that one of my favourite characters would survive to feature in even more gripping tales!  I loved the way the circus played a central part in the story as it gave it a unique feel. Not only the protesters who were trying to get it closed down and Sam’s intelligent and amusing reaction,  but for the unexpected ways it added a sense of pathos to the story.  I expected to be thrilled reading this book, it is a detective story, but I wasn’t expecting the moments of sadness which added an emotional depth to the story and made it much more than your typical thriller for me.

The Sam Shephard series has so much to recommend it and I absolutely adore it. Without a doubt I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any reader, both as a standalone novel and part of a pretty special series of books.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

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Vanda Symon (born 1969) is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

You can follow the author on her Website and Twitter.

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Extract ~Blog Tour ~ The Stars In The Night by Clare Rhoden

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The Stars in the Night
“Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.
Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…
From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.”

Stars in the Night

Extract

January 1915

Nora stopped by the baker’s. It was cooler under the verandah, though the north wind still swooped under her hat brim and plucked out strands of hair to flutter around her face. Her cousin Jenny was having the same trouble, holding her hat on with both hands.
‘Oh, do let’s go in, just for a minute! I must get out of this wind. Only think how ruinous to the complexion!’
Nora knew a momentary hesitation. Foolish, to think after all this time she’d be shy in the baker’s. She was a lady now, and far beyond any shyness of that sort. The last time she was in Semaphore was eight years ago. She drew herself together and opened the door for Jenny. After all, who knew what might have changed in that time? The sign still read Fletchers Bakery, but that was no guarantee the Fletchers would still be there. It was certainly no guarantee that anyone would remember her from her childhood holidays.
Inside the shop, it was quiet and dark after the sun’s glare. A shade was drawn over the side window, protecting the bread, black rye and brown wheat, light oat bread and glazed rolls, arrayed on the slanted trays of the rack against the wall. A lower counter bearing small iced biscuits, fruit buns and exquisitely decorated cakes stood before a curtained door. A tall glass vase, like—exactly like—a preserving jar, and filled with sprays of eucalypt and a couple of stems of daylily, caught the strong morning light fingering its way past the screen. A scent of fruit and cinnamon overpowered the eucalypt. It was not very much cooler than it had been on the verandah. As they closed the door on the wind behind them, a young man stepped around the curtain.
Nora knew immediately that it was Harry. Harry Fletcher, the baker’s son, the boy she remembered from her last summer at the seaside. He hadn’t seen her; he was smiling at Jenny and wiping his hands on a floury apron. Who wouldn’t smile at Jenny? thought Nora, recognising her cousin’s greater claims to beauty. Small and fair, Jenny had grown from an insipid, whining child into an angelic vision. That, at least, was what one young man had written to her, just before they left England some months previously. Jenny had laughed, but Nora had to admit a kernel of truth in his tormented verse. Jenny’s skin was ‘like peaches’, and her lips were ‘like a dark folded rosebud’. Nora suppressed a sigh.
Harry was surprised by the sight before him. He knew everyone who bought bread from Fletchers. He made up all the deliveries and accounts and did most of the serving. He knew the households, the hotels, the boarding houses, and the cafes. He knew the widower from Bower Road and the housekeeper at the presbytery. He knew the schoolmistress and the kids who clamoured for cream buns on their way home. He knew the young mothers, and the worn ones, the grandmas and the blokes from the wharf. This little girl—this little woman, this pretty birdlike creature dressed all in palest blue, he did not know. It made him smile. The world was maybe still full of wonders, even here. He supposed her to be one of the holiday-makers enjoying a week at the seaside, staying at one of the hotels on Main Street. Not many of them came into Fletchers, though; there were more genteel tea parlours further up the hill.
He put his forearm up and scrubbed his forehead. Then he said, ‘Yes, miss?’ with the laugh that always seemed about to break out behind his everyday speech, as if he were sharing a joke behind the words he said aloud, a joke that you and he knew, that you kept against everyone else. Nora suppressed another sigh. He was exactly as she remembered him; or, no, exactly as she thought he would be after eight years. Still smiling, still with that straight, almost challenging direct gaze. He hadn’t grown very tall, but as a boy he had been small for his age. His voice was surprisingly deep, for all that. He was compact in build, with short brown hair and just the suggestion he could have shaved more carefully that morning. His eyes, a flecked hazel, were large and fixed unwaveringly on Jenny. His brows and lashes were dark, darker than his hair, and he still had that dimple in his chin, though the chin was now squarer. He was as she had thought he might be, imagined idly through the months, the years at school.
He hadn’t even seen her.
Jenny preened in front of him, turning a little so that she brought Nora into the conversation. ‘Oh, we thought we’d step in out of the wind,’ she said sweetly. ‘And perhaps have something for morning tea?’
Harry glanced almost absent-mindedly toward the vision’s companion, but the glance was enough. Nora didn’t know where to look. He was staring at her, actually staring, and the smile had gone. It was a long moment—long enough for the colour to flush up her neck and over her cheeks before the smile returned.
‘Ah!’ said Harry, with a lift of his chin. He folded his arms. ‘Nora—I mean, Miss MacTierney, don’t I? It is, isn’t it? From somewhere up north, near the copper country. I remember you.’
Jenny looked in surprise from one to the other. Secretive Nora! She had never mentioned that she knew, actually knew someone in one of the shops in Semaphore. Imagine! Yet here they were, these two, smiling at one another as if they had known each other for ages. That couldn’t be so; why, Nora had spent the last six years in England. And they had only arrived in this dear little seaside town yesterday. But Nora and this very—well, this very Australian young man—were taking stock of each other like old friends.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

You can also enter a Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Stars in the Night, a metal poppy brooch made by a Melbourne craftswoman, and a cross-stitch poppy card. (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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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About the author

Stars in the Night - ClareRhoden

Clare Rhoden writes historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy (check her titles at Odyssey Books http://odysseybooks.com.au/). Clare lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Bill, their super-intelligent poodle-cross Aeryn, a huge and charming parliament of visiting magpies, and a very demanding/addictive garden space.
Clare completed her PhD in Australian WWI literature at the University of Melbourne in 2011, and a Masters of Creative Writing in 2008, in which she investigated the history of her grandparents who emigrated for Europe to Port Adelaide in January 1914. The Stars in the Night is the result of her research.

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

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Jay Jay The Supersonic Bus by Sue Wickstead

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Jay-Jay the supersonic Bus
Jay-Jay the bus is rescued from the dirty scrap yard, where he was sadly gathering dust and cobwebs. Feeling nervous yet excited, he is taken to an airport where he is magically transformed into a ‘Playbus’ full of toys, games and adventure.
A fictional tale based on a real-life bus ‘Supersonic’, which flew in the imaginations of the many young children who visited it.

Review

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

I love to give books as gifts to the little people in my life, but they need to inspire a smile and joy to be picked for these special moments. I’m very picky about the books I choose for them and I’m so glad to be able to say, Jay Jay The Supersonic Bus would definitely be one I would choose!

The story is sweet and inspiring and makes a happy tale to read out to children.  I loved the theme that with care and attention, old things can be given a new life and bring fun to children everywhere. My favourite part was how the author gave Jay Jay a fun and joyful personality, which young readers will be able to  identify with.  It appeals to their natural instinct to run about and take time away from their tablets and computer games.

I can’t wait to share this story with a special little girl.

You can purchase the book from the authors website, AmazonWaterstones and Foyles.

You can also win a Giveaway to Win Jay-Jay and the Island Adventure (UK Only) by following this LINK
*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Jay-Jay Supersonic - Giveaway Prize

About the author

Jay-Jay Author Photo

I am a teacher and an author and have currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme.
For over 20 years, alongside my teaching career, I worked with a Children’s Charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association, which led me to write a photographic history book about it.
I soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. I decided to write a fictional tale about the bus, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name.
‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus,’ came out in print in 2014. It is the story behind the original bus and is his journey from a scrap-yard to being changed into a playbus for children to play in. From Fact to fiction the bus journey continued.
This story has now been followed by five more picture books.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share the story. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.
The story has been read in many schools in the south-East of England, where I teach as a cover teacher, it is always well received and certainly different.

You can follow the author on her WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Tainted Love by T S Hunter #SohoNoir #TaintedLove #LGBTBooks

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SOME RELATIONSHIPS ARE JUST MURDER
It’s 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London’s Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town where Joe and Chris grew up.
When Chris is found brutally murdered, the police write his death off as just another rent boy fallen foul of a bad hook up. But Joe knows his friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris’s flatmate—to find out why.
Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris’s killer?
A noirish whodunnit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer.
TAINTED LOVE IS THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SOHO NOIR SERIES OF COZY CRIME NOVELLAS.

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Review

I would like to thank the author and the publisher for the ARC of this novella in return for an honest review.

Tainted love is an absolutely superb read! As a reader I’m really happy that this is just the start of the series, because book one left me wanting more.

Why did I love it so much? It is a perfectly formed novella, with a flawlessly paced story and fabulous characterisation. Writing this short form of a novel takes skill, you still need the typical elements of a thriller, but have to be disciplined enough to write a gripping story in a restricted narrative. You’re taking away all the freedom to develop the story in a longer book and are left with a much leaner and appetizing story. The writer achieves this perfectly, the narrative is tight, but still thrilling, nothing has been sacrificed and your left feeling very satisfied. He takes a single central drama, avoiding multiple subplots that would overly complicate the plot and delivers his story with enough excitement to maintain interest throughout. From page one to the last page I was gripped in the drama and left thrilled by the possibility of more to come. You are drawn by the quality of the writing and story to the end, by what feels like a gravitational pull, exerting it’s influence on you and an intense eagerness to know the outcome of the story. I was caught up in this world of big hair, fabulous drag queens and closeted ex-lovers scared of exposure in a still far from accepting 80’s Britain.

Joe arrives in London to spend time with an old friend, only to be caught up in an investigation after Chris is murdered. I loved, no I adored that all the main characters were LGBT and that this booked is targeted not at a niche market, but has characters of such richness it should rightly be read by all thriller fans. Joe starts off as a young man caught up in the dizzy richness of life as a open gay man in London, a bit naive, but develops into a confidant man who helps ex police detective Russell Dixon look into the death of their mutual friend. He opens up and flourishes in this new world to him and I loved him as a character. Intelligent and open to exploring the much brighter world he has fallen into, he is not naive about his friend’s life, but rather than retreating from world of spurned lovers and gangsters, looks to find his place and solve the Chris’s Murder.

It really is a superb start to a new series and I am honestly excited for what is to come!

Though I warn you, if you a fan of 80’s music you will be humming Tainted Love for weeks after, with a big happy smile on your face.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

You can also a RaffleCopter Prize Giveaway of a Signed Copy of Tainted Love, a fabulous “Go Away I’m Reading” tote bag, a rainbow button badge, and some chocolate being run and administered by the publisher by following this LINK

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About the author

Claiming to be only half-Welsh, T.S. Hunter lived in South Wales for much of his latter teens, moving to London as soon as confidence and finances allowed. He never looked back.

He has variously been a teacher, a cocktail waiter, a podium dancer and a removal man, but his passion for writing has been the only constant.

He’s a confident and engaging speaker and guest, who is as passionate about writing and storytelling as he is about promoting mainstream LGBT fiction.

He now lives with his husband in the country, and is active on social media as @TSHunter5

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~The Beautiful Side of the Moon by Leye Adenle

The Beautiful Side of the Moon Cover

What would happen if God forgot who he was?
Drawing on age-old African story-telling traditions, modern science-fiction and contemporary thriller writing, award-winning Nigerian author Leye Adenle (Easy Motion Tourist, When Trouble Sleeps) conjures up an entirely new way of seeing the world.
The central character, Osaterin, thinks he is just a modest IT guy living in Lagos – but it turns out he is much, much more than that…
A delightful, playful, thoughtful adventure in speculative fiction by one of Nigeria’s most exciting new writers.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Firstly I have to admit that this book didn’t work for me as a reader, the writing felt stilted and the story lacked real focus. The fantasy and science fictions elements didn’t work together for me enough and I think it might have worked better as a much shorter novel.
This is though a personal reaction to a book and I’m sure that other readers will really enjoy this piece of speculative writing.
The premise is that Osaterin thinks he is an ordinary man, but in fact he is a magician hiding away until it is time to acknowledge his powers. The story itself is magical and takes the reader into alternative realities. The central character Osaterin is a very cleaver creation, written perfectly as a awkward IT guy who changes into a new form and state of being. You really can believe this is possible, because the writer doesn’t jump him through hurdles, but transforms him in stages into a much more powerful figure and it works really well.
Even the way we move from Earth to the Moon and the battle between Osaterin and a group of robots works well, because the imagery fits in perfectly with the theme of fantastical events and futuristic settings which are all part of this type of speculative fiction. It had a big cinematic feel to it especially at this point and it was one of my favourite parts of the book, because he created that sense of otherness he needed, to make me believe, we had been transported to a whole different world and reality.
I really think this book will appeal to many readers. For me it simply didn’t resonate despite the good elements above. I firmly believe that just because a book didn’t work for me, that it will and can be enjoyed with relish by other readers.

If a science fiction/fantasy mix up appeals, give this book a go. There are many things to recommend it and no two people read a book in the same way!

 

You can purchase this book from Amazon

About the author

Leye Adenle Author Picture

Leye Adenle, winner of the first ever Prix Marianne in 2016, is a Nigerian writer living and working in London as an agile coach – sort of a trainer of computer geeks.

His short story, The Assassination, in the anthology, Sunshine Noir, was a finalist for the 2017 CWA short story dagger award. Had he won, a Nigerian would have been rewarded for crime.

Leye (pronounced Leye, not Leia like in Princes Leia) has written several short stories under his own name, and over a hundred satirical pieces under various other appropriated names. His writing has appeared in publications such as the Big Issue, and he has written and recorded pieces for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service. He very much enjoyed doing that.

Leye has also appeared on stage in London in plays including Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again in which, by his own estimation, he performed brilliantly well and should have been awarded a BAFTA.

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Extract ~ Blog Tour ~ Trust Me by K J McGillick

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Trust Me
Sex. Power. Murder.
Dr. Gabriel Blackwell and his wife Sandra Blake have it all. He’s a brilliant thoracic surgeon. She’s a high-powered attorney with family money. Their lives are as loving as they are glamorous.
Or are they?
When a nurse Dr. Blackwell works with is brutally murdered, the questions fly. Who would want to kill this woman and why? When an autopsy reveals the woman was pregnant, all signs point to Dr. Blackwell. Just what was her relationship with him?
Whispers about a scandalous sex club surface. How many other lovers are there? Are any of them safe? How far would he go to protect his reputation?
Tragedy strikes again as Sandra Blake is found dead floating in their pool. Dr. Blackwell now finds himself on trial for two murders. Facing life in prison, Dr. Blackwell will grasp at any straw to preserve his freedom.
Any straw.
Is anyone innocent? Is anyone safe?

Trust Me

Extract

“I received a call this morning from an attorney. The police questioned her husband, a physician, regarding the murder of a nurse at the hospital where he is an attending. The husband and wife are highly visible people and active in the community. They attend all the right social functions and are comfortable in the most expensive country clubs.”
Dalia handed me the news articles of the husband and the wife which she had retrieved from the printer.
I studied the reports with fascination. Something about the husband’s posture struck me as arrogant and cocky, and the wife’s as a bit self-conscious. He appeared to be about forty, and she looked older, around fifty. That was just a guess. The man had a face that Leonardo DaVinci would call symmetrical and balanced, clearly someone who enjoyed being captured by the photographer. I would label him not only well built, a man who knew his way around a gym, but he also had an exotic mystery about him. I wanted to know more about this man.
“Why him? I mean, why question him?” I asked them.
“From the few discrete inquiries we made, we found Dr. Blackwell has a reputation as a serial philanderer. He’s been in and out of trouble with the hospital, and until this point, they have kept things under wraps,” Dalia responded.
“What sort of trouble?”
Was I a bad person because I wanted juicy details?
Dalia appeared to be crafting a thoughtful response and Mary jumped in.
“Two problems this year alone,” Mary interjected leaning forward in her chair. “The first happened in March when the hospital administration discovered him having sex with a nurse at night in the O.R. suite. Neither knew the hospital had recently placed cameras there because of a theft problem. In reviewing the tapes, the administrator discovered them using the O.R. table for their liaisons. Moreover, it was happening with such frequency that the chief of surgery had to address the issue. To make the problem disappear, Dr. Blackwell offered the hospital a twenty-thousand-dollar donation; the nurse wasn’t so fortunate. The director of nursing disciplined the nurse for leaving her station, and then the hospital administrator fired her for cause. Somebody leaked the tape, and it found its way into circulation. Not onto the internet or YouTube, but it’s public nonetheless.”
Well, that’s awkward.
“And the other problem?”
As if that wasn’t enough.
“An eighteen-year-old granddaughter of one of his patients accused him of sexually harassing her which escalated to stalking,” Mary added. Her tone was judgmental, and I suppose with good cause.
“Dr. Blackwell describes himself as a sex addict that has sought treatment. However, it appears he claims this only in response to problems arising from litigation and when a discrete monetary offer couldn’t settle the issue. Two of his office personnel left under a cloud of having an affair with him, and an office manager from another practice made it public they were carrying on as well,” Dalia interjected.
Judgmental. That’s what I was, judgmental. Not only did I judge the doctor, but also the lawyer wife who put up with this aberrant behavior. I realized that thought would have to be compartmentalized.
“So how can I help?” I asked.
“He is being brought in for the second round of questioning by the police tomorrow. I scheduled us to meet with him later this morning to talk to him and decide if we want to take the case,” Dalia said. “I’d like you to sit in on the interview and Mary will give you her file to review so you can get up to speed. It’s an ugly case, and it certainly will be high profile if the police make him a target. Take a look at the incident report,” she said.

You can purchase this book from Amazon UK and US.

About the author

Trust Me Author Photo

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author. As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

You can follow the author on the following social media sites –  Facebook and Twitter.

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Extract ~ Blog Tour ~ Hate Bale by Stephanie Dagg

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Grumbling guests and escaping piglets are precisely what Martha doesn’t need. She’s already struggling to run a holiday cottage and a rather large smallholding single-handedly. Since her husband Mark died, three years ago, her rural property in France, beautiful as it is, has become an increasingly heavy millstone around her neck.
So whilst she’s horrified to stumble across a corpse at the local farm supplies shop, it does at least distract her from her own woes. Best friend Lottie, the cheese to Martha’s chalk, swoops in to offer moral support, and encourages Martha to join her in some unofficial sleuthing. Meanwhile, police officer Philippe Prudhomme, a former fellow chess-player of Mark’s, undertakes a rather more professional investigation.
However, despite everyone’s efforts the killer remains at large. And when more bodies (one and a bit, to be precise) come Martha’s way, it definitely feels like he’s closing in on her…
There’s suspense, humour and excitement in this entertaining cosy mystery set in the French countryside.

The start of what turns out to be an extremely eventful day for Martha, not that many days running her smallholding in France single-handedly are what you’d call dull.

Extract
Martha squinted at the clock radio and groaned. It was half past five. What on earth was she doing awake at that hour of the morning? She wasn’t a great sleeper and had only dropped off properly a couple of hours ago. She really didn’t want to be awake again quite so soon.
She pulled the covers over her head with a dramatic sigh and closed her eyes determinedly, but a woof from Flossie, her ancient and usually silent Border collie cross, alerted her to the fact that something was definitely going on that shouldn’t. Martha sighed again. It must have been a previous bark from Flossie that had woken her. She’d better investigate, since the dog had never been one to cry wolf in the past.
The something turned out to be the destruction of her one and only flower bed by her Berkshire sow Hermione, aided and abetted by her litter of eleven three-week-old piglets. They were all having a brilliant time in the early dawn, rooting out Martha’s painstakingly planted spring bulbs, but, for whatever reason, not eating them, going instead for the creepy crawlies that came up with them. That was one thing to be grateful for, Martha supposed, the fact that they were de-pesting her borders. And she was relieved they weren’t eating the bulbs, not just because she had a vague idea they might be poisonous, but also, and mainly, because she’d be able to stick them back in the soil in the hope they’d survive their traumatic experience of being dragged out of it in the first place.
But first she had to un-pig the garden. And that wasn’t going to be easy. A glance towards the food bins at the corner of the barn showed them to all be on their sides, and empty. Hermione was obviously stuffed full of a week’s worth of pig pellets and a similar amount of soaked wheat. And anyway, since the food was all gone Martha had nothing with which to try and tempt her back to the field. What on earth was she going to do? There was the cattle prod, but she didn’t like using that. It seemed a rather mean implement. Mark had only ever used it a couple of times on the Old Spot boar they’d had, Horace, who’d been a mean-tempered old beggar.
Mark. Not a minute went by when she didn’t miss her husband of twenty-seven years. She’d lost him to sudden arrhythmic death syndrome just over three years ago now. Sometimes it felt like only three days, the grief could be so raw, but at others like thirty years. Like she’d spent more than half her lifetime without him, mourning for him.
And couldn’t she do with him right now. Rounding up pigs was a two-person job. She had Flossie, but she was a sheep dog, at least in part, not a pig dog. And added to that, any sheep-herding instincts she might have inherited from her mother had been clearly quashed by the comfortable-life-seeking instincts of whatever her father had been. When their neighbour back in England had gratefully handed one of an unexpected, and unwanted, litter of seven puppies over to Mark and Martha, she’d said she suspected a local wiry-haired mongrel of some sort to be the father. Flossie looked every inch the sheepdog but the resemblance only went skin deep. Thus she threw Martha a guilt-free ‘not my monkeys, not my circus’ look and plodded back to the doorstep to have a nap. She’d alerted Martha to the fracas and that was as far as her responsibility and contribution went.

You can purchase this book from Hate Bale

About the author

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I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie of animals, has made for exciting times. The current array of creatures ranges from alpacas to zebra finches, with pretty much everything in-between! Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve.
I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.
I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. As well as being an author, I’m also a part-time editor and, with Chris, manager of three carp fishing lakes. My hobbies are cycling, geocaching, knitting and sewing.

You can follow the author on the following social media sites –  Twitter and Facebook

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Cole

Baxter's Requiem Cover

A tender, witty, uplifting story about friendship, family and community written with great humour that will appeal to fans of Rachel Joyce, Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon.

Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know…

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur – but ‘good patient’ he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare – until he meets Gregory.

At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.

Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.

With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.

Baxter’s Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we’re here.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
There are so many reasons I would recommend this book, the best being that it is a joyful celebration of love and friendship, of living life and having no regret

Its the story Baxter an elderly man, who lost Thomas, the man he loved during a senseless war and young Greg whose brother has recently died. Together they go on a journey of remembrance and healing.
For me the best part of this book was the character of Baxter himself, he is brave, resourceful, resilient and deeply caring of those around him. He has lived a long life, known love and loss and yet he remains full of quiet determination to live life under his own terms. His sexuality is simply who he is, the novel does not use it to define him, but simply bears witness to this part of him. He is shown to be a man who cares about the character of Greg and who wants to heal the troubled young man, as his friends helped him to recover from such a terrible loss. This is very much a character whose warmth and generosity of spirit endeared him to me and I miss him very much now I have finished the novel. I loved the journey he and Greg took together, forming a friendship that spans the generations, because friendship breaks down barriers and heals them both.
The other wonderful thing about Baxters Requiem is the voice the writer gives to LGBT people both past and present. He doesn’t make the story rose tinted, he acknowledges that young people often face the same prejudices that Baxter and Thomas faced between the wars and into the conflict itself. He also doesn’t allow the story to become bogged down in loss and grief; this is as much a celebration of love as it is a testament to a past life affected by prejudice. Baxter lived his life with Thomas closeted from the real world, but it was a deeply emotional relationship and we are given a glimpse into the tender love they shared, giving a lie to those that thought then and still do, that LGBT couples are not ‘normal’ and refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of such relationships. It’s very touching that the writer presents to the reader the beauty of their relationship, weaving it into a mainstream novel, helping to move LGBT characters where they should always have been, away from the specialist shelves in bookshops and into the stories we read every single day. He gives a voice to the lost generations of LGBT people and warns the reader, in a deceptively simple way, that the battle for acceptance is not over. Quite an achievement, in a book about living life like every second counts.you
I knew from a few pages in that I was going to enjoy this book and I did. I have a special passion for championing LGBT fiction and the writer deserves special applauds for the way he treated this subject and produced such a heart warming read.

 

 

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author

Matthew Crow

Matthew Crow was born and raised in Newcastle. Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. He has written for adults and YA. His book My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ The Pelican by Naidoo.

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The Pelican
“Because life is about living…”
Julia has never been one to surrender without a fight, but when she receives a devastating diagnosis, she has a decision to make.
Even after thirty years, she can still see her mother slowly fading away with every dose of chemo, every round of radiation, and every lost shred of hope. No, she won’t do it… not to her family… and not to herself!
Without warning, she packs up her belongings and disappears, leaving behind a life that, by all accounts, had been as perfect as they come, and a distraught family full of questions.
Finding peace in a beach house in Northern California turns out to have its complications though. While only a handful of other residents share the tiny beach community, each one has brought their own baggage and developed their own way of dealing with it. All Julia wants is to be left alone, but that simply does not seem to be an option, especially when there’s a persistent bird that declares her to be his new best friend.
Haunted by the shadows of the past, Julia is struggling to cope with the present. Will she have the strength to do this alone and eventually follow through with her plan? Will her family, divided by mixed reactions to being abandoned, come together to try and track her down? And what is the deal with that pelican of hers?
Only time will tell – and time is the one thing Julia does not have…

The Pelican

Extract

Tom
Tom punched the redial button for the fifth time, as if, through persistence alone, he could simply will Julia to pick up and tell him that this was all just a big joke, a misunderstanding, a mistake, whatever. He’d take anything that would result in her walking through that door. Still in his suit, disheveled and deflated, he sat slouched over on the bed, the note on the floor in front of him.
“This is Julia. I can’t come to the phone right now,  please leave a message, and I’ll call you right back. BEEP” Her voice filtered through the phone speaker just as it had the first, second, third, and fourth times he had called.
For the fifth time, Tom left a message.
“Jules, it’s me again. Call me. Let’s talk. Please.” After a short pause, he added, “I love you, Babe.” This was by far not as loud and frantic a message as any of the previous ones. Not that he had simmered down in any way, he was merely beginning to realize that this was all he was going to get, no matter how many times he tried. The call had gone straight to voicemail—his wife had shut off her phone.
He let himself fall back against the pillows and stared at the ceiling for what seemed like forever. He studied its texture as if he had never seen it before. Had that little black spot always been there? He didn’t understand how he could have missed it, after all, it was right above his head. Suddenly he wondered what else he had missed.

You purchase this book from Amazon UK, Amazon USKobo and Barnes and Noble.

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About the author

The Pelican Author highres

Born and raised in Germany, M.Naidoo lives in Northern California with her husband, two daughters, and three dogs. One of them, Dusty, a spunky terrier mix, found its way into her debut novel. When she is not in front of her computer, pounding out story lines and characters, she enjoys reading, movies, spending time with her family, and long walks on the beach – her proverbial ‘happy place’. M’s love for the beach and ocean shine through in the vivid descriptions of the coast in The Pelican. “Juggling my life as a writer and a full-time ‘real’ job has its challenges. I don’t get to spend half as much time as I’d like doing what I love, and there are never enough hours in the day. Still, I feel extremely lucky to be following my passion, and I am enjoying every minute of it. Getting here has been one heck of a ride!”

You can follow the author on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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