Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Fifty Years of Fear by Ross Greenwood.

Book Cover Fifty Years of Fear - Ross Greenwood

A childhood accident robs Vincent of his memories, causing him to become sensitive and anxious around others. His differences attract bullies, and he comes to rely heavily on the support of his family.
After the devastating loss of his parents, a remarkable woman teaches him to embrace life, and, little by little, he realises the world is far more forgiving than he imagined. When fragments of his memory return, he begins to unravel his past.
Who was his mother? What kind of man was his brother, Frank? And why does death surround him?
Fate is cruel. History is dark. Things are not as they seem.
Perhaps he should’ve stayed at home.

Praise for Ross Greenwood’s books

“At last a page turner novel that doesn’t disappoint..”

“This is powerful and atmospheric storytelling..”

“Absolutely brilliantly written from start to finish”

Firstly, I would like to thank Ross Greenwood and blog tour organiser Caroline Vincent for the ARC of Fifty Years of Fear in return for an honest review.

Fifty Years of Fear is a clever and thought provoking story of the life of a complex man. It’s dark and deals with a subject that many may find hard to read about, but does so in an intelligent and complex fashion. Ross Greenwood will challenge you the reader to adjust your perceptions of what leads a person to act as they do. He will ask you to question what you could forgive people for! Is there a limit from which you could turn away from someone you love? Can such a decision ever be clear cut?

It’s a book and a story that you will become addicted to. It’s an often used phrase, that appears in many reviews and in mine on numerous occasions, but Fifty Years of Fear is a real page turner, in the best possible way. The atmosphere and tension within its pages, builds up as the novel progresses.  Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the characters, who they are, what they have done and what they are capable of, Ross Greenwood turns that on its head and you have to reevaluate all that you have come to think about characters like Vinnie.

Having read both of Ross Greenwood two previous books in this trilogy of stories, what I admire most about his writing is his unflinching honestly and obvious skill in turning out a story that though brutally honest. He delivers on the key elements such as tension and anticipation, compelling characters that beg us to understand their motivations and a conclusion which leaves you wanting him to hurry up with the next book.

He understands that criminals come from all walks of life. Many are born predestined to a life of crime, but others almost stumble into it from walks of life and communities that gave them little chance for a normal life. Few understand the complex and challenging environment in the prison community, but he brings it once again into seering clarity, with all its unique challenges.

Characters like Vinnie, often too different for a modern world to comprehend, are given a voice in this top class story. Having myself worked within the prison community for a long time, he is the first writer I have come across who delivers a story that brings those wings to life for a reader. You may think you understand what drives people to do what they do, but the chances are you don’t. Ross Greenwood does and he delivers it with a punch to the solar plexus that will leave you reeling. He will make you sit up and look around and wonder, could that be me, someone I love? What would I do? Is there a crime worse than murder that can’t be forgiven?

Fifty Years of Fear is a first class story and a fitting third book in this trilogy that looks at life in prison and what leads people to this place. Life behind those walls is not easy, it can be brutal and challenging, but it can be a place for change. What Ross Greenwood does, is bring it to life and asks us all, could we end up there. A wrong decision or secrets long buried coming into the light and tipping the world on it’s axis, could leads to decisions we come to regret.

It delves into human nature, explores the reason behinds the actions of people society rejects for one reason or another. Evil is there, his characters are unshamefully flawed, damaged and in some cases, though it makes us uncomfortable, revolts us, are capable of acts of depravity that don’t go away, just because we lock them up.
Fifty Years of Fear and the others in the series, Lazy Blood and Boy Inside should be on the reading list of everyone. Crime, society, deprivation, the twisted hand of fate, history, secrets and lies are all there in the pages of this novel.

I will leave it up to you to decide about your feelings about Vinnie, for human nature is complex and not always pleasant, but Ross Greenwood makes is compelling and will force you to revaluate many of your most prized assumptions about crime and punishment.

Fifty Years Of Fear can be purchased from Amazon

The other books in the trilogy Lazy blood and The Boy Inside can also be purchased from Amazon.

Author Bio

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 now, Fifty Years of Fear, is out. All his books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour.

You can follow Ross Greenwood on the following social media sites –

His webpage/ Facebook  / Twitter

 

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ Kisses From Nimbus by P.J.’Red’ Riley.

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Shot at, bombed, imprisoned and arrested for murder. His is the story the establishment doesn’t want you to read.
Captain P. J. “Red” Riley is an ex-SAS soldier who served for eighteen years as an MI6 agent.
Riley escaped internment in Chile during the Falklands war during an audacious top-secret attempt to attack the Argentinian mainland.
He was imprisoned in the darkness of the Sierra Leonean jungle, and withstood heavy fire in war-torn Beirut and Syria.
In 2015, he was arrested for murder but all charges were later dropped.
In this searing memoir, Riley reveals the brutal realities of his service, and the truth behind the newspaper headlines featuring some of the most significant events in recent British history. His account provides startling new evidence on the Iraq war, what Tony Blair really knew about Saddam Hussain’s weapons of mass destruction before the allied invasion, and questions the British government’s alleged involvement in the death of Princess Diana.
Chaotic, darkly humorous and at times heart-wrenchingly sad, Kisses From Nimbus charts the harrowing real-life experiences of a soldier and spy in the name of Queen and co

Firstly,  I would like to thank the author, Clink Street publishing, and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the chance to publish an extract from his autobiography today.

Extract

In this opening short chapter, my aim is to capture the reader’s interest:

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SUNDAY 20th JANUARY 1990 14.35 HOURS

A mark, a target, a victim. What do you call a person you are about to kill? I certainly don’t want to personalise this whole sordid business by applying a name, but I will at least apply a gender – Male. That’s it then – He. He was sleeping peacefully on his back. How odd, I thought. Surely most people sleep lying on one side or the other in the foetal position. It gives them the comfort of still being in the womb I suppose. But lying, quite still, face up, seems to be making it so easy for me – just asking to be suffocated.

I had spent the past twenty-two years of my life in the British Army. The last six of which were in the now famous and very much publicised Special Air Service. Now, after leaving the Army, I have been recruited and trained as an agent in Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6 or SIS.

It is well known that, being SAS trained, it is quite easy for me to live for at least a fortnight with nothing more than a pair of old leather bootlaces to suck on for sustenance, and, with steely cold resolve, I can send a heavily armed terrorist to his maker with just a well-aimed swift jab here or there – what a load of bollocks! I know I have to kill this man but I don’t know how to. I have no weapon. No trigger to pull, before I close my eyes to avoid the instant when white hot metal smashes into soft body tissue. I have my hands, of course, but they hardly seem adequate and they are shaking.

Throughout my Army career, the closest I ever came to hand to hand combat was as a young soldier in basic training, being taught the finer points of bayonet drill. This consisted of fixing a six-inch steel bayonet to the end of my self-loading rifle, which had to be kept highly polished to avoid the risk of infection. The rifle also had to be kept in pristine condition to avoid I know not what and, charging towards a sack full of straw whilst screaming some ridiculous obscenity, plunge the bayonet hard into the sack. A twist for maximum internal organ damage, keep on screaming, withdraw the bayonet and continue running to the NAAFI truck for sausage baps and tea.

My training as a killer continued but the much-preferred method was with a gun. I spent days, weeks, months even, on rifle ranges across the United Kingdom and Germany. From one hundred metre ranges for pistols and small submachine guns, to the fifteen hundred metre ranges for support weapons, such as the Bren gun or the new, state of the art, general-purpose machine gun. Whatever the weapon the emphasis was always the same – shoot to kill! Shoot to kill has always been an overriding policy of the British Army – there is no other way. Aim for the centre of the target to maximise the possibility of a hit. It matters not where the target is hit, since, in the heat of battle, it can be argued that a wounded soldier could be more of a liability to his comrades than a dead soldier. Whilst the enemy are dealing with their wounded they are less likely to be able to return fire. When it comes to killing, it is generally agreed that it is better to have as much distance as possible between the dispatcher and the recipient. A double tap from a pistol if necessary, but a better option would be a burst of automatic fire from a machine gun at two hundred metres or so. An even better option would be a single shot from a sniper rifle from as far away as a thousand metres, which would surely avoid witnessing the last look of horror as the bullet slams into the victim. Best of all, of course, is to get on the radio and call for air support for fighter ground attack aircraft to carpet bomb the complete area and keep the whole nasty business as impersonal as possible. So yes, I suppose I do qualify as a trained killer, but firing rockets, or bullets at some barely discernible target hundreds of metres away somehow doesn’t seem like killing, even if you keep your eyes open and watch the targets fall.

What I am contemplating now is killing a man whose face I can clearly see, a young man, a handsome man, and I have no weapon to make things easier. The bed he is sleeping in is a hospital bed, a small private room with just one bed, two chairs, a small bedside cupboard and a hand wash basin. The single window in the room looks out onto a dirty grey stone wall. I draw the curtains across to prevent any casual, unsuspecting, passer-by witnessing a murder. Even with the curtains drawn there is still enough light in the room to clearly see the man’s face.

My recently completed training to become a fully operational SIS agent certainly made no mention of ‘How to kill a sleeping man without alerting nearby nursing staff’. What I had been taught included basic ‘Tradecraft’ (the skill of being as ‘grey’ as possible and being perceived as anything but a British Secret Agent). My training also included surveillance and anti-surveillance techniques, loading and unloading dead letterboxes to collect and receive messages covertly, photography, practical disguise, communications, defensive driving, and a police advanced driving qualification.

I quietly left the room and walked, a little nervously, towards the toilets and the hospital exit. Although the young female nurse on duty was clearly of Asian descent, she was dressed in a western-style blue and white nurses uniform. She looked up and seemed to eye me suspiciously as I approached the nurse’s station.

‘Everything okay Mr Riley, is there anything I can help you with?’ she said in perfect English with, what I guessed, was a Lancastrian accent.
‘No thanks,’ I replied, ‘He’s sleeping like a baby.’
‘Can I get you a cup of tea or ‘owt?’ she asked.
Definitely, I thought, a Lancastrian accent!
‘No, we are just fine thanks.’ I smiled, ‘Be good if he can get a couple of hours’ sleep. I’ll give you a call if we need anything.’
‘Right-o luv,’ she said.
On second thoughts she could be from the other side of the Pennines I suppose.

As I washed my hands I stared hard at myself in the mirror. Are you insane, are you really capable of doing this? Why not just keep on walking towards the exit and leave the poor bastard in peace?
My handlers in London had made it abundantly clear to me that if, or more likely when, the shit hit the fan, I would be completely on my own. Part of the deal I have signed up for is to be totally deniable to the United Kingdom government. I have been assured that everything possible will be done to help me, but it will be done covertly. Overtly, it will be denied that I have anything whatsoever to do with the British Secret Intelligence Service.

Returning to the room I gave the nurse a friendly smile as I passed, which was acknowledged with nothing more than a nod. Back in the room, he was still fast asleep and thankfully, still on his back. Feeling reasonably confident that we were unlikely to be disturbed, I convinced myself that it had to be now or never. It had to be now. Suffocation seemed to be my only realistic option but there were only two pillows in the room and he was sleeping soundly on both of them. I decide not to risk waking him by trying to get to one of the pillows. On the side of the wash basin, there was a small face cloth which I decided would have to be my weapon. I examined the face cloth. It looked and felt rather porous. I carefully folded the weapon once, then twice. It was still big enough to cover his nose and mouth, but it continued to look somewhat inadequate for what I was about to do. Perhaps soaking the cloth with water would make the material stick together more, I thought, and therefore make the weapon more efficient. I soaked the cloth under the running water. I didn’t want it to be too hot or too cold. For some obscure reason, it was important for me to have the weapon at just the right temperature. I approached the bedside knowing what I had to do next. He was resting peacefully, taking short, regular and shallow breaths. Facing directly towards the ceiling, his position seemed to make it almost too easy for me to cover his mouth and nose with the improvised weapon. Getting to within an inch of his face his eyes opened wide, and he frantically grabbed my wrists with both his hands. With unexpected strength, he pushed my hands away and gasped for breath. He had an odd expression of bewilderment on his face as he stared into my eyes. After such a rude awakening, it took a few moments for him to seem to understand what I was trying to do. His expression changed. He assumed, what appeared to me to be a faint smile. He then nodded to me and closed his eyes. I again went about my planned suffocation, but for some reason, I hesitated and stopped short of actually snuffing out the young man’s life. His eyes remained closed. He raised his hands, but this time not to push me away, instead he brought his hands together as if in prayer. His body relaxed. His arms fell to his sides. He stopped breathing. Lying motionless his face very quickly turned a deathly grey. As I stood in amazement the weapon dropped from my hand and I realised for certain that he was dead.

Kisses From Nimbus can be purchased from Amazon  and Barnes and Noble.

Author Bio

Born in 1946 in Lancashire P.J ‘Red’ Riley joined the British Army at the age of eighteen. After basic training he volunteered for Pilot Training and qualified as an operational helicopter pilot going on to service in Germany, Northern Ireland, Canada, Belize and Cyprus. He was later appointed Flight Commander SAS Flight Hereford. At the age of thirty-six years old he left the Army Air Corps and transferred to the SAS. In 1989, when Riley left the army he was quickly recruited by MI6 where he served until 2015. Now retired Riley splits his time between the UK and Spain

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~Operation Clean Up Day by Jason Tucker and illustrated by Nick Roberts.

Operation Clean Up Day Cover

This is the story of two very imaginative little boys and their resistance to cleaning up their toys…

Two little boys are about to go out for the day to the swimming pool as a treat. But before they can go, they must tidy up all their toys – which are all over the house – as requested by their Mummy. The boys consider this a mission! The boys attempt to clean up their toys in various parts of the house while making all sorts of excuses to Mummy to leave the toys where they are. The boys are easily side-tracked when attempting to clean up each room, as they find themselves playing with their toys again, their imaginations taking over. They find themselves driving trains, defending castles from ogres, climbing high mountains, flying spaceships, catching sea serpents and meeting prehistoric dinosaurs. All while trying to clean up their toys!
Written by Jason Tucker and stunningly illustrated by Nick Roberts, Operation Clean Up Day is a fantastic journey through the imagination of two children, who can turn a simple set of toys into an entire fantasy world, whilst teaching children the valuable lesson of tidying up their toys after playtime!

Review

Firstly I would like to thank Clink Street publishing, Jason Tucker and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Jason Thorpe has written a funny and delightful tale of two little boys and the captivating imaginary worlds they create with their toys. The problem is, they never tidy them up or put them away and have to be persuaded to do so. To help children learn about cleaning up, he has written this book which they can read with their parents. That may sound boring, but I promise you this book it is far from that, it is enchanting, appealing and engaging.
The boys are told that they can only go swimming if they put their toys away, but who would want to tidy up the lounge when in the minds of these little boys it’s Grand Central Station or the bedroom when it’s a galactic space station? But they have promised mummy they will try and they do, but they keep getting distracted and end up playing.
It’s obvious when reading Operation Clean Up Day that writing it was a labour of love, inspired by an affection for imagination and the way young children can turn any room into a magical place. Yet at the same time, rooms can become messy nightmares for the adults in the family. By capturing the children’s mischievous enthusiasm for play but not for tidying up, young readers learn by reading this book, the rewards they can gain by helping their parents. It’s an aid to mums and dads, but by paying homage to the incredible imagery world of young children, Jason Tucker makes this book a joy to read, which is important, because children learn best when it’s fun.
The narrative reads well and the rhyming text is fun and easy to read for parents and young children.
My favourite part is when they have to tidy up their bedroom…
“Onto our bedroom, Mummy says, you have another place to sort
But Mummy, we can’t, this is our galactic space port…. “
Illustrations are an important part of any book for young children, as reading is as much a visual experience, as it is learning the words beside them! In Operation Cleanup Day, the pictures are stunning. They bring the story to life and compliment it perfectly. We have the boys and their mum in the bathroom on one page, then on the other, the world in the minds of the children. The scene has been magically transformed into a pirate’s ship where the boys are fighting off sea monsters on the high seas.
I find it hard to believe that any reader would fail to be charmed by this delightful tale. It’s magical, funny and educational all at the same time. The perfect combination, for parents and children alike.

The book can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About the author:
Born and raised in London, Jason Tucker is married and is a father of three young boys. He is enjoying an international working life basing himself between London and Dubai. This is his first published work with a number of other titles in the pipeline as well as working on a number of other ventures including TV, Film & graphic novels.

 

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ House of Spines by Michael J Malone.

House of Spines front

Book Summary

A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…
Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman… A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Review

Firstly I would like to thank Orenda books, the author and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.
House of Spines had me scared and just a little freaked out. It is both deeply disturbing and at the same time highly addictive. You find yourself glad you’re not the one living in the house which is haunted by a presence both seductive and alarming. Yet in you go, into the House Of Spines, which Ran McGhie, a poet with mental health problems, inherited from his Uncle Fitzapatrick. As he begins to question if he is losing his grip on reality, you as the reader, begin to question with him, the sanity of entering this house, whose very walls seem to be seeped with a horror leaking through from the past.
The writing is superb! Michael Malone manages with great skill to keep the suspense flowing throughout the story, until the very last page of this highly engaging psychological thriller, with elements of horror and hints of a Gothic mystery. It’s such an engaging combination that I found myself addicted to the Ran’s story. The quality of the narrative forcing me to overcome my feelings dread and alarm at the mounting terror let loose on Ran. Yet you go back in! I needed to know if Ran was suffering a deeply frightening psychotic event, or if the lady in the mirror really was there. Luring him into a world beyond the temple of words, his Uncle had built to beauty of the written word, or was it meant for another reason? Michael Malone cleverly keeps the horror under control, eases the tension back that is coiling around your mind, just enough so that you don’t lose your nerve, but it’s there constantly under the surface. He allows you to calm down a little, only then to send you hurtling back into Ran’s nightmare, but one so seductive, both you and he almost welcome its embrace.
This is without doubt first class story telling from a writer who can form a storyline and characters , that are so engaging, you just don’t want your trip into the House of Spines to end. I may never feel as safe alone in a lift again, even the one in my favourite Waterstone’s bookshop! It’s an odd feeling to know that you are scared of events woven into a storyline, yet on and on you read.
Orenda books have yet again delivered a masterful story to its readers. While author Michael Malone has given booklovers a story which will haunt them for months after they have read the last page.
Bravo to this remarkably talented team.

You can purchase House of Spines from Amazon  / Waterstones / Foyles

Author Bio. 

Michael Malone Photo

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Michael can be followed on following social media sites –

Facebook / Twitter

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Today is my 50th birthday ~ a celebration in books 💜

Today is my 50th birthday. I’m still not sure how that happened!  I was only a young girl, lost in my favourite Nancy Drew Mystery a few years ago, or so it feels like!

To celebrate, I thought I would post about some of my favourite books, read over the last 50 years.

Childhood wonder through classics like The Eagle of The Ninth! 

th  When consider one of my favourite books as a child, Rosemary Sutcliff’s the ninth legion is always the one I think about. I loved the sense of atmosphere she evoked and I spent many happy hours reading her story, of a Roman legion lost in the mists of time. Even now as an adult, I still love books that feature the Legions of Rome, with Simon Scarrow’s Eagles of the Empire Series a firm favourite.

Teenage angst and tortured love with Jane Eyre! 

th (2) Next is my favourite read as a teenager, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I fell head over heels in love with Jane and Rochester . It was such an intense love story and read at an age when everything seemed possible, I yearned with equal amounts of passion and longing for their love affair to survive the obstacles it faced.
Moving onto my time at Aberystwyth University, it was here for the first time that I rarely read for pleasure. I studied both American and British literature, but rarely picked up a book for the simple joy of reading. For three years nearly all the novels I read, were connected with one course or another.

Studying history and literature with The Color Purple! 

51IX2DhtQPL._SY346_One of the books I remember most from those years was Alice Walkers, The Color Purple. It was the first book I’d read which featured an LGBT character and reflected what life was really like for women of colour, in a deeply segregated America along racial and gender lines.

I have read hundreds of books since I left University. Those that have meant the most to me are the books that reminded me why I love reading so much. It’s an integral part of who I am and without a book I feel incomplete.
Amongst those books that have stood out for me in the last twenty years are:

Love and heartbreaking reading with The Song of Achilles

download    I adore this this book, with its themes of love and sacrifice. Books rarely make me cry, but this book reduced me to a sobbing wreck on a train journey home from London. I proceeded to buy it for birthday and Christmas presents, because I wanted everyone I knew to read this intense and emotional story. It sits there at the top of my list of all time favourite books.

War and suffering with The Lie by Helen Dunmore.
download (1)  Of all the novels I have read set in or around World War 1, this is the most intense and finest of them all. I was immensely moved by the depiction of the untold damage done to those that survived the nightmare of the trenches. Left damaged and alone with their nightmares, unable to get over the loss of so many while they lived.

The fine line between friendship and love with The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain. 

download (2)  I lucky to discover this book because I read Waterstone’s recommended fiction book every month . What a joy it is! It’s themes of love and friendship filled me with longing and hope. If asked about books I would recommend, The Gustav Sonata is one right at the top of my list.

Achingly tender reading with Tin Man by Sarah Winman. 

41PVLWiS12L._SY346_ If any book is going to knock The Song Of Achilles off the top of my all time favourite books, then it will be this achingly tender and astonishingly beautiful book. It reminds me why I love reading. With its themes of friendship, love and the thin line that divides the two, Tin Man should be required reading for all students of English Literature in a modern and changing world.

Reliving my childhood through The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. 

th (3) I think I fell in love with this book because I was a young child during the long hot summer in which it is set. It reminded me of simpler times, of the joy of Angels Delight, adventurous and overly imaginative minds running amok.

There have also been a few much loved non fiction books……

Natural wonder and recovering from grief with H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.

download (4) This is the incredibly powerful story of when Helen MacDonald decided to train a Hawk. But that is just one level of the book, because beyond this is her journey through crippling grief and how in training the hawk she found the strength to heal. I came across it in a small bookshop and bought it on impulse, having meant to read it for a few years and I am so glad I did.

Re living the Thatcher years with Maggie and Me by Damian Barr. 

download (5) Maggie and Me is one of the funniest and certainly the most memorable autobiographies I have ever read. The writer despite living through a tough childhood, told his story with remarkable warmth and great humour. I will never think of mouth wash and Tom Jones in the same way, ever again.

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Taking into account my love of theatre, I have started to collect texts from my favourite plays.

The power of theatre to call for freedom to love with The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell. 
516e8staf2L._AC_US218_This was an amazingly powerful, emotional, funny and complex love story and depicted the way attitudes towards homosexuality have changed. The line that will always stay with me is,

“What is the point of this stupid, painful life if not to be honest? If not to stand up for what you are in the core of your being?”

Thank you to all the authors that have made the last 50 years more amazing because of the stories you shared with me!

Blog Tour ~Review~ Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech.

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Book Summary

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’

Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Review

 

I would like to thank Orenda Books, Louise Beech and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of Maria in the Moon in return for an honest review.
I have always felt that we have an intrinsic reaction to the books we read, some speak to us, while others leave us emotionless and indifferent. For me it often starts with the cover, which should speak of the story, like a portal into its very soul.
The cover of Maria In The Moon is stunning. It evokes the life of thirty-two year old Catherine Hope in free fall, floating and discounted from the world around her! While the story is a moving evocation of the part memory plays in all our lives. For each of us is made up of recollections and experiences that the shape the adults we become. It talks to the reader of the damage trauma can do, as we develop and grow. With piercing insight into the connection between emotional frailty and the physical reaction to trauma, Louise Beech delivers a poignant and emotional tale of one women’s struggle, to regain memories that always seem out of reach, but which haunt her. With a deft hand the writer takes us and Catherine on a painful journey of discovery. Because only by knocking down the walls her mind has built to protect her, can Catherine hope to heal. It’s a story that explores the frailty of our memories and how the truth though painful, if ignored can do untold damage.
In Catherine she gives us a character who is damaged and yet brave and determined to face those terrors that haunt her. There is no attempt at a trivial pull of the heart strings, it’s an emotional read and one that will affect you deeply, but your reactions will be based on the honest brutality of the experiences Catherine has buried.

Louise Beech has an instinctive understanding of her characters and their stories and delivers a story that will haunt you for weeks, maybe months after you finish it. Told with remarkable sensitivity and though difficult to read in places, needs to be read,  if we are have any hope of understanding the frail hold Catherine and other’s like her, have on the reality of events long since buried.  The actions that drive her to help others that are suffering, help us understand her more, her complex nature and extent of her bravery. You find yourself compelled to read on, to complete the journey with Catherine and to see if she can find peace and from that a life renewed.

It is without doubt a book that once read, will stay with you. It’s a stunning depiction of memory, loss and the power love has to heal.

If your already a fan of Louise Beech then Maria In The Moon will only cement the respect and love you already have for her books. If you have not read her novels, then I recommend you do, dark, poignant and moving, this new release will without doubt garner her many more fans and well deserved that will be.

Maria In The Moon can be purchased from:  Amazon/ Waterstones

Author Bio 

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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. Both 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. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.

Louise Beech can be followed on the following social media sites:

Facebook/Twitter

Maria in the Moon - Blog Tour Poster

Blog Tour ~ The Keeper of Secrets by Alice Grey Sharp.

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Book summary. 

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Review

I would like to thank Clink Street Publishing, the author and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
Alice Graysharp has written a charming and intimate story of one young women’s journey from a teenager to a young woman, during the nightmare of WWII.
As a character Patricia is not easy to like! She is spiky and defensive, judgemental of those around her and a little bit of an intellectual snob! But as the story progresses, you can’t help but warm to her, as the reasons behind her defensive nature are revealed. By the end of the novel I not only liked her, I admired her plucky and determined personality. The author cleverly captures the spirit of the time and imbues Patricia with attitudes toward relationships and life, that so typified the period.
The story itself is very enjoyable as you experience life as a wartime evacuee and the horror of the blitz through Patricia’s story. It was also compelling how the story evoked a period of fear and death, by taking the reader on a journey through streets strewn with destroyed buildings and those that were killed. But the writer doesn’t seek to shock, using violence to scare, but simply to evoke a period where death stalked the population of Britain, in the form of German bombers and flying bombs.
Many of the images from the novel will stay with me for quite some time, as will Patricia’s determination to stick to her chosen career. While love comes her way, it is her determination and single minded spirit, which will stay with me after reading The Keeping of Secrets.
If you were fans of ITV’s The Home front, then I think you will love this highly enjoyable story from Patricia Roberts.

 

The Keeper of Secrets can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Author Bio

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Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.

Alice Graysharp can be followed via her Website

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Locked Up by GB Williams.

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Book summary

A prison officer and a convicted killer must work together to solve a brutal murder and expose conspiracy inside a prison.

Ariadne Teddington is surrounded by people who lie but that is to be expected when you work in prison where every man claims to be innocent.

Charlie Bell, an ex Detective, now finds himself in that prison serving time for murder after having taken the law into his own hands.

When a fellow inmate is killed Charlie is asked to investigate the case from the inside. Soon Charlie finds himself working with Ariande but she is a guard, he is an inmate and some lines should never be crossed…

Can two people on different sides of the law come together to solve the case?

And do the answers lie closer to home than anyone ever imagined?

Review

I would like to thank publishers Bloodhound books, GB Williams and Sarah Hardy for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
Yet again Bloodhound books have delivered another fantastic thriller, this time from GB Williams, whose has set her action packed tale of murder and corruption inside a fictional British Prison.
I am always a little wary of reading books set behind the walls of a prison, having worked within this environment for 15 years, I find the factual inaccuracies distract me from the enjoyment of the story being told. But the writer has delivered a tale that captures the underlying threat of violence and intimidation that stalks the landings of so many prisons. It gives this novel an edgy grittiness that turns it into a real page turner. It was almost impossible to put down, though work got in the way and I was forced to. Yet the minute I left work, I returned to the story, eager to know if the violence and tension on the prison landing had broken out into a riot of violence.
Given that so many modern thrillers always seem to feature Police Officers and their sidekicks, it’s great to find a story with an original angle. Recently I read a thriller whose hero was an environmental health officer and it gave the story a refreshing angle. Having the heroes in Locked Up as a serving prisoner and prison officer means it’s both original and highly readable. These are two characters that should be on opposite sides of an unusual relationship, one that is fraught with so many possible complications that it leads to a thrilling story with multiple twists and turns.
Your going to want to know if Charlie and Ariande survive the conspiracy which plagues this prison. It will tie you up in knots trying to figure out who are the real criminals and who are those meant to enforce the will of the courts. No one is quite who they seem and that is what keeps you reading, because first appearances are deceptive.
Highly enjoyable and exciting to read, I would recommend this to any thriller lover, looking for a book with a hero whose past puts him on the wrong side of the law!

 

You can purchase Locked Up from Amazon

Author Bio

Gail Wiliams

After being made redundant in 2012, GB started taking her life-long passion for writing more seriously and looking to sell her work. Specialising in complex, fast-paced crime novels, she started writing the Locked Series in 2014, and has been working to polish and perfect since – not to mention – sell.

GB was shortlisted for the 2014 CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition with the story Last Shakes, now available in Last Cut Casebook. She is also a feature writer and comic book reviewer on www.warpedfactor.com. Crime novels are her stock in trade, but she has had success with short stories in various genres including steampunk, horror, erotica and general fiction. 

With bills to pay, she’s back working as a systems architect by day, a freelance fiction editor and keen writer of an evening and weekend. GB really needs to learn to sleep.

Originally from Kent, GB moved to South Wales as a supposed first step on a year around the world.  Then she met a guy.  Kept the guy, kissed the travel goodbye. Knowing that the best way to travel is by book anyway, she has always read, always written. GB now has two grown-up children, the world’s most imperious cat, a house full of books and a hard drive full of manuscripts (though some will never be allowed out of a locked basement).

GB Williams can be followed on the following social media sites.

Facebook/ Her blog / Author website /  Twitter

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Death Wish by Linda Huber.

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Book Summary

Secrets. Lies. Murder.

When Leo decides to go into business with his mother-in-law he soon realises his mistake. Eleanor is the mother-in-law from hell and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her daughter, Ashley, has her own reasons for hating her mother. The atmosphere is toxic and old wounds refuse to heal.

Next door, eight-year-old Joya has a difficult life. Her parents argue constantly and her grandmother, who lives with them, is approaching death.

Soon these two families will collide and the consequences might just be fatal…

Review

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

Bloodhound Books have a proven track record of publishing great thrillers, packed with secrets, murder and lies.  Death Wish by Linda Huber carries this on, with a story of two families whose worlds collide, in a tale of fatal consequences.

Linda Huber weaves an intricate series of events into a tale about how families in turmoil, can make decisions that could tear them apart. All the characters within this book are well written and highly believable. Little Joya is without doubt my favourite, she is the connection between the two families, caught up in the erratic, almost comical actions of the adults around her.  You can feel her mounting confusion as she tries to decipher why her parents and neighbours, are behaving in such a guilty fashion.  The dynamics within the families is also superbly drawn.  You can understand why they seem so dysfunctional and how they could end up following the path they do.  Under pressure from a domineering mum and another suffering from a life limiting disease, it all adds to the strain they are under.  Which makes their actions if not understandable or  justified, they are believable and shocking.

The writer skilfully draws all the threads of her story together to form a conclusion which will leave you shocked and unnerved. Could you to, having been caught up in a series of misadventures, follow the same path as the families in this story? You may think you wouldn’t, but Death Wish will make you question those dearly held assumptions.  It conveys a tense and anguished mood of two families in crisis.

What I enjoyed about this novel was the intimate and claustrophobic feel, as you followed the main characters down the path to a conclusion they could not avoid.

I read Death Wish in two very enjoyable sittings and would recommend it to anyone seeking a family based drama with murder at it’s heart.

You can buy Death Wish from Amazon

Author Bio

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Linda grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys, a rescue dog, and a large collection of guinea pigs.

Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she discovered the love of her writing life – psychological suspense fiction. Her seventh novel, Death Wish, will be published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.

Linda can be followed on Facebook / Author website / Twitter

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Blood of Kings by Angela King.

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Book summary

1559. A girl arrives in London to search for her brother. Aalia, an awkward, arrogant teenager plans to bring William to his senses, until she discovers that both their lives are based on a lie. Aalia must unravel a web of secrets but has the weight of her past to contend with. Courageous and undisciplined, Aalia gradually comes to terms with the truth that William, her brother, has royal blood. Deciding to undermine the men who want to use him as a pawn, Aalia must negotiate a world where secrecy arms the powerful. But unwilling to ask for anyone’s help she is forced into making a fateful decision. Who can she trust when everyone around her is plotting? Is the truth really something worth dying for?

This epic story of secrets and betrayal paints a vivid picture of Elizabethan England and asks questions that span beyond the test of time.

Review

I would like to thank the Publishers Bombshell books, the writer Angela King and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The Blood of Kings is an intriguing tale of a young headstrong girl Aalia, who comes to Britain to track down her brother and save him from the men, who seek to use him to dethrone Elizabeth I.
The character of Aalia was my favourite thing about this book. She is brave, beautiful and headstrong! Not for her a life as a doting wife and mother, only able to wield influence through the men she is related to! This fascinating character is determined to circumvent the men who seek to control her. Feisty, she mesmerises those around her with a beautiful singing voice and her refusal to be cowed by danger. She is not perfect, her stubborn nature gets her into many scraps and serious danger, but this is what makes her so much fun to read about. You’re never going to be bored when the lead character is as daring as Aalia.
The story is filled with the intrigue of the Tudor court and the story weaves from the hustle and bustle of the Thames out into the courts and homes of the Tudor society. We are treated to a story that takes us right into the heart Elizabethan London, down its side streets and into its Inns. Angela King weaves a story that brings the atmosphere of this period into a very enjoyable novel. There is murder, betrayal and acts of great courage as Aalia and her supporters seek to stop her brother William from making a terrible mistake. A story so full of plots that you read on just to see if Aalia will survive.

If you like you stories jam packed with adventure and treachery and your heroines brave and yet flawed, then this is the book for you.

The Blood of Kings can be purchased from Amazon

Arthur bio 

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I’ve always loved words, those little black squiggles dancing around the page lead inside a secret world – the world of imagination.

I’ve always loved writing – diaries, stories, letters – I’m a compulsive writer. My favourite task is pinning the imagined world into words – it’s also the most exciting but I’d rarely let anyone read my work.

I was born in Wimbledon but my first memories are of Clapham Common, where I lived until I was six years old. Next I moved to Kent, to an ancient village on the fringes of the Thames Estuary. I loved books and dreamed of becoming a writer – my English teacher was really encouraging – but I come from a long line of practical dreamers who need first to earn a living.

After school I went to Medway College of Art in Rochester, to study design. The course was meant to teach design techniques that could be ‘geared’ to any medium but it failed, most students dropped out before the first term ended. I ‘geared’ towards costume and embroidery and during college holidays worked at ‘Bermans and Nathans’, a company who provided costumes for film, television and theatre.

My first ‘proper’ job was working as assistant designer to the most amazing man, Bruno Stern (there’s a book waiting to be written). The company was based in Dover Street and made beautiful clothes for the rich and famous. It was a surreal place to work but after problems getting home during a year of unplanned rail strikes, I decided to find employment nearer home.

By this time I’d married – Michael King. He was working as a goldsmith in Essex and we were living in the village of Paglesham when I got a job with a local theatrical costume company. I loved my job and started writing children’s books with an illustrator friend. Together we produced two little books – ‘Olly the Octopus’ and ‘The Squeaky Knight’. In 1980 I began working on my first novel when we had a season of disasters – Michael was involved in a terrible car crash, the company where he worked went bankrupt, my old dog died and our beautiful, grade 2 listed cottage, burned down. Feeling it was time for change we moved to Cumbria.

We started our own jewellery company in 1984, working from home. We had two small children and no income. Michael manufactured while I went out selling his work at craft fairs. We struggled at first – finding customers, building a reputation. We moved to bigger premises in 2002 and now employ four jewellers and two design consultants.

While my children were growing up I studied with the Open University. I also worked for a small company which made docu-history films for museums and wrote articles for magazines and specialist publications. Then, in 2008, two very close friends died, kicking me into action – if I didn’t write my novel soon it might never be written. I joined a couple of local creative writing groups and finally allowed my imagination to run free.

In 2016 I had short stories published in three different anthologies: Dark Minds (Bloodhound Books), Happily Never After (C & P Writers) and Dot, Dot, Dot, (Wiza Words).

Angel King can be followed on her as Blog and on Twitter

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