#Q&A #HeartSwarm by Allan Watson @allanwatson12 @sarahhardy681

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Today I am delighted to be sharing a Q&A with you all for Heart Swarm by Allan Watson as part of the Blog Blitz with Sarah Hardy. Allan is attending Bloody Scotland this is Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, if you are around for this event it is held 21st-23rd in Stirling DETAILS HERE. This is an event I really want to go to (pulls sulky face and stamps feet)… most of the time I am very content living in Cornwall until I see a book event I would love to attend that happens to be hundreds of miles away.

Here is the purchase link so you can grab a copy of your own from Amazon UK. I didn’t have time to read this so instead I just bought a copy for future reading  🙂

Now lets see what the book is about.

Synopsis:

Heart Swarm – Prepare to be Scared…

It feels like history is repeating itself when out-of-favour detective Will Harlan gets summoned to a crime scene in the village of Brackenbrae after a young girl is found hanging in the woods.

Five years ago Harlan headed up the investigation of an identical murder in the same woods; a mishandled investigation that effectively destroyed his credibility as a detective. The new case immediately takes a bizarre twist when the body is identified as the same girl found hanging in the woods five years ago.

The following day a local man commits suicide and the police find more dead girls hidden in his basement. The case seems open and closed.

Until the killing spree begins.

Harlan finds himself drawn into a dark world where murder is a form of self-expression and human life treated as one more commodity to be used and discarded.

The only clue that links everything is a large oil painting of ‘Sagittarius A’ – a massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy orbited by thirteen stars daubed in blood with the words –

Question and Answer:

You will be attending Bloody Scotland this year, how important do you think it is for authors as well as readers to attend events like these?

Readers also attend? Really? Whenever I go along to a Crime-fest I’m always narrowly avoiding being trampled to death by hordes of wild-eyed, drink-fuelled authors. I think it’s a great thing for writers to meet up and swap war stories, commiserate on the latest rejection letters, and lie through our teeth over how many Amazon 5 Star reviews we have for our latest book. It provides a sense of community and fosters camaraderie. So much better than my early days as an isolated writer, not ever meeting anyone else with the same obsession. I even remember trying to join a writers club at my local library and finding myself trapped in a small room with a group of mad people whose idea of writing was penning lengthy articles for Caravan Monthly. Each to their own, I suppose.

Can you tell us a bit more about what a normal writing day for you is like?

I normally write in the evenings as I work during the day. In fact, when I say evenings, I mean midnight is usually my starting point. It’s a good time to work as I don’t normally get interrupted by phone calls about car accidents I’ve never been in or people at the door wanting to Tarmac my driveway or replace my guttering. It’s also an acceptable time of night to drink lots of gin.

What would your dream office/writing space be like?

My perfect writing space would be on a revolving spot-lit stage in a huge auditorium filled with admiring fans. Whenever I write a particularly pleasing piece of prose the audience will cheer and go crazy and flash bombs and strobe lights go off. When I make a typo the audience will let me know by sighing loudly and in extreme cases maybe throw Space-hoppers from the balcony. Um… I guess I haven’t really thought this one through properly.

What made you decide to write in the crime genre?

Peer pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed reading Crime, but I preferred to write fiction that was darker and not necessarily restricted to this reality. Unfortunately, that side of the fiction fence gets branded with the big Horror tag and no one takes you seriously. A fellow author recently pointed out that by simply sticking a policeman in the heart of the story you can reinvent yourself as a Crime writer and suddenly everyone feels fine about the unusual stuff going on the background. Personally, I feel there’s so many books out there tagged as crime, especially all the serial killer thrillers, that are basically just Horror dressed up as Crime. But these days the public shy away from the ‘H’ word. Horror isn’t all about giant slugs and mutant rats, you know.

For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading your books, can you tell us a bit more about DI Will Harlan, the protagonist from your series?

Will Harlan was once an ace detective who badly messed up a high-profile murder investigation and lost almost everything as a consequence, including his marriage. He’s spent the best part of five years being marginalised at work, overlooked for everything except the most mundane cases. He lives in a small hotel next door to the Glasgow City Necropolis. It doesn’t help his fading reputation at work that his landlord is a retired old-school London gangster. Redemption for Harlan finally comes along in the novel Heart Swarm. In the second novel, Wasp Latitudes, Harlan has rediscovered his old talents but still always looking over his shoulder for the next ambush from his colleagues. I’ve been told he’s not terribly likeable.

Where do you get inspiration from for the crimes you feature in your novels?

It’s very difficult to come up with a new crime that hasn’t already been committed in someone else’s book, or in real life, come to that. All you can do is apply a decorative touch to try and set it apart as semi-original. I’ve stopped trying to come up with anything remotely unique as the toy box has already been emptied. For me, the location of a crime can be more shocking than the crime itself and that’s been my focus lately.

Finally, what are you currently working on at the moment and what else can readers look forward to from you in the future?

I’m currently working on the third book in the DI Will Harlan series, a novel called ‘Nightingale Static’. After that I plan on changing tack and writing something different. It’s still nebulous and shape-shifting right now, but hopefully it’ll reveal itself when I need it to.

About the Author:

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Allan Watson is a writer whose work leans towards the dark end of the fiction spectrum. He is the author of seven novels – Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, 1-2-3-4, Monochrome, Heart Swarm and Wasp Latitudes.

In between the books, Allan wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, in addition to being a regular contributor for the world famous ‘Herald Diary’.

He occasionally masquerades as a composer/musician, collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson with Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack)

Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar. He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that… 

Follow Allan on – His Blog – Twitter Heart Swarm Face Book Page

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After He Died by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on After He Died by Michael J Malone as part of the blog tour for Orenda Books. I would like to thank Anne Cater for my invite onto the tour for this fabulous book and also Orenda for my copy. You can get your own copy from AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

My Thoughts:

Paula Gadd lost her son almost seven years ago, her husband has just died. But a stranger asking Paula how well she knew her husband leaves her questioning all she thought she knew.

Straight away I want to mention the cover, how simple, effective and amazing it is. The story itself is far from simple, but it is effective and it really is amazing. I got to meet Paula at the funeral of her husband Tommy, she is still stunned, shocked and in a daze when this random stranger just walks up and asks Paula how well she knew her husband…

By this point I am already hooked, what follows left me on the edge of my seat as the story unfolded. Paula is rocked and as she discovers there are things that her husband has done that she had no idea about. I also got to meet some of Tommy’s family and also the stranger and how she fits into the story. Yes this is vague for a reason, no spoilers from me..

This is a book that is fast paced but one where I forced myself to slow my reading of so I didn’t miss any little detail. The author does the most amazing job of building up tension and suspense and at the same time sows so many seeds of doubt along the way. The plot is deliciously deceptive and twisted, but never once did I feel confused, the writing simply flowed as the story was revealed.

The characters in the story are such a random lot, and yes some I did like, those that I couldn’t make my mind up about and some that completely hoodwinked me. I love the concept of how well you know someone and how the author has used that and then completely turned it on it backside to reveal a world of doubt, mistrust, conflict and finding the truth about the person you thought you knew.

This is the first book I have read by this author, I have now bought a myself a couple more as this was so amazing. If you are a fan of crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense with a good helping of domestic noir then you will absolutely want to read this one. An absolutely fantastic read that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

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Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

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Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg @llamamum @rararesources #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My thanks to Rachel for the invite and Stephanie for the copy of her book. You can buy your own copy HERE.

Synopsis:

Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France.
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed.

There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.

My Thoughts:

When Megan’s Gran dies, it’s up to Megan to travel to France to sort out her Gran’s things, the farm, the legal stuff, the chickens and duck. Oh and the body…

When I read the synopsis for this book it was one that sounded fun and one I definitely wanted to read, it came across as a wacky and fun story-line. As Megan makes her way around this rural area of France she meets a real mix of characters. As word gets out that Megan is a hairdresser, her services are called in and she chops and trims as she goes. A great way to meet and get to know people.

From a visit to the vet with a hen on the back of a scooter and discovering her Gran’s business dealings, Megan had me smirking and chuckling as I read. The characters are fabulous Romaine and his clumsy cousin Nico, Alphonse and Monsieur Moustache are just the tip of the iceberg.

The idyllic setting belies a slightly more sinister side that Megan found herself caught up in. As I got to know Megan I also got to learn some of her own story, as well as her family. The story of the family is one that I am looking forward to knowing more about and it has been wonderfully wrapped in and around the hair cutting, hens and the homicide…

This is a book that I could have easily devoured in one sitting as I was taken by scooter and tractor and police car around rural France.

This is ideal for readers who like a Rom-com, cosy mystery, and a dash of drama. A great first book in the series and left me wanting to know more. One I would definitely recommend.

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. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.

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. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.

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The Choice by Edith Eger #BookReview @PenguinRHUK

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Today I am delighted to be sharing The Choice by Edith Eger, a holocaust survivor and now an acclaimed psychologist. I would like to thank Bishneen Gurwara at Penguin Random House for inviting me to read a copy of this book.

You can purchase a copy of this book at good bookshops or at AMAZON UK where it is available in various formats.

Synopsis:

‘Little dancer’, Mengele says, ‘dance for me’

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

My Thoughts:

Edith Eger was 16 when she made the journey with her mother and one of her sisters, to join a queue to enter her first concentration camp. This would be the last time she saw her mother. This is Edith’s story. The story of her life. The story of her survival. The story of how she was liberated and then learnt to live.

This is a book of two halves as Edith recounts her experiences of her life. A girl who wanted to dance, her parents, her sisters and first love. Then the how she survived the war in the concentration camps, sharing many thoughts and feelings not from herself but of her sister. Then how to live her life after leaving Europe to live in America.

Sometimes you can move away, but at some point you really do have to deal with the horror of your past.

The Holocaust and Auschwitz are words that evoke so many emotions. Edith Eger tells her story in four parts. The first being about her life, including the camps, up to her liberation, then her liberation, dealing with her freedom and finally how she started to heal herself.

As you would expect I found her time as a prisoner very hard to read. It is something that still brings shock, horror and disgust that any person could be treated in such a horrific and abhorrant way. I did however find that it was the story of her freedom and her healing that caught me by surprise. She then started to piece her life together and learn how to live. This is where the inspiration of this lady really Shines through, even more so than it had previously. To me this sounds slightly wrong but, she trained as a psychologist to help people from various backgrounds. They had many different problems that they struggled to deal with. In meeting and trying to help these people she found that she could also use their experiences to help herself, using her own advice if you like. This took her many years to reach a place where she felt some sort of freedom from her past, but to do that took a huge amount of courage to escape from her own fears and trauma.

This is a stunningly beautiful and candid account from a truly inspirational lady. It is moving and emotional, inspiring and hopeful. The more psychological aspect in the latter half of the book was something that I found very insightful and gave me a different way of looking at things.

This is a moving and important story that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

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A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager in 1944 when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and moved with her husband to the United States. Having worked in a factory whilst raising her young family, she went on to graduate with a PhD from the University of Texas and became an eminent psychologist. Today, she maintains a busy clinical practice and lectures around the world.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Little Theatre on the Seafront by Katie Ginger @KatieGAuthor @HQDigitalUK #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Little Theatre On The Seafront by Katie Ginger. This is available in eBook format now and the paperback is due to be published on 15th November. It is published by HQ Digital and can be purchased or pre-ordered from AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

When Lottie’s Gran dies she leaves one last request; save Greenley Theatre.

Faced with a decaying building, a mayor who most definitely isn’t on board with the project and a group of actors who just can’t get along, Lottie has her hands full, but with best friend Sid by her side she knows she can do it somehow.

But the arrival of Jeremy, a hotshot London developer who sweeps Lottie off her feet, complicates things. Suddenly Sid gets a new girlfriend, the Greenley Players fall apart, and that crumbling building? Well it crumbles a whole lot more. With no one to turn to, Lottie has to find the courage to save the day.

Will Lottie be able to save the theatre and also follow her heart?

My Thoughts:

Lottie is left a last request letter from her Gran Elsie. Elsie was a big supporter of the Greenly Theatre and asks that Lottie take over the role as Chair. Luckily Lottie has her best friend Sid there to give a helping hand. Lottie and Sid have been friends forever and know each others moods, likes and dislikes. Things between them change when new people arrive in their lives.

This story is just an absolute delight. A decrepit theatre in need of buckets full of TLC, characters that are dramatic and maybe a little eccentric, the sense of community and a nice underlying touch of romance, that mixed together bring this story to life.

The antics of the theatres players is absolutely brilliant, some of the over the top attitudes mixed in with those quiet and shy types are just fabulous. Each has a little trait or mannerism that range from a snide remark to a snarky aside is a hilarious addition, and had me grinning several times.

As if Lottie didn’t have enough to deal with as she tries to bring the Theatre back from it’s gloomy and damp ridden existence to a charming, family theatre and community space. She also has to deal with the airs and graces from the actors, the attentions of a property developer and the committee.

The descriptions the author gives for the theatre worked really well for me, giving me wonderful images of it in its shabby state. With not only the visual cues, but the smells that would be associated with a damp building. I have mentioned it before in reviews, that it is the attention to the little details that add so much to a story, and I am glad to say this author has lots of little details squirrelled away in this one.

There are other story-lines that run alongside the renovation of the theatre but I’m not giving you anything on them, you need to read and discover for yourself.

I found this book was quick to get caught up in with fabulous characters, the author made it easy to get to know them and also to remember them and importantly care about them. Yes, I did shed a few happy tears …. and not just once.

So yes, I did love this story a lot, I read it in one sitting and would absolutely recommend it to other readers who like a bit of romance, a whole lot of drama, a touch of humour and a couple of slightly more serious aspects. Go grab a copy it’s great.

About the Author:

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Well, hello there!

I’m Katie, and I’m a writer of romantic fiction and a few cosy mystery short stories. The Little Theatre on the Seafront is my debut novel and I’ve got another rom-com coming out next year, which I hope you’ll also enjoy.

I live in Kent with my hubby, two kids, and our King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit. As I love a good chinwag, do come and say hello over on Twitter or on Facebook. I also blog about random stuff on my Website.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross @HodderBooks #NetGalley #BookReview

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Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross. This is a book aimed at a YA or Teen reader and is a retelling of the Beauty and The Beast Story. My thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for my eBook that I recieved via NetGalley. This book is avaliable in paperback, hardback and eBook format and available from AMAZON UK

I just love the cover of this book…..

Synopsis:

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.

My Thoughts:

Beauty and the Beast is a story many are aware of from film, musical and animation. Leife Shallcross has retold the story from the perspective of the Beast himself.

There are various things that remain a constant from the various versions of this classic children’s story. A man cursed to live his day as a beast until he finds someone who loves him for what is on the inside rather than what we see on the out. There are also the gardens, the magic and for all bibliophiles THE LIBRARY……….

While this is a very good read and sticks to my memories of the story I read as a child, I did find there where parts that did feel a little bit repetitive. Now as an adult it may be that I am being overly picky with a book aimed at younger readers, so I am now wondering if this is actually a way of showing a younger reader the time that the two characters spend together in each others company, building up a friendship and also the trust.

I did like this story and from the point of view of the Beast, it gave this character a chance to say his piece and express his feeling and thoughts as well as expressing the hope that Isabeau (Beauty) is the one to break the curse.

As well as the Beast and Isabeau’s story there is also the story of the family that Isabeau left behind while she stays with the Beast. I did really enjoy this section of the story as it went into how the family left behind had to deal with this change to the family, and adjustments to be made.

This is a book that I do think younger readers and also early Teens would enjoy. It is the perfect story for readers who like the traditional “once upon a time…happily ever after” fairy tale.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Vox by Christina Dalcher #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Vox by Chistina Dalcher. I had originally requested this via NetGalley and was declined by the publisher. I am not a reader who expects all requests to be accepted so, not being deterred at all I treated myself to the hardback copy, it was one I was desperate to read. Also the added bonus is that when my review goes onto Amazon it will be as a verified purchase, so a win for all. One hundred words isn’t a lot, this first paragraph is exactly one hundred words long…

Synopsis:

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

My Thoughts:

If you are a female you have 100 words a day that you can speak. You have no bank account. No job. No entitlement. No mail. No nothing. If you have a son, he will have more rights than you, his mother…

Did I mention that as a female you are required to wear a word counter. Oh and it will give a bolt of electricity if you exceed the word count!

Oh WTFlaming Hell….. I can speak 100 words and most of them crap and waffle before I have finished my second cup of coffee in the morning…

This book did such a good job of building up not only the sense of injustice in a patriarchal society but there was such a heartbreaking essence to it as well. As a mother you want to chat to your children about what they did at school, yeah well forget that… Sentences have become condensed to such an extreme, yet the father and male siblings can chat away about anything, laugh and joke about things but you dare not utter a word, as that means you may not be able to Goodnight, or Love You at the end of the day.

It was as if the women became an asset to be managed, a homemaker, cleaner, carer and a quiet one at that. Now we may laugh and joke about people who constantly chatter away, but the author has managed to build a world that has a scary reality to it.

As I was reading through the book and getting to grips with how and why things had changed, the tone and way of the story started to change. This did initially throw me and took me a while to get my head around.

Essentially women played their role in society before the enforced change. They had jobs, responsibilities, they were leaders in certain fields and had in some areas knowledge that few others had. This change of direction in the story, once I had time to get used to it actually made sense. Even though it was worked quite well into the story, it did give the book a feeling of being one of two stories.

This is a book that will possibly divide readers, but for this reader worked so well. I also think it would be a great book for reading groups as there are many possibilities for discussion. I found it quite thought-provoking and there are concepts that I have not touched on as I don’t want to spoil it for other readers.

Ideal for those who like dystopian read with a political aspect, contemporary fiction as well as general fiction genres I would also add that there is a psychological aspect to it. This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers who like a book with an eerily realistic feel.

It is published by HQ in various formats and available from good book shops and also AMAZON UK.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be bringing you The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. This is a beautiful story, and after watching a Twitter video of Louise opening her parcel of finalised copies, I can also say she may be a little excited about the cover being embossed. Yes Louise Beech is embossed! You really need to watch this, its brilliant 🙂

My huge thanks to the fabulous Orenda Books for my copy and also to Anne Cater for my invite to take part in this blog tour. I may have been a little excited in my email back to Anne about joining this tour to help share the book love, this was already a book that was generating fantastic early reviews, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to take part.

Synopsis:

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

My Thoughts:

Wishes and dreams are part of life, but what happens when the things you wish and dream for are not as you imagined they would be. Dreams are great, but if you follow your dream for an alternative motive then in reality it isn’t what the dream was meant to be. Andrew the wish-maker and Ben with the dream are meant to be together, but why…

This is a story that I just found myself being captivated with from the very start as I met Ben in Zimbabwe at a lion sanctuary. This is his dream and also a fulfilling of a promise , but I realised that instead of being ecstatic and excited about helping lion cubs, Ben was subdued, there but not quite there. Here was a man with something on his mind, and as the story flitted between Zimbabwe and Hull I discovered a story that just blew me away.

In Hull I got to meet Andrew, a chance meeting allows Andrew to meet and get to know Ben. The story tells of their friendship and then their relationship,also of their feelings for what others may think. Family, relationships, misunderstandings and expectations really do come into play and the author deals with this in such a natural and wonderful way.

There is so much that I absolutely loved about this book, as well as the story line itself one thing that really stood out for me was the attention to detail. As a reader I like settings to be described in as much detail as possible but not in great long passages, this author has the ability to describe in detail in a short and vivid way. Not only did I get an image of the sights and sounds but also of taste and smell, from the mud coffee to the aromas the lions. For me it is the additional little details that are just as important.

Now the story line, it flits back and forward in time and also between Hull and Zimbabwe. The main characters are Ben and Andrew and I really did get to them well, there are other characters that also have major parts to play in the story, but Ben and Andrew are the key characters. The story is about many things, but love and relationships are the main ones. The author deals with Ben and Andrews relationship in such a beautiful way, and also on the flip side the way that a person may think that some may not like same-sex relationships.

The story moved along at a nice pace, building up and filling in details and history of the characters and their families and then suddenly took a route that not only caught me unawares, but also had me with my heart in my mouth. It moved into such an emotionally charged story as the author had me on the edge of tears. I tried my hardest to keep them in check for such a long time and just as I started to breathe normally again I came across three words that had me in a total sobbing mess. There are several parts of the story that had me balancing on the emotional see saw, and I think that many others will be the same.

This is a beautiful, emotional, passionate, wonderful story that had me absolutely glued from the first page to the very last.

An absolute must read for readers who want to experience an author who knows how to take a reader on a fantastic literary journey.

About the Author:

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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. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. 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. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Follow Louise on Twitter Website

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Shiang by C.F.Iggulden @MichealJBooks #BookReview #Netgalley

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Today I have my thoughts on Shiang by C.F.Iggulden that is published today, the second in The Empire of Salt Series. I would like to thank Michael Joseph Books for my ecopy recieved via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own. You can purchase a copy of this book from good book shops and here is the link to purchase from AMAZON UK.

You can read my review of the first book Darien: Empire of Salt by C. F. Iggulden

Synopsis:

IF THESE STONES COULD SPEAK . . . THEY WOULD CALL FOR WAR.

In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat.

Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.

Far to the west, four Shiang masters approach the city walls of Darien. The sword saint and his companions have crossed a continent to bring an old man home for punishment. They will not be denied, even if the whole city stands in their way.

TWO ANCIENT CITIES. ONE FINAL WAR.

My Thoughts:

So this is the second in this series of books by Conn Iggulden. Shiang and Darien are ancient cities separated by many miles of rough, mountainous landscapes. So why anyone would want to make the journey across the mountains, especially in winter, must be for something important.

There are two groups making this journey, Hondo and his group are journeying to bring back a traitor, a man who disgraced the royal family in Darien, he now resides in Shiang. The other group is led by Gabriel and they are a more fearsome band, they are drawn to Shiang seeking power.

This is very much an action and well paced story, there are descriptions and histories that are filled in as the story unfolds. The journeys made by the two groups are interesting and the reasons for the trek was one that intrigued me.

This book gave me a chance to learn more about the ruling families and also how they rule. Also the way they use the power they posses.

Even though I did enjoy this story I found I was at a bit of a loss to find the links I would have expected between the first and second book. It did confuse me as I didn’t seem to have any memory of any of the key characters, once I kind of shrugged that off and decided to read it in the mindset of being more of a stand alone novel then I could enjoy the story. It was quite a long way in before I came across a character I could remember from the first book, he only makes a fleeting appearance.

So this book leaves me in a bit of a quandary, as part of a series I kind of expect characters to come back to me in the few chapters at least, but this wasn’t the case, this essentially left it as a book that had more of a stand alone feel.

I did enjoy the story and found it descriptive, it is full of action, a fair bit of blood, death and destruction, it also has magic, swordsmanship, warriors and honour. It is a book that I would recommend and I am still looking forward to the next in the series.

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Avian by Emma Pullar @EmmaStoryteller @sarahhardy681 @Bloodhoundbook #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Avian by Emma Pullar. This is the second in this two book set. You can see my review of the first book Skeletal HERE. I would like to say a big thank you to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for my invite on the tour and also my e-copy of both books.

Synopsis:

CENTRAL IS LOSING ITS GRIP ON THE CITIZENS OF GALE CITY.

Megan Skyla, who refused to play by Central’s rules and become a surrogate for her masters, has thrown the city into chaos. Corrupting those around her, she and her friends are forced into hiding – hunted by Central, the evil rulers of Gale City. Skyla’s desperate attempts to keep everyone alive ends when they’re kidnapped by feuding gangs.

Skyla cuts a deal and then betrays both gangs. Now there is nowhere left to run. It’s the desert or die. Her best friend, Crow, thinks she still wants to find a way to cure the Morbian masters of their obesity and finish what she started.

But Skyla has other plans. She’s sure there are settlements in the desert, there must be something out there … and there is. Something terrible.

Skyla is about to find out there’s more than one way to bring about change but one truth remains … Central must be destroyed in order to ensure her survival. There is no other way.

My Thoughts:

Before I start my review of Avian I would like to take the time to suggest that you read the first book Skeletal, reading these two books in order will give you an understanding of the whys and hows of the story.

Things for Skyla have changed since meeting her in the first book, changes mentally and also physically as well as being a person of interest for different groups for various different reasons. Skyla has built up a reputation, it is dangerous not only for herself but, also for her companions as the next stage of her journey starts.

This story continues as well as finishes the story of Skyla, though I do hope that at some point the author will write more about this fiery and feisty character. Skyla continues her fight against Central, it is something she is passionate about and is determined to destroy the cruel and unjust ruling body. This puts herself in even more danger and testing her to the limit, oh boy does the author put this character through the mill!

As well as dealing with her self-imposed mission to destroy Central, Skyla also has her own problems to deal with, she is riddled with guilt, and thoughts that niggle as well as fear of what she is doing.

This is another brilliant read from this author as she does such a fantastic job with vivid descriptions and a compelling story line. This is a brutal and harsh place that I am happy to visit from the pages of a book and no further. The journey Skyla and her companions take is very much one that is “from the frying pan and into the fire”, it got bad, then it got worse and then the truth finally reveals itself.

This is a two book series that I would absolutely recommend for readers who like brutal, harsh and regime ridden dystopian fiction. It is descriptive, addictive and looks at a different way of life.

 

About the Author:

dsc_3665_lowres-2.jpgEmma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and Children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named best opening lines by NZ Post. Emma has also written several winning short horror/Sci-fi stories which have been published in four different anthologies. Emma’s latest picture book, Kitty Stuck, has been hugely popular and her novel, Skeletal, and the sequel, Avian, have been described as disturbing and not for the faint-hearted. She also writes articles for an online advice site called Bang2write and dabbles in screenwriting.

 

Follow Emma at:  Amazon Page –  Website – Twitter

 

 

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