#BlogBlitz #Review : Coming Home to Maple Cottage by Holly Martin. @Bookouture @HollyMAuthor

Today I am taking part in the blog blitz for Coming Home to Maple Cottage, the latest book by Holly Martin. Many thanks to Bookouture for letting me be part of the blitz.

Amazon: http://geni.us/B07G2TCVTLSocial

iBookstore: http://ow.ly/z1xW30lZzDo

Kobo: http://ow.ly/gVZ930lZzES

Googleplay: http://ow.ly/HSgD30lZzFs

Blurb:  Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much.

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves.

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him.

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all?

My Review: I’ve read and enjoyed quite a number of Holly’s books so was thrilled when the opportunity to be in this blitz came up. I’ve read a previous book set in Sandcastle Bay but can honestly say that this works perfectly as a stand alone. There is is enough back story that you don’t need any previous knowledge but, if you do have previous knowledge, the back story doesn’t dominate this story.

The setting, characters and background stories are well developed and the story comes alive the minute you pick up the book. It’s a beautifully cosy story that wraps around you as you read and draws you into the community that is Sandcastle Bay. This is one of those stories where, although you might have an idea of where the story is headed, you still get annoyed at the characters and worried for them, but also experience their moments of joy and laughter. 

This is the perfect read for a rainy or snowy day when you want nothing more than to be cosy and drink hot chocolate or something similar, and want to read nice, heartwarming stories. 

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#Blog Tour #Review : Lying and Dying by Graham Brack. @GrahamBrack #LyingandDying @SapereBooks. 

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and reviewing this first in this series by Graham Brack. My post may be up a day late but don’t let that give you the wrong impression, this book is definitely worth the wait!

Blurb:  What do you do when the poison comes from within…?

The body of a young woman is found strangled by the side of the road. There are no obvious clues to what happened, apart from the discovery of a large amount of cash concealed on her person.

Lieutenant Josef Slonský is put in charge of the case. With a wry sense of humour, a strong stubborn streak and a penchant for pastries, Slonský is not overly popular with the rest of the police force. But he is paired with the freshly-graduated, overly-eager Navrátil, whom he immediately takes under his wing.

When fingers start to point inwards to someone familiar with police operations, Slonský and Navrátil are put in a difficult position.

If what they suspect is true, how deep does the corruption run? Are they willing to risk their careers in their pursuit of the truth?

Anyone could be lying – and others may be in danger of dying.

My Review: I’ve always been a fan of police procedurals but equally I am trying to expand my reading and that includes reading books set in different countries. This book, therefore, having been set in Prague fits the bill perfectly. 

I’ve had trouble with my review of this book. It’s not the book’s fault, it’s trying to do it justice that is the problem. I loved the blurb, it sounded like a solid police procedural with a quirky lead character in Slonsky and that’s exactly what it is. However, there is so much more to it. There is a lot of depth to the characters, even the ones who are only in the book for a page or two. The writing brings the story and the characters to life so well that they leap off the page. The story is clearly a serious one, murder is never anything else, but there is a lot of humour is the story which had me laughing away, something that rarely happens when I’m reading, even with the supposedly hilarious stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, so much so that before I was half way through it I wanted to get hold of the next in the series. Being a blogger I read a lot of books and hear about so many more but rarely do I ever want to read the rest of a series before I’ve finished the first book. Slonsky and Navratil make a perfect team and I can’t wait to see where their work takes them next!


About the author:

Graham Brack hails from Sunderland and met his wife Gillian in Aberdeen where they were both studying pharmacy. After their degrees Gillian returned to Cornwall and Graham followed. This is now called stalking but in 1978 it was termed “romantic”. They have two children, Andrew and Hannah, and two grandchildren, Miranda and Sophie. 

Graham’s foray into crime writing began in 2010 when he entered the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger competition and was highly commended for The Outrageous Behaviour of Left-Handed Dwarves (reissued as Lying and Dying), in which the world was introduced to Lt Josef Slonský of the Czech police. The Book of Slaughter and Forgetting (reissued as Slaughter and Forgetting) followed and Sapere Books have published book three, Death On Duty, 

In 2014 and 2016 Graham was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger again. The earlier novel, The Allegory of Art and Science, is set in 17th century Delft and features the philosophy lecturer and reluctant detective Master Mercurius. Sapere Books will publish it as Death in Delft in 2018.

Twitter: @GrahamBrack 

#Blog Tour #Extract : The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner. @marriner_p @annecater #TheBlueBench #RandomThingsTours

Blurb:  Margate 1920. The Great War is over but Britain is still to find peace and its spirit is not yet mended. Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past. Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to live to live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side. Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends and the country?

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Bench-Paul-Marriner/dp/0992964881/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534257740&sr=1-1&keywords=the+blue+bench+paul+marriner

Extract From THE BLUE BENCH

Hi and thanks for joining me at BookLoverWorm for the final article as part of the blog tour for The Blue Bench, based around an extract from the book.

When considering a suitable extract from I thought to take into account that it needed to be entertaining and representative but shouldn’t give away too much and certainly no spoilers.

But, in isolation, how entertaining could an extract be? So I thought some context would help and then wondered if you might be interested to know what I’d hoped to achieve when writing that particular scene. What was its purpose within the narrative and what did I hope for the reader to take from it.

So, hoping it’s of interest, here goes.

Scene: Sunday 1st August 1920 – Edward and William

Context: 

It is Edward and William’s third day in Margate. They are there because Edward is a musician playing the summer season. We know the two men fought together in the Great War and that Edward was injured, but the extent of the injury is not yet known. After breakfast they are in the drawing room of the guest house where they have taken rooms.

Extract:

‘Look at this. The nineteen sixteen Christmas edition.’ Edward had been hunting through the magazine rack in the guest house drawing room. There were several issues of Tit–Bits which he passed over, initially choosing an issue of Nash’s And Pall Mall Magazine, but changing his mind on seeing the magazine underneath – Blighty, Christmas 1916 issue. ‘Where were we?’ He held it up to show William.

‘Hadn’t we just finished up at Ancre? Were we resting behind lines?’

‘I think so. That was the last Christmas we were over there.’

‘Your last Christmas. I had one other.’ William reminded him.

‘I’d have swapped, given the … circumstances.’ Edward lisped the last word and flicked through the magazine. ‘I remember this one. Didn’t one of the men receive a couple of copies from his brother up at HQ, together with some French postcards?’

‘That’s so, though the ladies in the postcards didn’t look particularly French, seeings ‘ow they had no clothes on.’

‘Still, brightened Christmas that year.’

‘Though you wouldn’t let the younger lads share round the postcards, as I recall. You made me confiscate them. Didn’t young Kayst in particular have a right moan?’

‘He did. You wanted to put him on a charge, insubordination or some such rubbish. I should have let all the lads see them. What happened to those postcards?’

‘I’ve still got them,’ said William.

‘Those postcards were probably the closest young Kayst ever came to a fuck, before …’ Edward’s voice tailed away.

‘Poor Kayst,’ said William.

‘And I remember we had to explain a lot of the jokes in the magazine to him. Not the brightest lad, but a good heart.’

‘I suppose.’ William acknowledged. Edward flicked further through the magazine without paying attention and, after a minute, asked,

‘Do you ever wonder if perhaps Kayst made it out?’

William shook his head. ‘What? No, of course not. Don’t be daft. He didn’t. We saw.’

‘Did we? See him? I don’t think I did. One second he was there, then I looked away, to you, then looked back and he was gone. In a second … less.’

‘I saw.’

‘Did you? You were looking at me, waving and shouting. Then I turned back and he was … just gone, not there.’

‘Does it matter?’

‘No. But sometimes, I wonder, it might be easier, mightn’t it? If I’d seen him … go … knew for sure …’

‘What, you mean maybe he somehow survived, hid, escaped and is living the life of Riley somewhere?’

‘No, but, I didn’t actually see him … go. And sometimes I just … I don’t know.’ Edward looked away, turned a few pages of the magazine then tossed it over to William, saying, ‘I’m bored.’

‘It’s a beautiful day, we should go and explore Margate.’ William stubbed out his cigarette and stood as if that might persuade Edward. The drawing room overlooked the back of the house where a gardener weeded the flower beds. The garden was partly in the shade of the house itself but the sun bathed the bottom half where a patch had been left to untended grass and wild flowers.

‘We explored yesterday. And, while Margate is a nice town, I’m still bored.’

‘You don’t mean bored. You’re missing your practise.’ William sat back down.

That was nearer the truth and Edward nodded acknowledgement. ‘All right. It is a beautiful day. We don’t need to be at the auditorium until four this afternoon. What shall we do?’

‘Five this afternoon will be plenty early enough.’

‘I know, but I want to be there at four …’

‘… in case the piano is free.’

‘And I want to know if Mr. Taylor has resolved that problem. I told him there’s something not right about the A six key, but I can’t tell if it’s a tuning issue or something wrong with the mechanism.’

‘I’m sure he’ll sort it.’

‘And I do need the practise.’

‘No, you don’t.’ William lit another cigarette as the maid entered. He caught her eye before she could begin plumping cushions on the settee in the window bay. ‘Now, Georgette, I expect you know Margate. What should we do today? How can we entertain my friend on this fine Sunday morning?’

They had first met the maid on the Friday, when they arrived, then on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, when serving breakfast. Knowing they would be there for a while William had made introductions but Edward guessed she was not yet accustomed to his face as she looked away to answer. ‘There is a new …’ she hesitated over the unfamiliar words, ‘… scenic railway … at Dreamland. The ride opened a few weeks past. They say it is the biggest outside America. Maybe two kilometre long. I hear it’s very … exciting.’ Georgette’s English was good and the French accent charming.

‘There you are Edward. Scenic railway, Dreamland. Two kilometres, a proper mile, at least. Though I believe the ride would be more exciting with a French lass alongside.’ He turned to Georgette. ‘Your English is excellent. You’ve been here long?’

Georgette smiled. ‘Oui, a long time. Or Monsieur might like the shell grotto. It is hundreds of years old, they say.’

‘Edward, a shell grotto. We should see for ourselves. Or perhaps Georgette could show us.’

‘Perhaps another day Monsieur.’ She was still smiling and Edward thought the smile promised mischief. And there was no doubting the allure in her accent.

‘Could we have a cup of tea, here in the drawing room?’ Edward asked Georgette, looking down as he spoke.

‘I am sorry Monsieur. There is no … refreshing … after breakfast and before lunchtime.’

‘See Edward, no reason to sit here.’ William stood again and this time Edward joined him.
Behind the scene:

Though only a short  scene I recall spending a lot of time trying to provide a lot of information in a concise but natural way, at the same time as showing a little more about how three of the main protagonists interact. Much of the information included is essential and is the first time it has been referenced. In simple terms … 

… there is confirmation that Edward and William fought together, Edward had the superior rank but did not see out the war at the front.

… we learn that their platoon included a young man called Kayst who didn’t survive the war and there are glimpses of the manner of his death.

… Kayst was not the smartest lad in the platoon and we can infer from Edward’s attitude that Kayst’s dying affected him deeply – he is dwelling on it. Kayst will become essential to the narrative both as an individual and as a symbol of a lost generation.

… we hear about the saucy postcards and that William kept them for himself – a small indicator to his personality. The postcards will play a greater part in the story later on.

… Edward is a musician and a perfectionist and that William understands him well.

… later in the scene we are introduced to Georgette for the first time and can see already that she is mor confortable with William than Edward. Georgette will be essential to the narrative.

In addition to the information I‘m hoping the reader take away indicators to the symbiotic nature of Edward and William’s relationship and Edward’s sadness and confusion at how one of his men died.

So, although not a big scene it is one of the most important foundation scenes in the book.

I hope this is of interest and, if after reading the book, readers have any particular scenes they’d like me to look at in similar detail then I’d be happy to do so – perhaps contact BookLoverWorm and suggest a scene.

Paul Marriner

About the author:

Paul grew up in a west London suburb and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. He is passionate about music, sport and, most of all, writing, on which he now concentrates full-time. Paul has written four novels and his primary literary ambition is that you enjoy reading them while he is hard at work on the next one (but still finding time to play drums with Redlands and Rags 2 Riches).

Twitter :  @marriner_p






#BlogTour #Spotlight. Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher.

I was meant to be reviewing this book but unfortunately my new job, other commitments and then becoming ill have meant that I’ve not been able to finish reading the book. Once I have finished it I will do a few review but for the monent I’m doing a spotlight post to highlight this book as it’s started really well and promises to be an interesting read.

Blurb:  When the love of your life says you’re not The One, what next?

After celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks Lizzy and Ian are about to get engaged.

Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future.

Lizzy is heartbroken – but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ‘better half’.

But how much has Ian changed her, and who is she without him?

Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and, in the meantime, have a little fun . . .

About the author:

Essex-born Giovanna is an actress, blogger, vlogger and presenter. She is married to Tom Fletcher from McFly/McBusted and is mum to their two boys Buzz and Buddy. She lives in Middlesex with her family and is a patron of CoppaFeel! as well as a Number OneSunday Times bestselling author. Together with her husband, she wrote the Sunday Times bestselling novel EVE OF MAN.

#BlogTour #MeettheAuthor : Chris Brookmyre. @BloodyScotland @cbrookmyre #BloodyScotland

Today it’s my turn on the Meet the Author blog tour, in advance of Bloody Scotland which is on 21st-23rd September this year. For my stop I’m overjoyed to have Chris Brookmyre whose most recent book, Places in the Darkness, has been shortlisted for the 2018 McIlvanney Prize. It’s not long now till the festival itself, which I am looking forward to, but to keep you going till then, dive in and enjoy what Chris said in response to my questions. 

Blurb:  “This is as close to a city without crime as mankind has ever seen.”

Ciudad de Cielo is the ‘city in the sky’, a space station where hundreds of scientists and engineers work in earth’s orbit, building the colony ship that will one day take humanity to the stars.
When a mutilated body is found on the CdC, the eyes of the world are watching. Top-of the-class investigator, Alice Blake, is sent from Earth to team up with CdC’s Freeman – a jaded cop with more reason than most to distrust such planetside interference.

As the death toll climbs and factions aboard the station become more and more fractious, Freeman and Blake will discover clues to a conspiracy that threatens not only their own lives, but the future of humanity itself.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the author of twenty-two novels, beginning with Quite Ugly One Morning in 1996, and including A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away, All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye, Bedlam, which was adapted into a videogame, and Black Widow, which won the 2016 McIlvanney Prize and the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the year 2017. I have also recently published the historical crime novel The Way Of All Flesh, co-written with my wife Marisa Haetzman, under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

What got you into writing?

It is something I have done since I was able to write words and sentences. I started writing short stories when I was about six or seven, and have remained compelled to write ever since. 

You’ve now written more than twenty books under your own name. Do you think your writing has evolved over the years?

I like to think that the twenty-six-year-old who wrote Quite Ugly One Morning would be quite impressed by Black Widow, Places In The Darkness and The Way Of All Flesh. However, there is a part of the fifty-year-old me who is jealous of the younger man who was able to write an action comedy such as One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night.

Can you tell us why you chose to set a crime novel on a space station?

I wanted to write a crime story that would explore aspects of what it is to be human in a way that would be impossible in a contemporary setting. The book deals with the ways that technology affects our humanity, and just as importantly the ways in which it does not. Optogenic mesh technology allowing the upload of non-native memories is a fun concept for crime fiction, but we are a long way from making it real.

Do you have any plans for more crime stories set in space?

I do intend to return to Ciudad De Cielo, the City In the Sky, as there are more stories to be told about Alice Blake and Nikki Freeman, but I have a few other projects ahead of that in the queue.

If you had a time machine, where would you travel in it and why?

The far future. Every writer, like every reader, primarily wants to know what happens next.

Is there a question you wished someone would ask but no-one has?

“I have a lifetime supply of Punk IPA I’d like to give you for free. Can you please sign here?”

What are your plans for the next few years?

I have a new stand-alone novel coming out next June, and a second Ambrose Parry novel following close on its heels.

Bloody Scotland established itself as the leading Scottish International Crime Writing Festival in 2012 with acclaimed writers Lin Anderson and Alex Gray at the helm, then joined by Craig Robertson and Gordon Brown. Based in Stirling, Bloody Scotland has brought hundreds of crime writers new and established to the stage with always enthusiastic attendees who make the festival every bit as much as the writers do.

Priding ourselves as the literary festival where you can let down your hair and enjoy a drink at the bar with your favourite crime writer, we strive to put on entertaining as well as informative events during a weekend in September, covering a range of criminal subjects from fictional forensics, psychological thrillers, tartan noir, cosy crime and many more. With an international focus at the heart of Bloody Scotland, we are always looking to bring in crime writing talent from outside of Scotland whom you may not have heard about. You might, however, knows us for our annual Scotland vs England football cup which always draws a crowd and inevitably ends in tears for someone…

The Bloody Scotland Team 2018: Lin Anderson, Gordon Brown, Craig Robertson, Jenny Brown, Muriel Binnie, Catriona Reynolds, Bob McDevitt, Laura Jones, Abir Mukherjee, Fiona Brownlee & Tim Donald

 

#Blog Tour #Review : The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry. @swperry_history @CorvusBooks @annecater 

I am thrilled today to be on the blog tour for The Angel’s Mark. Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Corvus books for having me on the tour. 

Blurb:   LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a spirited tavern keeper. But when their inquiries lead them to the fearsome attentions of the powerful Robert Cecil, Nicholas is forced into playing to Cecil’s agenda, and becoming a spy… 

As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

My Review:  I enjoy reading historical crime and have read books set in various time periods but, for me, the stand out books set prior to the 19th Century are those of Paul Doherty and his Brother Athelstan series. They are absolutely stunning in their detail and story-telling so anything else from pre 1800 is automatically compared to those and most books don’t match up. This one, however, came very, very close. 

This is an excellent story of one man and his journey through Elizabethan London, dealing with his own personal challenges and also those of living in such an un-trusting time. The perils of being living in that time came across really clearly. Basically if someone didn’t like you they could make accusations and even though you were innocent you wouldn’t be believed, there was so much doubt and mistrust then. 

The other thing that comes across really well, that some authors struggle with, is the descriptions. The author really brings the city to life and you can almost hear and smell the sounds of everyday living. This level of rich descriptiveness from what I believe is a debut author is amazing and I haven’t even mentioned the characters yet. I loved the characters, particularly Nicholas for whom I have a soft spot now. He deals with so much and his journey is so well written that it just makes you root for him the whole way through. 

This is a brilliant read and I genuinely want to see more from this author. My only question is when??? 
About the author:

S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife and two spaniels. 



#BlogTour #Review : Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers. @rararesources @problemsolverge 

Blurb:   Boise Montague’s life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. After his wife dies, he returns to the tiny island where he grew up. 

Unfortunately, coming home doesn’t bring him the peace he’s looking for.  Things have changed drastically since his last visit. The island has moved on and so have the people he once knew. When Boise tries to find the one friend he thinks he can count on to be there for him, he’s confronted with another death. A murder. A murder that the police did not think important enough to investigate thoroughly.  Boise wants answers. He enlists a local reporter named Dana, who has theories of her own, to help him dig deeper.  With not much left to lose, a bone to pick with the justice system, and a relentless partner, Boise sets out to do what the police would not: solve the murder of Jeffrey Black. 

The island of St. Thomas is a gleaming tropical paradise. Welcome to the Caribbean, where murder is as common as sunshine. 

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Paradise-Caribbean-Mystery-Montague/dp/1947392166/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-paradise-gene-desrochers/1128920217?ean=9781947392168 

https://www.thesecretstash.net/product-page/dark-paradise 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37830045-dark-paradise  


My Review: One of the goals I had with this blog was to open up my reading, try new authors and new locations and this book ticks both of those. The blurb intrigued me and having watched Death in Paradise I was, naively, expecting something similar. What I got was quite different. 

This book does not shy away from giving you a more rounded picture of a Caribbean island, it’s not all palm trees and sunshine. The story deals with the other side of these islands, it highlights the poverty and impact that loss of business (for example) can have on a small community.  

I found the story written in a slightly different style from what I’m used to and there was a level of humour in the book that I didn’t always get. This is nothing new, I’ve noticed this before. But because I missed that I feel I missed an extra layer to what was a very good story. That’s not a criticism of the writing or the author, it’s just an explanation for why I’m not sounding more enthusiastic about this book. It’s a really good story as I’ve said, with lots of depth and a good sense of place. I got a really good feel for the characters and found overall, the story to be a page turner. I wanted to know what happened next and whether Boise would find the peace he was looking for. 

If you want a really solid read, set somewhere different from your usual books then this is an excellent choice.


About the author:

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.

Social Media Links – 

https://www.instagram.com/ggdesrochers/

https://www.facebook.com/ggdesrochers/

https://twitter.com/problemsolverge

https://medium.com/@genedesrochers

https://www.genedesrochers.com/