#BlogTour #Review : The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola. @Anna_Mazz @TinderPress #RandonThingsTours

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Blurb:  Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.

 

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My Review:  I wasn’t sure how to review this book. I read it in two days, mostly snippets of 10 minutes or less in lulls at work and despite the very brief periods in which I could read I was completely transported in that time, so much so that when my attention was called back to work I was momentarily confused and had to remind myself where I was.

This is not going to be a story which appeals to everyone, not everyone will want to read, or will gel with a story about fairies and other tales of folklore. I would never have really said it was my thing either but this book appealed to me and I’m glad I took a chance on it. This is such a mystical and almost ethereal story which is ground in so much truth and history. I’ve visited Skye a few times myself, so was familiar with most of the places mentioned in the book and the descriptions were spot on.

I liked Audrey as a person, trying to find herself and her own way in a world that didn’t want to accommodate her doing something different from the norm. There were some scenes that had me shaking my head at the responses she got from some people, and other scenes which had me wanting to go there and tell some of the other characters that they were talking nonsense, clearly impossible because apart from anything else I can’t time-travel (unfortunately!).  This was what made this book as good as it is, it weaves a spell around you and draws you in, like the fairies taking people away from the human world. Everything gets drawn up like a cyclone, all twisting and turning and who do you trust and what’s going to happen next and then, like the sun coming out after a storm, it starts to clear and everything starts to fall into place.

This is a new author for me but one that I will definitely read again and I will go so far as to say this is one of the few books that I am likely to re-read. I would honestly recommend this book if you’re tempted.  Be open minded and see where it takes you, stories are meant to transport us, after all.

 

 

 

About the author:

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Anna is a writer who, due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels have been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime. Anna’s influences include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. Her second novel, The Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857.

She studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a human rights and criminal justice solicitor. She now tries to combine law with writing and child wrangling, to varying degrees of success.

Anna loves to hear from readers, so do say hello on social media or via her website.

http://annamazzola.com

https://www.facebook.com/AnnaMazzolaWriter/
https://www.instagram.com/annamazzolawriter/

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#BlogTour #GuestPost : The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade. @nicolasladeuk @rararesources #Giveaway

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Convalescent Corpse, such an unusual title and a quirky sounding book too. I’m trying to focus more on my existing to-read pile and therefore reviewing less on blog tours at the moment, therefore for my spot on the tour I have a guest post for you, on the background to the book.  And if that wasn’t enough there’s a giveaway as well!

the convalescent corpse

Blurb: 

A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.

Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters. Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying-guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all.  And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.

‘I love it. A delightfully unusual mystery with wonderful characterisation and historical detail.’ – LESLEY COOKMAN BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE LIBBY SARJEANT MYSTERY SERIES

Purchase Links

https://amzn.to/2RrkDoz     https://amzn.to/2ODJeYR

 

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Guest Post:

The Background to the book

Something that surprised me as the book began to develop was the age of my characters. They were so young! In previous books I’ve had a wide range of ages, including some feisty old ladies who have proved popular, and in my contemporary Harriet Quigley Mysteries I have a sleuth in her early sixties, as is her cousin and sidekick, the Rev Sam Hathaway. Discovering that I was dealing with young women still in their late teens came as a shock.

The eldest, Alix, is nineteen. She has a morning job as companion to a crochety old lady and in the afternoon, she volunteers at the nearby convalescent hospital for wounded officers. The middle sister, Christabel – the narrator is eighteen and spends her days typing her author mother’s books, writing her own ripping yarns for boys and young men, and helping her grandmother run the house. The youngest, Adelaide, is fifteen and still at school.

I didn’t set out to dream up characters that young, they just appeared and I gradually realised they fitted the time. When you think about the casualties of the First World War the thing that shocks us most, apart from the sheer scale of the dead and wounded, is how young they were, with tombstone after tombstone in the war cemeteries recording eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds, early twenties; not to mention the graves that make us all want to weep – the fifteen-and sixteen-year-olds who lied about their ages. A young man’s war meant a young woman’s war too, the girls they left behind them, and there was the reason for my girls’ youth.

I grew up reading Victorian and Edwardian novels, particularly the books that began to appear during and following WW1, school stories where girls were encouraged to think beyond marriage and children as their future, and romances and mysteries where young women branched out and seized hitherto unheard of opportunities. I didn’t want to write a school story; what I wanted to write about was how a family of women managed life in wartime, dealing with rationing, grief and other hardships, so my heroines are officially ‘out’, although in their circumstances that doesn’t mean being presented at Court or going to grand balls. Instead they ‘put their hair up’ and – in the case of my girls – they find jobs.

This book is about how my characters how they cope with those jobs when murder starts to stalk them!

 

Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of The House of Ladywell (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494174/?

the convalescent corpse - giveaway prize

 

 

 

About the author:

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Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola’s 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames https://www.facebook.com/DeadlyDames/

Social Media Links – www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com   www.nicolaslade.com

Twitter: @nicolasladeuk

https://www.facebook.com/nicolasladeuk/  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nicola8703 (I have a board for each book)

 

 

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#Re-Post #Review : Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan. #TooClosetoBreathe @QuercusBooks @LivKiernan @MillsReid11

I’m thrilled to be re-posting my review of Too Close to Breathe today to coincide with the paperback publication of this fabulous book. The next in the series is out in April and I can’t wait to read it.

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Blurb:  Detective Frankie Sheehan is recovering from a violent knife attack and dealing with the first awakenings of post-traumatic stress disorder when she’s called back to work. At first, Eleanor Costello’s death looks like suicide but soon the perfect pieces of Eleanor’s life begin to fracture, sending Sheehan and her team into a complex murder investigation for Dublin’s deadliest killer. The case deepens as does the body count and Frankie is forced to confront her own demons as the lines between victim and killer become increasingly blurred.

 

Too Close to Breathe: A heart-stopping thriller, new for 2018 by [Kiernan, Olivia]

 

My Review:  Where to start with this book! I really enjoyed this story and I’m not a big reader of police procedural’s where a woman is the lead detective. I have nothing against them, I’ve just never read very many of them. From the very beginning the story began drawing me in. We start with something that looks like a suicide but Frankie Sheehan is not convinced, and it doesn’t take much for her to question the suicide determination. It soon becomes clear that it was definitely murder, but then this raises the obvious questions of who and why.

At this point the investigation really begins and it’s clear that a lot of research has got into this story. The detail and depth that the investigation goes into was something else that drew me in, I wanted to know the results straight away, what was happening and what the detectives were going to do next. I’ve never thought police work was a 9-5 job but in this story the fact that it was almost 24 hours especially in the first few days came across really clearly and I began to wonder if anyone was getting any sleep at all.

The investigation becomes quite intense at times and with Frankie being the main character the reader obviously spends a lot of time with her. We get to see how she copes under pressure, and how she doesn’t. I particularly liked the little parts away from the investigation like Frankie tending her bonsai tree. Those small scenes were almost an oasis of tranquillity and calm in the depth of mystery and unanswered questions that was the police investigation.

The only thing that didn’t sit well with me was the ending, I found it a little rushed but the rest of the book was strong and definitely a gripping read.

I’m not sure how many books are planned for this series but I know the second one is out in 2019 and I, for one, am really looking forward to reading it.

 

 

 

About the author:  Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK and author of crime thriller, Too Close to Breathe. She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex. Olivia’s second book, The Killer In Me, will publish in April 2019.
http://www.oliviakiernan.com
Follow Olivia on twitter @LivKiernan

 

#BlogTour #PromoPost : Mary Kate by Nadine Dorries @NadineDorries @HoZ_Books #RandomThingsTours

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Blurb:  Mary Kate Malone is seventeen and bitterly unhappy that her father has married again after the death of her mother. On her last day at school, she decides to leave home in Tarabeg on the west coast of Ireland and head for Liverpool to find her mother’s sister, Aunt Bee.

But absolutely nothing goes to plan. Within hours of disembarking, she finds herself penniless and alone, with no place to stay and no idea how she will survive.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, where old sins cast long shadows, a long-buried secret is about to come to light and a day of reckoning, in the shape of a stranger from America, will set an unstoppable chain of events in motion.

 

About the author:

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Nadine Dorries grew up in a working-class family in Liverpool. She spent part of her childhood living on a farm with her grandmother, and attended school in a small remote village in the west of Ireland. She trained as a nurse, then followed with a successful career in which she established and then sold her own business. She has been the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire since 2005 and has three daughters.

 

 

 

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#BlogTour #GuestPost : My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber @byLizzyBarber @arrowpublishing

Today I’m on the blog tour for this intriguing book, which I have a copy of on my January read list. As I’ve not been able to read it yet I have a guest post from the author so read on and enjoy!

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Blurb:  ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma’s rules and visits Florida’s biggest theme park.

She has never been allowed to go – so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day?

ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads.Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth.

But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

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Guest Post:

Lizzy Barber on Acting and Writing

My writing teacher once told me that there are two kinds of writers: character writers, and plot writers. I have always felt I fell within the former camp.

Writing, for me, has always begun with a character. A whisper of their voice in my head; a glimpse of what they look like; a burgeoning sense of how they think and act. All of this slowly takes root and grows stronger, until they are fully-formed, three-dimensional creatures. When my characters are wholly realised, I feel I can place them into a plot and know how they will behave in a given situation – for me, it’s when I don’t truly know my characters that the plot jars, a scene feels weak or untruthful, and I am tempted to give up.

I think I owe a lot of this approach to my training as an actress. As a small child, I spent a lot of timing playing vivid make-believe games. This playacting was quickly channelled into the drama classes which took up most of my spare time – Saturdays spent at Sylvia Young Theatre School, summer drama camps, school productions. I was lucky to have two incredible drama teachers at school who fuelled this love through theatre studies GCSE and A-level courses, sharing their admiration for Stanislavski, Artaud and Peter Brook, and introducing me to fantastic theatre companies such as Shared Experience and Cheek by Jowl. Theatre productions were rife when I was an undergrad at Cambridge, where I performed in at least three productions a term, and I channelled my English degree towards drama, studying everything from Greek tragedy to Shakespeare to modern American playwrights.

Throughout all of this training and performing, an understanding of the character was key. You may be given the lines a character is going to speak, but it is up to you, the actor, to get under their skin and know how they would say it – and this comes from knowing everything about them, from the inner workings of their minds, to something as simple as what they would eat for breakfast. Techniques such as improvisation can take you beyond the script, whereas exercises such as monologue writing, or selecting a prop as a stimulus to react to, can help you discover your character further. I remember a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream in which I played Snug the Joiner (one of the mechanicals) as a bedraggled school child, because of decisions we made in the rehearsal room about his meekness, and the irony of him then performing as the lion in Pyramus and Thisbe.  

There are myriad ways to translate these techniques into writing. I have always valued writing prompts – a short suggestion or sentence which serves as a stimulus for you to respond to, sometimes within a set amount of time. I can highly recommend these, particularly if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired. They may seem like a diversion, but they can really help free your mind, and you never know, you might even discover a gem of a side plot or secondary character in the process. Similarly, jotting down ideas about your characters’ physicality may guide you to a better understanding of them. For example, in My Name Is Anna, Rosie’s inner angst manifests itself her a constant need to pick at the skin around her nails or bite her lips, whereas Mamma, a religious woman who believes strongly in purity, constantly washes her hands and dislikes touching other people. What do they wear? What sort of music do they listen to? Are they a dog or a cat person? These questions may seem trivial, but they can all work together to give you a complete picture of the person you’re trying to create.

 

About the author:

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Lizzy Barber studied English at Corpus Christ College, Cambridge University. After ‘previous lives’ acting and working in film development, she is now the Head of Brand and Marketing for a restaurant group, working with her brother, a restaurateur.

Her debut novel, MY NAME IS ANNA, was the winner of the Daily Mail crime writing competition, and will be published in hardbook in January 2019 by Century, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The North American edition, retitled ANNA IN THE DARK will be published in December 2019.

She is currently hard at work on her next thriller. Lizzy lives in London with her husband, George, food writer and strategy consultant. They are expecting their first child in January 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Review : Changeling by Matt Wesolowski. @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks #Changeling #SixStories

Today I’m on the blog tour for Changeling, my first of this year and what a tour to start the year on.  I’m thrilled to be reviewing this book today and have to give huge thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda books for having me on the tour.

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Blurb:  On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with
strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy…

 

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My Review: I read the second Six Stories book last year, you can find my review of Hydra here, and thought I loved that book I have to admit I thought this one was better. Having the joy of not working New Year’s Day, unlike last year, I decided that would be the perfect time to start this book, and as it turns out, finish it too as I read it in a day.  Although this is the third book in the Six Stories collection they do not have to be read in any particular order, there is enough background at the beginning of this book for you to be able to read it without having read the other two first.

I’m not a fanciful person as a rule but this book is seriously creepy, not helped at all by my neighbour who started knocking on the wall while I was reading. As Alfie Marsden went missing when his dad stopped his car because he heard a knocking noise you can perhaps understand a little of why my neighbours odd noises were not helpful at all.  As with Hydra this book is split into six podcasts with relevant information before and after each of them. This gives us snippets of the story of Alfie Marsden’s disappearance from the perspectives of those involved and those who knew him. It also gives us an insight into the failed development in the forest and why it failed.  The story and background of Alfie and his family build through these snippets and podcasts and the mystery surrounding his disappearance seems just as unsolvable as it did thirty years earlier when it happened.

This story grabbed me from the first pages and didn’t let up. It’s not that it’s fast paced or packed full of action but it gets under your skin and you want to know who is going to be on the podcast next, what other information are we going to get, is the mystery of Alfie’s disappearance ever going to be solved. And then you reach the later pages and it just blows you away, or at least it did for me. I thought the story was heading in one direction and it did the biggest u-turn you could ever imagine and just sent me in a completely different, but entirely fitting direction and I ended the book staring at it like it just smacked me over the head because, metaphorically, that’s exactly what it did!

This is a stunning and mesmerising read from an author who is just getting better and better.

 

 

About the author:

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013.

 

Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing
Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the
USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV
rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published
in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite reads of 2018. @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken @radiomukhers @SapereBooks @_caroroberts @LucyVHayAuthor @angryrobotbooks @JosephBrassey @HarperImpulse @swperry_history @CorvusBooks @JillMansell @Heidi_Swain @GrahamBrack @west_camel @will_carver

It’s now 2019 and although everyone else appears to have already posted their favourite reads of 2018 I’ve decided to be fashionably late and post mine today.  I’ve whittled the 67 books I’ve read this year down to my favourite 12 and linked my reviews to the book titles, where I haven’t (for some unfathomable reason) reviewed the book I’ve linked it to Amazon so you can find out more about it there.

These 12 are books that have stayed with me since I finished them, I’m still raving about them to anyone who will listen, have blown me away with the story and how it resonates with me or a combination of these. They are listed only in the order in which I read them with the earlier reads first.

So without further ado:

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee.

Historical crime is a favourite genre of mine and this story, particularly with the memorable characters stood out for me.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski.

My Summer of Magic Moments by Caroline Roberts.

Dragon Road by Joseph Brassey.

Sunshine and Sweetpeas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain.

An absolutely amazing read that needs to be on everyone’s list.

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell.

Do No Harm by Lucy V Hay

The Angels’ Mark by S.W. Perry

Lying and Dying by Graham Brack

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Attend by West Camel