#BlogTour #Review : The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi @damppebbles @MaliaZaidi

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Golden Hour, a 1920s murder mystery. Many thank to the author and Emma at damppebbles blog tours for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Blurb:

London 1927

Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch.

Adding to the tension in the house a neighbour has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder?

A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park’s May Day celebration awakens Evelyn’s sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own.
With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Golden-Hour-Evelyn-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NQRQH8L/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1552557558&sr=8-1

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Hour-Evelyn-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NQRQH8L/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=the+golden+hour+malia+zaidi&qid=1552557603&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

My Review: Although I enjoy strange and dark crime stories I also like the more gentle ones like Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh wrote so when this book popped onto my radar I was intrigued, particularly as I live in Scotland and know the areas where the book is set.

This is not the first book in the series though it is the first I have read. I don’t think it is essential to read them in order. This one is set in a location and mainly with characters that I don’t believe have been in the previous books so it works well as a stand alone. There is enough background information given to clear up any questions.

I liked Evelyn Carlisle, she’s a nice mixture of caring and considerate but also not bowing to what others want or expect if she doesn’t agree with it. The suspicious nature of the villagers towards Elderbrooke Park felt realistic, people are always suspicious of change and in the story some in the small community are shown to be very bad at accepting change, and incomers.

There’s a lot, but not too much, description in the story and it gives a good sense of where the characters are at that point int he story. The only thing I would say I had a problem with was the length, I found it a bit too long for the type of story it is but that’s my opinion and others won’t necessarily agree with me. Either way this is an enjoyable story, with good, lifelike characters and a few bits of danger. Definitely worth checking out at least one of the books in this series.

About the author:

Malia Zaidi is the author of the Lady Evelyn Mysteries. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Oxford. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides vicariously (if temporarily) in countries around the world.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaliaZaidi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/maliazaidiauthor/about/?tab=page_info

Website: https://www.maliazaidi.com/

Blog: https://www.princessandpen.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14197546.Malia_Zaidi

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#BlogTour #Review : The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin. @HollyMAuthor #TheSummerofChasingDreams

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today. Huge thanks to Holly Martin for having me and sending me a copy of the book to review.

Blurb:

Eva is quite content with her life in London. In her job as a cover designer, she works at home, and often in her cosy pyjamas. She’s happy to stay in her safe little world and not explore much outside of it.

She is the opposite of her mum, a free spirit who craved finding adventure and thrills in all corners of the world. But on the day her mum’s will is finalised, Eva finds a list of all the dreams her mum wanted to achieve in her life. Things she never did because she fell pregnant with Eva.

Eva decides these dreams will not go unfulfilled – she is going to be brave and complete them for her mum. As Eva has no experience travelling the world, she hires a guide to go with her on this holiday.

Gorgeous but rude Thor Anderson is not the person she would choose to accompany her on this journey, but somehow she gets stuck with him. As they discover the world together Eva starts to think he might not be as bad as she first thought. She is swept away by Thor’s kindness and mischievous sense of humour. But will it be a simple holiday romance or could this wonderful adventure lead to so much more?

My Review: I loved this book, I genuinely think it’s one of Holly’s best.

The story started well and though I found Eva irritating to start with I could understand why she was the way she was and was thrilled to see her develop as the story progressed.

Thór was a brilliant character, I’m quite sad he isn’t real, I’d love to meet him and pick his brains about different places around the world.

You can guess the way the story is heading, it’s not a complete mystery but the reason I loved this book so much is that it’s really well written, there aren’t really any of the over-used clichés and tropes that are frequently found in this genre of books and that made a refreshing change.

If you want a light and enjoyable, cosy read then this is an ideal choice. You can read this book at any time of year but it’s definitely a cosy up, mug of something warm, batten down the hatches type book for me. Can’t wait to see what Holly writes next!

About the author: Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books

Follow her on Twitter @HollyMAuthor

#BlogTour #Review : Paper Dolls by Emma Pullar. @EmmaStoryteller @Bloodhoundbook

Blurb:

When a bizarre set of murders take place in London, three flatmates become embroiled in the terrifying mystery.

Mike, Beatrice and Kerri all share a flat and a passion to move their careers forward. When Mike, a frustrated mime in Trafalgar Square, lays eyes on performance artist Princess, his world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, Kerri is struggling to hold onto her job as a journalist, when she stumbles across a body, which turns out to be the third victim of the Paper Doll Killer. Beatrice, who was once a bestselling author, looks to the series of murders for inspiration but finds a lot more than she bargained for.
As the three flatmates discover they each have links to the killer they start to turn on one another. Who might be next? Why does the killer paint the victim’s cheeks and lips with blood? What purpose do the paper dolls serve?
As the deranged Paper Doll Killer continues to stalk the streets of London there’s only one question that needs to be answered … is anyone safe?

My Review: The first time I read the blurb for this book it reminded me a little of the film Shallow Grave where three flatmates are affected by the death of a fourth. In reality there isn’t really much in common between the film and the book. However, that initial thought was enough to pique my interest and so I decided to read the book.

This is a dark, disturbing book which is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The descriptions are vivid and fit with the story but not everyone is going to enjoy them. However, if dark and disturbing appeals to you then this is definitely worth a read. It kept me on my toes the whole time, the story moves around through four characters (the three flatmates and the killer) but never gets confusing, it just drags you further into the intrigue and increasing desire to know what happens next and who the killer is. I liked that we got to see the killers perspective, it added an extra layer to the story that made it different from the other psychological thrillers I’ve read.

I don’t have to like a character to enjoy a book but I do have to enjoy the writing and the story which is good as I wasn’t hugely keen on Beatrice and I found Mike really irritating, however that didn’t affect my reading or enjoyment of the story at all as they way they behaved added to the story and the way all the characters interacted.

This was a book that I struggled to put down, I read it in the equivalent of a day because it kept pulling me in and making me want to find out more. I believe the author previous books were a different genre but I sine hope she writes more in this one because this was a cracker!

Highly recommended.

About the author:

Emma Pullar is an award-winning and bestselling 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. Her second picture book, Kitty Stuck, was illustrated by her talented daughter who was just twelve-years-old at the time. Four of Emma’s short stories have been published. Her dystopian duology, Skeletal and Avian, are popular with fans of the genre and Emma’s crime debut is out March 2019. She also writes articles for Bang2write and dabbles in screenwriting. Find her on Twitter @EmmaStoryteller or Instagram @emmapullar_storyteller or http://www.emmapullar,com.

Find her on Twitter @EmmaStoryteller or Instagram @emmapullar_storyteller or http://www.emmapullar,com.

#BlogTour #Review : The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks #TheCourier #NordicNoir

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this amazing book. Although I like historical fiction, the 1940’s is not a time period I would usually read, however this book appealed to me and was getting such good feedback that I couldn’t resist. So, read on and find out if it lived up to my expectations.

courier blog poster 2019

Blurb:   In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

 

The Courier aw.indd

 

My Review:  I’m typing this in my kitchen, perhaps an odd location to type a review but it means I have to stand which is good when I sit a lot at work everyday. While standing here I can here road noise, traffic from the street at the end of mine. My street is quiet save for distant sounds of children playing and birdsong and, having read this book I realise, listening to these sounds how lucky I am to be able to do this without fear of any kind. I can travel to work and not worry about being locked out of work or home or having my possessions taken from me. The anniversaries of both World Wars, Remembrance Sunday and the other commemorations are hugely important but mostly they focus on those who fought, they don’t really tell us about the people who had to live in occupied cities.

From television, school lessons and general discussions I know a lot about the events of the second World War but what I know less about is how people, ordinary people, lived during that time.  While the characters in this book are not entirely ordinary they are not military either and the story is crafted in such a way that you can feel the tension in the pages, in those set in 1942, but also in the ones set in 1967. You can feel the lies, deceit and subterfuge that seems to still exist between those characters from 1942, even though the war is long since over. I spent a lot of time while reading this book, deeply concerned for the characters, particularly Ester as she tries to live some kind of life in a world in which she has no control over what happens and doesn’t know who she can trust.

This is a profound story, it shows how upheaval, loss and plotting can impact someone’s life. Can Ester trust those around her? in the scenes set in 1967 will she ever find out the truth? and, for that matter, will we?

The writing in the book is outstanding. The characters are brilliantly written but the stand out one is Ester, she is so real that I keep wondering how she would feel about certain things before I realise she’s fictional and can’t answer me. This isn’t one of those stories that feels it has to make everything larger than life, there are subtleties her, words that are so heavy with meaning they make you want to stop reading and look outside and remind yourself that the world has changed and you aren’t living in the book.

This is a book that everyone should read, whether you are interested in historical fiction or not. Read it and then truly appreciate what you have, look outside and be amazed at the sunshine as I am doing in pauses in between typing. I know the sun shines because of the Earth’s rotation but I always find it hard to believe that it could ever have been sunny in the 1940’s while the war was on, for how could there be sunshine when so much horror and cruelty existed. Read this book, and then appreciate simple things like the sun shining because these are the things we take for granted and we really shouldn’t. And now that I’ve said all of that I’m going to stand outside and enjoy the sun and the breeze because I can.

 

 

About the author:

Kjell Ola Dahl-Rolf-M-Aagaard

 

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Review : Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk. @FlameTreePress @Brian_Kirk #RandomThingsTours #willhauntyou

Today I’m on the blog tour for Will Haunt You, a most unusual book and definitely a change from my normal reading.

Will Haunt You Blog Tour Poster

Blurb:

You don’t read the book. It reads you.
Rumors of a deadly book have been floating around the dark corners of the deep web. A disturbing tale about a mysterious figure who preys on those who read the book and subjects them to a world of personalized terror.
Jesse Wheeler―former guitarist of the heavy metal group The Rising Dead―was quick to discount the ominous folklore associated with the book. It takes more than some urban legend to frighten him. Hell, reality is scary enough. Seven years ago his greatest responsibility was the nightly guitar solo. Then one night when Jesse was blackout drunk, he accidentally injured his son, leaving him permanently disabled. Dreams of being a rock star died when he destroyed his son’s future. Now he cuts radio jingles and fights to stay clean.
But Jesse is wrong. The legend is real―and tonight he will become the protagonist in an elaborate scheme specifically tailored to prey on his fears and resurrect the ghosts from his past.
Jesse is not the only one in danger, however. By reading the book, you have volunteered to participate in the author’s deadly game, with every page drawing you closer to your own personalized nightmare. The real horror doesn’t begin until you reach the end.
That’s when the evil comes for you.

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Will-Haunt-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/1787581373/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1551890615&sr=1-1&keywords=will+haunt+you

Will Haunt You Cover

My Review: I have struggled to review this book, to find the words to describe what I’ve been reading and to properly do it justice.

Unsurprisingly this book messes with your head, I had to stop reading a few times to remind myself that it is a book and my reality is not what I was reading. The descriptions are truly vivid and, while I have no personal experience of this, I would liken some of it to being on drugs, it genuinely was that bizzarely random and I absolutely loved it.

I’ve never had a book mess with my head as much as this one did and it was quite an experience. I didn’t know who or what to believe and was wary of reading when I was home alone at night because it was that creepy. I’m not a horror fan, I never have been but I may dabble with it a bit having read this book. One of the things I wanted to do with my reading and the blog was to try new authors and new books and this is definitely something I’ve achieved with this book.

If this book interests you then go for it, but be warned, it won’t let you go easily, I’m still recovering from reading it.

About the author:

Brian Kirk Author Picture

Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.
His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors, and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year compilation.
During the day, Brian works as a freelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him a strong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging media trends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.
While he’s worked to make this bio sound as impressive as possible, he’s actually a rather humble guy who believes in hard work and big dreams. Feel free to connect with him through one of the following channels. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.

Twitter : @Brian_Kirk

Website : http://www.briankirkblog.com/

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
http://www.flametreepublishing.com/

#BlogTour # Review : The Silver Moon Storybook by Elaine Gunn. @Elaine_Gunn #LoveBooksGroupsTours

Today I’m on a more unusual blog tour, this one is for a storybook of fairy tales, quite different from my usual and the book being reviewed tomorrow. So read on and find out more about the book and what I thought of it.

silvermoon

Blurb: What darkness lies in the past of a little witch, cursed into the shape of a giant? Who will save a magical unicorn, imprisoned for generations in the castle of a tyrant? As the silver moon rises in the sky, an enormous clown and a powerful siren join a humble weaver and other enchanting characters in these haunting tales of illusion, discovery and love.
An exquisitely illustrated bedtime story for the age of #MeToo, The Silver Moon Storybook transforms themes of modern feminism into touching fables full of the magic and shadows of traditional fairy tales.

The Silver Moon Storybook

My Review: I’m a huge Disney fan and loved fairy tales when I was younger so this book seemed like a no brainer for me. I really enjoyed it, the illustrations are great and while I read the stories myself I could also see that they would be really easy to read aloud and also have the fow that you expect from a fairy tale.

Visually it’s a gorgeous book and having the option of colouring in the illustrations is perfect. The stories themselves are a good variety and have lessons built in so you learn without feeling like you’re learning, which is ideal.

This is an ideal book if you’re looking for different fairy tales for a small child, whether yours or a friends, but also works well for older children and adults who still enjoy fairy tales.

About the author:

Author Pic
Elaine Gunn has been writing more or less constantly since she first picked up a pencil in primary school. Years of unpublished literary genius languish in handwritten journals, high school English portfolios, corporate banking reports and various awful pitch documents full of impeccably-written digital marketing jargon. Her first published work, The Silver Moon Storybook, is a collection of feminist fairy tales, written as an antidote to the passive princess culture that she became horribly aware of when her children started watching telly. Elaine is also a reiki practitioner and Dr. Hauschka esthetician; you can check out her website at http://somethinglovely.scot.

#BlogTour #Review : The Secretary by Renee Knight. #RandomThingsTours @DoubledayUk @alisonbarrow

I’m really pleased to be starting my week with this blog tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Doubleday for having me on this tour and sending me a copy of the book to review.

Blurb: Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room?

Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and betrayal. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .

My Review: Having worked in a role in which I felt as though people forgot I was there sometimes I was intrigued when I heard about this book. It’s a complex mix of control, invisibility and power and shows just how much people take others for granted.

How much can you really trust those around you?, and how much should you trust them? Do we really know people we work with day in, day out? These are all questions that are raised by this book and it shows how complacent people can become about those around them.

The world created in this book is entirely believable, as are the characters and their actions. The story is told as a flashback for much of it until it catches up the the present day. I spent most of it wondering how it would end, what would happen to the characters involved and the ending, while not what I expected, was not disappointing and fitted really well with the rest of the story.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author but have had Disclaimer on my to-read list for some time and am glad I haven’t read it yet as I know now the standard to expect when I do read it. This book is definitely worth a read, if only to challenge how you view people you meet everyday. It’ll make you question what you thought you knew.

About the author:

Renée Knight worked as a
documentary-maker for the BBC
before turning to writing. She is a
graduate of the Faber Academy
‘Writing a Novel’ course, and lives
in London with her husband and two
children. Her widely acclaimed
debut novel, Disclaimer, was
a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller. The
Secretary is her second novel.