Monday, 16 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Angel - Katerina Diamond

I'm a little behind in my DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles series, something that I plan to rectify as soon as possible, but I wouldn't have missed The Angel blog tour for the world.  I absolutely loved Katerina Diamond's debut, The Teacher, so I'm keen to get back on track with the series.  Alas, so many books so little time...

For my stop on the blog tour, I have an extract for you today and I'm sure it'll whet your appetite enough to head over to Amazon to pick up a copy for yourself.




THE TRUTH WON’T STAY LOCKED UP FOREVER

When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

Miles and Grey are back in the thrilling new novel from bestselling author Katerina Diamond, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and M.J. Arlidge.




EXTRACT from The Angel

‘Where’s Jason?’ Barratt asked.

‘I don’t know.’ Gabriel answered. 

‘You don’t know? When was the last time you saw him?’ Hyde barked at him, just inches away from Gabriel’s face. Gabriel was taller and it felt strange having this smaller man shouting at him. He hated having to ignore it, to take the anger. It went against everything he was. He wasn’t violent, but he was proud. Although he had no reason to be proud anymore.

‘In the cell. Before dinner.’

‘We’re going to need a little more information than that,’ Hyde pushed.

‘When I woke up I went to dinner, he wasn’t there when I left or when I came back.’

‘Is that true?’ Barratt stepped in, clearly playing good cop to Hyde’s aggression.

‘I swear.’

‘Lockdown!’ Hyde shouted, his voice reverberating through the wing. The prisoners groaned and moved back into their cells. From what Gabriel could tell, this seemed like something that happened quite often.

Hyde left the room and Barratt seemed to be waiting until he was out of earshot before he spoke to Gabriel again.

‘If you had nothing to do with this I suggest you keep your nose out of it,’ Barratt whispered.
‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean Jason upset the wrong people and those people are not going to get caught.’
‘Why are you telling me this?’

‘Because you’re new. We see a lot of the same faces in here over and over again. I’ve never seen you before so I guess that means maybe you aren’t such a bad guy. Keep your nose clean and your time in here will go a lot faster.’

‘Keep my nose clean how?’

‘Just don’t get mixed up with the wrong people. Keep yourself to yourself. Use your nous.’  


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Sunday, 15 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: Anything You Do Say - Gillian McAllister


Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller
Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.
But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it's him; the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.
Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most - make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?


What did I think?

Oh wow!  What Gillian McAllister has created here is nothing short of exceptional - two novels in one in only her second book!  I'm sure many an established author would shy away from such a challenge with the others wishing they had written it.

If I had to describe Joanna in one word it would be 'imaginative', so when she hears footsteps behind her after a night out she thinks it is the man she spurned in the bar.  As the footsteps get closer, Joanna reaches out and pushes her would-be attacker down the steps she is about to descend.  His momentum propels him forward at speed and he lies bent and broken at the bottom of the steps.  In that split second, Joanna must decide whether to run or call for help.  In a rare treat for readers, Gillian McAllister shows us the journey down both paths that Joanna will follow if she reveals or conceals her crime.

I thought it might get confusing with alternate 'reveal' and 'conceal' chapters but it really doesn't.  In conceal, Joanna is eaten up with guilt and her lie snowballs out of control and threatens to crush her under its weight like the boulder chasing Indiana Jones through the tunnel.  Even when Joanna reveals her crime she still can't help getting tangled up in a web of lies and her whole defence revolves around the one thing she is lying about: how long she hesitated before raising the alarm.

I do firmly believe that we have particular paths we are destined to follow in our lives.  Even though sometimes there may be a fork in the road or roadworks causing a diversion, we ultimately get back on the path we should be on.  Joanna's journey is just like this as whichever path she follows, reveal and conceal will merge together at the end but will leave very different casualties in their wake.

Anything You Do Say is such a thought-provoking and hugely entertaining book.  At her fork in the road, I felt Joanna's fear and truly believed that she was afraid for her life so I can completely understand why she lashed out like she did.  It's easy to say that you would rush to help an injured person, but would you be in such a rush if you thought that person meant to do you harm and may still be a danger to you?  It's hard to say how you would react in such circumstances; with that spike of adrenaline and a thudding heartbeat in your ears, what would you do?  This is the question that I'm sure every single reader of Anything You Do Say will ponder for many days, weeks, months and even years after reading this outstanding novel.

Oh you've upped the ante now, Gillian McAllister!  I'm not sure how you plan to follow this but I can't wait to find out.  You had me hooked with Everything But The Truth but Anything You Do Say is so extraordinary that it completely blew me away.  This book is going to be a HUGE success so make sure you pick up a copy and see what everyone is raving about.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Friday, 13 October 2017

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful and sometimes violent novel of expectation, love, oppression, sin, religion and betrayal. It portrays the disintegration of the marriage of Helen Huntingdon, the mysterious ‘tenant’ of the title, and her dissolute, alcoholic husband. Defying convention, Helen leaves her husband to protect their young son from his father’s influence, and earns her own living as an artist. Whilst in hiding at Wildfell Hall, she encounters Gilbert Markham, who falls in love with her.

On its first publication in 1848, Anne Brontë’s second novel was criticised for being ‘coarse’ and ‘brutal’. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall challenges the social conventions of the early nineteenth century in a strong defence of women’s rights in the face of psychological abuse from their husbands.

Anne Brontë’s style is bold, naturalistic and passionate, and this novel, which her sister Charlotte considered ‘an entire mistake’, has earned Anne a position in English literature in her own right, not just as the youngest member of the Brontë family.


What did I think?

I wouldn't normally have picked up this book as it's a long time since I've voluntarily read any of the classics, but it was the first book chosen for book club so I thought I would show willing.  It was a lot easier to read than I thought, and about a third of the way through I found I was really enjoying it.

I can see why it caused such a stir in its day; Helen is such a strong character and how dare she be so bold as to leave her philandering husband, taking his son and heir with her.  In a day and age where marriages were frequently arranged, Helen married Arthur for love, despite her Aunt's misgivings about him.  Like many women who have fallen in love with a cad, Helen thought she could change Arthur but she was wrong and she ended up in a loveless, abusive marriage.

Arthur is a despicable fellow and openly flaunted his affairs in front of his wife, so I'm surprised that Helen managed to stay with him for so long.  Helen escapes to Wildfell Hall and reinvents herself as Helen Graham, artist and widow, but as much as she wants a quiet life her beauty catches the eye of Gilbert Markham.  Gilbert thinks Helen is a widow so doesn't see why he can't pursue her but obviously Helen knows that she is still very much married, despite her husband living his all singing, dancing and drinking bachelor life.  Although Helen keeps their friendship very platonic, Gilbert soon gets jealous of anyone who has any contact with Helen especially the owner of Wildfell Hall and the green-eyed monster is sometimes very dangerous.

I'm so pleased that I have read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; it's really quite amazing for its time period.  It's daring and courageous in its feminism and clearly was a book created ahead of its time.  If it had been written in the latter half of the 20th Century it would have been applauded, instead of criticised, for its boldness.

My rating:




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BLOG TOUR: The Coven - Graham Masterton



Well, what better way to mark Friday 13th than with a Graham Masterton blog tour?  The Coven is the second book in the Beatrice Scarlet series and this book sees Beatrice return to London after the death of her husband.

I am posting an extract as part of the blog tour today, but first here's a bit about the book:



They say the girls were witches. But Beatrice Scarlet, the apothecary's daughter, is sure they were innocent victims...

London, 1758: Beatrice Scarlet, the apothecary's daughter, has found a position at St Mary Magdalene's Refuge for fallen women. She enjoys the work and soon forms a close bond with her charges.

The refuge is supported by a wealthy tobacco merchant, who regularly offers the girls steady work to aid their rehabilitation. But when seven girls sent to his factory disappear, Beatrice is uneasy.

Their would-be benefactor claims they were a coven of witches, beholden only to Satan and his demonic misdeeds. But Beatrice is convinced something much darker than witchcraft is at play... 




The Coven - extract

Beatrice!’ said Clara. ‘What brings you to my door? Not that you aren’t welcome.’

I was wondering if you could kindly tell my fortune for me,’ said Beatrice.

I have heard about Noah, of course, and my heart bleeds for you. Do you want to consult me about him?’

Partly. But I would also like to find out what might become of us, Florence and me. I have been told that a new parson is coming to Sutton next week, and we will have to leave.’

Come inside,’ said Clara, and ushered Beatrice and Florence into her parlour. The room was so filled up with furniture that it was more like a shop than a parlour – five Windsor chairs and a brocade-covered ottoman, as well as side tables crowded with candlesticks and figurines and framed pictures of various relatives. Almost every inch of the walls was hung with dark oil paintings of angels and engravings of monks and ghosts and extraordinary animals. Florence had been in here before, but she still found some of the pictures frightening, because she clung close to Beatrice’s skirt.

Apart from all the furniture and pictures, the room was also filled with a strong aroma of incense and cloves and stale tobacco smoke. Beatrice didn’t find it unpleasant, but she always felt when she entered the Widow Belknap’s parlour that she had entered into another world – a shadowy, claustrophobic world of mystery and magic. If she hadn’t been able to see the sunlit green outside the window, she could have felt that she was being carried away in the captain’s cabin of a supernatural ship.

May I offer you tea?’ asked Clara. ‘Or I have some cider if you prefer, and apple juice for Florence.’
Yes, a glass of cider would be welcome,’ said Beatrice.

Clara went into the kitchen, but while she was there she called out, ‘I didn’t think you really believed in my fortune-telling, Beatrice. Doesn’t the Lord light your path for you?’

He lights it, yes, but he doesn’t give me a map of where it will lead me tomorrow, and in the days after that.’

Clara came back with a jug of cider and two glasses, a mug of apple juice, and a plateful of thumbprint cookies filled with blueberry jelly. Florence immediately detached herself from Beatrice and sat up with a smile.

Nothing like cookies to overcome your fear of the Devil,’ said Clara. She poured out the cider, and then she said, ‘You brought a luckybone, I trust?’

Beatrice reached into her pocket and took out the wishbone that she had saved from the last chicken that she had cooked. Clara held out her hand and they both hooked their little fingers around it.

One, two, three – what will we see?’ chanted Clara, and they snapped the bone apart. Beatrice had the larger piece, and she shook her head in amazement.

Every time we do this, I win,’ she said.

Clara tapped the side of her nose. ‘We witches, they train us to do that from birth. It takes much more skill to lose than it does to succeed. Now, I used the crystal ball last time to look into your future, didn’t I? But only last week my cousin sent me a pack of new fortune-telling cards from London. She claims they are wonderfully exact in predicting what will happen in the months ahead.’

She pulled out a drawer underneath the low table between them, and produced a cardboard box of cards. They looked like ordinary playing cards, with clubs and diamonds and hearts and spades, and royal cards, too, but each of them had a four-line rhyme printed at the bottom of them.

They have been newly produced by John Lenthall of Fleet Street,’ said Clara, as she shuffled them. ‘He has produced many types of cards, but these are the first that can tell your fortune. There are only forty-eight of them, instead of fifty-two. As your conjuror I am commanded by the Oracle of Delphos to multiply the twelve signs of the zodiac by the four seasons of the year, and no more than that, which means that the four aces have had to be excluded.’

She laid all forty-eight cards face-down on the table in six rows of eight. Florence stopped pretending to feed Minnie with a thumbprint cookie and watched in fascination.
Clara said, ‘Now, Beatrice, place your right hand on your left breast and say, “Honi soit qui mal y pense.” Then pick out a card. If you do not wish to reveal what it says, you can return it to the table and choose another, but whatever your lot, that second card must be abided by. You may pick four cards altogether, one for each coming season.’






ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Masterton was a bestselling horror writer who has now turned his talent to crime and thrillers. He is also the author of the bestselling Katie Maguire series, set in Cork, Ireland.




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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: Christmas at the Gin Shack - Catherine Miller

Ok I admit, I saw 'gin' in the subject of an email and said 'yes please' before realising what it was I was signing up to, so here I am on the blog tour for Christmas at the Gin Shack.  With gin being the 'in' drink at the moment, I think Christmas at the Gin Shack will be a very popular book.  It sounds like so much fun and although I didn't have time to read it for the tour, I shall be adding it to my wishlist.

I am delighted to take part in the blog tour by sharing the cover and 'blurb' of the book so don't delay and get your pre-order in now!  Christmas at the Gin Shack is published on Friday 13th October - unlucky for some but lucky for us readers and ginaholics.



Welcome in the festive season with love, laughter and the perfect G&T in Christmas at the Gin Shack – the most uplifting holiday read of 2017!

Gingle bells, gingle bells, gingle all the way…

Olive Turner might have lived through eighty-four Christmases, but she’ll never get bored of her favourite time of year. And this one’s set to be extra-special. It’s the Gin Shack’s first Christmas – and there’s a gin-themed weekend and a cocktail competition on the cards!

But, beneath the dazzle of fairy lights and the delicious scent of mince-pies, Olive smells a rat. From trespassers in her beloved beach hut to a very unfunny joke played on her friends, it seems that someone is missing a dose of good cheer.

Olive knows she’s getting on a bit – but is she really imagining that someone in the little seaside town is out to steal Christmas? More importantly, can she create the perfect gin cocktail before Christmas Eve – in time to save the day?

Purchase on Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo




Author Bio

When Catherine Miller became a mum to twins, she decided her hands weren't full enough so wrote a novel with every spare moment she managed to find. By the time the twins were two, Catherine had a two-book deal with HQDigital UK. There is a possibility she has aged remarkably in that time. Her debut novel, Waiting For You, came out in March 2016. She is now the author of four books and hopes there will be many more now her twins have started school. Either that, or she’ll conduct more gin research on Olive’s behalf.

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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Nameless (The Hellbound Anthology) - David McCaffrey



'There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.’
Ernest Hemingway

One serial killer terrified the world. Imagine what an army of them could do...

A cult member is arrested at the scene of a brutal murder. She will only speak to former crime reporter, Joe O'Connell.

Joe's obsession with Obadiah Stark a.k.a The Tally Man cost him everything. 

He is about to learn that Stark's message did not end with his death.

They believe in what The Tally Man stood for.

They believe in what The Tally Man did.

But he was one, and they are many.

Once they have you, they will never let you go...


What did I think?

I have previously read Hellbound and In Extremis by David McCaffrey, so I didn't hesitate when the opportunity arose for me to read Nameless.  All three books revolve around Obadiah Stark, so I would definitely recommend reading the first two books before embarking on this one.  You could probably read Nameless as a standalone but I think it makes a lot more sense, and is more enjoyable, when read as part of the trilogy.

Crikey!  I thought Obadiah Stark, aka The Tally Man, was creepy but now that he's dead he has been elevated to cult status and there are a group of followers who are ready to continue his work.  The apparent leader of the Branch Obadians, Lamont Etchison, has instructed Stark's followers to replicate the twenty seven murders that Stark committed, but on a much grander scale so that the world fears the name 'Obadiah Stark' once again.  

Joe O'Connell is so obsessed with Obadiah Stark that it nearly cost him his life.  As much as Joe can't help being dragged into investigating this cult, the cult is pulling him into their web and they will stop at nothing to silence Joe once and for all.

I have absolutely loved the whole Hellbound series and each instalment has oodles of shock factor to make you sit up and take notice, but Nameless feels so much more menacing.  It was quite bloodthirsty at times, and necessarily so, but I didn't find it too graphic - just enough to make my stomach clench.  There's a lot of action in such a short book, at only 154 pages, but it's so fast-paced that you could very easily read this in one sitting.

I'm definitely going to re-read the whole Hellbound Anthology.  Parts of Nameless reminded me of the TV show, The Following, and even though you might now know how it ends, it doesn't stop you watching it again.  So I will definitely be reading all of the Hellbound books again sometime, and I wouldn't be surprised if I enjoy them even more the second time around.  

Pick up Hellbound, In Extremis and Nameless if you have the guts to enter the dark and dangerous world of Obadiah Stark.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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BLOG TOUR: Bluebird, Bluebird - Attica Locke


Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules - a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it's stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes - and save himself in the process - before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

What did I think?

I may have accidentally stumbled upon Bluebird, Bluebird when some blog tour spots suddenly became available but I am so pleased that I did, otherwise I might have missed this astonishing book.  Of course, the spots were snapped up quicker than I could respond, but fortunately I was invited to close the tour.

The prologue states 'Texas, 2016' and after that, due to the words and actions of the characters, I felt as if the book went back in time to around the 1950's but I couldn't have been more wrong.  I was actually gobsmacked when one of the characters mentioned the TV shows Scandal and Real Housewives.  I wish I could believe it was all fiction, but the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, just like the Ku Klux Klan, is very real indeed.

Skin colour plays a big part in this story when two bodies are found in the bayou: the first body is that of a black lawyer from Chicago, Michael Wright, which causes barely a flicker among the residents of Lark, Texas.  The second body is Missy Dale, a local white woman, which sees law enforcement officers from across the state descend on Lark.  The police don't think there is any link between the deaths because nobody cares about stranger Michael Wright, however, Texas Ranger Darren Matthews doesn't believe in coincidence.

As the story unfolds, the secrets of all the residents of Lark come to the fore.  Some of them have more to hide than others and one of them has a lot to lose when Darren uncovers a link to the murder of Joe Sweet, husband of local cafe owner, Geneva.  Fingers start pointing at likely suspects and the police don't know whether they are looking for one killer or two.

I felt absolutely wrung out after reading Bluebird, Bluebird.  I don't know whether I was exhausted with the dry, dusty Texas heat or cotton-mouthed from being unable to put the book down for refreshments.  It's alarming to think that skin colour still has an effect on how people are treated these days, and full marks to Attica Locke for raising the issue.  I often google things after reading, and I had assumed that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) was created for the purposes of this book.  You could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw that the ABT, and many gangs like them, are real.

I can see Bluebird, Bluebird becoming a firm favourite for book groups as there are so many excellent discussion points in it.  The story is vivid, shocking and thought-provoking and this may be the first time that I have heard of Attica Locke, but I know it won't be the last.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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