Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Baxter's Requiem by Matthew Crow Blog Tour





Today is my turn on the blog tour for Baxter's Requiem by author Matthew Crow, this is a Random Things Tour.




About the book

A tender, witty, uplifting story about friendship, family and community written with great humour that will appeal to fans of Rachel Joyce, Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon. Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know... Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home. Baxter is many things - raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur - but 'good patient' he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare - until he meets Gregory. At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going. Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his longlost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew. With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live. Baxter's Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we're here.


Buy Link from Amazon, click HERE.




About the author

Matthew Crow was born and raised in Newcastle. Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. He has written for adults and YA. His book My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.

For my stop I have my review :D Baxter's RequiemBaxter's Requiem by Matthew Crow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 248

Publisher - Corsair

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know...

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgily finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things - raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur - but 'good patient' he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare - until he meets Gregory.

At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.

Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.

With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.

Baxter's Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we're here.


My Review

At ninety four years old Baxter is set in his ways, grumpy, no time for nonsense and likes what he likes. When a fall down the stairs sees him in a retirement home until he is able enough to go back to his own home he is forced amongst people and routine. He meets young Gregory, a young chap who starts work in the home, quiet, shy and a tad withdrawn. Baxter makes it his mission to break down Gregory's barriers and enlist him to help deal with something from his own past.

Gregory is a sweet kid under the outward exterior, dealing with a loss and struggling to have a relationship with his father. His life is very limited and lonely, possibly what draws Baxter. Baxter is a great character, funny in a grumpy no nonsense way he has a plan and the retirement home rules nor his age will stop him. An unlikely friendship grows and both men help each other deal with things in their lives, Gregory's now and Baxter's from the past.

We flip to Baxter's past, how he obtained his fortune and his one true love he never got to say goodbye to, Thomas. Called to war he never returned home and Baxter, knowing he doesn't have time to waste, wants to say goodbye.

Funny, sad, poignant, friendship, past, present, overcoming barriers and a whole host of emotion for these two main characters. It is a nice read, flipping between past and present, I would have liked the book to be longer, learned more about Baxter and Gregory but they always say a good author will leave you wanting more. This was my first time reading Crow, it won't be my last, I will be looking up his other works, 3.5/5 for me this time.



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Monday, 22 April 2019

The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett Blog Tour




Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett, we all offer different content so if you haven't checked the other stops please do.




About the book:

A startlingly fresh and accomplished literary debut in the socio-satirical tradition of Rosemary’s Baby and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, The Pale Ones addresses the parlous state of the modern gig economy, and the enormity of the deal forced by big tech upon the marginalized, the precarious and the excluded. As Britain’s social landscape is remade around us, horror fiction offers a unique perspective on what ails us. The Pale Ones is a modern parable of the deal-with-the-devil we have accepted from the tech giants who dominate our economy, exploiting the low-paid and self-employed. A young freelance bookseller on the make falls under the spell of an older expert, Harris, who isn’t at all what at first he seems. The book takes us on a journey through the edgelands of the UK and the lives of the losers in our current social contract, where we quickly discover that it is not only secondhand books lining the shelves of the high street charity shops that are up for sale. Blending the longstanding UK tradition of ghostly ‘Weird Fiction’ (MR James, Arthur Machen, Robert Aickman) with the social bite of the contemporary US indie horror renaissance (Get Out, It Follows) and the literary heft of the new horror (Mark Danielewski, Paul Tremblay), The Pale Ones is a modern British triumph.

Available to buy ebook and tree book format from Amazon HERE




About the Author:

Bartholomew Richard Emenike Bennett was born in Leicester, the middle son of an American father and English mother. He has studied and worked in the US and New Zealand, and has a First Class Honours degree in Literature from the University of East Anglia. The Pale Ones is his first published work, although he has been writing fiction, long-form and short, since 2002. • compelling parallels to Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected • novella size perfect to read in one sitting on short journeys • horror genre of specific interest to those drawn by weird tales and the occult

The Pale OnesThe Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 1 day

Pages - 128

Publisher - Inkandescent

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Pulped fiction just got a whole lot scarier…

Few books ever become loved. Most linger on undead, their sallow pages labyrinths of old, brittle stories and screeds of forgotten knowledge. And other things besides...

Paper-pale forms that rustle softly through their leaves. Ink-dark shapes swarming in shadow beneath faded type. And an invitation...

Harris delights in collecting the unloved. He wonders if you'd care to to donate. A small something for the odd, pale children no-one has seen. An old book, perchance? Neat is sweet; battered is better.

Broken spine or torn binding, stained or scarred - ugly doesn't matter. Not a jot. And if you’ve left a little of yourself between the pages – a receipt or ticket, a mislaid letter, a scrawled note or number — that’s just perfect. He might call on you again.

Hangover Square meets Naked Lunch through the lens of a classic M. R. James ghost story. To hell and back again (and again) via Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire Moors. Enjoy your Mobius-trip.



My Review

Told in first person narration the book dealer obtains and sells second hand books always looking for an overlooked special edition. It brings him into the path of Harris another collector of books, a dealer who isn't exactly what he seems. The narrator is taken on one of the weirdest and challenging journey's with Harris, along with the reader, not knowing what is coming and often not knowing what is happening.

This is by far one of the most unique/different books I have read, I felt like I was on a bit of a trip not knowing what was happening and having to re read what I had read. There are subtle hints, subtext that if you aren't paying attention you may well miss. Craftily written this debut has an unnerving feel pretty much from the beginning, something is afoot, danger is looming you (and the narrator) just aren't sure what or where it is coming from.

The writing style itself is also something I haven't came across before and I have read thousands of books. Instead of speech quotation the author has gone for Em dash (longer version of a dash) at the start of any speaking character, only at the start with a full stop really the only thing at the end of the sentence. That took me a wee bit to get used to but it made sure I paid attention to the words I was taking in, a smart trick.

There is uncertainty in almost every conversation with Harris and I had so many ideas about his motivations, his actions and what was happening in a scene only to re read it and change my mind to something else. I think this would make for a great reading group choice because there are so many potential conclusions to their interactions, the character(s), the actions I think you could debate almost ever scene. Creepiness seeps through every other sentence, pushing the reader and book seller to a shocking finale, 3/5 for me this time. It will be interesting to see what Bennett creates next, I will be watching!

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Sunday, 21 April 2019

Happy Easter you guys

I hope whatever you have done today you have had a great day, I woke up and o/h had left an easter egg on the pillow next to me, he is an absolute wee chop.





Today has been very mixed for me, we are currently installing a new kitchen, neither of us do this by trade. The cupboards are off the wall (top ones) and the new ones are now out the box. They aren't the sizes advertised on the website which is just a nitemare as we already started drilling *sigh*. Then I smashed one of my fav candle burners whilst cleaning, o/h saved the day and asked where I got it PickNMelt and the wee chop ordered me a brand new one. These guys are great to work with, professional, polite, really helpful and the scents are amazing. I have a few burners but this one is one of my favs, so easy to clean (the top lifts off and the only thing that survived the epic smash).




I had a lovely secret bunny gift from an exchange in a book group on FB and was spoilt. So with that and to cheer me up for my burner getting wrecked I am doing a wee giveaway. Easter/Game of Thrones themed, two great things.





As pictured, up for grabs is a dragon bookmark (apparently the lighter beads charge with the sun), a wee packet of mini eggs and a Game of Thrones keyring. Good luck guys, open worldwide, use Rafflecopter to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 20 April 2019

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

The Echo Killing (Harper McClain, #1)The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - as and when able over 4 days

Pages - 439

Publisher - Harper Collins

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

When a murder echoing a fifteen-year-old cold case rocks the Southern town of Savannah, crime reporter Harper McClain risks everything to find the identity of this calculated killer.

A city of antebellum architecture, picturesque parks, and cobblestone streets, Savannah moves at a graceful pace. But for Harper McClain, the timeless beauty and culture that distinguishes her home’s Southern heritage vanishes during the dark and dangerous nights. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Not even finding her mother brutally murdered in their home when she was twelve has made her love Savannah any less.

Her mother’s killer was never found, and that unsolved murder left Harper with an obsession that drove her to become one of the best crime reporters in the state of Georgia. She spends her nights with the police, searching for criminals. Her latest investigation takes her to the scene of a homicide where the details are hauntingly familiar: a young girl being led from the scene by a detective, a female victim naked and stabbed multiple times in the kitchen, and no traces of any evidence pointing towards a suspect.

Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer. At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded justice for fifteen years and make sure another little girl isn’t forever haunted by a senseless act of violence―even if it puts Harper in the killer’s cross-hairs…


My Review

Meet Harper McClain, one of the best crime reporters in the business, good relationships with the police (unheard of eh!) and nothing gets in the way of a story. We meet her when there is a shooting and quickly get the scope of her character, hard as nails and putting herself in the middle of danger for a story. When a murder of a house wife in an affluent area goes down, gold for reporters, Harper wants to low down. When she realises how much it mirrors a crime from the past, one with personal links for Harper she risks literally everything to get to the bottom of it.

So, we get an insight into reporters and some of the things they say in regards to the people's stories they cover, ooft! We watch a highly professional individual go through emotional turmoil and recklessness as she stops at nothing to get answers. It is a good paced story and we have a female character who is pretty head strong, forceful but dealing with her own past, personal feelings vs the job, pushing boundaries and really crossing more than a few lines along the way.

I think for book one it sets up some good foundations, we get to know her and her background. Things that matter to her, how far she is willing to go. It was interesting to read a book from the reporters perspective, the books I read are often the police or criminals, not too often I get it fro this angle. It will be interesting to see where the author takes the next book, 3/5 for me this time, this was my first dance with this author and I will be checking out the next book in the series.


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Friday, 19 April 2019

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

The SwapThe Swap by Fiona Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 304

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Source - ARC

Blurb from Goodreads

The second novel from Fiona Mitchell, author of the stunning The Maid's Room***

Two women. Two children. But whose is whose?

When two strangers, Tess and Annie, undergo IVF at an American clinic, their embryos are mixed up and each woman gives birth to the wrong child.

The women only discover the devastating error three years later. Tess wants to swap the children back; Annie doesn't. As the pair wrangle, neither of them expect what unfolds.



My Review

Tess and Annie have their embryos implanted after IVF in a clinic in America, Annie lives in America, Tess in England. Three years later and Tess hasn't bonded with her child, she dislikes him and can't help but stress over his behaviour, issues, trouble. Annie couldn't be more blessed, Willow is everything she wanted in a child and more, her only baby. When it comes to light Freddie can't be Tess's son she digs deeper and becomes obsessed, what is her real baby is out there and nothing will stop her trying to find out.

Ooft guys I don't have any kids (I have furbabies) and I felt the emotional punch from this one. A lot of Tess's decisions, behaviour and choices really makes you question her as a human being. But it is so easy to judge someone when you don't walk in their shoes, live their lives and as the book progresses we get a bit more insight into why she is the way she is. Annie on the other hand is so different but would she be the same if she brought up the other child? How much is reactive behaviour, how much is learned? For a wee bit I felt echos of "We Need To Talk About Kevin" with some of Freddie's scenes but then is that to provoke you into thinking a certain way?

If it a book that pulls you a bit through the emotive ringer, you try not to judge but scene after scene you find yourself doing just that. Then re evaluating, what would you do? I also wondered if you found yourself in that situation *touch wood* what would you do?

The two families are so different in many ways, financial status and the struggles that come with each class, children, Freddie has siblings, Willow is an only child and the women could not be more different. There are so many parts to this book that will get the reader thinking/chatting/debating. This is the second book I have read by this author, I very much look forward to her next, 4/5 for me this time!





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Thursday, 18 April 2019

What Nobody Knew by Amelia Hendrey

What Nobody knewWhat Nobody knew by Amelia Hendrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 260

Publisher - Self published

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

My story begins aged 3, when my mother abandoned me and left me with my brutal father to raise me. Nobody knew the secrets that went on inside that house, or the journey that I travelled on after leaving it, until now. This is the story of my survival.

What do you do when no one wants you?

How many people need to destroy a child until that child wants to destroy herself?

What if social services always got told a different story?

What would you do if you were in my position?

Survival is key.


My Review

Think of "A Child Called It" and stories of that vein this is Amelia's story and what she endured, surviving, growing up. A little girl, abandoned by her mother, "raised" by her father and his partner, a wee girl who knows very little kindness, love, even just basic respect or an environment to thrive.

This book is a wee bit different from those of the same thread, this one actually has reports, written accounts and documents from the very few people who had interactions with Amelia. For me, this is one of the most infuriating things about the book, so many opportunities for someone, anyone to help this wee girl, to spot the red flags and act. Today everyone is taught to look for warning signs, things that flag up a potential issue with a child, so many things in this book screamed out and yet still where missed. We flip between the authors voice and accounts of what happened then a document then back to the authors voice, this is how the book is presented, flipping between the two.

We meet a child that has a strength evident from a very young age to survive, adapt, push through time and time again with so many horrors thrown upon her. There are so many individuals to dislike and hate for what they allowed to happen, blaming this poor child, denying kindness, love, protection even understanding. They are so horrific, shaming, blaming, hurting even down to the small flash we see from the neighbour I hated the parts she was in, actively enjoying causing distress to a bairn. Knowing these have been living people, real encounters - it just baffles the mind evil like these individuals exist.

There are quite a few graphic scenes in the book, most people know picking up this type of true story that abuse will be covered. My heart was in my mouth more than once and I just wanted to reach out and protect this poor child that seemed to have no one in her corner, failed at pretty much every opportunity to catch what was going on. It is emotional, hard going, brutal, honest and one thing that comes through almost every single chapter is the strength in this wee girl who has now grown up and opened her world to readers to know her truth, her history, her story of survival. A raw and honest look into a heart wrenching account of one wee girls survival against the odds, 4.5/5 for me this time. If I ever met this author, and she was ok with it I would give her the biggest hug, God love her for surviving what she did and being brave enough to allow us into such a personal part of her life!





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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - Orion

Publisher - 323

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....



My Review

We open with a diary entry from Alicia Berenson, started in July and we get a wee glimpse into Alicia. Just over a month later Alicia will kill her husband and not speak another word, everyone is fascinated with the case. What would make a happily married woman snap and murder her husband and why won't she speak. Years has passed and Theo Faber, Criminal psychologist is offered a job to work at the facility where Alicia is being cared for. He has always wanted to work with her, try to get her to speak, to unravel the mystery that has baffled them all but sometimes people keep secrets for a reason and Alicia has her reasons. Can Faber find a way to unlock Alicia's silence and finally get some answers?

For a debut or just a book in general I think this is fantastically written. We get wee snippets from Alicia, from her diary, before the killing. As Faber trys to work with Alicia he has to get answers as she is silent and giving nothing, people are being obstructive, secrets are galore but we all want to know why.

Alicia is a complex character, we know there is more underneath the surface but we only really see snaps of her, the Alicia now who doesn't speak but has snapped a few times. The Alicia from her diary who reveals a little bit more with each entry and Faber, trying to hard to work with someone who is essentially shut down.

We are drip fed small bits of information as Faber digs, putting his career and reputation at risk as he pushes boundaries to try and help a woman most seem to have given up on. It is a psychological thriller, it pulls you in from the first few chapters. If you are nosey like me you are dying to see what actually happened, why is she quiet, why won't she speak you won't be able to put this one down. 4/5 for me this time, I look forward to seeing what this author puts out next, certainly a name worth watching out for.



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