Thursday 28 March 2019

Stitched by Cheryl Elaine Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for "Stitched" by author Cheryl Elaine, this is a tour arranged by Bakers Blog Tour and Promos.

Blurb for the Book

A gruesome tale of control, fear and brutality. Marriage is not the bed of roses story books describe. More like a bed of torturous thorns. And ,how Emily bled. Escape seemed an illusion, a mirage of a rocky road between overgrown thickets of despair. Emily couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel; she wasn’t allowed to dream or think for herself and had no alternative other than submitting to his rage. Andy was a narcissist. Emily could not, and would not, disregard his superiority. Her naivety often clouded her judgment; she was damaged both mentally and physically. Would putting her trust in another lead her to a happy ending?

The book is available now in ebook and tree book format, buy from Amazon HERE.

About the Author

Cheryl Elaine is a British Author, and resides in Yorkshire. Throughout her life she has been an avid reader and wrote many short stories, which lead her on a path to the world of publishing. She released her debut novel - No Ordinary Girl,followed by her latest release - Stitched.

I hope you enjoy my dark and disturbing crime books, and if you fancy reading something lighter, why not check out my fantasy novel – Dragged to the Depths.

You can find out more about me, at the following places

For my stop I have my review, enjoy.

Stitched: A gruesome tale of control, fear and brutalityStitched: A gruesome tale of control, fear and brutality by Cheryl Elaine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 177

Publisher - AAH Publishing

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A patchwork of lies and threads of abuse…Stitched is a gruesome tale of control, fear and brutality.
To the outside world, Andrew Brooke is a cop who’s obsessively committed to his job. But behind closed doors, he enforces his dominance and disciplines his wife, Emily, in the most inhumane ways. When his life begins to fall apart and his reputation becomes tarnished, he unleashes his anger and seeks revenge on those who dare to encounter him.
Emily Brooke is left broken by her husband’s hand, with no means of escape. Eventually, though weak and confused, she manages to flee. But is the life she escapes to a better one?
Detective Donavan has his own demons to battle following his wife’s death. Assigned a missing person’s case that leads to a series of brutal attacks, he follows the trail of a serial killer dubbed ‘The Stitcher’ - but will his own dark secrets get in the way of justice being served?
Stitched perfectly demonstrates how cruel life – and people – can be.

My Review

Emily Brooke is beaten, broken, abused, humiliated all at the hands of her husband, officer Andrew Brooke. Emily tries to be a good wife, keep the house clean, have the food just right, predict when to talk, what to say, when to be silent but sometimes getting it right isn't enough. Emily knows her husband is a monster but can't begin to imagine just how evil Andrew can be, finding out may just kill her.

From the opening chapter we get flung in at the deep end, Emily is in an abusive relationship, every kind of abuse you imagine, she suffers it. The author pulls no punches when it comes to graphic details, Emily lives it and you will read it. Stitched is not for the faint hearted, easily offended and as trigger warnings seem to be the thing just now this one will trigger for many. Brutality to a level on par with pure evil, Andrew Brooke is a nasty creation that you think you get the measure of from the opening scenes but we are just scratching the surface.

The book draws you in deeper with each step into Emily's life when you think you have it figured you get another curve ball thrown. You read and get through one horror and another awaits to shock and pull the rug from under you. It is certainly a page turner (as well as a stomach churner) and pushes even the most hardened reader, abuse in almost all forms from a monster meant to protect the public. I think depending on your personal history and circumstances will depend on how this book impacts on you, the minute details that can set these abusers off is terrifying. The claustrophobic scenes have you holding your breath living through the terror with Emily as she endures each torment, the hairs on my arms are standing up just recalling some of the scenes. Elaine's previous book is dark and showing the worst of humanity, I think this book may surpass that purely because it manifests in what is supposed to be a safe environment, the marital home. A book that is bound to push buttons, emotions, split readers and keep the reader hooked page after page, 3.5/5 for me this time.

View all my reviews

Monday 25 March 2019

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie ResultThe Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 384

Publisher - Penguin

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

'The phone call signalling an escalation in the Hudson Adjustment Problem came at 10:18 a.m. on a Friday morning . . .'

Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he's facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations.

Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and - the most serious problem of all - their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He's a smart kid, but socially awkward-not fitting in.

Fortunately, Don's had a lifetime's experience of not fitting in. And he's going to share the solutions with Hudson. He'll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world's best cocktail bar.

Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life's obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking.

My Review

This is the final book in the trilogy, if you haven't read the first two books guys please do so you have to get to know the characters back stories. So here we are, Don and Rosie are living in Australia with Hudson their ten year old son. Don is still doing things in his unique way and Hudson is quite like his father in some of his approaches, mannerisms and behaviours. The school is pushing to deal with it in their way and Don is in trouble for a very controversial approach to his teaching methods, he may well lose his job. Trying to keep on top of the chaos in his unique way we have come to love Don is not just fighting for himself but for some of the same issues he has battled his own life his son is now facing.

I do love Don's character and seeing his boy going through the same challenges Don did, whilst this book still has flashes of the humour from the previous two is also has a serious theme. Autism, Aspergers and the labels society puts on people and the implications having such labels can have and impact of different areas of a persons life. Societal expectations of behaviour, pressures on individuals who are "different" and ways of treating them. It is a book that certainly makes you think, it gives you the "unique adult" and "unique child" both with society slapping labels on and what those labels can mean.

When I first met Don in book one I just thought Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) as an adult, some people have loved and hated both portrayals but it certainly gets some highlight on Aspergers/Autism/spectrum's and I think that can only be a good thing. Education, a glimpse into what life can be like and a chance for those who know/live it to correct, educate, question assumptions and or ideas, preconceived prejudices, stereotypes.

I don't know if it was the author's vision to take the book down that road or to create a quirky character that developed into tackling how society see's individuals who are "different". How important it is to label or how quick folk are to do so, I think the author brings the trilogy to a fab conclusion and one thing to take from these books is a person is a person, not a label, not a diagnosis, 4/5 for me this time. I will miss Don and his antics, his family but will keep the message the book, particularly the last one brought home!

View all my reviews

Sunday 24 March 2019

Runaway by Claire MacLeary Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Runaway by Claire MacLeary, I am closing the tour, if you missed the previous stops please check them out as we all offer different content, this is a #LoveBooksGroup tour.


The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police's 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous "domestic" cases, Maggie Laird isn't keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city's women's refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman's body is discovered in a Dundee builder's skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age'.

Buy Link

Twitter Handles


For my stop I have the back story from the author, check it out and enjoy.


When first I set out to write a crime novel, researching what was out there seemed the obvious place to start. Having read a wide range of British, Scandinavian, French and Italian thrillers, it appeared the protagonists fell into two main categories: hardened detectives and highly skilled forensic scientists. Tartan Noir, in the main, was populated by policemen with drink and/or relationship problems. Hugely successful though many of these books are, I determined my best hope of being published was to write something completely different.

What if I were to write a crime novel in which nobody was qualified in anything? The idea seeded in my head. As it began to grow, I combed my memory for a lead character. A woman, for sure, since women are underrepresented as protagonists. Where does this woman live, I asked myself? Not in the Central Belt, where many Scottish crime novels are set. Not in my (then) home town of St Andrews, which maintains a limited police presence. I settled for Aberdeen, where I'd lived for some years and which offers a wide range of sources on which to draw: a rich history, an ancient university, the North Sea, fishing, farming, oil.

What does she do for a living, this non-professional woman? Most likely work in a low-paid job and/or be stuck at home with her kids. So how does she become involved in crime? Since she has little knowledge of police procedure, far less forensics, she'll have to – somehow – become a private investigator. On her own? Unlikely? Perhaps she has a friend. Or a neighbour? And so came into being Maggie and Wilma, two ordinary women 'of a certain age', living in modest semi-detached bungalows in an Aberdeen suburb. They're women every reader can identify with.

Neither young nor especially pretty – Wilma's weight yo-yos, Maggie has a wall eye that knocks her confidence – they juggle part-time jobs with doing the household shop and stirring the mince. Menial tasks. But like many other women in the same situation, they have a deep well of inner resource they can draw on when needed: life skills, resilience, common sense. Thus armed, my unlikely PIs, Maggie and Wilma, set out to challenge authority and combat injustice. Two ordinary women doing extraordinary things.

There is even a happy ending. Sara Hunt, Saraband publisher extraordinaire, 'got' Maggie and Wilma at once. As did readers, longlisting Cross Purpose for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book 2017

Friday 22 March 2019

Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz Blog Tour

Today I am the final stop on the blog tour for Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz, this is a Random Things Tour, can we just take a minute to appreciate the book cover!.

About the book


Aside from a quaint amusement park, the small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their tenyear high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil. The werewolf. The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy resort town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent and the depraved. They’ll settle old scores and act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.

You can buy your own copy from Amazon, ebook and tree book format.

About the author:

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal. His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter, and you can follow him on
Twitter @JonathanJanz
For my stop I have my review, enjoy!

Wolf LandWolf Land by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 288

Publisher - Flame Tree Press

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Aside from a quaint amusement park, the small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They're about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil. The werewolf. The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy resort town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf's fury are changing. They're experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They'll prey on the innocent and the depraved. They'll settle old scores and act on their basest desires. Soon, they'll plunge the entire town into nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.

My Review

A high school reunion is never easy especially when you have abandoned the love of your life and friends for bigger and "better" things. However when everyone gets attacked by a werewolf, blood guts and fur flies. When you think things can't get any worse, the dead are counted and four survived brutal attacks then things start to get really strange. Changes are afoot, bodies are changing and Lakeview is about to have a real hairy problem!

We are introduced to the key characters and learn some of the not so nice parts of their personality, the boys are not the nicest. One of them is a deviant and derogatory to woman, the other cashed out and is now back with their "tale" between their legs. Once the book really kicks in we get graphic details on the turning, gore, in your face and no details spared foe the animalistic behaviours. I haven't read a werewolf book in years and this one is pretty good to dip my toe back into the water. You get the personal aspect with the friendships, relationships, hierarchy in the group(s) so you get vested in who is who not knowing who will survive the initial slaughter.

It is pacey, grips you and has different layers to the tale, an insight into those turning, how it affects them, the changes both physical and personally. The author is gifted is his trade and when you think you have the story pegged and know exactly where it is going he manages to surprise you again, well he did me! There are some shady characters so expect bad language, sex, violence, blood, guts and gore galore. Not for the faint hearted but going into it knowing it is a werewolf story you know the kind of thing to expect. This was my first dance with this author, it won't be my last 4/5 for me this time!

View all my reviews Instagram @jonathan.janz

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Rogue Killer by Leigh Russell Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Rogue Killer by Leigh Russell, a Random Things Tour.

br />

About the author

Leigh Russell is the author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel series: Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, Murder Ring, Deadly Alibi, Class Murder and Death Rope. The series has sold over a million copies worldwide. Cut Short was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association (CWA) John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award, and Leigh has been longlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award. Her books have been #1 on Amazon Kindle and iTunes with Stop Dead and Murder Ring selected as finalists for The People’s Book Prize. Leigh is chair of the CWA’s Debut Dagger Award judging panel and is a Royal Literary Fellow. Leigh studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English and American Literature. She is married with two daughters and a granddaughter, and lives in London.

About the book


The new novel in the million-copy selling Detective Geraldine Steel series

A man is killed in apparently random attack, and suspicion falls on a gang of muggers. Only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel thinks this is the work of a more deliberate murderer.

Two more victims are discovered, after further seemingly indiscriminate attacks. The muggers are tracked down, with tragic consequences. And all the while the killer remains at large. When Geraldine finally manages to track down a witness, she finds her own life is in danger...

For fans of Martina Cole, Mel Sherratt and LJ Ross

Look out for more DI Geraldine Steel investigations in Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, Murder Ring, Deadly Alibi, Class Murder and Death Rope, plus the special Christmas short story, Killer Christmas

Don't miss the DI Ian Peterson series: Cold Sacrifice, Race to Death and Blood Axe

Out to buy from tomorrow, from AMAZON

For my stop I have a wee extract from Chapter one, you lucky things! Enjoy.

Chapter 1

Striding home through the dark streets of York with a bloody plastic cape and rubber gloves concealed inside a polythene bag in his rucksack, he congratulated himself on a successful outing. He had come a long way since leaving the house where he had spent his unhappy childhood. He had done his best, but even then he had known that the cats he killed had been paving the way for other victims. At that time he had been forced to suffocate his victims, as he couldn’t return home covered in blood. Because the most annoying aspect of his life back then was that whenever he flung himself through the front door, bag on his back and blond fringe flopping over his forehead, his parents would be there, waiting…

He turned away from his parents, refusing to look at them, certain they would crush his excitement. Glancing up, he gave a defiant smile at his father’s reflection frowning at him in the mirror. If they persisted in worrying about him when he stayed out late, that was their problem. It wasn’t fair of them to spoil his fun.

He had given up insisting that it was his life to live as he pleased. Instead he had resolved to ignore them. In any case, they didn’t know the half of it. He took risks they knew nothing about. But the pay-off was worth all the preparation. His parents would never understand. No one would. In their smallminded way, people like them would assume he was driven by a sordid sexual urge, but nothing could be further from the truth. More intense than anything they could imagine, his pleasure was momentous; he had learned to exercise power over life itself. Compared to the triumph of a kill, all other experiences were petty.

Despite all their questions, he never told them where he was going or who he was seeing. For a long time he had simply told them he was meeting his ‘mates’. They didn’t need to know more than that. ‘Have you any idea what time it is?’ his father asked severely. When he didn’t answer, his mother spoke, her voice shrill with anxiety. ‘You know it’s nearly two o’clock. Where have you been? One night you’re going to get yourself in trouble. You could be attacked, and left for dead in a gutter, and we’d know nothing about it until the police knocked on the door to tell us you’d been killed. You have to come home at a sensible time. You’ll be the death of us with all this staying out late. We need to get to bed –’ ‘Oh, give it a rest, will you? If you want to go to bed, who’s stopping you? Did I ask you to wait up for me? What’s your problem? Nothing’s going to happen to me.’ Even though he was not quite sixteen, he hated the way they made him sound like a petulant teenager. He was so much more than that: a master of life and death. ‘You can’t say that,’ she replied.

‘Well, I just did.’ ‘Don’t be flippant with us, son,’ his father snapped. ‘The point is, however independent you think you are, you don’t know what might happen to you. No one does. A youngster like you, out on the streets on your own, you’ve no idea who might be out there, and what they might be after. People get assaulted, and young boys are especially vulnerable.’ They had been through the argument many times without reaching a resolution, but his parents refused to give up.

Forcing a smile, his father said, ‘Why don’t you at least let me come and pick you up, when you want to stay out late?’ ‘You’re having a laugh. You? Come and pick me up? Not bloody likely. You’d spoil everything.’ ‘Well, I could come and meet you somewhere then, if you like. Jesus, you must know you’re putting yourself at risk going out on your own at night. You’re only fifteen, and you don’t know anything of the world yet. Why don’t you at least tell me where you are, so I can come and give you a lift home? For your mother’s sake, if nothing else. You know she worries about you being mugged.’ ‘What if one of these muggers you’re so worried about attacked you?’ He spat the words out. He wasn’t laughing now. ‘You’re just as likely to be mugged as me, you know. Now, stop pestering me, because I told you nothing’s going to happen. Not to me, anyway.’ He turned away to hang up his coat. ‘I know what you’re trying to do,’ he resumed, turning back to face them. ‘It’s not going to work. You don’t own me. I’m not a child. You can’t control me anymore.’ Seeing his father cower backwards when he lifted his hand to pull off his scarf, he grinned, his good humour restored.

‘You thought I was going to hit you just then! You did, didn’t you? And you think you can scare me! Ha!’ He snapped his fingers in the air with a faint click. His mother stepped forward, one hand raised, but he stood his ground, taunting her. ‘What are you going to do? Hit me? That’s why you go on and on and on about something happening to me, because that’s what you want, to see me punished. You’d like me to suffer, just to prove you were right.’ ‘Don’t talk such nonsense. You know that’s not true.’ ‘Isn’t it?’ He held out his arm to display a series of scratches. ‘What’s this then?’ His father shook his head in disgust. ‘You know perfectly well you told us a cat scratched you. Now, I’ll ask you again, where have you been all this time?’ ‘Oh, give it a rest, old man. Have you got any idea how stupid you sound, asking the same questions, over and over again?’

With a flick of his head he tossed their sour protests aside and his long fringe spun around his head. He stroked it into place with the flat of his hand, enjoying the feel of its sleek softness. Until he was old enough to do as he pleased, his parents had never allowed him to grow his hair long enough to cover his ears. That was just one of many reasons why he hated them. As though it should be up to them to control his appearance! Now they had lost their authority over him, they were nothing in his eyes. Less than nothing. He understood their efforts to confine him were driven by anxiety, but he was different from them. He was fearless. Ordinary people like his parents could have no idea what he was capable of achieving. They didn’t know him at all. No one did. They were never going to understand that there was no need to be concerned on his account. They should be worrying about their own safety while he was living under their roof.

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for "Will Haunt You" by author Brian Kirk, I am closing the tour. If you have missed the previous stops please check them out, we all offer different content.

Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk
• Paperback: 240 pages
• Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (14 Mar. 2019)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1787581373
• ISBN-13: 978-1787581371

• Buy Link from Amazon UK 1&keywords=will+haunt+you

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.

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.

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 :

For my stop I have my review for the book, enjoy.

Will Haunt YouWill Haunt You by Brian Kirk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - In and out over 4 days

Pages - 288

Publisher - Flame Tree Press

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

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.

My review

I need to point out this book has "a prequel" if you like but it is in website format, if I hadn't agree to the tour and read this I would have went out and bought it right away. Check it out before going any further, be warned though it will freak you out it is so well done!

Jesse Wheeler is tee total and the lead guitarist in a old rock band reuniting for one night and then they all disappeared. Before it Jesse had read a book, the book you are now familiar with if you clicked the link above, if not check it out, seriously. This is what happened, this is the story and warning of the book he read, the story you are now reading, you have been warned.

So the concept for this book is pretty original, I read A LOT of horror and weird books and this was a first for me. Jesse is the main character and not very likable at times, he is tee total for a reason and as you read you will get some background on him, his son, his other half and why he is being tormented. It is without a doubt one of the most trippy, weird and at times freaky books I have came across. Jesse is the narrator and I got lost in some of what was happening, I think this was to add an authentic feel to what he is experiencing and taking the reader along with him.

The book gave me echos of the movie Cabin in the Woods as I felt like that when I watched that, not always knowing what was going on, weirded out, creeped out and having so many questions. Add in a flash feel of The Matrix combined with the very old school "invaders" type movies it is a whole bowl of unique weirdness that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing up. The dialogue is a bit spacey too but again I think that is to give the reader a chance to absorb exactly what Jesse is going through and he is warning the reader as you go the peril you are in by reading his story. I think this is going to be a marmite book, some folk are going to just get it and devour it whilst others may struggle to appreciate what the author has created. Certainly a new angle at spooky horror and I can't wait to hear what you guys thought of it, 3/5 for me this time. This was my first dance with this author, I will keep a wee eye out for his other creations.

View all my reviews

Sunday 17 March 2019

Ghosts by Nick Conroy Blog tour

Today is the final stop and closing the blog tour for Ghosts by Nick Conroy, a tour organised by Kelly at #LoveBooksGroupTours

I was also on the Bookstagram tour for this book also and got some night shots, check them out HERE.

Every poem in GHOSTS touches on the theme in some way, whether it be overtly as in the title poem, or more succinctly, as in Dragonfly – in which the poet explores ephemeral elements of his perception of his mother. Nick Conroy’s words touch the heart of his subject matter, and the reader’s emotions at the same time. Nick is currently studying for a Master’s in English at the University of Hull. Poetry has always been at the centre of his passion as a writer, and since childhood he’s enjoyed spoken word. He moved to Hull in 2014, with an understanding that the city is still revered for its poets. He senses something haunting and intoxicating about Hull, and the community of writing that it holds in high regard. Hull, in its turn, is beginning to hold Nick himself in high regard and he is fast becoming wellknown as one of the region’s bright young Spoken Word talents.

You can buy the book in paperback or kindle format from Amazon HERE.

About the Author:
Nick Conroy is a student at the University of Hull. He studied Philosophy with Creative Writing and is now starting a Master's degree in English, with a focus on Creative Writing.
Nick, who is originally from Kent, has been a Hull resident for around five years. "It's here in Hull that my poetry has moved on leaps-and-bounds, and I continue to shape my style, and my voice, with influences I've been introduced to in this City."
Nick loves performance poetry and has also been involved with the Contains Strong Language festival for the last two years, performing pieces for BBC Humberside.

You can find Nick on Twitter


You can read more about Nick on Wild Pressed website HERE.

Publisher on Twitter:


For my stop on the tour I have my review, enjoy.

GhostsGhosts by Nick Conroy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - In and out over 3 days

Pages - 48

Publisher - Wild Pressed Books

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Every poem in GHOSTS touches on the theme in some way, whether it be overtly as in the title poem, or more succinctly, as in Dragonfly - in which the poet explores ephemeral elements of his perception of his mother.

Nick Conroy's words touch the heart of his subject matter, and the reader's emotions at the same time, involving family, identity - and potential or actual loss.

This is a strong, cohesive collection of poems, containing a hard grit which meets a fluid, powerful movement of language to create waves of recognition and understanding. The topics and themes are covered honestly, and with refreshing vulnerability in the language used. In each poem there is something of a journey - involving lostness, a seeking and in the end an acceptance of the events described.

Nick Conroy's paged poetry is like the written musical score of his live performance, which has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

Nick is currently studying for a Master's in English at the University of Hull. Poetry has always been at the centre of his passion as a writer, and since childhood he's enjoyed spoken word.

He moved to Hull in 2014, with an understanding that the city is still revered for its poets. He senses something haunting and intoxicating about Hull, and the community of writing that it holds in high regard.

My Review

Nineteen powerful poems packed into this tiny wee book. Each have ghost themed or mentioned in some description. Some poems are really short at just over half a page, others have verses spread across a few pages.

Poetry is something I used to love as a child/teen and fell away from as an adult, I agreed to this book because of the overall theme. The cover also had a wee pull for me which was why I wanted to bookstagram it, it looked great in so many settings.

I think, for me, I got the most from this by dipping in and out and soaking up one poem at a time with a break in between in. For each reader I think some of the poems will be quite deep and intense depending on how you take them. For example "Grappling with Ghosts" has likely came from the authors own person experience or situation or something that sparked that creation. Yet for me it evoked a memory from my past and made me ponder on a particular relationship I hadn't thought of in a long long time.

I think that is the thing with poetry, it can be very personal, for the author producing it and for the reader consuming it. Some of the poems left no deep impression other that to smile that a young man has created something like these and others caught me off guard by evoking either an emotive response and or memories. I wasn't expecting anything like that when I picked this up, maybe it is time I went back to reading poetry again. A very different type of read for me but I did enjoy it as a break from the norm and a different kind of escapism. If you enjoy poetry or even if you don't normally read it I would say check it out and would love to hear your thoughts, 3/5 for me this time. This is my first time reading this authors works I would be interested in seeing what else he has to offer.

View all my reviews

The Silvermoon Storybook by Elaine Gunn

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Silvermoon by Elaine Gunn, this is a #LoveBooksGroupTours.

About the author

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


About the book

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.

Buy link HERE

For my stop I have my review.

The Silver Moon StorybookThe Silver Moon Storybook by Elaine Gunn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 221

Publisher - Indy

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

The Silver Moon Storybook is Elaine's first published work, a collection of modern fairy tales that weaves contemporary, progressive values and messages into seven magical stories.

What darkness lies in the past of a little witch, cursed into the shape of a giant?

As the silver moon rises, who will save a magical unicorn, imprisoned in the castle of a tyrant, or befriend an enormous clown who roams the world alone? Can a humble weaver find the courage to face a terrible monster? And what will be the fate of a powerful mermaid, at war with the world above her ocean? Join them and other enchanting characters in these haunting tales of illusion, discovery and love.

An exquisitely illustrated bedtime story for young readers (and perhaps some not so young), The Silver Moon Storybook weaves progressive and modern themes into touching fables full of the magic and shadows of traditional fairy tales.

My Review

A collection of short stories, seven in total. The Little Witch, The Weaver, The Enormous Clown, The Changeling, The unicorn, The Strong Man and The Sea Queen. I am not going to break down each story as the risk of spoilers would be too high. However each offers something that can be enjoyed by young adults and adults alike.

Protection, self preservation, friendship, love, bravery, morality, greed, selfishness, corruption, strength and life lessons wrapped in magical tales without preachy overtones. The stories reminded me of old school fairy tales with a more modern fresh feel but still encapsulating the magic we grew up with.

The writing itself wraps around you and pulls you into the pages, enveloping you in the magic and vesting in the characters. I think this is testament to the authors writing abilities as I am not a huge fan of short stories because I generally find you are just getting into it and the story ends. With these I slipped into the stories with ease and didn't feel short changed or left hanging which sadly I get when reading short stories which is why I normally avoid them.

Some of the stories have a wee bit of cross over which is a cute we touch, Master King does this with his books which are lengthy. A bit harder to do with short stories but Gunn managed it. I would love to hear more about these characters and see a book two of tales, this book is going to be a keeper for me. The cover is beautiful, a deep blue with silver which pops the design and writing, it looks good in the photo, far more beautiful in your hands. Then there are the illustrations!

Throughout the book there are illustrations that you can colour in or if like me you don't want to mark your pristine copy, the author has added some to her website you can download/print to colour in. They go with the stories and every second page has at least one. A fantastic wee book and many thanks to Kelly of LoveBooksGroup for bringing it to my attention. You can check out the authors website and see the downloadable colouring illustrations at oh and the last few pages of the book, well the version I have, is lined paper for my notes which is a nice wee add on, 4.5/5 for me this time.

View all my reviews

Friday 15 March 2019

Q&A with author Douglas Skelton

Welcoming Douglas Skelton to So Many Books, So Little Time. Thanks for taking time out to chat today us especially with this week being the launch of Thunder Bay, Skelton's newest creation. Available to buy NOW, here is the link to Amazon available in tree book and ebook format.

Tell us about your newest book "Thunder Bay"

Thunder Bay sees weekly newspaper reporter Rebecca Connolly defy her editor’s orders to visit the island of Stoirm. Roddie Drummond, a man cleared fifteen years before on a Not Proven verdict for the murder of his partner Mhairi Sinclair, is returning for the funeral of his mother. His return will stir up old passions and memories. Rebecca has a personal reason for visiting the island – her father was born there but refused ever to speak about it or his family. She wants to know why.

Is the Island & Thunder Bay based on a real place and if not what inspired its creation. If it is what made you choose that one to write about?

It’s completely fictional, although I’ve used elements not just of other islands I’ve visited but also the mainland. I wanted to control the history and the mythology, both of which play a part in the story, and the idea of characters being cut off – by the water, by the weather – is something many writers are attracted to in order to make the stories more claustrophobic.

This was my first book of yours, is this a good place to start or would you rather new readers start with another of your titles, if so which and why?

New readers can certainly start with THUNDER BAY as it’s planned as the first in a new series. There are four Davie McCall books – gritty, Glasgow crime – beginning with BLOOD CITY. The two Dominic Queste books, the first is THE DEAD DON’T BOOGIE, are lighter but still thrillers, while THE JANUS RUN is a stand alone chase thriller set in New York.

I personally loved the wee legends/myths you put in the story, are any of them based on truth and why did you choose to include them?

All the legends are based on stories from across Scotland. The witches of the mountain, the petrified sisters, the water horse are all fairly common themes on Scottish folklore. The mountain on Stoirm is actually based on Schiehallion in Perthshire.

What research did you carry out for the book, if you can share without spoilers

I suppose the research was carried out over a number of years of visiting islands and reading about history and folklore. There was a bit of reading about vegetation in the Hebrides. The rest was made up!

The book has more than one timeline, going past to present and back and forth did you know this was what you wanted when penning it?

I always knew I would move back and forward between the present and the events of fifteen years before. I don’t plan my books in any way but as it gestated in my mind – and it’s been there for some considerable time – I knew that would be the structure I would follow.

Is it easier to write in one timeline or both? Which do you prefer?

Each one was difficult! This book is a departure from my usual style. In the past I’ve followed the Raymond Chandler suggestion of having two guys kick the door in with guns in their hand. This story did not lend itself to that, so it was a more challenging write for me.

How do you keep track of so many threads of stories and characters?

Often with difficulty! As I said, I don’t plan but I will make notes on bits of paper, which are strewn across my desk. I really should be more organised. I might get on better!

What is next for Douglas Skelton? Are you writing or thinking about your next book?

The process has begun on the next one. I have a title and a plot. Unusually I even have an ending! For me that’s a silver lining. All I need to do now is write it. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Where can fans connect with you?

I’m on Twitter @Douglasskelton1 and my website

Thanks so much Douglas, here is to smashing it to no.1 - If you haven't been spoiled enough by the Q&A I am offering my pre loved copy of the book. To be in with a chance of winning just use the Rafflecopter below to enter, the more entries you complete the more times your name goes in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 12 March 2019

A wee extra giveaway

March can be a hard month for many of us, everywhere you look there is a reference to Mother's day which is hard for some for different reasons. So, RAK's (Random Acts of Kindness) always makes me feel happy and better so I thought I would do another wee giveaway.

Sorry I know this piccy is blurry but she looks cute so I am using it

Up for grabs is, as pictured, a wee brand new travel case, if has a wee compartment for your toothbrush and room for your liquids, sponge etc. A box of mint matchmakers and a wee face mask, peel off.

I will open this up worldwide, I know most of you guys follow the account(s) on the options available so you just need to fill in which entries suit you. Rafflecopter as usual, good luck all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 10 March 2019

Thunder Bay by Douglas Skelton

Thunder Bay: an exciting and atmospheric crime thrillerThunder Bay: an exciting and atmospheric crime thriller by Douglas Skelton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - Polygon

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

When reporter Rebecca Connolly is told of Roddie Drummond’s return to the island of Stoirm she senses a story. Fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover, Mhairi. When he was found Not Proven, Roddie left the island and no one, apart from his sister, knew where he was or what he was doing. Now he has returned for his mother’s funeral – and it will spark an explosion of hatred, bitterness and violence.

Defying her editor's wishes, Rebecca joins forces with local photographer Chazz Wymark to dig into the secrets surrounding Mhairi's death, and her mysterious last words of Thunder Bay, the secluded spot on the west coast of the island where, according to local lore, the souls of the dead set off into the after life. When another murder takes place, and the severe weather that gives the island its name hits, she is ideally placed to uncover the truth about what happened that night fifteen years before.

My Review

We open with the death of Mhairi a beautiful young girl meeting a tragic end. We flip to the "present day" fifteen years later and the guy everyone believed to have killed her is returning to the island, Stoirm. Reporter Rebecca Connolly is going to cover it, regardless of her bosses orders no to, Rebecca's dad is from the island and he would never discuss it. She has possibly an exclusive story AND a chance to figure out what was so bad about the place her father would never discuss it nor any of the family. Rebecca will learn that islands have their secrets and some people will kill to keep them!

Oooooh so this is my first dance with this author, never read him before although seem him at a few book events and always heard folk talk about his work. Not only is the cover fab with my fav colour and a striking view but it is set in a Scottish island and the wee island has its secrets and land stories/myths. I LOVE stuff like that and thought I was just heading into a murder/gossip type tale. After the murder we have a slow burn with the story teasing out its details, Rebecca meets a lot of opposition for what she is trying to do, no one wants outsiders butting in and small communities have a way of dealing with their own.

There are many strands to the story, the death of a beautiful young woman and the impact that has left on her family and daughter, especially in such a small place. The suspected killer returning after another death and bad things start to happen. Wee jumps in time back to the lead up to Mhairi's death and all those who lived there at the time. Like a modern day "Murder She Wrote" you get lots of information, snippets, reasons to distrust and, for me, still struggle to finger the bad guy and the why.

Engaging, a good pace, characters you want to read more about and a mystery from the past, will Mhairi ever get to leave "Thunder Bay" will she ever be avenged? Will her daughter ever get closure and can Rebecca get anyone to open up about whatever was so bad her father cut himself off from the family, the island and even the sheer mention of it? Gotta read it to get the answers folks!

I love when a book keeps you guessing, luring you page after page to conclusions and thinking you worked it out when no, no you really didn't. I liked the wee stories of myths and legends the islanders told and it makes me want to pick up a book on our own Scottish history, sure we have tons in our past. I also want to look these up and see if they came from anything or just a fab creation within a creation from the author. As I said this is my first dance with Skelton, it won't be my last, 4/5 for me this time.

View all my reviews

Friday 8 March 2019

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell (Ashley Bell, #1)Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 752

Publisher - Bantam

Source - Bought in America

Blurb from Goodreads

The girl who said no to death.

Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies, “We’ll see.”

Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.

An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.

But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?

Bibi’s obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.

Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.

My Review

Bibi is a writer and doing pretty well for being in her early twenty's. When she is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer it kicks off a chain of events that changes not only her life but for that of everyone around her. Who is Ashley Bell, why is she so special and how will Bibi find and save her before it is too late?

The book, for me, broke into different sections, the pre and diagnosis and then everything that kicked off after it. Dealing in the occult Bibi opens herself up to supernatural but she needs answers and when the unlikely happens Bibi knows her life is now about Ashley and keeping ahead of "the bad guys".

The book covers so many themes, Bibi's boyfriend is a soldier and we flip through chapters with him undercover and no idea what is going on with Bibi. The others who are threatening of Bibi, the journey to finding Ashley and who are the killers chasing Bibi that will stop at nothing to get her.

The book got a bit confusing at points for me, then would become clear then something else would be started or said and I wasn't sure where it was going. Certainly an interesting story with different tangents and supernatural spookiness, murder, family and health issues. I do like Koontz but think maybe if I got the thinner version maybe I would have enjoyed it more as some parts, to me, just seemed to have little to no bearing on the actual tale. I will read this author again but this isn't my favourite of his to be honest, 3/5 for me this time.

View all my reviews

Thursday 7 March 2019

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

If Only I Could Tell YouIf Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 368

Publisher - Orion

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Audrey's family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

My Review

The prologue opens in 1988 with an event that we, the reader, aren't too sure exactly what it is but will have a lasting impact on the family across the years. We flip to current day 2016 with Audrey, Audrey has to make huge changes to her life for health reasons and finds herself, as always, split between her two daughters, Jess and Lily. They haven't spoken in years and Audrey wants more than anything for these two to reconcile before it is too late but can you move on in the future when you haven't dealt with a past that is tearing you apart?

There are no two ways about it this book is a hell of an emotive rollercoaster, it touches on so many life issues that will evoke tears from the most hardened reader. Family, secrets, lies, love, loss, grief, heartache, health issues and so much more. It is hard to mention all the themes because you run the risk of spoilers and I never do a spoiler review.

I think depending on the life experiences you have had, grief and losses will absolutely impact upon how you receive this book. I hate using the word trigger but for many there will be triggers in this book, it reflects on the hardships, loss, grief and utter injustice that life sometimes hands out to folk, hence being an emotive read. I think what some will take comfort from in this story whilst others may feel too raw in their own experiences. It is testament to the authors writing skills to pen a book that can draw out different responses from so many from certain scenes.

The sisters I found hard to fathom at times, more so Jess in how she behaved in view of what was going on in that particular moment. That said, as the book reveals its secrets you get a better understanding of why the characters behave the way they do. Again for me, depending on your own personal experiences will impact on how you react to some scenes and Jess I felt I could reach in and slap/shake. This comes down to my own life experiences and any writer that can get a reader to pull reality from fiction, strong emotions is doing their job and then some.

This book has been so loved and I enjoyed it if enjoy is the right word to apply considering some of the content. If you aren't emotionally vulnerable going in you may well be when you finish it, a story that kicks you in the emotionals and keeps you going page after page hoping and praying for it to go the way you want it to, 3.5/5 for me this time. This was my first dance with Beckerman, it won't be my last.

View all my reviews

Wednesday 6 March 2019

March Giveaway is now live

Eeek who is excited?

Sorry it is a wee bit later, almost the first week of March gone already :O We have been away for a few nights, I was at Orenda books road show (blog post to follow) and celebrating my o/h birthday.

Anyway back to it, what is up for grabs? Well how does a crime fiction, signed hardback, limited edition (it has stunning purple sprayed page ridges) and was only released last month.....

The Sting by Kimberley Chambers, you lucky ducks! Look at those page ridges, I LOVE the colour purple and always had a thing for page ridges coloured.

You can read my review and the blurb for The Sting HERE, blurb is also there, this is one of my best reads this year, I would have read it in one sitting had I been able, 5/5!

You can enter by using Rafflecopter as usual, the more entries you complete the more times your name goes into the draw.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 5 March 2019

The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney, a RandomThingsTour!

About the author:
Judy McInerney has lived and worked in London for most of her professional life. Living in the Middle East, she managed to get lost in the desert, and to live through a military coup. After teaching in Abu Dhabi and starting her own business in Turkey, she returned to London and completed a creative writing course at Goldsmiths. Writing for food and travel guides has enabled her to justify travelling and eating out far too often

As a frequent traveller to China over the last thirty years she has seen the country undergo massive seismic changes, - from the times of Mao jackets and vast shoals of bicycles meandering along every hutong, to the present day, where Beijing is bigger than Belgium and has six million cars. She still travels in China each year to keep in close touch with family there. She also has a longstanding love affair with Italy, particularly the Renaissance cities of the north. Mantua is an undiscovered gem, both magical and macabre.

You can find Judy on Facebook and give her author page a wee like!

About the book:
"Epic , excellent , intricate . Fantastic read . Thoroughly recommend ." Goodreads Review
Ya Ling's cultured life of privilege in Beijing is cruelly cut short when she is abducted and shipped to the slave market in Venice. When Mantegna sees her chained to a post, his initial intention is to paint her exotic beauty, but he soon he desires her company for pleasures of a more private nature. Ya Ling has two ambitions, to ruin Mantegna, then to escape back to her family in China. However, Mantegna's latest commission, two huge frescos for the ruling Gonzaga family, make him invincible. Will Ya Ling survive? And can she succeed? Buy Link

For my stop I have an extract from the book, enjoy

The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney


Mantova, Italy. 1459.

It looks like a whorehouse. Cheap and run down. Mean little windows in odd places. Dark chunks of timber jutting out. Pieces of masonry, pediments and columns from an earlier age are stuck in the walls like fragments of old teeth.

But it seems deserted. No loud talk, music or raucous laughter when you walk past. No girls about either. There should be a gang of them outside, offering up their tits like apples on a tray.

Some shrivelled. Some just ripening.

‘Will we be long here, Maestro?’

‘Silence. Wait here. Stay outside. Talk to nobody.’

‘Of course, Maestro,’ Gregorio murmurs, holding the mare still.

‘And tell nobody where we have been today. Do as you’re told or fear the consequences, boy! Unless you fancy a spell in the cage, eh?’

Gregorio’s boyish features drop in fear. He swallows quickly.

‘No, Maestro.’

‘Clinging on. Swinging about up there. The wind freezing your blood to ice?’

‘No, Maestro.’ The groom shivers at the thought. He wouldn’t be the first to be condemned to a public death in the cage.

‘Then keep it shut, like this.’ Mantegna bunches his fist together and pushes it against his groom’s mouth.

Gregorio flinches. ‘Yes, Maestro.’ Not daring to look round, he strokes the mare’s velvet muzzle. He waits until the door creaks open and Mantegna enters.

‘Bastardo!’ he hisses. The mare pulls back against the reins, her eyes fearful. She stamps a nervous hoof into the red dust. ‘Not you,’ Gregorio murmurs, gently pulling on her silky ear. ‘No, not you, little lady.’ She blows grassy breath into his palm. He dares a quick glance over his shoulder. ‘Him.’

Mantegna pushes on the massive studded doors and slips inside. Five minutes later he is still standing in the arcaded courtyard. Normally he would have stormed off, but he has to stay. Money is tight. He looks down in the direction of an odd shrill noise that seems to be coming from below the filthy floor.

He wipes his damp palms down his sides. ‘Where’s Dati?’ The servant who finally ambles up is a stocky Neapolitan, a shifty-looking peasant who understands none of the Mantovan dialect. The man motions him to wait.

Mantegna’s face has set hard by the time Giacobbe Dati makes his way quickly down the stairs.

The man’s eyes tighten at the artist’s nondescript clothes. No courtly manners. No idea how to dress, no senza vergogna at all. ‘No velvets today, Maestro? How wise.’ He sounds out of breath. ‘Or perhaps necessity.’ Mantegna gives him an uneasy glance. It’s as if his thoughts are being read. Ludovico Gonzaga has already reprimanded him over his lavish ways and the scarlet velvet jerkin had probably been one ostentation too far. Scarlet. The colour of cardinals and emperors. But he had looked magnificent. He remembers the gasp when he swaggered into court. His glance drops down to his worn tabarro. The jerkin was pawned months ago. He looks round warily.

‘Where can we talk?’ He wants this over as soon as possible.

‘This way.’ Dati leads him into a room off the hallway. Mantegna’s nose wrinkles. Mildew and something else. It smells more like a stable than a home.

‘These are just my business premises, Maestro,’ Dati puts in quickly, before he pulls two battered chairs together. ‘I entertain here only rarely. So I am unable to offer you vin santo or almond biscuits.’ Mantegna looks up at Dati’s lean intelligent face. The man is more polished than he thought, but he is known to be a wily merchant. Shake his hand then count your fingers, that’s what he’s heard. ‘My home is more richly appointed. In fact, I was thinking I might commission you to paint an antique frieze for me.’

‘Ha!’ Mantegna tilts back his head with a terse laugh. ‘You’re all the same, you traders. A classical fresco and a bust of Dante and you think you’ll turn into a nobleman.’ His glance is withering. ‘You couldn’t afford me.’

‘Really? So you’re doing well?’ Dati smiles politely. ‘The Gonzagas are paying you promptly each month? That’s a first.’ Dati examines a long thumb nail that is curved like a claw. ‘I heard you’ve been taking on private commissions.’ One eyebrow rises. ‘Commissions that the Gonzagas know nothing about.’

Mantegna’s brow furrows. ‘Well, you heard wrong. I might be short of ready money at the moment, but I’ll have you know Ludovico Gonzaga is talking of offering me a very large commission. Two major frescos in the Palazzo Ducale, one of the whole family and all their courtiers.’ Mantegna flings open both arms. ‘And another entire wall to celebrate, God willing, his son being made a cardinal.’

Dati inclines his head, his face ironed of all expression. ‘I know. And as you are known to be so very painstaking, Maestro, it will be many years before such enormous frescos will be finished and you get your final payment. And if it’s true that you have already mortgaged some of your future earnings against these great works, then your financial position must be a little... difficult.’ He gives a sympathetic nod. ‘The Gonzagas are known to be as tight as a tick’s arse, are they not? Never part with a sessino until they have to. And I’ve heard of your debts too.’ He shrugs. ‘You know how these things get bandied about in the piazza.’

Mantegna scowls. He stands and takes two half-hearted paces towards the door. Dati must run an army of spies. ‘I didn’t come here to listen to this, Dati! I came here with a business proposition, not be spoken to in such a way,’ he fumes.

‘Sorry. I was only repeating what I had heard. I have no wish to give offence to a man so highly esteemed.’ The chair creaks as he leans back. ‘So, what can I do for you?’

‘I have a friend’ – Dati turns away to hide the wry downturn to his lips – ‘and this friend of mine has a wife who is pregnant. He already has many daughters to feed and clothe.’ He returns to the chair and sits forwards. ‘This friend is a cultured man, you understand, who has no wish to give the child away, but if this child were to be a girl-child... then... But only to an excellent home. He might allow the child to be brought up as a servant, but not a slave. In no circumstances can the child be poorly treated.’

‘I see. These days are getting difficult. The church imposes more moral strictures every day and the ecclesiastical courts are hounding any poor man whose mistress...’

‘I said nothing about a mistress.’ Mantegna turns sharply. ‘All I said was, he’s a respectable man who merely needs to do the right thing and secure the child’s future.’

‘So sorry, Maestro. My mistake.’

‘So could you find her a home? My friend will accept less money if the family will be kind.’ He looks across. ‘What’s so funny?’

‘Nothing. Done a lot of business, have you, Maestro?’

‘Of course not. I’m an artist not a damned tradesman.’ He sits up proudly in the chair. ‘Why do you ask?’

‘Nothing. No reason at all.’ Dati’s voice soothes like a stroke.

‘Will the child be pretty?’

Mantegna sits very still. ‘She will be.’

‘Handsome parents?’ Mantegna’s nod is awkward. ‘In fact I might have just the family who would take her, in the event...a patrician family who have recently lost a daughter. The wife is fading fast and the husband wants to help her recover, so he is looking for a child to adopt.’ Mantegna’s eyes widen. ‘A patrician? And he would adopt a girl?’ ‘Strange, I know, when there are plenty of beggar families who’ll give a sturdy son away for practically nothing, but the wife is pining for her little girl.’

‘Speaking of money...’

‘Well, they won’t pay much. But as you yourself said earlier, your friend will accept less money if the family will treat her well. This family will do a lot more than that. They’ll bring her up as their own.’

‘I see.’ Mantegna looks nonplussed.

‘I’ll make enquiries for you, shall I?’

‘Yes. When will they want her?’

Dati steeples his fingers together. ‘Give the child at least two years. Let’s see how healthy she is by then. If she is robust, the I can arrange everything.’

‘How much can my friend expect, Dati? I must be able to tell him.’

‘First of all, I need to negotiate on your behalf. These things take time.’

‘Who are they? This family?’

Dati shakes his head with a reluctant smile. ‘I’ll never be able to disclose that. In my business discretion is everything. That is why you have come to me today, is it not?’ He stands and motions Mantegna to follow him out. ‘You can trust me. Many men like your friend do.’

Dati waits behind a moth-eaten curtain until Mantegna and the groom leave in a cloud of dust. The big Neapolitan is at his side immediately with a lantern in his hand. When the cellar door opens the stench of raw urine hits the backs of their throats.

Dati holds his cloak to his mouth. The murmur of noise stops immediately as they climb down the uneven wooden staircase into the damp straw that lines the floor. A parabola of red light swings out from the lantern, glinting on several pairs of eyes that stare back at them from the shadows, before the whimpering begins. Dati grabs a tiny arm and drags its owner across the rustling straw. ‘Come, there’s work to be done.’

Book Soulmates

Well from I first started reviewing

Get your own free Blogoversary button!

More Competitions available at

Blog Archive