Tuesday 30 April 2019

The Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin

The Lives Before UsThe Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2.5 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Black & White Publishing

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A beautifully written, sweeping story of survival, community and love ...

It it April 1939, and, in Berlin and Vienna, Esther and Kitty face a brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.

Shanghai … They’ve heard it whispered that Shanghai might offer refuge. And so, on a crowded ocean liner, these women encounter each other for the first time.

Kitty has been lured to the other side of the world with promises of luxury, love and marriage. But when her Russian fiancĂ© reveals his hand, she’s left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai’s nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her daughter shelter in a house of widows until Aaron, a hot-headed former lover, brings fresh hope of survival.

Then, as the Japanese army enters the fray and violence mounts, the women are thrown together in Shanghai’s most desperate times. Together they must fight a future for the lives that will follow theirs.

My Review

Esther and Kitty, two very different girls but both escaping Europe to Shanghai to evade the war. Kitty is running to a new life, a fiance, money, a new home, perfect. Esther has her wee girl, leaving to the unknown but willing to work. On the ship over the ladies meet and forge a connection, a friendship before parting to what awaits them. Things aren't quite as they planned, circumstances change, war rages and as the Japanese soldiers invade their small part of the world we experience the war and injustices through the ladies eyes.

I have to admit my ignorance, I don't know a whole lot about the wars and the history of the world but Shanghai was never an area I read or heard of during these times, World War two in this book. The imagery created by Conlin, in some of the darkest parts you could taste the poverty/filth/deprivation and feel the stark reality and darkness faced by these characters. Emotive is a word I find using more and more when reading these kind of books but in parts of this it evoked raw emotion. The horror these people faced, survived, endured and those who didn't, your breath catches, holds and strains as you inhale word after word rooting for it to go good.

So so many themes in this book but for me the biggest were humanity, relationships and the shape of who we are, how tough humans can be and more importantly just how quick things can turn and change. The strength of humans, the goodness and some of the most horrific aspects especially the antisemitism it really made the hairs of the back of my neck stand and my gorge rise. This was my first dance with this author, it won't be my last, she has a way of pulling the reader right into the settings, location and lives of the characters, 4/5 for me this time.

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Friday 26 April 2019

Dark Sky Island by Lara Dearman Blog Tour

Today is my stop and closing the blog tour for Dark Sky Island by Lara Dearman, if you haven't checked out the other stops please do as we all offer different content.

Dark Sky Island (Jennifer Dorey Mystery #2)Dark Sky Island by Lara Dearman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days

Pages - 304

Publisher - Orion

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

An inspector and journalist join forces to uncover long-buried secrets, simmering resentments, and a chilling murder in a tiny, remote island in the English Channel.

The tiny island of Sark lies isolated in the dark waters of the Channel Islands. No cars are allowed. No streetlamps light its paths. It is the world’s only Dark Sky Island. This breathtaking patch of land seems the picture of tranquility—but at its heart lies a web of murder, deceit, and hidden danger.

When bones are discovered on Derrible Bay and an elderly resident is violently murdered, DCI Michael Gilbert from the nearby island of Guernsey is called in to tackle the case. With his department under fire, he needs to find the killer—and fast. Joining him is newspaper reporter Jennifer Dorey, whose father died in a mysterious drowning off the island. As Michael struggles to crack the case and Jennifer launches her own investigation, the island’s residents are left reeling and soon, their dark secrets begin to unravel threatening everything.

On an island steeped in superstition, where tales of hauntings and devil craft abound, Michael and Jenny race to discover the truth in Dark Sky Island, the second tantalizing installment of Lara Dearman’s Jennifer Dorey mysteries.

My Review

Jennifer Dorey is a journalist who has a recent run of being on the other side of the story. Now she is heading back to the island, Sark, to cover a story - the discovery of bones in a cave. Really she is going back for personal reasons, the death of her father, Jenny has never believed it was an accident and now she has a reason for being back and doing a bit of digging. When an islander is brutally murdered Jenny will find she has maybe bitten off a bit more than she can chew as she finds the some things should remain in the past.

This story has a whole host of things going on, small island doesn't want outsiders, one of their own is murdered, unresolved family issues, secrets, lies, death looming around the corner. The reader goes on the journey with Jenny, slowly unravelling the secrets of the island and uncovering bigger issues.

The setting for the story, the authors creative flow, you can visualize it with ease and I so want to go visit, excluding all the issues and bad stuff obviously. There is a lot of history with this book and despite this being my first dance with this author and this being book two, I don't think I missed anything by starting with this one. I will be checking out the first story as I would like more history on the main character but got into the rhythm of this one no bother. It goes at a good pace and has a few layers to the story, atmospheric and keeps the reader on their toes as you may think you have it figured only to have another curve ball chucked at you. Enjoyed reading this author and will be looking out for their other offerings, 4/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday 24 April 2019

Perfect Crime by Helen Fields Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for "Perfect Crime" by Helen Fields. As you can see there are a lot of us on the tour, please check out the other blog stops, we all offer different content.

For my stop on the tour I have my review.

Perfect Crime (A DI Callanach Thriller #5)Perfect Crime by Helen Sarah Fields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Avon Books

Source - Arc

Blurb from Goodreads

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

My Review

This is book five in the Callanach and Turner crime/police detective series, if you haven't read the previous book I suggest you do first. You could get away with reading this as a standalone but you have missed so much of the history I think you would enjoy it more if you knew the back stories.

So this book features suicide themes and some very brutal and graphic murders. Callanach and Turner are investigating what initially looks like suicide(s), as the body count rises they have to consider they have a soulless killer in Edinburgh who is escalating in brutality with every kill. The investigation is on and as with the previous books we also get the personal life of the detectives. Callanach has his own personal investigation ongoing which brings his career and home life together in a way that will threaten everything he has worked so hard on.

I think fans of the series will be delighted we are getting some light shed on somethings left over from the previous books. Emotive, gorey, provocative, murder, suicide, police procedural, friendship, relationship, secrets and that is just some of what this book packs in. I am a Fields fan, this is a page turner and I cannot wait to see what is in store next for the characters. 4.5/5 for me this time, roll on the next.

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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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Monday 15 April 2019

Second Lives by P D Cacek Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Second Lives, if you haven't checked the other stops please do as we all offer different content.

Can we just take a minute to appreciate the book cover, it got quite a lot of comments when I posted it so my social media channels, rightly so!

For My Stop on the tour I have my review, non spoiler of course, enjoy!

Second LivesSecond Lives by P.D. Cacek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days (as and when I could)

Pages - 256

Publisher - Flame Tree Press

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from the back cover

A frightened little boy killed in 1956 cries out for his mother from the body of an eighty-one year old Alzheimer's patient. The soul of a spinster killed in a Suffragette rally wakes in the body of a new mother. An Orthodox Jew, murdered in 1922, opens the eyes of a man who just committed suicide and a teenage girl wakes to discover she's now in the body of a forty-five year old woman.

They are completely alone, displaced in bodies that are not their own, and terrified. All must find immense bravery within themselves to transition into their new lives.

My Review

The tagline (and cover) grabbed me on this one, I have read before reincarnation books but this is something different. Each chapter the character's name and timeline is at the top, we then meet the characters, those in their original time period, the lead up to their deaths and those who "die" and are re inhabited. By the time you meet all the characters you are about half way through so I wasn't sure where the book was going to go?

The author, in my opinion, has created a fresh new and frightening story, not in a horror sense but more of a OMG what if, can you imagine and what would you do, humanity rocked. Your loved one dies and then comes back, you are ecstatic but the person who has come back isn't your loved one but someone who has lived previously and now inhabits your loved ones body, can you imagine!

Cacek comes at the story in many angles, the hospital/medical professionals, the people who are replaced? (I don't know what word best applies to the phenomena, travelers?), the travelers themselves and the loved ones dealing with these new people in their loved ones bodies. It looks at humanity, how ordinary people deal with having this emotional trauma flung onto them and those who have been dead and now alive again albeit in different bodies, readjusting, adapting.

The timeline shift for the characters is really interesting, imagine living in the early 1900's - women fighting for basic rights to then being flung into modern day living. Indoor plumbing, flesh on show, speaking when you want rather than when society dictates when a woman should (this is relevant to one character only). Religious beliefs, coming back into the body of someone living a life at odds with your beliefs, a child into an elderly gentleman's body who has Alzheimer's, a teen into an older woman's body with physical limitations. The book doesn't explore these themes in huge depth as it is more about the individuals but it does get the reader thinking, what if? How would you cope? As the traveler, as the family?

Whilst the story itself and characters are fascinating I think the book prompts a lot of in depth thought and musing from the reader, you can't help but imagine being in that position as you read the scenes. How would you react? I didn't want to put it down to see how each situation would play out. A bit of an emotive read at parts as death, grief, suicide, murder, acceptance and loss are huge themes integral to the story. When you have so many characters and time jumps you can easily be put off in books or find it hard going, Cacek does it effortlessly and I had no problems following it, I thought it was really well done. My only complaint would have been to have more! I would have loved the book to go on and sure they say an author is doing their job if they leave the reader wanting more (not hanging, I hate that). 4/5 for me this time, this is my first dance with this author, not sure what their other books are like but I plan to check them out for sure!

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Tuesday 9 April 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

The PassengersThe Passengers by John Marrs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Ebury Digital

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife - and parents of two - who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

My Review

A jury, carefully selected with a government official and members of the public having to take their turn to "vote" on who is at fault in car accident. Set in the not to distance future we have level five cars, they control everything and the driver can just relax, as a passenger. When one of the meetings is interrupted by a hacker who has taken control of eight of these cars and advising in two and a half hours they will die. Tempers flare, emotions are high, the public will get a say in the votes, eight seemingly innocent people's lives hang by a madman's decision, who will survive.

So we hear a wee bit about the passengers, the government official is warned there will be consequences for failure to comply. The public and watching and voting, the poor people are trapped in their cars and chapter after chapter the tension is building. Just when you think you have it sussed where the book is gone the author flings a curve ball, you know nothing, only what the hacker chooses.

Corruption, lack of morality, trial by public, life and death, lies, destruction, love and absolute anarchy. The tension builds up quickly and keeps you hooked, you just want to see what is coming next, who will be next, will anyone survive. The book also lets you look at the darker side of humanity, yes it is a fiction book but go onto almost any social media and look at the comments. You could easily see this being a reality and I think that is what is scary about this book, the potential. We see how dark humans can go, how fast technology is developing and how much humans rely on it, but when it goes wrong.....fantastic read. This wasn't my first by Marrs and it won't be my last 4/5 for me this time.

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Monday 8 April 2019

Blood Shadows by Lindsay J Pryor

Blood Shadows (Blackthorn, #1)Blood Shadows by Lindsay J. Pryor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 380

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Netgalley

Blurb From Goodreads

For vengeance - would you trust a vampire?

For justice - could you betray your family?

For love - are you ready to question everything you believe in?

Gifted with the ability to read the shadows of ‘third species’ beings, Caitlin Parish is the Vampire Control Unit’s most powerful agent. Despite that, her mission to hunt down Kane Malloy – a master vampire – comes with a death wish. Many have tried, but few have survived.

For Caitlin, tracking Kane is about more than just professional reputation. With her parents both mysteriously killed 7 years apart to the day, Caitlin knows that without Kane’s help she is next.

She has four days to make a deal with the wicked, the irresistible, the treacherous Kane Malloy. The vampire who despises everything she stands for.

Or die.

My Review

This is the first in a series, meet Caitlin, working in an agency that ties to keep the peace between humans and supernaturals. At the moment the lycanthropes (werewolves) aren't the issue it is the vampires, the Master vampire Kane Malloy. The Vampire Control unit have been after him for a long long time, many have went after him and died. Kane is brutal and his reputation proceeds him, Caitlin has studied him for years and is now going after him. It isn't just work for Caitlin, it is personal, both her parent's died horrifically and the thing that killed them will be coming for her, time is running out but Kane might just be the one to help/save her.

I really liked the investigation elemtns of this one, humans trying to keep things just right with vampires, lyncathropes and other supernatural entities around. Kane is stunning and Caitlin isn't just going to have to keep her head straight to stay alive whilst she refuses to admit there is an attraction but there is and Kane feels it too. He is a womaiser and females flock to him but Caitlin won't be another notch in his post. She does need to get close to him, whilst juggling an inner battle, to keep her wits and ultimately get Kane to do what she needs.

There is A LOT of sex in this book which isn't an issue but some of it graphic so a headups for those who aren't a fan of that, quite a lot of the vamp books have this inter species attraction/sexual element. I did have a bit of an issue though with her being this strong girl but swooning although fighting it but body betraying her as a reoccurring theme. To be fair even the old Dracula movies, pre sex scene stuff, the humans would go into a trance so it keeps in line with that but the agent and her past I suppose I expected/wanted more from her. I did like getting to know more about Kane, the unit itself and what it tries to do. It isn't often, be it a book or movie we get to see officials interrogating a vampire and who doesn't like originality in a book, especially as we have so many books with vampires.

A good story, somewhat different in parts, sex, lies, family, monsters, curses, law enforcement and that is just for starters. There are more books in the series that I will be checking out, a good foundation book I think to kick it all off, 3/5 for me this time. This was my first time reading this author but it won't be my last as I do want to see where the books go next.

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Sunday 7 April 2019

My Sister's Lies by S D Robertson Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for "My Sister's Lies" by S D Robertson, please check out the other stops on the tour as we all offer different content.

My Sister’s LiesMy Sister’s Lies by S.D. Robertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 368

Publisher - Avon

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

For a decade, Hannah’s life has been pretty close to perfect – she has a great job, she’s married to Mark, and her child-free existence means she’s free as a bird. The only sadness in her life is a fall-out with her sister Diane, who hasn’t spoken to her in over ten years. But now Diane is on her doorstep – and this time, she’s got her teenage daughter Mia in tow.

When Diane asks if Mia can stay with Hannah and Mark for a few days, Hannah is glad of the chance to get to know her niece. But as the days turn into weeks and Diane doesn’t return, Hannah begins to worry. Why hasn’t her sister been in touch?

Diane is carrying a devastating secret that will destroy Hannah’s carefully constructed life. But how much is she willing to reveal – and when will she pick her moment?

An emotional story that delves into the true meaning of family, sisterhood and secrets. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher and Adele Parks.

My Review

The book opens with a suicide so just a heads up as I know this can be a particularly upsetting theme for some people. We don't know who and immediately flip to twelve days earlier, to Hannah our main character. Hannah has finally achieved her goal, has a happy marriage to Mark, no children and happy with her lot. She hasn't heard from her twin sister, Diane, in a long time after a horrendous fight. When Diane shows up on Hannah's door with her daughter Mia she can't turn them away but can she trust her sister and let go of the past?

The reader isn't privy to what caused the rift, nor what has drawn Diane to come into her sister's life, she is cagey about the details and wants to leave Mia for a few days to address the trouble in her life. When days pass and Diane still hasn't returned Hannah's husband Mark tries to get some answers but Diane has secrets that will impact on all of their lives, are they ready for it?

Oh guys, depending on your own sibling/family situation will impact on how this story affects you. I haven't spoken to my sister just a bit longer than Hannah and Diane had radio silence so I appreciate how something like that can affect you. As the story unfolds and we learn more about the characters I was so angry on behalf of some of them, what a manipulative horrible human being. All their lives the siblings, twins no less, had such different experiences of growing up, Diane the wild child, mocking sensitive quiet Hannah. Diane having the one thing Hannah so desperately wanted, letting her bond and have a relationship only to sever it. Their experiences with their parents, one seemingly favoured, one never pulling their weight.

With Hannah being the main character we get a much better grasp of how the family dynamics affected her, their past and her emotional state through her therapist visits (dottered throughout the book). Diane we learn of mostly through the eyes of Hannah so yes it may be a bit more biased but still! Once you absorb the whole story you feel you just got off a an emotional roller coaster, the book examines many themes and in doing so pokes at the reader, evoking personal (in my case for sure) memories and feelings.

I read Robertson's debut novel and it is evident the authors writing has gone strength to strength, taking hard hitting themes and weaving them into stories/characters readers can relate to. 4/5 for me this time, I will be buying more of this author and keeping an eye out for their future work.

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Friday 5 April 2019

The Edge by Jessie Keane

The Edge: An Electrifying Gangland Thriller From the Top Ten Bestseller (Ruby Darke Book 3)The Edge: An Electrifying Gangland Thriller From the Top Ten Bestseller by Jessie Keane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 461

Publisher - Macmillan

Source - Gift

Blurb from Goodreads

The unstoppable Ruby Darke returns as old enemies threaten her family in The Edge, a gripping gangland thriller from top ten bestselling author Jessie Keane.

With a mind sharper than a razor blade it was only a matter of time before Ruby Darke fought her way to the top. From humble beginnings she became the queen of London’s retail, but she didn’t get there by obeying the law.

Now with her son Kit and daughter Daisy finally by her side she’s ready to start a new chapter in her life, but, unknown to all of them, enemies are circling.

There aren’t many who threaten Ruby Darke and live to tell the tale. But this time, she may just have met her match.

If you live on the edge, you may just die on it . . .

My Review

Ruby Darke and her son Kit have their finger in many pies, on the wrong side of the law, protection money, folk running for them, business is good. When someone targets their patch, their business and then takes a shot at them the family have to pull together to figure out who is after them. In between that the police are breathing down their necks, they want to solve the crimes too and if they can take down the family whilst at it, all the better.

So this is book three in a trilogy and I would advice reading the previous however I read book two five years ago, don't remember too much at all and got on fine with this. The action kicks off quickly and goes from there. Ruby has an old flame who is being fingered for the trouble and could there be a spark still there? Juggling her business and family life Ruby is being pulled in all directions and the threat of harm is hanging over them. It is, as is Keane's usual, pacey, gritty, crime/gangland style although a big focus on the family side of it. We also have a hired gun on the loose so jump between the family and the killer.

If you like Keane's previous books you will enjoy this. Questionable behaviour, death, murder, family, love, lies and deceit. 3.5/5 for me this time, read Keane before and will read her again.

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Thursday 4 April 2019

When Winter Comes by V A Shannon Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for When Winter Comes by V A Shannon, if you haven't checked out the previous stops please do as we all have different content and it is a cracking book.

When Winter ComesWhen Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over two days

Pages - 304

Publisher - Kensington Fiction

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival.

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend.

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . .

My Review

1859 we open with Mrs Klein, married, mother, living in California and living a very comfortable life. It is Christmas Eve and Mrs Klein has been given a journal, in this journal she will travel back to her teenage years and the journey away from her family on a journey that will change her life forever.

Mrs Klein is a made up character, this is a historical fiction book, by creating this character the author allows us to follow the Donner Party with an intimate insider look at the ill fated journey. We flip between the harrowing journey, the trials and tribulations, stripping of social classes, the suffering and darker sides of humanity.

The Donner party and that journey is apparently very well known and documented from history yet I had never heard of it, to be fair my history knowledge is pretty shocking. I also don't read a lot of historical fiction but this book, the writing has certainly sparked an interest in this genre and to look at the factual recordings what happened to the Donner party.

Mrs Klein, in the "present day" gives the reader an insight into her life now, worlds apart from what she came from and that her husband has no idea of who she was. The book's central focus is on then, what lead to her running away, the journey and then the meeting of her husband and back to present day.

The journey is pretty horrific, there is a lot of animal death and suffering. There is a callous attitude toward the hired hands and those deemed of a lower class. As the journey progresses, the suffering and lack of food things become so bad and the levels of depravity, selfishness and self preservation of some characters is hard to fathom. However we know from previous documented history that humans can and will do what they feel they need to to survive, even modern day human life is so little valued by some if it means they can get something they need or want.

The writing is so well done, in some scenes, you can visualize exactly what is happening and absorb fully into the book. It has certainly made me want to check out more books like this! This is my first time reading this author, it won't be my last, 4/5 for me this time, not for the faint hearted though guys!

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Turner by Jonathan De Montfort

Today is my stop on the blog tour for "Turner" by Jonathan De Montfort, this is a #LoveBooksGroupTour.

About the Book

One Family. Two Brothers. One Big Decision. “We Are the Light Join Us”. Turner is a rich, dark, layered text that slowly draws you in before taking you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions in a story about what it means to be human, pure love and the sacrifices people make to preserve those things. Hero, a young boy joining a new school, discovers he has a unique ability. One he finds that he shares with his mysterious, enigmatic older brother James. Upon this realisation, the brothers’ bond is cemented as they embark on a complex emotional journey together, honing their skills and developing their understanding of what this new found ability can bring for them both. However, upon his eighteenth birthday, Hero learns that with his new ability comes a choice and whenever he makes a decision there are serious consequences. The story contrasts the parallel lives of the brothers as Hero decides to “Join the Light” whilst James takes an entirely different path and disappears . . . Will they ever be reunited?

The book is available in paperback, hardback and ebook, to get from Amazon - click HERE

About the author

Jonathan de Montfort may not have had a conventional route into being an author, but his first novel “Turner” demonstrates his passion and commitment to the craft of writing, having taken four and a half years to write it! He already has ideas for a series of “Turner” novels and is committed to writing a new novel by 2020.

Starting his professional life trading the US500, he went on to work as a hedge fund manager. His experience in this area was the inspiration for a more innovative route into publishing and the birth of De Montfort Literature in 2018. Offering a new alternative route to the traditional agents and publishers, publishing has entered a new era. De Montfort Literature is a division of De Montfort Capital, a successful hedge fund with a passion for literature.

Recognising there is a dearth of good, new novelists, they decided to take what we know about hedge fund management and apply it to literature and the creation of a new generation of best-selling novelists. Turner is the first book to be released from DML, an engaging and challenging novel of love and sibling rivalry that is guaranteed to provoke both interest and outrage.

You can find Jonathan on Twitter

For my stop I have a wee content spot, enjoy.

Hero looked up at the digital clock in the centre of the trading floor: 6:15. The perfect time to stop. Just enough time to get to the gym and change. Sam had left some time earlier, saying he needed to warm up to have any chance at all, but the floor had become eerily quiet. He collected his kit bag and made his way towards the elevators. There was no one in the lobby, either.

Where the hell is everybody?

The sound of the lift doors sliding open reverberated, startling him. His skin bristled at the sight of the empty cabin. What the hell was going on? The lifts were normally bursting at the seams at this time of day. The soles of his shoes echoed on the floor with each step as he stepped into the lift and pressed B. The gears whirred into life, the motor emitting a constant hum as he descended.

He went to shift his kit to the other hand, but it wasn’t there. I could’ve sworn I picked it up. He looked down by his feet. It wasn’t there.

And then he smiled forlornly at what he saw instead. Of course. His suit had turned white. In his hand was a razor-sharp sword. They always come for you when you’re alone. His stomach imploded as the whirring gears were replaced by a low-pitched murmur of a thousand voices.

Brace yourself, bruv.

The walls of the lift seemed to be mirrors facing each other, disappearing backwards into an infinite fractal darkness. His heart accelerated as the darkness enveloped him, dragging him through the back wall of the lift.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Q&A with the fabulous Alex Kane

Happy April you guys, so sorry this is my first post, been working and trying to catch up on blog stuff all day!

Welcome Alex Kane to the blog, Alex has very kindly taken some time out to answer some questions and chat about her new book "No Looking Back" previously released as "Chasing the Traveller".

Tell us about your journey so far as an author

It has been brilliant. I have been writing for around ten years now and have written a few books under my own name, Emma Clapperton. I dabbled in self-publishing for a few years and it worked well for me, however I really wanted to have the backing of a publisher so I continued submitting and found a home for my supernatural thrillers. As time went on, I wanted to try something a bit different so I went on to write a standalone back in 2016, which was signed under a big Scottish publisher, but sadly the company went into liquidation so I self-published Chasing the Traveller, which has now been re-edited and released by Hera Books as NO LOOKING BACK.

Lets talk about the new book, what is it about?

Kat Denton has been in a loveless, abusive marriage with Jimmy and decides it’s time to leave. She escapes with her sister in law, Ellie and then discovers she is pregnant. The women go on a journey of recovery and although they are rebuilding their lives, both fear that they will always be looking over their shoulders. Kat’s journey however, leads her to discover more than she could have imagined and the horror which she faces leads her back to the very man she fled from.

What inspired this story?

I wanted to write about strong women and give women a voice within the scenario I have written about. Coercive control within a relationship is being highlighted all over the place right now and I wanted to highlight it within my writing. Women (and men) in these types of relationships can suffer in silence for years, where even the people closest to them don’t know what is happening to them. I also wanted to set the book somewhere unusual and I have always found the travelling community highly interesting.

What research did you have to do for the book?

I used to work with a girl who lived within the travelling community and she was on hand for any questions I had and helped to make it as authentic as possible. I also researched women’s refuges, help for people in relationships of domestic abuse and tried to be as sensitive as I could for anyone reading the book who has been in similar circumstances. I was also careful to highlight that the travelling community does not mean all relationships are typically negative.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the edits for my next Hera Books title, WHAT SHE DID. Hera will release information on that in due course…

Will you be touring, doing any shop or online chats?

I am on all social media platforms and am always posting as well as joining in with other bookish chat. I don’t have any tours planned as such, other than the blog tour for the release. However I am happy to chat to anyone who has any questions at any time.

Do you have any quirks, must do's, writing rituals?

I do always have to have a fresh cuppa next to my laptop when I am writing. I do have a bad habit of typing a few hundred words then accidently finding myself on Facebook or Instagram. I also like to listen to certain types of music when writing particular scenes to help me to set the scene in my head.

What advise would you give to fellow authors or anyone wanting to write a book?

When you have an idea in your head, run with it. Plan if you’re a planner or just write if you’re not. And don’t give up.

Where can fans find you?

Facebook @alexkanewriter
Instagram @alexkanewriter
Twitter @AlexKaneWriter

Anything you would like to answer I haven't asked?

Apart from books, I am obsessed with skull ornaments and art, so if anyone has any chat regarding the human head, I’m all ears

And if that isn't enough to spoil you guys I am doing a giveaway of x1 ebook copy of "No Looking Back" - to be eligible to win you must have an Amazon UK account as I can't gift outside my own country, sorry loveys. As always just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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