#Blogtour Stasi Winter by David Young @djy_writer @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #StasiWinter

 

Stasi Winter by David Young  Zaffre  January 9th 2020

IN EAST GERMANY, 1978, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS.
The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the ‘truth’ is whatever the Stasi say it is.

So when the murder of a woman is officially labelled an ‘accidental death’, Major Karen Müller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma.

To solve the crime, she must defy the official version of events. But defy the Stasi means putting her own life – and the lives of her young family – in danger.

As the worst winter in history holds Germany in its freeze, Müller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between the truth and a lie, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.

My Review

Stasi Winter was a novel with a winter like no other, it was cold, in fact it was Arctic. Young’s brilliant descriptions of an East Germany swathed in an arctic chill, its sea frozen solid had you shivering as you read.

It formed such a wonderful backdrop to his story, as the elements conspired against his characters, and added an extra dimension to what was already a drama filled novel.

The characters, detectives Muller and Tilsner were new to me, as I was typically late to Young’s Stasi series, yet it didn’t make a difference. Hints of their backstory were littered throughout and I soon had a good idea of what made them tick.

Muller, the leader was quite fearless for a woman in such a controlled state as East Germany. You felt she had to be twice as good as the men around her to have got to the high rank of Major, yet she lost none of her femininity, motherhood always a priority, the force which pushed her and her commitment to the powers that be to safeguard her family.

But what of those not in authority, what about Young’s main protagonist Irma, pulled into the escape plans of her new love Dieter and his friends? Quite a mixed up young woman, again with a history in previous novels, but not something that hindered the reader.

I loved the way Young used her to question how far we would go for love, or was it infatuation that drove Irma to take such risks. The more she was drawn in, the more you sensed her regret, her trepidation and I admired her questioning nature, her sense of loyalty and willingness to try and do what was right. Young made you believe in this young woman, made you want her to have a happy ending and a life of freedom.

What you could not get away from was the tension that Young created, the fear that your every move was being watched, every conversation listened into. The constant fear that at any moment you could be dragged off to reform school to relearn the ways of the East German state. It gave the novel a claustrophobic feel, its characters forever on edge, never able to relax.

The notorious Stasi Police showed an organisation who would sacrifice anyone to save face and indeed protect their country as Young highlighted the power struggle between them and Muller.

In essence Stasi Winter was cold, chilling and brutal, it’s characters thrown to the mercy of the elements in a battle against crime and the east and the west. I loved it and shall be making sure I read the other novels in the series as well as hoping a new novel will not be long before it appears.

I would like to thank Zaffre for a copy of Stasi Winter by David Young to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

David Young was born near Hull and – after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree – studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and international radio and TV newsrooms. He now writes in his garden shed and in his spare time supports Hull City AFC. You can follow him on Twitter @djy_writer. Join David Young’s Readers’ Club for all the latest news from David on his books, events and giveaways: http://www.bit.ly/DavidYoungClub

Stasi Winter

#Blogtour The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell @Caroline_writes @AmazonPub @BOTBSPublicity #ThePerfectMother

 

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell   Amazon Publishing January 14th 2020

Roz is young, penniless and pregnant. All she wants is to be the perfect mother to her child, but the more she thinks about her own chaotic upbringing, the more certain she is that the best life for her baby is as far away as possible from her hometown in Ireland.

Determined to do the right thing, Roz joins an elite adoption service and can’t believe her luck. Within days she is jetting to New York to meet a celebrity power couple desperate for a child of their own. Sheridan and Daniel are wealthy and glamorous—everything Roz isn’t. Her baby will never go hungry, and will have every opportunity for the perfect life. But soon after Roz moves into their plush basement suite, she starts to suspect that something darker lurks beneath the glossy surface of their home.

When Roz discovers she isn’t the first person to move in with the couple, and that the previous woman has never been seen since, alarm bells start ringing. As the clock ticks down to her due date, Roz realises her unborn baby may be the only thing keeping her alive, and that despite her best intentions, she has walked them both into the perfect nightmare…

My Review

Fake, wealth and privilege can buy a lot, even a baby but I definitely would not have liked to be the provider of Hollywood power couple Sheridan and Daniels’s new baby.

They were the most selfish, self obsessed couple you would never want to meet. Sheridan was the epitome of mixed up evil, damaged by a childhood lived out in people’s living rooms. Anything she wanted Sheridan got, even if that came at a terrible cost to others. I found it hard to find any redeeming features, even as events unfolded and the truth unravelled, the hints of a softer side didn’t sway me.

Her husband Daniel was the one you wanted to like, the actor who exuded sex appeal, seemed softer, more caring, yet you sensed a darkness that would eventually emerge.

And what of Roz, the woman chosen to carry their longed for second child. No money, a fractured family background, pregnant from a one night stand. She was so very vulnerable, perfectly ripe for plucking out of her Ireland home to be swept off to the bright lights of New York and the promise of money and luxury.

Mitchell didn’t give her long to enjoy her good fortune before the true nature of her situation quickly emerged. She swept us along in a fast paced, ever moving narrative that explored jealousy, greed, power and influence in a social media dominated world.

You knew the only character you could trust was Roz, the others all out to protect themselves, agendas hidden until the very last moment. I couldn’t read fast enough, as I powered through, desperate to discover Roz’s fate. Would she survive her ordeal, would she discover the fate of the previous baby donor and would Sheridan and Daniel be the architects of their own downfall?

Oh how gloriously messy it was when Mitchell revealed all!

I would like to thank Amazon Publishing for a copy of The Perfect Mother to read and review and to Emma Welton of Books On The Bright Side for inviting My Booksih Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.

Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories. She is a USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author

#Blogtour Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks @MillsReid11

Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain   Quercus January 16th 2020

It’s June 2008 and twenty-one-year-old Adam Lattimer vanishes, presumed dead. The strain of his disappearance breaks his already fragile family.

Ten years later, with his mother deceased and siblings scattered across the globe, Adam turns up unannounced at the family home. His siblings return reluctantly to Spanish Cove, but Adam’s reappearance poses more questions than answers. The past is a tangled web of deceit.

And, as tension builds, it’s apparent somebody has planned murderous revenge for the events of ten years ago.

My Review

There’s nothing like a fractured family on which to base a novel and Jo Spain excelled, as she brought us six siblings, all spread far and wide, all with their own secrets.

The return of Adam, the son, the brother who vanished years ago and acted as the catalyst to bring them all back together at the family home in Ireland.

A family reunion that was like no other, a murder that brought out the best and the worst in their characters. Spain’s characterisations were the highlight of the novel, each sibling so different, their circumstances varied and diverse.

Clio, the youngest, Kate rich, self obsessed, James the has been TV producer, Ryan reformed drug addict, Ellen the supposedly dutiful daughter, and Adam the prodigal son.

I loved how Spain used each of their voices to tell the story, it gave us insight into their possible motives, the little pacts that formed between individual siblings. Spain left you with a feeling that there was something untold, that some knew more than they were saying, which only made the pages turn faster as the turmoil and tension became unbearable.

The before and after structure of the novel allowed to Spain to fill in the gaps, to give us the history of each of the siblings, and most importantly form an opinion on who you thought the possible culprit or culprits were. Their reactions to the unfolding drama were brilliantly captured as you found yourself drawn deeper into their intricate web of lies and deceit.

I had an incling as to who it might have been but Spain threw it all out of the window with the most wonderful twist, that at once made sense and also surprised.

Six Wicked Reasons was fascinating, intriguing and addictive and made me like Jo Spain just that little bit more!

I would like to thank Quercus for a copy of Six Wicked Reasons to read and review and to Milly Reid for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

 

Jo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European television projects. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

 

#Blogtour The Lady Of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson @joannahickson @HarperCollinsUK @annecater #RandonThingsTours #TheLadyOfTheRavens

 

The Lady of the Ravens (Queens of the Tower, Book 1) Hardcover by

The Lady of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson   Harper Collins January 9th 2020

Two women, two very different destinies, drawn together in the shadow of the Tower of London:

Elizabeth of York, her life already tainted by dishonour and tragedy, now queen to the first Tudor king, Henry the VII.

Joan Vaux, servant of the court, straining against marriage and motherhood and privy to the deepest and darkest secrets of her queen. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, as conspiracy whispers through the dark corridors of the Tower.

Through Joan’s eyes, The Lady of the Ravens inhabits the squalid streets of Tudor London, the imposing walls of its most fearsome fortress and the glamorous court of a kingdom in crisis.

My Review

Two women navigated the court of Henry VII, Elizabeth his young queen, Joan part of her entourage. It was a court Hickson vividly captured in her wonderfully written novel The Lady Of The Ravens.

I knew little of the reign of Henry VII but Hickson gave us all the colour and vibrancy of the feasts, the weddings but more importantly the intrigue and festering plots that surrounded it. Hickson portrayed a king who desperately tried to realign his kingdom after the war between the York’s and the Lancastrians, and I for one was fascinated.

What fascinated even more was the the life of women in the royal circle, Joan young, determined to serve her Queen, who rebuked marriage and children. She was a woman with intelligence who found relaxation in books rather than tapestry or music, who roamed the grounds of the Tower of London fascinated by the Ravens that lived there. Indeed the Ravens were a common theme throughout, as they acted as her talisman, her protection against the dangers that lurked. She was a woman who matured within the pages who opened her eyes to love, but whose loyalty to those around her remained steadfast, and resolute.

Elizabeth, the Queen, another strong woman, again loyal to those around her, stalwart to her King. You wondered how she dealt with the pressure, the need to produce a healthy heir, to withstand multiple pregnancies that could have ended in her own death.

It was the sacrifices these women made that stood out, their children left to the care of nannies and governesses as they carried out their duties.

Hickson’s narrative was full of the wonderful imagery of the royal palaces, their journeys on barges down the Thames and the majestic Tower Of London. You were instantly transported to 15th Century London, the acrid smells of the streets, and the myriad of people that frequented them.

The historical aspects were well researched and informative, the air filled with imminent danger, those deemed as traitors faced with the threat of death by beheading. It was definitely not a comfortable life for many, but that added to the underlying and simmering drama created by Hickson. There were hints at trying and perilous times ahead for Joan and her Queen and I cannot wait for the next instalment.

I would like to thank Harper Collins for a copy of The Lady Of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Joanna Hickson - image

Joanna Hickson was born in England but spent her early childhood in Australia, returning at thirteen to visit her first castle and fall in love with medieval history. During a twenty-five year career in the BBC, presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for TV and Radio, Joanna also published a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but now she is writing adult fiction full-time, indulging her passion for bringing the medieval past and its characters to life.

First inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays she began researching Catherine de Valois, Henry V’s ‘Fair Kate’, who is the subject of The Agincourt Bride and The Tudor Bride and now her interest has progressed into the Wars of the Roses which form the background to Red Rose White Rose and the eventful life of Cicely Neville, Duchess of York and will also feature in her next two novels. As a result Joanna warns that she spends much of her life in the fifteenth century and even her Wiltshire farmhouse home dates back to that period.

She is married and has an extensive family, some of which boomerang her back to Australia for visits! Twitter @joannahickson Facebook page: Joanna Hickson

#Blogtour The Home by Sarah Stovell @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheHome

The Home by Sarah Stovell  Orenda January 23rd 2020

When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For she lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and harrowing psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all…

My Review

Home is where the heart is or so they say. It’s where we go to feel safe and secure, but what if it wasn’t our happy place, what if it was a nightmare we longed to escape.

For Annie, Hope, and Lara home was that nightmare, one they escaped only to be plonked in a looked after home in the middle of the Lake District. From the outset Stovell left us in no doubt that The Home wasn’t going to be full of cosy social workers out to save’ three vulnerable girls. Instead in the voices of each of the three girls and head of the home Helen, she gave us characters damaged by life, and by those who were supposed to love and protect us.

Annie, was the only one who I felt had a future, one who sought refuge in education, had a greater intelligence, had more control. I loved her relationship with Hope, their shared troubles that led to love, one that Hope saw as their future, but saw Annie unwilling to compromise, unable to love at any cost.

And what of Hope, mature in some many ways, used and abused by the man she thought was protecting her, her mother, drugged up, incapable of functioning as a responsible adult. Your heart went out to Hope, her vulnerability, her clouded narrow vision of what love and family were, in the end her undoing.

Lara seemed the odd one out and I did wonder what her role would be. The silent girl, the one who watched, listened, who kept the secrets, who hovered in the background, ever present. She was Hope’s kindred spirit someone who wouldn’t answer back or question, someone she could save.

Stovell, flipped seamlessly from past to present, as she revealed the girl’s backgrounds. You could see how their thoughts, decisions and reasoning had been shaped by their trauma, the irresponsible actions of adults, their own adulthood and future scarred from the very beginning.

You questioned how they slipped through the net, the ineffectiveness of authorities put there to prevent such tragedies.

The bleakness of the Lakeland Fells added to the gloom that hung over them. The ruggedness of the landscape seemed somehow to match the ups and downs of their relationships, and the events that slowly engulfed them. They sought comfort in each other but were alone, lost in their own troubles, their own need to survive or to give in, to leave it all behind, to seek peaceful oblivion.

You would have thought their story would have been sufficient to fill the novel, but Stovell went one step further and gave us a crime novel too. How did a young pregnant fifteen year old end up murdered? Who was responsible and why?

The unravelling made for compulsive reading, the culprit already earmarked, the reader lulled into a false sense of security as they waited for the big reveal. You got to the last few pages and suddenly Stovell threw in the curve ball, your theories blown out the window, yet it left you feeling a huge sense of satisfaction that maybe things had worked out for the best. Why? Well you will just have to read The Home to discover why.

You will not be disappointed.

I would like to thank Karen at Orenda for a copy of The Hone to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting MyBookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

#Blogtour The Followers by Megan Angelo @meganangelo @HarperCollinsUK @joe_thomas25 #TheFollowers

Followers Paperback by

The Followers by Megan Angelo   HQ January 9th 2020

When everyone is watching you can run, but you can’t hide…

2051. Marlow and her mother, Floss, have been handpicked to live their lives on camera, in the closed community of Constellation.

Unlike her mother, who adores the spotlight, Marlow hates having her every move judged by a national audience.

But she isn’t brave enough to escape until she discovers a shattering secret about her birth.

Now she must unravel the truth around her own history in a terrifying race against time…

An explosive and unsettling novel set in the near-future, perfect for fans of Station Eleven, Black Mirror, The Circle and Friend Request.

My Review

We all dabble in social media, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but what if you took that dabbling to the extreme? What would your life look like? For Marlow her life in Constellation is a life lived in front of a camera, the bathroom the only escape from ever watchful cameras, her every move and life event written by a team of writers.

Angelo made it all feel so ordinary, yet at the same time you were horrified, as you caught a glimpse into a dark future.

You wanted to know how she ended up in Constellation and Angelo’s dual timeline transported the reader skillfully between the past and the present.

She introduced us to Orla, prolific blogger whose flatmate Floss had a huge desire to be famous. Using Orla’s PR and social media skills her wish soon became true and you felt like you were trapped in a nightmare. Angelo made you question everything you thought about self promotion, life in the spotlight and the lengths some will go to to achieve their aim.

Floss was every bit the Instagram, YouTube, reality TV personality we see on our screens. She was utterly selfish and self obsessed, always on the look out for the next big thing that would garner followers. She used, manipulated and disrespected those around her, as Angelo perfectly curated a character you will love to hate.

Was Orla any different or was she too along for the ride, for the fame and the riches it brought with it? Orla was one of those wonderful contradictions, a character you wanted to dislike, but who you knew deep down wasn’t anything like Floss, who was somehow lost, and you wanted the real Orla to fight her way out.

As their story unfolded, so Angelo slowly revealed Marlow’s, a story that sickened and horrified me, as I knew that somewhere in the world it could be a real persons story.

And that was what was so brilliant about this novel. Yes, it was set in the future, yes Angelo was asking us to suspend belief, but was she really? Are we today laying the foundations for a future where privacy is non existent, our data used to manipulate society for the benefit of others. Is this a future that we really want or should we be doing something about it now before it goes too far and a return to the norm would be impossible.

I came to the conclusion that there is a place for both in society, that it’s our decision how far we use social media and the opposing sides should respect our choices.

What ever your thoughts I recommend that you pick up The Followers and immerse yourself in Angelo’s fabulous narrative. It was a narrative that immersed you in such wonderful storytelling, from the very first page to the last.

It would make the most wonderful Netflix series and I for one would be hooked.

I would like to thank Harper Collins for a copy of The Followers by Megan Angelo and to Joe Thomas for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Megan Angelo - image

Megan has written about television, film, women and pop culture, and motherhood for publications including The New York Times (where she helped launch city comedy coverage), Glamour (where she was a contributing editor and wrote a column on women and television), Elle, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, and Slate. She is a native of Quakertown, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Villanova University. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family. FOLLOWERS is her first novel.

#Blogtour A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #ADarkMatter

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone   Orenda Books January 23rd 2020

Three generations of women from the Skelfs family take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a taut, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators… When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

A compelling, tense and shocking thriller and a darkly funny and warm portrait of a family in turmoil, A Dark Matter introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, marking the start of an addictive new series.

My Review

I loved Dark Matter, I mean what’s not to like about a crime novel with it’s base in a funeral directors. It was a funeral directors with a difference, it’s own private detective agency tagged on. And if that wasn’t enough the first page had you wondering if the crime had already been committed.

Then Johnstone gave us the three Skelf women, Dorothy the the matriarch , her daughter, Jenny and Jenny’s daughter Hannah. All struggled with the grief of losing Jim, husband, Father, Grandfather, and Johnstone used their grief to great effect, as they immersed themselves in their own little investigations.

I loved how Johnstone did this, a brilliant tool that gave us a first glimpse into their differing characters. Dorothy, American, wistful for her Californian home, who questioned her husband, was he the man she thought he was or someone else.

Jenny, out of work, divorced, and lost, drifting, not sure what was next. Hannah, her daughter, student, navigating her grief and the disappearance of her best friend Mel.

The investigations were diverse, not necessarily out of the ordinary, but they didn’t need to be. They helped Johnstone set the scene, to showcase the women, their varied working methods and their shared determination and tenaciousness to find the answers even if that meant questioning themselves and finding their own path through the grief.

Johnstone never let up, always something happening, another twist or turn, that had you second guessing what was to come.

His narrative was a blur of emotions, of the strength and power of women, of in my opinion their kick ass attitude particularly in Dorothy. Who else could dream up a grandma, a Californian who loves to destress by hitting the hell out of a drum kit and being really good at it!!

Johnstone’s portrait of Edinburgh was fantastic, from the historic sights of Arthur’s Seat and the castle, to the bars and streets of a vibrant city.

His scene setting was brilliant, who else could make embalming, and dressing a dead body so interesting. Graveyards in the dead of night gave you the chills, the eeriness emanating from Johnstone’s descriptive imagery. There was one scene in particular that had me cringing, my toes curling, the images conjured up horrifying, and not something I will forget in a hurry!

I loved that Johnstone gave me a macabre fascination for the workings of a funeral director, no matter how grim his descriptions!

More than anything A Dark Matter gave us a tantalising flavour of three wonderful women, whose lives you wanted to immerse yourself in. Johnstone left you wondering what other investigations and adventures he had awaiting for them in the future, and you were left with an unerring sense of impatience, that you wanted the next instalment right now, not later but now!!

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of A Dark Matter to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

 

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com.