#Blogtour Bonnie And Stan by Anna Stuart @annastuartbooks @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #BonnieAndStan

 

Bonnie and Stan

Bonnie and Stan by Anna Stuart   Orion May 30th 2019

After 50 years together Stan still adores his wife… so why is he dating again?

Bonnie and Stan are soulmates. They met during the Swinging Sixties, to the soundtrack of The Beatles and the Merseybeat scene. Now they’ve grown up and grown old together, had children and grandchildren. They are finally building their dream home, when disaster strikes.

Stan is running out of time, and can’t bear the thought of leaving Bonnie alone. Alongside his teenage granddaughter Greya, he forms a plan to find Bonnie a new love of her life. And she must never find out…

Bonnie & Stan is a poignant, surprising love story set during the Swinging Sixties and the present day. Ultimately feel-good and full of emotion, Bonnie & Stan will make your heart sing.

My Review

I can’t say I’m always that keen on reading novels about cancer, it often feels just a little close to home. Bonnie and Stan could not have been more different, yes cancer was there just lingering below the surface, but it wasn’t the dominate theme. Instead Stuart brilliantly used it as a device to show us the meaning of real love, one that can be enduring and everlasting. She gave us Bonnie and Stan, a couple who had met in the 60’s, in Liverpool at the time of The Beatles.

You couldn’t help but be submerged in the excitement of the times, of Bonnie and Stan’s escapades in The Cavern, of Stan’s desire to make it big with his band the Best Boys. What I liked more than anything was Bonnie’s story, a woman ahead of her time, as she struggled in the male dominated world of architecture, batting against prejudice on her university course. A truly strong woman, but in the present, faced with the loss of her love, Stuart showed her other side, the vulnerability the fear and denial of Stan’s condition. It tugged at our heartstrings, it frustrated but somehow you knew she would find inner resolve and strength.

Stan, for me was a wonderfully romantic figure, the man you would want to marry, the best dad and the greatest Grandfather. I loved the relationship he had with Granddaughter Greya, the old and the new that shared a mutual respect and understanding and was wonderfully poignant. I loved his selflessness, his pursuit of happiness for his wife when he was no longer there, of making sure his family would be taken care off, able to cope without him.

The one thing Bonnie and Stan had in bucket loads was its humour, that had me chuckling away to myself on more than a few occasions, I particularly loved Terry, his conscience, the devil or angel on Stan’s shoulder.

Bonnie and Stan was a novel of finding the positive in a brutally negative situation, of finding happiness in the simple things, of an appreciation of family and most of all love, to holding on to it and never letting it go.

It was heartwarming, life affirming and an utter joy to read.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of Bonnie and Stan to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to partcipate in the blogtour.

 

About the author

 

Anna wanted to be an author from the moment she could pick up a pen and was writing boarding-school novels behind the sofa by the age of nine. She made the early mistake of thinking she ought to get a ‘proper job’ and went into Factory Planning – a career that gave her some wonderful experiences, amazing friends and even a fantastic husband, but did not offer much creative scope. So when she stopped to have children she took the chance to start the ‘improper job’ of writing. During the baby years she wrote in those gaps provided by sleeps, playschools and obliging grandparents, publishing short stories and serials in all the women’s magazines. Her ultimate aim was to write longer fiction and several years ago she published a series of successful historical novels under the pseudonym Joanna Courtney. She will continue to publish under that name but is delighted, as Anna Stuart, to also be able to write Bonnie and Stan – a real-life romance set in both the present day and sixties Liverpool.

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#Blogtour Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty @Hardisty_Paul @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TurbulentWake

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Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty  Orenda Books March 21st 2019

A bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love, loss and grief. This extraordinary departure from the critically acclaimed thriller writer Paul E Hardisty explores the indelible damage we can do to those closest to us, the tragedy of history repeating itself and ultimately, the power of redemption in a time of change. Paul drew on his own experiences of travelling around the world as an engineer, from the dangerous deserts of Yemen, the oil rigs of Texas, the wild rivers of Africa, to the stunning coral cays of the Caribbean.
Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Whilst clearing out the old man’s house, he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of vignettes and stories that cover the whole of his father ’s turbulent and restless life.
As his own life unravels before him, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, searching for answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one left for him, did his own father push him away?

My Review

Father, son, one dead, one still living. The son, Ethan works hard, strives for success yet fails, even in his personal life, his ex-wife looked down upon him, his daughter lacked respect. Was he set to follow his now dead father and face a life alone, estranged from those he loved and full of bitterness. It is as Ethan read his father’s newly discovered manuscripts that documented his life you could see the cogs in his mind as they began to turn, as he examined his own past, his present and indeed what could be his future.

Told in alternating chapters it was the father’s manuscripts that intrigued and enthralled and held me rapt. Hardisty opened up a whole world, from the gloom of London streets to the heat and dust of Africa. His vivid descriptions of the places visited were fantastically real, the heat and the beauty of them oozed from the pages.

If the scene setting was brilliant, the characters Hardisty presented us with were even more brilliant. We saw a man’s life laid bare on the blank pages, a life as an engineer, a husband, a father but one that saw him take risks, to put his own perhaps selfish needs first. You knew he adored and loved his wife Helena, yet Hardisty gave him a self destructive streak,  as though what he had was too good to be true, as if he didn’t deserve it. His children Ethan and Adam felt secondary to his love for Helena and his work and his actions bore consequences that affected the rest of his life.  You wondered if this was the reason for his apparent estrangement from Ethan, the manuscripts an explanation, maybe even an apology.

As each revelation unfurled you could see Ethan, withdraw into himself, shut himself off, as though it was all too much, as though it pointed the finger at him, that it touched nerves that were open and raw.

And this is what i loved about Hardisty’s narrative, the simultaneous unravelling of two lives, that he handled with great skill. He beautifully captured their emotion, their inner turmoil, he didn’t make us feel sorry for them, just made us see that our trajectory in life is up to us, of our own making, that it is us that had to live with the consequences and regrets.

Hardisty also gave us hope that no matter how bad life can get, there is always a means of turning it around, of making it better, even if that way is not clear.

I felt as if this novel was semi autobiographical, Hardisty’s life experiences, his work mirrored in the places and the characters, the imagery and emotion all the more real and believable.

I loved the inclusion of  sustainability, of the ecology of the regions Warren visited, as if his need to protect them, to see into the future were his one redeeming feature, the reason we didn’t totally dislike him. In some ways I felt that it was his way of protecting the love and happiness that he shared with Helena in those places, clinging onto the last vestiges of a woman he adored before all was destroyed.

Turbulent Wake felt deeply personal, that Hardisty had poured his heart and soul into the words that he wrote. I am so pleased that he left the world of thrillers and crime to write Turbulent Wake,  to showcase his obvious talent in the world of contemporary fiction and I do hope this will not be his last.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Turbulent Wake 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

Paul Hardisty Author Pic

Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an
engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners of out Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS). The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for
the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and was a Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

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#Blogtour Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall @LisaHallAuthor @HQStories @joe_thomas25 #HaveYouSeenHer

Have You Seen Her Paperback First edition by

Have You Seen Here by Lisa Hall  HQ Stories  June 5th 2019

Bonfire Night. A missing girl.

Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second. She thought Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.

Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna, their nanny. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows.

Someone knows what happened to Laurel. And they’re not telling.

My Review

Have You Seen Her, was as twisty and turny a novel as you are likely to get. One minute you think you had the answers, the next Hall about turned and you were back where you started.

What didn’t help was Hall’s characters, each with their own agenda and indeed their own secrets.

The nanny Anna, devoted to missing Laurel, yet there was something she wasn’t telling, that Hall merely hinted at, that piqued your interest as you wondered if she knew more than she let on.

Doctor Dominic, heart surgeon, driven, focused, never at home, too busy saving lives, or was he?

Wife Fran, bit part actor, always out. Were her tears and concern real or part of an act?

Hall stuck them altogether in the family home, the tension unbearable, accusations of affairs, of who was or wasn’t around enough for Laurel, her only constant Anna, who Hall gloriously stuck in the middle.

Just as the readers mind whirled in circles, then so did Anna’s. You felt like she was discovering, and unravelling Laurel’s disappearance alongside us, you sensed her confusion, her loyalty pulled one way then another, outsiders pushed their way in, red herrings that Hall put in her and our way.

You sometimes felt their purpose of finding Laurel got lost, that she was a tool by which they could air grievances, to score points against one another, to see who could outwit the other and emerge victorious. Hall portrayed the cruel, viciousness that can overtake a crumbling marriage, the perceptions of the media, of outsiders. She created the perfect storm out of which you never knew if they would be a happy ending.

Hall kept us guessing until the end, the twist delicious and satisfying, the outcome so far removed from what you expected.

Have You Seen Her was one of those novels that demanded to be read in one sitting, and it definitely made my Sunday afternoon that bit more exciting.

I would like to thank HQ for a copy of Have You Seen Her to read and review and to Jo Thomas for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

 

About the author

Lisa Hall - image

Lisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian – and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine.

Readers can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaHallAuthor

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#Blogtour The Den by Abi Maxwell #AbiMaxwell @TinderPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheDen

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The Den by Abi Maxwell   Tinder Press May 16th 2019

A hypnotic story of YOUTH, SEX and POWER
A story of two women cast out by the same community though separated by a hundred years A story of two extraordinary, magnetic women and their disappearances – a hundred years apart – from the small New England town they call home.
Henrietta and Jane are growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town, their mother a remote artist, their father in thrall to the folklore and legend of their corner of New England. When Henrietta falls under the spell of Kaus, an outsider and petty criminal, Jane takes to trailing the couple, spying on their trysts, until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods.
Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean. Elspeth’s pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent away from her Scottish village to make a new life in America. When she comes to the attention of the local mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfolds, culminating in her disappearance.
As Jane and Claire search in their own times for their missing sisters, each uncovers the strange legend of Cold Thursday, and of a family apparently transformed into coyotes. But what does his myth really mean?
Are their sisters dead, destroyed by the men who desired them? Or have they made new lives, elsewhere, beyond the watchful eyes of the community they longed to escape?

 My Review

Two women, one hundreds years apart both had things in common, both sisters, both rebels in their own way and more importantly both disappeared. What connected them, what effect did it have on the families left behind, and the sisters who wanted nothing more than to find them?

The Den did more than answer those questions, the author exploring the gamut of human emotion and anguish that surrounded Henrietta and Elspeth.  I loved the way Maxwell used The Den, the home of Elspeth, the little house in the woods to connect their stories.

For Elspeth, it was where she raised her three boys, lived with her husband Thomas. For Henrietta, it was a refuge, the place she escaped from family, and at times shared with her sister Jane.

What was even more interesting was their commonality, their need for something more, for, if you like, forbidden fruit that would force their escape. They each had tenacity, the strongest will to survive and succeed, to attempt to come to terms with what they had done. Maxwell highlighted issues that faced women in the 19th Century, that still existed in the 20th century, the lack of understanding, of acceptance of women’s issues, of their perception seemingly unchanged in an increasingly modern world.

But what of those they left behind? Jane, the annoying younger sister who spied on her sister, whose one action would have consequences that would affect her entire life. She was your typical twelve year old, full of naivety as she tried to make sense of an adult world. Maxwell brilliantly showed a woman who could never fully settle, or come to terms with the past, the back of her mind always strayed to her sister, of where she was and when or if she would ever return.

Elspeth’s sister Clare again, felt the same emotions, carer to her parents, yet that desperate need to find her sister.

I loved the mystery and intrigue Maxwell swirled around the sisters searches. The way in which she linked the two was clever and compelling. Nature played its part, the chilling history of coyotes and wolves, the fear but also admiration and respect they provoked. The weather, with the deep freeze of a brutal winter, or the lashings of heavy rain cast a veil over events, as Maxwell used them to great effect, to hide secrets just waiting to be exposed.

The Den May have been a search for the missing but it was its examination of human nature that shone through. Of the regrets, the foolhardiness and naivety that drove Elspeth and Henrietta, the consequences of their actions, the need to put things right. Jane and Clare, the pursuers, who held steadfastly to their belief that they would be reunited. They may have experienced personal anguish, but it was to Maxwell’s credit that you never saw them as victims, never felt sorry for them, but admired their strength and determination.

The Den skilfully navigated the complexities of two societies that may have been years apart, yet in perception and expectation were the same. It was utterly compelling and engrossing.

I would like to thank Tinder Press for a copy of The Den to read and review and to Anne Carter Of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

 About the author

Abi Maxwell Author Picture

Abi Maxwell is the author of an acclaimed story collection, LAKE PEOPLE, and her fiction has also appeared in McSweeney’s. She studied writing at the University of Montana and now lives in New Hampshire, where she grew up, with her husband and son.

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#Blogtour Juliet The Maniac by Juliet Escoria @julietescoria @melvillehouse @NikkiTGriffiths #JulietTheManiac

 

Juliet The Maniac by Juliet Escoria   Melville House  May 2019

It’s 1997, and 14-year-old Juliet has it pretty good. But over the course of the next two years, she rapidly begins to unravel, finding herself in a downward trajectory of mental illness and self-destruction that eventually leads to a ‘therapeutic boarding school’ in rural Oregon. From there, deep in the woods of the Northwest, comes an explosive portrayal of teenage life from the perspective of The Bad Friend, and a poignant reflection that refuses the traditional recovery arc. Like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life, Juliet the Maniac offers no clear answers, no definitive finish-line, just the wise acceptance of the challenges ahead. This punchy debut marks the breakout of a bold and singular young writer.

My Review

Your teenage years are supposed to be full of fun, boys, girls, a bit of rebelling against the parents and hormones. What if it was all of those and more? What if you slowly began to disappear down a long black hole with no way out, suicide, hallucinations, and maniac behaviour dominating your every waking hour.

Juliet Escoria’s novel is just that, one teen’s black hole, her descent into mental illness, and addiction.  Her narrative was profoundly deep, scary, so remarkably realistic that you wondered if what you were reading was the author’s own experiences. A question I would love to ask, if it did not appear rude or impinge on the authors privacy.

It may have been horrifying to read, but at the same time it was fascinating, as Juliet was bombarded by voices, saw things that weren’t there. You felt her despair, but also frustration at her drug taking, as you willed her to try and take control, to help herself. There was frustration at the lack of understanding from parents, those whose task it was to make her better, yet how could they when they themselves had not experienced such acute mental ill health, their answer rooted in more drugs to control, and to suppress.

It was interesting to see how Escoria had structured the novel, four distinct sections, each documented the trajectory of her mental state, of the ups and the downs. The short punchy chapters broke the novel into bitesize chunks of events, of people, of individual thoughts. It stopped the novel from being one long monologue, gave you opportunity to pause, to think, to assimilate and appreciate.

There were chinks of light, of good times, and most importantly of hope, that recovery may be possible, that those with severe mental illness could lead a full and relatively normal life.

Escoria’s novel was personal, real and eye opening. When mental health has been pushed to the fore, it was timely and brilliant and gave me a deeper appreciation of those that and do still suffer. A brilliant debut.

I would like to thank Melville House for a copy of Juliet The Maniac to read and review and to Nikki Griffiths for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Juliet Escoria is the author of the novel Juliet the Maniac, forthcoming from Melville House in 2019. She also wrote the short story collection Black Cloud, which was originally published in 2014 by Civil Coping Mechanisms. In 2015, Emily Books published the ebook, Maro Verlag published a German translation, and Los Libros de la Mujer Rota published a Spanish translation. Witch Hunt, a collection of poems, was published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2016.

She was born in Australia, raised in San Diego, and currently lives in West Virginia.

 

 

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#Blogtour Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary @sarah_hilary @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #NeverBeBroken

Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary   Headline  May 16th 2019

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost. Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

My Review

As I am writing this review BBC Five Live has just informed me that 100 people have been killed via knife crime this year. A shocking statistic but what lies beneath that statistic, what makes individuals commit such crimes? It was this question that Sarah Hilary attempted to answer, as she unlocked a city wrapped in drugs and crime, and questions of race and class.

Once again we were in the safe hands of Detective Inspector Marnie Rome, but this time she was merely a guide, the voice of reason as Hilary moved her attention to Detective Sergeant Noah Jake.

Here was a man wracked by grief unable to process the murder of his brother Sol. Hilary excelled in her soul searching, descriptions of Noah’s inner torture, his guilt, his off kilter reasoning that led him into trouble, that knocked his self esteem and belief in himself. You could sense his loneliness, his loss, almost like he was stranded on an island with no means to get back even if his partner and Marnie were there to help him.

Yet on one level he was able to function, to piece together the background to the murder of Raphaela Belsham, the young white girl, the anomaly amongst the murdered children in inner city London. It gave him an escape from his grief, but in many ways accentuated it, pushed it to the fore, and you were just waiting for him to break down, for the hardened veneer to crack.

Hilary kept us guessing, piled on the pressure and the anticipation and instead took us deep into the deprived estates of London, the tower blocks that provided the perfect cover for drug dealers and organised crime. Ordinary residents who turned a blind eye to events, afraid of speaking up, of recriminations. What stood out was the racial divide, a divide you thought we had quashed, as Hilary raised more questions than answers.

Why were so many of the dead, the perpetrators black? What drove them to such acts? Was it the circumstances they lived in, the lack of opportunities to gain education, jobs, a better life? Was crime the only way to better oneself, to fight their way out? We didn’t get the answers fed to us, Hilary merely presented the facts, the circumstances, didn’t patronise but allowed us to make up our own minds, arrive at our own conclusions.

She gave us characters from all walks of life, all with their own part to play. And that is what made Never Be Broken so damn good, its basis in fact, in real life not saturated in fantasy, and untruths.

Yes it had a social conscience, yes it was based on real life, but Hilary also entertained and gave us a crime novel with all the requisite components. We had murder, drugs, theft, suicide, alongside human emotion and life. It was exciting, fast paced and tension filled and she once again showed us what a truly wonderful crime writer she is. Roll on the next DI Marnie Rome investigation.

I would like to thank Headline fro a copy of Never Be Broken 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

Sarah Hilary Author Pic

Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the
Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s
Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard & Judy Book Club
bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the
series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series
continued with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing and Come And Find Me.
Follow her on twitter @sarah_hilary

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#Blogtour The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh @purplemaid25 @SapereBooks #TheCatherineHowardConspiracy

 

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy: A gripping conspiracy thriller with a dramatic twist (The Marquess House Trilogy Book 1) by [Walsh, Alexandra]

 

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy  Sapere Books   March 27th 2019

What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII … 

Whitehall Palace, England, 1539

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?

And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with a twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.

My Review

I love a dual timeline novel and what could have been more appealing than one steeped in the history of Henry VIII and his marriages. Walsh cleverly took us to the 16th Century and then flew to the present day linking the times in intricate intrigue and a modicum of danger.

In the present day Perdita was our clever historian, beneficiary, along with her twin Piper to their historian grandmother’s beautiful estate, that included her Grandmothers works and one or two very interesting unfinished manuscripts. It was one of those unfinished manuscripts that Walsh used to propel the story and link to the court of Henry VIII and more importantly the story of his fifth wife Catherine Howard. And what a story we had, one of brutality, subterfuge and fear that was absolutely gripping.

Walsh’s vivid narrative placed me right there at the heart of Henry’s court. You could sense the simmering tensions as Walsh positioned her characters, as she revealed their true colours, each intent on getting everything they could from Catherine’s marriage. And what of Catherine Howard? Oh how I admired her, amazed at her maturity and wisdom for one so young, the brutality she faced with great stoicism. The acceptance of her lot was matched by her intelligence and cunning, as Walsh magically brought her to life.

Perdita’s unravelling of Catherine’s story was utterly compelling and brilliantly intertwined with her and twin Pippa’s own story. It read almost like a thriller, the pace intense and fast, the race against time and the hidden clues kept you on tenterhooks.

I couldn’t decide which I preferred, the past or the present, a sign that the author had achieved a perfect balance, neither part overshadowed the other, each equally intriguing and compelling.

It’s important to mention that Walsh’s story of Catherine Howard was largely fiction, but those around her based on fact. It was a brilliant blend that perfectly captured the feel of the time, the fear that surrounded Henry, a King who you didn’t like, in fact detested and hoped would meet a suitably sticky end.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracies was the first novel in a proposed trilogy and you could tell. Walsh was setting the scene as she introduced her characters, as she laid the foundations for what is to come. This in no way detracted, in fact, it has made me extremely excited for book two.

I cannot believe how Walsh left me dangling, left me eager to discover what would happen next, so I am hoping Book two is imminent.

I would like to thank Sapere Books for a copy of The Catherine Howard Conspiracies to read and review and to Caoimhe O’Brien for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtoour.

About the author

From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.

Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!

Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.

 

#Blogtour Breakers By Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Breakers

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Breakers by Doug Johnstone  Orenda Books May 16th 2019

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Whilst trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addicted mother, he’s also coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings. One night whilst on a job, his brother Barry stabs a and leaves her for dead. And that ’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because they soon discover the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.
With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in terrible danger, Tyler is running out of options, until he meets posh girl Flick in another stranger ’s house. Could she be his salvation? Or will he end up dragging her down with him

My Review

Its not often that an author can create a character that from the very first page would find a permanent place in your heart, Tyler Wallace was one such character. He got under my skin, and as a mother all I wanted to do was take him away from the life he led, and wrap him up in a wall of love, comfort and security. Sounds soppy, I know but you will know exactly what I mean when you read Doug Johnstone’s Breakers.

Breakers was by no means soppy and sentimental it was dark and although I don’t like to use the word incredibly gritty. Johnstone didn’t sugar coat his narrative and gave a stark, vivid picture of the reality of Tyler’s life. The care he showed for his younger sister Bean, his need to protect her from their older siblings, their mothers drug taking and the general minutiae of life in the most deprived area of Edinburgh was heart breaking, sincere and a shining light in the badness that surrounded them.

He was a young lad with an intelligence, a maturity beyond his years who in other circumstances would have had a glittering future ahead of him. He did what no teenager should have to do for his mother and the responsibility he showed toward his sister Bean was at the heart of all his actions. They were actions that put his own life in danger his courage, bravery and foolhardiness emanated from almost every page.

I loved Johnstone’s character Flick, the girl from wealth and privilege, who somehow looked past the grime and the poverty, who saw Tyler for who he was, for him as an individual with his own feelings and needs. It balanced out the grim darkness, gave you hope that there was someone routing for him, willing to help.

As for Tyler’s elder siblings Barry and Kelly I felt no love, only a distinct dislike but also an awareness that they were a product of their surroundings, their upbringing. What hope did they have with no parental guidance, no role model, and that is what Johnstone brilliantly highlighted. Indeed this seemed to be the premise of the whole novel of a family trapped, crime a way to feed habits, to pay for everyday necessities and in some respects a need to survive.

If Breakers was a novel with a social conscience it was also a top notch and absolutely brilliant crime novel. The narrative was superb, the vivid descriptions, at times, more than you could bear. Some scenes will live long in my memory and I doubt that there is another author out there who could match Johnstone for his stark, brutal descriptive narrative.

If that all sounds too dark, please please don’t be put off because there are glimmers of light and hope and I would hate for anyone to miss out on reading this superb novel.

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

About the author

Doug Johnstone

 

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had nine novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned
for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.
worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is drummer, vocalist and occasional guitarist for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers
Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

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#Blogtour Wilderness by B. E. Jones @bevjoneswriting @TheCrimeVault @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #Wilderness

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Wilderness by B.E. Jones  Constable April 4th 2019

It’s easy to die out there. It’s easy to kill too.

Two weeks, 1,500 miles, three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.

It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.

Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try to save their marriage. Maybe the roadtrip that they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks, just the two of them, would help heal the wounds.

But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges. Three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.

If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness. And if it’s easy to die, then it’s easy to kill too.

If their marriage can’t survive, he can’t either.

My Review

New York, bright city lights, the start of a new life, a new adventure but what if it’s not all what it’s supposed to be, what if your husband has an affair and your life starts to fall apart. That is precisely what happened to Liv and her husband Will, so what did they do to try and put their marriage back on track? Jones did what you wouldn’t really expect, putting them in the close confines of a car as they set out on the Great American Road Trip, the delights of El Capitan, Death Valley awaited their admiration and awe. Jones gave you some amazingly vivid descriptions of the landscape, but it wasn’t just the pictures that she conjured in your mind that drew your attention it was the tangible tension between Liv and Will that dominated.

Will desperate to make up for his misdemeanour, but more interestingly the inner thoughts and feelings of Liv. Yes she was the victim but how far would she go to make Will pay for his mistake?

Jones flipped between their time in New York and the events of the road trip. She built up a vivid picture of their marriage, their pasts, each a product of their upbringing. I loved that Jones threw these two opposites together, Liv from a troubled background, Will wealthy with all the advantages of life, almost as if she was setting them up to fail, to test if opposites could endure and succeed.

In a way they had succeeded yet there was a mysterious darkness that surrounded Liv and Jones made us question her motives and actions. I swung between liking and feeling sorry for her to a sometimes intense dislike at her cunning, and her anger at the untold havoc that descended on those she interacted with. It allowed Jones to showcase human emotion at its best and worst to brilliant effect. It showed a woman at her limit, pushing the boundaries to protect what she thought was hers and hers alone.

Wilderness wasn’t your usual fast paced psychological thriller with action on every page. Instead it had an intensity that was at times unbearable, the tension taut, poised to snap at any moment and Jones took you on a wonderful road trip where the sights and sounds were immensely appealing yet you wouldn’t for a million years wish to embark on if you were Liv and Will. It was a journey that I loved watching as a witness, as a witness to a marriage, an affair and its devastating consequences. You could never tell if Liv and Will’s marriage would survive or indeed if any of the characters would survive which made the novel highly intriguing and, for me addictive. I loved Jones’s last novel Halfway but loved this just that little bit more, a sure sign that her writing, and her plots are getting better and more accomplished.

If you like to uncover the psychology behind the characters then Wilderness is definitely a novel you need to read.

I would like to thank The Crime Vault for a copy of Wilderness to read and review and to Emma Welton Of Damp Pebbles Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.

Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bevjoneswriting

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bev.jones.9083477

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bevjoneswriting/

Website: http://bevjoneswriting.co.uk/

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#Blogtour Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandonThingsTours #WorstCaseScenario

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Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald  Orenda Books  May 16th 2019

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Imprisoned for murdering his wife, Liam Macdowall has published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that has made him an unlikely hero – a poster boy for Men’s Rights Activists. Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

My Review

I’ve always wondered what the world of a probation officer would look like and Fitzgerald definitely didn’t stint on detail.

Mary, the officer in question was for me brilliant and, I am assuming everything a probation officer shouldn’t be. Her professionalism appeared to be flushed down the toilet as you watched her throw away her career in her obsession with her client Liam MacDowall. Did it frustrate me, did I want her to stop? The simple answer was no, as Fitzgerald used Mary to show us a person run ragged by a system full of paperwork and bureaucarcy, of overwhelming caseloads and a wider system of social workers just ripe for collapse.

A dark portrait you might think, but oh no, Fitzgerald injected just enough humour to balance out what could have been a bleak, dark read. Mary was the unwittingly brilliant character that steered us through a myriad of paedophiles, and drug addicts, and her own personal journey through menopause and marriage that I could definitely relate to. There were times when I laughed out loud before being plummeted back into the depths of despair.

The whole premise of the Men’s Right’s Activist group was particularly apt for the times in which we live, as Liam and his sidekick Derek showed the best and the worst of such organisations. They were characters you definitely did not warm to, particularly Derek who I had to admit made me think quite violent thoughts as I found myself wanting to punch him for his hypocrisy and self righteousness!

I took this as a sign that Fitzgerald had well and truly got me in her clutches, had pulled me into the madness and chaos that was The Worst Case Scenario. There certainly wasn’t time to draw breath as she rolled us on to the next social reprobate and Mary’s mounting personal issues. How Mary managed to hold her nerve as everything collapsed around her I will never know, but that only made her more more endearing to me as the reader. I so wanted everything to be ok for her, and could only cross my fingers as I hoped that Fitzgerald would give me the outcome I wanted.  It was an outcome that came as a complete surprise, that in some ways was quite shocking, that made me take a step back and really think about what I had read. I won’t say anymore as it would be a real spoiler but let you discover for yourself.

If you were expecting another The Cry, Fitzgerald’s highly successful and TV dramatised novel, Worst Case Scenario was most definitely a step in the opposite direction. Yes, there was a crime, but that crime had been committed, the culprit found and justice served. Worst Case Scenario was more an examination of our social care system, of those probation officers, and social workers swimming against the monumental tide of clients, unrealistic deadlines, and fear of putting a step wrong. Fitzgerald’s portrayal was funny, serious, chaotic, unique and utterly brilliant and I loved it.

I have only one thing left to say and that is to ask Helen Fitzgerald to bring back menopausal Mary Shields, in another mad story as I feel there is more she wants to say and do!!

I would to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Worst Case Scenario 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

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Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.

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