Today I’m excited to be taking part in this blog tour:
Synopsis

1934: a doctor struggles with belief, mortality and murder. A novel inspired by real events

John M. Bischoffberger is a Pennsylvanian doctor adrift in the relative wilds of Maine during the dying years of the great depression. Struggling with a loss of religious faith and retreating from painful memories of The Great War, John has married and set up practice in the town of Naples.

As Medical Examiner for Cumberland County, it is also John’s job to investigate deaths that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances. Yet as he goes about his work, he begins to suspect that the deaths he is called upon to document are in fact far from routine.

Against his better judgement, he becomes convinced that an uneasy alliance of three itinerants is going about the county, killing. An old woman, a little girl and a thin man are fulfilling some strange and unspoken duty, drowning, suffocating, hanging and the like, men, women and children; each of the three harbouring a profound distrust of the other two, yet still this queer confederacy press on with their murderous work.

John confides in local outsider Joseph, an older man who becomes John’s only outlet for his impossible fears. All the while the three continue to kill, and the deaths seem to be drawing closer to John: others who may suspect foul play, then acquaintances of John, then perhaps friends, even family members.

As the storm clouds of a new world war gather in Europe, and John’s rationality slowly unravels, he must find a way to disprove what he has reluctantly come to believe, or to confirm his worst fears and take steps to end the killing spree of the three in the woods, whatever the cost.

With a narrative switching between the doctor and the trio of murderers, and inspired by, and including, genuine accounts made by the real Dr John M. Bischoffberger in his medical journal between 1934 and 1941, The Thirty Five Timely & Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County weaves about them a fictional and dreamlike story of faith, community, and how we deal with life in the shadow of mortality.

My review

This is an unusual,  emotive and ambitious book, which is an enthralling combination in this author’s hands. It all begins quite straightforwardly, with switches between narrators keeping us intrigued. There are also actual historical documents incorporated in the text, which is a fascinating and effective facet to the book.

As the various strands begin to weave themselves ever tighter together the novel becomes quite complex. Not complicated, but you need to concentrate a bit. As Dr Bischoffberger begins to slide into confusion, it becomes more of a challenging read, but you’ll be rewarded for your effort.

It’s definitely a haunting book, slightly uncomfortable almost, and certainly powerful. It’s one that stays with you once you’ve finished reading. I found much of the imagery very striking. A character is described as “like a shout you can see”, another  suffers the “hue and cry” of life. There are numerous superb images that make you think, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s so true! Why have I never thought of that.’ The author is also a poet and this shines through in the pictures he creates with his words.

There is so much you can say about this book, so many levels that it works on, but I think the best thing is to discover it for yourself. Reading a few things that the author has said about it will also be useful and tantalising.

 

The author talks about his book:

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Some years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, my then girlfriend (now wife) decided that I should collect something and knowing me as she did, she decided that what I should collect was antique medical equipment. To this day I have a lovely cabinet of wonderful and grotesque… things, of varying archaic medical use and brutal if utilitarian aesthetic.

However, one day while searching the internet for something to add to my collection, she came across Bischoffberger’s Medical Examiner’s Record. A large hardcover book, a ledger of deaths stretching from 1934 to 1954, the record instantly drew me in. As I read, my previous disparate ideas and abortive attempts at the story coalesced into a whole (albeit a strange one) and the novel began to take shape in my mind.

 

How would you describe the 35 Deaths?

It’s not so much a historical novel as a novel based on real events and featuring some real people but which takes those incidents and characters and imposes a fictional, even fantastical, framework upon them.

 

Who has influenced you in the writing of this novel?  I’d say the novel’s biggest influences are probably Cormac McCarthy and David Lynch, though I’m not sure it’s that much like either of them; but I suppose every writer’s work is a conglomeration of their own influences, visible or not.

 

How did you go about researching Maine in the 1930s? This is the first piece I’ve written that is even close to being historical in setting and so, beyond the reading of the medical record itself, I had to embark on more research than ever before. The joy of research is that, no matter what, you will find incredible and unexpected things, many of which seem almost tailor made to fit into your narrative.

I found local history books online, sourced period maps of the area (I also used Google Earth a lot!) and even managed to find a book of historical photographs of the region; I cannot deny a slight shiver running through me upon finding within this book a picture of Doctor Bischoffberger himself looking back at me.

 

About the author

Photos by Sin Bozkurt©

Following his poem Fireworks Fireworks Bang Bang Bang at the age of six, Mason eventually took the whole writing thing a little more seriously, graduating in 2009 from London Metropolitan University, having received first class honours in Creative Writing.

In his second year, he won the Sandra Ashman award for his poem Mother Theresa in the Winner’s Enclosure.

He has subsequently had work published in Succour magazine and Brand magazine.

Mason is currently working on a number of writing projects, as well as developing his next novel.

In addition to this, he writes, co-produces and hosts the award-winning monthly cabaret night The Double R Club (as Benjamin Louche, winner of “Best Host” at the London Cabaret Awards). He also worked as a performer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi.

Mason is a trustee of East London charity Cabaret vs Cancer.

He lives in East London with his wife, a cat called Monkey, and a collection of antique medical equipment.

 

Social media links

Website: https://www.masonball.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MasonBall

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MasonBallAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/masonballauthor

Synopsis

While staying in a Dorset cottage, Hugh Mullion finds a mysterious key down the side of an antique chair.  No one can say how long the key has been there or what it opens.

Hugh’s search for answers will unlock the secrets of the troubled life of a talented artist, destined to be hailed a neglected genius fifty years too late.  And no secret is darker than that of The Amber Maze, from whose malign influence he never escaped.

The trail takes Hugh from Edwardian Oxfordshire to 1960s Camden Town, where the ghosts of the past are finally laid to rest.

Delicately crafted noir fiction at its best.

 

My review

This novel is an intriguing and erudite mystery. More noir than cozy, it’s a thoughtful, intelligent story. There’s definite menace and a lurking threat, embodied by the maze that is the symbol of Assendene Court. You get a hint of that from the cover: what exactly is round that next bend

Our protagonist Hugh plunges into a maze of investigation. Progress is slow and cautious to start with, but gains momentum. However, there are wrong turns and dead ends. But like a determined terrier, once he’s got his teeth into this mystery he’s not going to let go. There’s an old box, paintings, a journal belonging to underrated artist Lionel Pybus and the amber maze itself of Assendene Court that all need investigating and, let’s move to a jigsaw analogy now, piecing together.

It’s nice to have a male protagonist, since this type of more literary and less violent mystery is generally the preserve of female sleuths, and a slightly more mature one too. He’s not a perfect person – he’s definitely on the obsessive side, can’t let things go. He’s sharp, curious, personable, and he works well with a number of knowledgeable people to delve deeper into this mystery. He’s methodical, almost a little plodding, but that just means we can keep up with events clearly and  understand exactly what’s going on.

His life partner, Kate, is a perfect foil for him. She’s more impulsive and upbeat, equally likeable and sharp, and is drawn into Hugh’s investigation despite herself. She’s very supportive. She’s just one of a compelling cast of characters that accompany Hugh through the story, all rounded and interesting.

Despite Hugh’s meticulous approach to his investigation, the story progresses steadily, gaining momentum, and the book is a real page-turner. You keep wanting to know what next, fascinating snippet he’ll uncover and how it will fit in with what we know so far.

A delightful and rewarding read.

 

Purchase links:

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0955506751

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Maze-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B07FRH481F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532280455&sr=1-1&keywords=the+amber+maze

Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-amber-maze/christopher-bowden/9780955506758

Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880652

 

About the author

Christopher Bowden lives in south London. The Amber Maze is the sixth of his colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. 

Social media links

https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

Keep following this book’s blog tour, and catch up with what you might have missed so far!

 

Daisy Belle : Swimming Champion of the World by Caitlin Davies

I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for this captivating novel featuring such a resilient heroine.

 

Synopsis

Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffrey Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs – and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.   She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour. But Victorian women weren’t supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.   Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.

 

My review

I think the word that best sums up this beautiful novel is understated, and this is precisely what makes it so powerful. Daisy Mae Belle calmly and modestly recounts to us the story of her eventful life. She never sensationalises things, and she could on many, many occasions. As a young child she breaks moulds by swimming, and her father takes full advantage of her courage and determination to line his pockets. She’s upset by this at times but restrains her emotions. She remains low-key concerning her incredible feats of endurance and the tolls they take on her. When her little sister becomes her mother’s pet and Daisy is all but ignored, she accepts it and doesn’t dwell on how much it must hurt. This taking things in her stride makes us respect and admire Daisy all the more. And love her, I think. She’s a wonderful character – so honest and unassuming, a charming and unpretentious heroine.

The novel has not quite cycles, but definitely fore-shadowings. The Belles’ marriage isn’t a great one. Daisy’s father and mother are generally at loggerheads and there doesn’t seem to be much affection in the family, apart from between Daisy and her eldest brother Billy. Daisy’s own marriage to the handsome Dob doesn’t turn out to be quite what she hoped for either. Daisy’s once happy relationship with her mother as the adored and petted little girl of the family is replayed by Minnie who, like her big sister, eventually tires of her mother’s restrictions. Daisy sees how Captain Matthew Webb allows himself to be driven by the desire for more money into going too far, pushing himself beyond his limits, and she too finds herself tempted into taking on perhaps more than she should. Just as her father attempted to save someone who fell into the sea, so does Daisy, and ultimately neither rescue attempt ends well.

The novel is so eye-opening as regards the social norms of the time. Girls aren’t allowed to do boy things, like swim. Women are completely subservient to the men in their lives, although a few, including Daisy, make brave steps forward. However, they’re generally on some sort of rein. Poor Daisy has to make her epic swims in heavy, modesty-protecting outfits that must weigh a ton when wet!

There is so much fabulous imagery, particularly regarding water. After all, the whole novel is water-based, an water, as one character says, “makes you feel yourself”. The seaside, Margate, is depicted in vibrant blues with freshness and freedom in the air. The sea is alive. London, to which Daisy’s father drags them, has dead, dirty water. The baths seem oppressive, the Thames is menacing, the Aquarium is claustrophobic. Daisy is like the creatures there that are confined by their captivity.

Daisy travels to America, somewhere she’s long wanted to go, in an attempt to obtain fame and fortune – or at least the latter for Dob. This trip proves to be a key event in her life. Back home in England, her life begins to unravel and it’s heart-breaking, but remember, this is Daisy. And there is justice in the world, although it can take a while coming. Keep a tissue handy 😉

This novel is as buoyant as its heroine and will stay with you for a long time after you’ve read it. It’s marvellous.

About the author

Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She spent 12 years in Botswana as a teacher and journalist and many of her books are set in the Okavango Delta, including a memoir Place of Reeds, described by Hilary Mantel as ‘candid and unsentimental’.
Her novels include The Ghost of Lily Painter, a fictional account of the arrest and execution of two Edwardian baby farmers, and Family Likeness about the fate of ‘war babies’ born to African American GI fathers in England during World War Two.
Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, a celebration of 200 years of outdoor bathing, an illustrated history of the world famous Camden Lock Market, and Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames.
Her latest non-fiction is Bad Girls, and her latest novel is Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, based on the lives of several Victorian aquatic stars, to be published by Unbound on September 1, 2018.
She is also a teacher and journalist, and was a regular feature writer for The Independent’s education and careers supplement. From 2014-17 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design.

 

Her website is http://www.caitlindavies.co.uk/

Twitter: @CaitlinDavies2

Daisy Belle Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DaisyBelleSwimmingChampionoftheWorld/

 

Book details

  • Paperback:240 pages
  • Publisher:Unbound Digital (1 Sept. 2018)
  • ISBN-10:1911586483
  • ISBN-13:978-1911586487

 

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daisy-Belle-Swimming-Champion-World/dp/1911586483/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532382917&sr=1-9&keywords=caitlin+davies

 

 

 

 

 

I’m delighted to be featuring ‘The Continuity Girl’ by Patrick Kincaid today as part of the book’s blog tour. This novel is sparkly, sophisticated and impossible to put down.

Synopsis
1969. Hollywood descends on a tiny Scottish village for the making of Billy Wilder’s most ambitious picture yet: a sprawling epic detailing The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. But the formidable director and his crew soon come into conflict with Jim Outhwaite, a young scientist seeking evidence for monsters.
2014. Stuck just a short walk from the East London street where she grew up, ambitious Film Studies lecturer Gemma MacDonald is restless and hungry for change. A job offer in the Highlands seems to offer escape – but only at a cost to her relationships with family and an equally ambitious American boyfriend. Then a lost print of Gemma’s favourite film turns up, and with it, an idea… Two stories, separated by 45 years, are set on collision course – on the surface of Loch Ness, under the shadow of a castle – by the reappearance of the continuity girl herself: April Bloom.

My review
Two worlds collide in this novel in a number of ways. Firstly, in the form of academia and the film industry, and two timelines run throughout, not quite in parallel as there are links between the two. Yet another contrasting pair is found in how fact and fiction interweave throughout the story and occasionally crash headlong into each other. Let’s not forget our main hero Jim and heroine Gemma who don’t have the smoothest relationships with their respective partners. We see a contrast between grey, crowded London and the beauty of the Scottish highlands. The prehistoric Loch Ness monster is having quite an impact on twentieth-century life, and finally the moon, shining down on the earth, has a part to play too.

In the modern day timeline of 2013/14, lecturer Gemma McDonald has stumbled across some reels from Billy Wilder’s film ‘The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’. She’s also applied for a job in the film studies department at the University of Aberdeen. She can’t quite find the right time to tell her boyfriend David, who has just accepted a post in Chicago. In the 1969 thread, Jim and the others in the Loch Ness Research Group have their ordered, focussed existence overturned when the camera crew, actors and support staff, including the all-important continuity girl April, turn up to film the relevant parts of the film. True to her name, April brings continuity not only to the film script, but also to the novel as she turns up in both timelines. There’s a backing cast of fascinating personalities too.

You don’t need to be a film buff or an obsessive Nessie fan to enjoy this novel, since we’re told all we need to know about these key features of the story. However, if you can be bothered to spend a little time on Wikipedia reading up about Billy Wilder and his films, and about Loch Ness and its famous purported inhabitant, you can appreciate more fully just how much research has gone into this novel. The author’s hard work adds extra depth and sparkle. There’s no info dumping, just a richer text as a result. For readers like me who were there in 1969 the mention of Golden Wonder crisps, and the descriptions of the clothes people are wearing and the music they are listening to is a lovely trip down memory lane, not to mention the overawing excitement of huddling around someone else’s TV to watch those grainy black and white pictures of Neil Armstrong taking his giant leap on behalf of mankind.

This is a delightfully different and thoroughly enjoyable novel about discovery, friendships and love, about following your dream, about how life can be unfair and force choices on you that you don’t want to make. But happy endings take many forms and ultimately, I think, the book is a celebration of being true to yourself and doing what you have to do. And that is a pretty major achievement.

• Paperback: 224 pages
• Publisher: Unbound Digital (9 Mar. 2018)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 191158698X
• ISBN-13: 978-1911586982

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Continuity-Girl-Patrick-Kincaid/dp/191158698X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532380325&sr=1-1&keywords=the+continuity+girl

About the author

Like April in the novel, Patrick is an Anglo-American. He was born to an English mother in Amarillo, Texas, but moved to the UK when his American father was stationed in Oxfordshire with the USAF in the mid-1970s. Unlike his older brother, Patrick was sent to a local rather than a base school, and very quickly went native. He eventually gained a PhD in English Literature at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. For the past 14 years, he has taught English to secondary school children in an inner-city comprehensive in Coventry.

Long a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Patrick contributed one of his own, ‘The Doll and His Maker’, to MX Publishing’s SHERLOCK’S HOME: THE EMPTY HOUSE, an anthology of pastiches put together to raise funds for the preservation of one of the author’s former homes. As well as writing fiction, Patrick is a keen poet. He was short-listed for the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2012 and long-listed for the Fish Poetry Prize in 2013.

Twitter @patrickkincaid

Synopsis

Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy.

Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.

She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.

Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends.

With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.

The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world.

My review

I love books with fascinating titles and this is definitely one. An odyssey is a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience and is forever associated with classic Greek literature. A teacup is, well, a teacup. We have a lovely juxtaposition of the epic with the everyday, the Homeric with the homely. The teacup suggests everydayness and triviality, and much of the story is at heart every day and trivial as it recounts the experiences of the unimaginatively and economically-named Ruth Roth (no middle name) growing up. However, this wonderful character with her surrounding cast of eccentric personalities, tells us a tale that is far from mundane.

To say her family is dysfunctional is something of an understatement. As part of her journey, Ruth learns that her ‘normal’ really isn’t. Sylvia and Joe are way off base, but that makes them fascinating characters to meet, although fortunately not to have to live with. She thus has to fight rather harder than most of us to fit in with her peers, and get to do all the things they get up to.

Ruth is a witty narrator, able to laugh at herself. Which is just, as well as things never go completely smoothly for her. She’s strong, as a result of her criticism-laden upbringing, punctuated regularly with the words ‘oeuf’ and ‘pest’, and courageous. She has a sharp eye and sees through pretence and posing, and strips humanity down to its ridiculous inner workings. Her observations are brilliant, wry and sharp. It’s heartening to see that her boldness and unconventional pass down to her children too.

We join Ruth on her journey from childhood through to adulthood and to a surprising but wonderful ending slash beginning. On the way we come across clever echoes of and references to Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, and to Greek mythology. It makes this book even richer.

It’s a fabulous book, riveting from the first page. Ruth frequently has us laughing, but there’s sadness too as we join her for a bumpy ride in her little teacup being buffeted by a rough ocean and challenging winds. Really memorable.

 

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Odyssey-Teacup-Inspiring-Chick-Novel-ebook/dp/B0153VEB2I  

Author Bio

Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaHousemanAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman

 

Synopsis

Life as a duchess… or something much more dangerous…?

This is book 1 of The King’s Elite series.

Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment of playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft.

However, Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…

 

My review

Virginia Heath’s books always sparkle with humour and human foibles. Her characters are so very real. There’s a danger with historical fiction, where there’s the need to recreate a previous period of time, to present us with stiff caricatures who speak awkwardly and act unnaturally. None of that in this author’s splendid books and ‘The Mysterious Lord Millcroft’ is no exception. We meet recognisable human beings who, whilst they still face certain social constraints, manage to reveal their full, rounded personalities to us. They’re interesting for us to be with, and they tease and irritate each other just like any group of people will do.

The story is clever and well told. Sebastian, the bastard son of a duke, is working with an elite team which includes characters from others of Virginia Heath’s wonderful novels, to capture a group of smugglers. These have leaders and friends in high places, and in order to track them down Seb goes ‘undercover’ into the top echelon of society as Lord Millcroft. The fiancé of a woman he has recently come to admire, the “incomparable” Lady Clarissa Beaumont, is one of the people he’s investigating, and another of the villains has even closer connections to Seb. Can he complete this task, at all costs? His last mission had him shot while defending a young woman, and he’s only just recovered from that.

Seb is handsome and brave, the perfect hero you’d think. However, he’s desperately shy, socially awkward and prone to being snappy. Clarissa is headstrong and intelligent but somewhat obsessively determined to marry a duke, no matter how miserable that may make her. She may give the impression of being arch and dignified, but she’s not above thoroughly enjoying the sight of a semi-naked man when she sees one! It’s this sort of touch that makes these characters so human and so likeable. Even the rogues have their charms.

So do escape for a while into Regency England in this lively and intriguing novel. You’ll enjoy every minute.

 

Purchase Link – myBook.to/KingsElite1

Author Bio

Virginia Heath lives on the outskirts of London with her understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history,she decided to follow her dream of writing for Harlequin. Now she spends her days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that she falls in love with and heroines who inspire her. When she isn’t doing that, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things that she doesn’t need or read romances written by other people.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

 

And hooray, a competition!

Giveaway – Win 3 x E-copies of The Mysterious Lord Millcroft (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494120/?

 

 

 

Happy publication day to author S R Wilsher!

Synopsis of The Glass Diplomat

In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

 

My Review

From a dictator in my last book review on this book blog to a diplomat, who serves under a dictator. But this diplomat is a glass diplomat. That’s certainly an interesting concept that gets you thinking even before you start reading the book. Glass as an adjective suggests fragility or transparence, but also hints that, once broken, sharp and dangerous edges are left that can do harm.

The diplomat in question is Tomas Abrego, who takes our hero, Charlie, under his wing.

The background is that Charlie’s father owns a factory in Santiago, and spends more and more time there. Charlie goes to join him from England during school holidays. During one visit some menacing men in suits and soldiers visit. Charlie overhears his father refusing to turn his factory over to the manufacture of military items. Not long after Charlie’s father disappears and this is when Tomas Abrego steps in. Tomas has two daughters, Maria and Sophia, and from now on the lives of the three  young people become firmly interwoven.

This novel is strongly character driven, and we meet some fascinating personalities in the book. Good or bad, they’re all flawed, all human, all very convincing. Each reflects their culture, and each has their own set of judgement values. What’s right for one is wrong for another.

Charlie’s life is something of a balancing act. He walks along a knife-edge where the two cultures of Chile and the West meet. It’s also where two families meet, his own and his ‘adopted’ one. He treads carefully between the two sisters too.

Charlie develops throughout the  novel as he gradually gains full understanding of what is going on around him. Early on he is slow to react, and there are losses as a result. But later he becomes decisive, assured and confident in his own morality and with his new philosophy. He remains vulnerable, however, and is a sympathetic but admirable figure, one we quickly warm to and continue to care about.

And what of Tomas, our diplomat? Charlie, at his mercy to begin with, ends up being the one with the power. Tomas has manipulated others all his life, mainly with threats and acts of violence, but eventually he is the one manipulated. His power is finally shattered like glass.

This is a totally absorbing novel, throwing stark light on what happens in dictatorships. Diplomacy has a rather different meaning.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glass-Diplomat-S-R-Wilsher-ebook/dp/B07G3J165Y

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Diplomat-S-R-Wilsher-ebook/dp/B07G3J165Y

 

Author Bio

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @srwilsher

Website: http://www.srwilsher.com

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How exciting to be taking part in this blog tour on its opening day!

Synopsis
Ben longs to be prime minister one day. But with no political connections, he is about to crash out of a Masters degree with no future ahead. So when by chance he becomes fast friends with a young Arab prince, and is offered a job in his government, he jumps at the chance to get on the political ladder.

Amal dreads the throne. And with Ben’s help he wants to reform his country, steering it onto a path towards democracy. But with the king’s health failing, revolutionaries in the streets, and terrorism threatening everyone, the country is ready to tear itself apart.

Alone in a hostile land, Ben must help Amal weigh what is best against what is right, making decisions that will risk his country, his family, and his life.

My review
This short book is the story of two idealistic young men. One, Ben, is a British student with political ambitions, the other an Arab prince, Amal. They meet at an inter-university debate, with the subject under debate being the very pertinent ‘ideology is dead’. Here and elsewhere in the novella, there’s some very interesting philosophical and political discussion.

Ben rather suddenly finds himself recruited as Amal’s advisor, but mainly friend, in Amal’s home of Argolis. The differences he encounters between his own culture and this one are sharply observed and create the atmosphere of somewhere fascinating, yet also menacing and obdurate. It’s also vicious, with public executions and other extreme punishments being meted out somewhat enthusiastically.

Just as suddenly, Amal finds himself the new king after the untimely and suspicious death of his older brother and then, soon after, his father. The moment has come for Amal to instigate that ‘ benevolent monarchy’ that he’s dreamed of. Ben determines to help him do exactly that.

However, there are just two of them fighting for change, and one only half-heartedly. Amal feels obliged to honour his father’s legacy, one very much centred on keeping power at all costs, and the young king has a stubborn entourage who like things the way they are. Rebels choose this unsettled moment to start causing trouble, and clearly there’s someone close to Amal who’s feeding them information. Unfortunately, some important people decide it must be Ben. His and Amal’s hopes collapse, with fatal yet inevitable consequences. Throughout the book, as on the cover, there are reflections of Shelley’s sonnet ‘Ozymandias’, which is one both young men know.

is a fast-paced and exciting book, yet there’s so much to think about too. Who, for example, actually is the benevolent dictator in the end? Amal? Or is it Ben, who has naively tried to instil Western values in his Arab friend? It’s all too easy to assume you are right and try to influence other to your own way of thinking.

There’s a strong and moving theme of friendship throughout too – of nominal friends and true friends, of superficiality and loyalty. So if you like a page-turner that also has you pausing and contemplating amidst the action, then this is most definitely a book for you.

Purchase links
https://tomtrott.com/tbd
www.amazon.co.uk/Benevolent-Dictator-Tom-Trott-ebook/dp/B07BZQHTDB

Author bio

Tom Trott was born in Brighton. He first started writing at Junior School, where he and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for school assemblies, much to the amusement of their fellow pupils. Since leaving school and growing up to be a big boy, he has written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; he has written Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel, and he has won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. He is the proverbial Brighton rock, and currently lives in the city with his wife.

Social Media Links – www.twitter.com/tjtrott, www.facebook.com/tomtrottbooks, www.tomtrott.com

 

 

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Synopsis: lies and misdirection rule the game

To some, Fiona O’Dell is clever and manipulative. To others, she is a dangerous sociopath. One thing is certain – she’s trouble wherever she goes. Now she has vanished from her job, but not before being seen leaving a motel room where one man is found dead, another on the edge of death. Is this grizzly crime scene a BDSM encounter gone wrong? Or is it related to a company data breach where all three are employed?

Private security expert Lee Stone and NYPD Detective Belle Hughes are assigned to the case. In a race to find Fiona, they track her across four states and shocked to find men from her past are being murdered. With little information and even less evidence, each new crime scene brings more questions than answers.

While secrets are revealed, there is only one conclusion: Fiona controls the game, the players, even the course of the investigation. The danger escalates, and the game must be mastered, or all fall victim to it. As Lee and Belle struggle to put all the pieces together, the two investigators find their relationship heats up as they are drawn to each other. Looking for a murder mystery with a feisty female detective that’s filled with twists and turns? Explore The Last Lie She Told for a thrill ride that leaves you guessing until the end.

My review

This is a really polished and contemporary mystery novel. As well as the elusive Fiona, ex-cop Lee and Belle, mentioned in the blurb, there are two other characters we need to know about. First is Jackson, who has left the FBI and established his own security firm. Money’s been tight so he’s allowed Mary to buy an interest in the firm. Mary, the second person in question, is an elderly lady. She’s a fantastic character, surprisingly lively, quick-witted and astute. She’s a tough cookie but she has a soft side and is eager to find a love match for her colleague, Lee.

Jackson’s friend Benjamin Hightower comes to him with a case to solve. And to do so, Fiona must be found. Thus the hunt for her begins and we are plunged into the investigation which goes along all sorts of blind alleys and takes plenty of wrong turns before it reaches its tantalising conclusion.

The novel is written in the first person from the point of every main character in the book. This works really well, and adds depth and interest as we can compare and contrast what each person says about themselves with what the others tell us. This fits in very well with the general theme of things not being quite as they seem: there’s one than one side to every story.

The book is a true page-turner. The action isn’t always breathlessly fast but there’s a sense of increasing momentum as the story unfolds. The complex plot is very clever and there’s a lot to think about as you read. It’s an absorbing and hugely entertaining novel, and what’s best of all it’s only the first in a series so there will be more similar treats to come.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FBSY51Y

Amazon UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FBSY51Y

The Last Lie She Told is 99p/c for until the 14th August.

Author Bio – K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

11th – 13th August –  Three: Deception  Love Murder also by K.J. McGilick will be FREE

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B078VFT9PJ

 

 

 

Description

When there’s more than secrets buried, where do you start digging?

When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted.

Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back twenty-five years.

The police, however, aren’t convinced, so Brooke and Rod must investigate the cases themselves.

As secrets from the past start unravelling, will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or is that one secret that will stay buried forever?

My review

This is a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat! It’s a chilling thriller, with oodles of menace and tension. A simple red hair ribbon takes on a very sinister aspect when it’s connected with the deaths of young women over quarter of a century.

Brooke, our heroine, is a likeable, down to earth young woman. She’s a strong character who recovers from an attempt on her life but instead of running and hiding, she chooses to track down and confront her attacker, with the assistance of private detective Rod Morgan. He too is a sympathetic although not necessarily easy person, and the two make an unusual but effective team as they strive to take this particular evil off the streets. They encounter a wide variety of tightly drawn and memorable characters in their quest for the truth.

Author Roger Bray really gets inside the head of the perpetrator of the crimes, and it’s this which gives that icy touch to this exciting and fast-paced novel. It really will send shivers down your spine! The author also has a sharp eye for detail and settings and events are vividly described. His writing is brisk and methodical, which keeps the action rolling without ever losing the reader in all the excitement.

All in all it’s an absorbing and highly enjoyable read.

 

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Ribbon-theres-secrets-digging-ebook/dp/B07F9CC32X/

About Roger Bray

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

 

Social Media Links –  https://twitter.com/rogerbray22

                             https://www.facebook.com/rogerbraybooks/

                             https://rogerbraybooks.com/