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Children of Sinai by Shelley Clarke: thoughtful, different and exciting

Children of Sinai

How would you feel if you got caught up in a secret so vast it threatened everything the world had come to believe?

That’s what happened to John Milburn, computer science lecturer, orphan, husband and father, who lived an ordinary life in Haverhill, Suffolk, England.

That is, until the dreams started…

From the idyllic calm of Cambridge, John Milburn is drawn to the dust and the heat of Jericho. Thrown into danger and intrigue, he discovers more than he’d bargained for.

‘A wowser of a tale that is exciting and thought-provoking with a cast of characters you’ll fall in love with. Inspired by Biblical events, historical finds, theories and the author’s own strange imagination.’

 

My review

This is a very original book, and very exciting, but not in a headlong, mindless sort of way. The pace of the story measured and thoughtful: it’s the intricacy and cleverness of the plot that makes it so interesting and inspiring. That said, you’ll read it at top speed as it’s a book you can’t put down once you’ve started!

I especially liked the fascinating characters, all of whom were rounded, plausible and relevant. John is an unlikely hero but he works brilliantly as the catalyst for the all the events around him. There are a lot of different elements in the novel – history, fantasy, mystery, politics, religion – and the author interweaves them very successfully into a totally absorbing and thrilling adventure. This book touches on so many genres!

An absolute must-read as it’s fascinating as well as absorbing and very entertaining.

 

 

Purchase Links:


Author Bio –

Shelley Clarke was born into a naval family in Kent in 1958, and consequently moved house a lot as a child. She had ambitions to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the Royal Navy, and to become a carpenter, but these were not female occupations at that time. So she learned to type… which has come in jolly handy for putting her stories first onto paper, and now onto screen.

Shelley is a keen painter, poet, and karaoke enthusiast; she loves mad family get-togethers, hates olives, ironing and gardening, and currently lives in Devon with her husband Kev, and their two Tibetan Terriers Nena and Pepi, who make them smile every day.

Shelley often forgets she is a grown-up.

Children of Sinai is Shelley’s debut novel. The story had been bouncing around her head for many years, and putting it down on paper has been the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. She certainly could not have got through this experience without a lot of cursing and chocolate!

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/childrenofsinai/?modal=admin_todo_tour

https://twitter.com/Shelley62628484

 

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The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl: a total pleasure to read

Synopsis
As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935: Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day: Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken.

When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past…

My review
Dual timeline stories seem to be all the rage at the moment, and when they’re as skilfully handled and beautifully written as this one then I’m really glad that they are!
So much goes on in this story, both in the present and past. We have misunderstandings, secrets, love, errors and atonement. There’s tension, fulfilment, disappointments and joy. As a reader you run a rollercoaster of emotions along with the characters.

Every character we meet is rounded, interesting and very persuasively portrayed. Settings are sharply detailed and convincing. That of the 1930s is particularly appealing. It was a time of great hardships – physical, financial and social – but there was also an air of overriding simplicity. That’s not to say the modern part of the story is inferior, because it isn’t, but I got a warmer feeling from the earlier timeline events.
This book is a total pleasure to read and I highly recommend it.

 

Purchase links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stationmasters-Daughter-gripping-heartbreaking-historical-ebook/dp/B07P556918/
US – https://www.amazon.com/Stationmasters-Daughter-gripping-heartbreaking-historical-ebook/dp/B07P556918/

Author bio
KATHLEEN MCGURL lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Social media links
twitter @KathMcGurl
www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl/
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The Kompromat Kill by Michael Jenkins: an energetic and exciting novel

Synopsis

They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.

When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving
you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

My review

‘Energetic’ is the best term for this book. It’s full of action and life from the first page to the last. And death, of course, since it’s a thriller set in the brutal word of international espionage where anyone inconvenient is efficiently wiped out. Any violence, however, is somewhat matter-of-factly delivered, which is in keeping with the book’s genre, rather than being gratuitous and sensationalised.

Our hero is Sean Richardson, a man loyal to his country and colleagues, and prepared to do what needs doing, but who is also endowed with a sense of morals that weigh him down at times. He’s thoughtful and contemplative, but acts instinctively when necessary too.

All the characters we meet are convincing. Everything from their names to their actions conveys their personality and their role in this thriller.

The action takes us to all kinds of places, which are all described in enough detail so that we can picture the scene perfectly without becoming bogged down in minutiae.

The Kompromat Kill follows on from The Failsafe Query but works perfectly as a standalone. It’s an exciting, escapist read but it leaves you with a few things to think about after you’ve finished it. Absolutely one to read.

 

Purchase Links

UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QFSF44F

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFSF44F

 

About the author

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

The Failsafe Query was my first novel, with The Kompromat Kill as my second.

 

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery

https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafethrillers/

 

Giveaway to Win 5 copies of The Kompromat Kill (Open INT)

*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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494254/

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Smile of the Stowaway by Tony Bassett: edgy and exciting

Smile Of The Stowaway

A married couple, a stranger from far away and a murder that rocks their lives. Desperate to reach England, a bedraggled immigrant clings precariously beneath a couple’s motor home as they cross the Channel. Once holidaymakers Bob and Anne overcome their shock at his discovery and their initial reservations, they welcome the friendly stranger into their home in defiance of the law. But their trust is stretched to the limit when the police accuse the smiling twenty-three-year-old of a gruesome murder. Could this man from six thousand miles away be guilty? Or is the real killer still out there? Former national newspaper journalist Tony Bassett tells how Anne turns detective, battling against a mountain of circumstantial evidence and police bungling to discover the truth. This gripping first novel concerning a death in a remote Kentish country cottage is packed with mystery, suspense and occasional touches of humour.

 

My review

This is a modern, tingling psychological thriller that begins with the book’s title. At once you’re slightly on edge, wondering exactly what sort of smile that stowaway is smiling. A relieved one? A smug one? Triumphant, nervous, malicious?

The challenges to your possible preconceptions regarding immigration, keeping secrets and how far one should go to help a stranger continue in the story, which is fast-paced and gripping. The author has a spare, punchy way of writing that doesn’t bog you down with more than you need to know. It also gives you more to guess about.

The book doesn’t just make you sit up and think a bit more seriously about modern issues. There’s a crime to solve too, and the plot is tightly constructed and exciting. There’s some lighter relief along the way so it’s not a white-knuckle ride all the time. The author handles tone and tension very well.

There’s a lot packed into this novel which you really should discover for yourselves.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smile-Stowaway-Tony-Bassett/dp/1911546457

US – https://www.amazon.com/Smile-Stowaway-Tony-Bassett/dp/1911546457

 

Author bio 

Tony Bassett, who was born in West Kent, grew up wanting to be a writer from the age of nine when he edited a school magazine. After attending Hull University where he won a `Time-Life’ magazine student journalism award, he spent six years working as a journalist in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff before moving to Fleet Street. Tony spent 37 years working for the national press, mainly for the `Sunday People’ where he worked both for the newsdesk and the investigations department. He helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial for the `Evening Standard’, broke the news in the `Sun’ of Bill Wyman’s plans to marry Mandy Smith and found evidence for the `Sunday People’ of Rod Stewart’s secret love child. On one occasion, while working for `The People’, he took an escaped gangster back to prison. His first book, `Smile Of The Stowaway’, is one of four crime novels Tony has written over the past three years.  He has five grown-up children and eleven grandchildren.  He lives in South East London with his partner, Lin.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/tonybassettauthor/

Twitter: @tonybassett1

Tony’s author website

www.tonybassettauthor.com

And do enter this fantastic giveaway!

Giveaway to Win 6 x PB copies of Smile of the Stowaway (Open INT)

*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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494252/

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Testament by Alis Hawkins

Synopsis

What secrets lie hidden in the Medieval college of Kineton and Dacre…?

Salster, 1385

Master mason Simon of Kineton is building his magnum opus: a great college to rival any in England.

But the Bishop of Salster, hostile to free education, is determined to sabotage Simon’s project.

When rumours spread that the mason’s son is cursed, the bishop sees an opportunity to undermine both Simon and the college.

And everything Simon has worked so hard for could end up crumbling down around him…

Salster, 2019

Damia Miller has been employed to promote penniless Kineton and Dacre college.

Delving into the college’s history, she becomes captivated by the vast grotesque painting that has recently been uncovered during renovations.

It soon becomes clear to Damia that the painting holds the key to the past – a past which could reveal exactly what she’s been searching for…

 

My review

This is a fresh, clever book. We have two timelines – 1385 and 2019. Although six and a half centuries separate them, there is so much that’s similar: rivalry, the importance of education, strong personalities, families that are a little different from normal, intolerance and commitment. These elements and the apparently separate plots link begin to entwine firmly as the story progresses and the mystery of that painting is slowly solved.

Simon and Damia are the lead characters, one in each timeline. It is they who hold the action together in their sections of the book, but Damia is the overall lynchpin. It’s she who brings everything to fulfilment. She’s a very interesting heroine. Like Simon she’s unconventional in her outlook, opinionated and dedicated. We become very interested in seeing her at work and watching how her character develops.

The background to the historical element of the book has clearly been very carefully researched and we get a convincing sense of the period and the beliefs and politics of the time. The modern era is just as vibrantly and realistically portrayed.

The author has a clear, direct style that is easy and enjoyable to read. The plot is interesting and well constructed. All in all this is an absorbing and satisfying book.