Saturday, 16 September 2017

#BlogTour: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

Published in Paperback on the 30th September 2017. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour.

‘Like a cold spider, the memory stirred in my head and spun an icy web about my brain. Someone else crawled in. I remembered.’ 

Thirty-one-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. 
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a horrifying memory emerges … and changes everything. 
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory, of truth, and of the defences we all build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Thoughts:

I have long been a fan of Louise Beech and her writing, having previously read and reviewed How to be Brave and The Mountain in my Shoe. These two books both were on my favourite reads in their respective years and I did wonder what the author would be able to follow that up with, however worry ye not. Maria in the Moon is AMAZING! I hope my review can do it justice. 

Catherine Hope is the main character, she is suffering some confusion and anxiety, she doesn't remember the year she was nine. The same year that her family stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. She doesn't know why her name changed and what happened to cause it. She has a somewhat difficult relationship with her Mother. Her life is in turmoil, having had her home flooded, she is displaced in all senses of the word. As a volunteer at Flood Crisis, she meets new people and slowly but surely she is able to tap into her memories and things that have long been forgotten. 

Louise Beech writes with such elegance, the prose is graceful and at times sparse. The sparsity a reflection of Catherine's memories. A clutch of them here or there and sometimes a small breakthrough. The character of Catherine is brilliantly done, she is believable and relatable even though she is troubled. The periphery characters are warm and all add something unique individually. 

What I find most amazing about Maria in the Moon and indeed all of this author's books is her natural empathy and ability to evoke emotion in the reader and to make them think. She has the ability to reach inside me to a place that touches me. Her stories are memorable, but the characters more so. They all have a story to tell and Louise gives them a voice. 

I found this book something of an allegory, the tumultuous impact of the devastating floods matching up with the way that Catherine feels. The irony of her being called Katrina at the Flood Centre was not lost on me, named after the Hurricane. Everybody knows though that if you ride out the storm, you get to see the sun again.

This book portrays the power that memories can have, the good and the bad. Although quite dark in nature, there is always an underlying thread of hope. It is beautiful inside and out with a cover that is also apt. The author has a natural story-telling ability. This is the best I have read this year. 


About the Author:

Louise Beech has been writing since she could physically hold a pen. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was a number one bestseller on Kindle in the UK and Australia, and a Guardian Readers’ Pick in 2015. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize. 

You can find her on Twitter: @LouiseWriter

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour. 


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

#BlogTour: Robert B. Parker's Debt to Pay by @ReedFColeman @noexitpress

Published by No Exit Press on 21st September 2017. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on to the blog tour.

All is quiet in Paradise, except for a spate of innocuous vandalism.
Good thing, too, because Jesse Stone is preoccupied with the women in his life, both past and present. As his ex-wife, Jenn, is about to marry a Dallas real-estate tycoon, Jesse isn't too sure his relationship with former FBI agent Diana Evans is built to last. But those concerns get put on the back burner when a major Boston crime boss is brutally murdered. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jesse suspects it's the work of Mr. Peepers, a psychotic assassin who has caused trouble for Jesse in the past.
Peepers has long promised revenge against the Mob, Jesse, and Suit for their roles in foiling one of his hits - and against Jenn as well. And though Jesse and Jenn have long parted ways, Jesse still feels responsible for her safety. Jesse and Diana head to Dallas for the wedding and, along with the tycoon's security team, try to stop Peepers before the bill comes due. With Peepers toying with the authorities as to when and where he'll strike, Jesse is up against the wall. Still, there's a debt to pay and blood to be spilled to satisfy it. But whose blood, and just how much?

My Thoughts:

As far as I am aware this is the 15th Jesse Stone novel, after the death of Robert B. Parker the legacy of writing this series was passed to Reed F Coleman. Coming in to a series at such a point could have been difficult but straight away it was easy to see that I was going to love this book. 

There is a nasty, vindictive serial killer on the loose, who has been named Mr Peepers. Although I don't think he would like you to call him that to his face. He has had run ins with Jesse Stone before and his colleagues at the Paradise Police Department. This time however he is hellbent on revenge and isn't going to stop until he gets it. 

Jesse's Ex Wife Jenna is getting remarried and him and his new girlfriend Diana are going to the wedding in Dallas. Trouble is it seems that Mr Peepers has Jenna in his sights as his next victim, payback seemingly the motive. However is everything as it seems?

Jesse Stone is an alcoholic, a good man trying to the right thing and a loyal colleague. I liked him very much. I enjoyed the dynamic between him and his colleagues. The casting and description of the characters in this book is superb. 

Whilst pretty far retching and at times very gruesome the plot of this book is believable and exciting. I found it entirely absorbing, sitting down and reading it one go. A superb plot but it really is the characters that drive this story. A classic case of scattered clues and a game of Cat and Mouse drives the pace. 

Interested to read more from this series as I found this book to be utterly entrancing, exhilarating and just the rollercoaster of a crime novel that I like to read. Really recommend this one. 

About the Author:


Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the 'noir poet
laureate' in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman is the author of novels
(including the acclaimed Moe Prager series), short stories and poetry.
He is a three-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories—Best
Novel, Best Paperback Original, Best Short Story—and a three-time recipient of
the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year. He has also won the Audie,
Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards.
A former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America, Reed Farrel
Coleman is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding
member of MWA University. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now lives with his
family in Suffolk County on Long Island.

You can find him on Twitter: @ReedFColeman
or on his Website: http://reedcoleman.com/



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Saturday, 9 September 2017

#BlogTour: #Review ~ Dan Knew by F J Curlew @FJCurlew

Many thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy of Dan Knew and inviting me on to the blog tour. The book is available now and links have been provided further down this post.

A Ukrainian street dog is rescued from certain death by an expat family. As he travels to new countries with them a darkness grows and he finds himself narrating more than just his story. More than a dog story. Ultimately it's a story of escape and survival but maybe not his.
The world through Wee Dan's eyes is told in a voice that will stay with you long after you turn that last page.


The animals in this book are all real, as are their stories. The people's names have been changed to protect their privacy. Fact or fiction? Well, dogs can't talk, can they?

My Thoughts:
I was thrilled to be approached by the author to read this latest book as reviewed her previous one To Retribution, you can read my review for that one here, I also got to ask her some questions. 

Dan Knew is a completely different story to the other book and I as a huge animal and particularly dog lover I was extremely interested by the premise of the story, it is safe to say that Dan Knew did not disappoint. I found it moving and beautifully written. 

Dan was rescued from the streets of the Ukraine by the author and her family and this book is his story told in his own voice, a brilliant way of telling the story as we got to see some of the adventures he went on. This included different countries, a mistrust of machinery and even people. 

This is the merging of the lives of canines and those of the humans and the various interactions. I found this a realistic and moving portrayal of life, and the fact that ultimately is doesn't always run smoothly or how we would like. 

Expertly written by the author, her love for Dan shines through and this book is an absolutely fitting tribute to him. I really enjoyed this one and I will remember Dan for a long time. A story for animal lovers, dog lovers or generally anybody that has a heart.


About the Author:
Fiona dropped out of school aged 15, because being the consummate rebel, she hated it! After becoming a single parent she decided to return to education, graduating in 1996 with an honours degree in primary education. Ah, the irony!
As soon as she graduated she packed everything she owned into her Renault 11, including her daughter, two dogs and a cat, and headed off to Estonia to become an international school teacher. After fifteen years of teaching, predominantly in Eastern Europe, she returned to the UK .
She now lives on the east coast of Scotland with two Scottish rescue dogs and a disgruntled Portuguese cat.

Fiona is the author of two books:
To Retribution – A love story/political thriller set in times of turmoil.

Dan Knew – A fictionalised account of her travels told through the eyes of Dan, her rescued Ukrainian street dog.

Find out more using the following links:

Links:-

Twitter @fjcurlew

Website

Do have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour.




Saturday, 26 August 2017

#BlogTour: The Ashes of Berlin by Luke McCallin @noexitpress @mccallinluke #AshesofBerlin

Published in Paperback on 24th August 2017. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour.

World War II is over, and former German intelligence officer Captain Gregor Reinhardt has returned to Berlin. He’s about to find that the bloodshed has not ended — and that for some, death is better than defeat. 

A year after Germany’s defeat, Reinhardt has been hired back onto Berlin’s civilian police force. The city is divided among the victorious allied powers, tensions are growing, and the police are riven by internal rivalries as factions within it jockey for power and influence with Berlin’s new masters. 

When a man is found slain in a broken-down tenement, Reinhardt embarks on a gruesome investigation. It seems a serial killer is on the loose, and matters only escalate when it’s discovered that one of the victims was the brother of a Nazi scientist. 

Reinhardt’s search for the truth takes him across the divided city and soon embroils him in a plot involving the Western Allies and the Soviets. And as he comes under the scrutiny of a group of Germans who want to continue the war — and faces an unwanted reminder from his own past — Reinhardt realises that this investigation could cost him everything as he pursues a killer who believes that all wrongs must be avenged… 

My Thoughts:

The Ashes of Berlin is the third book to feature former German intelligence officer Captain Gregor Reinhardt. I haven't read the others and found that this read well as a standalone with just enough of the back story present. However I most certainly will be going back and reading the other two. 

This is a difficult book to review because I really don't want to give to much of the plot away, this is something to be savoured by each individual reader, so I will keep it brief. It is post World War Two and Reinhardt is back on the police force and is investigating suspicious deaths. A position that could potentially put him grave danger.

The author has managed to capture a Berlin at a time when tensions were rife, everybody was unsettled and full of mistrust. Divisions amongst society still exist, for some the war isn't over. 

Reinhardt is excellently written and a perfectly drawn protagonist in the telling of this story, a character not without his faults and flaws, I liked him very much. Whilst full of mystery and intrigue and all the things that keep me entertained as a reader it is the characterisations that really make this story come alive. 

Excellently and meticulously researched and full of atmosphere, The Ashes of Berlin is a compelling and complex read. It really was a rewarding experience to read. This story has an excellent plot line and is a realistic and absorbing read. It doesn't go along at a hurtling pace but is more of a simmering plot that allows the palpable tension to breath of off every page. 

Really recommend this one.


About the Author:
Luke McCallin was born in 1972 in Oxford, grew up in Africa, went to school around the world and has worked with the United Nations as a humanitarian relief worker and peacekeeper in the Caucasus, the Sahel, and the Balkans. His experiences have driven his writing, in which he explores what happens to normal people - those stricken by conflict, by disaster - put under abnormal pressures. He lives with his wife and two children in an old farmhouse in France in the Jura Mountains. He has a master's degree in political science, speaks French, and can just get by in Russian. When he's not working or writing, he enjoys reading history, playing the drums, and heading into the mountains for a run.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.



Friday, 18 August 2017

#BlogTour: Last Stop Tokyo by James Buckler @DoubledayUK #LastStopTokyo

Published by Doubleday/Transworld on 24th August 2017. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me on to the blog tour.

The funny thing with suffering is just when you think you’ve suffered enough, you realize it’s only the beginning.

Alex thought running away would make everything better. Six thousand miles from the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt, Tokyo seems like the perfect escape. A new life, a new Alex.

The bright lights and dark corners of this alien and fascinating city intoxicate him, and he finds himself transfixed by this country, which feels like a puzzle that no one can quite explain. And when Alex meets the enigmatic and alluring Naoko, the peace he sought slips ever further from his grasp.

After all, trust is just betrayal waiting to happen and Alex is about to find out that there’s no such thing as rock bottom. There’s always the chance it’ll get worse . . .

My Thoughts:

Last Stop Tokyo is the debut novel by exciting author James Buckler. I found it intriguing and highly compelling, I was drawn in by the writing style and hooked after the very first chapters. 

Alex is an English teacher and goes to Japan, as a means of escape. He has a craving for anonymity. Things however do not run smoothly for him, a spiral of destruction leads him into dire situations. 

He meets Naoko, who is a lady that he is almost compelled to, so drawn is he to her. What ensues is a gripping roller coaster of a read, that I was utterly beguiled by.

Tokyo itself is described in vivid detail, the bright lights of the big city, the noise and the hustle and bustle. There is always an undercurrent here though, one of imminent danger, a certain edge to the Tokyo that is described in this story. One where foreigners may not be fully welcomed. 

The unlikeable characters, give the story depth and dimension and a certain hazardous reality to events.

At 280 pages, Last Stop Tokyo, packs quite a punch, it has an excellent finale, and a build up to it that is enough to keep the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. Most definitely one of the most original and satisfying novels I have read this year.

I would love to read more from James Buckler in the future, a bright fresh talent. 

About the Author:

James Buckler grew up in the South West of England and currently lives in London. In the past he lived in America and Japan, where he worked as an English teacher, providing inspiration for Last Stop Tokyo. He studied Film at the University of Westminster and worked in film & TV for many years, most notably as a post-production specialist for MTV and BBC Films. Last Stop Tokyo is his debut novel.



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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

#BlogTour: Behind Her Back by Jane Lythell #BehindHerBack @janelythell @HoZ_Books

Behind Her Back is published by Head of Zeus on 10th August 2017. My thanks to the publishers and the author for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

Liz Lyon is a television producer and busy single mum to a teenage daughter. She works at StoryWorld, the UK's favourite morning show. As both confidante and team leader, she is the person tasked with controlling the conflicts and tantrums that flare up off-air. Having just started dating again, she's also having to deal with a few conflicts and tantrums at home...
Following a blissfully peaceful two-week holiday in Italy, Liz has returned to find a new colleague has joined the station. Lori Kerwell has been brought in to increase the show's profitability. But Liz is not sure that's the only thing on Lori's agenda.
As Lori builds her power base with the bosses, Liz finds herself wondering what's really going on behind her back...
My Thoughts:
I am delighted to have been invited on the blog tour for Behind Her Back, which is the second in the StoryWorld series. I read the first Woman of the Hour last year, and you can see what I thought of that here. If you haven't read Woman of the Hour then I would suggest that you should, although Behind Her Back reads well as a standalone novel. 
I thoroughly enjoyed returning to StoryWorld and its many egos and characters. Once again the character of Liz Lyon jumps off of the page, a strong, independent woman who manages to hold down a highly pressured job whilst being a single mum. I like her a lot. Her work and home life are definitely split and I really enjoyed the scenes when she is at home with her daughter Flo in Chalk Farm. Home is where Liz can relax and feel at peace from the frenetic pace of her work life. 
Liz has just returned from holiday and changes are afoot at StoryWorld. There is a new member of staff Lori Kerwell and it is a sure thing that things aren't going to be plain sailing. Fizzy, who we met in Woman of the Hour has had her baby. Liz knows a secret about that and as such is in a tricky position. Fizzy has such a big ego and I still didn't find her particularly likeable, although certainly relevant and adds much weight to the story.  
Drama and tension ensue as the pace of the work environment is relentless and everyone seems to be looking out for and after themselves. I loved escaping back into StoryWorld, a place that is unfamiliar to me and yet the traits and dynamics of the characters are certainly ones I have come across in my working life. 
Once again Jane Lythell has written an absorbing, current and engaging story that just hooked me in with enough drama and tension of another day at the office. There is great insight in this book about issues many face, particularly work-life balance, single parenthood and the pressures on people to succeed in a competitive and highly lucrative workplace. 
Highly recommended. 

About the Author:
Jane Lythell worked as a TV Producer for fifteen years. This has provided much of the inspiration for Woman of the Hour. She lives in Brighton. She has also written two other novels, After the Storm and The Lie of You. She has also worked at the British Film Institute, BAFTA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She now writes full time.
You can find Jane here:

Twitter: @janelythell 
Facebook: Jane Lythell Author
Instagram: jane_lythell_writer
Blog: http://chroniclesofchloegreene.blogspot.co.uk/



Please do have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour.



Sunday, 23 July 2017

#BlogTour: The Ludlow Ladies' Society by Ann O'Loughlin @annolwriter @bwpublishing @FMcMAssociates

Published by Black and White Publishing on 20th July 2017. My thanks to Sophie at FMcM Associates for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in Manhattan, she moves to Wicklow, Ireland hoping to heal her broken heart, and in search of answers: why did her husband plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died?

Although Connie initially avoids the villagers, she meets local women Eve and Hetty, who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies' Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home.

Eve Brannigan is also struggling with pain from her past. After her husband's suicide, it become clear the he had bankrupted them, and her beloved home Ludlow Hall was repossessed. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing her house is renewed. But as she and Hetty begin stitching memory quilts in order to remember those they've lost, can she let go of her past and allow herself some happiness? And can Connie ever recover from the death of her much-loved daughter Molly?

My Thoughts:

The Ludlow Ladies' Society is a book that came along at the right time for me, and was a much needed change from all of the crime books I have been reading lately. It was full of warmth and compassion, and sucked me up into it, like being wrapped up in one of the infamous quilts the ladies of the society produce. 

In this story the ladies have known loss, but they have each other. Some are at transitional stages in life particularly Connie who has moved to Ludlow Hall from America. She is in a strange place, coping with her grief and not sure how she is going to fit in to the village. 

Ludlow Hall is wonderfully and descriptively written about, I could imagine that I was standing outside. There is a great sense of place here and the author manages to draw the reader in. 

The Ludlow Ladies' society is not a story all about threads and quilts though. There is real grief amongst the ladies and at times it is palpable as it threatens to overwhelm the ladies. Unusually all of the characters were all likeable and I enjoyed spending time with them all. 

Ultimately this a story of friendship and compassion, a group of ladies that support each other come what may. I found it to be absorbing, warm, witty and very moving. 

Much like the patches on a quilt, lives are made up of various moments and memories to create a jumble of the good and the bad. Friendships that stand the test of time are those that make it through the good and the bad. 

A really great read!





About the Author: 

A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues. Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast in Co. Wicklow with her husband and two children. Her debut novel The Ballroom CafĂ© was a bestseller, with over 250,000 copies sold in eBook. Her second novel The Judge’s Wife was an Irish bestseller for 5 weeks and was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel Award (RoNA) in February 2017. 

You can find the Author on Twitter: @annolwriter

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.