Saturday, 28 November 2015

Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis


This book was published by Chicken House on the 3rd September 2015. It is available in print and e book versions.

While on holiday in Montana, Hope meets local boy Cal Crow, a ranch-hand. Caught in a freak accident, the two of them take shelter in a mountain cabin where Hope makes a strange discovery. More than a hundred years earlier, another English girl met a similar fate. Her rescuer: a horse-trader called Nate. In this wild place, both girls learn what it means to survive and to fall in love, neither knowing that their fates are intimately entwined.

My Thoughts

This book is a Young Adult Historical/Modern day romance story. Although outside my usual comfort zone, it has to be said that I was quickly drawn in and I found it thoroughly entertaining.

Firstly 1867 in Montana with Emily and Nate. Emily and Nate's story occurs when upon Emily trying to travel across America a disaster occurs and Emily is left alone, save for the care of Nate who rescues her and takes her back to his home and looks after her and what develops is an unlikely story of love.

In modern day Montana, Hope travels with her mother to stay at the ranch of Cal. Hope discovers a diary hidden away, telling the long ago story of Emily. History inevitably repeats itself, with similarites between the stories and the two strands seamlessly join together. Two separate times and two separate stories that are inextricably linked.

My favourite element is the story of Emily and Nate, it was beautifully written, and you could really imagine the time and place it was set.

Some important themes are tackled in this book. Firstly how two women from different times gain their independence and free themselves from their lives and futures that already seem mapped out for them. Elements of racial difference that occur in both periods of the story. Ultimately how it is possible to accept others despite their differences, with love being the over riding theme.

I really enjoyed it.


About the Author

Lucy Inglis is an eighteenth-century historian and curator of the award-winning Georgian London blog. She lives in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral with her husband and a Border Terrier. City of Halves was published in 2014, and this new novel, Crow Mountain, was published in 2015.

www.lucyinglis.com or twitter @lucyinglis

Thursday, 26 November 2015

** BLOG TOUR ** The Jazz Files (Poppy Denby Investigates) by Fiona Veitch Smith


This book was published on the 17th September 2015 by Lion Hudson. Many thanks to them and to Rhoda for inviting me onto the blog tour.

Available in paperback and ebook: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jazz-Files-Poppy-Denby-Investigates/dp/1782641750/ref=sr_1_1/279-6749217-2299761?ie=UTF8&qid=1447855908&sr=8-1&keywords=jazz+files


Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said...

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?

My Thoughts:

There are days when I adore blogging, days when a book gets drawn to my attention that possibly wouldn't have otherwise. Today is one of those days. I was immediately drawn in by the attractive cover, that sets the Era of the book perfectly.


I would describe this book as a mystery but it is so much more than that. The author skillfully sets the scene within the first few pages. First of all 1920's London, Kings Cross station, where you could almost hear the hustle and the bustle of another time. The sounds of the Jazz music in Oscars and sense the joy and the dancing. So vividly portrayed.

Poppy Denby moves to London under the premise of becoming a carer for her Aunt Dot, however her aunt and her friend Grace have other plans for her. Encouraging her to have a career and forge forward in life. Both Dot and Grace are Suffragettes. It is here where the most interesting element of the story lies for me, the history of the Suffragette Movement, a fascinating time and the strength of the women and their determination to bring about change and equality.

A wonderful, real and eclectic cast of characters that came to life on the pages, some of them I liked, some of them I did not. I don't think it is possible to like them all. Such as the characters and story played out in my mind, I could certainly envisage and television production of some kind. Poppy Denby is the real star of this book, a heroine. It was so refreshing to have a female lead character in this book rather than a middle aged man, that I read quite a lot in mystery books.

I love this era and have been known to be a bit partial to Agatha Christie, it could certainly seem that some comparisons could be drawn, only in a positive way of course. A truly wonderful book and in a current market of several types of thrillers and crime novels, this one is original, refreshing and stands out from the rest for all the right reasons.

Thoroughly recommended, and I am delighted that we will be hearing more from Poppy Denby in the future.



About the Author:

Fiona Veitch Smith has worked as a Journalist in South Africa and the UK. and is now an Associate Lecturer in Journalism as Newcastle University. She also teaches Creative Writing at Northumbria University. She was inspired to write The Jazz Files by the centenary anniversary of the death of Morpeth's Emily Wilding Davison, who died after being struck by the king's horse in a suffragist protest in 1912. 

You can find out more here: http://www.poppydenby.com/


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie


This books is published by Matador which is an imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd. My thanks to the publisher and the author for my review copy.


More than thirty years after thirteen-year-old Shona McIver was murdered in a Scottish seaside town, her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah meet again at a school reunion. The tragedy has cast a shadow over their lives, but when DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the murder, their relationships and emotions are thrown into turmoil.

In the search for the real killer, suspicion falls on those closest to them: Tom uncovers dark secrets, Sarah's perfect family life begins to crumble, and they are caught up in a web of death, love and deception before the truth finally comes to light.


My Thoughts: 

The book starts of with the poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence. It creates an immediate sense of foreboding and also gives the book its title. I found this story very dark and felt the immediate mystery surrounding the characters and the events of the past.

The locations in the story were written very vividly and pulled me into the story even more. Locations such as Portobello and South Africa. 

The characters all have their own nuances and I particularly couldn't stand Sarah's husband Rory, who I thought was just totally objectionable. However even his character added to the story and I can understand why he was written as he was.

A complete book of mystery, there are elements of family histories, and suspicions. It kept me guessing as the plot cleverly and slowly unravelled throughout the book. This was an excellent example at building the suspense all the way along. Also involved in the plotline is adultery, self esteem and marriage. These other themes only serve to tie all of the strands of the story together expertly.

I found this book to be thrilling, and engaging and proof that we can never really know anybody. Not completely at any rate. A very accomplished and entrancing first novel.

I would definitely recommend it, if you haven't read it already.




About the Author:

Alison Baillie was brought up in Yorkshire by Scottish parents. She studied English at the University of St Andrews and taught in various schools in Edinburgh and later in Switzerland when she moved there.  She enjoys going to crime festivals, reading, writing, travelling, spending time with friends and family and much more. Sewing the Shadows Together is her first novel.

Please visit her website to find out more: http://alisonbaillie.com/



Friday, 13 November 2015

Guest Author: Katey Lovell ~ The Meet Cute Series




I am delighted to welcome Katey Lovell to the blog today as a guest author. I have gotten to know Katey via social media and a mutual love of books and blogging. I am so pleased for her that she has published The Meet Cute Series with Harper Impulse. The series is available now as E Books, details of which are at the end of this post. 

Katey has written us a short piece about the traits she shares with the characters in her stories...


People often ask authors if the characters they write are based on real people, or if they are autobiographical.  The standard answer is generally that they’re not but that they’re influenced by either the writer or people they’ve come across in everyday life.

Without wanting to be a cliché, I definitely didn’t set out to base the characters in The Meet Cute Series on myself.  But as I look back through the stories there are definitely elements of myself in them…

Jade, the protagonist in The Boy in the Bookshop is nuts about books.  She loves her piercings and brightly coloured hair, but despite her colourful exterior is actually quite shy.  I can definitely relate to all of that.  And Marwan, who actually is the boy in the bookshop has strong family values, which I do too.

Lauren and Toby, the couple in The Boy at the Beach, originally meet online.  I’ve shared the story of my own ‘meetcute’ on my author blog (www.kateylovell.blogspot.co.uk) but my husband and I first ‘met’ on an internet forum way back in 1997 -  I wanted to write a story that showed how real relationships can blossom over the web!  Both Lauren and Toby are chatterboxes and love the warmth and lifestyle offered by Magaluf, where they’ve both ended up working.  I’ve never ventured abroad for work, but my best friend works as cabin crew for British Airways and loves travel so maybe I was subliminally influenced by her quest for adventure when writing this one.

Lily, the leading lady in The Boy at the Bakery is a sucker for a dimple and I’ll admit to finding them pretty irresistible myself.  In fact, when I first met my husband in person his dimples were one of the things I was most attracted to.  Also Cole, who works at the bakery in the story, has a goofy sense of humour and yes, I’ll admit to laughing at terribly cheesy jokes.  I can’t help it, I have a childish sense of humour! 

So in different ways there are little pieces of me scattered throughout the series, although none of the characters are based entirely on me or anyone I know.  I suppose I’ve just given that standard answer again, haven’t I?!


Thanks for stopping by Katey and I wish you every success with the series.


Katey Lovell is the author of The Meet Cute seriesThe Boy in the Bookshop, the first short story in the series was released on October 29th followed by The Boy at the Beach on November 5th and The Boy at the Bakery on November 12th.  All titles are published by Harper Impulse, the digital-first romance imprint at Harper Collins.





About the Author

Katey Lovell is fanatical about words. An avid reader, writer and poet, she once auditioned for Countdown and still tapes the show every night. Getting the conundrum before the contestants is her ultimate thrill.

She loves love and strives to write feel-good romance that'll make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and their seven year old son.

Find Katey on twitter, @katey5678,  Facebook www.facebook.com/kateylovell and her author blog www.kateylovell.blogspot.co.uk

Monday, 9 November 2015

** BLOG TOUR ** London's Glory by Christopher Fowler


Published in hardback by Doubleday on 5th November 2015, priced £16.99. My thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy and the chance to be part of the blog tour.


In every detective’s life there are cases that can’t be discussed, and throughout the Bryant & May novels there have been mentions of some of these such as the Deptford Demon or the Little Italy Whelk Smuggling Scandal.
Now Arthur Bryant has decided to open the files on eleven of these previously unseen investigations that required the collective genius and unique modus operandi of Arthur Bryant and John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit - investigations that range from different times (London during the Great Smog) and a variety of places: a circus freak show, on board a London Tour Bus and even a yacht off the coast of Turkey. 
And in addition to these eleven classic cases, readers are also given a privileged look inside the Peculiar Crimes Unit (literally, with a cut away drawing of their offices), a guide to the characters of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and access to the contents of Arthur Bryant’s highly individual library.

My Thoughts

I admit to being relatively new to the Bryant and May books, but I have taken both of the main characters to heart almost instantaneously. The author has a wonderful skill of creating a whole array of characters with eccentricities and foibles. There is a certain amount of humour throughout and at times I found myself chuckling at the pair of ageing detectives latest escapades. I love the quirkiness and the originality of the writing, it is so refreshing. 

The books are set in London and I would say that London is a character in the books in its own right. I love the little trip around all the places that you wouldn't find in a guide book. Places from the past.

I could never get bored of this series of books, always something new and different everytime. However you know that everytime you will be absorbed into the London streets and absorbed into the lives and minds of Bryant and May.

This book is a collection of short stories, a look back on eleven classic cases. You do not necessarily need to have read the other Bryant and May books to enjoy this collection. It might be the perfect place to begin to get to know the marvels of the characters and the writing. 

It would certainly make a wonderful gift, if you like good dectective stories that are a bit different from the norm.

Really recommended.


                                                     ------------------



I am delighted that Christopher is joining me on the blog today to discuss the craft of creating short stories,  and the difference in the reading and the writing process compared to novels. 


I tend to think of short stories as single diamonds and novels as necklaces. The former can be polished until they’re perfect, but craftspeople rarely make a perfect necklace. I have only written two or three stories that I’m 100 per cent happy with. Stories are a great way to test ideas. If you get to the end of one and still want to write more on the subject, there’s a chance you have a novel. Many of my non-Bryant & May books started as short stories. It works the other way around, too. The last chapter of Waugh’s social satire 'A Handful of Dust' is in many horror collections as a stand-alone story. A list of my favourites would include;

            ‘The Cone’ and ‘The Door In The Wall’ – HG Wells
            ‘Leningen Versus The Ants’ – Carl Stephenson
            ‘Camera Obscura’ – Basil Copper
            ‘Evening Primrose’ – John Collier
            ‘The Man Who Liked Dickens’ – Evelyn Waugh
            ‘The Fly’ – George Langelaan

Alfred Hitchcock had put his name to a series of dog-eared anthologies that were wonderful assorted literary ragbags, and from these I started making informed decisions about the writing I enjoyed most. Now I read a vast number of short story collections because they’re ideally suited for electronic reading.
            
To answer your question best, I’d say that short stories allow for experimentation to an infinite degree. I’ve written stories told only in speech, one in futuristic teen slang, another in the form of a sinister travel guide, another like a museum booklet. John Sladek famously wrote a short story in the form of a questionnaire to be filled in. These formats are hard to pull off in longer fiction.

Anthologies are not collections. The former are compilations from a variety of authors under the aegis of an editor who (hopefully) makes an intelligent selection, and the latter stem from a single writer. Collections are less popular than anthologies, because anthologies can be themed more easily around a single subject.
Anthologies were once hugely popular in the UK and provided an inexpensive way of discovering new writers; a task now largely performed by e-readers. Many anthologies are now very collectable.

In 1937 Fifty Strangest Stories Ever Told was published and became an instant classic that stayed on household shelves for decades. The 700-page volume introduced readers to stories and authors they had never read before. One of the oddest anthologies is Poolside, which unusually doesn’t credit its editor. The stories all involve swimming pools. John Cheever’s classic ‘The Swimmer’ is here, along with Edna O’Brien’s ‘Paradise’. Poolside looks like a normal book but is printed with waterproof paper so that it can be read in a swimming pool.

Too many of these volumes under-represent female authors, but a volume called Alfred Hitchcock Presents sparked off a two-decade long set of short story anthologies that proved massively influential, and rebalanced the field by featuring a great many female authors who’d had little previous exposure in the UK.


Don’t get me started – we could be here all day!




About the Author:

Christopher Fowler is a Londoner born (in Greenwich) and bred. For many years he jointly owned and ran one of the UK's top film marketing companies.

He is the author of many novels and short story collections, from the urban unease of cult fictions such as Roofworld and Spanky, the horror-pastiche of Hell Train to the much-praised and award-winning Bryant and May series of detective novels - and his two critically acclaimed autobiographies, Paperboy and Film Freak.

He lives in King's Cross.


You can find him on twitter: @Peculiar

Friday, 6 November 2015

** BLOG TOUR ** In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward


In Bitter Chill was released in paperback on 5th November 2015 by Faber & Faber. My thanks to the publisher and author for my review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour.

You can't bury the truth forever


Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins were abducted in 1978, but only Rachel returned home. Over thirty years later, Sophie's case is reopened when her mother commits suicide. The question is, why now? Did Yvonne Jenkins find out something about her daughter's disappearance. 
Rachel has spent years trying to put the past behind her. But news of the suicide makes her realise that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

My Thoughts:

This is a compelling story of mystery and intrigue spanning over thirty years. It flips backs between the present day and 1978 when the dreadful kidnappings occurred and Sophie never come home.

I found this book to be very atmospheric throughout. The setting of the woods in Bampton, Derbyshire and the surrounding area providing the perfect backdrop to these horrendous crimes.

I actually felt this book to be a mixture of all the types of crime books that I love, partly psychological thriller, part mystery and partly the solving of the police case. It worked well and all of the elements were perfectly blended to create a gripping and very real story. I felt alarmed that it is the type of story you could see in the news, anytime or anyplace.

The author managed to create a sense of unease in me throughout the story, and for me anyway there was no second guessing the ending. A brilliant examination of family secrets but also lies and how eventually they do catch up with you, and the lasting damage they can cause.

I loved the resilience of Rachel, how she has managed to forge ahead with her life after the abduction, clearly damaged but still whole. I found the elements of her working as a family historian fascinating.

The author has managed to write an excellent debut. Perfectly balanced between gripping and intriguing. Little clues coming about bit by bit, until the ending which was amazing and testament to the tangled web of lies and deceit that she had created throughout.

I recommend this one so very much.

About the Author:

Sarah Ward is an online book reviewer whose blog, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She has also reviewed for Eurocrime and Crimesquad. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. She lives in Derbyshire. 

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahrward1

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