The Body in the Boat by A.J. MacKenzie @AJMacKnovels @BonnierZaffre #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Body in the Boat by A.J. MacKenzie! I was unfortunately unable to read this one (I need more hours in the day! Someone make that happen!) but I do have a great extract to share with you all today.

My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for the invitation!

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Author : A.J. Mackenzie
Title : The Body in the Boat
Series : Hardcastle & Chaytor Mysteries #3
Pages : 400
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : April 5, 2018

aboutthebook

Across the still, dark English Channel come the smugglers. But tonight they carry an unusual cargo: a coffin. Several miles inland, a respected banker holds a birthday party for his wife. Within days, one of the guests is found shot dead.

What links this apparently senseless killing to the smugglers lurking in the mists? Why has the local bank been buying and hoarding gold? And who was in the mysterious coffin?

Reverend Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor find themselves drawn into the worlds of high finance and organised crime in this dramatic and dark Georgian mystery.

extract

Dawn broke, glowing red and pink and gold over the heaving sea, the wind still hard from the west. She was so exhausted she could hardly think. The world around her seemed to stutter. The relentless crash of the waves, the creaking of the hull, the moaning of the rigging tore at her nerves.

‘A mile and a half’, said Captain Haddock. ‘Sloterdyke is no lubber. He must know we’re overhauling him.’

‘Think he might turn and fight, sir?’

‘Wouldn’t you? Pipe the hands to breakfast.’

Breakfast was a form of porridge. She forced a few spoonsful down, shuddering with a nausea that had nothing to do with seasickness. Another cup of coffee laced with rum calmed her stomach.

Blue sky overhead, enormous columns of white cloud marching over the sea round them, trailing grey sheets of rain. The wind was down a little, but still the waves rolled on, streaked with white foam. The deck of the ship heaved and swayed beneath her feet.

‘Sail ho!’

‘Where away?’

‘Port bow, captain. It’s another lugger.’

White sails, rising and falling on the horizon. The sea, rolling and rolling, without end.

‘She’s one of ours, captain! I think it’s Black Joke!’

‘Make the recognition signal.’

Silence, waiting.

‘Weather’s coming up, captain.’ One of the great storm clouds was rolling towards them from the west.

Black Joke’s answering, captain. She’s spotted the Dutchman.’

The squall was drawing nearer. A few raindrops pattered on the already wet deck.

Black Joke is turning, sir! She’s running to cut the Dutchman off.’

‘Watch the Dutchman, lads, watch her’, said Haddock. ‘She’ll wait until the squall hits and then try to run back past us. Watch her sails; sing out the moment you see her turn.’

Rain was falling heavily now. Her cloak was saturated, she realised, and she was wet through to her small clothes. Her body shivered from head to foot, but she could not turn away.

‘Ma’am’, said Captain Haddock, ‘I am about to send the crew to quarters. You should go below.’

She did not know what that meant. She shook her head.

A whistle blew. A drum beat. Men ran across the rolling deck. The ropes securing the black guns were removed. Charges of powder were rammed down the muzzles, roundshot forced home after them.

The rain hit them in earnest, pouring out of the sky, streaming across the deck. The men around her were soaked through in an instant. The horizon vanished behind the curtain of rain.

‘She’s turning!’ Several voices shouting at once. They had seen the Dutch lugger’s sails turn just before the heavy rain blotted her from sight.

‘Hard a-starboard. Now, midships. Meet her.’

‘Steady as she goes, captain.’

‘Gun’s crews closed up and ready for action, sir.’

The rain hammered at them. A powerful gust of wind followed, kicking up the waves so that Stag corkscrewed across them, diving into the troughs. Mrs Chaytor grabbed for a rope and clung on as a big wave broke across the deck, green water up to her waist for a moment, then pouring away over the side.

Waiting, watching the rain for any sign of movement.

There she is!

Great red sails stretched taut, black hull shiny with wet driving over the heaving grey seas, white foam at her bow, perhaps three hundred yards away.

Hard a-starboard!

Flashes of flame, puffs of white smoke from the Dutch lugger’s deck; thuds of shot against the wooden hull, something tearing a hole in the sail overhead. Hardcastle was there beside her, white faced. ‘Amelia, what are you doing? Go below!’

She could not move; she could only shake her head.

‘It’s that God-damned Puckle gun! Look out, they’re firing again!’ Flash. Flash. Flash from the enemy deck, more thumps against the hull. Another puff of smoke and a cannonball tore a white leaping fountain from the face of an incoming wave.

‘Midships. Meet her.’

The Dutch ship was turning too, away to port. She could see the long barrel of the Puckle gun now, and the men around the other guns, reloading. At this distance their faces were white featureless blobs. Another cannon fired from the Dutchman’s deck, gushing smoke; this time, she heard the sharp crack of the explosion over the roar of wind and water.

Rain drumming on the deck, running down her face and into her eyes. The crash of waves under the bow, spray flying up in hissing sheets. Flash. Flash. Flash; the Puckle gun, firing again. Shouts from the men around her as the ship was hit.

‘Stand by the guns. Fire.’

White billowing smoke, a hammering in her ears that made her want to scream, the smoke twisting away quickly on the wind. ‘Did we hit her?’

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😲. Well, I don’t know! Did they? Or not? If you want to find out, The Body in the Boat is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

A J MacKenzie is the pseudonym of Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, an Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife team of writers and historians.

They write non-fiction history and management books under their own names, but ‘become’ A J MacKenzie when writing fiction.

Twitter | Website

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Code Runner & Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton @rosieclaverton @CrimeSceneBooks @annecater #blogtour #AmyLaneMysteries #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Code Runner and Binary Witness. These are the first two books in the Amy Lane Mysteries and author Rosie Claverton visits the blog to talk about how to make an old book new again. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity.

Author : Rosie Claverton
Title : Code Runner & Binary Witness
Series : The Amy Lane Mysteries 1 & 2
Pages : 100 pages
Publisher : Crime Scene Books
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

Binary Witness : A young woman trapped by her fear, a young man pursued by his past, a murderer hunting the Cardiff streets by night. Agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane employs ex-con Jason Carr as a cleaner. When the police `borrow’ Amy’s skills to help track down the killer, Amy and Jason become a crime-fighting team, Amy on her computer, Jason on the streets.

Code Runner : Agoraphobic grey-hat hacker Amy Lane and her sidekick ex-con Jason Carr make a formidable crime-fighting team, but when Jason investigates a body washed up on a beach, the duo find themselves in over their heads in a world of drug-smuggling, conspiracy and cyber crime. Can Amy rescue Jason? At what cost?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

An old book made new again by Rosie Claverton

I’m in an unusual position with my crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries – I have the pleasure of launching the first two books twice!

I wrote Binary Witness during the National Novel Writing Month of 2011. After several rounds of revisions, I submitted to an ebook-only publisher and landed a two-book deal! Binary Witness set sail in May 2014, with Code Runner following in the September.

And I never read those books again.

Unfortunately, my publisher wasn’t interested in a third Amy Lane mystery, but Crime Scene Books were excited about continuing the series. I wrote the third novel Captcha Thief, which was published in 2016, and the fourth novel Terror 404 came out in 2017.

I worked on other projects. I grew and learned as a writer. I now know that I always struggle with the first third of the book, gather momentum around the midpoint, and then draw everything together for a heart-stopping finale. I am a much better novelist than I was in 2011.

That’s when my editor at Crime Scene Books told me that they had acquired the rights to Binary Witness and Code Runner. The two books would be relaunched as new editions in paperback, with a Binary Witness audiobook and a short story extra in Code Runner.

Which meant I was going back to revise my first published novels.

I was filled with dread at what I might find. I hadn’t picked either of them up for three years! What if they weren’t actually any good? What if I discovered the characters were completely different people? What if the material there couldn’t be salvaged? Would I need to hide away in shame at what I had first drafted before I was a wife, mother and psychiatrist, six long years in the past?

The first thing I did was correct the glaring error in the first chapter that I had inadvertently introduced during copy edits and which had haunted me since publication. That felt good. Then, I read on. It wasn’t bad! It was good, even. I fell in love with my characters again and I remembered how they were at the beginning of their stories, how they’ve changed and grown into how I’m writing them in the fifth novel of the series.

Would I write the same books now? Probably not. Yet the later books flow from the first ones, a river whose source must retain the same purity of water. I can respect the work of my past and, apart from shifting around a chapter or two and trimming a lot of adverbs, I didn’t radically change the books before sending them out into the world again.

Amy and Jason begin their story in largely the same way they did in 2014, and I hope to continue telling their stories for many years to come.

[Thanks so much for stopping by, Rosie! Wishing you the best of luck with the Amy Lane Mysteries!)

abouttheauthor

Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home.

Her Cardiff-based crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries debuted in 2014, with the latest novel Terror 404 released in June 2017.

Between writing and medicine, she blogs about psychiatry and psychology for writers in her Freudian Script series, advocating for accurate and sensitive portrayals of people with mental health problems in fiction.

Rosie lives with her journalist husband and her brand new daughter.

Twitter | Website

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The Key to Death’s Door by Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #blogtour

Thrilled to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Key to Death’s Door and to wish Mark Tilbury a very happy publication day! My thanks to Mark Tilbury and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation and my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Mark Tilbury
Title : The Key to Death’s Door
Pages : 361
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : April 16, 2018

aboutthebook

If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

mythoughts

Flippin’ heck! What even?! I have no idea how to review this sheer awesomeness at all!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, probably also in a review for the same author, that I don’t normally read paranormal or supernatural stories but for Mark Tilbury, I gladly make an exception and I don’t regret a single second of it. This is the third book in this genre that I’ve read by him and once again, it completely blew me away!

So, see that book description at the top of the page? Yes, that’s all you’re going to get from me where the plot is concerned. Why though, I hear you ask? Because I actually tried to explain it to the OH and the poor man got horribly confused. What you really need to know is that most of the story is set in the present day, while some of it regards events from thirty years earlier. These two periods are linked by one character and what a character it is!

As I’ve come to expect from this author, that particular character is one of the most despicable, vile and evil men ever to roam the planet! Very few people come up with someone so incredibly disturbing but Mark Tilbury manages it in every single book of his I’ve read so far. The only relief from all the heinous acts comes in the form of the friendship between Lee and Charlie in the present, and two other characters in the past. Everyone should have a friend like them and in the midst of the horror, I regularly found myself smiling at their banter.

The Key to Death’s door doesn’t exactly make for comfortable reading. It is an incredibly dark and harrowing tale of abuse, of not always being able to protect your family no matter how hard you try and of seeking justice. It’s a hard-hitting, well-written, compelling, gritty and thought-provoking story that, days later, still has me utterly reeling.

If you’re a fan of Mark Tilbury’s books, I have no doubt you will love this one as much as I did. If you haven’t yet discovered this author, I highly recommend you take the time to get caught up. In the meantime I’m off to firmly add him to my list of go-to authors and (im)patiently await his next offering, which I’m sure will rock my socks off just as much as this one did. No pressure, sir.

The Key to Death’s Door is available now!

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his fifth novel, The Key to Death’s Door published along with The Liar’s Promise, The Abattoir of Dreams, and The Ben Whittle Investigations relaunched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

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Bryant & May : Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler @Peculiar @DoubledayUK @annecater #blogtour #extract #RandomThingsTours

Such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for the 15th (!!) book in the Bryant & May series, titled Hall of Mirrors by author Christopher Fowler. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity. I was unfortunately unable to find a gap in my schedule to read this one but I do have a fun extract to share with you all.

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Author : Christopher Fowler
Title : Bryant & May : Hall of Mirrors
Series : Bryant & May #15
Pages : 400
Publisher : Transworld
Publication date : March 22, 2018

aboutthebook

The year is 1969 and ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall. But one amongst them is harbouring thoughts of murder. . .

The guests also include the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May – undercover, in disguise and tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones, a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial. Luckily, they’ve got a decent chap on the inside who can help them – the one-armed Brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf. The scene is set for what could be the perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. For the good times are, it seems, coming to an end.

The house’s owner – a penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat – is intent on selling the estate (complete with its own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire but the weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards. But army manoeuvres have closed the only access road and without a forensic examiner, Bryant and May can’t solve the case. It’s when a falling gargoyle fells another guest that the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line. And in the process discover that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems…

So gentle reader, you are cordially invited to a weekend in the country. Expect murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion!

extract

A few minutes later, John May knocked on the bedroom door.

Arthur Bryant opened the door and took a step back. ‘My word, you scrub up well. I would never have recognised you.’

May was wearing a double-breasted evening jacket with black silk lapels and a black bow-tie, his hair thickened and combed with a fringe. ‘One has to make an effort,’ he said. ‘I see you didn’t.’

Bryant’s clothes looked as if they had been tossed onto him from a distance. Nothing fitted properly. His pinstriped blazer and grey Oxford bags had possibly last seen duty in a touring production of Salad Days, or at the Windmill Theatre, where he might have passed as a low comic between nude tableaux. A pair of wide striped braces had pulled his trousers halfway up his chest, and a partially unravelled polka-dotted bowtie had become marooned around the side of his neck.

‘I can’t get this blooming thing to stay done up.’

‘Come here.’ May tackled the bow. ‘Right over left, left over right, fold it back and pull it tight. There. My dad was in an orchestra. I used to have to tie his bow-tie for him every night. Let’s go downstairs and see what we’re up against.’

They started to walk. May raised his hand and stopped Bryant. ‘What is that?’

‘What’s what?’

‘That clicking noise.’

‘I don’t hear anything.’ Bryant continued on.

Takata-takata-takata.

May halted him and looked down. ‘It sounds like you’re wearing tap shoes.’

Bryant stopped and raised one foot. ‘I am,’ he said apologetically.

‘They’re not going to be much good if we need to creep about this place in silence. We’re undercover, remember?’

‘Sorry, they came from the actors’ wardrobe bag.’

‘Tap shoes on a stakeout,’ said May. ‘Incredible.’ He headed toward the stairs. ‘From now on we can’t let afford to our witness out of our sight.’

******

Tap shoes! 😂

I don’t know about you but that sure whet my appetite! I may just have found another series to get caught up with. Hopefully, this takes your fancy as well and you’ll follow one of the links below to grab yourself a copy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Christopher Fowler is an English novelist living in London, his books contain elements of black comedy, anxiety and social satire. As well as novels, he writes short stories, scripts, press articles and reviews.

He lives in King’s Cross, on the Battlebridge Basin, and chooses London as the backdrop of many of his stories because any one of the events in its two thousand year history can provide inspiration.

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Dead North by Joel Hames @joel_hames @MainsailBooks @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #DeadNorth

I’m absolutely delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Dead North by Joel Hames today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity and to the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : Joel Hames
Title : Dead North
Series : Sam Williams #1
Pages : 280
Publisher : Mainsail Books
Publication date : March 22, 2018

aboutthebook

Once the brightest star in the legal firmament, Sam Williams has hit rock bottom, with barely a client to his name and a short-term cash problem that’s looking longer by the minute. So when he’s summoned to Manchester to help a friend crack a case involving the murder of two unarmed police officers and a suspect who won’t say a word, he jumps at the chance to resurrect his career.

In Manchester he’ll struggle against resentful locals, an enigmatic defence lawyer who thinks he’s stepping on her toes, beatings, corrupt cops and people who’ll do anything to protect their secrets. On its streets, he’ll see people die. But it’s in the hills and valleys further north that Sam will face the biggest challenge of all: learning who he really is and facing down the ghosts of his past.

mythoughts

Books like this one are exactly why I enjoy doing blog tours so much. This may otherwise never have come across my radar and I would have missed out on something fabulous. From the very first pages, I already knew I was going to be pleasantly surprised and in for a thrilling and entertaining ride.

Two unarmed police officers are shot. A suspect is arrested but he won’t talk. Enter Sam Williams, a down-on-his luck lawyer from London. He’s called up to help crack this case way up in Manchester and somehow convince the suspect to talk. Sam doesn’t really have anything much to do so he accepts, thinking maybe this will jumpstart his career once again, but Manchester isn’t exactly welcoming him with open arms. Why is the suspect not talking? Why are the other police officers so hostile and will Sam make it out of the north alive?

He’s working someone else’s case and he’s in way over his head. But sometimes you need the wrong man in the right place.

Let me start by saying that the character of Sam Williams is absolutely fantastic and I warmed to him from the get-go. I often found myself chuckling at his dry sense of humour but also rolling my eyes at him, especially where his relationship skills regarding his girlfriend are concerned. He’s a tad quirky, not quite what you’d expect him to be somehow. But Sam also has great instincts, that gut feeling that spurs him on to find the truth no matter what. He shows incredible determination, even when people are trying their hardest to stop him.

Dead North has a brilliant and truly clever plot. Full of red herrings and dead ends, this fast-paced and tense story had me hooked from start to finish. There are some truly fabulous reveals I didn’t see coming at all. I had no idea who to trust. Quite frankly, I couldn’t figure out any of the connections, didn’t have a clue what was going and so I was kept guessing until the end. I also have to mention the grey, wet and miserable setting of Manchester, which works like a charm. It adds an extra layer of grittiness to the story.

If you’re looking for a crime fiction thriller that’s that little bit different from all the other crime stories out there, then this is most definitely for you. Nothing is what it seems. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and while this is my first time reading a book by Joel Hames, I’m sure it won’t be my last and I can’t wait to catch up with Sam Williams again!

Dead North was published on March 22nd and is available for purchase.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.
After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).
Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Joel’s website can be found at http://www.joelhamesauthor.com/, where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter. If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/joelhamesauthor or Twitter at @joel_hames. Joel has never seen the word “Joel” appear as frequently as it does right here, and wholeheartedly approves.

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A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson @jessbarratt88 @simonschusterUK

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Author : Andrew Wilson
Title : A Talent for Murder
Series : Agatha Christie #1
Pages : 416
Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Publication date : First published April 6, 2017

aboutthebook

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, is boarding a train, preoccupied with the devastating knowledge that her husband is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events—for her rescuer is no guardian angel, rather he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind.

“You, Mrs. Christie, are going to commit a murder. But, before then, you are going to disappear.”

Writing about murder is a far cry from committing a crime, and Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her expertise and knowledge about the act of murder to kill on his behalf.

mythoughts

I’m fairly new to the world of Agatha Christie, having just read two of her books in recent months. So I wasn’t at all aware of the events this novel is inspired by. In December 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared without a trace. Ten days later, she was found in a hotel in Harrogate but since Agatha has never talked about that period of her life, the mystery surrounding her disappearance still remains today.

Andrew Wilson has taken that premise and delivered a story that not only oozes atmosphere but is also quite dark and disturbing. Because Agatha Christie is being blackmailed do commit a murder. Writing about it is one thing, actually doing the crime is something entirely different. Will Agatha do this heinous act? Or will her wit allow her to find a way out of this most horrendous situation?

While the story is mostly told from Agatha’s point of view, we are also introduced to the detective charged with finding her and Una Crowe, a wanna-be journalist who would love nothing more than to solve this case and find a way to move on from her father’s death. With such a delightful cast of characters and fabulous settings, I quickly found myself completely immersed.

At first I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It seemed rather weird to have a fictional story centred around the great lady of crime herself. But Andrew Wilson really brought her to life, portraying her not just simply as this author of detective stories but as a remarkably intelligent woman whose priority is protecting her family. I adored the little mentions of books she’s written, especially as the “bad guy” seemingly took inspiration from one of her characters. Since I’ve not read that particular book, that bit may have gone over my head a bit but I’m sure that to those of you who have read it, it will add that little something extra. Speaking of the “bad guy”, he is quite possibly the most vile and despicable character I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.

A Talent for Murder had me hooked from the first page and I found it brilliantly absorbing. I love that the author included the facts at the end of the novel, pages I refused to read before I had finished the story and some things really surprised me. This is the first in a series, with a second instalment due in May, and I must say I can’t wait to get my hands on that one. I thoroughly enjoyed this offering and I’d like to think Mrs Agatha Christie would have done so as well.

A Talent for Murder was first published in 2017. The paperback I read will be published on March 22nd.

My thanks to Jess Barratt and Simon & Schuster for my review copy.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

 

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

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Author : Susan Meissner
Title : A Bridge Across The Ocean
Pages : 368
Publisher : Berkley
Publication date : March 14, 2017

aboutthebook

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

mythoughts

I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few books by Susan Meissner over the years and so I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy of A Bridge Across The Ocean and settle down for a lovely trip into the past.

However, all in all, I must say I was left a little disappointed and didn’t quite enjoy this one as some of her other books. There’s a certain angle in this story that’s not mentioned in the book description so I won’t either, but it completely threw me off.

I preferred the chapters set in the past, with war brides going off to their new lives in America on the great ship RMS Queen Mary. I could quite happily have read an entire book based on those stories alone and found it quite absorbing. Unfortunately, the present day chapters and the characters, despite the mystery that needs solving, didn’t work as well for me and I had to fight the urge to skim the pages.

In truth though, apart from era preference and that angle I can’t mention, I find it quite hard to pin-point why this novel didn’t work for me as well as I expected it to. It’s beautifully written, wonderfully atmospheric and overall it has everything you’d expect from a Susan Meissner novel. It definitely won’t stop me picking up a book by her again in future.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay @CorvusBooks

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Author : Sanjida Kay
Title : My Mother’s Secret
Pages : 361
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : March 5, 2018

aboutthebook

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

mythoughts

Here’s a fabulous example of how to take a simple premise and turn it on its head. How by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, your whole world can come crashing down around you and your life will change forever.

The chapters in this novel switch between Emma, Lizzie and Stella. Emma leads a rather nice and comfortable life with her husband and two daughters, until one day she spots a man and her past catches up with her. Emma has been keeping a humongous secret that is slowly revealed throughout the story and I obviously can’t say any more about that because that would ruin the entire plot for you.

Personally, I thought it was rather obvious from the start what that secret was and I did feel some things were rather predictable but there is something so beautiful and absorbing in the way Sanjida Kay writes, that it didn’t matter one bit to me. As in her previous books, the characters in this story are all incredibly realistic and believable and it’s easy to imagine how one event can change the course of your life so dramatically. It makes you wonder what you would do. How do you choose between the life you have now and the one you could have had?

While Lizzie’s circumstances are heartbreaking, to say the least, I must say the stand-out character for me was Stella and Sanjida Kay brought this hormonal teenager to life perfectly. And yes, there is a bit of a twist that I didn’t see coming at all, which also made me rethink the entire story and enormously appreciate the way the plot was crafted. This is another gripping and compelling novel by this author and I look forward to more by her in future!

My Mother’s Secret is available in the UK in ebook format!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 

We Were The Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard @RBouchard72 @givemeawave @OrendaBooks @annecater #SaltOfTheSea #blogtour

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for We Are The Salt Of The Sea by Roxanne Bouchard on the blog today. My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity to join and my review copy!

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Author : Roxanne Bouchard (translator : David Warriner)
Title : We Were The Salt Of The Sea
Pages : 300
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : March 1, 2018

aboutthebook

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots.

Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky.

mythoughts

Catherine Day arrives on the Gaspé Peninsula, looking for her birth mother. No sooner does she start asking questions or the body of a woman is found caught up in fishing nets. Not just any woman. Marie Garant, although nomadic, seemed to be quite an important part of the village. But, did anyone actually really know her?

Detective Sergeant Morales is also new to the area. He’s thrown into the investigation surrounding Marie Garant’s death but distractions concerning his private life and village residents being remarkably skilful in muddying the waters make him wonder why he’s moved to the peninsula at all.

Now, I’m not a fan of water. You’d never find me in it or on it. No sailing, swimming or fishing or whatever else you do in oceans for me, thank you very much. And yet, I soon found myself completely immersed in the lives of the various residents of this remote fishing village, swept away along the waves of exquisite descriptions that somehow turn this story into a mesmerising ode to the sea. I was enchanted to the point where I almost felt like dipping my big toe into the water.

I loved getting to know the various characters, some likeable, some not so much. Some are eccentric and quirky but  they all share a deep love for the sea and despite life not being easy and many longing for the old days in moments of nostalgia, none would ever leave their place near the ocean. It’s no surprise, I’m sure, that many of the villagers are holding on to secrets and I sometimes wondered if we were ever going to find any answers to the many questions that surround Marie Garant, her life and her death.

This is unlike any other crime fiction novel I’ve read before. Its beautiful writing and incredible atmosphere set it apart from the genre. While there is a crime to be solved, this isn’t gruesome or even action-packed. The pace is perfectly in sync with life in the sleepy village, allowing you to become utterly absorbed, soaking up every word like a sponge. What an absolute delight it’s been to have had the opportunity to read this highly original tale of love and loss.

We Were The Salt Of The Sea is available in ebook format. The UK paperback release is set for March 30th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | WorderyGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Ten years or so ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspe Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. We Were the Salt of the Sea is her fifth novel, and her first to be translated into English. She lives in Quebec.

Twitter | Website

About the translator : David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than an decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

Twitter | Website

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The Hope and Anchor by Julia Kite @juliakite @annecater #RandomThingsTours #blogtour #guestpost

It’s such a pleasure to welcome author Julia Kite to my blog today for my stop on the blog tour for The Hope and Anchor! Before Julia takes over, here’s what her novel is all about.

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Author : Julia Kite
Title : The Hope and the Anchor
Pages : 302
Publisher : Unbound
Publication date : February 8, 2018

aboutthebook

In the depths of winter in West London, Neely Sharpe’s life is turned upside down: Not only has her career reached a dead end, but her girlfriend, Angela, is missing. In desperation, Neely scours the city to try to find out what has happened, traveling from London’s pubs and snowy streets, down to the depths of the sewers. As her hunt continues, networks of friends, family, and old adversaries become entangled and she ends up delving into Angela’s past. Nothing could prepare her for what she will discover about the hidden life of the woman she loves. The Hope and Anchor is an atmospheric debut novel which captures the dreams London holds for its natives and newcomers alike, and what happens when the dreamers finally have to wake up.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

IN PRAISE OF UNLIKEABLE WOMEN

We all want to be liked. Or, perhaps more accurately, we don’t want to be hated. Most of us would be fine if the rest of the world remained completely indifferent to our everyday behaviour. Unfortunately, the only way to provoke that kind of response is to ensure there’s nothing potentially objectionable about your existence, and anybody that utterly bland would not have any particularly interesting about herself, either.

A character’s flaws move along the action of a book. Her less-than-perfect decisions, her mistakes and her shortcomings, ensure crucial tension. When I started writing The Hope and Anchor, I knew my protagonist, Neely, was not going to be the world’s most sympathetic character. Neely seems to create a lot of problems for herself. The book begins the morning after she went out and got drunk and fooled around with one of her friends, which might not seem like such a terrible thing to do if it weren’t for the fact that Neely lives with her girlfriend, Angela – and this friend is spoken for, too. Neely is a failed academic whose career is going nowhere. At times she is eaten up with self-loathing over how she has made a hash of her life thus far, even though on the face of it, she’s better off than a lot of other people, including Angela. It’s hard to feel sorry for the university graduate who hates her job when at least she has one that pays enough to live off. Throughout the book, it’s clear that Neely is an intelligent person, yet she does things that make little sense because she is so mentally thrown after Angela disappears. Who lets three complete strangers into their flat and invites them to spend the night when they’re off their faces? Neely does, and I’m sure readers will find a few moments where they want to take her by the shoulders and shake her for being so clueless.

But that’s the point. While the central tension of the story – the disappearance of her girlfriend – is not due directly to Neely’s actions, I wanted her to second-guess her judgment, question her self-concept, and ruminate over whether she had any role in what happened. By seeing Neely as a deeply flawed young woman, the reader can later give her room to redeem herself. Eventually Neely comes face to face with more trouble than she’s ever imagined. While I don’t want readers to be thinking, “Well, NOW you really have something to worry about, you moaning piece of work,” because the purpose of Angela’s misfortune isn’t to punish anybody else in her life, I did want to set up Neely’s development as a character in a way that shows the only way she can get a grip and make anything of her life is to ditch all her old expectations of what her life would be.

And then there’s Andy, Angela’s older sister. I loved writing Andy as a character, even if I’d probably want to stand at least a hundred feet away from her if I met her in real life. She had quite a violent and self-destructive streak in her youth, and she has tried to put her rough upbringing, where she felt like she had to quite literally fight all of Angela’s battles, behind her. Nowadays, she’s a middle-class mum of two in the suburbs, but Angela’s disappearance forces her back to a place and a mindset that she would rather never revisit. Slowly, she loses her grip on the façade she’s built up over the years. My goal was for Andy to have this kind of simmering tension crackling off the page. Life has repeatedly victimised her sister, but Andy thinks that if she can get the first crack in, she can avoid being a victim herself. Better to be feared, and untouchable, than to give someone a chance to see any of your vulnerabilities by opening up yourself to love. But when she can’t protect her sister as an adult, there’s nowhere for her rage to go.

Throughout The Hope and Anchor, Angela exists in absence. She is a memory, a flashback. The two women invested in finding out what happened to her, and why, both have enough issues to power a small city – and they are not necessarily fully resolved at the end of the book. But I didn’t want them to be, because if I wrapped up every loose end, then I would be sending the message that life can be so easily parcelled and tidied. In real life, women are complex people. We sometimes act in ways that sabotage our happiness, smart people make stupid decisions, loving people put up brick walls topped with razor wire, and life deals out casual cruelty in ample measures to people who don’t deserve it. I wanted to capture life as it is lived, in an unforgiving city.

But wait – it’s not all bleak. After all, a book that’s a complete downer works almost as poorly as a book with no flawed characters! For all their problems, Neely and Andy come out of this book wiser. Neely may not have achieved great things, but she lives and plans for a future. Andy may be a mess, but she’s doing everything she can to make sure her children won’t. And Angela? Well, maybe she wasn’t really a passive victim destined to be consigned to news cuttings. I wouldn’t want my readers to feel obligated to like or even identify with these flawed, difficult women, but I do hope they will stick with them for the ride.

abouttheauthor

Julia Kite lives in Manhattan, and calls New York City and London home. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Obsessed with cities and the people in them, she started her career researching housing and urban regeneration, and she now directs policy and research for a transportation improvement organisation. Before she began working to make New York City’s streets better for cyclists, she was taking long rides along the Grand Union Canal in West London. She is a member of the Columbia Fiction Foundry, an alumna of quiz shows The Chase and Jeopardy, an urban wildlife rehabilitator, a keen amateur baker, and the owner of an opinionated parrot. The Hope and Anchor is her first novel, a work of fiction about a very real place she holds dear.

Twitter | Website

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