Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Gina Kirkham @GinaGeeJay @urbanebooks #blogtour #LoveBooksGroupTours

Truly delighted to join the blog tour for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Gina Kirkham today! My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for the invitation to join and the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : Gina Kirkham
Title : Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Series : Mavis Upton #2
Pages : 320
Publisher : Urbane
Publication date : July 19, 2018

aboutthebook

Our hapless heroine Constable Mavis Upton is preparing to step down the aisle with her fiancé Joe, but has to deal with her temperamental teen daughter, as well as investigate a serial flasher on a push bike. Throw a diva drag queen into the mix and readers can expect the usual hilarious Mavis mishaps that made the first book such a hit. Revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving stories of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

mythoughts

All hail the return of the fabulous Mavis Upton!

I’ve been desperately waiting for Mavis to return since I flipped the final page of the previous book Handcuffs, Truncheons and A Polyester Thong, and was incredibly looking forward to seeing what she would get up to this time. With hen parties, weddings, donuts, drag queens and hippos, I wasn’t disappointed! You can’t make this stuff up, unless your name is Gina Kirkham obviously and she’s an absolute natural in setting a scene and making me laugh.

Hilarity ensues throughout the story. Yet, it’s not all a laugh-a-minute and there are some incredibly poignant moments that left me with a lump in my throat. One minute I’m laughing my arse off at the various shenanigans, the next I felt myself go all teary-eyed and in need of a tissue. Not only is Mavis dealing with her dad who is suffering from dementia, she’s also fiercely missing her mom. As was I, to be honest, with her wonderful malapropisms and I’m delighted Gina Kirkham managed to squeeze some in there anyway.

Tackling a tough topic like dementia, in what is essentially a comedy novel, is not an easy thing to do. Yet Gina Kirkham has finely tuned the balance between the sad reality and the lighthearted moments. Having personal experience with this cruel disease, I could really appreciate that because that is what it’s like. As a side note, I will never again be able to listen to Lucy in the sky with diamonds without giggling like a lunatic.

There is a truly delightful and colourful cast of characters to keep you entertained, from Mavis’ friends to her colleagues. The banter between the team is such a joy, whether they’re actively mocking someone or using humour as a coping mechanism to deal with some of the things they stumble on while on active duty. Special shout-out to Petey who caused me to snort tea all over my Kindle on more than one occasion.

I’ve loved every minute of catching up with Mavis. No matter how crappy my day is going, she always manages to make me smile. This series is the perfect escapism, wrapped in a slightly quirky but delightful bow. I do so hope there will be more from Mavis! [Did you know she has her own Twitter account?] Hugely entertaining and you should grab yourself a copy and meet her for yourself. We all need a little bit of Mavis in our lives!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Gina Kirkham was born on the Wirral in the not-so-swinging 50’s. Being the less
adventurous of three children, she remains there to this day.

Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany and fond memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries.

Thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police. On retirement she put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer.

And so Mavis Upton was born…

Author links : Instagram | Twitter | Website

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Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis @LloydOtisWriter @urbanebooks #blogtour #guestpost #DeadLands

Today, I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis and it is my absolute pleasure to welcome the author to the blog. Before I hand over to Lloyd Otis, here’s a little information about the book!

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Author : Lloyd Otis
Title : Dead Lands
Pages : 320
Publisher : Urbane Publications
Publication date : October 12, 2017

aboutthebook

When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen.

When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy.

guestpost

Dead Lands – the finance behind the fiction

The decade of the 1970s in which Dead Lands is set, was a time when politics and fashion slapped you firmly in the face, a time when music’s voice grew louder through the punk movement, and when the thought of being PC was nothing but a distant dream. All true but the something else happened too. The country’s economic situation had improved from years gone by. How much? Well enough for me to feel comfortable in letting the cloak of finance attach itself to some of the main characters involved in the story.

The late 1960s saw the UK economy struggle, growth stalled and inflation rose. But the country had strengthened by the early part of the 1970s after entering the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. That move soon revived the economy and most would agree that Britain’s foray into Europe increased trade.

The first victim in the story has a finance background and the prime suspect has a finance background too. I think that my own experience of working within the financial square mile for several years for one of the Big Four, enabled me to be confident enough to set it up this way. Although the story is set a few decades ago, many facets are still relevant such as attitudes, ways of thinking, and incentives to maximise profit, aligned with ambition. By placing the first victim in the story within a financial culture, I wanted to set her status for the reader from the off. That of a successful career woman in her own right, and there was no better way to display that than having her be a director at a large city company, amidst a climate of male chauvinism.

Putting Alexander Troy, one of the main characters, also in that environment, allowed me to easily cultivate his image of a city high flier. One that the general public wouldn’t easily point to as a suspect in a crime, and the surprise and shock is evident when the news of his suspected involvement is broken to his superiors.

That cavalier relationship with money becomes both a factor and a distraction from the truth. How can a person who earns a good salary, possibly be desperate enough to commit a crime for money? The detectives in this, Breck and Kearns, see beyond the stereotypes, but for many, it’s hard to. The shadow of big city money in the Dead Lands serves as a constant reminder that crime doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, and one or two other questions are thrown in too. For example, the mere suggestion of social class prioritisation for an investigation.

Having Troy committed to a strong and respectable career was important. He needed to have a white-collar background, and his place of work and the colleagues within it, set the tone – allowed me to manipulate the mystery when I needed to. Yes, I could have delved deeper into the inner workings of the financial environment but this crime fiction story didn’t require me to do that.

Today, the UK economy is once again under the spotlight with all eyes on the Brexit negotiations and discussions on whether or not there should be a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit. If I placed Troy into this modern-day scenario, I wonder what he would make of it, and where he would see his opportunity to take risks and climb the career ladder.

***

Thank you so much, Lloyd for this insight and for taking the time out to visit the blog! And also, many thanks to Abby for the opportunity to join the tour!

abouttheauthor

Lloyd was born in London and attained a BA (Hons) in Media and Communication. After gaining several years of valuable experience within the finance and digital sectors, he completed a course in journalism. Lloyd has interviewed a host of bestselling authors, such as Mark Billingham, Hugh Howey, Kerry Hudson, and Lawrence Block. Two of his short stories were selected for publication in the ‘Out of My Window’ anthology, and he currently works as an Editor.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Contact via Urbane

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Make sure you check out these other awesome bloggers on the tour!

BANNER

Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill @SophieJonasHill @urbanepub #blogtour

I’m excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill today. Huge thank you to Abby for the opportunity! I have an extract for you guys and will also be sharing my review but first, here’s a wee something about the book and the brilliant cover.

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Author : Sophie Jonas-Hill
Title : Nemesister
Series : Crooked Little Sisters
Pages : 320
Publisher : Urbane Publications
Publication date : July 6, 2017

aboutthebook

Psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants.

Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her.

Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself?

mythoughts

Nemesister starts off with a young woman stumbling into a deserted shack in the middle of nowhere. She’s lost her memory, can’t remember why or how she ended up at this remote location and has no idea why she’s holding a gun in her hand. She meets Red and the two of them find themselves isolated as Red’s truck won’t start and the unnamed young woman has severe blisters, can’t walk properly and has also been injured somehow.

Good grief, this is one dark read. It has this insanely creepy and eerie vibe bubbling away under the surface and at times even I, who wasn’t even in the room, felt uncomfortable and threatened. There are numerous questions to be answered. Who is this young woman? How did she get there? Who is Red? What does he want? If anything. And is he friend or foe? All I know is he gave me the heebie-jeebies. Above all, there’s a big mystery that needs to be solved but you’ll have to read the book yourself to know what that’s all about.

Set in the swamps of Louisiana, Nemesister is rich in atmosphere and I loved the setting as the surroundings felt just as oppressive as the shack itself. I must admit I did find some of the early chapters a wee bit confusing at times and I wasn’t sure if this book was going to be for me but then suddenly I found myself gripped nonetheless and eager to find out more. The author manages to leave a trail of breadcrumbs and all the pieces of the puzzle culminate into an exciting ending that I couldn’t have predicted at all.

Many thanks to Abby for the opportunity to join the tour and to Sophie Jonas-Hill and Matthew at Urbane Publications for my advanced copy and for providing me with the extract!

Nemesister was published on July 6th.

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If my review hasn’t convinced you to give Nemesister a go, then maybe this extract will.

extract

CHAPTER 1

THE HOUSE HAD something American Gothic about it, though nothing it was minded to share. Wreathed in bougainvillea, it regarded me with the air of one recognizing an unwelcome visitor. There should have been a rocker on the porch or an old dog with greying muzzle, but they were missing.

I stumbled forward, focusing on my feet in their worn canvas sneakers with the impression of toes ground into the pink fabric. Everything hurt and my head pounded like something inside wanted out. The shadow of the house brought the scent of the blooms and the sighs of a swamp; the first step creaked, the second moaned, then my hand secured the wooden pillar at the top of the stairs. I paused, then pulled myself up. I looked behind me, but there was only the road, a line drawn in the dust against an endless, ochre expanse.

I faced a pair of cobweb-covered boots lolling by the door, and heaved myself in past them, plunging from bright into dark. The boots made no obvious objection.

The room I entered was soaked through with the heat of the day and heavy with the stink of damp canvas. There was no source of light save for the open door, and at first the space was a blur of camouflage colours and indistinct, lumbering shapes rendered anonymous by my sun–blind eyes. I made the middle of the room, walking as if on hot coals and became aware of a chair-huddled table, something that might have been a couch and something that probably wasn’t.

Panic gripped me, thundered in my head, as I groped in the dark of both room and subconscious. I knew everything but understood nothing from the giddying procession of images in my mind: red boots crossing a winter road, a hand on a steering wheel, the view from under a bed across a savannah of green carpet, pearl buttons on blue velvet, a brown dog barking.

I willed breath into my lungs and, as stars cleared from my vision, the room snuck into focus.

‘Whoa, hey!’ the man silhouetted against the yellow-white rectangle of the open door froze as I whipped round to face him. ‘Keep back,’ I demanded as the world spun out of focus again.

‘Okay … whatever you say …’ he said as his shadowed form sharpened into detail. ‘Let’s not be hasty now.’ He made no move toward me but remained in the doorway.

I swallowed, my tongue swollen to a stone in my mouth. ‘Okay, you stay … stay back.’

‘I’m staying back,’ he said. ‘It’s okay, I ain’t gonna hurt you … no need to fret none.’ He eased himself a step further into the room.

‘I mean it, stop right there!’

‘Okay … all right, darlin’.’ To my surprise he obeyed and raised his hands, gently patting the air between us. ‘But you sure you wanna…’ As I stepped back, pain spiked through my side and the shock of it had me panting. I blinked as a black, glittering tide threatened to engulf my vision.

‘I ain’t comin’ near you, all right?’ the man moved slowly, purposefully; took two steps to his left and reached for one of the wooden chairs by the table.

‘I’m just gonna take a pew here…’ He sat down and brushed at his knees before he settled back. Tears burned down my cheeks but my vision cleared and his taut, hard features converged into a face. He ran his hand through his hair, a little of which sprang up at his temples.

‘So … what we gonna do now?’

‘What’s your name?’ I asked, risking a step to my left and paying for it.

‘You wanna ask me that, now?’ he said, then smiled. ‘ Them that knows me …’ He coughed into his fist. ‘ Them that knows me, they call me Red. You know, you don’t look so good.’

‘Shut up.’

He raised his eyebrow. ‘Maybe you wanna calm down a little here?’

I stepped backwards and my foot found the end of the couch. I pressed my shins against it, praying it would help me stand just a little longer.

‘You sure you know how to use that thing?’ I saw his eyes flick down. A gun – I was holding a gun, and had been for so long that it seemed fused to my hand, my fingers knotted round it. As I stared down, my arm began shaking treacherously; I gripped my left hand over my right, my pulse hammering in my head.

‘You wanna find out?’ I asked, staring at him but seeing only the gun.

‘I’m happy to take your word on it, only…’ He leaned a little to his right. ‘Only looks to me as if you’ve been shot already, so I’m not convinced that you do.’

‘Shut up, I mean it, shut …’ My breath was coming faster, harder, lungs heaving. Trying to keep the gun trained on him, I risked a glance at my side. In the second I looked, Red lunged forward.

He’d grabbed my wrists and yanked my arms up above my head before I’d even thought about screaming. He ripped the gun from my hand, turned me about and clamped his arms round me. Pain lit me up, blazed through my ribs and punched the breath from my body. I went limp and dropped to the floor but he went with me and broke my fall. I heard the gun impact seconds before I did.

‘Get the fuck off me,’ I said, trying to twist from under him.

‘Just you hold on.’ He had me on my back and twisted my hands together, pinning them above my head. ‘You need to hold still,’ he demanded, his face inches from mine, knees either side of me. ‘You come in here wavin’ that gun, what d’you expect? Jesus, darlin’, you gotta remember who’s you shootin’ at.’

‘Who the hell’s that?’ I asked.

He huffed a dry laugh. ‘You’re a piece of work and no mistake. Now look …’ He shifted position. ‘I’m gonna let you go now, so take it easy.’ He grinned. ‘You look fit to faint anyhow –you’s in a mess, girl.’

He let go. I struggled to get a grip on the floor, my hands scrabbling against damp boards for purchase, but pushing against the floor hurt like hell.

‘Get away from me!’ I managed to get up on my elbows, dragging, willing myself away from him. He grabbed at me and I inched sideways but he let me go at once.

‘Just hold on … look – we don’t need this shit, now–’ He snatched up my gun, and when he was sure I’d seen he was holding the barrel between thumb and forefinger, he clicked open the chamber. His face registered surprise. ‘Goddamn it, you were bluffing all along!’ He laughed, then with deft movements he disassembled the weapon and tossed it aside. ‘Whatever, see, I ain’t aiming to hurt you none, okay? Let’s just calm down now, shall we?’

I propped myself up, the last dregs of my adrenaline burning through my limbs and stealing sensation from my fingers.

‘What is this place?’ I asked and swallowed hard. ‘ This? Just a fishing lodge.’
‘Is it your place?’
He shrugged. ‘Sure, it’s mine.’
‘It is?’

He bent over me again. ‘Look, you gotta let me take a look at you. What in the hell you done to your face?’

‘Don’t touch me!’ I jerked right, and the throbbing in my head turned vindictive in revenge for the sudden movement. I slumped back against the floor, screwed my eyes shut and forced my mouth to bite back a scream.

‘Hey!’ I felt him move closer, felt him get hold of me and turn my face to his. ‘Hey, you still with me?’ I looked once I had the scream under control, pressing my back against the floor and pushing against the pain. ‘Don’t you pass out on me here.’ He adjusted position to look into my eyes. Desperate not to meet his gaze, I clamped my jaw shut again and tried to thrash free of his grasp. The effort overwhelmed me; my head fell back into his hands and I let my eyes roll shut.

‘Hey, you ain’t checking out on me, not yet. Focus, ya hear, focus. Now, tell me your name, come on, say your name, say your name!’ I laughed, the sound breaking free involuntarily. Anything, he could have asked me anything, but the last thing I could have told him was my name.

‘My name …’ My mouth stretched into a grin despite everything, my lips dragging on my teeth. Barking dog, under the bed, little pearl buttons.

‘Your name … shit, count for me … count for me!’
‘One, two, three, that do you?’
‘Good, so what’s your name … what the hell’s your name?’
‘I don’t know my name!’

‘Mercy …’ he said as the darkness seeped back into my vision. ‘What on God’s green earth … you expect me to believe that?’ He tilted his head, one eyebrow arched as he frowned. ‘What you saying … you got no memory of your name?’

‘No name, no rank, no number, sir!’ I laughed and he let my head fall gently back to the floor. We looked at each other, and for one, desperate, joyful moment, I really thought he might tell me who I was.

‘How … unfortunate.’ He shook his head. ‘Well, darlin’, whatever the hell’s you about …’ He chuckled, but the sound fractured before it reached me. He seemed to be moving away, taking the world right along with him. ‘ that must have been one hell of a bump on your head.’

‘Please,’ I said, my hands inching against the floor. I tried to sit up again, but I could barely lift my head. It seemed I’d nothing left but to rely on the kindness of strangers. ‘I’ve got to get out, I’ve got … I’ve got to go, please!’ Dark brown and heavy, fatigue slunk through my limbs as my strength bled out from my fingers into the swamp, sucking and snatching at me from beneath the floorboards. When Red spoke again, his voice was indistinct, no more than the murmur of the dank earth below.

‘You ain’t going nowhere. Seems to me you oughta close up them pretty eyes now, get yourself some sleep.’ But I’d already closed my eyes, pretty or otherwise. As a sucking, glittering blackness pulled me into the quicksand of the day, I tried one last time to surface, but my mouth filled with dust-dry words which choked me.

‘You just lie back there, I’ll look out for you. Seein’ he never did.’’

Before I could ask, unconsciousness embraced me and his voice spiralled into darkness.

I had to get to … Paris. Paris? I had to get to … Paris?

***

You know you want to read this! Here are the handy-dandy links again.

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And be sure to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers on the tour!

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Death In Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson @urbanebooks

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Author : Guy Fraser – Sampson
Pages : 271
Publisher : Urbane Publications
Publication date : March 17, 2016

aboutthebook

The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?

mythoughts

A serial killer in London’s Hampstead has been evading police for more than a year. With no clues and no leads, investigators are becoming increasingly despondent. Will the latest victim and a new pair of eyes finally yield results?

Well, this was different and a lovely breath of fresh air. What we have here is modern crime fiction wrapped in an old school coat reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s work. As you know, I love my crime fiction with all its gore and gruesomeness. Death in Profile has none of that. Think more family friendly crime fiction. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it but I did!

It took me a while to get used to Guy Fraser-Sampson’s writing style but once I got the hang of it, I quickly found myself immersed in the investigation. The old school vibe is quite different and the pace is slower than what I’m used to from the books I normally tend to read, but I found myself liking that change of pace. Actual pounding the pavement investigating, following that all-important gut instinct or the “copper’s nose”,  instead of relying on modern technology and doing multiple database searches and the like. Also, I may have had way too much fun imagining the posh voices in my head.

The only thing I wasn’t really sure about was the love triangle and the addition of Peter Wimsey . I found it quite distracting and didn’t really see its relevance. I assume it’s something that appeals to fans of Dorothy L. Sayers but as I’ve never read any of those books, it went completely over my head.

Regardless, this is an intelligently crafted start to a new series and I see myself picking up the next book in the future when I need something a little different.

Death In Profile was published in March 2016.

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Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham @GinaGeeJay @urbanebooks

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4*

aboutthebook

Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?

Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.

mythoughts

On an ordinary day, Mavis is out on a walk with her daughter, Ella, when she has an epiphany. It’s time to make some changes to her life and fulfil a lifelong ambition of being a Police Officer. What could go wrong? Well, plenty actually as Mavis is a bit different and quite accident-prone. But she also has a big heart and is so incredibly likeable that you can’t help but root for her every step of the way.

As I was looking for a book that would make me laugh, this one caught my eye. The title and the cover alone made me snort in the most unladylike manner. However, don’t let the cover or the description fool you too much though. Yes, there is hilarity and I did laugh, out loud even, at times. However, there’s a depth to this story that I wasn’t really expecting, which was a truly nice surprise.

I warmed to Mavis instantly but the book is full of quirky, eccentric and funny characters. For me, the star of the show is Mavis’ mum, whose malapropisms frequently made me chuckle, but who is also always there, right behind her daughter, supporting her along the way.

If you’re looking for something a little different and maybe a wee quirky that will put a smile on your face but may also have you reaching for a tissue at some point, I have no doubt you will find this uplifting story an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Many thanks to Urbane Publications and Netgalley for my advanced copy, which I chose to review.

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong will be published on May 18th.

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