book reviews · Bookish

Runaway by Claire MacLeary (Review)

Today I am on the tour for Runaway by Claire Macleary and have a review for you! The book is available now in both Paperback and Kindle editions. I was provided a copy of the book for this review.

Runaway is the third book in a series by Claire MacLeary. This book was my introduction to the series as I haven’t read the previous installments, but I am pleased to say that it does perfectly well as a standalone.

The book is written from a few perspectives, but it’s mainly about Maggie and Wilma, a PI duo who have been brought in by Scott – his wife is missing and he has no idea why. Of course, he reported it to the police. It’s the first thing he did, they weren’t having any success, so he turns to the women to help him find his wife.

Maggie and Wilma have a bit of a strange relationship and they both have different ideas about their detective agency. None the less, after some convincing, they’re set on helping Scott to find his wife, but are wary of the police after previous involvements and complications with them in a previous case. We are given a vague overview of that situation, but I would imagine it’s detailed in the previous installments of the series. The police themselves are unhappy when they find out that the women are on the case, and their force seems tense after the aforementioned complications.

Maggie is my favourite character of the book, she seems strong willed and is trying really hard to balance her family life and her work. She has a lippy daughter and the patience of a saint as a result. She seems far more responsible than Wilma. Together, they are a weird duo, but it works!

I found this book to be pretty amusing, not so much that it detracted from the seriousness of the case, but enough to add a little more to it that made it all the more enjoyable. Though there is some of the book that is written in what I can only describe to be pure Scottish which someone who is unfamiliar with Scottish dialect or to whom English is a second language may have difficulties with. Personally, I had no issue with it and understood it just fine, but I feel like it’s an important point to mention, just in case this is something that would affect you personally and this after all, a review.

Maggie’s daughter clearly has some iffy acquaintances, one of whom decides a nap in a skip is a sterling idea, even with the stink and a urine soaked duvet.. until he discovers a human arm. It takes a little while before the story circles back to that, but from that point, I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what was happening. Was it going to be Scott’s wife?

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and following both the pair of PI’s and the detective team investigating the case and the relationships between them both teams on the case were really interesting to me too. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, it was entertaining, well written and I’m sure the other books are no different; I’ll be adding the previous installments on to my ever growing TBR!

About the Book

The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.

book reviews · Bookish

Nowhere Girls by Teuta Metra (Review)

Today, I am on the blog tour for Nowhere Girls by Teuta Metra, out now on Kindle and coming soon in Hardback Edition on 8th March 2019 for International Womens Day!

Nowhere Girls is a dramatic, gripping tale of a woman named Sara, who just wants a better life, even if it means leaving everything she’s ever known behind her, and her friend Alba, who took a much different path. It’s an intense read and I’d highly recommend it.

Sara lives in Albania, poverty is rife, sexism is the norm, and corruption is inescapable. She has two best friends, Alba, who seems to glide through life by greasing palms, and Ina, a tragic soul with a life in disarray. Working as a journalist, she is mocked, underpaid and generally treated like rubbish, when all the while, it strains her family relationships with her husband and son. Meanwhile, Alba is working her way in to the upper classes, a taste for the “finer things” and everyone else is a means to and end.

This book really pulled at my heart with the way the author wrote about the struggles and hardships endured. I was constantly rooting for Sarah, hoping things would work out, that she would get a break and the respect she deserved. This book is no fairy-tale. It feels incredibly realistic in the sense that things aren’t magically okay. The characters have to work for their lives and for some, things turn out better than others.

Fed up, Sara decides that the family should to go to her cousin in Antwerp. Scared, but convinced this would be better for her and her family. Her cousin assures her that it can be her home. Having applied for a visa, the plan was set in motion, but her son was denied travel and needed to stay being in Albania. What Sara didn’t realise, was that she would have to endure the lengthy process of seeking asylum and whether she would be granted residency, whether she would see her son again, whether things would work out, or not.

I felt so many emotions while reading this tale, and Sara’s tension radiated through the pages. I shared her anxiety, her grief, her joy. It felt incredibly fast paced at times and a lot of things occurred. Admittedly, I know very little about Albania, but my heart aches for anyone who has to endure such hardship, but I also commend any woman who works so hard to deal best with the cards she’s been dealt. It also makes me extraordinarily grateful that I don’t have to deal with these levels of such toxicity, and I hope one day, no woman will have to endure what these women have had to go through.

About The Book

Friends Alba and Sara could not be more different. While Alba is forcing her way into the upper echelons of Albanian’s richest and most powerful, Sara is working more than one job as a struggling journalist. Both desperate to escape their corrupt country, they’re quickly dragged into a sordid world of politics and lies. 

When tragedy strikes their friend Ina, the two women must come together to save her little boy. Can they put away their troubles and secure a better future for the child? Or will their past catch up with them?

NOWHERE GIRLS is a thrilling tale of love, lies and the lengths a woman will go to for freedom.

About The Author

Now a fiction writer, Teuta Metra’s experience as an Albanian journalist has made her an expert on the struggles of women from her country.

Author, journalist and teacher, Teuta now lives in The Netherlands with her husband and two sons. 

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Hunters Revenge by Val Penny (Excerpt)

Today I am on the tour for Hunters Revenge by Val Penny, out now and available in Kindle and Paperback formats. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited (Use my link for 30 days free!). This book is the sequel to Hunters Chase; I recently shared a guest post from the author (Plotting in Novels) as part of another promotional tour for that book.

Much of the action in Hunter’s Revenge revolves around the car showroom and garage Thomson’s Top Cars. Here we meet Jamie and Frankie who are running the business while Jamie’s father, Ian, is in jail.

“I’m glad we’re doing this together,” Jamie said to his cousin. “I know having to leave us in charge is stressing Pop out!”

“Aye, probably more stress than his time in prison could ever have done. But at least you’ve passed your driving test now.”

Frankie could have been reading his uncle’s mind. Ian Thomson had just under two months to go before he was eligible for parole, and in the meantime could only hope that Jamie and Frankie didn’t do anything too stupid to ruin his business. At least the wee receptionist, Jenny Kozlowski, seemed to have a bit of common sense.

“I’ll be a bit late in today, Frankie, can you hold the fort?”

“Aye. What you up to, then?”

“Nothing much. It’s just that it’s Jenny’s birthday, and I’m going to pick up cakes for all of us for coffee break.”

“If it’s her birthday, she should buy the cakes. That’s what the rest of us all do,” Frankie protested. “You fancy her, don’t you?”

“Don’t be stupid!”

“Aye you do. Well, I won’t tell the guys in the workshop, if I can get a chocky doughnut.”

“Piss off, Frankie.”

“Am I getting a chocky doughnut, then?”

“Aye,” Jamie grinned.

***

Jamie was disappointed to see Frankie at the reception desk when he walked in.

“Where’s Jenny, cuz?” he called over to Frankie.

“Dunno. Not even a phone call. And she’s well late now.”

“Well, she must be somewhere, her coat’s here. She looks good in red.”

“Well she’s not anywhere, as far as I can see.”

“She’s usually early. Wonder what’s up.” Jamie rubbed his hands together. It might be spring according to the time of year, but with its wide glass front and the open garage at the back, the showroom was cold.

“She maybe went to get cakes,” Frankie suggested hopefully.

“Without her coat? I doubt it!” Jamie retorted.

“Well, she was probably out on the lash last night and slept in.”

“Could be, but I still can’t see her leaving last night without her coat.” Jamie shrugged and turned away, trying to hide his disappointment. “It’s fucking freezing in here. I’ll make us a coffee first to warm us up, then I’ll try phoning her.”

“Phone her first, Jamie. You know you want to.”

When Jamie wandered back to reception from the office he plonked a mug of coffee in front of Frankie.

“Her mam says she never went home last night. Do you know if she was going out with pals or the like?”

“I don’t know. You gave that guy a test drive in the Bentley and I went home. A fellow came in just as I was leaving, but Jenny said she would see to him because she would stay on and lock up with you.” Frankie smiled. “I thought, aye aye, nudge nudge, say no more. So off I went. I picked up the twins from their child minder on the way home. You know?”

Jamie frowned. “She wasn’t here when I got back, and the showroom wasn’t locked up. I was pretty pissed off about that. But I couldn’t see nothing missing, so when the guy said he wanted to think about the Bentley, I just locked up and came home.”

“Nothing was missing except Jenny, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that. I thought you’d both just buggered off.”

“Like we’d ever do that. Your pop would skin us alive when he got hold of us. Do you think I’ve got a death wish?”

“Funny accent the man had,” Jamie said. “European or something.”

“Jamie?” The head mechanic, Gary, called across the showroom. “Where’s that old blue Volvo that was waiting to go through its service?”

“What old Volvo? I don’t know. Don’t you keep a log of all the cars you work on?” Jamie asked angrily.

“Aye, but we didn’t get to this one yesterday. It was just waiting outside for us to get started this morning. The customer asked us to give it a service, then put it up for sale. Said he had a buyer for it who’d pay eight grand, but he might need a test drive first. I told him he’d need a brain test if he was paying that much for that car. But it seems like he was right; it must have been sold. ”

“So what happened to the paperwork?” Jamie shouted. “We’ve not sold any fucking old Volvo. Where is the damn thing?”

“No idea.”

“So what do I do now? Jenny’s not in, and a fucking car has gone missing. This is a truly rubbish start to the day. Pop is going to bloody skin me.”

Frankie shrugged, “Phone Jenny’s mam back? Maybe the man she spoke to took the Volvo.”

“I suppose I should. I don’t fancy it though. She shouts. I don’t think she likes me. Then what do I tell Pop about the car?”

“I think you’ll need a chocky doughnut before you do that. I know I will!”

“I’ll need more than a fucking chocky doughnut, Frankie, if we’ve lost one of his customer’s cars.”

About the Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is avenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense?

Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city.

The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

About the Author

  Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer.

However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

book reviews · Bookish

The Judas Tree by Susan Bacoyanis (Review)

The Judas Tree is the second book in the linked series by Susan Bacoyanis, available now, published by Endeavour Media. It is a short read [185 pages] suited for anyone who is a fan women’s psychological thrillers. It’s available both in Paperback and Kindle formats and is available on Kindle Unlimited. If you’ve not tried Kindle Unlimited before, you can get a free, 30 day trial here!

Mary, a 46-year-old divorcee, is a damaged woman who endured many years of abuse and buried it, never dealing with her issues or her feelings surrounding what she went through. She is convinced that she does what is best for the greater good and that her actions are justified.

Having been left for a younger woman, she moves to England. Beginning an affair with her new neighbour across the road, Jonas, she is now the “other woman,” in a relationship with a married man. A man who is nasty, taunting her with the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” and already a clearly unfaithful man, he goes on to betray her too. Watching out of her windows, she sees that Jonas has other regular female visitors and is cheating on her, so she sets out for revenge in this dark, psychological thriller.

The history of Mary Tudor is woven through the book and the author explores abuse throughout; some of the acts are taken from real life events in an attempt to generate awareness.

There are so many twists and turns, this book is a wild ride and will grip you from start to finish as you witness Mary’s crusade for revenge and how she deals with her “three blind mice.” Despite becoming a murderess, you can feel empathy for Mary and all she has endured and the series of events that led to her doing the things she did.

My only criticism is that some of the police procedural didn’t ring true, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all as this book is not focused around a police investigation.

Filled with twists and turns, The Judas Tree will have you hooked from start to finish.

Mary Webster’s reaction to her lover’s betrayal is off the chart…Mary seems like an ordinary 46-year-old divorcee, beginning a new life in rural England, but she has depths of pent-up pain, the result of 20 years of marital infidelities and abuse. All she needs is a trigger to unleash savage emotions.


When she becomes entangled with Jonas, a married man, Mary suddenly finds herself in the opposite role of the ‘other woman’. Jonas has a nasty streak, however, and taunts with the nursery rhyme ‘Mary, Mary quite contrary…’.


But when Mary uncovers Jonas’s web of seductive lies, betraying not only herself but his wife and several young village women, she plots her revenge and acts out the real meaning of the nursery rhyme…
As things go from bad to worse, Mary is driven over the edge of normality. Because Mary is not normal … she is damaged. Her only redeeming quality is her belief that she is acting for the greater good …

Susan Bacoyanis’s intriguing psychological thriller The Judas Tree is a chilling tale of multiple acts of betrayal and the consequences of greed. It has deep echoes of Penelope Mortimer’s angry woman classic of the Sixties, The Pumpkin Eater.

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Too Close by Natalie Daniels (Excerpt)

Today, I am sharing an excerpt as part of the Random Things Blog Tour for Too Close by Natalie Daniels, out now in both Kindle and Paperback formats and also available as an audiobook. Be sure to check out the other tour spots to find out more!

Excerpt

It’s odd because everyone always calls her beautiful. Her beauty has become a fact; it has been said enough times for any doubt to have been forgotten. But the first time I saw her in the park all those years ago, I have to say she didn’t strike me that way; her beauty took a while to floor me. She was small with wispy blonde hair and pale blue veins that ran down her temples. She had dark bags under her dark eyes – which I know is just called parenting – and from a certain angle her freckled nose looked like someone had given her a good punch. She had a peculiar way of looking at you from the corners of those big dark brown eyes. And she blinked too much. All in all, she struck me as an anxious sort of person. No, I wouldn’t have called her beautiful at all. Not then.

I’d been late picking Annie up from nursery and had found my daughter sitting alone on the bench underneath the empty coat hooks, holding a wooden lollipop stick with a scrunched- up piece of red tissue bodged on to the end.
‘Darling, sorry I’m late,’ I said sitting down next to her, glad to get my breath back. ‘What have you made?’ I asked, looking at the lolly stick in her hand. Karl was better at this sort of thing than me; every shite offering they brought home from school he marvelled at as if the kids were little Leonardos. Left to his own devices, the house would look like one of those hoarder’s places you see on TV, full of clay rubbish and splodges of paint on crinkledpaper.
‘It’s a poppy.’

Of course it was. Remembrance Day was coming up and Annie’s nursery never missed a chance to get creative.

‘That’s lovely! Do you know why you’ve made it? Who is it for?’ I might be late, forget carol concerts and barbecue days, but my God, I do a bit of educating when I can.

She looked up at me and passed me the lolly stick. ‘For you?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘I mean, why have you made it? Who is it for ?’

‘It’s for remembering,’ she said.
‘That’s right.’ She was a genius, my child. ‘Remembering who?’

She had no idea. She shook her head, her cherubic curls bouncing this way and that. Not for the first time I marvelled that such a sweet being came from me.
‘It’s for all the soldiers who died in the war,’ I said, sounding incongruously cheerful about it. She looked up at me, eyes wide with wonder, lips opening in surprise as the mini cogs in her brain whirred. She frowned and turned slowly to examine the wall behind her, reaching out her little fingers to gingerly touch the bumps of roughly applied plaster beneath the clothes pegs.

‘In this wall?’ she asked.
Sometimes she was so adorable I could eat her. ‘Let’s get some sweeties and go to the park!’ I said.

So Annie had scooted ahead, cheeks full of Smarties. She was a kamikaze kind of child. By the time I caught up she was at the top of the slide, bottom lip out, face brimming with misery, staring down at the brightly coloured trail of Smarties bouncing off the ladder and on to the spongy tarmac. Another little girl was standing at the bottom of the ladder picking up the Smarties and popping them into her mouth as fast as she could.

‘No! No! No!’ Annie cried, furious at the nasty little opportunist below her. The mother was oblivious to the scene; she was busy making something on the bench with an older girl. I started picking up the Smarties and was shortly joined by the mother, who was looking down at her fat-cheeked child and making the right remonstrating noises.

‘Naughty, Polly. They are not yours.’
I’ll tell you something peculiar: I remember there was something about her voice that put me on alert; it wasn’t her tone, which was low and calm, or what she said, which was nothing unusual. It was a more intangible feeling: there was something about it that I found deeply comforting yet deeply disturbing at the same time. Church bells do that for me too. I’m not making any sense, am I?

For many years, I would remember that day as a fine example of how we must not trust our first impressions, how foxing they are. Because the truth was, just at the very beginning of it all, I felt an inexplicable and powerful aversion to her, like a tug from the wings, as if I were receiving a warning signal from the great puppet master.
We made polite child-soothing conversation for a while and were then forced to sit together on the bench as the three girls struck up an immediate kinship and went off to look for snails, dropping their grievances with that enviable childhood ease.

‘Do you live nearby?’ I asked.
‘Just beyond the swimming pool,’ she said, nodding vaguely in the direction. ‘We’ve just moved in.’

‘Oh! Which street?’
‘Buxton Road.’
‘Really? Which end?’
And so we discovered that we were neighbours. Shelived just around the corner from us – only four doors away. In fact, I could see her house from the back windows of my own. Our conversation shifted then, as it became evident our lives would be impacting on each other’s – screaming children, rows in the garden, perhaps noisy once- in- a- blue-moon lovemaking on a hot summer night. Why do we women feel impelled to forge intimacies? Two men probably wouldn’t have struck up a conversation at all.
I’d opened Annie’s snack box by now and was picking at some soggy strawberries as our talk moved smoothly from our surroundings and our progeny to ourselves.

‘What do you do?’ she asked me.
‘I write,’ I said.
And without a pause or a further question she said, ‘I write too!’ Something about the way she said it, so rapid a response, seemed rather competitive – I got that tug again.
‘What do you write?’ I asked, offering her a sweating strawberry which she declined.
‘Poetry.’ I looked at her afresh. That was interesting; no one admits to writing poetry. ‘When inspiration strikes,’ she added.

Well, excuse me for being a snob but that is not a writer. That is a dabbler. A writer doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration; a writer plods on regardless, a writer takes the gamble, lives in penury, gives every- thing up to be a slave to her art. I didn’t let my feelings show, but I suppose in my own way I went straight for the jugular.
‘Do you make a living from it?’
‘No, no.’
Precisely my point: she was not a writer. (We writers have to do any writing we can to fund the writing we want – I ghost-write, I interview, I copy-edit, in order to
afford the time to write books that no one wants to publish.)
‘I’m—Or rather, I used to run galleries. You’ve got some . . .’ She gestured that I had some strawberry juice on my chin. I wiped it. She shook her head and gestured again so I wiped it again.

And then – perhaps you’ll disagree, perhaps you’ll think this is what any mother does – she did something that seemed strangely intimate to me: she licked her finger and gently started to rub my chin with it. And as she did so – it was a stubborn stain – I couldn’t help but take her in: the freckles, the contrast of the blonde hair with those dark eyes. I was just going to ask her about this gallery business when she said, ‘You smell really good. What perfume are you wearing?’

Again, oddly intimate, no? But I’m a sucker for a compliment and I must have visibly brightened.

‘Thank you! It’s Jo Malone: Lime Basil and Mandarin.’
She smiled. She had good teeth, neat and white, like an advert mouth. ‘It’s gorgeous.’
I thought so too but it was very nice to have it pointed out. Looking back, it was probably the compliments that blinkered me to those palpable warning signs. How
pathetic is that?
‘What does your partner do?’ she asked me.
‘He’s a consultant in communications,’ I said, which never fails to shut people up.
‘What about your husband?’ I asked, after the pause.
‘Wife, actually. She works in TV.’
Well, that shut me up. She was a lesbian. How refreshing. This neighbourhood needed a bit of diversity wherever itcould find it; the school had got whiter and blonder with each passing year, the parents more homogeneous – a growing number of men in salmon cords with hearty laughs and women with salon-shiny hair being walked by dogs that didn’t moult. I immediately wanted to ask her about the girls: who was the biological mother? Who was the father? What do they call you? All those obvious questions that no one likes to ask but everyone wants to know. Then all the unobvious questions I wanted to ask, like how she knew she was gay. I was intrigued. I’d always been straight as a die. The idea of making love to a woman had never held any allure for me. I loved men. I loved their bodies, I loved their differences, I loved their masculinity. But I didn’t ask her anything, of course; I tried to give the impression of being cool.
‘I like your hair . . . your fringe,’ she said. ‘You’ll have to tell me where a good hairdresser’s is around here . . . I don’t know the area at all.’ She was patting her wispy locks, looking at me in that sideways way. I have to say, I’d only just had my hair cut and was feeling rather self- conscious about it. Potentially I looked a bit 1974 – and not in a good way. The hairdresser had been somewhat gung- ho and on leaving the salon, I’d caught a glimpse of myself from the side with what looked like a well-groomed guinea pig perching on my forehead.

‘Sure! There’s a good place up by the library,’ I said, leaning over to get a better view of Annie, who was roaming about in a way that made me suspicious – she
had been known to squat down for a crap in the bushes. She’s too feral, that child of mine.
‘I’m Ness, by the way!’ she said, holding out her hand.
‘I’m Connie,’ I replied, shaking hers.

And so the bond was made.
This all seems a very long time ago now. Six long years ago; like a different lifetime, back in the days when I would pass homeless people in the street curled up in urine-drenched corners and carelessly think how on earth did your life go so wrong? Well, now I know. The answer is:
quite easily, as it turns out. You’d think it might be a slow process of deterioration but the truth is it can turn in a moment, maybe even on a stranger’s whim – with a neighbour accepting an offer on a house in Buxton Road, for example.

Blurb

How close is too close?
Connie and Ness met in the park while their children played. As they talked, they realised they were neighbours. Perhaps it was only natural that they and their families would become entirely inseparable.

But when Ness’s marriage ends in a bitter divorce, she is suddenly at Connie’s house all the time. Connie doesn’t have a moment to herself, no time alone with her husband, not a second to chat to her kids.

It’s all too much. Something has to give.

Connie has woken up in a psychiatric hospital. They say she committed a terrible crime but she says she can’t remember a thing.

Author Info

Natalie Daniels is the pseudonym for screenwriter, author and actress Clara
Salaman who you may recognise as DS Claire Stanton from The Bill.

She lives in London and in Northern Spain.

Twitter: @natdaniels2018

Bookish · Uncategorized

The Burning Hill by A.D Flint (Spotlight)

The Burning Hill is a new book by AD Flint, released on 13th December 2018 and published by Unbound. It will be available in both Paperback and Kindle formats. Check out the other tour spots to find out more!

The Blurb

On the run from unjust court-martial back home, a young British soldier gets robbed and shot on Copacabana Beach. The bullet in Jake’s head should have been fatal but, miraculously, it saves him from a previously undetected condition that soon would have killed him.

Jake doesn’t believe in fate, nor does he feel he owes anything to anybody, but he does hate injustice. Vilson, the teenage favela kid who fired the bullet, is a victim of injustice, in a deadly corner with a corrupt cop and a sadistic drug-lord after his blood.

With a turf war erupting in Vilson’s favela, fear stalks every narrow alleyway, and anyone dragged up to the notorious Burning Hill had better hope they’re dead before they get there. But it’s not just fear that shapes life in the favela: belief is also powerful, able to both save and destroy.

The Burning Hill is about the power of belief and one man’s desire for justice at any cost.

Author Bio

On a June afternoon in 2000 there was a robbery just a few blocks from where the author was living in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. It turned into a hostage situation.

The teenage robber had survived a notorious massacre of street children outside a Rio church years before, and the tragedy that played out in the aftermath of the robbery on live TV news was an embodiment of the desperation of life at the bottom of the heap. An ugly thing in this beautiful city, shocking, even to a society inured to everyday violence.

As a Brit new to Rio, the author was beguiled by the city, and found it profoundly disturbing to watch something happening just down the road that was so out of control and so wrong. The author spent a year in Brazil and now lives on the south coast of England with his Brazilian wife and two sons.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Black Moss by David Nolan (Review)

I’m pleased to be kicking off the tour for David Nolan’s novel, Black Moss! Available now in both Paperback and Kindle formats, published by Fahrenheit Press and available now. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to find out more.

Black Moss is a story about “Danny Something” and his journey to discover the truth about a poor boy, murdered and left on the county border, only for nobody to really even care because the fame was elsewhere – the riot at Strangeways.
The story switches between 1990 and 2016, from the perspective of Danny, determined to get to the bottom of the child’s murder whilst working with a local officer named John and his daughter, Kate and then revisiting it again a quarter of a century later; where alcoholism takes it’s toll and his life becomes a literal car crash.

Gritty and gripping, I absolutely loved this book. The entire thing felt authentic. I have never been to Manchester, but I feel like the book was very immersive in that respect. The way the characters are written is fantastic, so much depth. They were affected by the things that occurred and I found them to be very convincing. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Danny and a police officer named John who seemed to be the only other person invested in the case. The way Nolan touches upon such substantial incidents such as murder, alcoholism and children in the care system were so well written, I’d never have guessed this was his debut novel and could have easily been led to believe this to be a true tale.

Nolan is a crime reporter and TV producer and he really seems to utilise his expertise to help bring this story to life and provides an interesting insight to 90’s journalism. I felt almost as if I were there, watching it unfold. Crime fiction is my go-to genre, but I still managed to find some surprises in this book, especially toward the final third – you’ll have to read it yourself to see what I mean. 😉

Compelling, convincing and utterly gripping. A must-read for anyone who enjoys crime-fiction and a read they can’t put down.

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Blurb

In April 1990, as rioters took over Strangeways prison in Manchester, someone killed a little boy at Black Moss.

And no one cared.

No one except Danny Johnston, an inexperienced radio reporter trying to make a name for himself.

More than a quarter of a century later, Danny returns to his home city to revisit the murder that’s always haunted him.

If Danny can find out what really happened to the boy, maybe he can cure the emptiness he’s felt inside since he too was a child.

But finding out the truth might just be the worst idea Danny Johnston has ever had.

NgJgWTON_400x400 (1) Author Bio

David is a multi-award-winning author, television producer and crime reporter. He has written a dozen books including Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, the true story of the largest historic abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police. He presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary based on the book called The Abuse Trial. It won both the Rose D’Or and the New York International radio awards in 2016. Officers involved in the case helped David with the police procedures featured in Black Moss, particularly the way the system deals with missing children.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Favourite Character to Write (Guest Post)

Today, I am really pleased to be bringing you a guest post from fellow Staffordshire county…human JF Burgess, author of The Killer Shadow Thieves which is available now in both Paperback and Kindle formats; it’s also available on Kindle Unlimited. You can read his post and find out more below!



Favourite character to write.

That’s got to be the protagonist, 45-year-old widowed detective Tom Blake, whose wife and 10-year-old son was tragically killed in a fatal hit and run car crash ten years ago. Tom was driving at the time and his daughter Isabel was also in the car, both miraculously escaped the accident with minor cuts and bruises – but he still suffers from emotional flashbacks and neck pain from whiplash caused by the accident. They never caught the joyrider who killed his family but he vows to bring the perpetrator to justice once day.

He’s an intuitive, firm but fair detective who hates sitting hunched over a computer and loves the thrill of the chase and adrenaline rush you can only get from this type of job. A bit of a perfectionist, who thrives on the uncertainty of each new case and the thrill of the hunt, which brings out the dark side of his personality when good triumphs over evil?

He’s a great leader, but also quite vulnerable at times, which makes him very likeable and real. And like all good detectives, he has to fight tooth and nail for every bit of ground gained against the criminal underworld.
I really enjoyed developing his character and watching him grow. I see a lot of myself in him which is only natural I suppose. Ultimately, I think readers will enjoy rooting for him whilst trying to work out who the murder really is?
Heather Eames at Book Jar Journeys reviews sums the reader character connection up when she says…
“The characters and their development throughout the novel are a definite highlight for me. As the story progressed, I was more drawn in and intrigued by what was going on. I also enjoyed (perhaps the wrong word) the family drama that was introduced and think that it made the characters more human, I was reading with my heart in my mouth when his daughter was kidnapped!”

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Blurb

Widowed detective DI Tom Blake sets off a chain of events that change his life forever, when the brutal murder of an alcoholic skinhead, and arrest of a vicious Turkish loan shark, unwittingly disrupts an international gang’s daring plans to steal the world-famous Staffordshire Hoard.

In a cruel twist of fate, Blake’s daughter is kidnapped and the trail propels the bereft detective on a personal quest to Miami to save her life. Operating outside the law, he enters into an illicit showdown with a mysterious artefacts Collector, almost costing him his life.

As the body count rises, Blake and his team struggle to unravel the conspiracy of a shadowy killer who leaves no trace. With only circumstantial evidence against each of the suspects, they hit a wall, until twenty-six-year-old photographs linking them to the murdered skinhead emerge. It seems the victim’s depraved past is the key to identifying the killer.

Can the police uncover the truth through all the lies and deception, and crack the case before someone else gets killed? And will they recover a legendary national treasure, worth millions, before it’s lost forever?

jfburgess

Author Bio

I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and spent many years doing less than ideal jobs in and around the Potteries five towns, before finally taking the plunge and quitting work to follow my creative side. As a keen horse-racing fan, I started off in 2007 self-publishing betting how-to manuals.

This is my main business, but my real passion is for crime fiction, both reading and writing.

Inspired by authors such as Mel Sherratt, Peter James, Val McDermid, James Oswald, Kate Ellis, Martina Cole and Ian Rankin, and in need of a new challenge, I decided to try my hand at writing crime fiction.

After months of hard slog and sheer determination, I finished my first novel: The Killer Shadow Thieves. This is the first in a planned series of gritty crime fiction books set in Stoke on Trent, involving charismatic DI Tom Blake and his larger-than-life sidekick DS Jon Murphy.

The follow up, The Deadly Legacy, is a cult serial killer thriller, with a 200-year-old secret at the heart of a plot full of unexpected twists, which push the relationships of a rich pottery family into life-threatening conflicts.

I write tense, gripping, crime fiction mysteries with a twist – or urban crossbreed, as I call it. My thrillers take you deep inside the criminal mind.

I live with my wife and family in Stoke-on-Trent, England. You can find out more about me at www.jfburgess.co.uk, or on Twitter at @burgess1012.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Stoned Love by Ian Patrick (Excerpt)

Today I’m bringing you an excerpt as part of a blog tour for Stoned Love by Ian Patrick, out now and available both in Paperback and Kindle editions. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to find out more!

Blurb

Detective Sergeant Sam Batford has been lying low at a remote safe house in the highlands of Scotland. He’s doing his best not to attract the attention of the enemies he made, on both sides of the law, during his last under-cover operation but Batford knows he’s just killing time until he’s called to account.

Inevitably the sharks begin to circle and as Batford is called back to front-line action in London he’s thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse where it seems everyone is out to get him.

After having to endure a frustrating resolution to their previous undercover operation together DCI Klara Winter from the National Crime Agency is determined to prove that Batford has crossed the line into criminality and finally bring him to face justice.

All Sam Batford wants is to outwit his enemies long enough to stay alive and come out ahead of the game.

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Excerpt

This is 2020 and the consequences are kicking in. Times have changed since the public sector austerity measures were first imposed. The then home secretary became Prime Minister and still persisted with the draconian measures despite public backlash. Not even Thatcher touched the police and most thought she was brutal.

I put the kettle on the Aga and gaze out over the fields. I have a day to kill before my train from Edinburgh to London. I’ve enjoyed the break and the solitude. City life has ground me down. My problem is the pace and vibe of the city is in my blood. It’s part of my DNA. I love its tension coursing through my veins. I adore the adrenalin rush when a job comes off. I also enjoy the rich pickings from the criminals I infiltrate. I have no intention of completing thirty years service. I need to top up my pension pot before I leave though. I subconsciously check my leg and experience reassurance at the feel of titanium. I intend to upgrade and add to my prosthetic leg collection once this next job is over. Whatever my bosses have planned for me I always turn it to my advantage.

I watch the bull. He’s in the field for a purpose. His job is to fuck at every opportunity. He has no competition. He’s Mr Big surrounded by his bitches. He strolls over to a cow. She’s wary but carries on eating. As he approaches she flicks her tail. He takes the hint and mounts. A ton of muscle thrusts twice. Job done. Every bull has his day though. Old age will render him useless.

All lives have a price. The whistle indicates the water’s ready.

The thing I love about the police is they will always look after you. That’s unless you need to be further away than London for a cool off period. There are no mod cons or city flats to escape to here. The cottage has seen better days and lets just say the police estate doesn’t run to cover the costs of refurbishment or maintenance beyond a working fire alarm. Damp permeates the walls and paper hangs from the ceiling. The heating is oil and at least
they’ve kept up the contract to enable that still to work.


Ian Patrick Author Photo

About the Author

Ian spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command in London. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes. Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.

Rubicon is his debut novel published by Fahrenheit Press and Stoned Love the second in the series. Rubicon has been optioned by the BBC for a six part TV series.

He now lives in rural Scotland where he divides his time between family, writing, reading and photography.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones (Review)

Today, I am bringing you a review as part of the tour for Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones! The book is available now in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

The blurb instantly had my interested in this book. A former ballerina turned Private Investigator? Sign me up! I love a good, strong female protagonist. Cass had to leave her life as a ballerina as an accident, replaced it with motorcycles and an inherited detective agency where her friend basically forced her to hire a charming dwarf ex-con by the name of Quill; who, I might add, charms literally everyone and that scope is not just within the book but extends to me too. The dialogue was witty, charming and had me laugh on multiple occasions. Cass’s cynicism paired with the charming retorts of Quill made for great entertainment. Throw a giant beast of a dog in, and you’ve got a heck of a motley crew.

With no idea what she’s doing, a rich lady keeps basically throwing money at Cass to find her sons missing teddy bear. But it’s just a toy, isn’t it? No, it’s an antique that for some reason they have given to a child which seems even stranger based on what we learn later on in the book.

Fast paced, I ended up reading the book cover to cover. I loved it. I felt like the book was heavy on the back story and it lacked in the actual “investigations” department, however, Cass had inherited the detective agency and her bumbling her way through it made total sense based on the history of it all. So to me, that wasn’t a negative factor, albeit not what I was expecting. While that may be disappointing to people who want an actual PI book, I really enjoyed this including being on the journey with Cass as she tried to work things out and learn the ropes and solve her first case – a missing antique teddy-bear.

I really enjoyed the book overall and I’m quite interested in any further adventures of Cass and her new companion.

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Blurb

Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Hired by a client who should know better, Cass has no leads, no clue and a complete inability to solve a case. Still a girl needs to eat and her highbred client’s offering good money. Join her as, with bungling incompetence, she follows a trail littered with missing antique teddies, hapless crooks, a misplaced Lord of the Realm and dead bodies. Will Cass, and Scotland, survive?

wendyjones Award Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland.

Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent traveling around the UK, and lands much further afield.

As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August, 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.