book reviews · Bookish

A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone (Review)

Hello! Today I am on the Orenda tour for A Song of Isolation by Michael J. Malone. I received a copy of this book for free as part of the tour. It is out on September 17th in Paperback format and available now in Kindle format. Please check out the other tour stops!

A Song of Isolation is a frustrating tale of greed. That’s what it boils down to in the end. Amelie once was the darling of the silver screen, however, an incident caused her to decide to give it all up. She was living a relatively normal life with her partner, Dave, when after Damaris, the next door neighbours child fell off her bike in the garden. Little did they know that this would turn their entire lives upside-down when Dave is accused of assaulting Damaris.

Tense and uneasy, this book takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster. We know a spade is a spade, but not everything is as it seems. The way the characters are written is incredibly important for a premise like this to be able to work and Michael J Malone really pulled it off. Right from the start, you get an impression about the main characters that will influence you later on. The characters develop well along side the story and the plot and as it unfolds, you can tell that something is not right. These are not the characters we know. Something is off.

Despite knowing something is right, nobody told the rest of the world as they’re easily influenced by the media and sent on a witch hunt against Dave and also Amelia who has chosen to stand by Dave when some serious accusations are thrown his way. They’re treated with nothing less than contempt and yet she stayed by his side until she was physically forced to leave, until another discovery led her to brave coming home. Little did she know, far more was waiting at home for her than she realised in time to come.

In the end, it all boils down to greed and a complete disregard for everyone else in order to get what one wants. This is tense and well paced, one of those books that carries you along and before you realise it, you’re over half way through and you’ve gotta see it through to the end. Or at least, that was the case for me. I felt angry and frustrated but also sympathetic to the cast of characters. I feel it important to note that this book is pretty dark, but not graphic, yet the tale still hits pretty hard. I had to take some time to process it once I had finished, rather than moving on to my next read. People can easily be led without them even realising it and some people will stop at nothing to achieve their own ends…

About the Book

Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?

Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.

While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives … in an instant.

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’.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Plotting in Novels – Val Penny (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! I hope you all had the most wonderful weekend! I’m kicking this week off with a Guest Post from Val Penny as part of a blog tour to promote her book Hunters Chase which is available now in both Kindle and Paperback formats. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited and you can get a free 30 day trial of that here.

Take it away, Val!

    Thank you for having me on your blog today.

    I think that plotting is central to writing a novel, but it is a highly individual process. No two authors plot in the same way. Some plot organically while others plot in a very orderly fashion. Many writers even plot differently from one book to another. Some write scenes: hundreds of scenes that interest and excite them and then they stitch the scenes together to from the novel. While others visualise the way the book will take shape using dozens of bits of paper laid out on their desk or even on the floor. It must be important to make sure the windows are closed if you plot this way!

    Some authors use tree diagrams, spreadsheets or mind-maps to plot and there is software available to download on line for this.

    However you plot your novel, the goal is the same, to allow the journey the plot is about take, that will last several months, to become a novel. It is important that you, as an author, choose between the ‘organic’ and ‘orderly’ methods of plotting so you are comfortable that your choice works best for you and the book you are setting out to write. I plotted my first novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’ organically but, after attending a course run by Sue Moorcroft at last years’ Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, I plotted the sequel ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ using diagrams and spreadsheets. Neither is wrong. Both have strength and weaknesses and either can be successful for crafting a novel.

    Writers who follow an organic way of plotting, approach the outline largely as a form of awareness of the story, rather than as an actual document to be followed strictly. Many view the outline not so much as a planning device but more of an analytical tool that helps strengthen the final draft by indicating the flaws in the story-line.

    Some authors begin with an idea and just jump in to tell the story. They write steadily and regularly until they have written tens of thousands of words. Then they go through the organic draft and delete large chunks and add other pieces until the final manuscript is complete.

    Other authors, like Sue Moorcroft, plot meticulously and there is no doubt that plotting an outline is hard work. However, having undertaken an outline on ‘Hunter’s Revenge’, I found myself writing my novel with confidence. I was happy that one chapter followed another in a sensible sequence. My characters retained their identities. Of course, at the end of the first draft, there were flaws, but I found I was able to repair those readily.

    Whether you plot organically or in an orderly fashion, the important issue is that you can tell the story to your readers and that you, and they, are satisfied by your novel.

About the Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.
Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

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.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Favourite Character to Write – BRM Stewart (Guest Post)

Today I am on the blog tour for The Deaths on the Black Rock by BRM Stewart, available now on Kindle and in Paperback formats. I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from the author about his Favourite Character to write.

Many of my characters are different aspects of me. Martin McGregor, and Michael, are me really. Martin’s life is stable just at the moment, so he doesn’t have a big role in this book (but wait for the next one!). Michael is developing well, and is going to take on more responsibility in the next book (as is the young Kylie).

I like Mark Grosvenor, the old semi-retired FBI agent, who appears to give his wisdom and knowledge, and help out generally using his contacts. Grosvenor has been with me since the first book, and I think he’ll always be around to give that international perspective. Anything involving cybercrime and online terrorism in the world will involve the FBI.

Overall, I think Amanda Pitt has to be my favourite character, and she has become a much more rounded and important character over the years.

She arrived late on in Digital Circumstances, with quite a small role as a corrupt cop. Right at the end, she seduced Martin’s secretary Claire, who was engaged at the time to a man she described as psychologically abusive.

I thought then that I could use her again, and friends also said they hoped to see more of her. In the second book, Digital Investigations, she rather took over: she was a member of a Major Investigation Team working on a murder and kidnapping.Amanda has a complex past. In ‘Investigations’ I explore that past, both how she discovered and came to terms with her sexuality, and how she became corrupt – being drawn in to a criminal gang as a result of doing a good turn for someone. It can be dangerous for a straight man to write about a gay woman, but I hope it rings true. I certainly hope I’ve avoided the standard pitfalls – I’m sure someone will tell me if I haven’t.

Amanda is a team player in ‘Investigations’. She lets the team know her ideas, and explains them. She also does what her boss asks her to do. She is the one who leads the team to make the breakthroughs. But she can also be ruthless: there’s an investigative reporter on her tail, looking into her past, and she will do anything not to let him bring her down.

In The Deaths on the Black Rock, Amanda is centre stage, and there’s no team around her. She alone thinks there is something dodgy about Rima Khalaf’s death, and I give her free reign to explore it. Amanda does some outrageous things as she gets more and more obsessed about the case, though hopefully it never comes across as unbelievable. It’s all very liberating for an author and great fun.

At the same time, I have to keep her rooted in reality: her task in her day job has to be carried out, and she does that well.

What I love about Amanda is that she works things out – not quite Sherlock Holmes, but close. She thinks about the problem. She does the spadework, so that when a piece of luck comes her way she can capitalise on it.

Blurb

It’s been a year since Rima Khalaf died in a fall from the Black Rock, deemed to be a tragic accident by the police.

But her grieving parents are dissatisfied with the police investigation, so DS Amanda Pitt is sent north from Glasgow to the small town of Clachdubh to re-examine the case.

Despite the suspicions of the distraught parents, all the circumstances seem to confirm Rima’s death was indeed a tragic accident until another woman is also found dead in the town.

Frustrated by the lack of any real evidence, DS Pitt pushes the limits of legality in her quest for the truth.

About the Author

Brian RM Stewart was born in Rutherglen and grew up in Grangemouth. He attended Glasgow University and Jordanhill College of Education, taught in Edinburgh, then moved to Nairn where he and his now-late wife Jan raised their children.

Brian now lives in Broughty Ferry with his wife Sally, where he is a member of the Angus Writers’ Circle and an active member of Rotary.

Brian spent much of his working life teaching mathematics and computing, but is now partially retired and lectures for the OU. When not writing, Brian attempts to play golf and the guitar (though not at the same time), and is a keen Bridge player.

He has published two previous novels, Digital Circumstances and Digital Investigation.

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.

StonedLoveAugust2018JPEG

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.