#BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins @DomePress @Alis_Hawkins

Excited to be here today to share with you my thoughts on this wonderful series, along with a guest post from Alis herself all about Victorian Crime Fiction! My thanks to the Author and Publisher for letting me be part of this tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor’s clerk John Davies as his assistant. When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decides to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous. Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry’s chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems, implicate his own family in a crime. 

Published by The Dome Press

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. After attending the local village primary school and Cardigan County Secondary school, she left West Wales to read English at Oxford. Subsequently, she has has done various things with her life, including becoming a speech and language therapist, bringing up two sons, selling burgers, working with homeless people, and helping families to understand their autistic children. And writing. Always. Nonfiction (autism related), plays (commissioned by heritage projects) and, of course, novels. Alis’s first novel, Testament, was published in 2008 by Macmillan and was translated into several languages. (It has recently been acquired for reissue, along with her medieval trilogy of psychological thrillers by Sapere Books). Her current historical crime series featuring blind investigator Harry Probert-Lloyd and his chippy assistant, John Davies, is set in Cardiganshire in the period immediately after the Rebecca Riots. As a sideeffect of setting her series there, instead of making research trips to sunny climes like more foresighted writers, she just drives up the M4 to see her family. Now living with her partner on the wrong side of the Welsh/English border (though she sneaks back over to work for the National Autistic Society in Monmouthshire) Alis speaks Welsh, collects rucksacks and can’t resist an interesting fact.

Website

Twitter

GUEST POST – VICTORIAN CRIME FICTION

When people hear the phrase ‘Victorian crime fiction’, their minds immediately go to 1890s London. I know this. I’ve seen it. Because Victorian crime fiction has always had one huge, overshadowing presence, hasn’t it? Holmes.

But the Victorian era isn’t limited to the last decade or so of the nineteenth century when Watson and Holmes were doing their thing. Victoria was on the throne for 63 years and the world changed almost as much between the start of her reign in 1837 and the end of it in 1901 as it did between 1937 and 2001. In other words, a lot.

Nor, obviously, is the Victorian era geographically limited to London.

So, the Victorian crime fiction you’ll find between the covers of In Two Minds (and the first in the series, None So Blind) differs substantially from the goings-on inside 221B Baker Street and the gaslit streets of the capital.

For a start, the books are set at the beginning of the 1850s. Victoria is neither old nor fat. Nor is she yet dressed in black or unamused. She’s barely into her thirties and Prince Albert still has a decade to live. Isambard Kingdom Brunel is doing extraordinary things with the new railways, to say nothing of iron ships, and the Great Exhibition has just taken place in the Crystal Palace – a feat of engineering that astonished the world. The world and the empire is young and vigorous and full of promise.

And, instead of the grubby, corrupt, crime-ridden streets and hellish rookeries of London, we’re in the clean air of south west Wales, amongst the wooded tributary valleys of the river Teifi and on the busy Cardiganshire coastline where merchant ships plied up and down the coast from Liverpool to Bristol and London and across the Atlantic to America.

It’s a very different time and a very different place. Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t’ve known what to do there or how to go about understanding what was going on. But Harry Probert-Lloyd does, because it’s his time and his place and he may be blind, but that doesn’t mean he’s ignorant about how things work here.

So, what were things like in the Teifi Valley in the mid-nineteenth century? How did society work?  

What were the people like?

Quite lot like us, is the answer.

Of course, they lived with different expectations, different fears – fears that were a lot more immediate, in many ways, than our own. Without antibiotics or the welfare state or health and safety, life was a lot more precarious – which is always good for a crime writer, especially if her sleuth is a coroner. But people were still people and the past is only the present which happens to have taken place a while ago. It was still now when it happened and we should never forget that.

It’s with that attitude in mind that I write my books. I don’t think of Harry and John as historical figures, living in a quaint, sepia-tinted version of the world. In my mind, they’re living, breathing, vital, hot-blooded, sometimes violent young men, living in a full-colour world which is every bit was real to them as mine is to me. Which, when it was now, was every bit as modern and cutting edge as 2019 is today.

In the last two decades, the internet has changed our world out of all recognition. The railways are doing the same to theirs. Harry and John live in a time of political turmoil when many ordinary folk don’t feel that the toffs in government represent them. We live in a time of political turmoil when many ordinary folk don’t feel that the toffs in government—’ Well, you get my drift.

One of the most pleasing things anybody said about None So Blind, when it came out, appeared in an Amazon review:

Although the setting was historical I didn’t feel that I was being told what that time was like, rather I felt like I was a contemporary of the characters able to visualise the people and places. I learnt about the time almost by experiencing it.

The reviewer couldn’t have pleased me more, because that’s what I’m aiming for. That the reader is there, walking alongside Harry and John seeing what they see, hearing the truths and half-truths and lies they hear, feeling the things they feel. Just like you would if you were reading contemporary fiction.

MY REVIEW

In the second of the Teifi Valley Coroner series – but can easily be read as a standalone so worry not if you haven’t read None So Blind yet! – we are reunited with John and Harry as they combine their crime solving skills to get to the bottom of yet more intriguing deaths, and these deaths are a little more gruesome this time round so pose quite a challenge for them to get to the bottom of.

Harry is going blind, so relies on John to be his eyes and they work so well as a team that Harry wonders how he’d cope without his trusty sidekick!  His father would much prefer he lived a quieter life, but Harry is driven by the need to carry on with his work so does all he can to prove how valuable he is especially when faced with such intriguing cases – no ID on the first victim, and no skin on his face either – doesn’t make it easy to identify him.

What I love about Harry and John is although they work so well together, they are also fascinating characters when working under their own steam.  Their stories are told in alternating points of view and allows them to spread their wings a little and cover more ground in getting to the bottom of various threads.  They aren’t afraid of using unconventional methods in their thorough investigations and I just loved how dogged and persistent they both are in their quest to uncover the truth – despite the interference of others!

As with the first in this series, this book really transports you back to a dark and gritty Wales in the 19th Century and deals with the darker sides of life, especially when they start to uncover the truth behind the victim and how his story goes a lot deeper than any of them could have imagined.

A gritty and stylish piece of historical crime fiction – more please!!!

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#BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone @DomePress @WRITERachael

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for PUZZLE GIRL by RACHAEL FEATHERSTONE.  My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of the fun and to share my review, alongside a GUEST POST by the author herself on my Blog today!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Love is a riddle waiting to be solved… Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

Published by The Dome Press

Purchase Links

Publisher Website  £6.29

hive.co.uk  £7.75

Foyles  £8.99

About the Author

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.

Puzzle Girl was published by the Dome Press in ebook in August 2018 and in paperback in January 2019.

Social Media & Links

Twitter: @WRITERachael

Instagram: @rachael_featherstone

Facebook: @RachaelFeatherstoneAuthor

Website: http://www.writerachael.com

GUEST POST

Writers are often split into two buckets: “plotters” and “pantsers”. I am definitely, undeniably, irrevocably in Camp Plotter. I am a plotter-nutter. Even before writing novels you could find post-it notes and stationary in every room of my home; at school my favourite place to hang out was the photocopying room helping to stack and staple the school letters (*yeah, I was that kid). My plotting doesn’t just come in the form of post-its, paper plans, character profiles and notebooks. It spreads to the computer: I am a HUGE Excel fan.

Puzzle Girl was the first novel I’d ever attempted and I spent a lot of time reading books about how to structure and pace a story. I loosely used the three-act structure and I spent many blissful hours creating an interactive version of the “tension chart” in Excel that had little tags for scenes so that I could check the drama and tension had the right rise and fall.

This set up was incredibly helpful when writing Puzzle Girl because I had so many story lines to weave together. On the one hand Cassy is doing her utmost to get a promotion, while on the other she is obsessed with discovering who Puzzle-man is. Of course, no real writing was getting done… so you could say this was procrastination… but I don’t look at it like that *cough*.

Anyway, once I had nailed down the chapter-by-chapter outline, I got on to the really fun part of writing. I’d done so much planning that I just wrote the first draft of each chapter in which ever order I felt like, enjoying the freedom of letting the characters tell me what to write in contrast to my strict plotting guidelines.

Now I had a first draft but that was just the start. During the rewriting process Puzzle Girl went through many structural changes. Characters changed, some deleted, others created. Entire plot lines were added and killed, some shrunk while others where expanded. But interestingly, I didn’t find this process – which saw over half the word count be cut and replaced – daunting, because my spreadsheet allowed me to make sure all the different threads still worked in harmony and there were no inconsistencies. I was able to experiment with changes without spending endless months rewriting and then reaching a dead-end.

When I got my agent and the book went out to publishers, we did further edits and restructuring and it was such a joyful experience to see Puzzle Girl turning into a publishable book. And of course, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a spreadsheet where all the loose ends have been nicely tied up!

I hope you enjoy Puzzle Girl and all those endless hours in Excel, adding twist after twist, give you hours of page turning laughs and gasps!

MY REVIEW

If you are  a ‘list’ girl like I am, then you are going to love Cassy! Shes’s a girl after my own heart  too as she loves losing herself in crossword puzzles and when she is passing time in a waiting room and fills in a puzzle, I am sure she never saw it leading to her trying to solve her own puzzle when a mysterious person fills in the crossword puzzle and adds their own messages!

Cassy is on her own after her boyfriend of 7 years walks out on her, and she’s left struggling. She’s got problems at work as well so it’s fair to say life is not going her way! When she is hit by a cyclist on her way to work one day and ends up at the walk in clinic she is probably wondering what is going to go wrong for her  next!  You do get a little bit of the Bridget Jones vibe about Cassy!

But with the support of her best friend Dan – who has his own complicated life issues to deal with! – she begins to turn things round and slowly takes back control of her own life and that is what connected with me as a reader.  You really feel for Cassy and  every problem she faces you are just cheering her on to end up with some happy news and a positive outcome!  And the mystery of finding out who her fellow crossworld puzzle fan is, was just the thing to keep her fighting -and leads her to going to extreme measures to keep visiting the walk in clinic!

I thought this book was so much fun, really easy to read and so engaging! Highly recommended!!

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#BlogTour None So Blind by Alis Hawkins #Excerpt #BookReview @DomePress

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for the wonderful NONE SO BLIND by ALIS HAWKINS. My thanks to the author and the publishers, The Dome Press, for inviting me to be part of it all!

Will be sharing my review of this book today along with an extract which will hopefully give you a little flavour of what the book is abut! It’s one you need to add to your TBR pile!

About the book

West Wales, 1850.

When an old tree root is dug up, the remains of a young woman are found. Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has been dreading this discovery. He knows exactly whose bones they are.

Working with his clerk, John Davies, Harry is determined to expose the guilty. But the investigation turns up more questions than answers.

The search for the truth will prove costly. But will Harry and John be the ones to pay the highest price?

Published by The Dome Press


Purchase Links

The Dome Press  £6.29

hive.co.uk  £7.75

book depository  £8.99

About the Author

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. She left to read English at Oxford and has done various things with her life, including bringing up two amazing sons, selling burgers, working with homeless people and helping families to understand their autistic children. And writing, always.

Radio plays (unloved by anybody but her), nonfiction (autism related), plays (commissioned by heritage projects) and of course, novels.

Her current historical crime series featuring blind investigator Harry Probert-Lloyd and his chippy assistant John Davies, is set in her childhood home, the Teifi Valley. As a side effect, instead of making research trips to sunny climes, like some of her writer friends, she just drives up the M4 to see her folks.

Alis speaks Welsh, collects rucksacks and can’t resist an interesting fact.

Twitter: @Alis_Hawkins

Website: http://www.alishawkins.co.uk

None So Blind – extract

Gus’s curiosity was palpable as we stood in the stableyard waiting for the horses. Only his wariness of listening ears was saving me from an interrogation. Having told him that human remains had been found, I had avoided any questions he might have asked by fleeing upstairs, ostensibly to change but, in actual fact, to quell the shaking that had taken hold of me.

Bones confirmed what I had always feared. She was dead. But buried? Buried implied a second party. It implied – no, surely it was evidence of – murder.

A stable boy led the horses out and held them while we mounted up. ‘How far is it?’ Gus asked, nodding to the boy and taking up the reins.

‘Five minutes or so.’ In fact, had we set out to walk instead of changing and waiting for the horses, we would almost have been there by now. But it would not have done to arrive on foot. Williams of Waungilfach would have felt slighted and it was altogether too soon to allow my father to begin finding fault with me.

In two minutes we were trotting through the gates at the end of the drive. I urged my little mare up the hill towards Treforgan and we passed the hamlet’s open-fronted forge, made our way down the steep little hill past the silent, weekday chapel and the mill with its rhythmically thumping wheel, and found ourselves on the edge of the river meadows where the flat pasture was bounded by the wooded slope of the Alltddu.

Eyes averted so as to give me an impression of the path ahead, was aware of the stiff, leafless cages of last summer’s brambles lining the edge of the path and my mind’s eye conjured up memories of an exuberance of black-spattered bushes rambling up the slope. Blackberries and wild strawberries and damsons – we had picked them all. My mouth puckered at the memory of the sharp sweetness of those damsons, those days.

A sudden greeting snatched me back to the present. ‘Henry Probert-Lloyd!’

William Williams. The sound of his voice brought a slew of unpleasant recollections and I fought down an old anger. ‘Good day to you, Mr Williams.’ I dismounted and found my reins being taken by Ianto Harris.

‘I barely recognised you,’ Williams sounded somewhat resentful.

‘You look quite different!’

My hand rose involuntarily to my beard; even I was not used to it, yet, but its novelty did not excuse his tone. I gave what I hoped was a sufficiently forced smile to act as a dignified rebuke and proceeded to introduce Gus before clarifying why I had come instead of my father.

‘Yes, I see,’ Williams said. ‘It’s good of you to come yourself, of course, but I think I would rather wait until your father can attend to this himself.’

I stiffened. I might have been little more than a boy the last time Williams and I had had dealings with each other but I was a barrister now and more than competent to deputise for a magistrate.

‘Is it not,’ I suggested, ‘simply a case of confirming that these remains are human and sending for the coroner?’ Both of which Williams might have done already, had he not been so afraid of being seen to overreach himself.

‘Your father is a county magistrate—’

‘That’s hardly a necessary qualification, surely?’

‘No but, I think we should wait—’

‘And I am quite sure that he would wish us to act like sensible men’ – let him take that as a compliment if he felt so inclined – ‘and deal with this ourselves.’

Unable to look Williams in the eye and utterly unwilling to tell him why, I turned my head towards the wooded slope beside us. She was up there. That was where she had been for the last seven years. Despite all my desperate hopes and wild imaginings, she had been here all along. Dead, as I had feared. But murder… I had not, for a second, entertained that thought.

MY REVIEW

The dark and brooding cover gives you a little glimpse of what to expect when you start reading this new historical mystery series, and it’s compelling stuff from the first page to the last!

There’s a very dramatic prologue that jumps you straight into a chaotic scene and really helps set the atmosphere for what is about to follow!  When a body is found it sets everyone back to remembering one dark night, none more so than  Harry Probert-Lloyd who was dreading this discovery and is put in charge of investigating just what went on to end in such tragedy.  He is a barrister who is beginning to lose his sight, but refuses to admit defeat,and teams up with a clerk, John Davies, to track down those responsible.Both characters are quite headstrong so often go off on their own quests and I found these characters, who both have flaws of their own, make for much more interesting people to follow!

Their investigations take them amongst family and friends, and over to Ipswich as well to track down those who have moved away, and you’re always wondering why they keep finding dead ends or those who are just plain uncooperative.  The closer they get to the truth, the more troubling it is for them to want to believe.

Harry and John work so well together as a team! They upset a number of people with their questions but also aren’t afraid to work behind each others backs – they know they’re not perfect human beings but they don’t care and I think they respect that in each other!  

This is a book filled with  dark secrets and  lies, lost loves and plenty of twists and turns to keep you turning the pages with anticipation!  Can’t wait for more in this series!!

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My thanks to The Dome Press for my copy in return for a fair and honest review. Please check out the other stops on the Blog Tour!

Happy Reading!

#BlogTour What Was Lost by Jean Levy #BookExtract #BookReview @DomePress @JeanELevy

lost

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for WHAT WAS LOST by JEAN LEVY.  My thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me to be part of it all!

On my stop today will be my review of this stunning book, alongside a sneaky extract for you all to enjoy!

About the book

How would you live if you had no memories? And what if you were suspected of a terrible crime?

Sarah has no memories. She just knows she was found, near death, on a beach miles from her London home. Now she is part of a medical experiment to see whether her past can be retrieved.

But bad things seemed to have happened before she disappeared. The police are interested in her hidden memories too. A nice man she meets in the supermarket appears to have her best interests at heart. He seems to understand her – almost as if he knows her…

As she fights to regain her memories and her sense of self, it is clear that people are hiding things from her. Who are they protecting? Does Sarah really want the truth?

Published by The Dome Press

LEVY

Author social media link @JeanELevy

Purchase Links

Amazon UK £8.99

Waterstones £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.75

BOOK EXTRACT

Episode Two (cont’d) 

I stared at the apple resting against my shoe. It was probably a too-red Bramley, perhaps a too-green Gala. I can’t remember now. But I do remember that, even after everything that had happened, everything I had lost, I could still remember the names of apples. And I could still remember Granny Clark’s stories: how apples came to be called this or that. Barnaby Smith’s old grandma used to hide those hard green apples in a box under her bed so that the night fairies would never find them. Annabel Bramley had been disappointed that only one of her apple pips germinated although she wasn’t to know that trees from that one tiny seedling would one day provide fruit for the best apple pies in the world. I was writing all those stories into picture books. Doing the illustrations myself. In fact, I’d been thinking about Orange Pippins that very morning. Before the black and white cat had purred in through the flap and demanded tuna.  

I stopped to retrieve the unsolicited fruit, lifted it to my nose and was briefly overwhelmed by a memory of pumpkins and autumn sunshine. I read the name on the round, sticky label. Was Braeburn in Scotland? Perhaps that was something I once knew.  

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t aim that at you!’ 

I looked up. He was smiling. The man who had not aimed the apple was smiling. He was, perhaps, early forties, tall with some very pleasing russet stubble, specked golden in the artificial light. His eyes were green: not apple green, more pastel green, like husky eyes made white by the snow. I offered him the apple. ‘It seems OK,’ I said. I really liked the colour of his eyes. Mine are just brown, like most other eyes. ‘But you ought to put it back. In case it’s bruised.’ 

‘Then someone else might finish up with a bruised apple.’ 

I felt myself smiling. That in itself was brave of me. ‘Shall I put it back for you?’ 

He made a display of coming to a decision. His smile disappeared. But the tiny creases beside his eyes didn’t. ‘No, never get anybody else to do your dirty work. I’ll take it to a member of staff and explain.’ 

‘They’ll put it back when you’re not looking.’ I was amazing at my own boldness. 

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but at least my conscience will be clear.’ He took the apple, hovered momentarily, then his face broke into a broad smile. ‘See ya!’ 

I watched him return to his trolley, replete with vegetables, grabbed a grapefruit I didn’t want, pulled off my scrunchie and reorganised it, then hurried away towards canned fish, where I loaded a dozen small tins of line-caught tuna in spring water into my trolley, before collecting two bags of cat biscuits and wheeling on towards the checkouts. Did tuna live in spring water? I couldn’t remember. I joined the nearest queue and thought about Orange Pippins, remembering what Granny Clark used to say: if they rattle they’re ripe. I could remember her holding those yellow-red apples to my ear and shaking them. I could remember them rattling. I could remember back then.  

‘Fancy a coffee?’ 

I spun round. ‘What?’ 

‘Coffee, do you fancy a coffee?’ The apple man. He as right behind me in the queue. 

I caught my breath, recovered. ‘I have to get back. I’m writing a book. For children.’ I noticed a slight flicker of awkwardness in his pastel-green eyes. ‘But thanks, if I didn’t have to… Do you come here often?’ 

‘He laughed away the awkwardness. ‘Excellent line! You’re clearly a world-class author.’ He took a very obvious deep breath. ‘Mostly Thursdays. Occasionally Saturdays. Not usually as early as this. The name’s Parry. Matthew Parry.’ He offered his hand.  

‘Can I help?’ The checkout operative sliced through our conversation. 

‘Oh, sorry,’ I said and hurried four tins on to the conveyor belt. 

‘Do you need help?’ He lifted two tins and my box of cornflakes and aimed them at the till. ‘Are the cornflakes for you or your cat? I presume you have a cat.’ He scooped up the cat biscuits. ‘Either that or you have a strange taste in biscuits.’ 

I forced myself to smile and quickly transferred the rest of my shopping before he could offer further assistance, pushed my trolley past the checkout and hurried everything into my bag, handed the woman my credit card, punched in the number that was written across my wallet, glanced towards the exit and waited. 

‘I’d like you to have this as a deposit.’ Again I was forced to look round. I was being offered a familiar red and green apple. The shop assistant tutted. He addressed her directly. ‘It’s weighed and included in the price.’ He demonstrated the sticker on his bag of other red and green apples. ‘Do you want to check it?’ 

The assistant rolled her eyes and ripped my receipt from the till. ‘Next!’ she instructed the conveyor belt, which was already filling with vegetables. 

I accepted the apple, surprised at my lack of embarrassment. Perhaps I’d forgotten how to feel embarrassed. He continued to unload his shopping. ‘Perhaps this Saturday? Same time, same place?’ 

I popped the apple into my bag and said nothing – which was pretty much a reflection of what was inside my head – left the supermarket in a blur and drove home, wondering who he was, what he did, where he lived. What he would think if he knew.  

I pulled into the residents’ parking zone, parked in my allocated space, being careful not to reverse into the builder’s skip that was occupying the two visitor parking spaces, hauled my shopping off the passenger seat and stepped out of my car. The black and white cat emerged from under a nearby van, rubbed past the back wheel of my dilapidated Escort and threw its ear against my leg. I hurried inside. The cat knew not to follow. 

Secure in my kitchen, I pulled a tin of tuna from my bag and emptied its contents onto a clean plate. I glanced up as a familiar black and white head purred through the flap, watched as the indifferent animal lapped systematically around the outside of the tuna flesh, savouring the spring water, before attacking the main course. The purring intensified. I washed my hands thoroughly then emptied my shopping onto the work surface, snatched up the apple as it rolled away and tried to remember whether apples ought to be kept in the fridge. It didn’t look as if it did. So I put it in the fruit bowl with the grapefruit and bananas. I stacked the rest of the tins and the cat biscuits into the cupboard under the sink and then returned to the small box of cornflakes, carried it over to the cereal cupboard, and took a deep breath before opening the door and inserting the fresh box alongside all the other identical boxes arranged two deep on all three shelves of the cupboard.

MY REVIEW

Why are books that mess with your mind so wonderful to read?! I found this story to be so compulsive and intriguing that it was really difficult to switch off from! ‘Just one more chapter’ become my mantra while reading this!
Sarah is a successful author and is found unconscious, bloodied and frozen on a beach miles from home with no memory of how or why she is there! Her story then becomes a battle to try and recover the lost memories alongside trying to hold on to the memories she has left. And the more that is revealed about her story, then the more you know there’s a lot of darkness in her past – plenty to keep the reader trying to second guess where the story will go next. There are so many red flags throughout that i just kept trying to work out if certain bits of information were important or not!
The police are suspicious about Sarah – is she claiming memory loss to throw them off track about something bigger, or is she genuine and if so what happened to her! She is introduced to people from her past and she struggles to build bonds with some of these people and others she trusts implicitly. Even photos from her past are kept back from her by her Doctors’ as they fear this could be too much of a trigger for her and you just put yourself in her position and wonder how you would react in such a situation. Wondering who to trust and what was being kept from you must be terrifying!

This was a truly thrilling read that I devoured and an astonishing debut from the author.

LostBlogTour

#BlogTour Smart Moves by Adrian Magson #GuestPost #BookReview @DomePress

smart

Extremely delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for SMART MOVES by Adrian Magson. My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of it all!

And as well as my thoughts on the book, I’m also lucky to have a guest post from Adrian himself for you all to enjoy!!

About the book

International troubleshooter Jake Foreman loses his job, house and wife all in one day. And when an impulsive move lands him in even deeper water – the kind that could lose him his life – he decides it’s time to make some smart decisions.

The trouble is, knowing the right moves and making them is a whole different game. And Jake, who has been happily rubbing along things he always suspected were just a shade away from being dodgy, finds it all too easy to go with the flow. Now he’s got to start learning new tricks.

If he doesn’t, he could end up dead.

Published by The Dome Press

Publication Date – out now!

Purchase Links

Dome Press shop    £6.29

Amazon UK  £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.75

About the Author

magson

Author Website https://www.adrianmagson.com/

Twitter link

‘a classic crime star in the making’ (Daily Mail) – is the author of 22 crime and spy thrillers, a ghost novel and ‘Write On!’ – a writers’ help book. His latest novels are ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ (Oct 2017) the fifth in the Insp Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, and ‘Smart Moves’ (Aug 2018) – a standalone novel. Both are published by The Dome Press. When not writing books, he’s a reviewer for Shots Magazine and writes the ‘Beginners’ and ‘New Author’ pages for Writing Magazine (UK).

GUEST POST

Over to you Adrian!!

HUMOUR MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND

Many years ago, before I got my first book deal, I used to write short stories and comedy material for radio. I also wrote humorous slogans for greetings cards, beer mats, welcome mats and t-shirts. Show me a surface back then, it seemed, and I’d have a go at writing something to go on it. Maybe I was a budding graffito artist and never knew it.

I also wrote short fiction and features for mostly women’s magazines here and overseas. Hundreds of them. They were all part of my writing journey while trying to get the all-important book deal. For a while these non-book activities served me well, helping keep my optimism, ambition (and bank balance) on the up while focussing on making a career out of writing. But useful and enjoyable as it was, short fiction and comedy weren’t what I really wanted to do. The comedy field especially was fiercely competitive, demanding a close finger on the button of contemporary news and lots of submissions to get noticed.

It was a great learning curve, and perhaps because of it, I find most of my writing contains a vein of humour. But it has to be finely judged so as not to get in the way. Most of my books involve the world of crime or spying, so trying to inject a chuckle at the wrong moment in those genres can jangle.

Maybe that’s why recently I decided to do two things I hadn’t done before: the first was to write a standalone after years of writing series novels. The second was to aim for a humorous story. Not a laugh-a minute kind, but more in the situations being described.

In ‘Smart Moves’, international corporate trouble-shooter Jake Foreman is trying to make a success out of a misfortune largely of his own making. He’s basically stuffed up in a big way by spending too much time rolling around the world and losing touch with what was important in life, like relationships, friends and even the changing world around him. In short, he’s lost it all: his wife, home and job.

Describing someone else’s close shaves with bad luck and misery has a tragicomic appeal, because you want the central character to come out okay. I didn’t set out to get belly laughs, but I hope I managed to inspire a few smiles along the way.

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MY REVIEW

Huge thank you to the publishers for the advanced copy of this book.  I know I can always trust them for a story full of quality and intrigue and this is exactly what I got with this story.

The main character, Jake, is having a very bad day! The worst kind of bad days!  All he has known for a number of yeas has ended so he needs to think fast and get a new life plan! He’s been let go from work, his wife has left him, and there’s squatters in his home!!

The more he uncovers about the kind of work he was doing before is a little troubling to him – he’s  been a little naive to say the least! – so when he’s offered new opportunities in the ‘courier service’ he grabs at it! He knows he’s good at it so it makes sense to carry on with what he knows! He seems to care less for the consequences this may bring his way!

Add to the mix, a mess of a personal life and his life begins to spiral a little out of control and, as a reader, you just wonder what he’ll be facing next and where!

This was a fast paced thriller, that felt very fresh to read and the subtle mix of humour worked really well! There was always something going on and I found myself enjoying getting to know Jake as a character and how he had to start thinking on his feet to save himself and those around him!

A refreshing read!

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Twin Truths by Shelan Rodger #BlogTour #BookReview

Extremely delighted to be part of this Blog Tour today arranged by The Dome Press and to be able to share my thoughts and a little bit more information about this book that I struggled to put down once I’d started! Having read, and thoroughly enjoyed,  The Yellow Room  from this author previously, I was intrigued to pick this new book up from her, and I haven’t been disappointed! It’s another highly polished and stunning read.

THE BLURB

What is the truth? And how do you recognise it when you hear it? Jenny and Pippa are twins. Like many twins they often know what the other is thinking. They complete each other. When Pippa disappears Jenny is left to face the world alone, as she tries to find out what happened to her ‘other half.’ But the truth, for Jenny, can be a slippery thing.

“Provocative, unsettling and beautifully written, this clever story is instantly involving and utterly intriguing. Twin Truths kept me thinking long after I’d finished it. I highly recommend this book, but I’m not giving my copy away!”
Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher’s Hook

“I find myself rereading passages in Twin Truths because the writing is so beautiful and the imagery superb! Stunning book.”
Elizabeth Forbes, author of Nearest Thing To Crazy

“| could literally swim in the writing. So beautiful and so controlled.”
Amanda Jennings, author of In Her Wake

“Achingly sexy, cosmopolitan, revelatory, disturbing and real. Shelan Rodger takes us through love, loss and madness in a debut that is rich in character and storytelling.”
Aidan Hartley, author of The Zanzibar Chest

Published by The Dome Press

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore

Book Depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shelan’s life is a patchwork of different cultures. Born in Nigeria, she grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community in Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven. After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, she travelled to Argentina, where she spent nine years teaching and setting up a language school. Another chapter in England was followed by six years in Kenya, where she got involved in learning and development, with an emphasis on anti-discrimination. She now lives in Spain, working in international education – and writing.

MY REVIEW

What a riveting read!! Another one of those books that I couldn’t put down once I’d picked it up as it keeps you guessing from first page to last!

Jenny and Pippa are twins. They are extremely close so when Pippa disappears, Jenny is left to face the world alone and wants to find out the truth of what happened to her sister, to make sense of her place in the world.

The story is told in 3 parts – Part One is set in Argentina where Jenny is teaching english to businessmen and you really get the sense she likes being unknown in a foreign country. She has friends there but they know very little, if anything, of her past and that is how she likes it. She is even evasive when seeing her psychologist, Ignacio, and he finds her an intriguing character to see and finds himself thinking of her even when he’s not scheduled to meet her.

In Part Two, we get the story from the point of view of Pippa and is their story as children and this is when you get to really get a look at the characters. Jenny was the rebel and went off the rails, whereas Pippa found solace in books and was a total swot. Such an interesting outlook on things they went through, how they differed as personalities and how their lives took them on different journeys and how experiences they had shaped them and made them who they are.

And in Part Three the story reveals things I’d never even considered and this made the impact of this book even more astonishing for me as a reader!

There are dark undertones throughout this book, and the short snappy chapters really helped the repercussions hit home and I found that the author had such a confident style of writing within this book. There are disturbing and difficult subjects discussed but they were dealt with sensitively and I was thoroughly gripped by the drama and emotions throughout.

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#BlogTour Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger #GuestPost #BookReview

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Welcome all and thank you for stopping by for my turn on this fabulous Blog Tour! And as well as my review I am also happy to share a feature from the author herself and it makes for fascinating reading so I hope you enjoy!! Over to you Shelan!!

 

shelan

 

Eyes confess the secrets of the heart

‘The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.’ This is a quote I love by Saint Jerome (best known for translating the bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin). Think of the eyes of children before they learn to control the way they look at people, or the eyes of lovers searching for each other’s souls. Think of our intuitive reaction to someone’s eyes and face the first time we meet them, or those moments in your life when eyes have spoken without the need for words.

Over two years ago, my partner woke up from an induced coma after post-surgery complications. The first time he opened his eyes I knew that he couldn’t see. They did start to see after a few days, but the person behind them had not returned. Each day I would look at his eyes before I spoke, searching to see if he had come back.

In moments of intensity, we trust eyes more than words. Fear, anguish, shame, hatred, love, adoration…water from the well of emotions pours into our eyes in these moments. There are time-frozen images in my memory of the look in someone’s eyes at a crucial moment…I suspect we can all recall such moments in the stories of our own lives and relationships.

One thing that fascinates me when it comes to writing is the relationship between this subliminal communication through the eyes and the use of metaphorical language to reach beyond words on the page. When my book was first edited, I drove my wonderful editor mad with my use of non-idiomatic language, metaphors and ‘awkward phrasing’. He was wonderful because he always challenged me and I learnt to reflect on what I wanted to keep and why. The things I keep are normally about reaching for unknown connections, creating associations, triggering emotional responses in the reader that straightforward, transparent, idiomatic language might not get to.

In Yellow Room, there is a battered fox on the side of the road, a locked toilet door, a cloth doll. In Twin Truths, there is a rat that gnaws at the main character’s feet. Their emotional significance is developed with the narrative. But mostly there is just the occasional image or gentle jarring in the use of language to nudge the reader into meeting it head on and seeing something beyond the words. It is hard to quote out of context to show what I mean but I will try…

From Yellow Room

‘She looks at her big sister with her brown-dog eyes that haven’t yet learnt fear.’

‘The elephant shadow of his parent’s disapproval hung briefly between them and she wished he could let her stroke it away for ever.’

‘Chala’s face is stone-still.’

‘Do you really want children Paul? Is it very important to you?’ She says it softly, wishing there was a way to paint away the knowledge of who she is.’

‘The words ‘I love you’ ached at the tips of her fingers, but a judge inside hovered over them with a guillotine.’

‘She watched a tiny hummingbird hovering and darting into the flowers of a frangipani tree. Shards of recent memory flashed at random in her head.’

‘She felt as if she were in her namesake lake all over again, a sickly cloying of dark water all around her.’

From Twin Truths

‘We looked at each other like strangers on a salt plain and I felt for a horrible moment that we were walking backwards, facing each other but walking away.’

‘I remembered the end of the evening like a beginning – the distant touch of soft hands in the night, and his manhood, waves on the shore inside me…’

‘I struggle with ghosts in my heart and delay my reply.’

I wonder if you noticed the same words my editor did. Our reaction to language is emotional and personal, and changes with context and time…I hope you enjoy whatever eye contact you have with the words in my books…

Author Website

Publisher Website – The Dome Press

 

THE BLURB

Haunted by a tragic childhood accident, Chala’s whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. After the death of the stepfather she adored, Chala is thrown into turmoil once again.

Volunteering in Kenya seems to offer an escape, and a way of re-evaluating her adult relationships, although violence and hardship simmer alongside its richness and beauty.

The secrets of the Yellow Room are still with her and she can’t run away forever…

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

 

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a book to hook you in from the first chapter, then look no further! It is a powerful and shocking opening that sets the tone for the rest of the story as you follow Chala and her battle with herself to try and recover from a shocking past, and how that has such a hold over her no matter what she does.


The author does a really clever job of involving the reader as you put yourself in the characters position, and as you try and understand the power of secrets on a person and their identity.  And then that belief is thrown into question as doubts creep into Chala as she faces up to the loss of such a huge part of her life when her beloved stepfather passes away.


When she goes to Kenya to volunteer she is thrown into a completely different world, but she strangely seems more settled here despite the violence and threat going on around her, and this state of mind allows her to  escape her past and what she sees as normality, and helps her move forward in coming to terms with the past.


This is a book about families, relationships and secrets and the impact they have on you and those around you.  How your perception of people and yourself is influenced by what you believe to be true and what happens when those foundations begin to crumble and you are confronted with reality.


It was a fascinating and powerful read and the author has such an engaging style that you can’t help but be swept along. As the story is told in three parts, it helps you to separate different stages in the life of the main character and I loved just how perceptive it is of human behaviour and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Highly recommended!!