Monthly Archives: October 2018
The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal – Horatio Clare
I am becoming quite a fan of Horatio Clare’s writing this is my second book in a matter of a few weeks. Released on 1st November is The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal (Elliott & Thompson) is a book written in the form of a diary that starts in October and works its way through from autumn through the winter months.
I am someone who loves the outdoors and all things nature, the dark winter months trapped in an office has often left me feeling tired and exhausted and then come the weekend I cherish every moment of the hours of daylight.
Here in Horatio Clare’s excellent diary, he talks openly of how he to suffers as we move from kicking our way through the autumn leaves and then as the days grow shorter and then into November one of the darkest months of the year. I really found Horatio’s open and honest account to be very reassuring. Many of us suffer in silence especially in the workplace.
The excitement of Christmas comes to Horatio Clare and his family, with memories of childhood and now with his own family. But silently he suffers knowing that there is a tax bill and other debts to be paid and how he is going to find the money to pay all this. It is during the winter months he becomes more or less withdrawn to save money. At times there is a little tension in the household.
Seasonal depression is not something anyone should suffer in silence with (all except me apparently). Nature too shuts down but there is joy to be found in nature during the darkest months. The joy of chilly frosty morning walks at the weekend. There is so much we can enjoy about winter but we have to appreciate its beauty. The Light in the Dark is a moving and poetic look at this time of year and one book I rejoice in. This is a torch to guide us through the dark winter days until Spring’s first rays of light warm us. I am delighted to highly recommend The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal.
Thank you to Elliott & Thompson for the review copy of The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare. Also my thanks to Anne Cater for arranging the Blog Tour via Random Things Tours.
The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare was published by Elliott & Thompson and was published on 1st November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal – Blog Tour
The Glorious Dead – Tim Atkinson
All wars leave an unspeakable human cost, but the deaths of The Great War are on a dreadful scale. When the war ended what happened next? Many of the casualties of the battlefields of WWI were left were they fell or in temporary graves.
Tim Atkinson has just written a book called The Glorious Dead (Unbound) and tells the story in a novel format of some soldiers who stayed behind when the guns fell silent. Their story is about the gravediggers. An overlooked story of World War One.
It is 1918 and World War One is finally over. The battlefields are scarred and are a muddy grave to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and these battlefields hold the remains of thousands of soldiers who fell.
This story follows Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson and his men from the platoon who stayed behind to work in the appalling conditions to find bodies of soldiers and give them a final resting place. But that is not all that Jack stayed behind for. Jack has eyes for Katia who works in one of the bar. But Jack is not going to have everything his own way. What is there in Jack’s past that yet may come back to haunt him.
This is a story that never really gets told, the men who cleared the battlefields after the war ended. A deeply emotive story and one being told as we prepare to commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice which brought an end to a war that many believed would end all wars.
Back in the mid-1980’s I visited the WWI cemetery’s and it is one of the most emotive places to visit. Yet 100 years later there are still many who lie were they fell and have no marked grave.
Thank you to Anne Cater for the review copy of The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson and for arranging the Blog Tour through Random Things Tours.
The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson was published by Unbound and was published on 1st November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Glorious Dead Blog Tour
Trap – Lilja Sigurdardóttir
If you read Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, then you must head off to your local bookshop and get yourself a copy of Trap (Orenda Books) which is the second in the Reykjavik Noir Series. This I raced through in one day it was that gripping. One book I knew when I started there was no way I was going to put this book down.
Sonya is trying to make a new start and escape the world of drugs and is happy in Florida, the sunshine state. What could possibly go wrong. Her life is Thomas her son but when he is taken, Sonya’s life falls back into the chaos and hell of the past and this will include heading back to Iceland a country she thought she had seen the last of.
Back in Iceland is her shocking husband Adam who is behind her son’s kidnap. He is desperate to get Sonya and bring them back to Iceland. Now Sonya is back and back into the world she tried to escape from a world of drugs and drug lords. Sonya wants her son back but things are about to get raw and nasty. Firstly, there is her ex in Adam but then there are a few seedier and creepy characters that threaten Sonya’s life and that of her son.
In the strong storyline there is financial misconduct that involves Sonya’s lover Agla, but there is real tension between them both now. Agla owes big money to a group of men who want their money back and they will do what it takes to make sure they get it back.
We also meet more of the characters from the first book including Bragi who is the customs officer who is not far off retirement, for Bragi he is ticking off the days and caring for is very sick wife. Sonya will always be able to count on Bragi for help in her quest despite everything that Bragi has to cope with in his life.
Sigurdardóttir has written a very strong second book in Trap. This is a real page turner strong on characters and is dark and leaves you with punch in the gut feel as the storyline gets darker and chilling and has left me hoping there is to be a book three. Highly Recommended.
#Trap @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (orenda Books) for the review copy of Snap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir and also to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for arranging the Blog Tour.
Snap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir was published by Orenda Books and was published on 18th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow the Snap – Blog Tour
Lies Between Us
I have known Ronnie Turner for quite a while on Twitter, a fellow book blogger, so when Ronnie announced that she had written a book and it was going to be published via HQ Digital I was absolutely delighted. This was one of those really great positive news stories. One us (book bloggers) was going to be in print. So to be asked if I would review for Ronnie, this was probable more nervous for me than Ronnie herself. What would happen if I did not get on with the plot? Well I am delighted to say that Lies Between Us is a real cracker of a psychological thriller.
Three different characters, three different timelines. The main characters are Miller, who is a chilling character, controlling even at a young age. Miller has some serious issues and Ronnie Turner really plays a blinder with Miller. Maisie Green is a nurse in ICU. She really cares for her patients and those loved ones who are worried at their bedside. But despite her wonderful happy life with Ben, Maisie hides a secret even from her beloved Ben. This she carries with enormous guilt. Then finally there is John who is a writer. A life lived and worked hard for. John could not ask for anymore a wife he adores. Until one-day John’s daughter Bonnie goes missing. Both John and his wife Jules are shaken to the core at the thought their daughter has been kidnapped. Then things get worse for them both as it becomes clear the person behind knows both John and Jules. Is their daughter still alive? Can the Police find her before it’s too late?
Each of the three stories are connected, and it is a really compelling psychological thriller that is addictive, it can be uncomfortable when the story is talking about Bonnie. But what is the connection between all three. What is Maisie hiding and her latest patient she is taking a real interest in the wife of the patient.
The reader may make up their own mind as the story progresses, but be warned some thrillers do not go the way you think, same old secrets and lies? This one will test you and make you think. For a debut novel this is incredibly plotted and character driven. Congratulations Ronnie and a fantastic debut.
Thank you to HQ Digital for the review copy of Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner.
Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner is published in paperback on 13th December 2018 and the eBook is available now and published by HQ Digital.
Lies Between Us – Blog Tour.
Something of his Art – Horatio Clare
This short book (96 pages) is based on the BBC Radio Three programmes when writer Horatio Clare retraced the 250 mile walk by the young and then unknown Johann Sebastian Bach. Something of his Art (Little Toller) recounts the authors walk in J.S. Bach’s footsteps.
The walk in 1705 from Arnstadt to Lübeck took place during the winter at a time when Bach was earning a living as a teacher and organist. Still yet to be discovered as a composer. A defining moment in the young life of Bach.
The walk by Horatio Clare is not just a walk covering the same route as J.S. Bach it is a walk that talks of the landscapes and the wildlife of the journey today and what it would have been in Bach’s day as he walked the German countryside.
For someone like me who has loved classical music since my childhood, this was a real insight to the composer’s early days and Clare tells of Bach’s drinking and also the fights. The evocative writing by Horatio Clare really makes you walk each step with him just as the author must have thought Bach was walking with him as well. The sheer quality of the writing is a shining example to the research for both this book and also the BBC Radio Three programmes.
Just a words on the cover design, it is in itself a real work of art and Little Toller need to be congratulated. I cannot rate Something of his Art high enough. This is sheer quality. I have a feeling I will be returning this fabulous book again in the near future.
Thank you to Little Toller Books for the review copy of Something of his Art by Horatio Clare.
Something of his Art by Horatio Clare was published by Little Toller Books and was published on 11th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Help the Witch by Tom Cox
To me autumn means many things days get shorter, the colour of the trees looking for natures rich harvest cosy days and evenings curled up with a book of short stories and if that book is one of old folk tales and creepy stories that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up all the better. Well if this has got your attention then you are going to love Help the Witch (unbound) by Tom Cox.
Tom’s previous book 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Help the Witch is a book I just loved. This is just the perfect autumn book to curl up with. There are ten stories some of which I went back to read twice. I always feel a book of short stories should start with a story to grab the reader and in this case the opening story just nailed it. It is the story of the title of the book. Help the Witch. I just loved the setting and of isolation. A journey and in the snow and the snow gets heavier as you travel and then you arrive. I have always found travelling country lanes in the dark really creepy did I really see something or was that just a shape of a tree, a shadow. You have the feeling something is watching you. You get the drift.
Then there are a further nine stories to read. I was just totally immersed in each story. These are stories that that could have been written many years ago but Tom Cox gathered his inspiration from E.F. Benson and M.R. James. Some tell of natural landscapes and old broken sheds and rusty barbed wire with shred of old wool still clinging on despite best efforts of winter winds. Each story is unique but just perfect for this time of year. You know you are being taken on a journey but you are not sure how or where. Then there is the last story. I will just leave this hanging there.
I have come to really enjoy reading books by Tom Cox because you know you are reading a book by a very talented writer. Tom has covered many genres but this is his first foray into short stories and I am hoping there are more to come. Readers will flock to this attracted by the incredible cover designed by Joe McLaren and there are illustrations in the book by the authors mum. How wonderful is that.
Help the Witch is just superb and another by the superb publisher Unbound and I am delighted to Highly Recommend.
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy Help the Witch by Tom Cox
Help the Witch by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and is released on 18th October 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Help the Witch – The Blog Tour
Palm Beach Finland – Antti Tuomainen
No secret here, I really enjoy Nordic Crime Noir and also Antti Tuomainen’s books so I was delighted when his latest landed on my doormat a while back. Palm Beach Finland (Orenda Books) Still contains the added humour that makes Tuomainen’s thrillers so good.
Our intrepid detective Jan Nyman of the Covert Operations Unit of the National Central Police is now investigating the somewhat strange death of a man in a quiet and unassuming seaside town. But there is a holiday village here that has quite a boast. The ‘hottest beach in Finland’. Complete with a shocking plastic Flamingo. (That would put me off visiting) But the money is rolling in and the characters are arriving in their droves to holiday here. Now all the Jan has to do is solve the mystery death.
Straight off Jan has one prime suspect and that is the owner of the house were the man died and that is Olivia Koski. But Koski has a strong alibi and that she was not there at the time. There is the usual mix of characters who all have their own stories to tell yet this is what makes Toumainen’s books so good and so brilliantly readable. One of THE great characters of this book is the owner of the holiday village Jorma Leivo. He is one character to keep an eye on.
Sometimes when you have a host of characters in a book it can be easy to lose track of who is who and doing what. But this is why I really enjoy reading Antti Toumainen. He makes his books so readable and this is a book were time will pass you by very quickly. If you like your crime novels with added wit and humour, then Palm Beach Finland is one book you will love. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to for the review copy of Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen
Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen is published by Orenda Books and is published on 18th October 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow the Palm Beach Finland Blog Tour
Dear Mr Pop Star – Derek & Dave Philpott
One of my greatest loves is music and music from the 1960’s through to the 1980’s. During the late 1970’s I ran a few pirate radio stations and then moved onto running a hospital radio station through the 1980’s. Then onto interviewing some of my music idols from the 1970’s and 1980’s. I was in music heaven.
Just out from Unbound is Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott. A humorous book on letters written by Derek and his son Dave to pop stars and bands of the day to take umbrage at their lyrics. This is actually really funny as the stars actually write back. The letters back are really something to enjoy and some really do go into detail on their response. All done in the best possible taste of course. They saw the humour and went with it.
I would not normally review a book like this but I could not resist is unique charm from the music of the 1960’s to 90’s and the bands and pop stars read like a who’s who of their generation.
Just to name a few: Doctor and the Medics, Nick Kershaw, Deep Purple, Suzi Quatro, T’Pau, The Wurzels, Dr hook, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Tears for Fears and Paper Lace. Now I am going to be singing Billy Don’t Be a Hero all day.
A wonderful light hearted book with letters so wonderfully written as well as the responses. A book that really made me laugh and brought back some of the happiest memories. Oh to relive those years all over again. I am going to be leaving this book out on one of my coffee tables as I know some of my guests will grab this to read.
Thank you to for the review copy of Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott
Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott was published by Unbound and was published on 20th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Blog Tour
The All Night Bookshop by David Belbin
I have been very fortunate to have been able to review a number of titles by Candlestick Press and I am delighted to share my review of their latest release that came out just in time for Bookshop Day 2018. The All Night Bookshop by David Belbin is a short but beautifully written story for anyone who like me loves books and bookshops.
A shop like many others in the area that has seen better days. This shop is though unlike any of the others, it is a bookshop though you may not know it as it only opens during the night for those who work unsociable hours or just cannot sleep. It does not sell bestsellers as those are sold by supermarkets in the area and of course whisper it quietly Amazon. The shop is dusty and on many floors. Old books, magazines and periodicals.
The short story is told by a young man who was hired by Zelda the young manager who is blind in one eye who like her assistant rarely sleeps. This young man holds an unspoken love for Zelda as they quietly run the All Night Bookshop. The mystery here though is the owner of the bookshop, he/she has never been seen and there are many stories of the reclusive owner who lives in the flat above the shop.
The shop rarely makes enough money to survive but survive it does for those who cannot sleep and arrive in dressing gowns and slippers. The narrator clearly loves Zelda but also wants to find out about the mystery owner of the dusty old bookshop.
A book with a hidden story behind it, a mystery, a love story. And just who lives in the flat above The All Night Bookshop. This may be only 16 pages but I just loved the idea with poems by Jim Burns and Jackie Kay. If you love books and bookshops especially those old dusty bookshops that I seem to find myself in this is for you and this is for bookshops everywhere.
Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.
They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds. With Christmas not too far away this is an ideal time to think of sending cards to loved ones and friends. The pamphlets of stories and poetry make the ideal gift to send. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Here
Thank you to for the review copy of The All Night Bookshop by Jim Belbin
The All Night Bookshop by Jim Belbin was published by Candlestick Press and was published on 1st October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Syndicate – Guy Bolton
I have to admit I have not read The Pictures but everything I hear about this novel was that it was superb. Guy Bolton now returns with the sequel The Syndicate. (Point Blank) The year is 1947 and Ex police detective Jonathan Caine now out of retirement following the murder of the infamous mobster Benny ‘Bugsy’ Siegel.
Now Caine’s son’s life is in danger and now he must return to Hollywood and find the killer. The pressure on Caine is massive as mob boss Mayer Lansky has given him just five days to find the killer of Benny Siegel or he and his son will die.
Caine now must use all his experience and knowledge of his past experience and track down the killer before the trail goes cold. Going to the police is clearly out of the question so he must use other methods in tracking down the killer. Plus, he is not alone. For the mob have added ‘Abe’ Levine to accompany Caine at all times. Keeping a close eye on proceedings.
The clock is ticking and every hour that goes by and the thought of his son being killed at the hands of the mob keeps Caine focussed at all times. The scene is brilliantly depicted at all times and the violence of the day you cannot hide from. The movie business rules throughout here and with the links that Caine had from his past all come through in this brilliantly portrayed crime novel. You don’t mess with the mob when the stakes are high and Caine knows what will happen if he fails in his task. It is all to play for. Added into the mix are some major actors of the day with Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, and Cary Grant all have walk on parts in this exhilarating sequel. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Margot Weale at Point Blank (Oneworld) for the review copy of The Syndicate by Guy Bolton
The Syndicate was published by Point Blank and was published on 4th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.