#BlogTour We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

 Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk.

About the Author

Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors,and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year compilation.

During the day, Brian works as afreelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him astrong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging mediatrends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.

Follow @Brian_Kirk on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon,Visit briankirkblog.com

About the book

When a troubled psychiatrist loses funding to perform clinical trials on an experimental cure for schizophrenia, he begins testing it on his asylum’s criminally insane, triggering aseries of side effects that opens the mind of his hospital’s most dangerous patient, setting his inner demons free.

Review

The story is set in an alternative treatment facility with a main character who isn’t exactly likeable. There isn’t really a lot that distinguishes Dr Alex Drexler from other doctors or scientists who have tortured and played with human life in the name of medicine and science. In the name of discovering a cure for humanity. To do that others have to become a victim to research.

‘Without trust patients resist treatment’

Ain’t that the truth. But how can you trust someone who wants to ride the wave of your fears, your deepest memories and pain to then dress themselves in accolades when they ‘heal’ you. Hear the cynicism? Well it certainly flows freely in this story.

It’s an interesting premise, but if you want to move the boundaries, push and speculate – then do it with complete abandonment. Don’t go halfway and then serve up sanctimonious kindness and love cures all mantras. If you’re going to hit a ride on the crazy train and pull the plug on sanity – do it.

It’s speculative fiction with a tinge of horror. It’s an invitation to fly over the cuckoo’s nest. To explore insanity as a construct, perhaps even a parallel consciousness, as opposed to something to cure and to be freed from.

Just as psychopathy might be accepted as a trait in the future, perhaps mental health disorders will fall into the same category one day. The norm is determined by society, as is the abnormal, perhaps those categories will expand and change as we evolve.

Kirk has some interesting ideas, which could do with a little more clarity at times, but then I think that’s not in keeping with his go with the flow and where the process takes you kind of style.

Buy We Are Monsters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 23 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Profit Motive by David Heckler

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Profit Motive by David Beckler.About the Author

David Beckler – ‘I write fast-paced action thrillers populated with well-rounded characters.

Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, I spent my first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where my love of reading developed. After dropping out of university I became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start my own business.

I began writing in 2010 and use my work experiences to add realism to my fiction.

The Mason and Sterling series centre on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron who now runs a security company and Adam who is a firefighter. A strong cast of characters support my protagonists. Long Stop Books published Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in September 2019 and will be publishing the second, The Profit Motive, on December 16th 2019. Brotherhood is set in Manchester and The Profit Motive in Manchester and Wenzhou, China.

I live in Manchester, my adopted home since 1984. In my spare time I try to keep fit—an increasingly difficult undertaking—listen to music, socialise and feed my voracious book habit.’

Follow @DavidBeckler1 on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreadson Bookbub, Visit davidbeckler.co.ukBuy The Profit Motive

About the book

How do you deal with an implacable foe in an alien land…?

Manchester, England, and Wenzhou, China, 2001

When firefighter Adam Sterling arrives at the scene of a horrific car crash, little does he imagine it will lead him back to his mother’s homeland.

Kate, the woman he pulls from the wreckage, needs his help. Her father has been left for dead after a hit-and-run, in Wenzhou, China. She suspects it wasn’t an accident and so does Jie Gang, the senior policeman investigating the case, and whose efforts are obstructed from on high. When events escalate, Kate employs Adam and Byron Mason, Adam’s best friend and fellow former Royal Marine, to go with her to China.

Catapulted into an alien environment, and unable to trust anyone, Mason and Sterling face escalating challenges. The struggle becomes personal, and Adam has to confront a ruthless enemy determined to destroy him and Kate.

The Profit Motive is the second crime novel in the Mason & Sterling thriller series: gritty, hard-boiled page-turners with an urban setting.

Review

This is the second book in the Mason and Sterling series, both can be read as standalone novels.

The contrast between their experience, training and the reality of their normal every day problems serves as a reminder of their humanity. They are just men who have their Achilles heels and vulnerable moments too. It gives Mason and Sterling, and the series, a more humane side. It’s also a bit of an anchor in a story that starts with a tornado like gusto and and continues on throughout with the same speed.

I liked the way the two storylines, set respectively in China and England, seemed to have no connection at first and yet intersected cleverly as the read progressed. Heckler also takes the time to weave in the often subtle cultural differences in both countries, which often determines both action and reaction in the story.

Also the juxtaposition of the crime in China and the trouble in England, and the way Mason and Sterling cope with both of those. It was a little bit like ex-pats suddenly being surprised by the fact colonialism doesn’t automatically insert itself into each country they enter.

It’s a fast-paced thriller with greed at the core.

The author has a certain stoccato style when it comes to writing – it can seem disjointed and confusing when the story goes from one storyline to the other. It depends on whether you like that kind of feel to your reads.

Buy The Profit Motive at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Long Stop Books; pub date 16 Dec. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogBlitz Two: Mind Games and Murder by K.J. McGillick

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Two: Mind Games and Murder by .J. McGillick.About the Author

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

Follow @KJMcGillickAuth on Twitter, on Goodreadson Facebook, Visit kjmcgillick.com, Buy Two: Mind Games and Murder

About the book

Her husband wants her locked away in a psychiatric facility. His business partner wants her dead.

Trust. Who do we place our trust in every day? Family members, friends and people who we turn to for help, doctors. But what if the doctor you placed your trust in had secrets? Dark secrets. So many secrets.

Isabella Armond is an ordinary Parisian woman with a comfortable life — until a shocking discovery shatters her perfect world. As her husband’s behavior becomes increasingly unstable, Isabella slowly realizes all the signs point to the fact he is not who he appears to be. Is he a respected Cardio-thoracic surgeon with a thriving Paris medical practice helping people? Or is he leading a double life which involves the international trafficking of black market organs? Greed, blood money, and psychopath are the terms she learns are associated with a man she thought she knew.

Forced to delve deeper into her husband’s secret life, she makes discoveries that will make her question everything she believed forcing her to face an impossible decision. She is desperate to uncover the truth, but once you know something, it can’t be unknown. The more she learns, the more she wishes she knew nothing at all.

When the sun dims, your second self shall disappear. Consequences not of her making were nipping at her heels. Tick. Tock.

Review

This is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone novel. It starts or intersects just before the end of the events of the last book.

I think it’s fair to say that this read is much darker than the previous one. It’s brutal, violent and less forgiving. McGillick brings out the nasty hardcore criminal, as opposed to perhaps the more charming one of the last story.

To the outside world, and his wife Isabella, Adrien is a successful Cardio-thoracic surgeon. He is also arrogant and controlling, perhaps this comes with the god-like status awarded to him due to his career choice. Behind the golden mask lurks the persona of a greedy sociopath.

The truth is that his greed and connections have made him want more, which in turn means having to put the lives of others at risk. Being involved in black market organ trafficking makes him scum of the earth and also incredibly ruthless. A man willing to sacrifice his wife to get what he wants.

Isabella eventually has to make a choice. Does she let herself be steamrollered by her husband or does she stand up to him, even if it’s not directly done in his presence, and force him to acknowledge that she refuses to be treated like some rubbish he wants to discard.

It’s a dark thriller with a vicious modern crime vibe. McGillick combines domestic fear and control with crimes of our era to create a brutal and relentless read.

Buy Two: Minds Games and Murder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: KJRM Publishing LLC; pub date 21 Feb. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Three: Deception, Love Murder by K.J. McGillick.

#BlogTour Operation Large Scotch by Bill Flockhart

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart.About the Author

‘Operation Large Scotch’ is my first book and at my age (71) possibly my last. it reflects on my life in many respects having worked in a distillery in my early working life before digressing into financial services.

My interests are sport (especially golf, swimming and basketball, (the latter through my two sons who played at international level) and current affairs in our ever changing world.

I have always enjoyed a challenge, which producing a book has certainly proved to be, but I would recommend writing to the retired population as it certainly keeps your brain active.

Two years after publishing ‘operation large scotch’ I am delighted to release my second novel ‘She’s Not a Lovely Girl’ which is a sequel to my first book. I only hope it gives everyone the pleasure ‘O.L.S.’ did judging by the favourable reviews it received.

Follow on Amazonon Facebookon Pintereston Instagramon BookBubon LinkedInBuy Operation Large Scotch

About the book

Fearing the Good Friday Agreement will effectively end the lifestyle his IRA terrorist cell has enjoyed for years, Michael Caldwell the leader of the 1972 Club (named after the Bloody Sunday Massacre) decides to turn his attention to targeting the UK Government economically. He launches an attack threatening to bomb the Scotch whisky industry unless the British Government pay the terrorists a £20m ransom.

Armitage Brown, Assistant Controller of MI5 is given the task of stopping the terrorist attack but is unable to get any information on the assailants as to how, where and when they are going to deploy their explosives if their demands are not met. He co-ordinates a strategy, using all the emergency services, to thwart the terrorists under the code name ‘Operation Large Scotch.’

Both the military and the intelligence services have been guilty of murderous acts going back over the previous eighteen years. John Johnston, a young Ulsterman, living thousands of miles away in South Africa, is determined to get revenge for the killing of his father in Belfast. With the assistance of Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service he releases information that will haunt both the British Military establishment and the terrorists.

Will MI5 succeed in preventing mayhem in various towns around Scotland?

Review

When tackling the conflict between the IRA and the British military it’s important to give a balanced account, especially when trying to make a point about two wrongs not making a right. I can imagine neither side would agree and believe the other is more at fault. I’m not going to get into the politics of it, because the bad blood goes back too far and deep.

When young John inadvertently becomes a witness to a heinous crime his father realises that the only way to keep him safe is to whisk him away to a completely different continent. Little does he know that he will delve back into the nightmares of his childhood later in life in an attempt to avenge the loss of a loved one.

The language and transitions could do with being a little smoother – less abrupt, although one could argue that it’s a style, as opposed to the misfires of a debut novel. Flockhardt clearly writes with passion, both for his premise and the topic.

It’s a spy come military thriller – an explosive story that wades into controversial topics. The author balances the controversy with an attempt to create a bridge to close the rift by acting as the observer. Simultaneously he delivers a fast paced read, whilst reminding readers that just because one group acts in the name of an honourable institution it doesn’t make some of their deeds any less deadly or wrong. It also serves as a reminder that terror committed in the name of an honourable goal doesn’t make the havoc and death it causes any less of a crime.

Buy Operation Large Scotch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in ebook and paperback formats on 11th December 2017. Buy at Amazon com.

#SeriesBlogTour Tomorrow’s Ancestors: The Museum of Second Chances by A.E. Warren

It’s my first turn on the Series Blog Tour for Tomorrow’s Ancestors: The Museum of Second Chances by A.E. Warren and will be blogging about the second book, The Base of Reflections, in a few days.About the Author

AE Warren lives in the UK. A not-so-covert nerd with mildly obsessive tendencies, she has happily wiled away an inordinate amount of time reading and watching sci-fi/ fantasy and gaming. She is interested in the ‘what ifs’.

The Museum of Second Chances is her first novel and she is currently writing the third book in the ‘Tomorrow’s Ancestors’ series.

Follow @amauthoring on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit aewarren.comBuy The Museum of Second Chances

About the book

What happens when the future recaptures the past?

In a post-apocalyptic world the human race has evolved beyond us through genetic engineering – and we’ve been left behind to make amends for the damage inflicted on the earth.

The reversal of the extinction of long lost animals is key to our reparations and all of these are housed in the Museum of Evolution – along with another species of human that hasn’t existed for 30,000 years.

Elise belongs to the lowest order of humans, the Sapiens. She lives in an ostracised community of ecological houses, built to blend with an idyllic landscape. Deciding to widen her stagnating life in the manufacturing base, she takes a chance opportunity to become a Companion to a previously extinct species of human.

And while living in the museum, Elise realises that little separates her from the other exhibits…

Review

Now and again you find an unexpected gem of a read and this is one of those reads. The worldbuilding, research and thought that has gone into this makes it an extraordinary and interesting experience.

Hierarchy and sub-levels of humans isn’t a new idea per se, doing it from the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens onwards perhaps more so. This is set in a future after the Homo Sapiens has self-imploded their own civilisation, and because of that they are considered less superior than other groupings of humans.

In fact any group above them is genetically superior. Stronger, smarter, taller – every possible advantage can be bought or is yours by birthright. If you’re really lucky you might even win the opportunity to rise up in the ranks by adding genetic advantages.

Elise is Sapiens, which means she is treated either like dirt or as non-existent in the grand scheme of the hierarchy laws. She isn’t satisfied with being confined to a specific job just because she was born in a certain area. She applies to be a Companion to a museum exhibit, which displeases her own family and other Sapiens.

Now imagine the exhibit living in a bubbled replica of their native environment. Caged like an animal, studied like a lab rat, but an ancestor to all the other human species.

It’s very much a case of you don’t belong to the higher social group if you come from below and those below no longer accept you as one of their own when you rise above your own social status. No difference there really – it’s the same in present day society.

It’s a dystopian novel with post-apocalyptic and futuristic elements. Warren combines anthropology, natural science, genetics and eugenics to create a fascinating read. I’m looking forward to the next part in the series.

Buy The Museum of Second Chances at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Locutions Press; pub date 17 Feb. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogBlitz Rocks and Flowers in a Box by Cynthia Hilston

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Rocks and Flowers in a Box by Cynthia Hilston.About the Author

Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Visit her website at www.cynthiahilston.com for more information.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Follow @cynthiahilston on Twitter,on InstagramGoodreadson Facebook, Visit cynthiahilston.com, Buy Rocks and Flowers in a Box

About the book

The wedding bells for Lorna and Tristan Blake toll doom right as the honeymoon begins with an unexpected turn in Tristan’s health. While World War II winds down, Lorna receives a letter from the War Department informing her that the brother she thought killed in action is still alive. She is overjoyed, but his return will dredge up a devastating secret about their parents’ tragic death –a secret that could destroy her new marriage and threaten her husband’s physical and mental well-being. What unfolds is balancing act of keeping the faith and shattering the pieces of the life she’s worked so hard to put back together.Review

Its not uncommon for people who have suffered traumatic losses to bond with others who have been through similar experiences or indeed played a part in them. There is this base need to comprehend the incomprehensible, to explain and lay out a valid reason for the inexplicable. The truth is we have no idea what’s coming and can’t control or determine our future. Loved ones die, and sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

Lorna and Tristan have travelled a long often confusing and painful path, which has led to their relationship and marriage. Both of them have tried to eradicate the truth from their lives by ridding themselves of anything that might have a memory attached to it. They can’t hide the truth from Lorna’s brother Chuck though.

As a family we have experienced a situation where a guilty party has been brought into the inner circle by someone who knew the part they played in the death of a loved one. We weren’t given the choice, which is the mistake Lorna makes in regards to Chuck. She makes him powerless by taking away his choice. Just because she decided to forgive Tristan doesn’t mean everyone else has to do so too.

The most poignant aspect of the story is redemption. Does everyone deserve a chance to redeem themselves? Are there actions, words and behaviour that can never be forgiven? If faith and love of god is the determining factor in the choice, what happens when it isn’t driven by religion? Forgiveness isn’t a concept owned solely by religion, but rather by each person individually. I can choose to forgive without the construct of what a higher power lays out for me.

Although the story is set in the middle of the 20th century for me this a contemporary read, as opposed to historical fiction. It has strong theological themes, and it’s about faith, trust, love and above all redemption.

Buy Rocks and Flowers in a Box at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston.

#BlogTour Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye.

About the Author

Joanna Toye joined the production team of The Archers after reading English at Cambridge University, and became a scriptwriter for the programme for over twenty years. She has written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio drama. On television, she has written for Crossroads, Doctors and Eastenders.

Follow @JoannaToye on Twitter, on Instagramon Amazonon GoodreadsBuy Wartime for the Shop Girls

About the book

It’s 1942 and as shortages of staff – and goods – begin to bite, young Lily Collins is thrilled to step up to sales junior in her job at Marlow’s department store.

But bombs are still falling and Lily and fellow shop girls Gladys and Beryl need a stiff upper lip to wave boyfriends, husbands and brothers goodbye, especially with a baby on the way and grim news on the wireless. When Jim, who works with Lily at the store, seems restless, things are bad enough, but nothing can prepare Lily for the secrets that come tumbling out when her favourite brother comes home on leave…

Somehow, she must keep smiling trough. Community, family and friends rally round as her home town – and the whole country – is tested once again.

Review

This is the second book in a new series set in the fictional department store Marlow’s. Both books can absolutely also be read as standalone novels.

The charm of this series is the normality of it all, well as normal as it can be when you’re writing about World War II. Instead of delving into the horrors of that period in history Toye gives the readers the war at home. The changes, the coping and the new structures needed to sustain everyone on the homefront.

How everyone comes together to support Beryl while she is feeling vulnerable and Gladys becomes brave enough to speak her mind. The way Lily deals with a secret that brings grave consequences with it. All of them know that they are stronger together, as opposed to letting themselves be ripped apart by the tragic losses and fear they experience.

The focus is on a few characters, family and friends and the way they deal with the heartache and the fear. It gives it a warmer feel – emotions and situations the reader can relate to. It could be your family, which is exactly what the strength of the series is.

It’s historical fiction set in Britain during World War II. Toye uses the department store to show the changes and difficulties during that time on a small scale, which makes it easier to imagine and comprehend all of it on a national scale. Women stepping into the roles of men to ensure that the country, and the war machine kept running. Families having to deal with the uncertainty of their loved one being in the midst of dangerous conflicts. Hoping every day that a death or MIA message wouldnt be delivered to their door.

The author captures all of that in this heartfelt story, which is ultimately about family and friendships holding each person together in the most difficult time of their lives. It will be interesting to follow Lily, Beryl and Gladys as their stories continue in the third book of this series.

Buy Wartime for the Shop Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins pub date 23 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.