#BlogTour The Art of Murder by J.S. Strange

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Art of Murder by J.S. Strange. This is the second book in the Jordan Jenner Mystery series.About the Author

J.S. Strange is an author from Wales, United Kingdom. He writes crime, mystery and horror. His first novels, published in 2016 and 2017, were set in an apocalyptic London. Murder on the Rocks, was the first in a cozy crime mystery series, featuring a leading gay male detective.

Murder on the Rocks was written by Strange for many reasons. One of those reasons was a lack of representation within the crime genre, particularly with detectives and sleuths. Strange created Jordan Jenner, a private investigator, who lives and works in Cardiff. Murder on the Rocks was written with the intention of shining light on Cardiff, and bringing Cardiff, and furthermore, Wales, into the crime genre.

Strange’s previous works, such as ‘Winter Smith: London Burning’, also explored LGBT themes, and featured socialite Winter Smith escaping a zombie apocalypse. ‘London’s Burning’ became an Amazon best-seller in LGBT fiction.

When Strange doesn’t write, he works in television. He also presents a radio show all about the paranormal. He has an enthusiasm for Britney Spears and cats.

Strange’s new novel, The Art of Murder, is set in Wales and is the second in the Jordan Jenner series. The murder mystery is available now.

Follow @JackSamStrange  and @PantherPubs on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreadson Instagramon Facebook, Visit jacksamstrange.comBuy The Art of Murder

About the book

The second in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. The follow up to Murder on the Rocks.

Artist Xander Draper is being threatened by a dangerous group. With PI Jordan Jenner’s help, Xander hopes to remain unscathed.

But when Xander is murdered, his body displayed as his final exhibit, Jordan realises the extent of the trouble Xander was in. Now, there are people following Jordan. They know his name, and they want him dead.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s brother Ashley has returned, and he has a secret. As time runs out to solve the murder of the famous artist, Jordan begins to fear his brother may be responsible.

A classic cosy mystery set in the heart of Cardiff. A perfect read for fans of Agatha Christie. A murdered artist. A brother with a deadly secret. A group intent on killing. The Art of Murder is the second in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series, a cosy murder mystery set in Wales.

Review

This is the second book in the Jordan Jenner Mystery series, the first is Murder on the Rocks. Both of the books can be read as standalone novels.

This time Jordan is drawn into the dubious world of art and crime. Into a world of secrets, deals and betrayal. Unfortunately Jordan finds himself on the mister popular of the month list with a local gang. Of course he is completely unaware of this fact, but when the local goons start turning up with less than honourable intentions, Jordan soon figures out he might be in over his head.

Then to put the cherry on top of his sundae his brother turns up with a boatload of trouble in tow.

It’s noted as a cosy crime mystery and yet this book in particular also has the feel of gritty urban crime with a gangster vibe at times. It’s brutal and not very cosy with plenty of action and perhaps less focus on the sleuthing aspect the first book in the series had.

The one thing I will say is that the author needs to make sure cosy isn’t interpreted as simplistic from a language and writing point of view. His readers have warmed to his main character and enjoy the crimes he wanders into, albeit often without any help from himself. Perhaps Jordan Jenner is moving in the direction of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, as opposed to the world of cosy crime.

Although I made this point in my review of Murder on the Rocks I think the sentiment is worth repeating. This is marketed as mystery series with an LGBT main character. Strange doesn’t overshadow the crime element of the read with that fact. Instead it becomes as irrelevant as having a heterosexual main character, which is as it should be. The author helps to fill the niche of diverse fiction by creating a character that people can relate to.

Buy The Art of Murder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Panther Publishing 1 Oct 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Murder on the Rocks ( Jordan Jenner Mysteries #1) by J.S. Strange

#BlogTour My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt. This book has been reissued and is being published in paperback by Virago Books this September.

This is certainly the year to do that, because June 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death, August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, and on October 4th 2019 the motion picture JUDY starring Renee Zellwegger and Jessie Buckley is set to be released in the UKAbout the Author

Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden School for Girls and Oxford University.  After a nerve-racking stint in a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down to writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Only Human, which was short-listed for the Mind Award. Of her last novel, Love & Fame  The Sunday Times said ‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’

Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for the Financial Times Weekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion pages.  Last year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics.  Susie is also a director at the Hampstead theatre in London and works part time for Cruse Bereavement Care.

She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

About the book

An irresistible mixture of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one person’s enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.

Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old; comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her.  In this unique book Boyt travels deep into the underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.

Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero worship be a pursuit that’s low in status or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? And what is the proper husbandry of a twenty first century obsession, anyway?

Review

I think what shines through the most is the total dedication and hero-worship, perhaps even to the point of seeing Garland in an overly positive light. That in itself is normal from a fan-based point of view. In a way it helps to shed a light on what life must have been like for this superstar.

Imagine the pressure of having to perform every time you are in a room with someone who expects you to be the all-singing and all-dancing Garland. There is no room for Frances Gumm to exist. That must have been terribly consuming and tiresome. Not that stars don’t enjoy the adulation and attention, but everyone deserves a modicum of privacy and the space to be themselves.

There is this scene Boyt describes when Meyer more or less dumps Garland on a waitress. A bit like someone dropping their grandma off at a care home. Boyt talks about how Margaret must have felt. How lucky she was to be in the position to take care of Judy and how empty she must have felt when Judy was gone. The problem with that is the fact Boyt sees it purely from the view of an avid fan and not necessarily from Judy’s. I can imagine Garland felt like some annoyance, a second rate has-been the world no longer cares about.

The author has created an interesting conversation on fandom and adoration of the famous by mere mortals. When does adoration become obsession? When does it cross the line between just simple admiration and veer into creepy behaviour? Does living in the public arena give complete strangers the right to know every detail of your life. Does it give them the right to judge, ridicule or perhaps just drool and fawn over them? My answer to that is a firm no it doesn’t.

It’s part homage, part memoir and above all it is a conversation about celebrity and the people who appreciate and adore their talent.

Buy My Judy Garland Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Virago; pub date 19 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Colour of Death by Elizabeth Davies

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Color of Death by Elizabeth Davies.

About the Author

Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…

Follow @BethsBooks on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit elizabethdaviesauthor.co.ukBuy The Colour of Death

About the book

“Mad, bad and dangerous to know.”

Olivia Parr doesn’t believe her ability to see auras is a gift. It hasn’t exactly done her any favours. Quite the opposite, in fact. Having become something of a loner, she tries to avoid people and the glow surrounding them, preferring to view life through the lens of a camera, where she can’t see those telltale colours.

But when a rare visit to a theatre ends in death and bloodshed, Olivia’s life is about to become considerably more complicated.

During the mayhem, one man stands out, and not just because he seems oblivious to the terrible carnage. The reason? He has no aura.

But everyone has an aura, right? Everyone. Except for the dead.

Not only is she fascinated and intrigued by this strange, compelling man, in the aftermath of the tragedy she gains a protector; a man whose aura is deep, dark red – the colour of blood.

Review

This is the first book in the Colour series. Colour refers to the ability of the main character to see auras.

Davies takes this paranormal story back to old school vampire tales. In a world where being one isn’t the norm and does come as a surprise to the characters.

It starts off with quite a shocking scenario. A tragedy puts all three major players in the same place, which reveals them all to each other. It is the beginning of a cat and mouse game to save Crow’s sister and keep Olivia from the clutches of an experienced predator.

One could argue that Olivia has supernatural talents of her own. The vampire certainly thinks so, especially because his lack of any aura at all singles him out. He becomes interested in Olivia’s particular talent, and indeed in Olivia too.

At the same time Olivia is pulled in the opposite direction by Crow. He doesn’t have the same seductive powers as the fanged gentleman, but he does have some kind of pull. Perhaps it is the contradiction between the two men? One is the forbidden fruit and the other is the dark dangerous type.

It’s a paranormal urban fantasy – a sizzling and steamy supernatural tale. It’s very much in the flair of old legends and tropes of the supernatural. Where glamour is still used to enable romantic encounters and allow long toothed predators to nibble on their prey.

Buy The Colour of Death at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Guardian by J.D. Moyer

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Guardian, the second book in the Reclaimed Earth series, by J.D. Moyer. It’s sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and speculative fiction.

About the Author

J.D. Moyer lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, daughter,and mystery-breed dog. He writes science fiction, produces electronic music in two groups (Jondi & Spesh and Momu), runs a record label (Loöq Records), and blogs at jdmoyer.com. His previous occupations include dolphin cognition researcher, martial arts instructor, Renaissance Faire actor, dance music event promoter, and DJ.

His favorite authors include Iain Banks, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell.

His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The InterGalactic Medicine Show, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, and Compelling Science Fiction. His novelette The Icelandic Cure won the 2016 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction contest. His debut science fiction novel The Sky Woman was published by Flame Tree Press in 2018.

Recurring themes in his fiction include genetic engineering, the sociological effects of climate change, virtualized consciousness,and evolutionary divergence.

Follow @johndavidmoyer on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit jdmoyer.comBuy The Guardian

About the book

The Guardian, the sequel to the The Sky Woman, is a story of colliding worlds and the contested repopulation of a wild Earth. Tem really struggles as the only brown-skinned child in the village. His mother Car-En decides that the family should spend some time on the Stanford ringstation, but Tem gets caught up in the battle against Umana, the tentacle-enhanced ‘Squid Woman’, while protecting a secret that could change the course of civilization.

Review

This is the second book in the Reclaimed Earth series. The Guardian and The Sky Woman can both be read as standalone novels.

After catastrophic events decimated the population of Earth the post-apocalyptic world is now inhabited predominantly by two groups, those who live on earth and those who live in the sky, the ringstation inhabitants.

The groups on earth appear to have devolved into more of tribal driven life, whereas the ringstations appear to be the silent scientific observer, who choose to intervene when it suits them. Never the twain shall meet is the general consensus of the two groups, which puts Tem in a peculiar position because he belongs to both groups. His father is part of the earth dwellers and his mother is an ex-ringstation dweller.

Said mother decides it is time for Tem to get to know life in the ringstation, which is when the action starts. An old enemy steps back into Car-En’s life and it turns out he once again has an ulterior motive. There is a reason Car-En has been hiding from him for a decade.

The title of the book doesn’t seem to have a connection to the story, however I do have a theory on that. Keeping in mind that book three is in the works – I think this book was a way of introducing Tem as said Guardian. His role as someone who belongs to both groups and can successfully navigate either one will probably become poignant as we move into the next part of the story. I look forward to finding out.

It’s sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and speculative fiction. Moyer melds the more complex aspects of the story with good ol’ riveting storytelling. Which I find quite important, because many authors make the mistake of creating a level of complexity that is so dense and unforgivably pretentious the reader loses interest. Moyer balances both exactly right.

Buy The Guardian at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 26 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams.

Ring Fenced is on an Amazon Countdown  Promotion – selling at 99c /99p  from  11-15 Sept 2019

About the Author

Having the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it’s only fairly recently he started writing novels. “It’s a more honourable type of fiction,” he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller ‘Ring Fenced’ and the financial thriller ‘Source’, as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The first, ‘So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord’ is already available.

Follow @Authorway on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit zachabrams.wixsite.com

About the book

Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin wants it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician.

His life, in a word, is perfect. But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade.

When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.

Review

Benjamin, Bennie, Benjie, Ben and Jamie – all one and the same person, and yet they all lead entirely different lives with their own separate personalities. They even have a specific way of dressing and being perceived.

Ben (insert any other of his names here) is quite smug about his duplicitous behaviour and basks in his secret success. It’s only a question of time before it all comes tumbling down around him. In fact he is actually quite condescending when it comes to the way he treats his family or rather his families. He keeps his wife and children away from his parents, because he doesn’t want to meld his Jewish heritage with his non-Jewish pretend personas.

Perhaps he isn’t really that different from everyone else in the sense that plenty of people pretend to be someone they aren’t or adapt their actions and personality to fit into a variety of situations. Do we ever know anyone completely or do we just know and see the person they want us to experience?

The transitions could be a smoother and the characters need more depth, and less is sometimes more. It could do with a good edit. Saying that, the premise had potential, although the main character wasn’t sympathetic at all.

It’s a fast-paced contemporary read about expectations, secret lives, ego and greed. If you’re so busy trying to press every bit of your own pleasure out of life then you might just find that it passes you by quicker than you think.

Buy Ring Fenced at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon comBuy at NextChapterPub.

#BlogTour Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. It’s a domestic noir thriller with elements of a psychological thriller.

About the Author

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-east England. her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had eighteen international bestsellers. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa and is a keen supporter of The National Literary Trust. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband and son.

Follow @adeleparks @HQStories on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit adeleparks.com

About the book

Lies, Lies, Lies explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

Review

Leave it to Parks to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute. She has this talent for sliding in the unexpected and catching her readers unawares.

The lie that turns Simon and Daisy’s marriage on its head is a big one. The kind of lie you can’t come back from and the kind that changes lives forever. It’s not the cause of Simon’s drinking problem, but it certainly exacerbates it. He becomes paranoid and suspicious. The trust between himself and Daisy is non-existent.

Meanwhile Daisy is putting on a brave face in front of family and friends. She has no idea Simon has caught her in a lie – blissfully unaware. What she does know is that his drinking is out of control and something has got to give. And it does, but not in the way either of them expect it to.

Whilst the two of them are so engrossed in their own brand of ego-trip and type of self-flagellation they do something unthinkable, which changes their little family forever.

Parks dives straight into the nitty-gritty of relationships and married life. Specifically what happens when the fragile balance between two people is thrown off-kilter by trust issues. Once there is an element of doubt in a relationship it grows like a weed.

It’s a domestic noir thriller with elements of a psychological thriller. As usual Parks combines the controversial with the more normal everyday situations we have to deal with in life to create a captivating read.

Buy Lies, Lies, Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ – Harper Collins Uk pub date 5 September 2019 – Paperback £7.99 – EBook £5.99 – Audiobook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of I Invited Her In by Adele Parks.

#WartimeClassics #BlogTour Trial by Battle by David Piper

It’s an honour to take part in the BlogTour for Trial by Battle by David Piper. This is the second of four books being re-published by the Imperial War Museum.

In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics.

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances.

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced.

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

Each story speaks strongly to IWM’s remit to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. They cover diverse fronts and topics – preparations for D-Day and the advance into Normandy; the war in Malaya; London during the Blitz and SOE operations in occupied Europe and each author – three men and a woman – all have fascinating back stories. These are Second World War novels about the truth of war written by those who were actually there.About the Author

David Piper was best known as director of the National Portrait Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The novel is based on his time serving with the Indian Army in Malaya where he was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as a POW. His son, Tom Piper, was the designer of the hugely successful Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the First World War Centenary.

Buy Trial by Battle by David Piper at Amazon Uk

About the book

A quietly shattering and searingly authentic depiction of the claustrophobia of jungle warfare in Malaya described by William Boyd as ‘A tremendous rediscovery of a brilliant novel. Extremely well-written, its effects are both sophisticated and visceral. Remarkable’, and VS Naipaul as ‘one of the most absorbing and painful books about jungle warfare that I have read’ and by Frank Kermode as ‘probably the best English novel to come out of the Second World War.’

Review

This is one of four books being released by the Imperial War Museum to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. I believe they should be part of school curriculum – part of a learning experience for the younger generations. It’s hard for them to fathom how many people lost their lives, returned with life-changing injuries, so they can live their lives in freedom now.

When events like the Great War and the Second World War are so far back in history that the remaining few eye-witnesses will soon be a memory themselves – it’s important to remind the young of the lost generations and the trauma those involved went through.

Part and parcel of that is shining a spotlight on the literature that was written by authors who had first-hand experience of the hell that is war.

What makes this book and the fictional account of his factual experiences so exceptional is the way Piper captures a different kind of warfare in his story. Warfare in settings that the soldiers weren’t trained for – in this case the jungle. He captures the suffocating feel of the jungle. The feeling of isolation, which is countered by the danger you can’t see coming in the dense foliage. Soldiers trained for the desert had no idea how to cope with the jungle. It made them more vulnerable to the enemy.

At the same time Piper also gives an accurate account of the colonialism that was still alive and well in India at the time. The difficulties between Indian soldiers, Indian officers and the British officers sent in to control them all.

It’s a gripping piece of war fiction, written with brutal honesty and the kind of realism only an eye-witness can bring to the table.

Buy Trial by Battle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics will all be on sale Thursday 26 September 2019; cost £8.99 paperback.

About the Imperial War Museums – IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

‘Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.’