#BlogTour Bad Day in Minsk by Jonathan Pinnock

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Bad Day in Minsk by Jonathan Pinnock.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinnock is the author of Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, the Scott Prize-winning short story collection Dot Dash, the memoir Take it Cool and the poetry collection Love and Loss and Other Important Stuff.  

Follow @jonpinnock on Twitter, Visit jonathanpinnock.com

About the book

Tom Winscombe is having a bad day. Trapped at the top of the tallest building in Minsk while a lethal battle between several mafia factions plays out beneath him, he contemplates the sequence of events that brought him here, starting with the botched raid on a secretive think tank and ending up in the middle of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

More importantly, he wonders how he’s going to get out of this alive when the one person who can help is currently not speaking to him.  Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations.

Review

This is the fourth book in the Mathematical Mystery series. It can be read as a standalone novel, although I can imagine readers wanting to read the other books in the series after reading this one.

The Vavasor papers are at the heart of this mystery, their journey and the mystery of their alleged existence and whereabouts also features previously in the series. The papers are also an object of contention when it comes to Tom and Dorothy. He doesn’t understand her professional obsession with them and she is annoyed by his irreverent attitude towards the Vavasor papers.

The unskilled asset is once again thrown into the deep end of undercover work as he stumbles through one awkward situation after the other to find the papers. If Tom were an on-screen character he would probably be described as slapstick and this is very much a comedy of errors. Where something can go wrong – it does.

Despite it being a mathematical mystery the read isn’t bogged down by anything complex, luckily for me, and is more of a cosy mystery full of humour. I do think that’s important to note, although the author mentions it himself, that it’s supposed to fun escapism, which it absolutely is. The mathematical element is like the snarky intellectual cherry on top of the sundae.

Buy Bad Day in Minsk at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Farrago pub date 8 April 2021. Buy at Amazon comAt Hive.

#BlogTour The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Republic of Love by Carol Shields – can I just say I am totally here for the forewords by Margaret Atwood in these new editions.

About the Author

Carol Shields (1935–2003) was born in the United States, and emigrated to Canada when she was 22. She is acclaimed for her empathetic and witty, yet penetrating insights into human nature. Her most famous novel The Stone Diaries was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, along with the Governor General’s Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Happenstance was praised as her tour de force, masterly combining two novels in one. The international bestseller Mary Swann was awarded with the Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian mystery. In 2020, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, a North American literary award dedicated to writing by women, was set up in her honor. Her work has been published in over 30 languages.

Follow Carol Shields on Goodreadson Amazon,

About the book

On love and the absence of love – A celebration of love in its many guises, The Republic of Love recounts the heartfelt tale of two of life’s unlucky lovers: Fay, a folklorist whose passion for mermaids has kept her from focusing on any one man; and, right across the street, Tom, a popular radio talk-show host who’s been through three marriages and divorces in his search for true happiness. Touching and ironic, The Republic of Love flies the flag for ordinary love between ordinary people.

Review

It’s not my favourite book by Shields, perhaps because this is more of an eight lane carriageway. If it were set on screen it would be a Woody Allan pseudo highbrow visual representation of lives and loves of a small affluent community.

It’s clear from quite early on that Fay and Tom will eventually become a couple. What Shields does is navigate readers through their lives prior to that moment. The disappointments, the failures, the chances and opportunities not taken or those taken with a pinch of regret.

Throughout the story there is also the topic of mermaids – Fay’s work. The question was really how the mermaid element related to love, relationships and marriage. If this wasn’t a story balanced equally between Tom and Fay I would say it is all about the way men envisage women.

Mermaids are both sexually seductive, they use their call to seduce and destroy, they are also physically void of the epi-centre of temptation and violation. The myth of mermaids was born of men, who predominantly work the seas and oceans. Are they a figment of imagination driven by the solitude, the fear and biological need of men?

If the emphasis had been on Tom and his love endeavours there would be more connections to make, as is you kind of wonder what the point is. Or is the point just that there is none and that Fay is entirely obsessed with these mythical creatures who are not able to have relationships physically with moral men. Does Fay equate herself to the mermaid who always remains behind the wall she built?

As I said not my favourite, but certainly one that can get the grey cells jogging.

Buy The Republic of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: World Editions; pub date March 2021 £11.99 paperback. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff.

About the Author

Graff is the author of novel Raft of Stars. His fiction and essays have appeared in Image and Dappled Things. Andrew grew up fishing, hiking, and hunting in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Graff earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Follow Andrew J. Graff on Amazon, Visit andrewjgraff.com

About the book 

It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about.

One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.

Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement.

The adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

Review

Being the polite and dutiful grandson he is, Fish leaves his grandfather a message telling him what they’ve taken, why they have to leave and what they did. Killing someone is secondary to making sure his family doesn’t worry about him too much, although that’s debatable given they are really young and have run away.

For me this had a nostalgic Stand By Me feel to it. A story of friendship, which threatens to break and equally grows stronger in the duration of this story and journey. Two boys bound together by fear, tragedy and also by the bonds of friendships.

As they embark upon said journey or escape, they see the world as only two young children can – in a heightened fantastical fashion. It’s tinged with the fact they have both been forced to embrace the world of adult problems in their own way. Fish through the lack of his father and Bread because of the violence he experiences at the hands of his own father.

It’s contemporary story with the flair of a literary read. If the characters were a little older I would say it’s also a coming-of-age story, however I think what I will take away from it is the truth of true brotherhood and a family grown through grief and tragedy.

Buy Raft of Stars at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : HQ pub date 23 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon comAt Waterstones.

#BlogTour the Charity of Strangers by Alison Burke

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Charity of Strangers by Alison Burke.

About the Author

I was born and grew up in Lancashire, gained several nursing qualifications and had the privilege of a long and varied nursing career, briefly in the Royal Army Nursing Service abroad, mainly in the NHS in UK. True love and a happy family came my way and now I have the time to  read, write and remember.

Follow Alison Burke on Instagramon Facebook, Visit alisonburkefictionwriter.com

About the book 

You can find almost anything in a charity shop, but can you find love? You can certainly find friendship and there is both laughter and tears ahead when 19yr old Zaffron, lonely, anxious and without direction, meets Blaire Daintry, good-looking, charming, and gay.

Both volunteers in the charity shop, he has a hidden agenda, she has secrets,  but they are friends from the start, despite Blaire’s constant sparring with Ida, the stern, good-hearted older volunteer who Zaffron admires. And perhaps Ida has secrets too.

Together with other victims of the city’s housing crisis, Blaire and Zaffron set up a safe and happy home.  Secure at last, she tells him of the dreadful incident in her childhood that has marred her life, but not even his total acceptance gives her the confidence to start a relationship with an attractive and decent young army sergeant who falls in love with her.

Is it fear of the truth coming out that holds her back? Or is there some other reason, buried too deep in her heart for her to recognise?

Review

This seems to be floating under the heading of rom-com, but to me it had more of an Eleanor Oliphant meets chick-lit kind of feel to it. There is no romance as such, just an unrequited obsessive crush – if you can call it that at all. I thought it veered towards more of an Oedipus complex, which was interrupted by the inconvenience of Blaire’s sexuality.

Towards the end Zaffron is surprised by what Blaire reveals about his relationship and considers it a further betrayal, however I think he made that choice to curb her enthusiasm or slightly obsessive infatuation. In fact if you view his choices individually they are completely normal for someone who is intent on bettering their life and prospects.

If you view the same connections, decisions and choices through the lens of Zaffron’s references then of course it appears to be nefarious and driven by the intent to deceive and betray. At least that is how Zaffron perceives it, and that is the real gist of the entire story. How does Zaffron perceive things, as opposed to others?

It’s an interesting piece, perhaps more of darker read than a light-hearted one. A contemporary piece when it comes to people who are neither here nor there in society. On the brink of complete breakdown with no home, no job and only acquaintances born through circumstance. It shows how hard it is to reestablish yourself in society, especially when you are unable to bring certain prerequisites to the table.

One of the core elements is of course the fact that someone needs to hold out a hand and offer help for a person in need to be able to rebuild their broken down life, which is something everyone can take away from this read. A small gesture goes a long way.

Buy The Charity of Strangers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Lily Dale Press pub date 25 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Bound by Vanda Symon

It was a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Bound by Vanda Symon. ‘The latest in the bestselling Sam Shephard series, which has been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh award and the CWA New Blood Dagger.’

About the Author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Societyof Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Follow @vandasymon @OrendaBooks on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit vandasymon.com,

About the book

The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up…

The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it ’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

Review

Sam is called to the scene of a vicious home invasion. Brutal, ruthless and unfortunately the young son of the victims has come home to find one parent dead and the other one close to death. It’s the beginning of a sordid tale of crime and facades.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only reader who wanted to shake Sam into some kind of reaction when it came to her boss treating her like a naughty schoolgirl in front of everyone. Then her mother, her family in general, treating her like an afterthought because she has the audacity to have a career in a male dominated field.

It’s a cracking crime read – Symon captivates from start to finish. Shephard is a character who is pummeled by those who see the weaknesses in her and yet she shines when it comes to solving crimes. She has an instinct for the details – her gut tells her there is something wrong with the scenario being spun by those at the top.

I can’t wait to see where the author takes this series and hope we see a more combative and fierce side to Sam. It’s certainly an excellent read I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. The author knows exactly how to balance the tension of the crime with the more emotional side of the characters. It gives it a more authentic feel. And kudos to the author for the prologue.

Buy Bound at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books: pub date 4 March 2021 | Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour I Lost My Compass at the Bermuda Triangle and Dream Five by Clara L. Molina

It’s my turn on the BlogTour I Lost My Compass at the Bermuda Triangle and Dream Five by Clara L. Molina.

About the Author

Clara L Molina writes Science Fiction books most of the time, dabbles in comic drawings occasionally, and writes to laugh at herself all the time. She has a computer science degree, but has been a lifelong writer. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, and enjoys fresh air and days where her hair is not frizzy.

Follow @BoxaEl on Twitter, Visit elboxa.com 

About the book

Sophia Lorenzo awoke with no memory or identity and given a mission to murder a mysterious man named Murich Rhys. What will she do? There’s only one way to find out as she heads to his castle and embarks on a long and arduous journey to complete a task she does not want. 

Can she battle the scorching heat of the desert? What lies in the wake and maze of the forest? Can she escape from the Snow Dwellers and the inhabitants of the contentious city of Absolute Zero? 

She heads to the castle to discover who she is and why she was given this task. The truth is just as crazy as her mission. Sophia Lorenzo finds her compass on the Bermuda Triangle and Dream Five.

Review

Sophia Lorenzo awakens with no memory in the Cursed City. A city where messages drop from the sky. I wondered of there were shades of an abstract Dorothy on her way to the Emerald City being spoken to from above by the wizard.

It’s a short read, around 136 pages. It’s a speculative read with elements of sci-fi and dystopian genres. It reads a little bit like a series of short excerpts. Now and again the speculative nature is replaced with doubt about the nature of her reality. About her conscious state and subconscious meanderings.

At times it felt as if the structure of the sentences was slightly off and the in general the story seemed a little disjointed at times. Not always unusual when it comes to speculative fiction – the very nature of the genre allows for a crossing of boundaries and breaking of established rules.

There are some intriguing ideas and plenty of creativity. Perhaps less trying to outsmart the reader and a bit more clarity to ensure readership.

Buy I Lost My Compass at the Bermuda Triangle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour A Chance Encounter by Rae Shaw

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour A Chance Encounter by Rae Shaw.

About the Author

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley. Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Follow @RaeShawauthor on Twitteron Facebookon linktr.ee, Visit raeshawauthor.comWatch the booktrailer on youtube.

About the book

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers. His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret. For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Review

Julianna’s actions are usually driven by her past experiences, which means she jumps to conclusions and also has an irritating need to help or try to teach the people around her how to do better. If it wasn’t coming from a genuine place of concern then she would probably be deemed a nuisance.

It explains how she jumps to conclusions about her boss and his wife, and when she gets to know Mark it’s a similar story. Quite a meddler when all is said and done, and yet those around her indulge her.

I think the character of Julianna Baptiste has plenty of potential, it just needs a bit of an iron. Nothing major perhaps a bit more focus and delivering with intent, aside from that I think Juliana could evolve into a captivating main character in a popular series.

The author clearly knows how to draw in an audience with a flawed individual, who has the best intent and yet manages to often be one step behind whatever the heck is going on. The first few chapter are an excellent example of this.

It’s a fast paced read, a crime thriller that could go either way – into the more serious stuff or into something more cosy. I am betting I know where it will end up though, because there are just so many opportunities to shine a light, whilst delivering a good read.

Buy A Chance Encounter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Spare Time Press pub date 24 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz

 Such a pleasure to welcome Chastity Riley back to the blog – it’s Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz, translated by Rachel Ward.

About the Author

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Follow @ohneKlippo on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit simonebuchholz.comBuy Hotel Cartagena

About the book

Twenty floors above the shimmering lights of the Hamburg docks, Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley is celebrating a birthday with friends in a hotel bar when twelve heavily armed men pull out guns, and take everyone hostage. Among the hostages is Konrad Hoogsmart, the hotel owner, who is being targeted by a young man whose life – and family – have been destroyed by Hoogsmart’s actions.

With the police looking on from outside – their colleagues’ lives at stake – and Chastity on the inside, increasingly ill from an unexpected case of sepsis, the stage is set for a dramatic confrontation … and a devastating outcome for the team … all live streamed in a terrifying bid for revenge.

Crackling with energy and populated by a cast of unforgettable characters, Hotel Cartagena is a searing, stunning thriller that will leave you breathless.

Review

This is the fourth book in the Chastity Riley series, all of which can be read as standalone novels. This is definitely a series I would recommend for readers looking for something that doesn’t adhere to the normal rules of crime fiction.

This is a short read, but one with a bite. It’s dark and gritty. Chastity finds herself in a hostage situation with her colleagues, by a man with a vendetta. He wants revenge. The target just happens to be in the same place as a birthday party she is attending – of course he is, it’s just her luck.

Kudos to the author for the nice homage to Alan Rickman and Die Hard, I must admit the dedication made me smile. then again I wouldn’t expect anything less from Buchholz.

It’s a gritty urban crime series, a character driven story that inhabits its own world. The surroundings and idiosyncrasies of the country and the people are what make the story in combination with the very specific snark the author brings to the table.

Based on the end of this book the world as Chastity knows it is changed forever and we will have to see what that will entail going forward. I’m sure it won’t make her any less cynical, set in her ways or unable to make certain choices.

Buy Hotel Cartagena at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Orenda Books pub date 4 Jan. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Miniskirts are Murder by Des Burkinshaw

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Miniskirts are Murder by Des Burkinshaw.

About the Author

Des, 52, is a former Times journalist/BBC TV producer. Miniskirts are Murder is the second in the Porter and The Gliss Investigations series, following Dead & Talking in 2019. 

Des likes to live out as much of the stories as possible and spent 3 months in the US researching this novel. He runs a film school in London and has just been commissioned to write a limited season TV series intended for Netflix. He is also a keen musician and through work has jammed with people like Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Jeff Lynne. He is married with 1 daughter.

Follow @DesBurkinshaw on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit desburkinshaw.comBuy Miniskirts are Murder

About the book

Porter Norton, his friends and his sarcastic spirit guide, The Gliss, are on the trail of a young actress who went missing in Soho, London, in the Swinging Sixties. Still recovering from their last adventure in the battlefields of WW1, the gang are confronted by a transatlantic conspiracy.

Review

This is the second book in the Porter and the Gliss series. I would definitely suggest reading the first – you get thrown in at the deep end with not much of a recap in order to gain a sense of who the characters are and what’s going on. Don’t let that deter you from the entertaining read though.

The paranormal sleuthing combo, well I say sleuthing but it’s perhaps more a case of helping to put the living and the dead to rest, whilst tackling mysteries. This time they are trying to solve the disappearance of a young woman during the Sixties.

I wonder if Porter realises how traumatic the solving and laying to rest of mysteries can be and the possible repercussions to those involved. The Gliss tends to be slightly more lighthearted about said burden – eager to get to bottom of things with a joie de vivre, although that is of course a paradox given what The Gliss is.

This is the written version of a pack of Rock Pops. It’s also a combination of genres with a large portion of wit thrown in for free. It doesn’t happen often, but I felt as if I needed to go away and come back to this. There was so much going on I didn’t feel as if I had been able to give it the attention it deserved, perhaps because the intricacy deserves due diligence and the time to sink it. It’s either that or it was too many cooks in the kitchen fighting over far too many ingredients.

What makes the read is the sharp wit, quick tongue and mischievous charm of the characters. On the surface a shallow bout of laughter, but perhaps a more serious tone when looking slightly deeper, hence the need to return to the story.

Buy Miniskirts are Murder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : magnificent! pub date 14 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas.

About the Author

Fiona Lucas is an award-winning author of contemporary women’s fiction. She has written heart-warming love stories and feel-good women’s fiction as Fiona Harper for more than a decade. During her career. she’s won numerous awards, including a Romantic Novel Award in 2018, and chalked up a no.1 Kindle bestseller. Fiona lives in London with her husband and two daughters.

Follow @FionaLucasBooks on Twitter, Visit fionaharper.comBuy The Last Goodbye


About the book

How can you move on if you can’t let go? Spencer was the love of Anna’s life: her husband, her best friend, her rock. She thought their love would last forever. But three years ago, Spencer was tragically killed in an accident and Anna’s world was shattered. How can she ever move on, when she’s lost her soulmate?

On New Year’s Eve Anna calls Spencer’s phone number, just to hear his old voicemail greeting. But to her shock, someone answers…

Brody has inherited Spencer’s old number and is the first person who truly understands what Anna’s going through. As her and Brody’s phone calls become lengthier and more frequent, they begin opening up to each other—and slowly rediscover how to smile, how to laugh, even how to hope.

But Brody hasn’t been entirely honest with Anna. Will his secret threaten everything, just as it seems she might find the courage to love again?

Review

It would have been nice to see a more equal balance to the story when it came to Brody and Anna. He felt underdeveloped at times, although I know it was Anna’s stage to inhabit and control. Exploring his coping mechanisms or rather his lack of them would have been great.

Saying that, it’s an incredibly heartfelt story about loss, grief and how the world keeps moving as the person dealing with grief comes to a complete standstill. The strong pull that makes you feel as if the only way forward is to stop confronting day to day life and everyone who just wanders along as if nothing happened.

Grief is such a personal thing and despite the fact experts have determined certain stages and reactions no one can predict how each individual will deal with tragedy and the pain of such a loss. In this story the two of them show the similarities and the differences at the same time.

I loved the idea of the unexpected connection via the old phone. The desperation that leads to a completely new door and path in a life that seems to be lacklustre and without any joy at all. It’s about finding those glimpses of humanity, friendship and perhaps even love, even when life has taught you the hardest lesson of all.

It might sound as if it’s a dark story, but the author balances the light perfectly with the darkness to create a sensitive and introspective read.

Buy The Last Goodbye at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : HQ pub date 20 Dec. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.