#Blogtour Redspace Rising by Brian Trent

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Redspace Rising by Brian Trent.

About the Author

Brian Trent’s speculative fiction appears regularly in the world’s top speculative fiction markets, including ANALOG, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, Apex, Escape Pod, COSMOS, Galaxy’s Edge, Nature, and more. Trent lives in New England. Follow @BrianTrent on Twitter, Visit briantrent.com

About the book

Harris Alexander Pope is the man who ended the Partisan War on Mars. All he seeks now is solitude and a return to the life that was stolen from him. Yet when he learns that the worst war criminals are hiding in other bodies, he is forced into an interplanetary pursuit.

Teaming up with other survivors eager for their own brand of vengeance, Harris begins to suspect a darker truth: Maybe what he remembers about the war isn’t what happened at all…

Review

This is most definitely the kind of book that needs a ‘be careful what you say review’ – don’t want to give anything away.  Saying that I’m not sure I could do the truth of the plot real justice even if I did.

Harris is notorious for being a warrior, for changing the course of a volatile war. Now he is on a mission that can only be considered impossible, but that’s why he is the man for the job. The only problem is he isn’t quite sure whether he is the man he thinks he is. 

The information he is given seems to jar an instinct, a subconscious thought process – a resurfacing of memories perhaps. The problem is that they don’t gel with what he is being told in the moment, so what to do? Go with the information you think is correct or with the information that is trying to reach the surface. Who can you trust when your inner self doubts motives and memories, and more importantly when the people around you might not be who they seem to be.

This starts with an awakening and goes full throttle till the very last page. Of course, after that ending the real question is whether readers will get another taste of the world inhibited by survivors, deceivers and those willing to use anyone to get what they want – oh, and let’s not forget the others.

It’s a riveting sci-fi and speculative read – the author definitely deserves a seat at the table with the big guns.

Buy Redspace Rising at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Flame Tree Press pub date 13 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com

#Blogtour Lessons by Ian McEwan

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Lessons by Ian McEwan.

About the Author

Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen novels and two short story collections. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; Nutshell; and Machines Like Me, which was a number-one bestseller. 

Atonement, Enduring Love, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach have all been adapted for the big screen.

About the book

When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has descended, young Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. 2,000 miles from his mother’s protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts his piano teacher Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Twenty-five years later Roland’s wife mysteriously vanishes, leaving him alone with their baby son. He is forced to confront the reality of his rootless existence. As the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spreads across Europe he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.

From the Suez and Cuban Missile crises, the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Covid pandemic and climate change, Roland sometimes rides with the tide of history but more often struggles against it. Haunted by lost opportunities, he seeks solace through every possible means – literature, travel, friendship, drugs, sex and politics. A profound love is cut tragically short. Then, in his final years, he finds love again in another form. His journey raises important questions. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we learn from the traumas of the past?

Review

Imagine a cut being made at an early age – a slight incision, but one that leaves small indiscernible traces from that point forward. Switch the incision for the interaction with Miriam and the result is the way abuse becomes a part of the fabric of Roland’s life, being, memories and soul. There is no event or interaction after the fact that isn’t in some way tainted by that time in his life.

I really enjoyed the way the author dissects the myriad of confusing emotions Roland experiences throughout his life. There is no closure, because he feels both guilt and the elephant in the room telling him what it really was. Such is the nature of beast called grooming, that the victim is persuaded to feel and believe that they enjoyed, asked for or initiated it.

It’s both interesting and tragic that when the abuse victim is a young boy or man and the abuser a woman, that there is this narrative of applause for the big man who has managed to ‘seduce’ the older woman. Instead of seeing the female predator for what she is of course.

It’s pensive and raw, especially when the world around Roland always seems to return to the inner child. His relationships with everyone in his circle, his work and goals in life. Never quite at peace. It’s an excellent read.

Buy Lessons at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Jonathan Cape – Vintage; pub date 13 Sept. 2022 – £20.00 | Hardback | ebook. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour A Dark Steel Death by Chris Nickson

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Dark Steel Death by Chris Nickson.

About the Author

Chris Nickson is the author of nine previous Tom Harper mysteries, seven highly acclaimed novels in the Richard Nottingham series, and four Simon Westow mysteries. He is also a well-known music journalist. He lives in his beloved Leeds. Follow @ChrisNickson2 on Twitter

About the book

Tom Harper must catch a traitor intent on disrupting the war effort and bringing terror to the streets of Leeds in this page-turning mystery. Leeds. December 1916. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is called out in the middle of the night when a huge explosion rips through a munitions factory supplying war materials, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A month later, matches and paper to start a fire are found in an army clothing depot. It’s a chilling discovery: there’s a saboteur running loose on the streets of Leeds.

As so many give their lives in the trenches, Harper and his men are working harder than ever – and their investigation takes a dark twist with two shootings, at the local steelworks and a hospital. With his back against the wall and the war effort at stake, Harper can’t afford to fail. But can he catch the traitor intent on bringing terror to Leeds?

Review

I remember reading a crime novel set in Germany or Austria, either pre/post or during wartime and thinking – why would I think crime and murder stops just because of war. The truth is the chaos and desperation of war creates the perfect scenario for certain depraved minds. The situation lends itself to situations where one would rather remain invisible.

It makes Harper’s task all the more difficult. Try finding a needle in a haystack in the midst of WW1 at home with a city full of people doing their bit for the war effort – including his young daughter. It was interesting to read about the lack of compassion for men who were reluctant to fight, and of course at the time mental health and PTSD were considered weaknesses and a way to get out of the duty expected of them.

Harper and his team are tasked with trying to find a killer, a traitor intent on causing as much damage as possible. Someone who has no regard for the innocent people they kill, as long as the end justifies the means.

It’s a good read that has a vibe of historical war fiction, crime, mystery and simultaneously it also has the emotional depth of a wartime story. Normal people with normal problems, who have to deal with them, whilst dealing with the trauma of war.

Buy A Dark Steel Death at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Severn House pub date 6 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com

#BlogTour The Real Prime Suspect by Jackie Malton with Hélène Mulholland

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Real Prime Suspect: From the Beat to the Screen. My Life as a Female Detective by Jackie Malton with Hélène Mulholland.

About the Author

Jackie Malton was a police officer for twenty-eight years. During her career she worked in the drugs squad, CID, the flying squad (famously known as The Sweeney), fraud squad and as a hostage negotiator. She rose to become one of only three female detective chief inspectors in the Metropolitan Police. 

Jackie has acted as an adviser on some of the most successful British crime dramas, including Prime Suspect, The Bill, Cracker, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Trial and Retribution and Murder Investigation Team. In 2019 she presented the documentary series, The Real Prime Suspect in which she revisited some of the most notorious murder cases. Most recently, she was interviewed for BBC 2’s documentary Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty; she appeared in Steve McQueen’s BAFTA-award-winning documentary Uprising about the New Cross Fire; and made a guest appearance on the new BBC Sounds podcast, Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley. Jackie regularly gives talks on policing and currently volunteers in a male prison supporting offenders recovering from addiction. Follow @thursley on Twitter

Hélène Mulholland has been a journalist for over twenty years and previously worked at the Guardian as a political reporter. Hélène now works on a freelance basis. The Real Prime Suspect is her first book. Follow @Inmulholland on Twitter

About the book

The Real Prime Suspect is a jaw-dropping, gritty memoir from Jackie Malton, former DCI and the inspiration for legendary TV detective Jane Tennison in Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect.

Jackie Malton was a no-nonsense girl from Leicestershire who joined the police force in the 1970s. It was a time of sex segregation in the police force. Male recruits were given a truncheon; female recruits received a handbag and were assigned social work duties. But Jackie desperately wanted to become a detective. 

Feisty and determined, Jackie made her way into some of the most male-dominated departments of the police force. She worked in CID and the famous flying squad before rising to become one of only three female detective chief inspectors in the Metropolitan Police. 

In The Real Prime Suspect, Malton describes the struggles she faced as an openly gay woman in the Metropolitan Police, where sexism and homophobia were rife.

Utterly compelling, the book is rich with fascinating cases and intriguing characters from Jackie’s time on the force. Jackie dealt with rapists, wife beaters, murderers, blackmailers and armed robbers but it was tackling the corruption in her own station that proved the most challenging. Ostracised and harassed by fellow officers furious that she reported the illegality of some colleagues, Malton used alcohol to curb her anxiety. A chance meeting with writer Lynda La Plante five years later changed the course of her life.

Together they worked on shaping Jane Tennison, one of TV’s most famous police characters, in the ground-breaking series Prime Suspect. Not long after, Malton recovered from alcoholism and now works as an AA volunteer in prison and as a TV consultant.

Jackie Malton is a true trailblazer. She forged a path in a male-dominated world and through it all she remained true to herself. Jackie has spent her life working in crime. Now she’s ready to share her story.

Review

This was absolutely fascinating and it gives readers a completely different perspective on both the character we know and love, and the life of the woman behind the character of TV detective Jane Tennison – the inspiration.

Malton gives a rare insight into the world of policing many decades ago when women were little more than glorified makers of cups of tea for the real police – the men of course. A time when being openly same-sex attracted would have had consequences, so a successful career also meant living a life half lived.

Leaving aside the difficulties of working in a male dominated career, which has a curious relationship with the law when it comes to the lawlessness and infractions of its own people and the way they turn on the police officers upholding the law against their own. One of the pivotal elements of the story is what the constant stress of interacting with the dregs of society does to police officers – the inhumanity and horrors they are faced with. How do you deal with all of that without something breaking inside, without experiencing PTSD and trauma, and being able to cope with the aforementioned?

I think it’s easy for everyone to forget that aspect of policing. Luckily for us the author has come out the other side and has been able to leave a lasting legacy of her experiences and through the character of Tennison. It was a really interesting read.

Buy The Real Prime Suspect at Amazon Uk. Published by Endeavour on 25th August 2022 / £20. Buy at Amazon com. Buy here.

#BlogTour The Collective by Alison Gaylin

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Collective by Alison Gaylin.

About the Author

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed, Heartless, What Remains Of Me and If I Die Tonight; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York. Follow @alisongaylin on Twitter

About the book

Camille Gardner is a grieving and angry mother who, fives years after her daughter’s death, is obsessed with the man she believes to be responsible. Because Camille wants revenge.

Enter: the Collective. A group of women who enact revenge on those who have taken their children.

But as Camille gets more involved in the group she must decide whether these women are the heroes or the villains. And if she chooses wrong, will she ever get out alive?

Review

Less is probably more when it comes to reviewing this, just so the way the plot unfolds remains free from spoilers. There are plenty of juicy bits to focus on though.

Camille is obsessed with the death of her daughter or more accurately her murder and the fact her murderer is allowed to enjoy life as if he were an innocent man. At the height of her destructive phase she encounters a group of women who know exactly how she feels, and more importantly they also believe the guilty should be punished.

For me the core of this story is about the grief and the way it manifests in a different way for each individual. Also how grief is experienced depending on the circumstances of the loss a person experiences. It’s such a nuanced, deeply felt, chaotic and often very destructive emotion.

I think it’s easy to feel empathy for Camille, regardless of the way she acts or reacts. Her frustration and anger are justified. The truth is there is no justice when a loved one is ripped from your life in a vicious way, especially when the perpetrator is allowed to walk away without any consequences.

I really enjoyed the way the author took this plot and ran with it and didn’t feel the need to deliver an ending tied up with a pretty bow. Instead the anger and need for vengeance that simmers throughout the book is presented on a silver platter. Nicely done. 

Buy The Collective at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orion Fiction, pub date1st September 2022 – Mass market paperback (£8.99), eBook and audio also available. Buy at Amazon com. Via Orion Books.

BlogTour This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper

It’s my turn on the BlogTour This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper – the captivating new mystery from the author of The Long, Long Afternoon.

About the Author

Inga Vesper is a journalist and editor. She moved to the UK from Germany to work as a carer, before the urge to write and explore brought her to journalism. As a reporter, she covered the coroner’s court and was able to observe how family, neighbours and police react to a suspicious death. Inga has worked in Syria and Tanzania, but now lives in Glasgow, because there’s no better way to find a good story than eavesdropping on the chatter in a Scottish cafe on a rainy day. Follow @wekesperos on Twitter,

About the book

Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery. – They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think. The things that I know.

1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .

1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.

Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .

Review

For me the veins of gold in this story – pun totally intended – are the moments in history that have been retold through the lens of those who write history. Predominantly white men, who speak of free love, rebellion, lack of boundaries and peace. What would those historical movements look like if told through the lens of women, but stripped down to the bare facts without the flowy, flowery, drug-fuelled unicorn fluff of that era.

How many people have shoved their own MeToo moments into a box and labelled it all part of the hippie culture and free love movement. Then swallowed those moments and the trauma eventually surfaces when the confines of those times no longer have any validity. Often things are merely in vogue or the way the voice of the people rises above the norms of society with loud murmurs of discontent.

It’s interesting how those murmurs and attempts at changing the status quo are recalled. A certain element of irresponsibility and lack of clarity, a minor blip of youth experimentation. The reality hidden behind the exterior of talk of peace and harmony.

In a way all of the main characters share their own moments in history where they are stereotyped, abused and oppressed, which is where their paths meet. It’s an interesting second book from this author, and has its place when you consider the first book. A mystery hidden in a forest full of issues, emotional baggage, and a story of women. I wonder where the story and the author will lead us next.

Buy This Wild, Wild Country at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bonnier Zaffre – Manilla Press pub date 4 Aug. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The Girl in the Photo by Heidi Amsinck

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Girl in the Photo by Heidi Amsinck. This is the second book in the Jensen series.

About the Author

Heidi Amsinck is a writer and a journalist born in Copenhagen now living in London. She was London Correspondent for the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. She has written many stories for BBC Radio 4, all read by Tim McInnerny. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. My Name is Jensen, her first thriller, was published to critical acclaim in 2021 and has been translated into Danish and German. Follow @HeidiAmsinck1 on Twitter, Visit heidiamsinck.co.uk

About the book

When ninety-year-old Irene Valborg is found brutally murdered in an affluent suburb of Copenhagen, her diamond necklace missing, it looks like a burglary gone wrong. When two more victims are attacked, the police lament a rise in violence against the elderly, but who is the young girl in the photo found by DI Henrik Jungersen on the scenes of crime? 

Impatient to claim her inheritance, Irene’s daughter hires former Dagbladet reporter Jensen and her teenage apprentice Gustav to find the necklace. Henrik finds himself once more pitched in a quest for the truth against Jensen – the one woman in Copenhagen he is desperate to avoid.

Review

This is the second book in the Scandinavian Crime series Jensen, both books can be read as standalone novels, however I would recommend reading the first in the series – it’s a great read and you get a better gist of how Jensen and Henrik got to the point they are at in this book.

It begins with the brutal death of an elderly woman, the theft of expensive jewellery, and the photo of a young girl that seems to link further crimes. DI Henrik Jungersen is tasked with investigating, bit the daughter of the elderly woman believes the police are dragging their feet – enter Jensen from stage left to help solve the crime. 

The involvement of Jensen complicates matters for Henrik who is actively trying to remain out of her very enticing orbit, or is he? Indeed she keeps popping up as further crimes seem to suggest an insidious link between what appear to be unrelated events.

Henrik might need to accept the fact he has a wee bit of an obsession with Jensen. Making up scenarios and situations in his head – the attempt to restrict his fantasy and desires, whilst simultaneously pushing them forward. Being privy to his alleged wish to repair the damage to his existing relationship with his wife gives the reader a certain impression, but does he really want to repair it? Is he trying to convince us or himself? Is it just me or does it wander into the realms of something more than just being attracted to Jensen. If Henrik was anyone other than an upstanding police officer, would it be more than unrequited passion? Hmm, I wonder.

I kind of enjoy the whole imbalance and element of the who is the main driver or character of this story. It says Jensen on the box, and yet Henrik is right up there leading the way, whilst Jensen gets the space and time to expand upon the more elusive and intriguing air surrounding her persona. In fact it’s probably the instability of each of them in their own way that draws the reader in.

I like the fact the author doesn’t rely on the previous success and path forged by the characters in book one. Instead the is a very conscious effort to delver not only a riveting read, but also create pathways for further development. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Buy The Girl in the Photo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎Muswell Press pub date 28 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.  

#Blogtour Still Water by Rebecca Pert

 A little late, and just catching the tail end of this fabulous Blogtour – it’s my turn to talk about  Still Water by Rebecca Pert.

About the Author

Rebecca Pert was born in 1990, the youngest of four siblings. She grew up in a small town in Devon before attending Cardiff University, where she received an MA in Creative Writing. Rebecca was the winner of the first Cheltenham Festival First Novel Competition in 2018. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, son and dog. Still Water is Rebecca’s first novel. Follow @Rebecca_Pert, Visit linktr.ee/rebeccapert

About the book

When Jane Douglas returns to the Shetland Islands, she thinks she has escaped the dark shadows of her childhood. She carves out a simple life on the bleak, windswept island, working at the salmon fishery and spending quiet evenings at home. And for the first time in her life, she’s happy.

Then the body of Jane’s long-missing mother is found in a flooded quarry. Her mother disappeared when Jane was a teenager, following the death of Jane’s baby brother. Jane has spent her life running from her past, living in fear that she has inherited her mother’s demons. Now, Jane must face what actually happened on that fateful, tragic day twenty years ago…

Review

I think it’s safe to say Jane lives in a bubble of self-motivated confinement, due to her past trauma. She carefully navigates the world by engaging at the bare minimum with her surroundings. Her work, her lover and her neighbour. Never too close.

The bubble starts to deteriorates when a cold blast from the past brings all the trauma back to the present, and Jane finds it increasingly hard to cope. The body of her missing mother brings everything to the point of teetering on the edge.

For me the core of this premise is the way women are perceived, judged and ultimately treated according to certain misconceptions. The go-to language and judgement always veers towards the negative and the dark side. It’s important to keep that in mind, especially when it comes to Jane’s mother.

Also, even after so many decades and more understanding surrounding women, childbirth, and the subsequent experience of motherhood – there are still plenty of misunderstood areas when it comes to the aforementioned and women’s health in general. Still very much second class citizens, who are fobbed off as hysterical, weak, emotional and misdiagnosed. 

This is a poignant reminder of all of the above, whilst simultaneously speaking truth and why it is always a matter of individual subjective perception when it comes to the often difficult relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s a remarkable read.

Buy Still Water at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press pub date 23rd June 2022 | Hardback, eBook and audio £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.  

#Blogtour Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda.

About the Author

Riku Onda, born in 1964, has been writing fiction since 1991 and has published prolifically since. She has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television.

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight follows on from the success of The Aosawa Murders and is her second work to be translated into English.

About the Translator: Alison Watts is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has wrote the translation of The Aosawa Murders, Aya Goda’s TAO: On the Road and On the Run In Outlaw China and of Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa.

About the book

Set in Tokyo over the course of one night, Aki and Hiro have decided to be together one last time in their shared flat before parting. Their relationship has broken down after a mountain trek during which their guide died inexplicably. Now each believes the other to be a murderer and is determined to extract a confession before the night is over. 

Who is the murderer and what really happened on the mountain? In the battle of wills between them, the chain of events leading up to this night are gradually revealed in a gripping psychological thriller that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end.

Review

The story is set in a flat in Tokyo – a young couple removing all traces of their time their as they prepare to move on as individuals. Aki and Hiro have a complicated bond, one that was once strong and has become brittle and is now broken. 

The events leading to the demise of their relationship seem to be tethered to a trip they took together. A simple mountain trek that has left them both deeply suspicious of each other. The events of that day occur in moments of flashback, memories that are jarred from the deep recesses of their minds, and sudden realisations that perhaps they both never knew the other at all.

Onda has a remarkable talent for creating a captivating read by setting the scene with the bare minimal. Just two people, their heightened emotions, their suspicions, and their strong bond. A bond that takes on a destructive nature – possibly a lethal one.

I find the way this author plots quite fascinating. Giving readers an inch then retreating back into the circle of safety. Is this a goodbye with closure, one where they retain fond memories and part as friends, or will this end with just one of them closing the front door behind them. It’s a short and poignant read.

Buy Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bitter Lemon Press pub date 16 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Bitter Lemon Press.

#Blogtour Valen and the Beasts by G. J. Kemp

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Valen and the Beasts: A Juno and the Lady Novella by G. J. Kemp.

About the Author

A nomad at heart, GJ has lived in nine countries across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His career has included working as a Divemaster in The Red Sea, a zookeeper in Israel, and a proofreader in Sweden.

Born with cerebral palsy, GJ has spent a lifetime trying to tie his shoelaces while standing up in the hope of not falling over. It is a constant challenge, but sometimes he occasionally succeeds.

Finding the love for writing later in life, GJ spends most of his free time going for walks and dreaming of story ideas. He hopes to one day have a small place on the oceanfront where he can walk his dogs on the beach. Follow @kemp_gj on Twitter, Visit gjkemp.co.uk

About the book

Valen plucked the glass box off the shelf and gently placed it on his desk. Inside, a set of handcrafted metal circles linked to form the body of his new beast. He closed his eyes and dreamed of the Fairacre residents buying his latest creations.

A commotion outside Valen’s shop brings him back to the present. The Captain has caught the leader of the sewer rats and is parading her in front of Fairacre residents. Her fate will be determined by the townsfolk’s demands. – Valen steps in to defend the leader.

A story of discovery, hope and courage, Valen and the Beasts is a journey of an outsider risking everything to stand up for the people he loves. Will Valen save the leader of the sewer rats? Will he show everyone his secret? Or will he buckle under the pressures of the old conventions? 

Review

This is a novella, and is part of the Juno and The Lady story. I would recommend reading book one to be able to get the gist of the story, this is just a mere glimpse through the keyhole at the universe the author has created.

This short journey in the world the Acre the reader follows Valen, a man who has secrets and likes to stay low-key because of it. At the same time he is also a valiant fighter for what is right and wrong, especially when it comes to the people the world treats like a garbage. In this story he has to make a choice between protecting himself, protecting others or something somewhere in the middle.

I think the dialogue could be a little less he said, she said – it needs more depth and higher level of complexity from a language perspective. This is YA leaning towards MG – young readers can handle it, they don’t need the soft approach. Saying all that, this is absolutely a series with lots of potential and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.

I have to admit this novella wasn’t enough of an hors d’oeuvre for me – I will be reading book one very soon. I hope to read more by this author in the future.

Buy Valen and the Beasts at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎TB5 Publishing; pub date 17 May 2022. Buy via gjkemp.co.uk.