Monday, 23 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ Nothing Else Remains by Robert Scragg

Delighted to host today's stop on this exciting Blog Tour

Allison & Busby
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers fro my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

When his old friend Max Brennan turns to him for help, DI Jake Porter gladly throws himself into the case as a distraction from his own troubles, aided by his partner, DS Nick Styles. Brennan’s father and then his girlfriend have gone missing in quick succession and it isn’t long before Brennan himself becomes a victim when he’s attacked in his own home. With events spiralling, and a faceless presence prowling in the background, can Porter and Styles catch a killer before another victim is claimed? 

What did I think about it...

DI Jake Porter of the Homicide and Serious Crime Department makes a welcome return in another exciting story which picks up some six months after the first book in the Porter and Styles series finished. Still reeling from the attack on members of his investigative team, Jake is beginning to feel the pressure of the job and then, he gets word that the girlfriend of his mate, Max Brennan, has gone missing, and Jake is once again pulled into a complicated game of trying to track down a deadly perpetrator before it’s too late for Max and his girlfriend.

What then follows is a complex and convoluted police procedural which follows a criminal mastermind behind a series of unexplained disappearances, which on the surface don’t appear to be linked but with some sharp investigation, Porter and Styles, soon start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The partnership between these two charismatic detectives is particularly well done as they each bring something quite unique to the relationship, and yet in this continuation they both have something that they’re hiding from each other. 

I remember being impressed with this author’s previous novel in which Porter and Styles made their debut and I’m pleased to report that the duo have gone from strength to strength in this second outing where we get to know more about them as individuals. Porter in particular is quite complex, taciturn and hard working but hiding a hurt so deep it threatens to engulf him. Nick Styles, on the other hand, is the perfect partner, able to keep Porter on the straight and narrow whilst at the same time keeping his own personal life in order.

There is no doubt that this crime series has great potential to run and run and Nothing Else Remains definitely continues the series in great style with a compelling plot which grabs the attention from the beginning, and so exciting is the plot that I started to read the book on a rainy afternoon and didn’t look up for several hours until I had finished the story in one sitting.

About the Author

Photo credit:Tony Whaling

Robert Scragg had a random mix of jobs before taking the dive into crime writing; he’s been a bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor and Football coach. He lives in Tyne & Wear, is a founding member of the North East Noir crime writers group. 

Twitter @robert_scragg #NothingElseRemains


Sunday, 22 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ An Echo of Scandal by Laura Madeleine

Delighted to be taking part in this exciting Blog Tour

The sumptuous and seductive world of Tangier in the early 20th century is a world where men make decisions and women follow. But Alejandra is determined to secure her independence, at any cost.

Black Swan
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

In the dead of night, with blood on her hands, she made her escape. Accused of murder, Alejandra flees her home, escaping to the southern edge of Spain, where she faces a life of poverty and destitution. Seduced by the power of the rich and the anonymity that waits across the water in Tangier, Ale makes a bid for a new start. But it will come at a cost: a life of deception. Because Ale’s new friends want to know what she is running from, they want to know who she is and whether they can trust her. Fifty years later, a young American writer wanders the streets of Tangier, searching for inspiration. When he stumbles across a trace of Ale’s life, he finds himself tangled in a story of scandal, love and danger that has not yet reached its end.

What did I think about it..

Alejandra hasn’t had the best of starts to her young life, and when in 1928, she is accused of a heinous crime, she has little choice but to try and escape, however, leaving behind everything she has ever known in Cรณrdoba only makes her life all the more complicated.

Fifty years later in Tangier, Sam Hackett is a young writer who is down on his luck and struggling to make ends meet . When he comes across traces of a forgotten life he is suitably intrigued and sets out to discover as much as he can about the mysterious person he knows only by the initials A.L.

What I have loved about this novel is the way the author seamlessly moves from past to present and brings the heat and glorious colour of Tangier alive in a really exotic way. The sights, sounds and sensations of the market place, the spice, taste and texture of fabulous food, and the tantalising recipes for alcohol infused cocktails all blend together in a clever mixture of intrigue, mystery and danger.

Dual time stories are notoriously difficult to carry off but what works so well in An Echo of Scandal is the way that both time frames are equally compelling. I found that I was just at home in the 1920s as I was in 1978 and I looked forward to spending time with both sets of characters as they each live out the adventure which the author has created for them with so much flair and imagination.

An Echo of Scandal is a beautifully written historical novel by an author who knows how to hold the reader in the palm of her hand. The story is filled with both drama and passion and is gloriously authentic in every detail. I loved it ๐Ÿ˜Š

About the Author

After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom.

Twitter @LauraMadeleine #AnEchoofScandal

@TransworldBooks @hannahbright29


Saturday, 21 September 2019

Hist fic Saturday ~ Blog Tour ~ Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt

On Hist Fic Saturday 

I'm thrilled to be hosting today's stop on this Blog Tour

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’

Wartime Classics
26 September 2019

My thanks to the IWM, Angela Martin, and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of this Blog Tour

Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – a murder mystery about opportunism and the black market set against the backdrop of London during the Blitz. ‘With a dead body on the first page and a debonair RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists – it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more. Andrew Roberts.

My thoughts about it..

WW2 Flight-Lieutenant David Heron is recuperating after a war time injury and has chosen to spend his convalescence in his favourite boarding house in London. When he is rudely awakened with the strange news that the body of a man has been found in the garden everyone in Mrs Meake’s boarding house is immediately under suspicion. David, however, is determined to track down the perpetrator of this heinous crime even though it takes him into some very dangerous situations.

What then follows is an interesting whodunit which is very much in the style of the golden age of sleuthing. The characters take charge from the very start and whilst Flight-Lieutenant Heron is a suave and sophisticated sleuth, he is also very much an old fashioned gentleman, and his considered approach to crime investigation is a real breath of fresh air. However, his air of affability and general bonhomie is about to be tested to the limit as he delves further and further into the clandestine world of the black market.

Plenty Under the Counter is filled with twists, turns and numerous red herrings and is a fascinating snap shot of what it was like to live in wartime London. Written in 1948, there is a definite air of authenticity about it, particularly as the author is using her own experience of living in London during the war years, bringing a real sense of originality to what is, after all, quite a complex murder/mystery.

Plenty Under the Counter is a fascinating addition to the IWM Wartime Classic Collection and will, I’m sure, appeal to those readers who enjoy a good old fashioned crime novel. 

About the Author

Kathleen Hewitt was a British author and playwright who wrote more than 20 novels in her lifetime. She was part of an artistic set in 1930’s London which included Olga Lehman and the poet Roy Campbell.

Twitter @I_W_M #wartimeclassics



Friday, 20 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis, Translated by Gwen Davies

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of this Blog Tour 

Honno Press
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publisher for my proof copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of this blog tour

That was the horror of love: your sweetheart could stick a knife into your eyeball and sharpen it a notch every chance they got.

Mari supplements her modest stock as a market-stallholder with the trinkets she acquires clearing the houses of the dead. Living in a tiny cottage by the shore – alone apart from a pet cat and the monkey, Nanw – she surrounds herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned and putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece for company. Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods and borrowed memories. As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…

What did I think about it..

Mari lives in her cottage by the shore with her cat and a monkey called Nanw. Mari supplements her income by running a market stall where she sells the vintage clothing and other trinkets she accumulates from helping her friend Mo who clears the houses of people who have died. Mari comes across as a rather sad character, she is prone to illness and introspection and there's an aura of grief and desolation surrounding her which adds to the overall ambiance of the novel.

The Jeweller is a quirky story which is made all the more interesting for having been translated from its original Welsh, a language which is as fascinating as it is lyrical, and the author's imaginative flair for story telling is complimented by the creativeness of just how strongly the story comes across in translation. It's an intelligently written character driven novel which explores the stifling power of family and of the meaning of friendship. As the story gets deeper it becomes obvious that Mari has a troubled relationship with those around her, often finding more comfort in the pieces of jewelry she collects and then polishes into something beautiful.

The Jeweller is about recognising the emotional pull of the past whilst having the strength to move forward into a more controlled sort of future.

Originally published as Y GEMYDD The Jeweller is published in English by Honno Welsh Women's Press.

About the Author

Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004) won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll/Hinterland.

About the Translator

Photo Credit : Keith Morris

Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jewellerand is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family.

Honno is the UK’s longest standing independent women’s press and is based in Wales. 'Honno' is a Welsh word meaning 'that one (feminine) who is elsewhere'. For more information on this award-winning acclaimed small publisher, visit their website

Honno would like to thank the Welsh Books Council for all their support in publishing this title.

Twitter @honno #TheJeweller


Thursday, 19 September 2019

Publication Day Review ~ The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole

✨✨ Happy Publication Day ✨✨

Elliot & Thompson
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Alison Menzies for my copy of this lovely book

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.

It will change how you think about books.

What did I think about it...

Any bibliophile will be excited about a book about books, and there's something very special about The Secret Life of Books, from the sumptuous red and gold beauty of its cover, to the very readable contents which explains everything you never knew you needed to know about books.

We know that books come in all shapes and sizes, from the pocket size Penguins of old, to the glossy majesty of coffee table books, they entice us with their words and pictures which promise a world full of magic and mystery. I'm not a great traveller, but from the comfort of my arm chair I can go forwards or backwards in time or I can take off and head to exotic locations, and I am able to do this thanks to the imagination of authors who share their stories with me. 

The Secret Life of Books is a wonderfully presented meander through the world of books, looking at what books actually do for us and how they transform us as individuals. And it's not just about stories or the facts contained within, it's about how books become books, how they are part of the treasure of our age - just think about the wealth of history and information which are contained within our libraries, and of the prestigious books and ancient texts which make up our shared history.

The author writes really well and brings his thoughts and feeling about books to life, capturing the very essence of the emotional meaning of books. There is no doubt that our world would be all the poorer without the absolute treasure of books and all the magic that they contain.

If there's a bibliophile in your life, The Secret Life of Books would be a great gift. It's published by Elliot & Thompson and is out today ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ“–

About the Author

Tom Mole is a professor of English Literature and book History at the University of Edinburgh where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book. He has taught at Universities in the UK and Canada, and has lectured widely in Europe,Australia and North America. he has written or edited several volumes about books and literature, including What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the 2018 Saltire prize for Research Book of the Year. he lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young daughter.

Twitter @ProfTomMole #TheSecretsLifeOfBooks


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Review ~ The Colour of Things Unseen by Annee Lawrence

Aurora Metro

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When Adi leaves his village in Indonesia to take up an art scholarship in Australia, he arrives in the bewildering Sydney art world, determined to succeed. Following his first solo exhibition at a smart art gallery, Adi dares to reveal his true feelings for his outgoing friend, Lisa, and a passionate relationship unfolds. But will their differing expectations of one another drive them apart?

This is a deeply felt love story between people — of different nations, cultures and religions – and the unseen impact of local and global events on individual lives.

My thoughts about it..

Adi lives in a small village in Idonesia and his life is not without tragedy but fortune favours the brave and Adi finds that his life is about to change when he is given the opportunity to study art, a subject he has an affinity with and undoubted skill.  Adi's love of art takes him far away from his home village and when he reaches Australia he finds a very different sort of world with a morality which takes some getting used too, especially, when it comes to painting nude life models in art classes.

The story of Things Unseen is the story of Adi's time in Australia and of the adjustments he must make in order to fit in with a culture with is completely alien to him, but then, he discovers the power of friendship, and no friendship comes greater than that of Marj, his landlady, who becomes a second mother to him. Throughout his considerable time in Australia, it seems that Adi is always trying to fit in,  and his relationship with his girlfriend Lisa is fraught with troubles.

I've found much to enjoy, in the way the author allows the story to evolve slowly so that it becomes so much more than Adi's life story, and whilst its focus is about about love, relationships and family, it's also about trying to belong in a place where you feel out of step with those around you.

The story of Things Unseen is an interesting first novel and I am sure that the author has more stories to tell, and will continue to go from strength to strength.

Annee lives in Australia and has an interest in exploring cross-cultural connection and the way identity shape-shifts in an unfamiliar place and culture. She has close friendship and family ties in Indonesia and was the recipient of an Asialink Arts’ inaugural Tulis Australian-Indonesian Writing Exchange in 2018. As a result, she had a six-week residency at Kommunitas Salihara in Jakarta and was invited to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Prior to becoming a tutor in literary and cultural studies at Western Sydney University in 2014, Annee worked as a writer, editor and community development worker in the areas of women’s health, human rights and social justice. Two of her publications include: I Always Wanted To Be A Tap Dancer: Women With Disabilities and (with Nola Colefax on her memoir) Signs of Change: My Autobiography and History of Australian Theatre of the Deaf 1973–1983. In 1981 she was founding editor of Healthright: A Journal of Women’s Health, Family Planning and Sexuality.
Annee has published articles in New Writing, Griffith Review, Hecate and Cultural Studies Review.

The Colour of Things Unseen is the author's debut novel.

Twitter @AuroraMetro

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Winner of the Glass Bell Award ~ VOX by Christina Dalcher


March 2019

Debut novelist Christina Dalcher has been awarded The Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2019 for her thoughtprovoking and suspenseful dystopian thriller VOX, which imagines a near future in which an evangelical sect has taken control of the US and women have been limited to speaking just a hundred words a day. 

VOX won against five other novels, including Belinda Bauer’s Booker-longlisted Snap, for the Glass Bell Award, which rewards ‘compelling storytelling with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised’ in any genre. 

Also shortlisted were Dalcher ’s fellow debut novelists Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott for Swan Song, a fictionalised account of the rise and self-inflicted fall of Truman Capote, and Heather Morris, author of the millioncopy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz; M.W. Craven for his Gold Dagger-shortlisted Cumbrian thriller The Puppet Show; and Louise Candlish, for ‘property thriller’ Our House, which won the British Book Award Crime & Thriller of the Year 2019.

Dalcher was awarded the Glass Bell at a party held at Goldsboro Books in central London on the evening of Monday 16th September, receiving £2,000 and a handmade, engraved glass bell. The prize was judged by Goldsboro Books founder David Headley and his team at the bookshop. David Headley said: ‘Hard-won rights sometimes feel like a luxury that we can never take for granted, and VOX is an urgent and timely reminder of this. A terrifyingly plausible yet dazzling thriller which prompted passionate discussions during the judging, it ’s a story about the importance of communication, the power of language and a lesson that freedom is continually being fought for around the world. I set up the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award to celebrate stories like this – which challenge us, frighten us and stimulate us.’ Founded in 2017 by David Headley, Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, the Glass Bell Award is the only award to reward storytelling in all genres, from romance and crime to historical and speculative. The inaugural winner was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), the moving and unflinching novel about the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain. Last year, the award went to John Boyne for his sweeping, poignant and comedic odyssey of post-war Ireland, The Heart ’s Invisible Furies (Transworld).