books

Small Press Celebration: Love Letters to Poe

Love Letters to Poe is a literary magazine based in Maryland, US, celebrating new Gothic stories and poetry. Within its pages you’ll find horror, romance, wonder, mystery and terror. Published monthly but with new stories and poems released weekly on the website.

You can find Love Letters to Poe online, on Instagram, Patreon where there is an interactive Gothic story, Twitter and Facebook and check out the podcast.

Once the first volume is released the plan is to collate an annual collection. If you’d like a free copy of the inaugural edition sign up to the newsletter.

Thanks to editor Sara Crocell Smith for sending over all the info and the beautiful artwork for the cover and logo.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Barnabus Tew & the Case of the Hellenic Abduction – Columbkill Noonan*

Zeus is used to getting what he wants…but that was before he met Barnabas Tew!

Barnabas and Wilfred, the unluckiest detectives ever, are happily enjoying their time in India, working on mastering their emotions, and learning how to do all sorts of interesting yoga poses.They’re having a splendid time, and feel as if they’ve finally found some peace in their lives.

Everything changes, though, when Zeus suddenly whisks them away from their idyllic retreat and
demands that they solve a case for him.

Having no choice, they reluctantly accept the job, but quickly come to realize that nothing is as it should be. Zeus’ motives are suspect from the beginning, the rest of the Greek gods and goddesses are untrustworthy at best, and Barnabas’ temper hasn’t improved at all during his time in India.

And, most importantly, who is the mysterious lady who keeps popping up just when they need her? Is she
friend, or is she foe?

To make matters even worse, both Barnabas and Wilfred have unresolved feelings of their own.

Can they settle their own emotional affairs, once and for all? Will they figure out what’s right and what’s
wrong in this topsy-turvy world of lies, intrigue, and trickery? Or will the Greek gods and goddesses prove too much for them?

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Columbkill Noonan is the author of the best-selling Barnabas Tew series, which features a proper British detective from Victorian London who ends up solving mythological cases for gods all around the world.

She was was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches Anatomy and Physiology at a university in Maryland.

Her writing is mostly speculative fiction (especially stories that involve mythology, or the supernatural, or any combination thereof). Some of
her work is a bit on the spooky side, but usually there is a touch of humor (who says the afterlife has to be serious?)

When she’s not teaching or writing, Columbkill can be found with her rescue horse (whose name is Mittens), hiking in the woods, or doing yoga of all kinds (aerial yoga and SUP yoga are particular favorites). She is an avid traveler, and can’t wait to get back to seeing the world again.

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My thoughts:

This book was a lot of fun, I hadn’t come across this series before but I have downloaded the previous books as they’re just so enjoyable and play with some of my favourite things – mythology and Victorian detectives that aim to be (but aren’t quite) Sherlock Holmes.

Barnabus only seems to unravel this case because he has an incredible sidekick in the ever patient Wilfred, some good friends and the help of a few Olympians who don’t agree with Zeus’ behaviour.

They also seem to get further and further into trouble as they go along, from poisoning the Minotaur, to being almost eaten by Scylla and Charybis, to headbutting Hades and insulting Charon. It’s a wonder they ever get out in one piece!

Also one final thing, the author has the most marvellous name and I will be looking out for it on the front cover of many more books.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Double Deceit – Julienne Brouwers*

When Jennifer’s husband, a hotshot lawyer from Amsterdam, is found dead at a holiday park during a weekend getaway, the young mother’s world is turned on its head. Convinced that the police have failed in their investigation, she embarks on a desperate quest for the truth. The deeper she digs, the more she gets sucked into a tangled web of lies, spun by a ruthless law firm and instigated by greed.
As her search for answers intensifies, her grip on reality weakens. Barely able to manage her patients at the health clinic, or take care of her young son, Jennifer is at risk of losing it all – even her closest friends begin to desert her. A chance encounter with a charming stranger sparks a new chain of events that plunges her deeper into a world of threats and corruption, and she begins to fear for her life.

Who can she trust, and how far will she go in pursuit of the truth?

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About Julienne Brouwers

Julienne Brouwers worked as a pharmaceutical scientist and medical physicist before becoming a writer. She lives in the Netherlands, with her husband and three children, where she has published two successful thrillers, and lived in the UK and US for a total of four years.

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My thoughts:

This was really intriguing, after the death of her husband in slightly suspicious circumstances, determined doctor Jennifer launches her own investigation into her husband, but what she finds is a huge scandal at the law firm where he worked, that he was planning to blow the whistle on.

Suspecting this may have something to do with his death, she keeps digging, despite her heavy workload and young son, despite the struggle to access key information, she just keeps going, determined to get some answers.

Jennifer is a fascinating character, strong and gutsy in many ways, but also struggling to reconcile her new reality with what she thought she knew about her husband and their life together. She starts to neglect things once important to her and frightens her closest friends with her obsessive need to dig into her husband’s secrets. Even when things become dangerous, she keeps pushing, putting everything at risk, when she could walk away as she doesn’t work for the firm and has little proof of wrongdoing, just lots of theories.

I liked the details of her life in Amsterdam, although I don’t think I could cycle anywhere in heels as Jennifer seems to do, I wobble along on my bike as it is (out of practice), but it seems to be second nature to the Dutch. I also enjoyed her relationships with the people you’d least expect her to get along with, that slightly antagonistic, viciousness was fascinating, manipulating someone with something they seem to regret.

All in all, a very enjoyable, twisty turny, clever, knotty thriller that kept me guessing till the last page.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Poleaxed – further information from the author

Last week I reviewed Poleaxed as part of a blog tour and the author, Professor Peter Tyrer got in touch to provide some more information regarding the book and his writing of it.

‘There are three aspects of the Poleaxed story that are relevant to the COVID pandemic of today. The first is that when little is known even the medical experts end up arguing and do not present a united front. We have seen this repeatedly in the last few months. Then there is the curious paradox of lockdown, or, in the case of the town in the novel, total quarantine, making some people very upset and others quite pleased as they can exploit the situation. Exactly the same pattern is found in Albert Camus’ famous novel La Peste (The Plague).

The third aspect is coming out in the condition known as Long COVID. This is one of the unpleasant long-term consequence of infection, sometimes after an initial mild episode. We do not know enough about this yet but it is clear that mental as well as physical health are compromised. This is a key part of Poleaxed.

So, as one of my correspondents has put it, this novel is not a dystopian thriller but a real life thriller, and we are living through it at present.

Thank you to Peter for providing this insight and connecting his novel to the current circumstances we find ourselves in.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Heat – Sean O’Leary*

Jake is a loner who works nights in a Darwin motel and lives at the YMCA. He’s in love with Angel, a Thai prostitute who works out of the low-rent Shark Motel.

A vicious murder turns Jake’s life into a nightmare. He must fight for his life on the heat-soaked streets of Darwin and Bangkok in the wet season to get revenge, and to get his life back.

Australian Bookseller

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Sean O’Leary has published two short story collections, ‘My Town’ and ‘Walking’. His novella ‘Drifting’ was the winner of the ‘Great Novella Search 2016’ and published in September 2017. He has published over thirty individual short stories and is a regular contributor of short fiction to Quadrant, FourW, Sudo, Close to the Bone (UK) and other literary and crime magazines. His crime novella ‘The Heat’, set in Darwin and Bangkok, was published in August 2019. Drifting and The Heat are both available on Amazon. His interviews with crime writers appear online in Crime Time magazine.

He has worked in a variety of jobs including motel receptionist, rubbish removalist/tree lopper, farm hand, short-order cook and night manager in various hotels in Sydney’s notorious, Kings Cross. He has lived in: Melbourne; Naracoorte; Sydney; Adelaide; Perth; Fremantle; Norseman; Geraldton; Carnarvon; Broome; Yulara; Alice Springs; Kakadu; Darwin and on Elcho Island-Galiwinku. He now lives in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, thinks that test cricket is the greatest game of all and supports Melbourne Football Club (a life sentence). He writes every day, likes travelling and tries to walk everywhere.

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My thoughts:

This was interesting and more complex than it first appeared. Jake drifts through his life, working in a cheap hotel and spending his down time smoking weed and hanging out with his Thai girlfriend, who works as a prostitute, sending money back home to her mother and daughter.

When she’s killed, the police seem completely disinterested in solving the crime, leaving Jake to not only find a killer but also take her savings back to her family in Thailand.

However Angel’s killer wants that money too, and he will do whatever he can to get it from Jake.

As Jake tried valiantly to do the right thing by Angel, he is thrown by a sudden friendship and must also deal with reconnecting with his mother, now herself living in Bangkok.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Turncoat – Anthony J Quinn*

The sole survivor of a murderous ambush, a Belfast police detective is forced into a desperate search for a mysterious informer that takes him to a holy islandon Lough Derg, a place shrouded in strange mists and hazy rain, where nothing is as it first appears to be.

A keeper of secrets and a purveyor of lies, the detective finds himself surrounded by enemies disguised as pilgrims, and is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the purgatorial island, where he is forced to confront a series of disturbing secrets and ghosts in his own life.

Haunting and unsettling, Turncoat probes the legacy of the Troubles, the loss of collective memories and the moral consequences for the individual.

It is a story of guilt, survival and the terrible price of self-knowledge, told through the voice of a detective with a double life. Descending into paranoia, he uncovers a sinister panorama of cover-ups and conspiracies.

The closer he edges to the truth, the deeper he is drawn into the currents of power, violence and guilt engulfing his country…

Anthony J Quinn’s nine novels have received critical acclaim from The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, TheDaily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Express, The Sunday Herald,The Literary Review, The Good Book Guide, The Sydney Morning Herald, Books Ireland, Der Spiegel, The Irish Times, the Irish Independent and other newspapers.

His debut Disappeared was picked as one of the Best Books of the Year by theSunday Times and was a Daily Mail Crime Novel of the Year. It was shortlisted by thebook critics of the Washington Post, the LA Times, and the San Francisco Chroniclefor a Strand Literary Award in the US. It was also selected as one of the top ten thrillers of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and long listed for the Theakstons Crime Novel ofthe Year.

He teaches creative writing at Queen’s University Belfast and is currently writer-in-residence for County Cavan in Ireland.

My thoughts:

Set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, following a police detective, who as the sole survivor of a shootout becomes the focus of suspicion and investigation.

Hiding out on an island sacred to pilgrims, he wrestles with his conscience and the events that led him to this point. His fear and paranoia have him believing that many of the pilgrims are spying on him for various factions.

This is a fascinating and involving book, exploring ideas of collective guilt, memory and conspiracy in those supposed to serve and protect the people.

You’re drawn into the web of secrets and lies within the agencies watching as well as the claustrophobic atmosphere of the holy Isle, where pilgrims walk the stations of the cross in prayer all day long, barefoot and fasting.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books

Small Press Celebration: Inkandescent

Inkandescent is a small press based in Dalston, East London and the very first independent publisher being celebrated here at ranblingmads.com

Founders Justin and Nathan
Inkandescent was founded in 2016 by Justin David and Nathan Evans to champion ideas and voices underrepresented in mainstream publishing. Threads, their first publication (and collaboration) was funded by Arts Council England and long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize, of which their second publication AutoFellatio by James Maker was the inaugural winner. The Guardian described their third publication The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett as an ‘impressive debut’.

Justin David is their publisher; he’s also a writer and photographer. A child of Wolverhampton, he now lives and worked in London, graduated from the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, has read for Polari Literary Salon at Royal Festival Hall and was a founder member of Leather Lane Writers with Kit de Waal. His novella The Pharmacist is published by Inkandescent.

Nathan Evans is their editor; he’s also a writer, director and performer whose work has been funded by the Arts Council, toured with the British Council, archived in the British Film Institute, broadcast on Channel Four and presented at venues including Royal Court Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and Royal Vauxhall Tavern. His collection CNUT is published by Inkandescent.

Championing underrepresented writers from LGBTQ+, BAME, working class and financially disadvantaged backgrounds and bringing new diverse voices to the readership.

They’ve got some really interesting new books coming out soon that you should check out!

Twenty-four-year-old Billy is beautiful and sexy. Albert—The Pharmacist—is a compelling but damaged older man, and a veteran of London’s late ’90s club scene. After a chance meeting in the heart of the London’s East End, Billy is seduced into the sphere of Albert. An unconventional friendship develops, fuelled by Albert’s queer narratives and an endless supply of narcotics. Alive with the twilight times between day and night, consciousness and unconsciousness, the foundations of Billy’s life begin to irrevocably shift and crack, as he fast-tracks toward manhood. This story of lust, love and loss is homoerotic bildungsroman at its finest.

Forthcoming anthology of stories from the edges, MAINSTREAM, will be released in the summer of 2021 and is available for pre-order now on partner website, UNBOUND.
(I’m a backer!)

Mainstream brings thirty authors in from the margins to occupy centre-page. Queer storytellers. Working class wordsmiths. Chroniclers of colour. Writers whose life experiences give unique perspectives on universal challenges, whose voices must be heard. And read.

The collection places emerging writers alongside some of our favourite established authors. Contributors are Aisha Phoenix, Alex Hopkins, Chris Simpson, DJ Connell, Elizabeth Baines, Gaylene Gould, Giselle Leeb, Golnoosh Nour, Hedy Hume, Iqbal Hussain, James Maker, Jonathan Kemp, Julia Bell, Juliet Jacques, Justin David, Kathy Hoyle, Keith Jarrett, Kerry Hudson, Kit de Waal, Leone Ross, Lisa Goldman, Lui Sit, Nathan Evans, Neil Bartlett, Neil Lawrence, Neil McKenna, Ollie Charles, Padrika Tarrant, Paul McVeigh, Philip Ridley, Polis Loizou.

We’re still crowdfunding for this project. Great news! Mainstream has been funded! And it wouldn’t have been possible without so much support from our loyal customers.

We’ve reached our 100% minimum target, which means we can pay the authors and print the book. We’re now aiming for 200% so we can pay also our team of designers, editors, readers, etc. Please continue to help us get the word out there.

There’s still time on the clock for your friends to have their names printed in the back of the book. We’ll continue to keep everyone in the loop as the book makes its way through the publishing process. We’ve received around half the stories from the authors and are about to begin editing. Exciting!

Also coming in 2021—we’ve sat on this for a while but the cat is now out of the bag: we’re overjoyed to announce that we’ve acquired the rights to publish Neil Bartlett’s new book of fiction!

‘Address Book’ is a collection of seven interconnecting stories spanning three centuries. From a new millennium civil partnership celebration to profane love in a Victorian tenement, from a council-flat bedroom at the height of the AIDS crisis to a doctor’s living-room in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, these stories lead us through decades of change to discover hope in the strangest of places. In paperback and ebook from October 2021.

If any of this gets your fancy then you can follow the team on Twitter Facebook Instagram and visit their website where you can sign up for their newsletter to be the first to hear about their titles.

Thank you to Justin for sending me the photos and info to put this together.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus – Jaime Jo Wright*

1928

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day

The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

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Jaime Jo Wright is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo, her husband Cap’n Hook, and their littles, Peter Pan, and CoCo. Website

Website

My thoughts:

This was an interesting and thought provoking thriller, linking events at the home ground of Bonaventure Circus in 1928 and the present day – proving that the past is never as far away as we think.

A serial killer stalked the travelling circus and now haunts its winter home, where a newborn elephant fights for life and the adopted daughter of the circus’ owner delves into the secrets of her own past.

In the present day, Chandler has plans to develop the abandoned circus depot into a trendy mix of shops and apartments, but strange goings on and rumours of ghosts dog her efforts. When her young son is kidnapped, she’s thrust into the swirling mysteries that still linger around the empty buildings.

Powerful and shocking, moving and heartwarming by turn, this is an engaging and evocative thriller about the secrets in families and the people who will do anything to keep them.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Out For Blood – Deborah Masson*

THE RETURNOF DI EVE HUNTER

DI Eve Hunter is back in the edge-of-your-seat new detective thriller from Deborah Masson, winning author of the Bloody Scotland Crime Debut of the Year2020.

A young man, the son of an influential businessman, is discovered dead in his central Aberdeen apartment.

Hours later, a teenaged girl with no identification is found hanged in a suspected suicide.

As DI Eve Hunter and her team investigate the two cases, they find themselves in a tug-of-war between privilege and poverty; between the elite and those on the fringes of society.

Then an unexpected breakthrough leads them to the shocking conclusion: that those in power have been at the top for too long -and now, someone is going to desperate lengths to bring them down…

Can they stop someone who is dead set on revenge, no matter the cost?

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie -to name but a few.

Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

My thoughts:

This is a gripping, intelligent thriller exploring ideas of power and influence. When the son of a wealthy businessman is found strangled in his apartment and the body of a young woman is hung from a tree at the golf course, at first the police don’t see any links between these deaths, but as they dig into the lives of the victims, they discover a web of human traffickers and money that goes to the wealthy and powerful.

Well written, powerful and gripping, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one as DI Eve Hunter is an interesting character.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Blog Post: Busting the Brass Ceiling – Fanchon Blake & Linden Gross

BustingTheBrassCeiling

Congratulations to author Linden Gross on the release of Fanchon Blake’s fascinating story, Busting the Brass Ceiling!

Read on for more details and an exclusive excerpt from the book!

BustingBrassCeiling-eBook-Cover_for publication

Busting the Brass Ceiling: How a Heroic Female Cop Changed the Face of Policing

Publication Date: November 20th, 2020

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Police/ History/ Women in History

FANCHON BLAKE joined the LAPD in 1948 and walked a beat in a skirt and heels for three years. Her ambition to rise in the ranks would be curtailed by an increasingly discriminatory agenda, but her relentless tenacity finally led to a promotion to sergeant nineteen years later. When LAPD policy barred her from rising any further and threatened to eliminate women from the department, she sued. The historic case would change the face of policing around the country.

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Excerpt

Enough!

The words CONFIDENTIAL SURVEY caught my attention. I picked up the paper and read: A Survey to Justify Why Men Do Not Want to Work with Policewomen. I loved the LAPD. But I sure didn’t love the way they treated the women on the force. Were things about to get worse?

I looked around the LAPD squad room, where I worked as a detective investigating forgery, but no one was paying attention to me. I gazed again at the paper I held. It was from the chief’s office, complete with an authenticated signature. For years, I had protested the fact that no new women officers were being hired, and that a substantial number of female sworn officers had already been reassigned to desk jobs. Now it seemed that management was setting up a justification to eliminate women from the job altogether.

Surely, the chief had more brains than to try to circulate something as bizarre as this survey, but nobody else would dare take that kind of action without his knowledge. I couldn’t let this go unchallenged. I would have to flush it out into the open, which meant confronting the chief. I couldn’t do that alone. He would crucify me.

I convinced the president of the Los Angeles Policewomen’s Association to ask the chief to explain the blatantly anti-female survey to his female officers. Surprisingly, he agreed to meet with us on January 10, 1971.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

linden-gross-omeara-photography-square-crop-black-white

LINDEN GROSS is a bestselling writer. She ghostwrote Julia “Butterfly” Hill’s New York Times bestseller The Legacy of Luna (HarperCollins, 2000). Publishers Weekly wrote that Hill’s “firsthand exposition of destructive forest practices … is extremely powerful, and her book, a remarkable inspirational document, records a courageous act of civil disobedience that places her squarely in the tradition of Thoreau.” Gross is also the writer behind Kathryn and Craig Hall’s national bestseller, A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery (Center Street, 2016).

Gross has authored, co-authored, or ghostwritten an additional eight books, including Ms. Cahill for Congress (Ballantine, 2008), the stirring tale of public school teacher Tierney Cahill, who on a dare from her class ran for U.S. Congress, and Surviving a Stalker: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Yourself Safe (Incubation Press, 2013), a revised edition of To Have Or To Harm (Grand Central Publishing, 1994), the first book written about the stalking of ordinary people. Gross also functions as a writing coach and an editor, helping other people to write their nonfiction books and novels, several of which have gone on to become bestsellers.
Linden Gross

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