blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Devil Upstairs – Anthony O’Neill*

In a quiet corner of Edinburgh, Cat Thomas is going through hell.
She’s tried everything. He respects nothing.

If your neighbour was making your life hell …
Would you call upon the devil?

Cat Thomas, a brilliant fraud investigator, has just relocated from Florida to a dreamy flat in historic Edinburgh. Everything seems perfect. Everything seems serene. Except for the unbelievably noisy wannabe rockstar upstairs.

Soon Cat’s blissful new life is in ruins. Desperate, she’s willing to try anything. When all else fails, she makes an appeal … to Satan.

And suddenly everything is eerily quiet. But her nightmare has only just begun ..

My thoughts:

My flat has thin walls and I can hear things I really don’t want to happening in neighbouring flats. So I empathised with Cat in this book, no one wants their sleep disturbed by a noisy, inconsiderate neighbour, doubly so when they’re rude when confronted.
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to ask Satan to make it stop, but I can imagine how someone could be driven to it!

This is a funny, shocking book with an excellent twist at the end. I enjoyed it and read it in one sitting. I recommend getting hold of a copy and having a read.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater*

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.


Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science. He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds. When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

My thoughts:

So you probably know by now that I love a good AI-human in space romp, and this is one of them. The backstory that led to Opal being on a lost ship with only Clarissa the AI to help is revealed slowly, only answering your questions bit by bit.

There’s something else on that ship, something that might answer Opal’s own questions, but they need answering before her pursuers catch up and this cranks the tension up.

Opal’s smart and resourceful, Clarissa is a good foil to her search for secrets. The menace comes from two sides, and as a reader you’re left wondering “what next?”

There’s something of a locked room mystery about the plot – mostly taking place in a supposedly empty drifting space ship.

Book two Chasing Solace is also available now.


*this book was kindly gifted to me in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Truth Hurts – Rebecca Reid*

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Poppy has a secret.

It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.

Drew says he has nothing to hide.

But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.

Drew is lying.

Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

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Rebecca is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section, works for Metro Online and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, the Saturday Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK and the New Statesmen amongst others.

Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her work.

She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015 and Perfect Liars is her debut novel.

Rebecca lives in North London with her husband.

 

My thoughts:

Would you marry someone you’d only known for a month? Would you agree to never discuss your pasts? Well that’s what Poppy does in this book. And of course, the past is never going to go away completely.

What seems to start as a cosy beach read quickly becomes something darker as Poppy’s history is revealed in flashbacks and in the present she starts to dig into Drew’s. Neither of them is quite who they appear to be and all the secrets start to creep out as they host Drew’s friends for a long weekend at their new home, Thursday House.

Well written and compelling this novel quickly drags you into the mysteries sounding Poppy and Drew, neither of whom are as innocent or as bland as they might seem and that could end up spelling disaster. With a few twists, especially right at the end, that you just don’t see coming, this is a clever thriller well worth a place on your commute or even on your holidays.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Depression – Ray Griffiths*

The part of the brain most heavily associated with mental health, memory, emotion and mood is called the hippocampus; the biological name for the seahorse. It is the unusual seahorse-like shape of the hippocampus that has led to its evocative name. Just as the seahorse charms the depths of oceans, our own hippocampus, when supported and nurtured, can help to enchant our own lives. Worryingly, there are an increasing number of scientific papers linking problems with the hippocampus to depression, in particular, the shrinking or failure to regrow this part of the brain after prolonged stress. Depression, anxiety and mood disorders are often seen as entirely psychological in cause. However, more and more research is highlighting that chronic health issues, poor diet and lifestyle choices can, and will, negatively impact our vulnerable hippocampus, and consequently, our mental health.

Personalised nutritionist Ray Griffiths examines how we can modify our dietary and lifestyle choices to nourish our brain and hippocampus. These choices can help to cushion us from the harm we may encounter as we navigate the challenges of modern everyday life. This nourishment is absolutely vital, as every day our hippocampus can potentially regrow 700 brand new neurons, but it needs a huge amount of assistance to do so. Nourishment for the hippocampus can come from not just diet but also from balanced gut bacteria, social connection, exercise, an outdoors environment, music and dance. Learning how to support your brain health begins with what you eat.

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Ray Griffiths MSc is a Registered Nutritionist and Lecturer and hails from the South of England, living on the borders of Essex and Suffolk. He has been researching and practicing nutrition for 20 years and lecturing for over 10 years. His lectures and webinars have covered diverse subjects such as: cancer and nutrition, chronic fatigue, depression, cardiovascular health, neurodegeneration, MS and ageing. Ray has a background in Engineering and likes to apply a similar style systems philosophy to nutrition and biochemistry – using this approach to challenge and greatly expand existing ideas and concepts. He is a keen water skier, was once a professional Speedway rider. He enjoys Pre-Rapaelite art and his favourite author is the American poet Robert Bly.

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My thoughts: I’ve had depression since my teens and am interested in different theories around treating and managing it in the long term. I currently take medication to manage it but if there was another way I’d be open to potentially trying it.

I liked that Griffiths was looking at depression as a condition that is affected by and effects the body as a whole, I know for me if my chronic pain condition is worse then so will my mental health be.

As a nutritionist Griffiths focuses on how what we eat impacts our physical and mental wellbeing. The importance of healthy gut bacteria is something the general public is increasingly aware of, and he writes about how each thing links together very well.

This was certainly a very interesting read, something I will definitely be discussing with my doctors in terms of how I can tweak my diet to support a happier, healthier brain.

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The End of the World Survivors Club – Adrian J. Walker*

IN THE END OF THE WORLD RUNNING CLUB EDGAR HILL RAN 550 MILES AFTER AN APOCALYPSE TO TRY AND FIND HIS FAMILY. HE HAD IT EASY. THIS IS HIS WIFE’S STORY.

Beth Hill has survived the apocalypse with a baby and toddler in tow. And what’s more she’s done it alone – without her husband’s help. He’s never been any help. But when disaster strikes and someone steals her kids, she knows what she has to do. The new world might be very different: no government, no law, no infrastructure and a whole lot more ocean than there used to be. But one thing hasn’t changed – the lengths a mother will go to save her family…

Adrian J Walker was born in the bush suburbs of Sydney, Australia in the mid ‘70s. After his father found a camper van in a ditch, he renovated it and moved his family back to the UK, where Adrian was raised. Ever since he can remember, Adrian has been interested in three things: words, music and technology, and when he graduated from the University of Leeds, he found a career in software. His novel The End of the World Running Club, a post-apocalyptic running fable about hope, love and endurance, was a Simon Mayo Radio 2 book club choice. He lives in Aberdeen with his wife and two children.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read the previous book in this series but I didn’t feel hugely like I needed to have done in order to read this book.

Beth is a slightly irritating character, or at least I found her to be so at the beginning, it’s only when it all goes horribly wrong and she has to find some allies and actually do something that I grew to like her a little.

I really loved certain bits of this book, like the floating garbage dump that had become a home for some of the survivors that Beth encounters.

Bits of the book are quite dark and violent, like pretty much any post-apocalyptic narrative. But there are little moments of humour and levity throughout.

From the way the book ends I imagine there’s going to be another in this series, it’ll be interesting to see which character steers the plot from this point.

*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: Burning Ambition & Takeaway Terror – B.L Faulkner*

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Cases 7 & 8 from the DCS Palmer and the Serial Murder Squad series. In Burning ambition an organised crime gang leader wants one last big heist as a signature to his career. He chooses the Royal Mint in Wales. But other criminals have learnt of this planned heist and want ‘in’. The answer is ‘no’ but the arguments develope into murders which brings in Palmer and his team. Will they be in time to stop the job and prevent any more murders?

In Takeaway Terror two organised crime families fight over the lucrative London West End drugs trade. Are the fast food delivery lads on their mopeds delivering more than takeaways? Why have three been killed by a hit and run driver? Old school gangsters go to war with an incoming foreign drugs lord family. Palmer needs to get inside, but once inside will he get out? alive?

B Faulkner Author picture .jpg

Barry Faulkner was born into a family of petty criminals in Herne Hill, South London. His father, uncles and older siblings ran with the Richardson Crime family from time to time. At this point we must point out that he did not follow in that family tradition although the characters he met and their escapades he witnessed have added a certain authenticity to his books. He attended the first ever comprehensive school in the UK, William Penn in Peckham and East Dulwich, where he attained no academic qualifications other than GCE ‘O’ level in Art and English and a Prefect’s badge (though some say he stole all three!)
His mother was a fashion model and had great theatrical aspirations for young Faulkner and pushed him into auditioning for the Morley Academy of Dramatic Art at the Elephant and Castle, where he was accepted but only lasted three months before being asked to leave as no visible talent had surfaced. Mind you, during his time at the Academy he was called to audition for the National Youth Theatre by Trevor Nunn – fifty years later, he’s still waiting for the call back!
His early writing career was as a copywriter with the advertising agency Erwin Wasey Ruthrauff & Ryan in Paddington, during which time he got lucky with some light entertainment scripts sent to the BBC and Independent Television and became a script editor and writer on a freelance basis, working on most of the LE shows of the 1980-90s. During that period, while living out of a suitcase in UK hotels for a lot of the time, he filled many notebooks with DCS Palmer case plots; and in 2015 he finally found time to start putting them in order and into book form. Six are finished and published so far, with more to come. He hopes you enjoy reading them as much as he enjoyed writing them. If you do read one please leave a review as your comments are very much appreciated.
You can find out more about Barry Faulkner and the real UK major heists and robberies, including the Brinks Mat robbery and the Hatton Garden Heist; plus the gangs and criminals that carried them out, including the Krays and the Richardsons, on his crime blog at http://www.geezers2016.wordpress.com. Faulkner also regularly gives illustrated talks on that era to WI and other social clubs. barryfaulkner1@btopenworld.com for details.

 

My thoughts:

They don’t make criminals like they used to. The ‘faces’ in these stories hearken back to a time of gangsters and heists that you just don’t really get anymore, which makes sense when you learn about the author’s background. He knew some of the most infamous criminals in London history.

I really enjoyed these two novella length stories – DCS Palmer and his team of two (plus a few others drafted in) know the score and combining Palmer’s old school boots on the street policing with Gheeta Singh’s IT wizardry means taking down the bad guys has never looked so easy.

With a direct no-nonsense tone to match Palmer’s character, these stories crackle along, towing you in their wake. You know they’re going to get the bad guys, but how many bodies can they rack up before the cuffs are on?

Definitely for fans of British crime writing and especially for those of you who never miss a Martina Cole as these fit alongside, but from the copper’s perspective, not the con’s.

Burning Ambition BT Poster .jpg

 

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, however all opinions remain my own.

healthy, life

My breast cancer scare

I’ve gone back and forth on writing this, it’s a thing I want to share because it’s important but also it’s a period of time that I found very stressful and a bit scary, which is hard to write about.

Last year in the midst of wedding planning and a period of increased medical stress (thanks chronic illness) I found a lump in my left armpit, right next to my boob.

After worrying about it all weekend I rang the GP and after explaining to the arsey receptionist why I was calling for an on-the-day appointment, I got one immediately. Funny that.

My now husband was on annual leave so he drove me to the surgery, which was a big support as I was extremely anxious about the lump. My anxiety disorder can be triggered and added to when it comes to health issues so I was a bit of a walking disaster. Luckily I didn’t have to sit in the waiting room too long worrying and I saw a female GP (most surgeries will let you request a woman doctor, I didn’t specifically but it does made it a little more comfortable).

The exam required me to take off my top and bra, which I expected, and the doctor carried out a visual check and then a manual one. It wasn’t remotely embarrassing as she was very straightforward and put me at my ease. Once I was re-dressed we had a chat about her opinion and the next steps.

She said that she didn’t think it was a tumour but wanted it scanned at the breast clinic just in case. She explained that doctors are told to think the texture of a tumourous lump is the difference between the collagen of your nose (somewhat soft) and your skull (very hard) when pressed. Which is a useful tip for when checking your breasts. Although I highly recommend getting any and all strange lumps and other changes checked, just in case.

I was referred to the breast clinic at my local hospital to be seen by a specialist and have an ultrasound scan to see what was going on.

The clinic was on a Sunday, in a mostly deserted section of the hospital mainly used for various daily clinics, which was slightly creepy; walking through the empty corridors looking for the area reserved for this particular clinic.

There were a few women sat in the waiting area, all ages and races, because cancer doesn’t discriminate. The doctor carried out a similar exam as the GP and sent me off to the ultrasound department (I wish I’d downloaded a step counter just for this appointment as I walked the length of the hospital and back).

The nurse in the ultrasound room was really nice, explaining how to lie comfortably on the scanning bench with my arm tucked under my head. She draped a piece of blue tissue over my chest to preserve some modesty (although by this point several doctors had seen my breasts and I really wasn’t bothered). The doctor came in and carried out the scan then told me to wipe off the gel and get dressed. I walked back through the hospital to the breast clinic and get the results.

Thankfully it was all clear, the doctor thought the lump was more likely to be a swollen lymph node, which happens every now and then and goes away by itself. She told me I’d done the right thing in getting it checked out as it’s better to do and so and it be nothing, than leave it and find out too late that it’s something to worry about.

So ladies (and gents, and people who don’t identify as either) please check your breast tissue (and testicles if that’s relevant), go to your cervical screening or prostate exam. Look after your body, get to know it and recognise when things are wrong.

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