blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Catalyst – Tracy Richardson*

Dallas, TX – There is more to this world than meets the eye in science fiction author Tracy Richardson’s newest installment in her young adult series, Catalyst.

The story features returning characters from the series’ first book, The Field, but centers on Marcie, who has a sixth sense. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained – an intuition that extends beyond normalcy. This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee.

The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds – something Marcie knows, only vaguely, that her brother has also had experience with.

Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken. She and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

“[Catalyst is] based in present-time Earth dealing with the real issues we face while also exploring the possibilities of what and who might be out ‘there’ and what our relationship with them can be,” said Richardson. “It also explores our evolution as a species.” Inspired by a desire to protect and sustain the planet, Richardson wrote Catalyst not only to entertain readers but to encourage them to think. “We can make the world a better place,” Richardson also said. “We don’t have to go with the status quo. Each and every one of us can be a catalyst for positive change.”

TRACY RICHARDSON wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shapedher life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents.

Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, orcooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and, in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the Indianapolis 500.

My thoughts:

I agree with the underlying message of the book – our planet needs us to save it. The book was interesting – I got a bit confused by the whole Universal Energy Field, psychic beings part of it – mostly because this isn’t really in my wheelhouse but it added a different dynamic to the environmental angle and the archeological dig the characters are working on.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Singapore Killer – Murray Bailey*

A helicopter crash results in the pilot and a military policeman burned to death. It’s unclear what they were doing, but this was no accident and the name BlackJack is found at the scene.

Ash Carter knew that the Special Investigations Branch were tracking a killer, and when a faceless body is found in Perak, and he loses contact with the SIB, he races to north-east Malaya to help. There Carter discovers a mysterious town that the locals won’t talk about.

With no sign of his contact and a mounting body count, Carter is drawn into a dark case from which there seems no escape.

Murray Bailey got his first taste of success when he was published in the Times at 18 and in his local newspaper. Although he went on to pursue a different career, he continued to write and edit and became the editor of an international magazine and editor of 4 technical books. His first work of fiction, I Dare You, was published in 2016 and The Lost Pharaoh continues the ancient Egyptian story glimpsed in Map of the Dead and is his ninth title. Murray was born in Greater Manchester, England and has being moving south ever since. He now lives on the beautiful Dorset coast with his wife and family.

Q and A

Q: What was the inspiration for Singapore Killer?

A: The whole series was inspired by my father who was a military policeman in Singapore during the 1950s.

Q: What prompted you to start writing the Singapore Series?

A: I read a Lee Child novel and thought: I can do that. I have a character and an exotic setting – plus the seeds for a plot. However I subsequently found it harder than I expected.

Q: How much research did you do before starting?

A: I took my dad to Singapore for his 75th birthday. He thought it was a holiday but I never stopped asking questions. I’ve been again since. I’ve and also been to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, both of which feature in the series.

Q: So no further research as you work?

A: Lots of research! I have a number of good reference books for the period including a fabulous one full of photographs. Of course I use the internet, but I also have a few readers who can also be called upon to help.

Q: Singapore Killer is book 5. Can it be read as a stand-alone?

A: I hope so. It’ll help to read them in order, but it really shouldn’t matter.

Q: Will there be a sixth book?

A: Yes, it’s called Singapore Fire, and it will be the last of the series. However Ash Carter may well appear in Hong Kong if he does resurface.

Q: Map of the Dead which had flashbacks to ancient Egypt, was an Amazon best seller. Your dad didn’t inspire that one?

A: No. One of my hobbies is Egyptology. Reviews have compared the stories to Dan Brown and Preston & Child, although I think the flashback/sub plot to ancient Egypt makes mine distinctive.

Q: You’ve had three ancient Egypt based stories published so far, are there plans for more?

A: There is a standalone which is the story of the character in the flashbacks. The other two are part of a trilogy. I’m hoping to complete Code of the Dead fir publication next year.

Q: What tips would you give to an aspiring writer?

A: Just write. Edit, listen to feedback and try and improve. However be true to yourself and your style.

Q: If you could pick the three best books in your chosen genre, what would they be?

A: I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes; The Woods by Harlan Coben, and; The Last Child by John Hart.

Q: How much time do you spend writing each day?

A: It varies a lot because I do other work as well, but writing and research probably add up to four hours a day on average. However I don’t write at weekends because that’s family time.

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

A: I’m fairly well-travelled, both for work and pleasure, but I also love home. I live close to the beautiful Jurassic Coast of England and as long as I can also travel, I have the best of both worlds.

Q: You didn’t always live on the south coast.

A: My family originate from Manchester, where I was born. However I lived in numerous places in England before settling about 7 years ago.

Q: Which has been the hardest book you’ve written?

A: Always my next one. Code of the Dead has required a lot of research both modern day and historically.

Q: Which of your books is your favourite?

A: That’s difficult. I think it’s either Singapore Killer or Secrets of the Dead (this is being renamed Sign of the dead for a re-launch later this year).

Q: What was the first story novel you wrote?

A: When I was a teenager I wrote a kids book. I’m not sure what happened to it!

Q: What was your first taste of success as a writer?

A: If you count journalism, then I would say having an article published by the Times when I was 18. Otherwise it wasn’t until I wrote the first version of Singapore 52. It was originally called The Jin Deception and won a competition to be reviewed by Harper Collins. The result was a total rewrite!

Q: Why didn’t you go into journalism?

A: Maths and physics was more my thing back then and I wanted a career that would pay well. Years later, I edited a magazine for a year which gave me enough experience to know that I’d made the right decision.

Q: Would you write full time if you could?

A: I’m not sure. I have a fantastic work-life balance, where I consider writing to be work. Whatever I do, I ensure I get plenty of family time.

Q: Map of the Dead had a treasure hunt embedded within the story. Has the golden pyramid been won and are you planning any more hunts?

A: Yes the pyramid has been won. It took up far too much of my time and detracted from my writing. It’s spawned a story idea involving reassure hunters though, so expect that in a couple of years. Would I do it again? Never say never.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?

A: Getting feedback from readers. If I entertained them, then it makes me happy. It’s an odd motivation when I try to rationalise it, but it’s more important than the satisfaction of completing a story. And definitely more important than financial reward.

Q: Have you attended any courses in creating writing.

A: After my early failures, I did an online course and a two-day one. The thing that helped the most was learning to structure the story. Understanding the traditional stages and thinking about story arcs.

Q: Your stories are all different—even within a series. But do you use the Twelve Steps or Snowflake approach?

A: I think about structure but I don’t let it dominate the story. I hate it when a writer seems to follow a formula or a story is too linear. My aim is to surprise my readers. Hopefully I achieve it.

Q: What was the best advice you received as a writer?

A: To set my book aside after the first draft and only return to it when I’d almost forgotten the story. That way I aim to edit my story like I’m reading it for the first time. Because I have a number of projects on the go, I can forget the story detail reasonably quickly! And the older I get the faster I seem to forget it.

Q: Do you have any routines when you sit down to write?

A: Not really. The main thing is that I don’t procrastinate. If I’m not sure of how the next scene works, I don’t fret about it, I just write. I can cut it out or edit it later.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block?

A: Again, not really. It’s usually because the story doesn’t progress correctly. I either work on another project or jump to a later chapter. The most fun I had was writing Singapore Killer. I was about 2/3rds through when the sequence of events didn’t seem quite right. So I jumped to the end and wrote the last chapter (which I hope you like!) then worked backwards chapter by chapter. It soon became clear that I needed an extra day so that everything could happen without feeling crammed in—and to give BlackJack enough time.

Q: Can you give us a teaser for Singapore Fire?

A: In the first book, Carter falls for Su Ling, the niece of the criminal gang. However the relationship doesn’t work because they are on different sides of the track. In the final book, they plan to escape from Yipp—although it’s not as straightforward as they hope. A few other loose ends also get tied up, but that’s as much as I’ll say.

The Ash Carter series

  1. Singapore 52

New Year 1952. Ash Carter is coerced into working for the Singapore government. Both political and military tensions are high. The great fear is that the “war” in Malaya will spill over onto the island and that Chinese Communists are plotting against the government. Carter is tasked to uncover the plan. Meanwhile he has his own personal agenda. He wants to find out who killed his friend.

  1. Singapore Girl

A grisly discovery. When a headless body is found on the causeway, Ash Carter is called upon to investigate. He needs to find out if this is just another drug-war punishment or something more. The investigation soon gets shut down. But he knows it’s not over. And it’s not in his nature to quit.

  1. Singapore Boxer

Undercover agent. Ash Carter joins a private protection force in Malaya. He thinks he’s investigating a missing person, but locals are dying. Amid intrigue, deceit and deception, will Carter uncover the truth before it’s too late?

  1. Singapore Ghost

Bad spirits in Penang. Ash Carter has a job that seems beneath him: babysit a newspaper reporter. She’s investigating ghost stories at the Penang barracks but it’s Carter’s past that is back to haunt him. Stuck between the two criminal organisations, Carter must find a solution and put the ghosts to rest.

  1. Singapore Killer – to be released 1 June 2020

Who is BlackJack? Ash Carter knew that the Special Investigations Branch were tracking a killer, and when a faceless body is found he’s drawn into the case. As the body count racks up, Carter realizes he’s also a target and no longer knows who he can trust.

  1. Singapore Fire – to be released early 2021

The Endgame: Ash Carter is in love, but Su Ling is inextricably linked to Andrew Yipp, the head of the biggest Chinese Secret Society in Singapore. Political tensions are high and the Secretary for Internal Security tasks Carter to find evidence against Yipp. Fail to do so and Su Ling will be arrested and charged.

Once again caught between the government and the criminal gangs, it’s time for Carter to choose. Escape now or stand and fight?

My thoughts:

This a fast paced thriller, taking us deep into the jungle as Ash Carter pursues the mysterious BlackJack and starts to uncover a conspiracy and criminal enterprise taking place under the authorities’ noses.

I hadn’t read the previous books in the series before reading this one, and I don’t think I suffered for it, there’s enough back story to explain Carter’s skills and reasons for being in Singapore, while not just repeating the previous stories. A lot happens very quickly, but not in a way that’s confusing – rather the plot hooks you and speeds you along as the investigation heats up and Carter becomes a target.

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

blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Steel Hand, Cold Heart – Rachel Menard

SteelHand

I’m so excited to announce an amazing giveaway event in honor of Steel Hand, Cold Heart by Rachel Menard! Read on for book details, an excerpt and a link to the event!

STEEL_HAND_COVER_w_AwardSteel Hand, Cold Heart

Publication Date: July 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Adventure/ Vikings

On the island of Helvar, women rule. Sixteen-year-old Carina has trained for most of her life to belong to the coveted Daughters of Hel, the steel-handed Viking warriors who provide souls to the Death Goddess in exchange for the prosperity of their island. Gaining her place hasn’t been easy. She was not borne of the island, but another spoil from another raid, raised by the island Chieftain. There are many who would see her fail, and on her first raid, she does. She doesn’t kill a priestess she should have.

Carina needs to prove her worth or risk losing her place. Before she can, her arch-nemesis drugs her wine and sends her off the isle as a captive of three foreign boys. But what is Carina’s greatest misfortune may turn out to be her greatest gift. The young men are taking her to the jewel of the Southern Isles – Fortis Venitis, a place no other Daughter of Hel can venture. Carina can place Hel’s claims on the Southern isle and return to Helvar with the spoils, a victor.

However there are many obstacles to pass before she reaches her goal. Like her rune stone that everyone keeps trying to steal, the mismatched pirates from a country that no longer exists, and the priest with his poison that melts flesh from bones. But the most dangerous obstacle of all are the odd feelings she’s developing for her victims, especially the knife-thieving captain Nik. That could make it difficult for her to kill him in the end.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

They called me Carina the Unstoppable. No, the name did not render men to terror like Merciless Merle, nor did it inspire awe like Dagna the Destroyer, or command attention like Odda Ironfist. But the moniker was mine. I earned it for the many times I had been knocked flat on the training grounds or limped on bleeding limbs to finish a fight. It was how I earned my place as one of Hel’s Daughters, the Hand of Death Herself.

I leaned over the rails of our longboat, Jörmungandr, aptly named because the figurehead was carved in the image of the giant sea serpent, wriggling its way through the water east toward Frisia. A strong wind held our mainsail, and we bobbed back and forth on gentle waves. These smooth waters were a blessing from the sea giant, Aegir. He approved of our quest, speeding us along our last raid of the season, the last offering to Hel before the long winter.

This was the Daughters’ last raid of the season but my first. I could hardly contain my excitement. I wanted to be there already, to see the villagers’ faces when we arrived on their shore in droves. When we offered their blood to the Goddess Hel.

I curled my steel fingers into a fist. On the eve of my initiation, Thora warned me attaching my steel hand would hurt. Her exact words were, “It feels like cutting your fingers off one by one and pissing in the wound.” Vidar warmed the steel gauntlet in the coals until it glowed sunset red, and I grit my teeth as he slid the molten metal over my fingers. The steel hand burned through flesh and muscle until the metal touched bone. My eyes had watered. A violent scream had gathered in my chest.

I held it back. I didn’t have the luxury of showing weakness, and once the hand was seared to my fingers, I belonged to Hel. She who bears the steel hand has the Goddess’s blessing to take life. That was three months ago. It took that long for my hand to heal, to become useful again

Amazon

Giveaway Details

Goodreads Giveaway Event!

Set sail for adventure, romance and cross-dressing on an epic Viking-inspired journey! 

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 50 digital Kindle copes of STEEL HAND, COLD HEART, Grand Prize Winner of the 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards! Winners will be selected at random, and their prize will be sent directly to their Kindle device. Giveaway is open from May 15, 2020 through June 14, 2020.

About the Author

Rachel_Menard

Rachel Menard earned her degree in marketing from ASU, during which time her work was featured in the university paper and her own, self-published punk zine, Chelsea. Her short fiction has been featured in the New England Speculative Writers’ Anthology, The Final Summons and on Cast of Wonders. Most recently, her self-published YA fantasy novel won the Grand Prize in the 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book awards. For more of her writings and ramblings, visit http://www.rachelmenard.com.\

Rachel Menard | Twitter | Instagram 

Book Blitz Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Babysitter – Phoebe Morgan*


Who knew her secret? And what happened that night?

‘I loved it, those twists!’ B A Paris, Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors and The Dilemma

‘A cracking page-turner’ Cara Hunter, Sunday Times bestselling author of All the Rage

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is left draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.

Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.

As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline.

What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

My thoughts:

So I totally got the guilty party wrong when reading this and playing guess the murderer, the twists at the end were very clever, and the title suggests the babysitter as the villain not the victim so I was wrong footed from the start, which shows just how good Phoebe Morgan is at what she does.

This was a cracking read, lots of red herrings and turns, really, really good stuff. I’m not sure what more I can say really!

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Rules – Kerry Barnes*

Holed up in prison, Mike Regan is offered a deal – his freedom in exchange for his firm taking down the gang that is supplying a new dangerous drug that has hit the streets. What starts as a game soon becomes a shocking revelation with devastating consequences.

Meanwhile, Mike’s fiancé, Zara Ezra, has her own firm to run. But when the so-called Governor is out to take her down, she has her own decision to make – either fight, run, or write her own rule book…

My thoughts:

If you like the gangsters are the heroes genre of thrillers, then you’ve probably already heard of Kerry Barnes.

Rather than a police procedural this book is on the other side of the tracks and the bad guys make the rules.

An enjoyable romp through a London that most people wouldn’t recognise,of gangs and guns, is at heart about people. And people can be messy and complicated, even while trying to rise to the top and stay alive.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Music From Another World – Robin Talley*

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organises anti-gay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others — like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mum — and the kind she tells herself. But as anti-gay fervour in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

My thoughts:

umm, where was this book when I was a teenager trying to figure my stuff out?

With a soundtrack of punk and Patti Smith, the letters and diary entries that comprise this amazing book are so real and full of heart and angst and I would not be a teenager again if you paid me!

Sharon and Tammy are trying to find their places in the world, while the world seems determined to stop them. From Tammy’s controlling aunt, to the very politics of the time (Harvey Milk is running his first campaign), there’s a lot to take a stand against. But also a lot to stand for.

I loved the descriptions of Sharon’s punk gigs and the feminist bookshop and Tammy’s awful church meetings.

This book has an enormous amount of heart and wears it proudly on its sleeve.

Reading this as we head into Pride month (June in the UK) makes me miss the celebrations more as events have been cancelled due to the current lockdown, and this feels like an antidote to that.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: After Darkness – J.F. Johns*

Year 2160

RULE #.1

Humans AND Cyborgs are prohibited from communicating in any shape or form with each other.

RULE #.2

Curfew is from 12 p.m until 7.30 a.m

Applicable to ALL citizens, humans AND cyborgs.

RULE #.3

All propaganda against the government, written or verbal is a crime.

RULE #.4

All the above laws if broken are punishable by death.

WELCOME TO THE NATION

Are you ready?

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J.F.Johns is 27 years old and was born and raised in Spain. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at ARU in Cambridge, UK.

She won the Indie Book Awards 2017 for best book written by an author under the age of 25, and was a finalist for best book cover with her novel Eternal Darkness.

She’s an animal lover, and spends her free time playing with her adopted dog and rescued cat, drinking too much coffee and posting book photos on her Instagram.

She believes in the art of dramatic sighing and eye rolling. She works as a ninja, but has been told several times that she’s not very good at her job.

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Giveaway – win a copy of Johns’ debut novel Eternal Darkness

The world is divided between humans and cyborgs.

Scarlet Lock is neither.

She is a soldier created to kill on command. But her memory has been erased and when she awakens in a government facility she soon discovers that this new world is a dangerous place, full of government secrets and cruel experiments performed in the name of progress.

With the help of a group of cyborgs, Scarlet will fight to uncover the truth and transform the future of the new world she now lives in.

Eternal Darkness is full of suspense, action and romance and will make readers question what it means to be human.

Enter here

My thoughts:

Although this book starts a series loosely connected to the author’s previous trilogy, you don’t have to have read those books to follow this one.

Cyborgs were once exiled from the world of humans but now they have returned but the law forbids humans and cyborgs from interacting or even acknowledging the other exists, so when Terra starts dreaming about a cyborg in need of her help and then sees him in waking life, she is determined to try to find out who he is.

The secrets she learns will change her forever.

I thought this book’s concept was interesting, I found Terra a bit whiny and annoying at times, and the cyborgs were definitely more interesting as characters; there’s a lot of back story there.

I did feel the battle against the Big Bad was over and done with quite quickly, and bits felt a bit rushed, which was a shame as other parts could have been shorter and given the plot more room to stretch out.

Overall this was a good read, although all dystopian fiction these days feels a bit too real at times, I liked the idea of the cyborgs and the Destroyer, the creepy twins not so much.

If you like your dystopia quirky and not plague related, then you should give this a read.

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