blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Shell Collector – Robert Lyons*

1973: the year of the oil crisis, the secondary banking collapse, the three day working week and the collapse of the stock market. In a riotous ride through the City of London we meet the characters and events that filled the social and City pages of the press in that roller-coaster year.

Guy Magnus, an ambitious young share dealer, makes a daring takeover bid in the face of opposition from the City Establishment. Will he follow their rules, or his own: never to fall in love with a deal? Will he come to repent his challenge to the powers-that-be? Is Guy’s story fiction or fact? Was a Norfolk Broads canal boat really moored in the marina of Monte Carlo? Did a Henry Moore sculpture really become the most expensive work of art in the world? And did a bet for a lunch at Maxim’s for the first to make a million, Guy or his friend and rival Harry Griffin, bring a merchant bank to the verge of collapse?

THE SHELL COLLECTOR tells a cautionary tale of the City when its buccaneering spirit was at a peak. Whether true or false, it is never less than entertaining.

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Born in Leeds and educated at Rugby School and Oxford University, Robert Lyons spent seventeen years working for retailing conglomerate UDS Group plc., starting as a door-to door credit salesman in Glasgow before rising to run the parent company’s property management and development operations at its London head office. In 1974, he spent three months at the Harvard Business School on its Program for Management Development. On returning to London, he was appointed to the Group board, and to the board of Allders Department Stores, of which he became chairman in 1979. In 1983 the UDS Group was taken over by Hanson Trust plc, and Lyons left corporate life behind to move into property investment. Married with two children and six grandchildren, Lyons has lived in Highgate, north London, since 1968.

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My thoughts:

Do I understand how the stock market wworks? No. Did I enjoy this book? Yes.

Eminently readable despite all the financial terms and the buying and selling, this story of two friends raking in a somewhat unstable fortune on the trading floor, pulling off bigger and bigger investments and sales was really enjoyable.

The title refers to Roman emperor Caligula, famously thought to be completely bonkers, imploring his guards to gather shells, claiming they were priceless treasure.

In a way that’s what Guy is doing, gathering in worthless companies and offloading them on gullible people.

It’s a all a bit Wall Street esque but set in the City of London, once the world’s trading centre. The author’s own history in the world of finance and big business lends an authority to his fluid writing and the interesting and somewhat comic figures Guy and Harry encounter make this a very fascinating read.

Win a copy of this book!

Head over to Twitter and follow the instructions on my pinned tweet. Open to UK, US and Canada readers.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Bloodlust & Bonnets – Emily McGovern*

Georgette Heyer meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this smart, funny graphic novel by Emily McGovern, the award-winning author of My Life as a Background Slytherin.

The year is 1820, and bored young debutante Lucy knows there must be more to life than embroidery and engagements – no matter how eligible the bachelor might be. Some bachelors, she has discovered, are less ‘eligible’ than they are ‘bloodthirsty,’ however… literally.

It turns out that there are a lot of vampires in late-Regency England, and Lucy has an eye for spotting them and the desire to rid the world of them. It’s not long before Lady Violet Travesty, leader of a mysterious vampire cult, spots Lucy’s talents and offers her a place amongst her vampire acolytes.

Unfortunately, Lady Violent is most horribly slain by the famous Lord Byron before Lucy can accept. Lucy instead joins Lord Byron and his enormous, psychic eagle Napoleon in their ongoing fight against evils such as bloodsucking ghouls and bad taste.

Before long they’re joined by the mysterious Sham, an androgynous bounty hunter, who catches Lucy’s eye. The trio lie, flirt, fight and manipulate each other as they make their way across Britain, disrupting society balls, slaying vampires, and making every effort not to betray their feelings to each other as their personal and romantic lives become increasingly entangled.

A balm for the soul for readers who love Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, novels by Eloisa James and Jane Austen, and the action and adventure of Xena, Warrior Princess, Bloodlust & Bonnets is the most modern action-heavy love-story set two hundred years ago that you’ll read this year.

Emily was born in the UK but grew up in Brussels, where she attended the European School of Brussels II. After graduating, she began a Foundation Art Diploma course at London College of Fashion. She studiously avoided any fashion, and instead spent her time making hand-drawn animations and weird paintings of witches.

She began a BA degree in Russian Studies at University College London and spent a year in Russia working in a rural commune, where she ran a weekly art “gathering” for the kids. The year abroad allowed her to go to many Russian art galleries, which were a revelation to her – artists such as Vereshchagin and Vasnetsov she found influenced her greatly.

She graduated with First Class Honours and by 2016 was building a comic driven social media platform based around the regular posting of her ‘My Life As A Background Slytherin’ comic. Bloodlust & Bonnets is her first graphic novel.

From the author’s website

My thoughts:

This is hilarious, brilliant and just this side of utterly ridiculous. Lord Byron, in possibly his most sympathetic role ever, is a complete buffoon and the vampires are fairly hopeless. Napoleon the psychic eagle is the best character – trust me.

Even my grumpy husband loved it.

*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: False Prophet – James Hazel*

False Prophet by [Hazel, James]

A secret buried for two thousand years. 
The rise of an ancient evil.
An invisible killer who will stop at nothing. 

When a brutal serial killer defies all known methods, the police call in prolific lawyer and former homicide detective, Charlie Priest, to assist the hunt.

Working together they soon discover a link to a lost scripture that contains a secret so devastating that its custodians are prepared to die to keep it.

Tangled in a dark world of fanaticism, chaos and deadly secrets, Priest comes up against a nemesis more formidable and deranged than any he has previously encountered.

There is no Judgement Day. There is something far worse.

 

My thoughts:

I remember reading the first Charlie Priest book when it came out, but I don’t remember it being as gripping as this one. Possibly because the author is more confident in his writing, I was completely hooked. It’s not often I find myself so involved with a book I tell my husband to go away!

Priest and his team are tracking a mysterious serial killer, there’s a missing Dead Sea Scroll that paints the story of Noah’s Ark as something much darker and fanatics that will do anything to fulfil a mission they believe is from God.

It might be my background as a Sunday School teacher and a theology student, that means I’m maybe a little more intrigued than most by the idea of Apocryphal scriptures, stories the editors didn’t include in the Bible as we know it, and religious fanaticism; the fact the Bible is so open to interpretation makes it quite dangerous, but I found the use of symbology and mythology dating back thousands of years really interesting.

I think this is one for reading when you have a good solid chunk of time, and not possibly, on your commute to work, as you might just miss your stop!

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: In The Absence of Miracles – Michael J. Malone*

In this powerful new thriller, Michael J Malone returns to A Suitable Lie territory, movingly and perceptively addressing a shocking social issue.

Chilling, perceptive and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home. Following a massive stroke, she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

In a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about.

A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash.

And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence…

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers.

Other published work includes Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight.

His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit.

A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

My thoughts: this book goes to some dark places, twisted and cruel people emerge as John Docherty tries to uncover the truth about his unknown brother and his own past.

It’s a gripping, rollercoaster of a thriller, something that at first seems fairly formulaic that then opens up in a much larger, shocking series of terrible crimes and cruelties. What John and his younger brother Chris uncover goes far beyond a missing child.

I think there must be something in Scottish air that creates crime writers; some of the very best in British crime fiction are Scots. And Michael Malone’s writing is up there with Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.

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

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*

Truth Hurts Cover Image .jpg

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?

Rebecca Reid Author Pic.jpg

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.

Truth Hurts BT Poster .jpg

 

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