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: 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: A Modern Family – Helga Flatland*

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce. Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history. A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

I found this study of a family quietly splintering very intriguing. Spilt into sections narrated by each of the adult siblings, you get different emotions and reactions, often not quite how they are seen by their siblings.

Liv is deeply affected by her parents’ decision and finds herself unable to move forward, desperate to keep everything as it was.

Ellen has a high powered job but nurses her own quiet desperation and longing, clinging to a relationship in freefall.

Hakon appears the least affected, his beliefs in monogamy and love supported by his parents’ divorce, yet he too finds himself somewhat lost.

I would have liked a tiny section from each of the parents, just to see what was beneath as they’re filtered through their childrens’ perceptions.

I found it quietly compelling and surprised myself by how drawn to it I was.

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of the book in exchange for participating in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.

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Book Tour – Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsells 

Today I’m hosting a stop on the book tour for this new fantasy novel. Read on to find out more.

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe. 
The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Iwan and Ashael meet and she invites him to stay in Oak Cam, neither of them realise that she is the one the Zanthar seek.  The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on Ashael’s shoulders.

Author details

Shona Kinsella is a fantasy author who lives near the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, in the west of Scotland. She is a member of the British Fantasy Society where she writes reviews of indie books. Shona has a degree in Law from the University of Strathclyde where she learned a lot about narrative structure.; everyone loves a story. 
Shona enjoys spending time outdoors and much of her writing is inspired by the environment that she lives in, at the edge of Scotland’s first national park. When she is not writing, she enjoys geocaching with her husband and children and reading as many books as she can get her hands on.

You can find out more about the book and Shona at the following places. 

Unbound  Facebook Author website

 Twitter Instagram

Just to get you in the mood to read the book, here’s an extract to get you going. Enjoy. 

“All-Mother, you who gave birth to the world, watch over this woman and her child, Bhearra prayed silently. She had lost the thread of the baby’s consciousness and was deeply worried. Soraya screamed as another contraction struck. Ashael wiped the pregnant woman’s face with a cloth dipped in cool water. Bres paced the room. It was mid-afternoon and Soraya was exhausted.

‘We’re almost there now, Soraya. Get ready to push.’ Bhearra squeezed Soraya’s hand, keeping her voice calm, trying not to show her concern. The poor woman was frightened enough. As the next contraction arrived, Soraya pushed as hard as she could, gripping Bhearra’s hands hard enough to press the old bones together, and the top of the baby’s head appeared.

‘I can’t. I can’t push anymore.’

‘One more and the head will be out, and then I can help you,’ Bhearra replied with a soothing voice. She pushed a little of her own energy into the woman before her. She had been doing this for some time now and did not have much more to spare. With the next contraction, the baby’s head was out, face white and lips blue. Bhearra soon saw why: the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Another contraction pushed a shoulder out while Soraya screamed, and Bhearra was able to get her fingers under the cord, pulling it slightly away from the baby’s neck. With quick, sure movements, Bhearra took the foraging knife attached to her belt and cut the cord, pulling the baby the rest of the way out with the next contraction. 

The baby had not yet taken a breath. Bhearra moved her out of view. She blew into the baby’s face then slapped her bottom. Still nothing. 

‘What’s happening? Is my baby alright?’ Soraya asked, gasping in exhaustion.

‘Ashael can help you with the afterbirth,’ answered Bhearra. ‘I’m just going to get the little one cleaned up.’ 

Bhearra moved towards the doorway as she spoke, Bres close behind. Speaking in a low voice, she told him what had happened. Bres looked back at his mate and began to weep silent tears.

‘Hush now. All is not lost.’ Bhearra held the baby before her then closed her eyes, once more stretching her senses out beyond her own body, searching for the lingering spirit of the baby. Nothing. Nothing… There! A spark of life floated nearby. The filidh breathed this spark in and then blew it gently toward the baby’s face. Nothing happened. Please, All-Mother.

The baby gasped and let out a great cry.

Bres fell to his knees and Soraya burst into tears. Bhearra gave a small smile, letting out a shaky breath as she moved over to Soraya and handed the baby to her.

‘You have a beautiful baby girl. What will you name her?’

‘Bhearrael. For the woman who brought her to us,’ Alayne answered.

‘Sirion bless you. You saved her life,’ Bres said. ‘How can we ever thank you?’

‘Nonsense; I didn’t save her. I just showed her the way home. She did the rest herself.” 

And as if that wasn’t enough – you could win a £20 Amazon giftcard and a copy of the book. All you have to do is click here.

books, reviews

Book Review – The Graces by Laure Eve

This was one of the books in my recent Illumicrate and the first one I read. 

Laure Eve wrote a letter included in each box that explained some of her influences – including the film The Craft (so good) but I also get a sense of The Heathers (also very good – I like my teen movies dark). 

The Graces seem to lead a charmed life and attract many devoted followers, but rumours still dog the family. Rumours about curses and terrible events. 

New girl in town, and our narrator, who calls herself River but never reveals her real name, is drawn to the three Graces – Summer and her older siblings’ twins Thalia and Fenrin. But she has secrets too and hers could ruin everything.

I really liked the writing and the clever narrative structure, hinting at things but keeping the big reveal till the end.  

I often say that YA writing is some of the most interesting, freer than adult literature to explore ideas and stories. And this is a great example of that. 

A sequel will be released in 2017, and I will be looking out for it.