blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hard Time – Jodi Taylor*

Team Weird are back causing havoc in the Time Police in this irresistible spin-off series by international bestseller Jodi Taylor, author of The Chronicles of St Mary’s. If you love Doctor Who, Ben Aaronovitch and Jasper Fforde, you’ll love the Time Police.
The Time Police do not have problems. They have challenges.
Idiots who want to change history have always proved ‘challenging’. But now temporal tourism is on the rise – highly illegal but highly lucrative. If you’re prepared to take the risk.
To face down this threat the Time Police will despatch their toughest undercover agents. Which is fine until the unthinkable happens. Replacements are needed fast and who better than three young officers who don’t even look the part?
Step forward Jane, Luke and Matthew. They may be about to graduate, but there’s still plenty of time for everything to go wrong. Throw in the Versailles time slip, a covert jump to Ancient Egypt and a race against Time itself and you’ve got yourself an assignment worthy of Team Weird.

My thoughts:

While my first love will always be St Mary’s chaos magnets, I do have a soft spot for the Time Police’s Team Weird. They might have some unconventional methods but they do, eventually, get things done. And are probably the reason Commander Hay has grey hairs, I imagine.

Once again, pinging up and down the timeline in an attempt to keep things happening as they should, and stopping illegal time travel, they get entangled in a dangerous conspiracy using time travel for nefarious purposes. Team Weird to the rescue!

St Mary’s makes a guest appearance but the Time Police series is pretty good on its own and I can only hope book three appears on my radar soon. Jodi Taylor is basically a benevolent evil genius.

*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: The Wolf and the Water – Josie Jaffrey*

Some secrets are worth killing for.
The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.

With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.

If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.

My thoughts:

Inspired by Plato’s account of the lost island of Atlantis and Ancient Greek society, this is a powerful and fascinating story of how one young woman finds the strength to survive in the face of tragedy and cruelty.

Considered by her awful stepfather as of less worth than the household slaves, she’s ignored and mistreated in the home she has always loved.

Finding the truth about her father’s death and then about their walled city give her purpose and courage. She can save everyone if only they’d listen. But there are forces conspiring against her – some close to home, and she isn’t sure who to trust.

A strong narrative and a truly fascinating protagonist make this a compelling and enjoyable read. I’m fascinated by the ancient world and this really draws upon the history and literature of that time, bringing it vividly to life.

*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: Shades of Deception – Jacqueline Jacques*

Walthamstow, 1902: Archie and his police sergeant pal Frank Tyrell investigate the disappearance of teenager Lilian and the discovery of a corpse in the River Lea – Eleanor ‘Nell’ Redfern.

Did her father’s ambitious plans to marry her to a rail magnate cause her to run away to her watery doom? And what about Lilian Steggles, a star swimmer with her eye on the 1908 Olympics – what prompted her to disappear from home and where is she now?

Archie uses his artistic skills to identify Nell and thence to track down her story and that of the other victims of a dastardly scheme to exploit young girls for the benefit of lascivious older men.

Jacqueline was born on Anglesey and brought up in Walthamstow, where many of her stories are set. She is a retired primary school teacher, now living in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. She has published three books with Piatkus – Someone to Watch Over Me, Wrong Way Up The Slide and A Lazy Eye. This is her fifth book for Honno, which combine her love of writing with her other interests: art and social history.

My thoughts:

This was a really enjoyable, though quite dark at times, historical crime novel. Archie is a police artist, but seems to be quite involved in the investigative side too.

Surrounded by smart women, from his mother to his daughter, he knows that the missing girls didn’t just dissolve into thin air and aims to solve every disappearance, even if it isn’t good news.

Smart, witty and full of heart, this was an inventive and engaging book, I think I might pick up the others in the series, despite their historical setting, these feel fresh and just as gripping as anything set in the 21st Century.

*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: The Wicked Oath – Michael L. Lewis*

A wicked conspiracy. A diabolical offer.

Survival: a matter of life or death!

Behind the walls of Blackleigh, a prestigious public boarding school in northern England, lurks wickedness and bullying. Those in power form a conspiracy to devise any means to expel certain boys. Surviving for their victims becomes a matter of life and death…

Jonathan Simon, in his second year, returns to school to find that ruthless prefects – Sleeth, Tunk and Miller – are in charge of his house. Things take a turn for the worse when the new Headmaster starts, and Jonathan and his friends are targeted.
As the pressure mounts, friendships become closer and scheming increases as unexpected revelations occur.

For Blackleigh, the year is just beginning…

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Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a
member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

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My thoughts:

I love boarding school stories, I don’t really know why, and this trilogy is very dark. You don’t have to have read The Oath (book one) to read this one, but it is also very good.

As Jonathan’s second year at Blackleigh, things have changed and now the nastiest bullies at the school have all the power. Their pledge to destroy Jonathan and his friends through cruelty and violence puts lives at risk.

But positive changes are coming too.

This book is dark and twisted, Sleeth and Tunk are violent, cruel and have no regard for anyone else. Their twisted interpretation of the school rules sees them met out extreme and disproportionate punishment.

Jonathan is a great character, resilient and kind, with a great inner strength and determination. He manages to find the good things in life, despite the horrors of the behaviour of the prefects.

I’m looking forward to reading the third book at some point and finding out how Jonathan’s school days end, and how the school changes with the new headmaster and the addition of female students.

*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: Winter Light – Martha Engber*

Mary Donahue of suburban Chicago is a kid on the cusp of failure during the brutal blizzard winter of 1978-79, the end of a hard luck, hard rock era sunk in the cynicabrutal blizzard winter of 1978-79, the end of a hard luck, hard rock era sunk in the cynical aftermath of the Vietnam War.

Though a smart, beautiful kid, she’s a motherless girl raised by an uneducated, alcoholic father
within an extended family of alcoholics and addicts. Aware that she’s sinking, she’s desperate to
save herself and so reaches out to anunlikely source, Kathleen, a nice, normal kid from English class.

But when the real storm hits, the full force of a harsh adult world almost buries Mary. Only then does she learn that the only difference between life and death is knowing when to grasp anextended hand.

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Martha Engber’s next novel, WINTER LIGHT, will be published Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press.

She’s also the author of THE WIND THIEF, a novel, and GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS FROM THE
GROUND UP. A journalist by profession, she’s written hundreds of articles for the Chicago Tribune
and other publications. She’s had a play produced in Hollywood and fiction and poetry published in
the Aurorean, Watchword, the Berkeley Fiction Review and other journals. She’s also a freelance editor, workshop facilitator and speaker.

She currently lives in Northern California with her husband, bike and surfboard.

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Giveaway to Win an e-copy of Winter Light (Open INT)

Giveaway to Win a Book Club Chat from Martha Engber (Open INT)

Giveaway to Win a free hour book development consultation with Martha Engber (Open INT)

My thoughts:

This is a heartbreaking book, poor Mary, with her dead mother, deadbeat drunk dad and useless older brothers, except Danny.

Failing through life, she meets and befriends Kathleen, who with her loving and intact family, is Mary’s opposite. Their friendship offers her a glimpse at a better life.

But tragedy enters Mary’s life again and she freefalls. Luckily Kathleen’s kind mother is still on her side and in the lowest reaches of her despair, Mary calls her.

This is sad, and at times, hard to read. Thankfully there is rescue there for Mary and she’s young enough that all the darkness can’t completely overwhelm her.

Moving and powerful, this is a striking and effective novel about love, trust and pain.

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

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blog tour, books

Book Blitz: A Painter in Penang – Clare Flynn

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she’s not gazing out of her windows at the sea.

Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.

Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World – 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea – World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River – post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories – both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.

Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Get a free copy of Clare’s exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at www.clareflynn.co.uk.

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blog tour, books

Cover Reveal: The Running Wolf – Helen Steadman

When a Prussian smuggler is imprisoned in Morpeth Gaol in the winter of 1703, why does Queen Anne’s powerful right-hand man, The Earl of Nottingham, take such a keen interest?

At the end of the turbulent 17th century, the ties that bind men are fraying, turning neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend and brother against brother. Beneath a seething layer of religious intolerance, community suspicion and political intrigue, The Running Wolf takes us deep into the heart of rebel country in the run-up to the 1715 Jacobite uprising.

Hermann Mohll is a master sword maker from Solingen in Prussia who risks his life by breaking his guild oaths and settling in England. While trying to save his family and neighbours from poverty, he is caught smuggling swords and finds himself in Morpeth Gaol facing charges of High Treason.

Determined to hold his tongue and his nerve, Mohll finds himself at the mercy of the corrupt keeper, Robert Tipstaff. The keeper fancies he can persuade the truth out of Mohll and make him face the ultimate justice: hanging, drawing and quartering. But in this tangled web of secrets and lies, just who is telling the truth?

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About the author

Helen Steadman lives in the foothills of the North Pennines and particularly enjoys researching and writing about the history of the North of England. Following her MA in creative writing at Manchester Met, Helen is now completing a PhD in English at the University of Aberdeen to determine whether a writer can use psycho-physical techniques to create authentic fictional characters.

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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Tudor Christmas Tidings – Blythe Gifford, Jenni Fletcher & Amanda McCabe*

Make Merry at Court… with three Tudor Christmas stories!

In Christmas at Court Sir John Talbot and Lady Alice’s secret betrothal must wait until Henry Tudor
claims the throne.

Next in Secrets of the Queen’s Lady the lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves isunexpectedly reunited with a handsome—younger—diplomat at the palace’s festivities!

And in His Mistletoe Lady Catherine seeks help from a mysterious Spaniard to free her father in time for
Christmas!

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Jenni Fletcher is from the north coast of Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire where she writes historical romance novels. She studied English at Cambridge University before doing a PhD on Edwardian literature & psychology at Hull. She has been nominated for 4 RoNA awards and won for Short Romantic Fiction in 2020. In her spare time she loves baking and, of course, reading.

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After many years in public relations, advertising, and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold to the Harlequin Historical line. Her books, set in the 14th to 17th centuries, typically incorporate real historical events and characters. The Chicago Tribune has called her work “the
perfect balance between history and romance.” Blythe lives and works along Chicago’s lakefront.

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Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as
the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not
her strongest subject…)

She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the
National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Santa Fe with a Poodle, a cat, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections.

When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.
Amanda also writes as Laurel McKee for Grand Central Publishing, the Elizabethan Mystery Series as Amanda Carmack, and the Manor Cat Mystery Series as Eliza Casey.

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My thoughts:

These three novellas in one are set at different points during the Tudor period, skipping from the very beginning of Henry Tudor’s reign, to his son’s fourth marriage (Katherine Howard, beheaded) and finally to Mary I’s court at its height.

The one thing that never changes is love, monarchs (and religions) might but the desire to find someone to kiss under the mistletoe (a much more recent tradition though that is) remains.

Each story centres on a couple revolving round the court, and there’s plenty of intrigue, politics, family loyalty and other machinations to keep it interesting. In an age where few could marry for love, can you ever fall and be able to make your own choice?

Perfect for curling up and dipping into in the warmth of your centrally heated home, a far cry from the Yule logs of Tudor England.


*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

Bookstagram Tour: Cane Warriors – Alex Wheatle*

Today I’m over on Instagram sharing my thoughts on a new book, so head over there and follow the tour!

Nobody free till everybody free.

Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . .

Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica, 1760.

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Alex Wheatle is the author of several acclaimed novels, many of them inspired by experiences from his childhood. He was born in Brixton to Jamaican parents, and spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children’s home. Following a short stint in prison following the Brixton uprising of 1981, he wrote poems and lyrics and became known as the Brixtonbard. Alex has been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008.

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My thoughts:

This slim volume contains a powerful and moving story, based on real historical events and people.

Despite a lot of my school friends and classmates having Jamaican parents and grandparents, the history of the island, and of the Caribbean in general, don’t really appear on the curriculum – apart from briefly being mentioned in the British Empire bit sometimes.

This is a shame because it means that children are being denied their own history, and the rest of the class an understanding of the trauma handed down from slavery’s legacy.

It’s been left to talented writers, like Alex Wheatle, to correct this and fill in the gaps in our history. This book should be on all schools’ reading lists, packing a punch that will make you angry and sad, at the cruelty and horror inflicted on millions of people.


*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: The Slaughter of Leith Hall – Lexie Conyngham*

‘See, Charlie, it might be near twenty year since Culloden, but there’s plenty hard feelings still amongst the Jacobites, and no so far under the skin, ken?’

Charlie Rob has never thought of politics, nor strayed far from his Aberdeenshire birthplace. But when John Leith of Leith Hall takes him under his wing, his life changes completely. Soon he is far from home, dealing with conspiracy and murder, and lost in a desperate hunt for justice.

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Lexie Conyngham is a historian living in the shadow of the Highlands. Her historical crime novels are born of a life amidst Scotland’s old cities, ancient universities and hidden-away aristocratic estates, but she has written since the day she found out that people were allowed to do such a thing. Beyond teaching and research, her days are spent with wool, wild allotments and a wee bit of whisky.

My thoughts:

Inspired by real events, this story of a wicked plot leads us across Scotland from Aberdeen to Edinburgh and then over to Amsterdam, in search of answers as to who wanted John Leith murdered and why.

A clever, twisting narrative, a gentle and naive protagonist, some devious friends and generous benefactors all combine to a thrilling and surprising end. Highly enjoyable and full of historical detail.

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