#BlogTour for #SeeNoEvil by @DavyFennell – the highly anticipated follow up to THE ART OF DEATH. With thanks to @ZaffreBooks for the gifted copy and @Tr4cyF3nt0n for the tour invite. #newbook #readers #bookrec

For this killer, it’s death at first sight…

The Blurb

Two men are found dead in London’s Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix – with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.

Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.

The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin’s involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters – and her own demons . . .

My thoughts…

‘See No Evil’ is the second book by David Fennell featuring DI Grace Archer and DS Harry Quinn, the first being: ‘The Art of Death’. This can, absolutely, be read as a standalone, however it’s always an idea to start at the beginning of any series for character development plotting. But, it’s really not an issue as Fennell builds important relationship detail into the narrative and as the new plot develops we are drawn into the character portrayal from ‘The Art of Death’ as our principal characters deal with a new threat and perpetrator to hunt down.

I really enjoyed ‘See No Evil’ perhaps more than I did ‘The Art of Death’. In the first book I worked out too early where it was heading, but this time I was hooked into connecting all the pieces together until the end. From the start, Fennell’s character driven narrative hook immersed in fear and creepiness grabs the readers’ attention and introduces a brutal crime that builds as the story progresses. Again, this is not a book for the faint-hearted and there are dark, twisty moments that delve into fanatical mindsets and coercive behaviours.

If you’re a crime and thriller reader, I’d highly recommend both ‘The Art of Death’ and ‘See No Evil’ – a fast-paced, exhilarating crime thriller that explores darker themes and is satisfyingly good.

Please click on the below link to read about the first book in the series ‘The Art of Death’.

The Author

David Fennell

Born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. David has played rugby for Brighton and has studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is married and he and his partner split their time between Central London and Brighton. To find out more, visit his website: www.davidfennell.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter: @davyfennell

‘See No Evil’ published 28th April 2022, Zaffre, Hardback, eBook and Audio, £14.99

Please buy from Independents if you can XX

#ReleaseTour for #Retold @mcfrank_author #Fairytale #Retelling #Newbook

I’m delighted to be showcasing M.C. Frank’s RETOLD, please do keep scrolling for some bookish delights…

Blurbs

Retold: A Regency Fairytale Retellings Collection

buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XQVK88B

Unwanted.

Three boys grew up in an orphanage, abandoned and despised by those who should have taken care of them. They were starved, hit, and abandoned for years.

But they are men now. Gentlemen, so to speak. A little broken, a little damaged and a little destroyed by life, but they hide it behind toughness, money, amazingly folded cravats and, in some cases, illegal activities. Their main strength is each other: they are best friends, partners in crime, a found family.

And then comes the one battle that every gentleman, no matter how brooding, haughty or handsome, must face alone. These are the stories of how they each fight, and lose, the battle against love.

Hooked

Wendy and Lord Darlington

When Wendy Hooke was a little girl, she saved a boy from starvation. The boy, Peter, taught her how to fly. Now the boy is a man, a gorgeous man, and he has forgotten all about her. She watches him take London’s ballrooms by storm, pursued by every designing mama, but Peter doesn’t even glance at her. Because it’s not ‘Peter’ now, it’s Lord Darlington.

Peter hasn’t forgotten the girl who saved his life, but his secrets hold him back. The webs of his secret gang that fights crime on the streets of London are closing in on the greatest criminal of all time, the Viscount Hooke. And Wendy…well, she is his daughter.

Caged

Zella and Pirate Charmont

Zella isn’t crazy. She knows that, but no one else does. And, she has to admit, maybe she does look crazy, locked up here in the madhouse, with hair so long and wild it can practically become a rope.

And it does. One day, she lets her hair down from the tiny window, and someone rudely grabs it like a rope. Like a rope thrown to a drowning man.

“I’m not crazy, you know,” she tells the rugged-looking young man who climbs up, panting as if he is running for his life.

“Sweetheart,” he replies, “I don’t care. If they catch me, I’ll get hanged.”

“Oh. Why?”

“Because, m’ dear. I’m a pirate.”

Seduced

Poppy and Lord Hades

Lord Hades owns a gaming hell that sprawls underneath the city of London like the underworld. It is no secret: the Hell Club is notorious all over Europe. Peers and millionaires travel from Vienna and Paris to enjoy the Turkish baths or play cards with the great political leaders of other countries.

Money and power exchange hands nightly underneath the sparkling ballrooms and gentlemen’s clubs, and no one knows. Until Hades discovers a boy sent to spy on him. But the boy is not a boy.

And she will pay.

Retold includes three dark and sparkling romantic stories inspired by myths, folklore and fairytales, as well as by the glittering world and the roguish gentlemen of Regency London.

They might look like quick, fun reads, but don’t be fooled: these stories are going to break your heart into a million pieces.

M.C. Frank

Author
M.C. Frank

Social Media Links

 Website: mcfrankauthor.com

 Instagram: @mcfrank_author

Twitter: @mcfrank_author

 Blog: mcfrankauthor.tumblr.com

Facebook Page: M.C. Frank

 Goodreads: M.C. Frank

Subscribe to her newsletter: www.mcfrankauthor.com/p/newsletter.html

#ApplesNeverFall by Liane Moriarty @MichaelJBooks #CoverReveal

I’m happy to join the COVER REVEAL for ‘Apples Never Fall’ PAPERBACK by Liane Moriarty – with thanks to Michael Joseph Books at Penguin Random House UK. Keep scrolling for some bookish blurb…

‘The perfect mix of edge-of-your-seat plotting, well-crafted characters and a satisfying ending’ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

The Blurb

The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

Joy Delaney and husband Stan have done well. Four wonderful grown-up children. A family business to envy. The golden years of retirement ahead of them.

So when Joy Delaney vanishes – no note, no calls, her bike missing – it’s natural that tongues will wag.

How did Stan scratch his face? And who was the stranger who entered and suddenly left their lives? What are they all hiding?

But for the Delaney children there is a much more terrifying question: did they ever know their parents at all?

Quotes

‘A tour-de-force of a novel; brilliantly plotted and superbly written . . . The tension builds to a conclusion alive with ingenious twists. Smart, sharp and utterly riveting’ DAILY MAIL

‘Utterly and completely wonderful. I’ve loved all of Liane’s books but Apples Never Fall is next-level writing: an intelligent, forensic portrait of a family’ MARIAN KEYES

‘A fantastic storyteller. Apples Never Fall is gripping, getting to the dark underbelly of a seemingly perfect family. A cracking read’ ITV’s LORRAINE KELLY

To find out more: https://amzn.to/3INyZt9

#BookChat – ‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex and ‘The Metal Heart’ by Caroline Lea @PenguinUKBooks @picadorbooks – thank you for the gifted copies.

The Blurb

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events

My thoughts

I loved the shifting of the book’s narrative between the men’s perspective in 1972 and the women in 1992; so let me explain… the base of this story comes from the actual disappearance of three men in the 1900s from a lighthouse situated in the Outer Hebrides. Stonex takes this mystery and weaves her own vision of events into ‘The Lamplighters’ and she’s created an excellent read with a driven narrative. We begin to piece together the parts of the whole story via interviews with those left behind and the narrative of the past.

I love books set by the sea; the isolated and tempestuous setting of this story is really atmospheric and bleak, and it also offers the psychological journey of being in such an environment.

Overall, I found this quite a haunting read, and I kept thinking about it after I closed the final page. With themes of love, loss, grief and hidden truths and I would happily recommend this book.

The Blurb

Orkney, 1941.

Five hundred Italian prisoners of war arrive to fortify these wild and desolate islands.

Orphaned sisters Dorothy and Constance volunteer to nurse the wounded. But while beautiful, damaged Constance remains wary of the men, Dot finds herself increasingly drawn to Cesare, a young man fighting on the wrong side and broken by the horrors of battle. Secretly, passionately, they fall in love.

When a tragic mistake from Con’s past returns to haunt them, Dot must make a choice:

Protect her sister no matter the costs, or save the man who has captured her heart?

My thoughts

An absolutely spell weaving novel by Caroline Lea. I loved her first novel ‘The Glass Woman’ and was delighted to find ‘The Metal Heart’ providing an absolutely absorbing read to.

The island setting of Orkney was a delight and this really enriched the story of love and courage. If you follow the author’s Instagram page there are pictures of the island, these really bring a sense of reality to the story.

Beautiful and satisfying to read; this book comes highly recommended from me.

SCORPICA by G.R. Macallister, THE LAST LEGACY by Adrienne Young and introducing THE SHADOW GLASS by Josh Winning. Published by @TitanBooks

Some great fantasy reads to check out from Titan Books – keep scrolling to find out more…

The Blurb

In an ancient matriarchal world of magic, gods and warriors, the last girl – unbeknownst to the five queendoms – has just been born. As time marches on, the scribes of Bastian find no answers in their history books. The farmers of Sestia sacrifice their crops to the gods. Paxim, the empire of trade and dealings, has nothing to barter but boys and more boys. Arcan magic has no spells to remedy the Drought of Girls. And finally, Scorpica, where every woman is a fighter, their commander, their queen, has no more warriors to train. The lines of these once-great empires soon to die.

After centuries of peace, the ensuing struggle for dominance – and heirs – will bring the five queendoms to the eve of all-out war.

But the mysterious curse is linked to one of the last-born children, an orphaned all-magic girl, who is unaware she has a claim to the Arcan throne…

My thoughts…

‘Scorpica’ is the opening novel in ‘The Five Queendoms’ series by G.K. Macallister, and as you’d expect from a series starter there’s a lot of world building and set up. It’s a complex fantasy world, where the matriarch’s rule; I’ve seen it referred to as the female ‘Game of Thrones’.

The world is ruled by Queendoms, each having their own perspective on males and their roles. The female roles are vast and although the narrative pace is detailed and leisurely it held my attention. For those, seeking a more adventurous and pacey fantasy read, this may not be for you. Although, saying that, it is the opening and requires a lot of establishment – hold on in there!

‘Scorpica’ is heavy in POVs so it does take focus to track characters and relationships in each Queendom. With themes of violence, gender, politics, magic and female relationships this is a detailed and thought provoking read.

A fantasy novel of conflict, power and a world in crisis.

The Blurb

When a letter from her uncle Henrick arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

My thoughts…

Set in the world of FABLE, (Young’s duology ‘Fable’ and ‘Namesake’) a new, smart and sassy protagonist is rejoined with her lost and detached family, setting the tone of the adventure. But there’s trouble ahead, with scheming, untruths, cons and pawns.

An fantasy adventure with a lead pitched against a ruthless adversary with a dash of romance to complete the journey. A quick, easy read for some wonderful escapism.

The Blurb

Jack Corman is failing at life.

Jobless, jaded and on the “wrong” side of thirty, he’s facing the threat of eviction from his London flat while reeling from the sudden death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, a film Jack loved as a child, idolising its fox-like hero Dune.

But The Shadow Glass flopped on release, deemed too scary for kids and too weird for adults, and Bob became a laughing stock, losing himself to booze and self-pity. Now, the film represents everything Jack hated about his father, and he lives with the fear that he’ll end up a failure just like him.

In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying home, a place creaking with movie memorabilia and painful memories. Then, during a freak thunderstorm, the puppets in the attic start talking. Tipped into a desperate real-world quest to save London from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with excitable fanboy Toby and spiky studio executive Amelia to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy while conjuring the hero within––and igniting a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do his father proud.

A new arrival to the TITAN bookshelf and something very different to build my eclectic reading style – I look forward to checking this one out and some more book chat 🙂

#BlogTour for ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ by @marthamconway @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ by Martha Conway. What an eye-catching cover design, evoking the time period of the novel and the central relationship inside. My thanks to Zaffre for the gifted review copy and to Tracy for the tour invite. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.

In a world made for men, can one woman break free from tradition and walk a new path?

The Blurb

It is 1865, the American Civil War has just ended, and 18-year old Vita Tenney is determined to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a country doctor like her father. But when her father tells her she must get married instead, Vita explores every means of escape – and finds one in the person of war veteran Jacob Culhane. Damaged by what he’s seen in battle and with all his family gone, Jacob is seeking investors for a fledgling business. Then he meets Vita – and together they hatch a plan that should satisfy both their desires. Months later, Vita seemingly has everything she ever wanted. But alone in a big city and haunted by the mistakes of her past, she wonders if the life she always thought she wanted was too good to be true. When love starts to compete with ambition, what will come out on top?

From the author of The Floating Theatre, The Physician’s Daughter is the story of two people trying to make their way in a world that is struggling to escape its past.

My thoughts…

Each chapter of ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ is headed with a quotation which highlights the irony and ridiculousness of male thinking during the 19th Century, for example, the opening chapter begins with:

‘Hysteria is often excited in women by indigestion’ (On Diseases Peculiar to Women)

Dr Hugh Lenox, 1860

I looked forward to these chapter quotations and found them, quite frankly, gob smacking! From findings that ‘flat-chested females were unable to produce a well-developed infant’, to ‘the majority of women (happily for them) are not much troubled by sexual feeling of any kind’ Dr William Acton, 1888. Certainly, highlighting the view of the patriarchy and the medical profession of the period. Conway sets the scene nicely and introduces our protagonist Vita Tenney who is determined for the world to change as she seeks a position as a trainee doctor. The novel is set at the end of the American Civil War and the aftereffect of war is a consistent theme running through the story; this is also told through the perspective of Jacob Culhane, a previous soldier and prisoner of war. Vita’s father completely rejects the idea of his daughter becoming a doctor and following in his footsteps; the complex nature of grief is explored through her father and despite his harshness, there was a real sense of sadness at how loss affected him and by default the entire family. He states that Vita must marry instead, however Vita has other plans she’s determined to follow.

Vita and Jacob’s lives converge as they both attempt to control their futures despite hardships and adversary. I liked both characters, although at times Vita needed to open her eyes a little where Jacob was concerned; I did feel he forgave far too readily for her ‘betrayal’. I really felt for Jacob as he battled his ‘shakes’ from the war in a time where post-traumatic stress was not understood or treated well.

The story splits for a time and follows Vita and Jacob’s separate journeys until they find each other again; I thought the pace and engagement really picked up at this stage and I found it hard to put the book down.

With themes of grief, trauma, love, war, and the quest to follow your heart despite the odds, this book comes highly recommended from me. For readers seeking an engaging historical relationship drama with heart, then do pick up Conway’s ‘The Physician’s Daughter’.

THE BLOG TOUR

The Author

Martha Conway has been nominated for an Edgar Award and won the North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. She teaches creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She now lives in San Francisco with her family.

Delighted to be on the #BlogTour for #babyitscoldoutside by Emily Bell and published by @michaeljbooks

‘The perfect festive treat’

THE BLURB

FATE PULLED THEM APART BUT NOT BEFORE THEY MADE A PROMISE.

TEN CHRISTMASES LATER, WILL THEIR WISH COME TRUE? . . .

As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.

After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:

If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years’ time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.

Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.

So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.

But it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few surprises . . .

Baby It's Cold Outside Kindle lifestyle image
Two hearts. Ten years. Once last chance for love…

MY THOUGHTS

Ah, what a charming Winter read for all those romantics out there. ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is a heartwarming little book that comforts and entertains delightfully; a perfect light-hearted seasonal read. It’s a story of timings, Fate, friendships, family relationships and music.

The book jumps about from place to place as our characters live and grow, from Italy to Dublin, America and London. I enjoyed following the character of Noah, who stood out for me. I loved how the story was transported to the reader via music and the memories unraveled the past relationship for the reader.

It’s a book that utilises the romance and seasonal pleasures of Christmas time and I really have a yearning to visit Dublin now and experience the hustle, bustle and sounds of the streets, music and communities.

I would recommend this book for readers looking for a romantic, light Christmas read.

Baby It's Cold Outside: The heartwarming and uplifting love story you need this Christmas by [Emily Bell]

#BlogTour #Extract #DarkThingsIAdore by @KatieLattari and published by @TitanBooks with thanks to @Sarah_Mather_15 for the tour invite #readers #newbook

A debut thriller for fans of Lucy Foley and Liz Moore, Dark Things I Adore is a stunning Gone Girl-esque tale of atonement that proves that in the grasp of manipulative men, women may momentarily fall. But in the hands of fierce women, men will be brought to their knees.

THE BLURB

Three campfire secrets. Two witnesses. One dead in the trees. And the woman, thirty years later, bent on making the guilty finally pay.

1988. A group of outcasts gather at a small, prestigious arts camp nestled in the Maine woods. They’re the painters: bright, hopeful, teeming with potential. But secrets and dark ambitions rise like smoke from a campfire, and the truths they tell will come back to haunt them in ways more deadly than they dreamed.

2018. Esteemed art professor Max Durant arrives at his protégé’s remote home to view her graduate thesis collection. He knows Audra is beautiful and brilliant. He knows being invited into her private world is a rare gift. But he doesn’t know that Audra has engineered every aspect of their weekend together. Every detail, every conversation. Audra has woven the perfect web.

Only Audra knows what happened that summer in 1988. Max’s secret, and the dark things that followed. And even though it won’t be easy, Audra knows someone must pay.

A searing psychological thriller of trauma, dark academia, complicity, and revenge, Dark Things I Adore unravels the realities behind campfire legends―the horrors that happen in the dark, the girls who become cautionary tales, and the guilty who go unpunished. Until now.

THE EXTRACT

Max

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2018

Audra’s voice floats to me like the scent of roses across a dark, abandoned garden; first sensed, then followed. “We’re stopping just up here.” It takes me a moment to come to the words, to apprehend their meaning. I’ve been very far away, fallen into the deep crevasses of my own thoughts and memories and preoccupations, clouded things, and now she is throwing a bright, silken rope down, beckoning me to climb back up to her out of the murk.

     I blink a few times out at the blur of scenery going by my window—it is so terribly vibrant. We are moving so very fast. The farther into Maine we’ve gotten, the tenser my muscles have become. I feel their gentle protests as I come back to myself in the passenger seat of her little Volvo wagon; she’s driving us onward and onward, farther north, further wild.

     “Ground control to Major Tom—are you there, Major Tom?” Her voice is supple: deep as a river bend, scratchy as an alto sax, able to convey everything or nothing at all depending on her mood.

“Yes, reporting for duty. And stopping for a moment sounds good,” I say, adjusting myself in my seat.

“You can even stay in the car,” she says quickly, as if not wanting to inconvenience me. “I really just have to use the bathroom.”

“No problem. Might get out to stretch.” I rub my hands on the thighs of my jeans and yawn, looking back out the window.

Towering balsams, firs, and pines in varying depths of green all shimmy like ‘20s flappers in the stiff breeze, birches wrapped like mummies in what looks to be peeling papyrus lean this way and that, grand oaks, maples, and chestnuts muscle in on one another, flared in their autumn robes; a motley conflagration under the dazzling mid-October sun. We are in the middle of a beautiful nowhere, digging into sprawling hinterlands, into territories of wild earth.

     The rolling, winding roads away from Bangor took us through towns with names like Charleston, Dover-Foxcroft, Monson, and Shirley, all with their own quaint, beautifully cinematic set dressing. It was like each was curated from grange hall flea markets and movie sets rife with small-town Americana. Stoic stone war memorials. American flags. Whitewashed, chipping town hall buildings from other centuries. Church bell towers in the actual process of tolling, gonging, calling. To me, the sound was ominous in a remote sort of way, unnameable.

     I glance over at Audra again, consider her, and wonder if my other students have found out about this little trip. They’ll be upset to hear I’ve undertaken this effort to work with and see Audra. They know I would never do the same for them. The admirers and the sycophants hate Audra. They deride her, mock her, belittle her and her work behind her back. But they’re mediocre, deluded self consolers. She is better than them in almost every way. And they know it.

     But I understand her. Because I am her. Or was. Twentyplus years ago, just starting out, full of ideas and energy and hunger and pure, unbridled talent. Dedicated to the work. I can cultivate her. I can make her greater than she ever could have been on her own. None of the others afford me that; not a one.

     When Audra first proposed this one-on-one visit, I’d been pleasantly surprised, even a little triumphant. But things couldn’t help but flicker back into memory like sunlight breaking through clouds. Images. Emotions. Colors: cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson, prism violet, cerulean blue. Just snippets, catches of history. I’d lived in Maine for two years, as a matter of fact—but as a much younger man. Barely more than a boy. It was decades ago; many bottles of wine and lovers and lines of cocaine and gallery showings and awards and lectures and semesters ago. So much has happened. So much has grown in the space between me and that capricious boy so far down the tunnel of time that he feels almost entirely obscured from me, insignificant to the man and artist I’ve become. I didn’t tell Audra any of that because my experience here all those years ago holds realities she might consider a little ugly. I didn’t want to ruin our fun. I didn’t want to ruin the potential such a trip might hold for us. I still don’t. So I’m treating this adventure like a clean slate, made just for me and her.

     “It’s another mile or two until we stop,” Audra tells me as her eyes track a big pickup roaring by. We pass the mouth of a private dirt driveway. Posted: NO TRESPASSING NO HUNTING, a sign at its edge says. The dirt drive cuts a winding path up a steep embankment, through trees and gone, a scar in the hillside. Halfway up the densely forested slope, I see whorls of gray smoke lifting into the crystalline sapphire sky. I gaze over at Audra again, thinking of the desolation, the beauty, the shocking potential of pure color.

     “I can see you here,” I tell her, nodding. “I see you in this place.”

     “You do?”

     “Yes. I thought you were mad to not go abroad to complete your thesis. Absolutely mad. Every young artist—every good artist—needs difference. It pushes you forward, opens up the imagination to go out there and see the world!” She smiles faintly, sagely as she listens to me, to the bite-size version of this speech of mine she’s heard many times before.

     “I know what my paintings need. They don’t need Istanbul. They need”—she takes a deep breath and then gestures around us, breathing out a sigh of pleasure—“this. And all of the money from those departmental awards will keep me comfortable right here.”

“Seeing it now, like this, my guess is you’re right. It suits you. It suits your work.”

“And wait until you see what I’ve been up to since my last update. Any doubts will be cleared away.” There is a devilish little twinkle in her eye. Reminds me of myself right before unveiling a masterwork to a hungry audience. The anticipation. The excitement.

“You sound confident.”

“I am confident,” she replies, sure as granite, light as a summer breeze. As ever, I think, not without some prickliness. But the sudden, joyful flash of her teeth and the uptick of her lips into a smile, the way her hair flares in the sun plunges me into wild, raw infatuation, that just-born kind of infatuation you feel at the beginning of every one of your own very best love stories. The sensation is of a rose reblooming, an egg re-cracking, a sweet, delicious pressure released. It has been this way with me since I met her. This inability to look away from her and what she creates. Even her sheer, bald confidence—I admit I’m the same way. Unwavering about my art. But where I am hotheaded, Audra is all coolness, steady and withholding.

The coolness, the distancing ends this weekend, I’m sure. Why else invite me all the way the hell up here?

Please buy from independents if you can XX

I’m delighted to be joining the #BlogTour for #TheShadowing by @sarahrward1 @TrapezeBooks #compulsivereaders

THE BLURB

When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoy books like ‘The Shadowing’, firstly because of the historical setting (we have a sinister workhouse to unpick); secondly, the gothic atmosphere, and thirdly the author is clearly a great storyteller.

Our protagonist is Hester, who is introduced to the reader whilst suffering in the throes of a nightmare wrapped around by mensural pain; we soon learn she is living under the patriarchy of her father. What’s also soon clear, is that Hester has visions of the departed, of shadows and spirits: the dead. Her long-long sister Mercy appears and Hester knows that bad news is approaching. The story develops quickly and the family receive a letter that Mercy has indeed died at a place called the Southwell Union Workhouse, and she has died a pauper.

This book’s central mystery involves what actually happened to Mercy, how she ended up in a workhouse and dying a pauper. Hester becomes obsessed with finding out the truth and this is the hook of the narrative. I really enjoyed the historical setting coming alive, as Hester battles relentlessly to find out the truth and put her sister’s shadow to rest.

There’s a great, creepy atmosphere at Southwell, and I was reminded of Daphine Du Maurier’s world of shady characters, foreboding inns, untrustworthy characters, and ghostly, gothic undertones. It’s a world where, Hester, our strong – albeit a little naïve lead character fights to stand up for her sister and those trying to stop her. I also enjoyed the addition of Matthew, a grouchy, dismissive landlord of a coaching inn, who develops and become a more central part of the narrative; he also provides the dash of romance, and I do mean dash.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Shadowing’ and would highly recommend it.

THE BLOG TOUR

Happy Release Day to #Awakened by @cdugganbooks @parliamentbooks #literaryluminati #parliamentbooks

Its RELEASE DAY BLITZ time for AWAKENED by Parliament Press – do keep scrolling for more bookish information…

The Blurb

After losing her parents in an accident only she survived, Hannah is desperate for answers. Haunted by the events of that tragic night, she struggles to move on, yearning for some deeper truth about her loss.

But when it comes time to turn a new page and move cross country for college, she vows to leave the past behind. Afterall, Bellcliff University is a thousand miles away from the ghosts nipping at her heels.

Yet when Hannah accidentally awakens a handsome witch from a hidden cave near campus, she realizes he isn’t the only thing stirring out of slumber. Hannah has roused all magic…including the devil herself.

As if spells, curses, and college jitters weren’t enough, this witch claims to know her from four centuries prior-and their connection is more than casual.

Thrust into a world of sorcery and monsters, Hannah must fight to keep the magic she’d unleashed from claiming a price far too steep for her to pay.

OUT TODAY, SEPTEMBER 7th, 2021

A perfect story for fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER, Tracy Wolff’s CRAVE, and Becca Fitzpatrick’s HUSH HUSH.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ The Parliament House (7 Sept. 2021)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1956136908
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1956136906
Reading age ‏ : ‎ 15 – 18 years

PLEASE BUY FROM INDEPENDENTS IF YOU CAN XX