Book Review

Hunter’s Blood – Val Penny

Val Penny makes a welcome return today as I join the blog tour for Hunter’s Blood, the latest book in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series. Many thanks to Val, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

DI Hunter Wilson never has just one problem to solve.

Three elderly women he knows have died in mysterious circumstances. Hunter appears to be the only link.

A little girl goes missing on a cold winter’s night. When his team discovers cocaine hidden at the farm where she was living, the search becomes even more urgent.

Why did the women die? And what did the child witness?

Hunter must find the answers to these questions to ensure his family and his city are safe.

Hunters Blood Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

I always jump at the chance to read the latest story about my favourite Scottish detective, Hunter Wilson, and Hunter’s Blood, the fourth book in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series fully lived up to my possible excessive expectations.

As with the previous books in the series, I was pleased to see that Hunter’s team remain united, and I enjoyed getting to know them in a more social setting at the start of this book. It added an extra dimension and depth to each of their characters that you don’t always get to see when they are focused on an investigation.

There is always a sense of inevitably with Jamie and Frankie that whatever they get involved with is going to get them in some sort of trouble, but I love that about them. No matter what comes their way, they seem to happily bumble through life, and as long as the twins are smiling and there is beer in the fridge, they are satisfied. They have found themselves a very firm place in my heart, and I would be disappointed to read a Hunter Wilson book where they didn’t feature.

Hunter’s Blood is less action-packed that previous books in the series, but feels a lot more emotional. So many of the characters had a personal link to the events of this book, and the vested interest they each had in the case altered the dynamics of the team. Moving towards a story showing the vulnerabilities of the characters rather than their investigative skills could have been a risky move, but it really worked. Even elements of the case itself went deeper than previous books in the series, and although it was brutal at times, there were also aspects that were truly heartbreaking.

Another cracking book, and I look forward to the next one!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hunters Blood -Val Penny 2Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth book in the series, Hunter’s Secret, follows shortly.

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Don’t forget to have a look at the other great blogs taking part in this tour.

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Guest Posts

When We Say Goodbye – Michelle Vernal

As part of the blog tour for her latest book, When We Say Goodbye, I am delighted to welcome Michelle Vernal to my blog today to talk about the inspiration behind the novel.

When We Say Goodbye is a story about Ellie Perkin’s journey through grief and how an old house holds the key to helping her heart heal. The idea for the setting of a broken-down house came from having lived in my own version of this. Back in my early twenties I’d been flatting for several years but of recent was having a bad run. I’d had to move a couple of times for different reasons but the last house I found myself in was with two young men I’d never met until I answered the flatmate wanted advert in the paper. They were personable and easy going at first everything was fine but then things began to change.

I was heading out one night and as I climbed in the car, I saw my flatmate in my bedroom watching me through the window. He made some inappropriate comments over the next week and I overheard him having a heated conversation with himself about me in the shower. I began to feel unsafe, moving things in front of my bedroom door before going to bed. My parents weren’t happy about his situation but they lived fifty minutes from the city and it wasn’t an option to go home. I didn’t want to land on friends either. In hindsight, I should have gotten out of there right away, trusted my instincts but I didn’t and luckily things worked out. Fed up with helping me shift all the time, my mum and dad decided the time had come for me to buy a house of my own.

In the interim, I told the other chap I was house-sharing with what was happening and it turned out our flatmate had a history of mental health issues. His parents picked him up one day and took him home and that was the last I heard from him.

As for my folks well, they told me they’d loan me the money for a deposit which I would pay back at a later date. It was a big leap of faith on their part especially given that at that stage of life my main concern was what to wear on Friday night. A real estate agent was enlisted and we set about looking. I had a clear idea of what I wanted. A character cottage with plenty of personality. What I got with the amount of money I was able to borrow from the bank was an ex-government owned, State house in a less than salubrious part of the city.

The first morning I’d woken to find myself in my new home, I was sipping a coffee in the kitchen when I glanced out the window to see a sight that nearly made me spill the hot liquid all over myself. There on the front lawn next door were my neighbours. If you remember that hard-hitting Kiwi film, Once Were Warriors well, that was what I was looking at. Fully patched, gang members. Not once on all those visits to see the house with the friendly real estate man had he made mention of the fellas who lived next door.

You can’t always judge a book by its cover though and I lived in that house for four years without any bother. It saw me through the worst of times, the loss of someone I was close too and the best of times, meeting my husband of nearly eighteen years, Paul. It’s the house where the seeds for When We Say Goodbye were planted.

There’s a line in the book, I love because it sums up how I felt about my old house and what my parents had done for me. ‘Uncle Colin and Aunty Paula had invested in me, and I was stepping up. I was turning something old and broken into something beautiful again.’

I hope Ellie’s story makes you smile because even though it runs the gamut of emotions it is a story ultimately about finding the beauty in life.

Many thanks Michelle for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to speak with us today.

Now for the all important book info!

When We Say Goodbye_Final cover

BLURB:

Can you love when all seems lost?

Ellie Perkins life was right on track until her boyfriend Sam suffers a near-fatal car accident, leaving him in a coma and all their future plans in limbo.

Desperately in need of something to fix, Ellie has to find a project and when her grandparents old house is put up for sale, she jumps at the chance. Because, like Ellie, the house is broken. And if she can fix the house, then surely, it’s just a matter of time before she and Sam are back on their path to happily-ever-after…

In life, when the worst happens how do you pick up the pieces?

A heart-breaking story of love, loss and the path to forgiveness, perfect for fans of Faith Hogan and Amanda Prowse. To be read with tissues.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Apple

Google

Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

btyMichelle Vernal loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband and their two boys in the beautiful and resilient city of Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone, and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She writes books that she hopes make you feel you are curled up with your best friend having a cosy chat.

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Thanks again to Michelle, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour. Head over to the other blogs taking part for more information on Michelle’s book.

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The Breaking – K.S. Marsden

Today I am excited to share with you the cover for The Breaking by K.S. Marsden, book three in the Northern Witch series. The cover is coming up soon, but first, here are all the details.

BLURB:

Mark thought being a witch would be easy, but it has ruined everything.

Now, he has to fight for his friends and the guy that he loves.

Which would be challenging enough, without school being a living nightmare; more demons than he can handle; and witches that have strayed from the light.

If that has got your attention, read on, because here comes the cover…

breaking

If you think this book sounds and looks great, you can pre-order your copy here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Apple

Kobo

Publication Date: 20th March

 And if you haven’t already discovered this series Winter Trials (Northern Witch #1) is currently available for free here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author 500x500Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life – books and horses.

Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has several successful series under her belt.

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Book Review

The Child of Auschwitz – Lily Graham

To mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, today I am reviewing the beautiful The Child of Auschwitz by Lily Graham.

BLURB:

‘She touched the photograph in its gilt frame that was always on her desk, of a young, thin woman with very short hair and a baby in her arms. She had one last story to tell. Theirs. And it began in hell on earth.’

It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent there six months earlier.

But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the camp comes crashing down upon her. As she lies heartbroken and shivering on a thin mattress, her head shaved by rough hands, she hears a whisper. Her bunkmate, Sofie, is reaching out her hand…

As the days pass, the two women learn each other’s hopes and dreams – Eva’s is that she will find Michal alive in this terrible place, and Sofie’s is that she will be reunited with her son Tomas, over the border in an orphanage in Austria. Sofie sees the chance to engineer one last meeting between Eva and Michal and knows she must take it even if means befriending the enemy…

But when Eva realises she is pregnant she fears she has endangered both their lives. The women promise to protect each other’s children, should the worst occur. For they are determined to hold on to the last flower of hope in the shadows and degradation: their precious children, who they pray will live to tell their story when they no longer can.

A heart-breaking story of survival, where life or death relies on the smallest chance and happiness can be found in the darkest times. Fans of The Choice and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will fall in love with this beautiful novel.

You can order your copy of The Child of Auschwitz here.

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REVIEW:

It goes without saying that no book about the Holocaust is going to be an easy read, but from the very first page of The Child of Auschwitz, I knew this was going to be a deeply emotional book. As some of you will remember from previous reviews I have written, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau a few years ago, and Lily Graham’s vivid imagery took me right back there.

Although largely focusing on their time in Auschwitz, The Child of Auschwitz also includes flashbacks to Eva’s life in Prague and internment in Terezin, and Sofie’s history in Austria. This added great depth to the characters, and gave a very human feel to the story. It is so important to remember that those imprisoned were real people with lives and families, and not just statistics of war. Books like this are vital to achieving this.

I was moved to the point of tears reading about Eva sorting the confiscated belongings of the people arriving at the camp, and keeping some of the photos that she finds. This simple act meant so much to me because reminded me of clearing my grandparents house, where we found a collection of letters and photos that had been sent to my Nan during the Second World War. We will probably never know who the young men in the photos are, or what happened to them, but they were loved by someone and for that reason I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

As much as The Child of Auschwitz is a tale about the horrors of the Holocaust, it is also a tale of enduring love and friendship, and it is this that make it such a beautiful read.

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Book Blogger Hop – 24.01.20

For this week’s Book Blogger Hop, we have a question submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews.

Do you talk to strangers about books especially when you see someone reading a book?


Book Blogger Hop 

Generally, my answer to this question would be no – I try to avoid talking to people as much as possible, especially people I don’t know. I will always remember one night though, I was on the last train home from London and thought I would have the seats right by the guard carriage all to myself when three drunk men got on and joined me. I was trying to read my book quietly, being a little intoxicated myself and not wanting to nod off and miss my stop, but with these chaps that was never going to happen. One of them would not leave me alone until I read him some of my book – was it something highbrow that would make me look sophisticated and intelligent? No. It was one of the Sookie Stackhouse books! I think if I hadn’t had the book to focus on I would have felt quite intimidated but because we could use that as a conversation opener, it was almost a shield, and ended up being quite a fun journey.

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How about you? Do you talk to strangers about books?

Extracts

The Cure – Patricia Ann Bowen

I am joining the blog tour for The Cure by Patricia Ann Bowen today, and am privileged to be able to share an extract from the book with you. Read on for a sneak peek!

BLURB:

TWO PEOPLE HARBORING SECRETS…

A stranger from the future comes to Paige’s cabin in rural Georgia with a treatment for her early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He bargains with the skeptical patient to give her The Cure if she’ll conduct a longitudinal study for him, proving his drug’s efficacy to a future world full of clients that need it. Faced with her dire diagnosis, he might be her only hope. She grapples with the side effects of his offer and learns to suppress her own dangerous truth: trust no one.

Seldom lucky in love, Paige finds herself competing with her best friend for his attention, knowing there can be no good end for their stolen moments of passion. Can she stay under the radar of the medical and legal communities to carry out his requests? And how will their complicated pasts bring them together physically, emotionally and professionally in a successful, if unethical, partnership?

Many lives will be changed, but at what cost… and to whom?

THE CURE EBOOK COVER COMPLETE

EXTRACT:

The following is part of the opening prelude to The Cure. It provides backstory on Paige, the story’s protagonist, and gives insights into her tendency to isolate herself both physically and emotionally.

Time Heals Only So Much

Normandy, France

Twenty-some years ago

Paige wrapped sweet little Rose in her favorite yellow blanket and slid her lifeless body into the oversized backpack. She put on her hiking boots, carefully donned the backpack, closed the door of her apartment behind her, and walked smoothly down the two flights of stairs so as not to jostle her precious cargo. It was only a thousand meters to the woods, a little over half a mile, and few people were out and about in the town this time of day.

Rose’s weight was light on her back, just as she’d been light in her arms, suckling from her breasts. Paige entered the sparse woods, not at all like the dense pines she was used to hiking through in north Georgia. The soil here was loose and sandy. That was good. Rose’s grave would be easy to dig.

Most villages around the World War II battle sites of Normandy had escaped the recent creep of urbanization in northern France. The face of the region was farming and tourism, and maintaining a rural look fed that image to outsiders. Paige had come here to first escape from family scrutiny and medical school pressure at home, and then the gruff bustle of Paris, just one hundred fifty miles away, with no plan but to live her life with the new life inside her. She’d decided it was nobody’s business but her own.

Her pregnancy had been easy, interesting. It was one thing to study it as a med student, another to plot the growth of the child forming in her tummy from zygote to embryo to fetus. She knew from the first day she found out she was pregnant that the baby growing inside her must be a girl. She didn’t know which man in her classes was the father. There were several possibles, students and professors, and she wasn’t sure she remembered them all. She didn’t care. This baby would be hers alone.

She walked a far distance from the gravel road until she found the small clearing. There were some olive trees, one especially twisted, easy to claim as a marker among all the others. She drew her baby from the backpack and laid her on the ground beside it. Next she took out the trowel and put it on the ground next to her child.

Rose’s life had been short, only a year. Something came in the night and took her away before she said her first word, took her first steps. But her life gave meaning to Paige’s in the slice of time she’d known her, needed her. She was just becoming a real little person….

Paige knelt down on the leafy floor, covering Rose’s body with her own. This would be the last time she’d be able to share her body’s warmth with her girl. Then she touched her tiny hands. Kissed her cold cheeks. Wrapped one of her dark curls around her finger, careful not to let her own tears fall on the beautiful little face.

Her thoughts were racing toward what special thing to do next. She had no belief in prayer. It was a waste of time, exploited action in exchange for false hope. But what could she do to commemorate the moment? She wasn’t religious, but she did find solace in rituals. Her French grandmother and then her dad used to sing Frere Jacques to her when she herself was a little girl. She began to hum the tune while she cradled Rose. The words came back to her, and then more tears poured out of her swollen eyes. She’d never again see her baby’s long lashes flutter, overcome with sleep and song.

It took her a couple of hours to dig a small deep grave in the sandy soil beside the twisted olive tree. She didn’t want to hurry what came next. She kept looking back over her shoulder at the still, soundless, blanket-covered baby. A light mist was beginning to fall, and she didn’t want Rose to get wet. She wiped her hands on her jeans, wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands and lifted her daughter into her arms one last time.

“Au revoir, ma cherie, my sweet little Rose. I love you with all my heart and I will miss you every day of my life.” After one last kiss on her forehead, one on her nose, one on each cheek, she wrapped her daughter in the soft yellow coverlet she’d made for her, placed her in the tiny grave and covered her with earth and finally a thick, warm blanket of leaves.

Paige started to leave and then remembered the backpack. She returned to the grave and picked it up, empty now, like her. She took one last look at the olive tree to imprint the site indelibly in her mind. She didn’t know if she’d ever return, but just in case….

She walked back to her apartment, really just a large room with all she’d needed for the past year and a half. She made up the foldout bed she and Rose had slept in together until two days ago, brewed a cup of tea and sat in the rocking chair until she noticed it had become dark. She couldn’t stay there another night. She just couldn’t. She filled her suitcase with essentials and left everything else behind. Her rent was paid through the end of the month and she had more than enough cash and credit to get her back to the States. There was one last train passing through the village to Paris that evening, and she boarded it with moments to spare.

PURCHASE LINKS:

If that has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of The Cure here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Cure - PAB photoPatricia Bowen writes novels, novellas and short stories, mostly about women with complicated lives. She’s been a copywriter, business owner, coach, marketing manager, and held corporate jobs in international business. She pens gardening articles for her local newspaper, and grants to support her local library. Her recent writing has appeared in the Table for Two anthology, The Sun magazine, and earned honourable mention in several contests. The Cure is her first full published work of fiction.

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Many thanks to Patricia for sharing this extract from what I think sounds a great book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information on The Cure.

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The Cottage on Wildflower Lane Cover Reveal

I have the privilege today of being involved in the reveal of the beautiful cover of The Cottage on Wildflower Lane by Liz Davies. Many thanks to Liz, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the big reveal. Before I show you the cover though, have a read of the enticing blurb.

BLURB:

Esther’s life isn’t perfect (whose is?) – but she’s happy enough living in her little flat with her boyfriend, Josh.

But that’s about to change.

Bored out of her mind in work, she wishes that something, anything, would happen to liven her life up.

Unfortunately, her wish comes true when Josh calls her from the airport to tell her he’s going to work in a bar in Spain, and she’s not invited, Esther is devastated, and her unhappiness is compounded when she discovers she can actually view the bar via a webcam link and watch him chatting up other girls.

But when she inadvertently clicks on a link to another webcam which shows a pretty cottage and the rather hunky man who lives in it, her interest is piqued and she wishes she could get to know him.

Wishes don’t really come true, though – do they…?

Now, are you sitting comfortably, because here comes the cover…

The Cottage on Wildflower Lane

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

The Cottage on Wildflower Lane is released on 14th February, but in the meantime, you can pre-order your copy here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author photo 2019Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.

She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat – she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.

She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper can and travel the world in it.

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