Book Review

The Black Ditch – Simon J Lancaster

As my bumper month of blog tours heats up, today I join the tour for The Black Ditch, a dystopian thriller from Simon J Lancaster. Many thanks to Simon, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Laurie Sterne feels like he’s been cut adrift in space. His father has been shot dead, caught in the crossfire of a gangland war that has also claimed his boss’s life. Laurie is a refugee who lost his adoptive mum years before and doesn’t know where he was born, let alone who his birth parents were. But he’s not alone in the world: someone is trying to kill him.

This is London, 2050, a dumping ground for climate refugees and dissidents. Gangs rule, murder goes unpunished and the police make sure you can’t escape.

In his struggle to stay alive, he finds an ally: his former boss’s secret daughter.
But with the killer predicting his every move, is the man without a past being betrayed by the woman who seems to offer him a future?

The Black Ditch Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

You know Murphy’s Law? The theory that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong? Well, this is basically Laurie Sterne’s life in this dystopian thriller from Simon Lancaster.

The Black Ditch is a dark tale, that is both disturbing and at times a little depressing. Now, I appreciate this may sound as though I didn’t enjoy the book, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although I found it quite difficult reading at times, and had to take regular breaks for a spot of light comedy, I was totally gripped by Laurie’s story.

Set just 50 years into our future, The Black Ditch presents a shocking image of how climate change and attitudes to immigration have affected the world, and the UK in particular. It has a brutal, post-apocalyptic feel, with armed guards patrolling the streets and enemies around every corner. The street names and areas of London held names that were familiar to me, places that I have visited and can picture clearly, but at the same time it was a London that was entirely alien, and I think this is partly what made the book so unsettling for me, as it made this version of the future seem entirely too likely!

As Laurie battles for his very survival, and that of his friends, The Black Ditch becomes more and more gruesome and graphic. There is one particularly toe-curling scene that I wouldn’t recommend reading while you are having your dinner.

The Black Ditch is a fast-paced, action-packed book, full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing about who can be trusted, and what the truth is, right up to the last page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Black Ditch Author PhotoSimon J Lancaster is the author of The Black Ditch, the first in the Laurie Sterne trilogy of dystopian future thrillers. Prior to writing novels he was a national newspaper journalist in London, as well as a music critic and private pilot. He has written short stories and plays and, after reading extensively about climate change, concluded that the fantasy gun-play of contemporary-set action novels would be the lived experience of our coming world.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a signed copy of The Black Ditch, and for your name to be used for a character in the sequel (Open Int)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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For more information on this book, why not have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

Victory Day – Rachel Churcher

I’m a little sad today as I join the blog tour for the fifth and final book in the Battle Ground series. Many thanks to Rachel Churcher, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith meet in London. As the war heats up around them, Bex and Ketty must learn to trust each other. With her friends and family in danger, Bex needs Ketty to help rescue them. For Ketty, working with Bex is a matter of survival. When Victory is declared, both will be held accountable for their decisions.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

Victory Day Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase here

REVIEW:

You’ve probably all realised by now that I have loved every second of this series so far, and Victory Day really was no exception. Although reading it was a bitter sweet experience, as it always is when you reach the end of a favourite series, this book really is a fitting ending and provides an extremely satisfying conclusion.

As the conflict between the resistance and the Home Forces reaches fever pitch, emotions are running high on both sides of the battle lines. The short chapters in this book, bouncing back and forth between Bex and Ketty,  create an incredibly fast-paced book, and ensure that you are on the edge of your seat throughout.

Seeing Ketty set adrift as her world collapses around her and she finds herself completely isolated as she fights for her own survival was heartbreaking. As all the awful things that she has done throughout the conflict are recounted, I found that I desperately wanted to hate her, but I just couldn’t. As much as she probably would have hated it, I just wanted to give her a big hug. It came as a total surprise to me, but she has become my favourite character across the whole series.

As I was reading I found myself see-sawing between how I wanted things to end between Bex and Ketty. On some level, I wanted them to make their peace and end up as allies, but on another, that just felt a bit too sickly, and that part of me wanted them to end the book as they started, firmly on opposite sides. I’m not going to say how things actually ended up, but I will say that it felt right.

Victory DAy was a suitably dramatic conclusion to the Battle Ground series, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what comes next from Rachel Churcher.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photoRachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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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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Book Review

Fighting Back (Battle Ground #4) – Rachel Churcher

I am sure by now you have all realised how much I am enjoying the Battle Ground series, and will know just how excited I am to be joining the blog tour for book four in the series. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey 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.

If you haven’t already read the first three books, you’re going to want to check them out before reading any further in this post because spoilers are inevitable. Search Rachel’s name on my blog to find my reviews on each of the previous books.

BLURB:

Bex Ellman and her friends are in hiding, sheltered by the resistance. With her family threatened and her friendships challenged, she’s looking for a way to fight back. Ketty Smith is in London, supporting a government she no longer trusts. With her support network crumbling, Ketty must decide who she is fighting for – and what she is willing risk to uncover the truth.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

Fighting Back Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Taller Books

REVIEW:

Picking up where Darkest Hour finished, in Fighting Back, we find Bex and her friends in Scotland training under the OIE, and Ketty joining the Terrorism Committee alongside Bracken.

On the whole, Fighting Back is a much less action-packed book than the previous books in the series. With the resistance in relative safety in Scotland, and Ketty based in London, there is a lot more plotting and planning taking place, and this gives the reader the opportunity to really feel the emotions and understand the thought processes of each character. For me, this is a much more emotional book, and I found my heart breaking as Jake hits breaking point, and Ketty struggles without Jackson by her side. I even found myself feeling sorry for Bracken as he approaches rock bottom with his drinking.

Throughout the series, I have found myself questioning whose side I am on in the conflict. Should it be freedom fighter Bex, or Ketty, working for the seemingly corrupt governing forces? Although my head tells me it should be Bex who I want to see triumph, and obviously deep down I do want to see peace restored to the streets of the UK, I am finding more and more often that it is poor, broken Ketty who has my sympathies. Whilst Bex at times struck me as being a bit of a brat, my heart repeatedly went out to Ketty, as she comes to see that she is horribly out of her depth, and her reality comes crashing down around her.

I said right at the start of this series that nothing in the books feels outside the realms of possibility, and as we prepare to head to the polls to vote in what has to be the most uncertain general election in my voting life, this has never felt more true. I think this is one of the things that makes this series so great, and so incredibly thought-provoking.

As the situation in the UK reaches fever pitch, we are gearing up for what promises to be an incredible series finale – just who will, or indeed should, succeed when we reach the Victory Day? More on that in January!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photoRachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Goodreads

Blog

Don’t forget to pay a visit to all the other blogs taking part on the tour.

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Book Review

Darkest Hour – Rachel Churcher

I am so happy to be welcoming Rachel Churcher back today, with book three of her Battle Ground series, Darkest Hour. If you are yet to discover this brilliant, thought-provoking series, you might want to check out my previous reviews for Battle Ground (Book 1) and  False Flag (Book 2) before you read any further, to avoid spoilers. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB: 

Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith are fighting on opposite sides in a British civil war. Bex and her friends are in hiding, but when Ketty threatens her family, Bex learns that her safety is more fragile than she thought.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence and you can purchase your copy of this fantastic book here.

Darkest Hour Cover

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say about this book apart from wow! This series just gets better and better!

Darkest Hour picks up in the aftermath of Battle Ground and False Flag, uniting the timelines of Bex and Ketty and continuing the story from both points of view. We find Bex and her friends in hiding in the north of England whilst Ketty is making her way through the ranks in London.

The Battle Ground series has never felt entirely comfortable reading, and as I continued through Darkest Hour this became more and more true. Watching our own country’s government descend into chaos, there is a lot about this series that just feels all too possible at the moment.

As I continued to find out more about each of the characters in this book, it raised so many questions in my mind about what I would do if I found myself in their situation, and the waves of emotion I felt for people on both sides of the conflict served to prove that nothing is as black and white as it first seems. There was a character I wanted to punch at times, and another I felt overwhelming sympathy for, neither of whom I would have previously expected to feel this way about. As much as I felt I should be on the side of the resistance forces, it was Ketty and Bracken’s story that really captured by attention this time round, and it is still their situation that fills my thoughts even the day after I finished reading.

Darkest Hour is an incredibly thought-provoking read, and has left me with a hole in my heart while I wait to find out what is coming next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photoRachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Blog

Make sure you check out the other blogs taking part in this tour.

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Book Review

False Flag – Rachel Churcher

I am thrilled today to be joining the blog tour for False Flag, book two in the Battle Ground series. This review may contain spoilers for book one, Battle Ground, so you might want to check that out first. Many thanks to Rachel Churcher, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Ketty Smith is an instructor with the Recruit Training Service, turning sixteen-year-old conscripts into government fighters. She’s determined to win the job of lead instructor at Camp Bishop, but the arrival of Bex and her friends brings challenges she’s not ready to handle. Running from her own traumatic past, Ketty faces a choice: to make a stand, and expose a government conspiracy, or keep herself safe, and hope she’s working for the winning side.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

You can purchase your copy of False Flag here.

False Flag Rachel Churcher cover

REVIEW:

Having loved Battle Ground, I was eager to get my hands on the second book in the series, and False Flag didn’t disappoint.

False Flag presents an interesting premise, essentially revisiting the story told in Battle Ground, but from the perspective of Lead Recruit Ketty Smith. I was fascinated by Rachel Churcher’s decision to separate Bex and Ketty’s stories into their own books rather than simply telling the tale from a dual perspective in one book just alternating chapters. This meant I went into False Flag with a pre-formed opinion of Ketty, and getting to know her properly was a total curve ball.

For Ketty, joining the RTS was a choice, a chance to escape her life, and performing well was an opportunity to make something of herself. As soon as I read about her life before the RTS, I felt more sympathy for her than I had dreamed possible while reading Battle Ground. Knowing more about her and how she has been treated throughout her life make a lot of her actions more understandable, if not entirely acceptable. Whereas in Battle Ground I saw her as ruthless and malicious, in False Flag I began to understand that she is vulnerable and scared, and I was reminded that she is little more than a child herself.

Starting from the same point as Battle Ground and covering a lot of the same events, False Flag really shows that there are two sides to every story. While Bex holds a strong opinion of what she witnessed in Leominster and the behaviour of the senior recruits, in False Flag we see a very different side to their involvement with the situation there. Nothing in this world is black and white, and I loved discovering the other version of what went on. Seeing a different view of the bunker invasion, and of Saunders’ bravery there, added an extra depth to the story and once again I found my opinions shifting.

I am totally hooked on this series, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photo

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

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Goodreads

Blog

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour for this brilliant book.

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Book Review

Battle Ground – Rachel Churcher

Let me introduce you to a new series today with Battle Ground, the first book in the dystopian fiction series of the same name, by Rachel Churcher. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Sixteen-year-old Bex Ellman has been drafted into an army she doesn’t support and a cause she doesn’t believe in. Her plan is to keep her head down, and keep herself and her friends safe – until she witnesses an atrocity she can’t ignore, and a government conspiracy that threatens lives all over the UK. With her loyalties challenged, Bex must decide who to fight for – and who to leave behind.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

Battle Ground Rachel Churcher cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Buy here

REVIEW:

I keep hearing people saying that they are no longer reading dystopian fiction because it all just feels a bit too close to reality these days, but surely that is why we should continue to read it, to give us a fighting chance against whatever the future holds.

Battle Ground is set in a post-Brexit, post-Scottish independence Britain, and it really does feel scarily near the mark. Nothing that takes place in this book feels outside the realms of possibility with the current political climate here in the UK. Because of this, it is not always a comfortable read, but it is certainly a gripping one. Once I started I just couldn’t put it down.

Adding to the realistic feel of this book is the fact that the teenagers aren’t just naturally gifted with the skills they need to survive in the new world. Everything they can do has been hard won through gruelling training after their conscription into army. None of the characters are natural heroes, they are all flawed, and struggle with the decisions they are faced with. This just endeared each of them to me more. Further to this, the flashback scenes to when Bex, Margie and Dan were still at school added depth to their characters and showed just how quickly life can be turned completely on it’s head.

The brutality shown by the senior recruits is shocking, especially given their age and relative inexperience as well. I can’t help feeling there is more to their story than initially meets the eye and I am looking forward to seeing this other side of the story in book two, which is thankfully coming out soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photo

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

Blog

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in this blog tour.

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Blog

This Vicious Way – Cover Reveal

I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for the latest book by Madeline Dyer today. I don’t have the official blurb yet, but here is what I can tell you. This Vicious Way is the second book in the brilliant The Dangerous Ones series, and is set in the same world as Madeline’s previous Untamed series. It can be read as a standalone, but if you want my advice, get yourself to the bookshop/internet and grab a copy of all the previous books set in this world as quickly as you can. You won’t regret it!

The Dangerous Ones series is a dystopian/adventure series, and is aimed a slightly older audience than the Untamed series, being Upper YA/NA rather than pure YA, but honestly I haven’t been able to call myself a young or new adult for quite some years now and I still love them. A Dangerous Game, the first book in this series, is my favourite of Madeline’s books so far, and so I am very excited to find out what is in store with This Vicious Way.

Anyway, without further ado, here comes the cover…

This Vicious Way

The cover was designed by Molly Phipps at We Got You Covered Book Design, and I think it perfectly reflects the tone of the series so far.

If you want to know more about The Dangerous Ones series, have a read of my review of A Dangerous Game.