Countdown by Matt Phillips #BookReview (@MRPhill25) @ADRBooks @DownAndOutBooks #crimefiction #noir #california

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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild west. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Today I am delighted to be reviewing Countdown by Matt Phillips. My thanks to Henry Roi, the author and the publisher, All Due Respect, for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Matt Phillips, although I do have a copy of Know Me From Smoke sat on my TBR which I was given as a birthday present, mainly because I love the cover!

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Now that I have read Countdown, I will be moving this up the pile, because I really enjoyed the story and the style of writing, despite the fact that it is very different from my ‘go to’ comfort books. Although I seem to be reading more and more outside my comfort zone these days, due to the opportunities book blogging has afforded me, so maybe I no longer have a comfort zone.

What I really mean is that this is not a book I would normally pluck off a shelf in a shop when I am browsing, which is a mindset I need to get out of because some of the most profound reading experiences I have had over the past couple of years have been via books that I would not have chosen for myself but that I have been offered via blogging. For me, one of the greatest joys of reading is living vicarious experiences and lives that I will never have myself outside the covers of a book, and this book is a perfect example. The story follows the trials and tribulations of running a not-quite-legal marijuana business in California, where trade in the drug has been legalised, but the banking of the money made from the trade has not.

You know from the off that the characters in this book are not people that are naturally going to be people you can sympathise with, or particularly relate to, when you are a middle-aged mother living in rural England who has always been fairly puritanical when it comes to drug use. The fact that I actually did find some of the characters, especially LaDon, sympathetic and a person you would like to succeed, even if their goals are fairly nefarious, was testament to the skill in the writing in this novel. Either that, or the fact that I started grading on a curve with the other, very repellent, characters! Either way, I became invested in the adventures of the main protagonists in this book in a way that I did not expect, given the subject matter and, in spite of the fact that I have never met a Californian drug dealer and these characters were like no one I have ever known IRL, I still felt the characters were believable, with clear and authentic drives and desires and character traits.

The story takes part over a short period of time, and in a tight location, which gave the story a very fast and natural pace which kept it bowling along and carried me with it. It felt like a fairly quick read because of this and there were no lulls or doldrums to interrupt the flow of the book. I felt like the author had done an amazing job of cutting all the flab from the book and leaving only a lean, efficient reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed being carried along by. I just sat back and let the writing sweep me through with little effort on my part, but obviously a good deal by the author.

The setting of the book is what really set it apart from other things I have read in the genre. The gritty, mean streets of southern California are the net that holds this story together and were convincingly and brightly portrayed in the book. The author does not shy from writing about the unpleasant underside that exists in the city, rather he revels in it, describing it truthfully, but almost lovingly, so that the reader is fully immersed in its sights, sounds, scents and its constant tensions and dangers. For the author, it feels like these traits, which are things that would deter many of us from visiting such places, are what actually draw him and his characters to them, because they are alive and honest in their darkness. I certainly felt this myself during the reading, even if I would only dare revel in them from the safety of my sofa in rural Yorkshire. As I said, one of the many joys of reading.

This book was a very different read for me, but what that certainly catered to a lot of the things are look for in a satisfying book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is not offended by violence, sex, strong language, graphic scenes or drugs. So Mary Whitehouse types probably should not pick it up, I’m sure anyone else will enjoy it.

Countdown is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Matt Phillips was born in Palm Springs, California and raised in the Coachella Valley and nearby Mojave High Desert. He lives in San Diego. He has worked as a busboy, pool attendant, waiter, bartender, halfway-decent restaurant manager, film festival administrator, newspaper reporter, and editor.

His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. Short fiction has appeared in Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine, Manslaughter Review, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Matt earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattphillipswriter.com

Facebook: Matt Phillips

Twitter: @MRPhill25

The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey #BookReview #BlogTour (@morgenwriteruk) @BOTBSPublicity #amwriting #writingtips #creativewriting #creativewritingtips #writingadvice

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Over a thousand sentence starts, three per day, with writing tips at the end of each week to motivate and inspire, providing kick-starts to avoid the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. Useful for any writer at any level, whether they have 10 minutes or 10 hours, to start a new project. Also an ideal tool for writing groups.

With a combination of six first-person, six second-person, six third-person and three non-specific point of view starts per week, there are plenty to choose from. Beginning at ‘Day 1’ this book has been designed to be started at any time of the year, and regardless of whether the sentences are used in order or not. With a choice of three per day a writer can select one, two or all and see where it leads them.

Today is my turn on the blog tour for this non-fiction title, designed for writers of all levels, The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey. My thanks to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially, and to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side Publicity and Promo for inviting me on to the tour.

As a striving-but-as-yet-unpublished writer, I was very keen to take part in the blog tour for this useful little book. I have done various writing exercises and prompts before, and have found they often produce some fascinating pieces of work that can be expanded or incorporated into bigger projects, so I was eager to see if the prompts in this book would spark similarly useful creativity in the word-weary writer’s mind.

The book is small but perfectly formed, with three writing prompts per day for a whole year, in a mixture of tenses. Each week of prompts is then rounded off with a writing tip, which cover a multitude of authorly concerns. The format works well for ease of reference, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to stick rigidly to the recommended regime (I was listening to your tips on alliteration, Morgen, but not the one about adverbs – oops.), but could easily choose a day at random, whenever you feel the need of a spur, and work like that. I obviously have not spent a year working through this book on a daily basis in order to write this review, but did try a random mix of the prompts and read all of the weekly tips, and it did produce some fascinating ideas.

With regard to the prompts, I liked the fact that we were given one for each tense per day. I have to say, I am a cautious (possibly lazy) writer, who prefers the comfort of third person past tense, so using the prompts that pushed me out of this comfort zone was a very useful and surprising exercise, and the results may make me a little braver and more experimental in the future. I also adopted the approach of rejecting the very first idea that popped into my head after reading the prompt, on the basis that this was probably too obvious if it came so easily and I wanted to make my writing more surprising, and this worked really well. Some of the prompts resulted in some possibly bizarre ideas, but that is the fun part of writing. I am sure I am not the only aspiring author whose brain produces odd ideas from time to time!

The writing tips were probably my favourite part of the book. Some of them were ones that were not news to me, but some really made me think, and a lot of them will provide a very useful checklist in the process of editing my current WIP, so much so that I am going to summarise them in an editing reference document. For a small volume, this definitely packs a big punch.

This is a great little workbook for any writer who sometimes needs a little push to get the pen to the page, or for anyone who wants an odd thought or sentence from a third party that might spark that new creative connection in their brain that leads to a great piece of writing. A useful tool to have in your writer’s toolbox.

The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, please check out the tour poster below:

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About the Author

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, ‘Morgen with an e’ is the author of numerous short story collections, a chick-lit novel (with crime and mystery novels in the works), a series of writer’s block workbooks, articles, and she dabbles with poetry.

As well as being a freelance editor (who offers a free 1,000-word sample), she is a creative writing tutor for Northamptonshire County Council’s Adult Learning (10-week evening and one-day Saturday classes). Morgen is also speaker of anything writing-related, panel moderator, and event tutor, and will be running a two-hour editing course at the 2017 Crime & Publishment weekend, alongside Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen is also a writing-related blogger who ‘spotlights’ authors, agents, editors, illustrators and publishers. Other content includes guest posts, flash fiction, poetry, and reviews (crime / chick lit novels, short stories and writing guides).

A charity shop volunteer (dealing with donated books) and regular cinema visitor, she walks her dog while reading (often teaching-related), writing, editing or listening to writing-related podcasts, she reads (though not as often as she’d like and mostly for review on her blog), and in between she writes.

Connect with Morgen:

Website: https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

Facebook: Morgen Bailey Author

Twitter: @morgenwriteruk

Instagram: @morgenwriteruk

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah #BookReview (@KiaAbdullah) @HarperCollinsUK @NetGalley #PublicationDay #TakeItBack #NetGalley

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The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

Another publication day review to share with you, this time for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah. Happy publication day, Kia, and my thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a fascinating legal thriller that deals with a multitude of complex and contentious issues that are very relevant in current society and, at the same time, providing a page-turning ‘who did what’ story. There are so many layers to this book that it is one I will definitely go back to and read again with a fresh set of eyes to make sure I have rung every nuance from it, but I will do the best I can to write my review based on my first read of it.

The story involves an allegation of rape by a girl with facial deformities against a group of boys from an ethnic minority background and, from the off, it causes discomfort in the reader as our sympathies are pitted against one another as we try and work out which characters are the real victims in the story. This is the main theme of the book, how do you deal with individuals from two separate, disadvantaged groups pointing the finger at one another without allowing personal or societal prejudices affect your judgement? The narrative casts a sharp and unflattering light on the way our society currently operates and how we view and react to people very different to ourselves. The book made me ask some very uncomfortable questions about my own privilege and possible prejudices and preconceptions and, by the end, I was left with more questions than answers and a good many issues to probe further.

The main character in the book is Zara, a modern woman with a high-flying career who has taken the drastic step of leaving behind a lucrative career at the Bar to help victims of sexual violence. Zara comes from a Muslim family and has a good many demons of her own to address, a number of which she is forced to confront as her current case spirals out of control and spills over into her personal life. The use of Zara as the main focus of the book is a clever vehicle for forcing the reader to see the kinds of problems minorities have to face in our society and what conflicts they are presented with. Those of us who do not fall into these categories can find it almost impossible to imagine what challenges are presented daily to minorities and books like this one which don’t shy away from presenting these challenges to us in a digestible format can offer the opportunity to think about these things from a  different angle. The author does a really great job of portraying Zara as someone real and flawed and sympathetic so we can try, for a brief time, to slip into her shoes.

The protagonists on both sides of the criminal investigation are portrayed as complicated  characters with motivations, personalities, desires and faults that are revealed gradually throughout the novel. so that the readers perception of who might be telling the truth and who might be lying can change from page to page as we learn more about them, just as Zara’s does. I had no clear idea of the truth until the very last page and, as a result, the book held my attention easily from beginning to end. It wasn’t an easy read, though. These are some deeply troubling issues that are being addressed in the story and parts of it made me extremely uncomfortable in a way that had me asking questions of myself throughout. For a thriller of this type, this is an unusual and accomplished achievement and puts this book a cut above some of the run of the mill titles that have appeared in this genre. To dismiss it as just another of its type would be to do the book a grave disservice.

The settings and descriptions of the book present a grim background that perfectly suits the plot and the writing really brought everything to life – location, characters, mood and story. This is a skilfully written book that offers a big punch and a lot of food for thought, as well as a gripping read. It is a book that will stay with me for a while and I highly recommend it.

Take It Back is out today and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC and Lonely Planet, and is the founding editor of outdoor travel blog Atlas & Boots, read by 250,000 people a month.

Connect with Kia:

Website: https://kiaabdullah.com

Facebook: Kia Abdullah

Twitter: @KiaAbdullah

Instagram: @kiaabdullah

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin #BookReview (@JulieCaplin) @OneMoreChapter @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam @NetGalley #TheSecretCoveInCroatia #NetGalley

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Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina.

But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

My thanks to HarperImpulse for my copy of this book received via NetGalley, which I reviewed honestly and impartially.

How could you not want to pick up this book when you see the beautiful cover? It looks like the perfect summer read, doesn’t it? Well, if you are not managing to escape the UK for your holidays this year but want to travel vicariously through your summer reading, you won’t do better than picking up a copy of The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin.

Up until recently, I worked in travel and Croatia has become one of the hottest destinations in Europe over the past few years, although I haven’t managed to get there in person yet. Having read this book, I feel like I have actually been because, like all of her titles in the Romantic Escapes series, Julie has managed to capture the feeling and all the tiny details that transport the reader to the location of the story. Having spent a lot of time selling this destination to my travel clients, I could tell that the author had actually visited the location she was writing about and had fallen in love with the place, this really shone through in the writing and made me fall in love with it too.

The books follows the story of Maddie. Struggling to find a way to follow her passion in life, she takes a job as crew on a yacht for the summer, only to find that the brother of her best friend is one of the passengers, which causes endless difficulties. I adored both Maddie and Nick from the beginning. Maddie is just the kind of heroine a modern woman can relate to, not perfect but kind, determined and sassy, she knows her own mind and isn’t going to take any nonsense from a man. She does have her vulnerabilities though, which make her very sympathetic and I can guarantee you will be on her side and praying for her to get a happy ending from the start. Nick is a suitable foil for her, and I really enjoyed the glimpses we got inside his head too. I think it can be tricky to switch between male and female perspectives sometimes and make it equally convincing, but it really works in this book.

There are lots of other characters to round out the plot, lovely and loathsome to give a fun balance, and there is a refreshing mix of funny moments with some serious topics, a huge dash of romance and a sexy frisson as well. It really makes a tasty summer cocktail of a read which will tickle your reading tastebuds and give you a happy rush by the end. I absolutely loved it all, but the real pleasure was feeling that I had truly taken a trip to Croatia without having to leave the house. As a writer, I can see the skill that has gone in to this book and I am in awe.

I defy anyone to pick up this book and not finish it without a big smile on their face and a happy heart. The perfect romantic, summer read, I was very sad when it was over. Big high five from me, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Secret Cove in Croatia is out today as an ebook and in paperback on 22 August and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

The Secret Cove Author

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands, taking journalists on press trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the press in an airport. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol, hone her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her books. 

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for HarperImpulse.

Under her pen name, Julie Caplin, her twelfth novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia published in ebook format this July.

Connect with Jules:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk

Facebook: Julie Caplin Author

Twitter: @JulieCaplin

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane

This is, sadly, my final visit to Little Pondale as I take part in the blog tour for Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour to finish the journey with these characters and to Emily for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you enter the giveaway detailed below!

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Everyone’s got a secret wish in Little Pondale this summer.

Mia’s been exceptionally lucky since moving to Lily Pond Lane. But even on her honeymoon with the man of her dreams, she still has one remaining wish.

Ella wishes Gill would propose. But since Mia’s wedding something’s changed in their relationship. Now he’s spending time with newcomer, Tabbie Talbaine, Ella wishes Tabbie will leave as quickly as she arrived.

Tabbie wishes she hadn’t driven her car into a pond. But it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. When she discovers Hollywood heartthrob, Justin Lake’s staying in the village, getting an interview for her popular blog isn’t her only wish.

Bree was told she couldn’t have a baby. Now she’s expecting twins and is simply wishing it all goes well.

And as for Hettie … she wishes she could get her hands on an old map of the village. Because there’s something hidden in Little Pondale that Hettie Turner really wants to find.

I have truly loved visiting Lily Pond Lane on and off with Emily Harvale over the last year to see how Mia, Jet and her friends were getting on, so I was happy to get one last chance to see how things had moved on after Jet and Mia’s wedding. What more could possibly happen?

Well, plenty is the answer, although mostly to people other than Jet and Mia, since their happy ending was pretty definitively sewn up in the last episode. It was the turn of the other characters to have their stories completed, along with newcomer Tabbie. There was just room for me to join Mia on her enviable honeymoon in the South Pacific, though, and for her to have a final surprise for the reader.

Emily, with her trademark charm provided me with plenty of feel good romance in this book, and some round ups for the characters we have come to know and love in Little Pondale, as well as introducing some new ones. I particularly loved the introduction of the reclusive Aurelia Jenkins, a woman who gives Hattie a run for her money through the course of the book. There is an extra dose of the Little Pondale magic in this book, literally in the plot and figuratively in the writing, and I was charmed from beginning to end.

This book, as the others do, will work as a standalone, but I think readers will get most out of it if they have read at least some of the proceeding titles in the series first. It definitely felt like a ‘tying up of loose ends’ novel, with some of the unresolved stories being concluded, and had less of a meaty, although still rewarding, plot of its own. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have continued to fall in love with Emily’s writing throughout the series, but it one more for established fans rather than one I would advise new readers to start with. But what better excuse could there be for buying them all? You definitely will not regret it.

I am going to miss the gang in Little Pondale but I hope they all enjoy their futures in the village. See, they have become real friends to me. Thank you, Emily, for this series, a great addition to the romantic comedy genre.

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you visit the blogs detailed on the poster below:

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane Full Tour Banner

Giveaway

Secret Wishes Blog tour giveaway

To win a signed paperback of Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses, a pen, novelty sticky notes and a bookmark, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  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.

About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.


Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

Website: https://www.emilyharvale.com/

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse #BookReview (@MrsAmandaProwse) @AmazonPub @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheThingsIKnow

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Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott loves living and working on the remote family farm and B&B. But she also wants more. To see the world. To own her own home. To fall madly in love.

But those are fairy tales, and if her life is a fairy tale, then she’s the ugly duckling. Her deformed lip, her crooked limbs and her weak heart have kept her from taking chances. But that’s about to change.

When Grayson Potts comes to stay, he’s unlike anyone Thomasina has ever met. He’s aloof, eccentric and exceptionally kind. He’s also totally unconcerned with the physical flaws that have always defined Thomasina.

The two form a bond that neither has had before. It’s possible that it could become something more, but Thomasina also wonders if it’s too good to be true. By putting her heart on the line, Thomasina may open herself to heartbreak. But she may also open herself to so much more.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital review copy of the latest book by one of my favourite authors, Amanda Prowse, The Things I Know. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

Amanda Prowse is the queen of emotionally intricate women’s fiction and this book is another fine example of the genre. I loved it from start to finish. I was drawn in to the small, confined, but deeply complex life of ‘Hitch’ Waycott, a person who is full of potential but hemmed in by family circumstances and the under-estimation of the people who surround her. She wants more from life, and we follow her as she starts to believe she might get it, as do we. The author is so good at building deeply rich and believable characters that the reader cannot help but fall in love with from the start.

This book is set within a small world, with small lives and small concerns, or so it might seem from the outside. But, of course, nothing is small to those people involved and what may seem unimportant, insignificant, to outsiders, means everything to the people involved and Amanda is a genius at making us just as involved in these seemingly minor troubles as those people to whom they mean the world, literally. Hitch’s entire world has been built on one tiny patch of land and, when that is under threat, so is her stability, her security, everything she has ever known, unless she is brave enough to recognise that it could be the opportunity she has been waiting for.

This book had, for me, a very curious and unusual ‘other-worldly’ feel to it. Despite being set in contemporary times, it had the feeling of a piece of period writing, as if it could be set at any time, as if it were happening out of the normal ambit of current experience. I fear I am not explaining myself very well here, possibly because I have never experienced anything quite like it before and I cannot quite put my finger on what it is that felt so different about it. It was a little dream-like maybe, disconnected…I am not sure. Maybe this was a reflection of the disconnection that Hitch feels to the world around her, sheltered as she has been from it. Whatever it was, it really added to the suspension from reality I always feel when I lose myself in a really good book and I welcomed it as part of the reading experience.

This book really moved me. The characters captured my heart and made me care for them. They were beautifully written, sympathetic and realistic. The story, for all its gentleness, packed an emotional punch and I was compelled through the story by the connection I had with the characters and the ease and beauty of the writing. This is as pretty much perfect as you can get for a book in this genre.

Amanda Prowse has produced another magnificent read and remains the author to whose heights I aspire with my own writing. If only.

The Things I Know is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has had twenty one novels published in dozens of languages. Her chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’ and ‘The Girl in the Corner’ have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include ‘A Mother’s Story’ which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award and ‘Perfect Daughter’ that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s latest book ‘The Coordinates of Loss’ went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched. She has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Family Drama.’

Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Connect with Amanda:

Website: https://www.amandaprowse.com

Facebook: Amanda Prowse Author

Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse

Instagram: @mrsamandaprowse

The Case by Leopold Borstinski #BookReview #BlogTour (@borstinski) @damppebbles #damppebblestours #TheCase

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One Private Eye. One Case. One sackful of trouble.

When Jake agrees to take a package across America, he doesn’t know if he’ll live to tell the tale. If the CIA, the Feds and the British Secret Service don’t get him then the mob will.

How’s a cowardly private dick going to survive in these bloody times?

Delighted to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour today for The Case, a noir thriller by Leopold Borstinski. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles tours for inviting me on to the tours and to the author for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really different read for me in more ways than one and, for that reason alone, I really enjoyed it. My favourite thing about taking part in blog tours is getting pushed out of my comfort zone and picking up books that I would not normally read. Expanding our reading horizons is a great thing, I learn things I would never have known before, become exposed to different styles of writing, different genres and different life experiences. All of this helps with my own writing, and also my own experience and empathy in life. A lot to gain from one little book, hey? This is the secret that avid and diverse readers know and want to share with the rest of the world!

Anyway, enough waxing lyrical about the advantages of reading widely and back to the book in hand. This is a an old school pulp fiction-style novel of a kind I would never normally pick up under my own volition. It’s protagonist is a low-level gumshoe with dubious morals, grifting his way through life doing PI work for suspicious spouses and local hoodlums, until he gets entangled with the Mob and becomes embroiled in events above his usual pay grade which offer him greater rewards and greater dangers than he usually experiences.

The way the book is structured is quite unusual, because it involves the biggest case of the MC’s career, recovering a missing case for a Mafia boss (The Case of the title, but also a play on words because it is his biggest case. Clever.) But, whilst we are following this investigation, the PI is also reminicising about previous cases that have shaped him and his business over the years, so the book jumps around between different time periods, different cities and different investigations. This is a really interesting and informative way of informing us about the character and providing a lot of interesting stories. In fact, I felt like this actually read like a collection of short stories, rather than a contiguous novel, which I quite liked but I guess may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, the fact that it jumps around, and not always in a very obvious way, requires a higher level of concentration than may otherwise be needed for this type of book and it did get confusing a couple of times, particularly when I was reading late at night.

The story itself is gritty and does not pull any punches. This book is dark, containing a lot of violent scenes, graphic descriptions and gratuitous sex. Anyone who is not a fan of any of these things in books will not enjoy this because it runs unapologeticically throughout. I had no problem with it as I’m not squeamish and it felt very true to the story and the character and the style of novel being written, but it certainly will not be for everyone. The characters in this book are not pleasant people, they do very unpleasant things to one another and feel no remorse. This is even true of the main character, although he does seem to have a moral line which he will not cross and, because we get an insight into his motivations and inner thoughts, the reader does end up having some sympathy and affection for him, despite his many failings. I think it is a cleverly written book.

This was a really interesting and diverting read for me which stretched my mind and my reading experiences out of my normal safe zone. Has it converted me to a huge fan of dark pulp fiction? Probably not, it will still not be my genre of choice. However, if you do like this style of book, I think you will get a lot from this interesting new take on it and the writing is great. Have a look and see what you think.

The Case is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the blogs coming up on the tour, please check out the poster below:

The Case Blog Tour

About the Author

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Connect with Leopold:

Website: http://www.leopoldborstinski.com

Facebook: Leo Borstinski

Twitter: @borstinski

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