Blog Tour: Black Magic’s Prey by Kristin McTiernan #BookReview

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Hiding is no longer an option.

Tess has been stalker-free for fifteen years. She’s been living in trailer parks and preparing to run at any minute—all because in ninth grade she turned down the wrong Brujo. He comes from a long line of male witches and even back in high school, his powers were terrifying.

He used those powers to punish Tess. To make her do things. Awful things.

Now she has a new life. She’s got a good job, a decent Airstream trailer, and a best-friend-maybe-girlfriend. She’s careful not to reveal too much about her dark past.

But none of that matters. No matter where Tess goes, he will always find her. Unless she’s willing to trust a man who may be even more twisted than her stalker’s curse.

Today I am on the blog tour for Black Magic’s Prey by Kristin McTiernan. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is going to be a hard book to review because I’ve never read anything quite like it, and paranormal romance is not one of my go to genres, if that is even what you call this genre. Confused yet? Apologies. This is a a really unique book to me, but I’ll do my best to give you my impressions of it in a way that makes some kind of sense!

The story involves a young woman whose life has been blighted by being stalked by an individual from her childhood, whom she rejected, with the added complication that he is a powerful, male witch and can make her do horrible things from afar that blight her life. She thought she had escaped from him and was in hiding, but then she realises he has reappeared in her life, and she needs to take drastic action to rid herself of him once and for all, but her chosen path might make things worse.

It is a really interesting premise for a book and these ‘brujos’ are not a legend I have come across anywhere before, so I found that really fascinating. The plot was very pacy and entertaining, and the book is also quite short, so it was something I consumed in one two-hour sitting, and it held my attention throughout. I found the writing style convincing and easy to read, and I enjoyed the author’s voice very much, it was fresh and exciting to me.

I think there were things in the book that might prove off-putting to some people. If you are at all squeamish regarding violence or fairly graphic sex scenes, you won’t enjoy this. It is a book that doesn’t hold back from this and it is necessary to the plot. It also involves a couple of relationships that are somewhat violent, misogynistic and unequal and I think this may be triggering for people who have been on the wrong side of similar relationships in the past. I haven’t, but there were a couple of things that made me feel uncomfortable, although this is one of the driving plot points of the book, so I don’t think it was done gratuitously.

For anyone made of sterner stuff, who likes paranormal romance and is looking for something out of the mainstream, I would imagine even in this genre, this will tick all of your boxes. It certainly kept me reading from start to finish and was unlike anything I have come across before. A bold and unique read from a confident writer. I believe it is the beginning of a series, and there is definitely a part of me that wants to know what happens next!

Black Magic’s Prey is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the rest of the tour for more reviews and content:

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About the Author

Kirstin McTiernan

After waffling between joining a convent and enlisting in the Marines, I settled on the latter at the age of seventeen. After finishing my enlistment, I studied English literature with the intent of becoming a teacher. But after realizing I loved words more than teaching others, I used my degree to become a professional writer and editor, first with the federal civil service and then with the private sector. A lover of all things spec-fic, I wrote about women in weird situations, whether it’s magic or time travel, and enjoy the journey I take my characters on.

Connect with Kristin:

Website: https://www.kristin-mctiernan.com

Facebook: Kristin McTiernan

Instagram: @kristinmagoo

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Blog Tour: Son of Secrets (The Indigo Chronicles #2) by N. J. Simmonds #BookReview

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This has been a long time coming, but today I am delighted to be finally taking part on the blog tour for the second book in the Indigo Chronicles Trilogy by N. J. Simmonds, Son of Secrets. Huge thanks to the author for inviting me to take part and for supplying me with a digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Ella has been waiting for Zac for three years. She’s convinced he’ll return for her, but fate has other plans. When Josh is thrown back into her life, Ella has a choice: step back on to her rightful path, or wait for the one who dared her to rebel.

But Ella’s not the only one missing Zac. Luci has been searching for her blue-eyed boy over two millennia and will stop at nothing to get him back. Even if that means hunting down the only girl he ever loved.

From Tuscany 5BC to 17th century witch hunts, Ella, Zac, Luci and Sebastian’s lives have been forever intertwined. The time has finally come to complete the circle.

In a fight against destiny – who will win?

I’ve been waiting a very long time for this book. So long, in fact, that I had to go back and re-read the first book in the Indigo Chronicles, The Path Keeper, to remind myself what had happened. I’d forgotten how good it was, and it whetted my appetite for the new one.

And, boy, was it worth the wait. I can say, hand on heart, without a shadow of doubt that the author exceeded all my expectations with the second book and it is even better than the first. There is so much going on in this series, so many themes to unpick, history to explore, so much subversion of expectation that it will excite and entertain the most sophisticated reader of any age.

For those who haven’t read the first book (and, if not, I suggest you do first, it is excellent and this book will provide a much richer reading experience if you have), it picks up three years on from the events of the previous book. Zac has not reappeared and Ella is trying, quite unsuccessfully, to make some kind of life for herself without him. Then a face from her past reappears and she realises that maybe fate has not finished with her yet and there is still a path to happiness available to her. At the same time. a new character appears to shake things up, and she has been waiting for Zac too.

As in the previous book, we are given flashbacks to other points in history that have influenced the place all the characters find themselves in in the present. It is hard to describe without giving away any spoilers, but the lives of the main characters are all intertwined, and their fates have been through the centuries. The author has obviously done her research, the scenes that occur have their basis in real events from history and her descriptions of them are rich in detail and sensation, bringing them to life on the page. If you come away from reading this book with the desire to do some more research into some of them, I will be surprised.

The base story of the series is a passionate love affair between two young people who are kept apart by powerful forces and circumstance beyond their control, but the strength of their love for one another keeps them fighting to reunite against the odds. These are the standard building blocks for many stories. What sets this series apart, aside from the quality of the writing which I will come to later, is the uniqueness and audacity of the particular plot machinations that keep this couple apart, and the complex themes that pepper the narrative to make the reader really think and question. This is so much more than just a love story.

The author has created a world that, firstly, uses an outlandish premise at its heart, and this was explored in detail in book one. This second book has taken that premise and elevated it to another level. It is very hard to go into in any detail without giving anything away but the author has taken some fundamental suppositions about the theories of good and evil, the way we perceive and understand them, the stories we have been told to explain their existence through time and completely turned them on their head. What is what we know is all untrue? What if the opposite were true and the lies had been spun as a means of maintaining power and control over people who threatened the status quo? Trying to work through the connotations of the story will make your head spin, but set your brain alight with thoughts and questions and have you racing through the pages to get more information.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is the way it explores feminist issues, the imbalance of power between the genders and the various ways that society has tried to suppress feminine power through the ages, and why. Lots of books have strong, female characters, but this one is quite strident and overt in its exploration of these issues, and has one of the best characters I have ever come across in young adult fiction to demonstrate this, and she isn’t the main character. She actually shows the main character up a little and makes you want to shake Ella and urge her to take control of her life and stop swaying in the winds of fate or doing what she thinks others or the universe expects. Actually, this is Ella’s real journey, I think, and I am interested to see what comes out of this in book three.

I know some of this is a little unclear, but it is very hard to describe the brilliance of this novel without giving away any spoilers. Let me just summarise. As well as having a cracking base story line of a doomed romance between two passionate people kept apart by monumental tribulations, this book is an exploration of some fascinating, historical events that demonstrate how the cause of female empowerment has been fought and opposed throughout the centuries, and how it still continues today. Having just watched the Jeffrey Epstein documentary at the same time as reading this, I have been left with a very unsettled feeling and a sense of wanting my daughters to understand their history and the difficulties they are still going to face in a world that has treated women as lesser than for centuries. There is also a fascinating subversion of our understanding of good and evil that plays into this, and the whole thing blends into an entertaining and complex novel that is one of the most intense and thought-provoking novels I have ever read. Cover this with the gloss of exquisite prose, and you are left with a book that is pure joy to read.

A quite stunning piece of work.

Son of Secrets is out now and you can buy a copy, here.  The first book in the Indigo Chronicles series, The Path Keeper, is available by following this link.

Please do check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour as well:

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About the Author

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N J Simmonds is the author of fantasy series The Indigo Chronicles – she also writes Manga comics and is one half of Caedis Knight. Her stories are magical, historical and full of complex women, page-turning twists and plenty of romance. Originally from London, she now lives with her family in the Netherlands.

Connect with the author:

Website: http://njsimmonds.com

Facebook: N J Simmonds Author

Twitter: @NJSimmondsTPK

Instagram: @njsimmonds_author

Blog Tour: I Am Dust by Louise Beech #BookReview

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When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

A new book by Louise Beech is always something to get excited about so I feel very privileged to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest novel, I Am Dust today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for including me on the tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

“a moment when darkness falls, and the stage is lit; a moment when they might wonder if they even exist any more; when they forget everything for two hours.”

This is a quote from early on in I Am Dust, the new book by Louise Beech, when we first meet the protagonist, Chloe, in the modern day setting of the Dean Wilson Theatre where she is an usher. Chloe is talking about the moment just before the curtain rises on a show, where the audience hang in anticipation of being swept away to a new world, taken out of their mundane lives and transported and immersed in someone else’s for a while. Everyone who loves the theatre, and I certainly count myself amongst that number, recognises this feeling.

I have picked this quote out and included it here because this is also exactly how opening the first page of a new book by this author makes me feel. Breathless with anticipation and ready to be transported to somewhere completely different and, I have to say, that I Am Dust delivered on this sense of promise on every level. I read this book pretty much in a single sitting over the course of one day, ignoring everything around me because I was so captivated and consumed by the story that Louise placed between these pages that I could not bear to break the spell before it was over. A bit like when you emerge from a virtuoso performance, slightly disoriented and blinking in the alien light of the real world, I came out of this reading experience, preoccupied and slightly bereft, but with the horde of emotions the tale had stirred up in me still buzzing through my veins.

One of the things that makes Louise’s writing so unique is that it defies genre pigeon-holeing. Everyone is different and unique, and you never know quite what to expect, except that you know it is never going to be straight-forward and that it will touch you in a million different ways. Here we have a mystery, a ghost story, a tale of love and rivalry and an exploration of teenage angst, ambition, and sacrifice. It has so many levels of complexity that it takes a while to sort out how you feel about the book once you have finished it, and it made me immediately want to go back to the beginning and start again so I could savour the tiny details I missed on my first impatient read-through where I both couldn’t wait to get to the end and could not bear to be finished either. These dichotomies will be familiar to anyone who has read Louise’s work before, and feed through to many aspects of her stories, a case in point here being the theme that it is possible to both love and hate someone at the same time.

This is a dual timeline story, set in the present day Dean Wilson Theatre where a revival of the controversial musical, Dust, is imminent; a musical which has profound meaning for our main character, Chloe, and its return stirs up painful feelings and memories from the past for her. We also then have flashbacks to one intense summer during Chloe’s teenage years, the events of which are now bleeding through in to the present. The narrative construct works really well to reveal pertinent facts to the reader at the same time as they are recalled by Chloe and impact the present day events, and it delivers a level of tension and urgency that it one of the main reasons I was unable to set this book aside during the first reading.

This page-turning quality is only one small part of what makes this book so compelling, though. The character development and exploration is also exquisite. Chloe is so well drawn, so sympathetic and recognisable a person to carry this book that the reader cannot help but be taken along on her journey and feel all that she feels along the way. The pain of her teenage years, of intense, unrequited love and those instant, fierce, emotional swings are so vivid and familiar, the story feels absolutely real, even when exploring the supernatural elements. There have been many books and movies that have  used the link between unchecked teenage emotion and psychic happenings, but here Louise draws Chloe’s angst so honestly and believably that the occurrences seem almost inevitable, as does her reaction to them, and to the pain of just being as a teenager. The book explores some difficult topics, but always sensitively, and my heart was just beating along with Chloe’s, feeling deeply what she is feeling throughout the story.

The other quality that makes this book extra special is the one I pointed out at the beginning, how the author has managed to encapsulate absolutely perfectly the dream-like feeling of a theatre production and bring it to life in the pages of this novel. That sense of being held in a bubble, separate from the real world, disconnected from time for a while and completely captive to the story. This ethereal, surreal quality to the reading experience is something I am not sure I have experienced before and I am not sure how she has managed to do it, I could not pinpoint what it is about the text that makes this so, but it is so magical that it left me almost breathless. It is a quality that makes this ghost story believable, because the whole story seems illusory, both past and present, as if there is a gauzy curtain between what is happening here and reality. It is very hard to describe, I think you need to read the book yourself to experience it, but it is quite startling in its originality and something very special.

My love for this book is unbounded. It is deeply moving in parts, it almost brought me to tears at the end, because the emotions bleed off the page. I could wax lyrical about what makes this book special all day and still fail to really convey what makes it outstanding, but you are probably already bored. So I’ll just finish by saying, you will never have had a reading experience quite like this and Louise’s chameleon-like abilities as a writer continue to amaze me with every new book. I was blown away by I Am Dust and it has flown into my top ten books of the year, please, please read it for yourself.

I Am Dust is out now as am ebook and will be published in paperback on 16 April, and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the I Am Dust blog tour, check out the details on the poster below:

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About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Connect with Louise:

Website: https://louisebeech.co.uk

Facebook: Louise Beech

Twitter: @LouiseWriter

Instagram: @louisebeech13

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The Devil’s Bride by Emma S. Jackson #BookReview #BlogTour (@ESJackson1) @darkstrokedark @crookedcatbooks @RNATweets #PNR #paranormalromance #romance #TheDevilsBride

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England, 1670

No one goes near Edburton Manor – not since the night in 1668, when demons rose from the ground to drag Lord Bookham’s new bride to a fiery death. Or so the locals say.

That’s what makes it the perfect hideout for the gang of highwaymen Jamie Lorde runs with.

Ghost stories have never frightened her. The living are a far more dangerous prospect, particularly to a woman in disguise as a man. A woman who can see spirits in a time when witches are hanged and who is working hard to gain the trust of the most ruthless, vicious man she has ever known because she intends to ruin and kill him.

But when the gang discovers Matthew, Lord Bookham’s illegitimate brother, who has been trapped by a curse at the Manor ever since the doomed wedding, all Jamie’s carefully laid plans are sent spiralling out of control.

I am over the moon today to be celebrating the publication of my fellow RNA New Writers’ Scheme member, Emma Jackson’s new paranormal romance, The Devil’s Bride. My thanks to Emma for inviting me to take part in the tour, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Look, I’m going to admit that this book is in a genre I wouldn’t normally read. I’m not someone you will find wandering the aisles of the paranormal romance section of my local bookstore, eagerly sniffing out my next read. But when someone you know writes a book and is kind enough to mention you in the acknowledgements (thank you, Emma, that was a lovely surprise!), the least you can do is check it out.

I made the mistake of starting this very late at night, straight after I had finished another book, and I was way too tired at that point to give the opening chapters the attention they deserved , so it took my a little while to get into the story. This is entirely down to the fact that this book steps outside my normal genre choices and is so rich in detail and atmosphere that it required some concentration from me to get into the groove of the writing style. This is absolutely no reflection on the author at all, because when I came back to it fresh the next morning and started again, I was absolutely hooked and devoured it in a single sitting. I was so completely absorbed in the book that my OH was complaining that I wasn’t listening to him while he was trying to talk to me (he was right, I wasn’t, the book was way more interesting!)

Despite the fact I am not a connoisseur of Gothic romance, I can appreciate good writing in any genre when I come across it, and this book is just fabulous. From the opening chapters, we are whisked to a sumptuously drawn, all-enveloping world which you can feel, hear, touch, taste and smell from the very first page. Honestly, I felt like I was putting on a period costume and wearing it for the duration of the book; it was so vivid, I was living it. Imagine  yourself in a dense, dark forest surrounding a crumbling and sinister house, haunted by heaven knows what or who. Imagine you are approaching this house in the company of some bloodthirsty and merciless highwaymen, and at the same time, you are pretending to be something you are not and are desperate not to be found out. Can you feel the suspense and the tension? Well, you don’t have to imagine it if you pick this book up because the author will take you right there and plonk you in the middle of the action, then keep you there, straining every nerve from first page to last.

I loved the premise of this book, and inhabited fully the character of Jamie throughout. I was with her through every tense moment, every risky decision, every moment of strain between her and the other characters. Jamie is a brilliant protagonist to carry this book, a strong, independent woman of the day, fighting against the circumstances she finds herself in and determined to carry through with her plans. She is headstrong and passionate and, to a degree, ruthless, but with a seam of compassion that allows her to be  likeable. In short, she is my kind of woman and I absolutely adored her.

Matthew was also a great character, and Fielding, and Emma has built a beautiful, detailed and complete world here. In fact, it gave me a whiff of one of my favourite books of all time, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, with a strong woman falling in amongst rogues and having to hold her own, and I can’t really think of a better compliment to pay than that. We’ve got pistols and punches and curses and ghosts and romance and the supernatural, all described in exquisite detail. What could there possibly be not to love about this book?

I was left at the end exhilarated, breathless and totally shocked by the turn the plot had taken, and with a million questions that need answering. The author has very cleverly written a satisfying book on its own, but with the door left open for a sequel and a desperate compulsion in the reader to know WHAT COMES NEXT, which will mean the success of a sequel is already guaranteed. Where is the next book, I need it! I am in awe, Emma, truly, you have done the most magnificent job on this book, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it.

The Devil’s Bride is out now in paperback and ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

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Emma Jackson is the best-selling author of A MISTLETOE MIRACLE, published by Orion Dash. A devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old, she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writers’ Scheme at the beginning of 2019, determined to focus on her writing. Her debut novel was published in November 2019.

When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE is her second novel, published by DarkStroke as Emma S Jackson. She hopes to continue working across sub-genres of romance, as she believes variety is the spice of life. 

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

 

Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson #BookReview #BlogTour (@davewatsonbooks) @WildWolfPublish @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TalesOfWhatTheF*ck

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I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawn shop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the Fuck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.

Well, I stepped well outside my comfort zone with this book, but that is always one of the pleasures of book blogging, reading things you would not normally pick up. This is definitely a book that would not usually find its way in to my reading schedule, and I’m still not 100% sure what I just read, but it certainly shook me out of any reading complacency I may have found myself in!

This book is extremely hard to categorise, such a random mix of flash fiction, poetry and short stories across a very diverse bunch of genres, with not much to link them except the perverse mind that wrote them all. And I think that the mind which came up with all of these may be something we don’t want to dwell on too much, because a lot of the stories are very dark and twisted!

Any one of a squeamish disposition should steer well clear, along with anyone offended by swearing. However, readers of a more robust and curious nature may wish to dip a toe in and explore this unique compendium of dark tales. If you do, you will encounter the unexpected at every turn, come face to face with criminals, psychopaths, aliens and much, much more around every corner, and wonder how you ended up where you find yourself.

The big draw for this book is that parts of it are very funny, if your sense of humour takes a turn towards the black side, and there are a lot of wry observations on the vagaries of modern life and relationships. This book will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly different, and the author is obviously talented, lending a hand to a lot of different styles. One for those times when you fancy stretching the boundaries of your experience and opening your mind a little.

Tales of What The F*ck is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for the reactions of other bloggers to this book.

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About the Author

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D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Pubishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland, and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

Connect with Dave:

Facebook: Dave Watson Books

Twitter: @davewatsonbooks

Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews #GuestPost (@PaulaAAuthor) @matadorbooks #OrangesAndLemons

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Gregarious teenager, Jessifer Jordan, has always been loyal and open, and her love of acting has made her an expert in pretence. So, when six-year old Victorian ghost, Adeline, appears in her life and Jess’s best friend won’t believe her, deceit becomes Jess’s natural ally. Previously fun-loving and sociable, she becomes serious and isolated in her quest to discover what Adeline really wants. Always curious, she finds herself whisked back in time to 1863 and into the clutches of a volatile doctor with an obsession for morphine.

As she journeys back and forth into the past, she realises that Adeline reminds her of her dead sister and her submerged grief resurfaces. Will her great aunt Ruby’s counsel help her? Can she outwit the deranged medic? And whose is that smoky cat which keeps turning up out of the blue?

I am delighted to be featuring Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews on the blog today with a fabulous guest post from the author. My thanks to Sophie Morgan at Troubador for inviting me to do the feature.

Author interview with Paula F. Andrews

What is your book about?

Oranges and Lemons is a light ghost story, set in York, and involving time-slip episodes between the modern day and 1863. The main character is a fourteen-year-old contemporary teenage girl called Jessifer. She answers the call of a six-year-old ghost called Adeline. Her quest leads to conflict with her best friends and wonderful, beloved Aunt Ruby but underlines her deep empathy, love and loyalty. 

When did you know you wanted to write a book, and why this one? What was your inspiration?

I had an idea for a children’s picture book about ten years ago which led me to begin a course in writing for children. I then created a teenage girl character and felt I could write a story that would bring her together with a little ghostly character from local legend. I’d been interested in the little ghost since my teenage years and felt her fun, vibrant personality would be perfect for a book for young teenagers. The picture book is still at the idea stage!

How did you research the story? What was the most fascinating thing you learned?

I spent a long time looking into the development of morphine analgesia and the development of the hypodermic syringe. I did most of my research online but I also spent time in the Library and Archives in York, examining texts about the city, its streets and buildings, disease and medical care in the 1860s. I discovered that The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley was published in the year my story is set and also that the American Civil War was happening at the same time as the little ghost’s father was doing his own research into using the hypodermic syringe.

How long do you write each day?

I try to spend part of each day writing, whether it’s a blog, letters, social media posts, novel, short story or poetry writing. Now that my book has been published and I am working on the marketing and sales side of things as well, I’ve set aside three days for mainly writing and editing with the remainder of the working week allocated to  planning and doing events, signings and launches. Inevitably, I spend part of my weekend doing admin and also some writing.

Where do you like to write?

Until recently, I wrote in my lounge, which meant tidying all my papers, storyboards, etc, away, at the end of the day. So, now, I have converted our spare room into a writing-cum-guest-cum-sitting room where I can have all my things spread out! (Until someone comes to stay!)

I also love to write in cafes! And people watch at the same time!

What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had about being a writer that you’d like to share with others?

To write every day, even if it’s only a short letter or a social media post. Using the ‘writing muscles’ is important for maintaining skill but to achieve real growth, daily writing is vital.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? What was the best? 

The hardest: agonising over cutting out characters and chunks I really liked.

The best: seeing each of my unique characters take shape and giving them different voices.

What has been your favourite part of the publishing process?

Getting the final cover design!

Do you have plans for another book?

I have a completed fantasy novel for middle grade readers which requires editing. I also have ideas about another story involving some of the characters from Oranges and Lemons but with a different setting. And I have begun planning a second novel for middle grade readers.

Paula, thank you for answering my questions, it has been fascinating to hear about your writing process.

Oranges and Lemons is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Paula F. Andrews has been a nurse, midwife and craftsperson. She grew up in North Yorkshire and now lives in Glasgow with her husband and grown-up children. Writing seriously since 2012, she has won numerous prizes including Strathkelvin Writers’ Group overall prize for 2019 and the Scottish Association of Writers prize for YA fiction in 2017. She has also been published in Aquila and Scottish Memories magazine.
Connect with Paula:

Website: http://paulaandrews.co.uk

Twitter: @PaulaAAuthor

Facebook: Paula Andrews

Instagram: @paulaandrewsauthor

When The Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick #BookReview #BlogTour (@helensedgwick) @PtBlankBks @OneworldNews @annecater #RandomThingsTours #WhenTheDeadComeCalling

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A murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where long buried secrets threaten a small community

When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force set out to investigate. It’s not long before they uncover a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia.

But there’s worse to come. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fergus, DI Georgie Strachan soon realizes that something very bad is lurking just below the surface. Meanwhile someone – or something – is hiding in the strange, haunted cave beneath the cliffs.

My first blog tour of the new year and I am delighted to be reviewing When The Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a crime book with a difference, quite unlike anything I’ve read before. I have to say, for quite a large chunk of the book I wasn’t’t really sure what was going on. We meet a first person narrator who is hiding out in a sea cave, but it is unclear who this person is or whether the things they are seeing are real until almost the end of the book. There are a series of crimes which no one quite knows whether they are connected or not, or what the motivations are behind them for a long time. It struck me that this is quite likely the closest feeling to how real investigations unravel, but it was an unusual construct for a novel and I was feeling my way through it quite confusedly for much of the time. I suspect this may put some, particularly impatient, readers off, but it is worth sticking with it.

The main reason I suggest you want to stick with this book is the pure beauty of the writing. The author has a masterful voice, the writing is lyrical and descriptive, truly invoking the starkness, remoteness and hostility of the book’s isolated location and imbuing it with the despair and menace that is the bedrock of the story. I could feel the sea spray, smell the seaweed, feel the decay, it was all immersive. On top of this, the book has an eerie, dream-like, ethereal quality which, again, mirrors and enhances the storyline. The line between reality and imagination are blurred and unclear throughout, questions are left hanging, not everything is explained. This is really a very unusual and exciting twist on a crime novel and it has made me very keen to see what will come next in the series.

This book will not appeal to everyone because it is so different. The pacing is not quite as frantic as some may expect from crime books, and it is a curious mix of the straight-forward and the mystic. However, the issues addressed are current, relevant and compelling, the characters diverse, well-rounded and interesting and the crime suitably violent, complex and baffling. I think it is a book that will reward a repeat read to draw out all of the subtleties and nuances of the story and that rewards readers who are curious and adventurous. I recommend it for those who enjoy beautiful writing, clever plotting and something a little out of the mainstream.

When The Dead Come Calling is out tomorrow and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour, you can follow via the poster below:

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About the Author

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Helen Sedgwick is the author of The Comet Seekers, selected as a best book of 2016 by the Herald, and The Growing Season, shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year in 2018. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.

Before she became an author, she was a research physicist with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University. She now lives and writes in the Scottish Highlands.

Connect with Helen:

Website: http://www.helensedgwick.com

Facebook: Helen Sedgwick Author

Twitter: @helensedgwick

Instagram: @helensedgwickauthor

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Magpie by Sophie Draper #BookReview #BlogTour (@sophiedraper9) @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @NetGalley #NetGalley #Magpie

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She’s married to him. But does she know him at all?

Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.

But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.

Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family … But can she face the truth?

It’s my turn on the blog tour today for Magpie, the second book by Sophie Draper. Huge thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for asking me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I have to admit, this book took a little while to get going for me. It is the story of a troubled family, living in a small village in the Peak District. Duncan and Claire have been married a long time, but the marriage is in difficulty, not helped by the problems suffered by their only son, Joe. Claire is on the verge of leaving when Joe goes missing and everything really falls apart.

The book is told from the dual perspectives of Duncan and Claire and, to begin with, neither of them were characters I particularly warmed to which made it difficult to form that connection with the book. It is hard to know which of them is telling the truth about their relationship. As well as jumping between the perspectives of Duncan and Claire, the story also runs on two timelines – Before and After (before and after what is the crux of the story)- this made the book a little difficult to follow, it requires a certain level of concentration to keep up with who is talking and in what point of the story. I am not sure I have read a book that jumps about in quite such a complicated and disjointed fashion.

However, and this is a big however, this book is absolutely worth the perseverance it took to get into the groove. A third of the way through, I became completely hooked on the story and raced through the rest of the book in desperation to get to the end. This story has so many elements that I love in a novel – suspense, deception, atmosphere – and it is extremely creepy. The author does a wonderful job of bringing to life the oppressive feel of remote corners of the Peaks, especially in winter when the looming crags and endless expanse can feel claustrophobic (I used to live in Ashbourne, so I know this area well).

You will find it hard to categorise this book. Is it a thriller? Is it suspense? Is it gothic? It is all of these things and more. It took a while, but it eventually got under my skin and became a compelling story that I had to pursue to the end. I had no idea what was going on for the majority of the story, I did not guess what was coming until very close to the end and it was a story that really took me by surprise. That can be a hard thing to do to someone who reads as much as I do.

An initially slow-burning novel that turns in to an atmospheric treat with a marvellous pay off. If you are looking for something a bit different and are willing to have a little patience, this is a fulfilling read.

Magpie is out now and you buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for more perspectives on the book:

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About the Author

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Sophie ‘s debut novel, CUCKOO, was published by Avon (HarperCollins) on 29th Nov 2018. It won the Bath Novel Award 2017 (as “The Pear Drum”) and the prestigious Friday Night Live competition at the York Festival of Writing 2017.

Her second book, MAGPIE, is due out on 28th November 2019.

Sophie lives with her family in Derbyshire, in a house filled with music, several cats, too many books and three growing boys. When not writing, Sophie works as a traditional oral storyteller. She was nominated for the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence 2013 (Outstanding Female Storyteller) and performs across the UK, telling stories for all ages at festivals, schools, historic houses, museums and community groups.

Connect with Sophie:

Website: https://www.sophiedraper.co.uk

Facebook: Sophie Draper Author

Twitter: @sophiedraper9

Tangled Roots by Denise D. Young #BlogTour #GuestPost (@ddyoungbooks) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TangledRoots

Tangled Roots

I am taking my turn on the blog tour today for Tangled Roots by Denise D. Young by featuring a guest post by the author. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for the guest post.

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A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.

Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.

It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.

Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.

Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?

*The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy magic, swoon-worthy kisses, and small-town charm. The series is best read in order.

Why I Went Indie: My Journey to Being An Indie Author by Denise D. Young

In May of this year, I reached a milestone: I published my debut release, Tangled Roots, part of my Tangled Magic Series. But my writing journey, full of twists and turns, began 11 years ago.

I graduated with my master’s degree in creative writing in 2008. At that time, indie publishing was sort of this wild, newfangled notion—an experiment, really.

My first encounter with indie-authordom was with now RITA award-winning romance author, Kait Nolan. Kait’s smart, confident, no-nonsense yet approachable demeanor combined with her phenomenal writing chops were my first glimpse that indie authors could take the world by storm. That passion and determination inspired me.

But that was 2008, and I wasn’t ready. I had lessons to learn, skills to master, and confidence to gain.

I published a few short stories over the years, but I wasn’t quite ready to hit publish on my longer works. They languished in drawers as I proclaimed them in need of one last polish.

And then, in 2018, I saw indie author Sarra Cannon speak at a local RWA chapter. Her talk rekindled my fire to get my stories out into the world.

In January 2019, I made the decision official: I was going the indie author path. There’s no right or wrong path to being an author. Success can be found on many paths.

So, what led me to choose the indie author path?

First, I have the right blend of personality traits for it.

I’ve long had an entrepreneurial mindset, which I trace back to the first business I ever started: Vampires, Inc., a vampire-slaying business my brother and I co-founded when I was nine and he was eight. (Vampires, Inc. was also my first experience with the importance of market research, as we soon closed for business when unable to find a single customer in need of our services.)

I’m analytical and like to make data-driven decisions, but I also trust my intuition to help me make the final call. I’m fairly tech-savvy and enjoy learning new skills, which come in handy when learning anything from how to purchase ISBNs to Amazon keywords.

Second, I like being able to set my own production schedule and choose my own creative projects.

Like any writer, I do sometimes struggle with shiny-idea syndrome, but now that I’ve published book one of my series, I’m focused on sharing the stories of the Willow Creek Coven with readers. I want Nick, Cassie, Vivienne, Evan, Bailee, and the other characters in the series to triumph, save the day, and live happily ever after. Having Tangled Roots out there makes me that more focused on this series.

The truth is there is a lot of pressure on indie authors to write and publish extremely quickly—but not all indies publish at warp speed. (Kudos to those who do, though! Wow!) Indie authors publish at a variety of speeds, so despite the perception, there’s still plenty of space within the indie publishing world to publish at your own speed. Not, say, as slowly as a redwood grows, but at your own pace.

Third, I like being engaged at all steps of the creative and publishing process.

This might be a holdover from my magazine days, when I served as assistant editor and did everything from write feature articles to copyedit submitted materials to brainstorm cover design. I enjoy working with graphic designers, editors, and others who are part of the production process that takes a story from manuscript to published book.

Fourth, I like getting my stories into readers’ hand as quickly as possible.

There’s merit to the traditional publishing process, and I have friends who have found success beyond many writers’ wildest dreams on this path. For me, the idea of spending years from slush pile to release day felt stifling.

It’s not that I jumped too quickly into the process. Again, I’ve been writing paranormal romance since 2008. I spent over a decade learning the elements of craft, industry, and business I’d need to create a recipe for my indie author business.

I’m still only one book into this, but I know I’ve found the right path for me. People like Kait and Sarra and countless others are the trailblazers who paved the way for those of us who are just now beginning our indie-publishing journeys.

Who knows what magic awaits? As for me, I’m eager to continue sharing my Tangled Magic Series with readers, including Tangled Roots and the next book, Tangled Flames, which is coming soon!

Tangled Roots is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book and discover more fabulous content, make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

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About the Author

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Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.

Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of romance varying from sweet to sensual.

She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is the answer (no matter what the question was).

If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

Connect with Denise:

Website: http://www.denisedyoungbooks.com

Facebook: Denise Young Writer

Twitter: @ddyoungbooks

Instagram: @deniseyoungbooks

What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn #BookReview #BlogTour (@disfunctionaldi) @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #WhatGoesAround

What Goes Around

Alice has been playing the perfect Southern wife for over twenty-five years. So when Bob dumps her for some blonde bimbo twenty years her junior, Alice figures she’s entitled to every dollar she can bleed from him. And, once she’s got the money, she’s entitled to use it on a much-needed vacation to Nanm Paradi, a Caribbean resort that sells itself as her “soul’s paradise”.

She’s never experienced anything as luxurious as Nanm Paradi. The staff know her every desire and cater to her every need before she even knows she needs it. She figures this is how the really rich live and she’s ready to take advantage of all of it–the fabulous drinks, the beautiful views, and the handsome men. And when she discovers that voodoo magic is also on offer… well, Bob hurt her bad. She can take some time away from paradise to exact a little pain. Alice would have been happy to leave things at that. 

But when she gets hit where it hurts–her bank account–Alice’s game changes. It’s no longer about post-divorce romance. Now it’s about revenge.

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really fun, quirky little novella that was very different to my normal choice of reading material. A mixture of thriller, romance and travel with a dash of the supernatural, all overlaid with a gloss of Southern sass and you have a spicy cocktail of a read that you can’t help but enjoy.

The main character, Alice, is a feisty Southern belle who is smarting from her divorce from wealthy lawyer, Bob, who has dumped her for a younger model. She decides to take a luxurious holiday to the tropical paradise resort of Nanm Paradi to indulge in some sun, sea and maybe a bit of rebound romance. The resort exceeds all her expectations, especially when she stumbles on the secrets of some Creole voodoo. Well, what woman scorned wouldn’t be tempted to engage in a little mystical revenge on the ex who humiliated her and broke her heart? Perfectly understandable! But, as she finds out, it can be dangerous to meddle in forces which you can’t control.

I really liked Alice, she was funny and determined and completely outrageous, unlike anyone I have ever met. I loved the touch of Southern charm that ran through the book, and I think she came across very strongly. The story is quite mad, of course, but it is great escapism to suspend your disbelief for a while and just sink into the alternative universe of the story where waiters are mind readers and voodoo queens can help you live out your wild revenge fantasies. Throw in a perfect tropical paradise and an ideal rebound man, and you have yourself a story!

If I had a niggle, it was that there were a couple plot strands that weren’t quite tied up for me, and one aspect at the end that I did query as whether it followed through on the idea that had been set up in the story, but that is the pedant in me talking, and really this is not the book for pedantry. It is pure, fun escapist fiction and should be approached as such. There are much worse ways to while away and hour that with this unique, engaging story. Give it a go if you are looking for something a little different.

What Goes Around is out now and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you visit some of the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour and read their reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Life and loves after the career.

With degrees in Finance and Economics, Rachel found wonderful success in the business world, which took her I.T. and financial process consulting international. However, with her mind focused on business, and with the lack of training and mentoring in her personal life, marriage success eluded her.

After foraging on a path of self-awareness and exploration with a determination to avoid repeating patterns again, she found the key to relationship bliss. Now, combining her passion for writing and storytelling with her skills, knowledge, and drive that led to her business acclaim, Rachel shares her off beat take on the world, and her findings where life, love, divorce, and children are concerned.

Rachel is determined to be a publicist’s nightmare by writing in multiple genres including children’s fiction, flash fiction, romance, and suspense/thriller.

After multiple divorces, she is now happily married and lives in the Kansas City Metropolitan area enjoying the household noise of her soon-to-be empty nest.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://www.rachelellyn.com

Facebook: Rachel Ellyn

Twitter: @disfunctionaldi

Instagram: @rachelellyn

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