Death Will Find Me Blog tour

 

 

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Scotland, 1920.


Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.

Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.

Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love. 

Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?

.Death Will Find Me (A Tessa Kilpatrick Mystery, Book 1) by [Robertson, Vanessa]

 

I absolutely loved this very readable debut from Vanessa Robertson and I am so excited to be kicking off the blogtour with my fabulous fellow #BookBloggingBelle Joanne – otherwise known as @portybelle.  Make sure you head over to her blog later on today to find out what she thought of Death Will Find Me too.

As soon as I received the email, describing it to me from the lovely Kelly at LoveBooksGroup,  I knew that I wanted to read it – it sounded perfect reading for a weekend break in Edinburgh and I couldn’t have chosen a better or more atmospheric novel to keep me company in my city hideaway…

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love both a historical read and a book with a strong female lead that I can identify with and feel like I’ve time-travelled into their life for a few hours whilst reading it. When a historically based novel is well done, it’s my favourite kind of book – but it can be notoriously difficult to pull off effectively. Often, I’ve been left disappointed by a character who really feels ‘out of time’ or displays attitudes and ideas that are totally removed from that time period – or I’d feel unconvinced by their relationships and conversations as just feeling, well, way too modern…

Death Will Find Me is fortunately not one of those books: this first adventure of the indomitable Tessa Kilpatrick is fantastically realised slice of the 1920s– whether we are with Tessa at that fateful country house party or following the trail of a killer with the fantastically named Hamish Rasmussen  in the New Town of Edinburgh I found myself equally engaged and enjoyed the way that these two very different characters and settings complemented and chimed with one another. The fact that I was in Edinburgh whilst I was reading it added another layer of enjoyment for me as I imagined walking the same imposing streets as the characters in the novel as I strolled down Howe Street to Circus place, lost in the atmosphere of the fabulous 1920s.

Another part of the New Town that I love is our portrait gallery and in my research after finishing Vanessa Robertson’s book, I discovered that there is a matching portrait to the the Rupert Brooke poem that opens the book:

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Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire
Of watching you; and swing me suddenly
Into the shade and loneliness and mire

which you can admire right here

 

There are many ways to apply this snatch of poetry to the way that Tessa and Hamish find their lives unfolding in this novel. After the fateful night when James dies and Tess finds herself in the frame for his murder, she definitely finds herself in the shade and loneliness and mire where she feels compelled to start asking questions about what really happened that night, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, and clear her name – whilst the idea of death finding her is also a pertinent one.

Tess feels alone and isolated in the early part of this novel, and her determination to get to the bottom of this mystery, whilst not falling a victim herself drives the narrative forward as we, just like Tess want to find out how all the strands of this story connect. The painting itself has both a melancholy and mysterious air and I found myself thinking about the shadowy figures in this novel that Tessa finds herself surrounded by as I looked at the painting and thought about how I could connect it with the feeling of this book.

Hamish Rasmussen is a compelling character too;  the parts of the novel that describe his sleuthing with Tess in 1920s Edinburgh were among my favourite parts of this book; I really found it such a satisfying  read. If you are a fan of the fantastic Sara Sheridan – which I definitely am, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere here. There is that same period detail with a compelling female lead that I really enjoy and I can see this series gathering  admirers as the doughty Mirabelle Bevan has.

You don’t have to be a fan of historical fiction to fall for with this book either, and I feel like the readability of Vanessa Robertson’s novel could convert the staunchest of contemporary fiction fans. I thoroughly recommend Death Will Find Me to anyone looking for a book that will allow them to drop right into a fictional world and feel what it might be like to live there.

Tessa is a fabulous character and I am conscious of not saying too much as I’d love you to meet her for yourself. Suffice to say her somewhat mysterious back-story as a covert operations agent means that she isn’t your average ‘Bright Young Thing’ and – perhaps because of this – does not always find it easy to navigate the restrictive social niceties of the time or restrict herself to the kind of activities or opinions that other ‘nice gels’ of her time might be expected to – and she is all the more compelling a character because of this. I found this fabulous  portrait online and it really made me wish I could go back in time and meet her

 

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Having spent so many years selling books in The Edinburgh Bookshop,  Vanessa Robertson clearly has a very real understanding of what readers look for in a great read and this comes across very clearly in her debut novel. Her story of winning Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect is a fantastic one and it must be wonderful to see everything coming together now the book is published. I really can’t wait for the second instalment in Tess Kilpatrick’s adventures and am delighted that I won’t have to wait too long in order to do so.  I’ve only got the ebook of this novel, but I’m looking forward to treating myself to a hard copy before too long!

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If you want to read the blogposts of more bloggers who will be telling you what they think of this fabulous period treat then follow the blogtour below:

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Thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my copy of the book.

Death Will Find Me is available now. Click here to order yourself a copy 

Writer On The Shelf

 

Being a writer was a dream from childhood but I gave up on the idea of writing when I was a teenager, not long after I abandoned other childhood ambitions of being a trapeze artist or a spy. After acquiring a couple of degrees and trying various ‘proper jobs’, I realised that I am fundamentally unsuited to office politics, bad coffee, and wearing tights.

My husband and I founded The Edinburgh Bookshop, winner of many awards. Bookselling is a wonderful profession and a good bookshop is a source of pure joy to me. I love independent bookshops and the amazing job they do in championing reading, supporting authors, and building communities. But, after a few years, it was time for a change and we sold the bookshop to make way for other projects.

I took the opportunity to start writing again and was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors in 2015. It was a fantastic opportunity and getting such positive feedback about my ideas gave me the push I needed to take my writing seriously.

I live in Edinburgh with my husband, our teenage son and an unfeasibly large Leonberger dog. I can usually be found walking on windy Scottish beaches, browsing in bookshops, or tapping away on my laptop in one of the scores of cafes near my home.

 

Read Vanessa’s blog and find out more about her here

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Blood Orange Blog Tour

 

 

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Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

 

Blood Orange by [Tyce, Harriet]

Blood Orange was my first read of 2019 and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this book is seriously going to take a lot of beating as my top read of the year. I was totally bowled over by this sparkling debut novel and have been telling absolutely everyone about it since the minute I finished it.

Blood Orange has been wowing readers since it burst onto the scene and once you’ve read it, you’ll definitely see why. Alison’s story combines all of the necessary ingredients for a compelling read: sex, crime, lust, betrayal, duplicity and murder – you can see why I read it in one breathless afternoon in the Christmas holidays, both desperate to finish it and never wanting it to end.

The fact that Harriet Tyce practised law herself means that I was even more caught up in this story as everyone who knows me is well aware of the lure of a gripping crime story and courtroom drama – Blood Orange successfully mingles this with the darkest of domestic noir stories and manages to keep it completely believable at the same time, which I’m sure you’ll agree is no mean feat. Ignore the imitators, this is the real thing and I guarantee that as soon as you open its first page, you’ll be inventing every excuse under the sun to shut yourself away until you’ve finished the final chapter.

Even though many people have been comparing it with The Girl on the Train or Apple Tree Yard, I got more of a vibe of classics by Ruth Rendell/ Barbara Vine as I read Blood Orange. It is very definitely debut from their very worthy successor and it enthralled me in the same way as many of their novels did – using the crime genre to explore the way that women are judged by society if their sexuality or conduct is viewed as unacceptable in the eyes of the people around them and making you think hard about parenting, gender roles and domestic abuse in a way that never interferes in the telling of a bloody good story.

Readers seem to have had a really fantastic response to the flawed, compelling main character, Alison who is so adept at the finer details of her legal cases and so adrift in her own domestic arrangements, and I think this pays testament to how fantastic Harriet Tyce’s writing is. People seem to be reacting to Alison’s character as if she is a real person;  drawn in by her chaotic and messy story, refracted through the eyes of those around her who all have their own opinions of her as a wife, a mother or as a legal force to be reckoned with. At times, I was so involved in what was going on that I did forget that this was a work of fiction – and don’t even get me started on her husband, Carl…

Harriet Tyce draws us into her Alison’s turbulent world whilst holding us at arms length too, which Alison does to everyone – having a double life as a respectable lawyer, wife and mother, alongside her illicit affair with the unobtainable and sexually magnetic Patrick takes a lot of juggling and self control and it is easy to see how difficult it is for Alison to keep all the strands of her life separate and keep her head clear for the complex murder case she has been waiting for her entire career.  The mystery at the heart of the case is cleverly handled and allows us to draw us closer to the truth whilst never really seeing what is creeping up on the perimeter of the story.

I found myself turning back to the start of the book to see the clues that were there all along in this delightfully twisted tale. Harriet Tyce skilfully leaves us with enough crumbs to navigate our way through the story whilst at the same time, leaving us as vulnerable to manipulation and deceit as some of the novel’s characters. You definitely need to work a little for yourself in the reading of this novel and the scattering of the clues is done so very skilfully that it is incredible that this is her first novel. It deserves every single word of the praise it has been garnering since its launch and is definitely going to be one of those books that you start seeing absolutely everywhere.

Harriet Tyce is incredibly talented. She draws the reader into Alison’s disturbing and disorientating world and forces you to experience these events with her. Whether you can retain sympathy for her flawed and imperfect character will be a very personal response and this is one of the novel’s key strengths: Blood Orange forces you to respond to complex moral issues in a complex way – and once you’re drawn into Alison’s story, it won’t let you go without a fight.

Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me on the Blog Tour for this absolutely unforgettable read.  It’s such a gorgeous looking book that I took immense pleasure in displaying it in my #OnTheShelfie and I’m sure you’ll agree it looks absolutely gorgeous there

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I loved discovering that Harriet Tyce is a fellow Scot and I am desperate to attend her event in The Edinburgh Bookshop later this month although it’s totally sold out. I’m on the waiting list and have everything crossed that a miracle occurs and I get a last-minute ticket – If you’re going, I’m really jealous!

If you don’t manage to get hold of a ticket, you can comfort yourself with treating yourself to a copy of Blood Orange here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I think you will

 

Writer On The Shelf

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Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University before practising as a criminal barrister for the next decade.

After having children she left the Bar and has recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia.

Blood Orange is her first novel.

You can follow Harriet on Twitter @harriet_tyce and visit Harriet’s website here.

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Belle Hotel Blogtour

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13 October 2008. Welcome to the worst day of Chef Charlie Sheridan’s life, the day he’s about to lose his two great loves: his childhood sweetheart, Lulu, and the legendary Brighton hotel his grandfather, Franco Sheridan, opened in 1973.

This is the story of the Belle Hotel, one that spans the course of four decades – from the training of a young chef in the 1970s and 80s, through the hedonistic 90s, up to the credit crunch of the noughties – and leads us right back to Charlie’s present-day suffering.

In this bittersweet and salty tale, our two Michelin star-crossed lovers navigate their seaside hangout for actors, artists and rock stars; the lure of the great restaurants of London; and the devastating effects of three generations of family secrets.

When Anne Cater invited me on The Belle Hotel blog tour, I was delighted as it combined two things I absolutely love – cooking and the seaside! I absolutely love Brighton and its atmosphere of fun and nostalgia and the setting was a huge aspect of why I loved this book.

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The hotel in this novel is almost a character in its own right as we follow it through history across the decades – We see it in the 70’s when I was growing up, right through until its demise around ten years ago and this was one of the things that I also really loved. Books that span various decades are always a real nostalgia-fest for me and I loved being taken back in time to my own family’s seaside holidays in the 1970s and 80s – from Punch and Judy shows to seeing Keith Harris and Orville and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Franco and Charlie’s adventures in running the Belle Hotel across the years was really enjoyable to lose yourself in. The eclectic style of the book, interspersed with recipes such as Omelette Arnold Bennett Lobster Belle Hotel also added to my enjoyment of this read as did the snippets of letters, memos and receipts. It felt like we were fully immersed in the ‘memory’ of the Hotel itself and exploring all these fragments really added to my reading experience.

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I loved the idea that we time travel through the book and see the ups and downs of the Hotel’s history from the other side of the front desk. The fact that Craig Melvin has worked in this industry himself for so long means that this novel has a totally authentic feel to it and I really wondered exactly how much of it was based on his own experiences in the hotel industry across the years.

Having been a waitress in the holiday hotel industry myself as a student I found much to connect with and laugh about in these pages –  I read it aloud to my sister at times to see how much she’d agree with how realistic it was. It sparked so many memories and laughs about our own experiences, through reading about some of the funny moments in the hotel’s long and frequently hilarious history and I definitely felt that the book’s eclectic structure made it easy to keep picking up and indulging in another slice of the hotel’s interesting history.

The book has been described as a ‘Foodie One Day’ by The Big Book Group and I loved that idea – the story of Charlie’s romance with his childhood sweetheart Lulu is one of the most satisfying aspects of The Belle Hotel and there are some bittersweet moments where you’ll definitely be wondering what on earth he is doing as well as plenty of times where you’ll be rooting for him.

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This is a departure from the gothic reads that I’ve been immersed in over the winter and I found it a real palate cleanser to be beside the seaside enjoying the ups and downs of hotel life over the last week, reading The Belle Hotel. If you are after something totally different and feel intrigued to find out more about the fascinating history of The Belle Hotel, then grab yourself a copy right here

Thank you so much to Anne Cater and Unbound for inviting me on the tour and introducing me to another memorable and thought-provoking read that I might never have discovered otherwise. Another reason why I love #Bookblogging so very much

Follow the tour and see what the other Bookbloggers have enjoyed about it too!

Writer on the Shelf

Craig Melvin

Craig Melvin holds an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and works as restaurant consultant in London and Brighton.

He was mentored by Albert Roux at catering college and has worked in the restaurant and hotel business ever since.

He also runs http://www.lunarlemonproductions.com with his wife Mel.

The Belle Hotel is his first book.

 

 

The Sewing Machine Blog Tour

 

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.  His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

‘A tapestry of strong characters and accomplished writing’ Herald Scotland
‘A hopeful and poignant debut that lingers long after the final page’ Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers
‘An extraordinarily accomplished and beautiful debut novel woven with historical detail’
Rachel Lucas, author of Wildflower Bay

The Sewing Machine is the kind of novel that I absolutely love. Three stories connected across time with lives and experiences that you are equally drawn to and whose stories you can move between effortlessly.  Natalie Fergie writes Jean, Connie & Fred so convincingly that you really feel that you’ve spent time in their worlds, making it very hard to pull yourself away. It’s a novel made for long winter afternoons and I got lost in it in my winter break in gorgeous Ayrshire this year.

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The three characters’ stories are all very different and their connections with the sewing machine itself are for very different reasons – what they have in common, however, is a very real feeling of authenticity. It feels like time travel in the very best way. It gives you a chance to experience three very different worlds and get a glimpse through the keyhole in a way that so very few writers are able to conjure for their readers.

 

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Jean and Donald’s involvement in the strike – where 10,000 workers walked out after an incident in the Singer factory made me go off and explore this fascinating episode of history that I’d never previously known about and talk about it with my mum. It is amazing to see how workers were treated by large companies not even that long ago and I loved the way that Jean and Donald’s personal story was brought to life beautifully against the historical background surrounding their romance

 

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Connie and Alf’s story moves us forward in time to a time that many of us will be able to connect with through the tales forged in our own childhoods and told to us by our parents and grandparents. Both my nana and my mum were talented at sewing and my little sister and I spent many happy hours playing with the button boxes, rick rack braid and pinking shears in our childhood. One of the things that I loved best about this book was how much I connected with it personally and the fact that 10,000 other people have loved it too means that Natalie Fergie’s book is clearly allowing lots of people to time-travel seamlessly back into their family’s past.

I often find that multiple narratives can result in you feeling drawn to one that you found more engaging at the expense of the others. Not so here. There was a pleasing balance of all of these stories through their connection with the sewing machine. All of the threads of these stories were so cleverly stitched together that the patchwork take of these lives has stayed with me long after finishing it.  Her characters were so well-drawn that I felt like I knew them and wanted to dedicate my attention to the way their stories interconnected, rather than feeling that one overwhelmed the other.

 

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Natalie Fergie is such a talented voice. She draws the reader into her characters’ worlds and makes them live for us as we read.  Jean and Connie’s tales are all the more powerful due to their connections with real-life events.

The way that Fred’s modern-day story is linked to the past through the discovery of the notebooks was a wonderful device to connect the present and the past seamlessly and allowed us to see that sometimes a book can be so well-written that being brought to tears by its characters seems just as natural as being moved by episodes of your own family history. I cannot recommend it warmly enough and am so delighted that it’s had such success. If you haven’t already put it on your 2019 TBR list, then you absolutely should now.

Here is the link to treat yourself to a copy right away

 

I loved this gorgeous book so much that I devoured it in a single day. Thank you so much to Anne Cater at RandomThingsTours for inviting me to take part in this very special tour

I absolutely loved Fictionophile’s blogpost -and the accompanying picture was just perfect

 

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Now, I’m just waiting on her next one…

 

Writer On The Shelf

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Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business, sending parcels of colourful and unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this, she had a 27-year career as a nurse and latterly, as a Health Visitor.

Natalie lives near Edinburgh with her husband, and a dog called Boris. Her sons have flown the nest.

The Singer 99k which was the inspiration for the novel has had at least four previous owners, possibly more. It was bought for £20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier.

It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house.

Website

Twitter

Material Remains Blog Tour

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A small world fractured in the wake of an untimely death

On a hungover Friday morning, Mike McEwan’s life of tea, pints, late mornings and the occasional essay comes to an abrupt halt. Consumed with guilt, grief and confusion, Mike haunts the ruins of St Andrews, rebuilding them in his mind and obsessing about the loss of someone he barely knew, unsure of his place in her life, or her death.

The discovery of an ancient plague burial site drags Mike back into contact with those around him. But life has changed, both for himself and others, and the burial ground holds more than the bones of those long dead.

Mike peels back the layers of earth and the darkness of its history and tries desperately to connect the victims of the past to the tumult of his present.

Student life around him continues at its own bizarre and drunken pace. Late-night parties, stolen golf carts and ridiculous drinking games go on for most as always. But others have been dragged in as well, and look on Mike with suspicion and rage.

 

 

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As someone who studied in St Andrews, I was intrigued by the premise of a book set somewhere so familiar to me – so when Anne Cater invited me onto this blog tour, I couldn’t have said yes fast enough. Add that to the fact that I love books with a mystery at their heart and ones that draw me in from the very start with an intriguing premise – and it’s safe to say that I was really looking forward to Material Remains…

 

This book grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the way that Mike dealt with Charlie going missing and the journey that he went on in exploring his reaction to her disappearance. At times, I felt like I was right back in St Andrews in the pub with Mike and his friends and I feel that this book has really captured that experience perfectly.

Richard Bray is an excellent writer – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by the disappearance and want to know more about what is being hinted at beneath the surface and the mysterious connections with the burial grounds.  You’ll definitely want to read on and find out exactly what has led to Charlie’s vanishing and how Mike will deal with this situation as student life continues around him despite his loss. It is an evocative read that will make you feel like you are there, walking up the scores and popping in for a pint with Mike and his fellow students.

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I really liked the way that Material Remains asks us to look at events from an unusual perspective and re-see them, once we have a greater understanding of everything that Mike been through in order for us to reevaluate our understanding of what ‘the truth’ actually is. This was a much more intriguing read than I expected – I started off just being drawn in by the St Andrews link and even though it was great to reminisce about Raisin Weekend and high jinks on the beach, I really did begin to immerse myself in the story and enjoy the ideas that emerged through the many ‘deep and meaningful’ stories that these students were exchanging.

 

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This isn’t just a straightforward thriller or mystery. Material Remains goes a little deeper than that and asks us to think about the way that time resonates with the present and the past and how our experiences of grief and loss will affect each and every one of us differently. The end of the novel makes us rethink again everything that we’ve discovered earlier and will leave you deep in thought at the end, for sure.

 

Anyone interested in history, Scotland and human emotions will love this novel. I  had really high hopes for Material Remains and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. Even though this book touched on dark and difficult subject matters at times, it was dealt with very sensitively and Charlie’s disappearance wasn’t sensationalised or dealt with in a brutal or dismissive way.

 

 

Get yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

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Richard W H Bray is an award-winning author (and is a touch smug about this). When not making wine in south-west France he writes books and tries to work out how to move back to Scotland. His first book, Salt & Old Vines, was published by Unbound and you should buy that too.

Severed Blog Tour

 

During a communion service at a village church, the teenage son of a vicar brutally attacks his father with an axe. The horrified congregation watch the son esape and during a frantic police search rumours arise that the boy was involved in devil worship. Professor Matt Hunter, an atheist ex-minister and expert on religion, is brought in to advise, yet he quickly suspects the church attack may have a far more complex cause.

Meanwhile, a ten-year-old boy called Ever grows up in a small Christian cult. The group believe they are the only true humans left and that the world is filled with demons called Hollows, but they’re working on a bizarre ritual that will bring peace and paradise to the world. Soon, the worlds of Matt and Ever will collide in one awful, terrifying night where Matt is thrown into the frightening and murderous world of religious mania.

As soon as I discovered that the detective in this novel was called Jill – I was sold  I was delighted to be invited on the blog tour for this book by Anne Cater as I’m always happy to trust her judgement about my next read. It sounded really intriguing and after finishing it the first thing I did was go in search of everything else Peter Laws has written. It really was that good! Be warned though, if you like darkness, the macabre and an unsettling read then you’ve come to the right place…

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I love Matt Hunter’s character: his family life and relationships are incredibly well drawn and really make you feel like you are being allowed into his world. His relationship with DS Jill Bowland is also very well done and their team dynamic is described in such a way as to make the story feel truly ‘real’ and make us root for them as they navigate some pretty macabre goings-on.  I love that this book defies being pigeonholed into merely one genre – it manages to be a book that people who don’t love ‘straight’ crime novels would also love at the same time. This is largely down to Peter Laws’ skill in characterisation and ability to really keep you on the edge of your seat as things get dark and mysterious very quickly.

This is definitely a mystery to get your teeth into. The religious element brought something very unique to this mystery and the fact that religion is very much Peter Laws’ background gave this a really authentic and credible air. The taut and narrow timeline certainly adds to the tension as Matt and Jill battle to get to the bottom of these terrifying and disturbing events that unfold around them.  Matt’s religious background gives him a unique insight into the world that Ever has grown up in and the very real dangers that he is exposed to. The darkness rising is nicely balanced with domestic detail and some genuinely – albeit darkly funny – scenes and the variety of light and shade was something else about the novel that really worked for me.

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This book drew me in and kept me there. It was a satisfying blend of horror, crime and mystery with a really original voice that I really fell for.  It was definitely one of those books that you pick up and then lift your eyes from to find out that three hours have passed and you’re still reading. That was what made me want to get his other two books as quickly as I can – and they are going to be a reward for when I finally finish my exam marking. Peter Laws’ skilful plate spinning means that Severed holds your attention in a vice-like grip and you will definitely not be able to put it down until you find out the truth behind what both Micah and Ever have been drawn into and what dark forces may be responsible. If you are squeamish or easily disturbed then this might not be the book for you – it certainly does not shy away from the macabre and you might need to sleep with the light on if you are up too late finishing it!

If you haven’t read any of Peter Laws’ books yet, you should begin straight away with this amazing trilogy and I guarantee that you’ll be drawn in as fast as I was and race through them. Browse all three of them here – and treat yourself to all three to get through the dark winter nights. Only thing is, you might need a stiff whisky to accompany you!

Writer On The Shelf

Peter Laws is an ordained Baptist minister with a taste for the macabre. He regularly speaks and preaches at churches and events. He lives with his family
in Bedfordshire.

Links https://www.peterlaws.co.uk/

Twitter @revpeterlaws

 

 

 

 

17 Degrees Magazine – Jill’s Winter Reads

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It’s January and I hope that your 2019 has got off to a great beginning. It’s been so exciting to see my latest 17 Degrees column in print and share my reviews of these great books.  January and February are full of fabulous new books too and it’s definitely going to be so hard to keep my 2019 TBR under control and whittle down my next set of books for my Spring Column in March

 

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Brutally Honest – Melanie Brown (Quadrille £13.99)

 

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If you love a memoir, then this ‘Scary’ new release could be perfect for you. Mel B is certainly not known for keeping things to herself and in her autobiography, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in her dramatic life – and get to the truth behind the headlines. Mel B has spent her entire career flying high, whether being part of the world’s biggest girl band, acting as a judge on X Factor or telling it like it is on America’s Got Talent.  Brutally Honest is her no-holds-barred account of the struggles that went on behind the scenes and the tears that lay behind the surface glitter. With rare candour and a slice of her infamous northern humour, the book allows us a real insight into life as a Spice Girl, as well as the trauma and struggle to extricate herself from her most recent marriage and her desire to carve a new future for herself and her family. Mel has a charm all of her own and I know many people will be pleasantly surprised by her honesty, bravery and insight. A really great read with a warm heart and positive message too.Image result for winter garland

Poverty Safari – Darren McGarvey (Pan Macmillan £6.99)

 

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Whatever your political opinions, Darren McGarvey aka Scottish rapper and social commentator, Loki is determined to make you sit up and take notice with his unflinching look at the people whose lives have fallen through the cracks in our modern social landscape.  He really wants to make people think harder about their assumptions about people living alongside us whose lives are so different to ours that they couldn’t even be imagined. Winner of this year’s Orwell Prize for non-fiction, this is part memoir, part social history and will shock even the most streetwise reader by its determination to tell the truth about poverty and hardship in the communities that we live in. The hidden poor are all around us and Loki feels that we don’t see them precisely because so many of us are determined not to. McGarvey wants us to think about the systems which have caused and maintain these inequalities in our society and consider whether we have done enough to ensure that this changes in the future. This is a non preachy, shocking and important read that everyone is talking about.  You should definitely join in the conversation this winter!
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Becoming – Michelle Obama (Penguin £16.99)

 

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It’s great to start the year with a really inspiring read, and they don’t come much more inspiring than this one.  As the first African-American in her role as FLOTUS she and her husband redefined what it meant to serve in the White House. A strong and inspiring advocate for women’s education and opportunities, Michelle made thousands of people believe that they too could achieve their ambitions and the fact that she did it all with such grace, charm and humour meant that she wo n’t fail to win you over in this compelling read. Michelle talks candidly about her upbringing, her struggles and her personal successes as well as her insights into the juggling required to bring up your family as normally as you possibly can with the world watching your every move. Whether busting moves on primetime TV, wowing us with her skills at Carpool Karaoke or touching people with her natural compassion and dignity, Michelle’s book tells us her own story, in her own words and really makes you feel like you’ve met her in person. This is a warm, compelling and inspirational read that I can’t recommend highly enough.

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The Choice – Edith Eger (Ebury Publishing £6.99)

 

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Being sent to Auschwitz at only 16 years old was a harrowing and unimaginable experience for 16-year-old Edith Enger. The things that she endured there are brought vividly to life for us in this memoir as we see them through her eyes – including being forced to perform at Auschwitz for the infamous ‘butcher’ Joseph Mengele himself. Edith’s determination to survive, in spite of everything she went through even led to her surviving a brutal death march. When the camp was liberated at last, Edith had to be pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive after everything that she’d endured. In The Choice, Dr Edith Eger shares her experience of the suffering she endured at Auschwitz with us, as well as telling us all about the people she has worked with and helped since. Today, she uses her skills to support survivors of abuse and soldiers suffering from PTSD, turning the worst of human experiences into something both positive and life-affirming. The Choice is an absolute must-read. It is both a lesson in humanity and a heart-warming insight into the way that the most wonderful things can grow out of adversity and suffering. Read it for a moving and inspiring start to 2019.
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The Hunting Party  – Lucy Foley( Harper Collins £12.99)

 

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In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year. The beautiful one. The golden couple. The volatile one. The new parents. The quiet one. The city boy. The Outsider. The victim.  And then it begins… This was such a fantastic read, I can’t stop talking about it! I love a book with that ‘locked in’ feeling where you are constantly kept guessing as to who might be guilty- as everyone has a motive and nobody can be trusted. It had me hooked from the get-go and it’s a perfect winter read for a chilly afternoon by the fire as you’ll definitely get lost in its pages.. Anyone who has ever had to endure a dreadful reunion with people from their past will find much to relate to here as the remote location adds to the tension and unease of these characters. Their idyllic hideaway is rapidly torn apart by tensions, conflict and division and you’ll be left guessing as everyone’s motives are called into question in such a deft way that it would put Agatha Christie herself to shame.  Lucy Foley has crafted an immersive and claustrophobic novel that will have you holding your breath as you race towards the final page. This is definitely one of my reads of the year. Pick yourself up a copy as soon as you can!Image result for winter garland

Roar – Cecilia Aherne (Harper Collins £10.99)

 

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Have you ever imagined a different life? Have you ever been paralysed by indecision? Have you ever had a moment when you needed to find your voice?

Then I might have found the perfect book for you. Cecilia Ahern is one of those writers. The ones we all turn to when we want a story that will make us laugh, make us cry and make us think about our lives in a different way. My mum is a huge fan of her novels and so I was delighted to be able to review something a little different from her this winter: This is a selection of short stories about women who all discover the inner strength to stand up for something that matters passionately to them. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, you’ll discover thirty touching, hilarious stories and meet thirty totally different women. Each one finds a moment that defines them as they realise that they themselves hold the power to make a change. This book is a wonderful and inspiring antidote to the January Blues – treat yourself.

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One Day in December – Josie Silver (Penguin £5.99)

 

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I love getting recommendations from other people for the column, and this book came from my very best book-twin in the world – my sister Cara. Like me, Cara loves a read that you can really lose yourself in and we both absolutely loved ‘One Day’ so I was delighted when she told me that she’d found a book that reminded her of it. I’m choosing this as a winter read for all you romantics out there – you’re going to absolutely love it. Laurie is pretty sure love, at first sight, doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away. Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. Until her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus. Laurie’s a good friend so she’s determined to let him go and get on with her life. But what if destiny has other plans? I hope you like this fabulous winter love story as much as we did.

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A Keeper – Graham Norton ( Hodder & Stoughton  £7.99)

 

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Yes, it absolutely is that Graham Norton – and if you haven’t been introduced to Graham Norton the novelist, then you’re in for a treat. This wonderful Irish novel tells the story of Elizabeth Keane, who has returned to Ireland after her mother’s death, desperate to be done with that miserable episode of her life. There is nothing for her in Ireland now and she wonders if there ever was. The house of her childhood is not filled with happy memories and she’d happily have left it without a backwards glance, if she hadn’t found a stack of old letters.40 years earlier, a lonely young woman rushes through the darkness by the cliffs and the sea. She has idea where she might be headed, only that she has to keep going, and not look backwards. To where and for what reason will be revealed as the novel unfolds.  Both of these stories combine to draw you in and find out what will be the fate of both women and how their lives collide in the most unexpected way. If you where a Maeve Binchy fan, you’ll be won over by Graham Norton’s writing style and his evocative picture of both rural Ireland and human nature.

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A House of Ghosts W.C. Ryan (Zaffre £9.99)

 

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If you love a gothic read on wintery afternoons, then you’ll be as enchanted as I was by this original, dark and gripping story. It’s Winter 1917. The First World War is entering its most brutal phase and all around the nation, people are trying to find answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives. At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to try and make a connection with his two sons who have been killed in action. The intriguing aspect of this novel is that we gradually realise, as the guests start to arrive, that they are all hiding something important that lurks beneath the surface. The tension increases when a storm descends on the island and the guests find themselves trapped in the Abbey as the darkness becomes even more menacing.The question is, will there be the same number of guests ready to leave at the end of this gathering or will the promise of violence which has mounted throughout the storm lead to one of their unfortunate demise? You will love this unusual and gripping mystery if you like a tale of the unexpected. Curl up with A House of Ghosts for the perfect mystery to absorb you this winter.
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Snap – Belinda Bauer (Transworld £6. 99)

 

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I am a real admirer of an original take on a genre – and if you haven’t read Belinda Bauer’s smart and psychological thriller yet, then you don’t just have to take my word for it – this book comes with the stamp of approval from none other than Queen of Crime, Val McDermid!  Snap tells the tale of eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters who are stuck in their broken-down car on a roasting hot summer’s day. waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she told them – I won’t be long. Fatal last words indeed – for she doesn’t come back. Ever. And life as the children know it is has totally been turned on its head in the most traumatic way imaginable. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, working hard to look after them all whilst making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house. Coping well, until the truth about what happened to his mother emerges in a way that nobody could have anticipated.  Jack is a great character and you’ll be drawn in tighter and tighter to this twisty tale as more begins to emerge about their past than you might have anticipated. If you like a book that throws you right into the heart of a story and makes sure that you never quite entirely know where you are then this is the book for you. Watch out for its incredible twists and turns!
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The Innocent Wife  – Amy LLoyd (Cornerstone £7.99)

 

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If you are a fan of Making a Murderer or Manhunter on Netflix then this twisted and clever thriller might be right up your street. I got this book fjust before going on holiday and I read it from cover to cover in two days! Just imagine the situation –  you’re in love with a man on Death Row in Florida, convicted of a brutal murder twenty years ago. You’re convinced he didn’t do it, and you’re determined to prove that he didn’t. You spearhead a vast online army of people also determined to prove his innocence and manage to uncover evidence of police incompetence whilst successfully lobbying for this awful miscarriage of justice to be overturned. Now you’re married to him, and he’s a free man, his conviction thrown out. You are free to spend the rest of your lives together in wedded bliss After all, he’s innocent. Or is it as simple as that…I don’t want to give any spoilers so all I’m going to say is that you should definitely read it for yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about not being able to get to sleep until you’ve finished this rollercoaster of a book!

 

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Changeling – Matt Wesolowski (Orenda £8.99)

 

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Orenda Books are one of my absolute favourites, and I can safely say that Matt Wesolowski’s ‘Six Stories’ series are definitely some of the most original and enjoyable books I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.  This series is cleverly based on a podcast and takes on a new ‘case’ for each book. Changeling begins on Christmas Eve 1988, when seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995. Famously reclusive Scott King, whose `Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates Alfie’s disappearance, interviewing six witnesses – hence the ‘six stories’ –  to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes the readers deep into the mysterious Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of the shadowy figures who dwell there including a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…This is such a wintery read – it’s dark, chilling and extremely atmospheric – you’ll be checking what’s behind the couch after you’ve finished reading it. Changeling is an unforgettable read that I cannot recommend highly enough.
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I absolutely loved the job of choosing these 12 books and hope that you enjoy reading the ones that appeal to you over these first few months of the year  I always try to choose books that will appeal to a wide range of readers – whether you like a true story, an inspiring autobiography, a romantic read or something a bit more spinetingling to get you through these dreich winter months.

Happy New Reading Year to you all and I hope you have a wonderful 2019 in books 
Jill