The Tin God by Chris Nickson – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When Superintendent Tom Harper’s wife is threatened during an election campaign, the hunt for the attacker turns personal.
Leeds, England. October, 1897. Superintendent Harper is proud of his wife Annabelle. She’s one of seven women selected to stand for election as a Poor Law Guardian. But even as the campaign begins, Annabelle and the other female candidates start to receive anonymous letters from someone who believes a woman’s place lies firmly in the home.

The threats escalate into outright violence when an explosion rips through the church hall where Annabelle is due to hold a meeting – with fatal consequences. The only piece of evidence Harper has is a scrap of paper left at the scene containing a fragment from an old folk song. But what is its significance?

As polling day approaches and the attacks increase in menace and intensity, Harper knows he’s in a race against time to uncover the culprit before more deaths follow. With the lives of his wife and daughter at risk, the political becomes cruelly personal …

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received.
Even though this book features characters from a series, I read it as a standalone novel easily. There are two investigations that are taking place, the one which I preferred is set in Leeds. A series of violent attacks against women who are standing for election to become a Poor Law Guardian is too close to home for Tom Harper. One of the women is his wife Annabelle. With the centenary of the women’s right to vote and the dedication at the beginning I felt that this storyline covered a very important time in our history. The author shows how attitudes were very different at the time and how hard the women fought.
The other investigation concerned a smuggling ring in Whitby. Whilst this was also good, and it served as an introduction to what I may have missed in the other novels it didn’t interest me as much as the other.
I liked Annabelle’s determination and resolve not to give in to threat. She definitely hated having to abide by her husband’s wishes in having an officer with her at all times. I also liked Tom, with him, I did wonder about the storylines I had missed but with no spoilers in the novel I can easily catch up with the other books.
I enjoyed reading about Leeds, an industrial city that was growing but everywhere affected by the pollutants from the factories. It did feel slightly strange reading about the area in which my family came from.
The narrative flowed easily and it was a nicely paced read. There were no sudden shocks or cliff hangers, it almost felt like cosy crime. I will read more by this author.

BANNER

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas – Extract – #SpringReads

Fifteen Words Cover

About the Book

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?
Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

Purchase on Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifteen-Words-Monika-Jephcott-Thomas-ebook/dp/B01MCWG3IJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1477564925&sr=1-1&keywords=fifteen+words

Monkika Jephcott Thomas

About Monika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

Extract

Max looked at the revolver in his hand. It was the first time he had taken it from its holster since that terrifying train journey through Romania close to the Southern Front. Yet this time he felt he was actually going to have to pull the trigger. The question was, would he be aiming at the Russians surrounding the city or at himself.
The gun was a Walther P38, not dissimilar to his father’s Luger P08, but a cheaper version massed produced for the German army now that the financial cost of war was spiralling out of control. Max turned the gun over in his hands, juggling it with thoughts of his father putting that Luger to his own forearm when Max was just a boy and pulling the trigger. Papa had shattered just about every bone in his wrist, but it was the only way he could make sure he did not have to serve in the German army in the Great War.
‘There was nothing great about it,’ Papa had grumbled the day Max had announced his intention to join up. But his father had reluctantly chewed up his bitterness for the Nazis and his fears for his son and swallowed them with a mouthful of recently rationed hard bread and tinned pork. He had to admire his son for forging a career for himself as a doctor. ‘What would this country do without people like him?’ he whispered to his wife as they both stared at the ceiling that night in bed, wide-eyed in the gloom with parental concern. ‘Our people will be broken soon, just like they were before, and it will be his job to try and put them back together again, God help him!’
Max had wanted to be a doctor since he was sixteen. He had known he had to be a doctor since he was sixteen. Since the time Aunty Bertel had taken him to the theatre. Then, he was so engrossed in the play before him (on the edge of his seat as Polly Peachum cried for her lover and Macheath was about to be hung on the gallows; the ominous music from the orchestra seemingly emanating from his own swelling chest) that Max thought the mighty crash, which rocked the floor beneath him, was the result of a wonderful choreography between pyrotechnical effects, timpani and cymbals. But as the screams from the street dominoed through the audience and even reached the actors, Max realised this was not part of the show. Some of the audience were frozen to their seats, fearful of what the screams outside portended. Others, who Max could only assume were not as enamoured with The Threepenny Opera as he was, hurried their friends and partners into the street with a strange excitement on their faces for the greater spectacle which awaited them outside the theatre.
‘There’s been an accident. A terrible accident. A tram. A lorry…’ one disembodied screech reached Max and his aunt from over the heads of the stampeding theatre-goers.
‘Tante,’ Max could not control the quivering in his voice. ‘What should we do?’
‘Let’s go!’ Bertel declared in a tone of such confidence she might well have been trying to compensate for her nephew’s obvious lack of it. ‘We need to help!’
Max followed Bertel into a street strewn with beer and bodies. For a second, he told himself that there had been a riotous party and everyone had collapsed on the ground from too much drinking. But the blood and dismemberment told another story; one which he could not deny when he saw the double decker tram torn apart as if it was made of paper and the lorry from the Kronen brewery on its side, its contents soaking the road with a boozy stench.
Bertel grabbed Max by the sleeve and, with an intrepidity which he could only marvel at, she marched through the chaos towards the cigar shop opposite the theatre, where a ladder leant against the awning.
‘Help me carry this!’ she ordered Max. ‘We are going to use it as a stretcher. We’re going to lay each casualty on it in turn and carry them to the hospital, understand?’
Max nodded his head furiously. From the moment Bertel had opened her mouth he was hanging on her every word, determined not to let her down, determined to infect himself with her courage.
The hospital was only two hundred metres away. Yet after hauling four casualties there and watching Bertel’s stern but comforting way of telling each that they would be OK, despite their screams and horrific injuries, Max felt weaker and more useless than ever.
‘I should have been able to do more,’ he told himself when he finally got home and hid in the lavatory, trying to get the sound of that screaming to quieten down; desperate for a sense of solitude after all the crowds, the bumping of elbows, the tripping over bodies. ‘I will never be so useless again.’
So Dr Max Portner weighed the pistol in his palms, red and cracked from the late winter frosts. He noted the secret code 480 on the slide, which had replaced the old Walther Arms banner decorating previous models for fear the Allies could identify weapon production sites from such markings and bomb them. But that was the least of his fears and those of his fellow Germans right now in Breslau, the city surrounded as it was by the Sixth Army of the First Ukrainian Front. The city had been under siege now for over seventy days. Max had tended to so many wounded and dying soldiers in that time he knew there couldn’t be many left to protect the great military fortress Hitler had decreed the city to become against the advancing Russians.
A plane roared overhead. Max shoved his pistol back into its holster and threw himself instinctively into one of the bomb craters in the garden which they had begun using as latrines. The last thing on his mind was the gallons of other people’s shit he was now crouched trembling in. When the bombs didn’t come he dared to look up and, since the plane was so low, he managed to identify one of his own, a Luftwaffe aircraft dropping another load of supplies. These air drops used to bring him a sense of hope, but the city was on its knees now and he doubted they would survive until tomorrow. Doubted they should survive if all he’d heard about the POW camps was true.
‘Erika,’ he whispered to himself, craning his neck up to track the plane, ‘If only…’
His unarticulated wish stuck in his extended throat as his eyes took in the sight of the plane exploding – a direct hit from one of the Russian anti-aircraft guns positioned around the city. His heart sank to its lowest point yet, but his eyes found strange solace in the bizarre beauty of the billowing clouds of smoke and flame, sending now useless pieces of medical equipment and food hurtling to the earth. Some of it even reached the garden where he was rooted in the ground agog.
And then it began to snow.
As if nature was attempting to cool down the infernal destruction and pacify the angry explosion marring its skies. The flakes were big, some too big to be snow Max gradually realised as he blinked at the smaller ones adorning his lashes. He held out his hand to catch one of the false flakes. It was part of a letter. Pages and pages, some quite intact began to flutter down into the garden. He clambered out of the cess pit and began, as instinctively as he had protected himself from the bombs by diving into a stinking toilet, to gather up the mail which the plane had also been trying to deliver along with supplies. Letters from loved ones to their men on the front. His fists were soon full of the treasure, the only thing salvageable from this final nail in the coffin of Breslau. Somewhere in the frosted corners of his mind he wished there was a letter from Erika among them and yet, like a player in one of Hitler’s fundraising lotteries, he never believed for a minute that he held the winning ticket.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stu Turton – Review.

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About the Book

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My Review

I really don’t know where to begin in reviewing this book. I can honestly say I found it a fascinating but exhausting read. And it is one that I only really appreciated how clever it was a few days after finishing it.
I don’t want to say much about the plot. It is one of those books where everybody who reads it will see it differently.
So, I loved the description of the family home that had fallen into disrepair, a common event in the time in which I decided the novel takes place. The characters are a mixed bag. The most likeable were those from the lower classes, at least they were the only ones who had any morals or thought for anybody else. Because Aiden ‘adopts’ so many differing personalities you see them for what they really are, not the image they show to everybody else. But my favourite character by a long way was the Plague Doctor. It has been a long time since I met a character so mesmerising.
I did try to make notes whilst reading but gave up. I had been advised that the print book was easier to read than the e-book because of the maps,and some said it was easier to follow. There were times though when I was flicking back through the book and that would have been easier on my kindle.
I felt that some of the characters were more modern than others and one of my theories about this was later proven wrong. But it is a book which I would definitely like to read again. Just to see whether I read it differently knowing what happens at the end.
I read this book with three other readers as part of a ‘buddy read’. we chatted throughout, coming up with multiple explanations.

They were:

Janet from fromfirstpagetolast.wordpress.com/

Kate from bibliophilebookclub.com/

Vicki from off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

You can purchase the book here

Dead North by Joel Hames – Blog Tour Review.

Dead North cover

About the Book

Once the brightest star in the legal firmament, Sam Williams has hit rock bottom, with barely a client to his name and a short-term cash problem that’s looking longer by the minute. So when he’s summoned to Manchester to help a friend crack a case involving the murder of two unarmed police officers and a suspect who won’t say a word, he jumps at the chance to resurrect his career. In Manchester he’ll struggle against resentful locals, an enigmatic defence lawyer who thinks he’s stepping on her toes, beatings, corrupt cops and people who’ll do anything to protect their secrets. On its streets, he’ll see people die. But it’s in the hills and valleys further north that Sam will face the biggest challenge of all: learning who he really is and facing down the ghosts of his past. He’s working someone else’s case and he’s in way over his head. But sometimes you need the wrong man in the right place.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received.
Sam Williams is asked to go and help with a case in Manchester. DI Roarkes wants him to convince the man who is considered to be the killer of two police officers that it will be in his best interests to talk to them. But the suspect refuses to talk, he faces hostility from the local police force, the only officer who will help him has less intelligence than some, his girlfriend is upset by his attitude, and the accused man’s lawyer is out of her depth. As well as all this, Roarkes is less than helpful, he is staying in an inadequate  hotel, eats inedible food and it rains a lot.
I enjoyed this first book in the series. Much is made of the differing attitudes between Northerners and Southerners. Most of which is mentioned by Sam and directed at himself. Being familiar with the areas mentioned was a bonus. I can appreciate the beauty of the Forest of Bowland and how easy it is to get lost there, as well as the run down and unwelcoming towns in some areas.
There is some humour, some violence and some great characters. The situation that Sam faced in police force that had lost two of its own was believable. I think he and Roarkes could have had more tact at times but they were in a difficult situation.
A great book and I would be interested in reading more.

You can purchase the book here

Dead north poster

Insane by Hollie Thubron – Guest Post

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Last week I had an email from Hollie Thubron asking me if I would like to read and review her novel that is published today. Unfortunately with the books I have committed to read I can’t read it right away so Hollie agreed to do a guest post where she talks about her novel.
This is what she says.

Guest Post

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all having an amazing day. My name is Hollie Thubron and my debut novel is launching today!

First off, I want to thank Steph for allowing me to be a guest on her blog and talk to you guys!
I’m going to talk a little bit about why I wrote my book, “Insane”.

Insane is a psychological thriller about a serial killer. She kills because she enjoys it. You might call her insane, but who are you to judge?

I wanted to write this novel because I am a philosophy student, and having studied many different moral theories, I came to the conclusion that universal morality is made up. There are so many proposed theories – and most of these directly conflict with one another, so that one of them would say an act is right, and one would say it is wrong. This made me think that, really, there is no universal morality – otherwise we would all be using it! For me, this doesn’t mean there is no such thing as morals, but instead that morals are individual, personal and unique values we each have. No two are the same.

It is a natural and instinctive thing that when we see or hear of someone committing a certain act, we will ask ourselves; “what would I have done in that situation?” and from this answer, we will deduce whether that act was right or wrong. But really, with morality being individual, we cannot project our beliefs and values onto other people. We cannot say absolutely and categorically that what we think is right and what someone else thinks is wrong.

So let’s talk about Avery Blake. Avery Blake is a serial killer. Initially, you might think that there is something wrong with her, or that she had a difficult childhood. This is what most people think when it comes to the topic of serial killers. But really, there are four types of serial killers – and only one of those are classed as clinically insane. Furthermore, while a lot of serial killers have things in common, there is no cause and effect. If there were, everyone who had been abused would turn out as a serial killer. Or everyone with divorced parents. The list goes on. If you can strip it right back to basics, Avery simply has a different opinion than you (I’m assuming). So really, is it fair to judge her, or anyone, by your own beliefs?

I’m not expecting anyone to agree with killing for any reason. Nor am I condoning it. But really, who am I to judge? My morals are different from yours. As are the influences on my perception of morality. We can’t understand everything. But that doesn’t make what we don’t understand wrong. There is no greater or lesser influence on our perception of morality.

This book can either be enjoyed as any other psychological thriller, or it can be looked at with this perspective and hopefully shed new light on your morality. Either way, I hope you enjoy the read.

About the author

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Hollie Thubron is a singer, songwriter and author from the outskirts of London and has been writing novels since she was a child. It has always been her dream to be a published author and that dream has been achieved, with Insane being her debut novel. She is fascinated by the psychology of serial killers as well as the debate about morality and so she is studying Philosophy at the University of Bristol.

About the Book

My name is Avery Blake. I will be the hero for the next 300 pages. Well, in my opinion I will be anyway. After all, this is my story.

My primary occupation is as a pharmaceutical rep. I hate to say I do love the sales and I definitely love the cash… But it doesn’t send adrenaline shooting through my body and make me bounce up and down like a kid in a sweet shop.

No, the things that really get me going include painting, volunteer work, killing, tap dancing and golfing.

Yes, you read that correctly.”

One person’s crazy is another person’s reality, with so much in this world being left to interpretation, is killing really wrong? Are serial killers really insane? Anyway, who are you to judge?

The locals of Southhurst would never dare wonder the streets alone at night, since there has been a serial killer terrorizing the area for fifteen years. But Avery Blake isn’t afraid.

Avery Blake is a serial killer. She kills because she enjoys it. But how long can she go on like this, before someone catches on?

Insane is a psychological thriller addressing the different perceptions of morality and what influences them.

Her Website is insane novel

Her twitter is twitter

You can purchase the book Here