Willow Walk by SJI Holliday

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When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight?

When a woman is brutally attacked by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s increasingly bizarre behaviour.

As Gray investigates the crimes, he comes to realise that there has to be a link between Marie and the man on the run. It’s the only thing that makes any sense. But he also knows that if he confronts her with the truth, he risks losing everything.

As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes a life-changing decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once again?

My Review:

Willow Walk is the second novel in the Banktoun trilogy. There are a few references to the first book Black Wood, no spoilers, but I think that the book is one that will be enjoyed more if you know what had happened previously.
From the beginning you are aware of the violence and tragedy and the feeling is in the background all the way through. There are two storylines, one concerning drug use in the local area and one that involves Marie and how the life that she has struggled to rebuild is now threatened by her past. While reading the part concerning Marie I spent much of the time looking over my shoulder at every noise. The letters and one part when she realises that the person she fears most is very close were very intimidating,
I love Davie’s character and it makes a change to read a crime novel where the lead detective has a normal life away from the job.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

A Slice of CJ Carver part three

Today, I am delighted to welcome CJ Carver back to my blog
to talk about the background to her latest novel Spare Me The Truth. Just thinking about this terrifies me.

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Technology used against the general public

To demonstrate in my book how a subtle type of weapon could work against the general public – without them being aware – I used a rock concert. Again, I’m using what frightens me. I hate the thought of being coerced without being aware of it even though this happens every day with advertising.

Human beings love conspiracy theories because it makes us think we’re in control. I think people believed Princess Diana was murdered because they couldn’t bear the thought she died in a car accident – something that could happen to them tomorrow. It’s far more comfortable to believe there’s a conspiracy than face reality.

Technological advances are galloping ahead at a great rate. Look at the Russian billionaire who wants to live forever by uploading his brain to a computer, and his body to a hologram. Unfortunately although he hopes he’ll transplant his human consciousness into a robot body the brain experts doubt his memories will be transferrable. Without his memories, what does he have left? What makes a person a person?

What piece of technology could you not live without?

I’ve just had a mental flip through everything I have from my mobile phone to my computer and food-processor, fridge-freezer, all of which (if pushed) I could live without. But this is ancient technology! I guess it would have to be my mobile phone or I would go mad without talking to friends, and also my car. But if those went, then I’d get a horse and a pigeon.

A Slice of CJ Carver

Today, I am pleased to welcome CJ Carver to my blog to discuss the background to her latest novel Spare Me the Truth. All this week there will be a series of blog posts, you can read more tomorrow on Christine’s  blog. My review will be published towards the end of the week.

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1) Spies, Spooks & James Bond type appeal

Readers find this world so fascinating because they know they will never meet a real life spy – and if they do, they won’t realise it. They could be chatting to a member of the SIS at the bus stop, at a party, oblivious that this apparently “normal” individual leads a double life.

Spies are masters at duplicity. They need to be when they’re living two lives at once. Oblivious that our neighbor could be a spy – we think he’s just a rather dull civil servant – we are always trying to figure them out. What makes them tick. A spy is a heroic myth, an urban legend and it seems we’re addicted to them.

I’m very careful about the information I impart on the page, whether it’s a new weapon being developed by QinetiQ or SIS trade craft. Careless talk costs lives. Any knowledge I pick up from my sources I get checked before publication to make sure I’m not giving anything important away.

Putting the story on the page is a real joy because this is when I can let my imagination rip! Real spies blend in. They’re the quiet man or woman in the corner. They’re cautious. They don’t like attention. All of which is very much Dan Forrester, my spy in Spare Me The Truth, but he’s a larger than life character with extraordinary skills and knowledge that help him get out of some really dangerous situations.

Would you make a good spy?

I think I’d find it too lonely. I can keep a secret but I’m not sure I’d be able to live a double life without struggling. I’d need to have a much better memory for a start!
That said, being an author enables me to travel extensively to unusual places like Skopje pretty much under the radar. However, the second I landed in Macedonia the entire International Community was there, checking me out, convinced I was something I wasn’t. This is where I met a real-life Dan Forrester. And boy, was he cool.

The Evolution of Fear by Paul Hardisty- Blog Tour

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Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit,
his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those
closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close
in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the
Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of
love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit. Gripping,
exhilarating and, above all, frighteningly realistic, The Evolution of Fear is a startling, eye-­‐opening read that
demands the question: How much is truth, and how much is fiction..

My Review:

The Evolution of Fear is the follow up novel to The Abrupt Physics of Dying. I hadn’t read the first one due to time issues and while I would recommend doing so, I could still follow and enjoy this novel very much.
Claymore goes on the run when he arrives back at the cottage where he has been in hiding to find men who turn out to be killers waiting for him. He knows there is a price on his head and also that the woman he loves, Rania, is also in danger. He has to leave England to try and protect her but can’t leave by the usual means, so starts his journey by sailing to Spain.
I did struggle slightly at first, knowing absolutely nothing about sailing the terminology went way over my head but the thrill and sense of danger more than made up for any confusion. There is violence everywhere, Claymore is wary of making friends with people in case he places them in danger so doesn’t settle easily. But as well as the violence there is also a love story, the storyline that concerns the problems in Cyprus after the war and the turtle conservation there.
I always feel that when you know something about an area where a novel takes place it has more of an impact. I have seen the beauty of the Agamas Peninsula, the quiet beaches, deserted villages and a Nicosia split in two. And the unease at certain points about any atrocities that occurred.
Paul Hardisty does a fantastic job in showing the struggle on both sides and at showing how important wildlife preservation is and how much danger it is in from people who are in power and are obsessed with having more.
I thought all the characters worked well, like Claymore I had no idea who he could trust and got it wrong a few times. There are some good, plenty of bad and just like in real life a few who have done things in their past that they wish they hadn’t.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood.

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A one-in-a-million story for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Not to be missed by readers who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, ELIZABETH IS MISSING or THE SHOCK OF THE FALL.

Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…
Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete..

My Review:

‘The Boy’ ( you never learn his name) starts to visit Ona, a hundred and four year old Lithuanian woman for part of his scout duties. He feeds the birds, does various jobs around the home and when he becomes her friend they decide that she should and could become a World Record Holder. She looks forward to his visits and enjoys talking him about her life. And the one day he stops coming. She feels let down but then a few weeks later the boy’s father turns up and takes over his duties.
One life is cut tragically short, two others are trying their hardest to rebuild theirs. A big part of the rebuilding involved becoming friends with another who has had a long life and had experienced every life event in it. Both Quinn and Belle are very protective towards Ona, understanding the friendship that their son had with her. I loved her spirit, she still had her independence and was determined not to give in to people like the realtor who was waiting for her opportunity to pounce.
The relationship between the three was very special and lovely to read. Yes at times it was poignant but there was also humour, trust and friendship.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.