Emma Mitchell is a fellow book blogger and fabulous editor that gives so much of her time to help authors. And now she has decided to combine that with helping an amazing charity, Help For Heroes. Some amazing authors have written short stories for the anthology, many have a Christmas theme but not all.
I received a copy of When Stars Will Shine but I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
Anthologies are a great way of discovering new authors, and when buying the book also helps an amazing charity then that can only be a good thing.
Some of the stories in When Stars Will Shine are only a few pages long, and others are longer, a lot have a Christmas theme but this book can be read year round. Given the charity the book is raising money for, many of the stories have a war theme, but many do not. The stories fit into a variety of genres so it will suit every reader.
I have read books by many of the authors before and it was great to read their stories, but I also discovered authors who I haven’t read and now want to. I loved reading this book, not only to discover new authors but because you never knew what the next story was going to be about as they were all so different from each other.
Editor Emma Mitchell has done an amazing job putting this anthology together, I know she has worked incredibly hard on it and that has paid off with this fantastic collection of stories from some amazing authors. Buy this book, you will be helping an amazing charity and you’ll have a cracking book to read. Win-win in my book!
When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist. With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time. From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride! When Stars Will Shine is the perfect Christmas gift for the bookworms in your life!
Today it is my stop on the blog tour for The Girls In The Lake by Helen Phifer and published by Bookouture. This is the second book in a series but it can be read as a standalone, and I don’t say that often!
I received a copy of the book but I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
I really enjoyed the first book in the Beth Adams series that follows the forensic pathologist on the shores of Lake Windermere. The Girl In The Grave introduced us to Beth at a time when she was vulnerable and a low point in her life so it is nice to see her, a few months down the line, moving on from that, although of course, the path isn’t going to be smooth.
I don’t like reading books in a series when I haven’t read the previous ones, I’ve done it but not very often, but I do think that The Girls In The Lake could be read as a standalone book. Although saying that reading books in order does make the story flow and gives the characters more depth.
When dead girls start showing up in the beautiful Lake Windermere, Beth Adams job is to confirm that the deaths were the accidents they look like so the police can close the file. But something doesn’t feel right to Beth and so she starts to dig deeper and soon finds herself facing the dark side of the beautiful lake.
I love the setting for these books, it’s somewhere so idyllic and an unlikely setting for the story that unfolds. I loved that the story was not what I was expecting, but I did feel that it didn’t grab me in the way the author’s books normally do. This is the fifth book of hers that I have read and they are all easy to read books that suck you in. This one didn’t quite do that.
It’s still a great read and is the second book in a promising series that I look forward to reading more of!
Peering over the side of the boat, the glare of early morning sun catches on something pale in the inky water. The boy’s curious fingertips break the surface, pulling up a tangle of long blonde hair from the reeds below…
The discovery of a young student floating face down in Lake Windermere, her naked skin almost translucent in the freezing water, looks like yet another tragic teen suicide. But the victim’s lack of clothes make Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams want to investigate further. Anything to distract her from the arrival of her abusive ex-boyfriend’s body on the mortuary table that morning.
With witnesses keeping tight-lipped and any clues washed away by the tides, it’s up to Beth to find the evidence her team needs. But then another girl is found in the lake, this time still clinging to life. She tells them she was at a party on a boat, and that she was pushed…
As more bodies surface, Beth finds tiny traces of boat paint present on each victim. It’s a critical lead that links these attacks back to a tragic accident involving a group of school children years ago.
Faced with a killer hungry for revenge, and with her own life spiralling out of control, it’s going to take every ounce of skill and determination for Beth to catch this monster before he takes another innocent life. But will Beth realise he’s been right beside her all along?
An absolutely unputdownable serial killer thriller that will have you sleeping with the lights on. Fans of Patricia Gibney, LJ Ross and Angela Marsons will have to hold on tight for this nail-biting rollercoaster ride!
About The Author:
Helen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children. Helen has always loved writing and reading. Her love of horror films and novels is legendary. Helen adores reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own.
If a book is set in New Zealand then you can be pretty sure that I will want to read it so I jumped at the chance to be part of the blog tour for The Sound Of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell. Thank you to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for asking me to be part of the tour. I received a copy of The Sound Of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell but I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
When most people think of New Zealand they think of sheep, greenery and stunning views. They would be right, all those things exist in New Zealand but there is a far darker side to the country than most people know. Gang culture is big and that leads to crime and violence that you wouldn’t think would be part of life in a county that is often hailed as one of the best places to live.
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell is a gritty crime book, following Detective Matt Buchanan as he tries to solve some truly heinous crimes. The death toll in the book is high and many of them involve people that Buchanan is close to, it drives him to do everything to solve the crimes and ensure that those responsible are held to account, and that often leads him to act far outside the law.
I often wondered how much of the book was based on fact rather than fiction, it felt so very real at times. The author, Nathan Blackwell although that is not his real name, does a frankly remarkable job of portraying the mental impact of the job on the Detective. It is hard for me to put into words how real it all felt and how at times it was painful to read Matt Buchanan’s breakdown.
This book is not for the faint hearted or the easily offended. There are many, many swear words in the book including the ‘c’ word, it is strong and that might bother readers. I don’t mind swearing if it is appropriate, and most of the time it was but the one thing I would change about the book is the number of swear words including the ‘c’ word.
But if you can stomach that and the gruesome murders and the descent into madness then read this book, it is disturbing and thought provoking and may just make you look at policing a little bit differently. I was blown away by The Sound Of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell and it will stay with me for a long time to come. Hopefully, the author will write more books as I will be keen to read them!
Some murder cases you can’t forget. No matter how hard you try.
The body of a woman has been found on a pristine New Zealand beach – over a decade after she was murdered.
Detective Matt Buchanan of the Auckland Police is certain it carries all the hallmarks of an unsolved crime he investigated 12 years ago: when Samantha Coates walked out one day and never came home.
Re-opening the case, Buchanan begins to piece the terrible crimes together, setting into motion a chain of events that will force him to the darkest corners of society – and back into his deepest obsession…
Sound of her Voice is an authentic, gritty, character-led police procedural by an elite former detective – for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart Macbride, and Joseph Knox
About The Author:
Nathan Blackwell was raised on Auckland’s North Shore and attended Westlake Boys’ High School before commencing a ten-year career in the New Zealand Police. Seven of those years were spent as a Detective in the Criminal Investigation Branch, where he was exposed to human nature at its strongest and bravest, but also at its most depraved and horrific. He investigated a wide range of cases including drug manufacture, child abuse, corruption, serious violence, rape and murder. Because some of his work was conducted covertly, Nathan chooses to hide his true identity.
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Oi, a powerful book that I really wanted to support even if I wasn’t able to read it myself. David Jackson, author of Oi has joined us to tell you a bit more about himself and his book.
1) Tell us of your journey as a writer.
It all began when I attended the inaugural Your Life, Your Story event organised by Amanda Knowles (MBE) and Rosie Canning. I had tinkered with the idea of writing previously, but never got round to it because, I like to procrastinate. After the event, it all seemed like a case of the right time, and the right place, and so I simply started writing, then couldn’t stop.
2) What made you choose to write about care experience?
It was something that just seemed appropriate at the time. I had turned the story over in my head a millions times, and so it was an easy hit in that sense for a first stab at writing. The key for me was to enjoy the writing. I didn’t want it to become onerous, and once I had started, the last thing I wanted was an unfinished manuscript on my hands.
3) Do you have any personal experience with the care system, fostering, children’s homes etc?
Yes, I spent the first sixteen and a half years of my life in one form of home or another. It was a brutal indoctrination into a careless world as it was at the time, but it taught me plenty, and made me the man I am today.
3) How did you go about the writing process?
My starting point was to develop my timeline. As the story was a reflection of my life at that moment in time, there was a clear chronology. I plotted the start date, the end date, the midpoint, and then I began to populate events that occurred between all points on the time line. Within the hour, I was looking at a timeline with nearly one hundred events listed against it.
I then began to trim that down, using on those events that had a significant link between them, and which also at face value, appeared to support that narrative that I had in mind. This proved a more difficult task, as items came, went and then returned. But eventually it led to a strong timeline, from which I could begin the actual writing process.
My first draft comprised approximately 70,000 words, which was essentially a brain dump of everything that I had rolling around in my head. It was completely without structure, but the point was to get it onto the screen in order that I could work on it later. The second draft rose to around 100,000 as I added more and more detail, fleshed out the storyline and improved the overall readability. I think the final draft peaked out at around 130,000 words.
4) What is the meaning of the title?
In essence it is just a reflection of the feelings that I and many others probably felt as life was brutally unfolding in front of us. It is the one word that I seem to recall hearing frequently throughout my childhood. It was as if people simple chose not to use your name, and that ‘Oi’ would do..
5) What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?
I am currently sketching out a thriller, and have a few other ideas rolling around in my head. I will follow the same process as before when I start writing, and hopefully you will all see me on a best-sellers list sometime soon.
6) What diverse characters do you think are missing from literature?
It would be nice if a care experienced person was portrayed somewhere in literature that didn’t involve a prison, drugs, homelessness, etc. The change has to start somewhere, and so I am writing in one or two care experienced characters into my thriller, and they will feature prominently.
7) Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why?….
I sadly don’t have one. My childhood reading was mainly confined to comics and football stickers/albums. There was no parental influence, and very few books at my disposal as a child, and so you could say I not only missed out, but have cultivated the non-reading habit into adult life. Maybe that’s my next big challenge. A book a month for a year, and see how I go.
This is a harrowing personal voyage into the 1960-80s childcare system as experienced first-hand by the author and many like him. It was a brutally horrific system, that made countless victims of the very children it was designed to protect. These brutally horrific regimes, founded upon extraordinary levels of inhumanity, cruelty, violence, fear, and intimidation, brought children to their knees, brutalised, cowed and often in fear for their very existence.It was a stark, depressive, and oppressively dysfunctional system, that imposed perpetual physical suffering and mental hardship, upon its most vulnerable charges. It was a pernicious cycle of ritualised systematic abuse, inflicted on some of the most vulnerable children society could offer up.This was the environment that the ‘Unfortunates’ found themselves embedded in during the 1960s. It was a system that lacked care, thought, and all things humane. A system where the imposition of brutal physical and sexual abuse had become normalised, legitimised, embraced and ultimately, forcefully accepted. This was life in a local authority home. These were the homes of ‘the Damned’, where a catalogue of daily horrors were inflicted for the personal pleasure of those charged with the care of this hidden, and often forgotten, sub-culture of children who, through no fault of their own, were forced to embrace these traumas, and endure a fight for their very survival.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The author, David Lee Jackson (1964 – Present) was born in Withington, Manchester in England, into an impoverished black family. Within months of being born, he found himself on the wrong end of abusive parenting, being hospitalised and close to death.
Eventually recovering and well enough to be treated as an out-patient, he was placed into foster care, where he was loved and he began to thrive. Unforeseen circumstances forced him from this loving home, and he found himself at the brutal and often criminal mercies of an abusive and violent childcare system.
The 1960s and 1970s British Childcare System cared little for the children under its control. It was a brutal, degrading, violent and occasionally deadly environment, into which children were not only thrown like lambs to the slaughter, but were then expected to emerge as competent, capable, contributing members of the society that had so shamelessly failed them at every juncture.
He survived by navigating his course through one violent and abusive encounter after another. Living on his wits, and his fists where necessary, and longing for the day he would finally be freed from this physical and psychological turmoil.
David survived, educated himself, obtaining an Honours Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in International Business. He has been an elected public official, served on a number of charity boards and forums, and is an active campaigner on social justice and equality issues. David has worked in the criminal justice system, working with drug-addicted offenders, many with shared or similar backgrounds to his own, and he is a well-travelled and widely respected project management consultant.
In 2018, David (under the name Snowball) published the widely praised and much talked about book, ‘Oi’ through the Amazon network, in which he detailed in all its brutally cold and horrifically ignoble glory, the horrifying levels of abuse, brutality and criminality that he encountered, while being raised in the British Childcare System throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The book itself is a testament to the enduring resilience of all children living through adversity and both physical and psychological hardship, and an indictment of the casually brutal and often criminal systems, that inflict relentless brutality upon children it has been charged with caring for.
…..Harrowing, Brutal and Truthful! Buckle up and read Snowballs heart wrenching account of a life that no child should ever experience- prepare to be shocked to the core, be ready to feel every emotion…..(Brenda Lee)
……one of the most emotional journeys you will ever take with a child who survives unbelievable childhood adversity. At times it is almost too painful to witness, it truly is a tribute to the child and the man who wrote it……Amanda Knowles (MBE)
…..this book is as epic, as it is painful read at times and extremely sad! It illustrates a time when Victorian child care was still in evidence even in the 60s, 70s & 80s and children were definitely to be seen and not heard………this book will educate……Anon
David is currently resident in the United Kingdom, where amongst other professional endeavours, he has embarked on a blossoming career as a Keynote Speaker and Motivational Presenter. He has an adult son and enjoys the comfort of a vast extended family, that is spread across the entirety of the United kingdom.
To quote David in words he would choose himself:
………….Life has been a tough ride at times. It would have been easy, and acceptable to simply give up, to shrink, to fade away as expected. However, there is an irrepressible force inside all of us called, the Human Spirit, and it constantly screams at me, ‘David, you may not be responsible for being down, but you are responsible for getting back up again’…………………and so I get up.
Today it is my stop on the blog tour for James Carol’s 17 Church Row. I was keen to be on this blog tour because I’ve read a few of the authors books and have enjoyed them, especially The Killing Game and the blurb sounded interesting. I received a copy of the book via Netgalley, I was under no obligation to read the book and all thoughts are my own.
Many people are scared about artificial intelligence and where it is taking us, is Alexa really listening in to what we talk about? Does Facebook read our messages and send us adverts for things based on what we’ve talked about with our friends?
It is scary when you think about it, I use Google Maps on my phone so it knows where I go and how long I stay there, let alone all the Google searches I do. Amazon knows and awful lot, I have Alexa and she is regularly used in my house, but what would happen if Alexa had more control over me than I realised?
When Nikki Rhodes decides that moving home might help her heal from the death of one of her twin daughters they start to house hunt and her husband, Ethan, is excited when he finds a new house that has the most up to date security you can get, an inbuilt system that senses what you want before you realise you might even want it, something designed to simplify your life in ways you never imagined. Nikki isn’t so sure but she agrees to the move after meeting the architect who convinces her that the system will be good for them all.
Of course, things don’t go quite to plan. In fact it all goes spectacularly horribly wrong. I read in horror at what was happening and what Nikki had to go through as she questioned her sanity and fought against something that she didn’t know was trying to tear her life apart.
I thought the idea for this book was brilliant, and while I didn’t like Nikki very much I was drawn into the story and wanted to know what was going to happen. I enjoyed reading it and the whole AI angle made me think. I hope that nothing like this could ever happen though!
For fans of J. P. Delaney’s The Girl Before comes a thriller that makes us question our relationship with technology and the lengths we would go to, to keep our family safe.
Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.
Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of.
For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.
But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?
About The Author:
James Carol was born in Scotland, where he spent his early years. He moved to England in the eighties and has lived there ever since. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor.
Broken Dolls, the first Jefferson Winter thriller, was published in 2014 and has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. This was followed by three other Jefferson Winter thrillers and a trilogy of novellas set during Winter’s FBI days.
James has also written three standalone thrillers. The first of these, The Killing Game was shortlisted for a CWA Ian Fleming Dagger award.
When he’s not writing, James can usually be found in his recording studio where he is currently writing and recording the first Dream Nation album.
James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, two children, a dog and a horse.
Today I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for a lovely little book called Home Alone Harry by Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter and illustrated by Nicky Hill. Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to be part of the tour. I received a copy of the book but was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
This really is a fabulous little book!! The first thing that jumps out is the brilliant illustrations, they really bring the story to life and help to engage a young reader.
I love how this book teaches children how to be around a pet dog, especially if they are getting a new pet. I wish this book had been around when I got my dog and my children had such a tough time giving her space and time to sleep etc without being bothered. It isn’t easy for excited children to do that so anything that helps them to understand why that is so important is great in my eyes.
But whether you have a dog or not, I think that most children will delight in reading this book, it is targeted at three to six year olds and I think that is a fair age range, although younger children would no doubt enjoy it too even if they didn’t understand it as well as they might.
This is the first book featuring the Thunkies and I hope that it is the first of many, these really are books to look out for!
Harry is a mischievous young dog, adored by his family, Mum, Dad, Maisie (8) and Max (5). When the family leave him on his own he creates chaos, and Dad cries out, “That bad dog must go!” Alone and sad in bed that evening, Max asks, “Can anyone help?” The Thunkies respond to his call. They help the family learn how Harry, as a dog, thinks completely differently from them. There is a surprising game “Home Alone Harry” that the family play together, which helps resolve Harry’s behavioural problem.
Written for children aged 3 – 6 years, the book is bursting with vivid, colourful illustrations and uses a rich vocabulary. The aims of the book are threefold: to delight readers, to show through the story how the Thunkies cartoon characters help the family realise that dogs don’t think like humans, and to reveal the wisdom of respecting the dog’s world-view.
The educational substance of the book arises from the research and teaching of its two authors. They demonstrate that we can learn to understand how dogs really think even though as humans we all think differently. The registered names of the research are Amichien® Bonding and Thunkies®.
Jerry Rhodes Author Bio:
Jerry Rhodes’ life-long research and teaching is the inspiration behind ‘Home Alone Harry’, this first book in a series for children featuring the cartoon characters, Thunkies®. After completing his degree and teacher training at Oxford University, Jerry’s career as a school-master was cut short by polio. He changed course to a management career in industry, discovered his talents for creativity, and formed his world-wide consultancy to collaborate with international organisations. A special project with Philips led to the discovery of ‘Thinking-Intentions’, to which he has now given the playful name, Thunkies®. Jerry writes his books from his weather-beaten old farmhouse in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds.
Rachael Messiter Author Bio:
Rachael Messiter, a Dog Listener, uses the approach known as Amichien® Bonding pioneered by Jan Fennell. Rachael has her own practice, Talking Paws, based in Staffordshire. Previously she lived with wolves for close on two years in Colorado, USA, to learn how packs work. She has identified a group of issues that dog owners experience that are due to the well-meaning but flawed behaviours of owners, rather than ‘nuisance’ dogs. How to properly avoid and resolve such troublesome issues will be the theme of each book in the series Thunkies® love Dogs
Nicky Hill Illustrator Bio:
Nicky Hill is an illustrator and storyteller from Winterbourne near Bristol. Her artwork is featured throughout the Thunkies® Love Dogs books, bringing a bright, vibrant style that captures the imagination. A great lover of animals both wild and domestic, Nicky also illustrates and writes her own series of books about ‘The Wotton Pack’; a group of inquisitive pooches who spend their days and nights having many adventures. She currently lives with her own pack of three dogs in Wottonunder-Edge, a small town in Gloucestershire, where she also co-runs the shop called ‘The Collective’.
Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Break The Silence by D.K. Hood. I’ve been a fan of this series from the start and although they can be read as standalone books I would really recommend reading them from the start as that way you can fully appreciate the stories and characters.
I received a copy of Break The Silence by D.K. Hood from the publisher, Bookouture. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
I do enjoy a good story that hooks me in and keeps me reading and wanting to know what happens and who is committing the crimes that some of my favourite detectives are trying to solve.
Jenna Alton and her sidekick Kane are once again looking at another murder spree that has hit the remote American town that they live in, but this time it isn’t so simple because they aren’t completely sure whether the spate of students dying are the work of a serial killer or tragic freak accidents.
Given that this is a crime book I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which one it is, but has the Sherrif and Detective met their match?
Once again D.K. Hood finds twisted and unusual ways of killing her characters and teases the readers with her character’s relationships with each other. I always enjoy reading the authors books and Break The Silence is no different. The books are easy to read and I always get to the end all too soon. Roll on book eight!
Her head throbbed as she stumbled up the stairs. Music vibrating and the sound of partygoers fill her head as she walks into one of the dark, empty rooms. As she sits on the bed, she hears the unmistakable sound of the door locking behind her. She is not alone.
The body of college student Chrissie Lowe lies curled into a ball – long red cuts along her arms suggesting how she had met her death. Detective Jenna Alton is called in to investigate.
Purplish bruising on Chrissie’s upper arms and thighs make Jenna believe there is more to Chrissie’s death than others suspected, and she soon finds herself following the trail of the student’s last few moments, leading her to the scene of a party that had ended just hours before Chrissie’s body was found.
When Jenna hears reports that Chrissie was seen going into the bedroom of a college football star, she knows that finding out what went on behind that closed door could be the key to finding out how Chrissie ended up dead. But then another partygoer dies in an apparent accident at the campus gym just hours later, and Jenna is convinced the deaths are connected.
Facing a wall of silence from the student population, Jenna has to act fast to find the killer, but soon another student is found dead on the campus. As Jenna sends in one of her deputies undercover, she prays that she hasn’t just sealed his fate. Can she find the killer before any more lives are taken?
Fans of Lisa Regan, Karin Slaughter and Rachel Abbott will love this totally gripping page-turner from bestselling crime author D.K. Hood. You won’t be able to put it down!
**Each Kane and Alton book can be read as part of the series or as a standalone**
About The Author:
I’ve always had a wicked sense of humour and was the kid who told the ghost stories around the campfire. I am lucky to have family all over the world and have spent many vacations in places from Paris France to Montana USA and Australia. I use the wonderful memories from these visits to enhance my stories. My interest in the development of forensic science to solve crime goes back many years. I enjoy writing crime, mystery and thrillers. With many stories, waiting for me to write I’ll look forward to sharing many spine-tingling stories with you.
D.K. Hood is an active member of International Thriller Writers.