Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Lost Acre by Andrew Caldecott

I am delighted to be part of the blog blast for Lost Acre the final book in Andrew Caldecott's Rotherweird Trilogy. Rotherweird is a town apart, cut off from the rest of England in Elizabethan times it has it's own curious laws and rituals. Lost Acre opens with the announcement of the election of the new mayor however, the result is disrupted by the return of Geryon Wynter. While some of the townspeople are drawn to his charisma and aura of power not all are convinced. This trilogy is inventive, witty and whimsical. Perfect for fans of Terry Pratchett and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Caldecott blends a talent for description which brings the landscape and atmosphere vividly alive with a cast of characters to rival Dickens. The list of characters at the beginning is very handy as there are so many. I also wouldn't advise anyone to read Lost Acre as a standalone book, the story continues from one book into the next without any chance for new readers to catch up so if you haven't already, you'll need to read Rotherweird and Wyntertide before diving into Lost Acre. Thanks a million to Milly Reid at Jo Fletcher/Quercus for inviting me to take part in the publication day blog blast and for an e-ARC of the book. 

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Shroud of Leaves

Rebecca Alexander's latest novel A Shroud of Leaves continues where A Baby's Bones left off as heroine Sage Westfield is working alongside the police and forensic teams to investigate the murder of a young woman, buried in a shallow grave, close to the site of the disappearance of another young woman more than twenty years before and a young man over a hundred years earlier. Still having flashbacks to her own frightening ordeal a few months before and struggling with new motherhood, it's no wonder that Sage finds the work upsetting, but despite this she is determined to find answers and get justice for the young woman who was so callously discarded. The connections between the most recent murder, the twenty year old missing person case and the mysterious young archaeologist who vanished in 1913 are all slowly revealed in this fast paced crime thriller. Interweaving the stories and elements of folklore, myth and magic. A Shroud of Leaves will appeal to fans of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series and George Mann's Wychwood books.

The Nanny at Number 43 by Nicola Cassidy

I am thrilled to be involved in the blog tour for Nicola Cassidy's second book The Nanny at Number 43. Inspired by an advertisement she found in the local newspaper archive which sought a nanny to care for a motherless child, Nicola's research led her to discovering the shockingly high number of cases of infanticide in Ireland throughout the 19th and early 20th century. The plot of the novel revolves around a young woman arriving in Drogheda to apply for the advertised position. While the widower who employs her is delighted to have found someone to care for his young daughter his housekeeper Mrs McHugh is unsettled and suspicious of the Nanny's offhand manner and the baby's seeming listlessness and drowsiness. Along with her friend Betty, now bedridden but always a keen observer of people and their habits, the two women begin to investigate the nanny, revealing that perhaps the young woman is not so respectable after all. In parallel with this unfolding story is the story of a young family who have through a small inheritance managed to leave Dublin tenement life behind and purchase a cottage in the country but as the opening of the book reveals, they make a grizzly discovery.
Nicola's attention to detail in her dialogue, description and character building is truly wonderful. She has already brought Victorian Drogheda and the surrounding area to vivid life in her first novel December Girl and she has, done so once again in this page turning tale. The Nanny at Number 43 is in fact, even better than Nicola's first book. It's dark, gritty and full of utterly life-like characters. Whether you are fan of  crime, historical fiction or fast paced thrillers, Nicola Cassidy knows how to build tension and her sense of character and place are faultless. If you enjoyed December Girl as I did, you will be wowed by The Nanny at Number 43. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sonny and Me by Ross Sayers Blog Tour

Ross Sayers brilliant new YA novel features Billy and Sonny two inseparable friends from Stirling navigating the horrors of high school; boredom, hormones, homework and bullying from both teachers and students. One teacher however, Miss Baird, the boys do like, she supports Billy's hopes to pursue higher maths and get to University so when the boys see other students attempting to steal Miss Baird's car, of course they intervene and wind up in a whole heap of trouble. However that incident sets off a chain of events that lead to Miss Baird leaving the school in tears. The boys are desperate to know what happened to their favourite teacher and so they start to investigate. Sonny and Me is a real triumph, funny, poignant and cleverly capturing the voices of it's young protagonists. I laughed, gasped and sped through this charming tale of teens investigating murder, mystery and cover up. A real joy, perfect for fans of smart contemporary YA fiction like Holly Bourne or Sara Barnard.
Available now from Gob Stopper an imprint of Cranachan Publishing. Thank you to Kelly at Cranachan for sending a copy to review. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Daughters of Ironbridge by Mollie Walton blog tour

I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Mollie Walton's first book in the Ironbridge series; The Daughters of Ironbridge. Mollie is already an established author of historical fiction as Rebecca Mascull and has turned her talent to writing saga with great success. I grew up reading historical saga and The Daughters of Ironbridge is an outstanding book that will I hope gain many more readers for both the genre and for Mollie/Rebecca in either writing guise. The story focuses on two young women who come from different worlds; Margaret is the sheltered and shy daughter of the wealthy King family. The Kings own the Ironworks which employs the majority of local men including Anny's father. Anny and Margaret meet when Anny is given a job as a messenger for the works office. The girls become great friends though they must keep that friendship a secret as it wouldn't be approved of for a young upper class lady to associate with an Ironworker's daughter. While Anny is thrilled to be able to use her skills at reading and writing in her new job, it brings her to the attention of Master Cyril; the heir to the King fortune and a calculating and thoroughly cruel young man. Cyril's attention will have far reaching consequences for Anny's future and for her and Margaret's friendship. I cannot wait to continue Anny and Margaret's story in the next instalment of the series. The Daughters of Ironbridge will appeal to fans of saga authors such as Nancy Revell but equally to fans of compelling historical fiction like Lucinda Riley and Rachel Hore. The Daughters of Ironbridge is available from Zaffre Books now. Thank you to Ellen Turner at Zaffre for my copy. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan

The Killer in Me is the second book from Olivia Kiernan, once again featuring Dublin detective Frankie Sheehan. Frankie's sister in law has asked for help in reviewing the case of a young man who served a seventeen year sentence for murdering his parents. Looking over the case Frankie thinks that shortcuts were made to ensure a conviction, but her focus is on a current murder case when a man and woman are found dead at the church near her old family home. The case is a baffling one but soon the connections with the older case become apparent and Frankie is in a race against time to prevent the next killing. Olivia Kiernan's knowledge of Dublin's streets, habits and language shines through in her writing, bringing the darkness that lurks just under the surface out into the light. The Frankie Sheehan series is perfect for fans of Tana French, Liz Nugent, Dervla McTiernan and Jo Spain. The Killer in Me is published by Quercus in hardback and e book on April 4th. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sunwise by Helen Steadman

Sunwise is the second novel from Helen Steadman and is a direct follow up to the story she began with Widdershins; her debut. Widdershins was one of my favourite novels of recent years. It's a beautifully well crafted story of ordinary women caught up in a desperate man's campaign to rid the Scottish and English border areas of witches. You can read my review of Widdershins HERE
When I was asked to review Sunwise of course I jumped at the chance. I was delighted to receive such a a gorgeous package; my review copy came with a lovely corn dolly and two postcards. It's often happened that I have approached a second novel in a series with a sense of trepidation; worried that it won't live up to my expectations. With Helen Steadman's book I had no such worries and all of my high expectations were met. In Sunwise we once again meet Jane; mourning her mother as the seasons turn and her second child grows in her womb. John Sharpe meanwhile has fled Newcastle and arrived in Berwick where his fervent belief in the evil of women continues to grow and his mental state begins to fracture. For Jane everyday life has also become a mental struggle as Tom has returned from sea, unaware that Jane has married Andrew and the rift between the two men grows deeper as Andrew taunts Tom and it becomes clear that he tricked Jane into marriage. Jane feels that she cannot go on, desperate to create a life with Tom, they begin to plan a future elsewhere.
Helen Steadman is a powerful writer her characters jump from the page, fully realised and I read this book with bated breath, desperate to know what happened next. The story alternates between Jane and John's viewpoints and the tension is brilliantly maintained throughout. I cannot recommend Helen's books highly enough. The careful research that goes into the writing; on the traditions and superstitions of the period; the herbs and ointments that a healer or cunning woman would have used are clear but the storytelling is paramount. Highly recommended.

The blog tour continues