Review of the captivating book – Nothing to Hide by James Oswald @SirBenfro @Wildfirebks @headlinepg #RandomThingsTours @annecater #Bookreview #BlogTour #CrimeFiction #Thriller #NothingToHide

Nothing to Hide
By James Oswald
Rated: 5 stars *****

I was so excited and delighted when I received an invitation by Random Things to review the latest Constance Fairchild book – Nothing to Hide by James Oswald as part of a blog tour. The book did not disappoint and kept me engaged. Today I present my review on the first day of Scottish Book Week. For those of you not in Scotland, it is a hugely important event for books to be promoted, reading to be encouraged. There are events happening online and in libraries and other places that have lovely books. Support authors and these events if you can, everyone appreciates it when you do.

Nothing To Hide Blog tour Poster

About the Author

Nothing to Hide James OswaldJames Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James’s first two books, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes
disturbing fiction by night.

Website ~ http://jamesoswald.co.uk
Twitter ~ @SirBenfro

 

Blurb

Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s
wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has
other ideas . . .
Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated
and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide
investigation . . . It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks.
No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly
see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters
responsible for this brutality to justice.
Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has
everything to lose . . .

Review

Nothing To Hide CoverHaving the latest crime thriller by James Oswald in my hands to review was always, for me, going to be exciting. His writing lives up to all the hype that surrounds him. His writing is most definitely up there with Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.

The detective in this book is not McLean,  but Constance Fairchild, who is currently suspended from duty. It is as good as any McLean book. This is a new series from James Oswald.

Perthshire, Edinburgh, London; the book covers some ground when there are nationwide, killings, brutal murders that bear all the hallmarks of them being ritualistic.  So many lives are in danger and DI Constance Fairchild is not immune to this danger either.

Lady DC Constance Fairchild (not that she really uses Lady), is an interesting, strong character, who isn’t afraid of breaking a rule or two. The workforce doesn’t always like her and rib her for being posh and the press seem to almost hound her after her previous case. She is, whilst being suspended,  waiting to be able to testify at the trial of wealthy businessman Roger De Villiers and all seems like it’s going to be straightforward, but that doesn’t last as other events occur.

Out and about, members of  “The Church of the Coming Light”, part of the Danes Estate, is stumbled upon. It highlights some of the social deprivation here and that there are people trying to help. In this case it is people who are taking the drug most commonly known as Spice. I really like that it is highlighted that people can and do help to try to make things better, through charitable works. but it shouldn’t be necessary, indicating, quite rightly that lives ought to be better and ones with hope, not such despair. There does however seem something sinister about the group on first glance, plus the name indicates it isn’t going to be a mainstream church. Then there’s the odd Reverend, Doctor Edward Masters with his connections is high places. I then got very intrigued as to who Polly Cho is, who Stokes reckons Constance should talk to before he takes very unwell. Readers then really get to know what sort of people they are.
This sort of cultish world interests me, intrigues me, disturbs me and is something that still exists today in some form or another. All the ingredients are there that make it a “want to read book”. The tension that is built up is excellent.

It is interesting getting to know all the characters whom DC Fairchild is, one way or another, in contact with and it is interesting getting an insight into the workforce and their world.

I could not put this book down. I found myself being pulled further and further into getting to know the characters and also into the uneasiness of the killings and the sinister “church”. The book has a great mix of intrigue and familiarity of the surroundings. Even if you have not been to the UK before, it still will all make sense. The book is the second of the Constance Fairchild series, but can also be read as a stand-alone book as there is enough back-story to grasp onto, to catch up, if you’ve not read the first one. If you haven’t ever thought of reading James Oswald’s books, I recommend you give them a try. You just may find that you become hooked and if you’ve read his McLean books, then also try out this new exciting series from him. You won’t be left disappointed.

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to the blog tour. Thanks to Wild Fire Books and Headline for sending a copy of the book. Thanks to James Oswald (who is active on Twitter).

Review of A Friend In Deed by G.D. Harper @harper_author #Review #BlogTour @matadorbooks #thriller #politicalthriller #crimefiction #fiction

A Friend In Deed
By G.D. Harper
Rated: 4 stars ****

 

Today, a little later than I had planned, I am pleased to present my review on the blog tour for A Friend In Deed by G.D. Harper.

A Friend in Deed Full Tour Banner

 

About the Author

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I worked in Russia and Ukraine for ten years, which gave me the ideas for the plot and setting that I used in A Friend in Deed.

Social Media Links
Webpage www.gdharper.com

Facebook: @gdharperauthor

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/harper_author

Blurb

A Friend In Deed CoverBritain: a few years from now. A new populist political party has won the recent general election.

Duncan Jones, freelance political journalist and blogger, loses his weekly column at a national newspaper and turns to investigative reporting. The chance remark of a friend leads him to suspect that the Russians are directing the new British government’s policies and decisions. As he visits Moscow and Ukraine to discover more, scandal follows intrigue, dark forces attempt to silence him by whatever means possible and he turns to an unlikely ally for help.

A Friend in Deed is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in an all-too-believable near future. It is also the story of how one man confronts the traumas in his past and works out how to resolve them.

Review

The book gets off to a good start in the National Portrait Gallery, London, with the main character scrutinising famous Scottish actor Peter Capaldi in the exhibition titled “Celebrity”. It’s a pretty good place to start I reckon as I like the gallery and Peter Capaldi. I also like the description of Bill Nighy too and the way readers are taken through the gallery in general.

I can certainly relate to Duncan Jones feeling the need to finish his blog, even though it is late.

To begin with there’s the interest of a new political party – Act Now, journalism that sounds like is not doing so well for Duncan and the part of the team he is in, there is also new love with Tanya from Ukraine. There’s also a brief snippet of life before as he had a love of his life until tragedy struck. Duncan also goes under 2 aliases, one for his political blog and the other for his novels. Tanya also seems to live 2 different lives, one sort in London and another, darker, more dangerous sort in Russia.

The book has substance and feels so close to what is happening now in the world. It feels like quite a bit of thought has gone into this and also some foresight too, something that not everyone has, but G.D.Harper seems to. It does feel like it is set not in the too distant future.

The story has close truths about how technology can be chillingly misused. G.D. Harper has the atmosphere just right as it is one that is unsettling and so thought-provoking and plausible. There is also the new “Dissemination of Terrorism Act”, which adds even more to the increasingly frighteningly sinister political world that Harper has created.

The ending seemed a little bit quick in some ways, but it was good and the story of course, did have to conclude and it was, on the whole satisfying.

I do recommend this book. I recommend it so that people can see how close to what is written within the pages we actually are in today’s world and how today’s political parties are not too far off the Act Now party. It really does make one think.

Review of Home Alone Harry by Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter – Have educational fun with Harry the dog and the Thunkies @rararesources #Review #HomeAloneHarry #libraries #doglovers #kidslit #Blogtour

Home Alone Harry
By Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter
Rated: 4 stars
****

I am delighted to present my review and excited to be closing the blog tour of this practical, yet lovely and fun story called Home Alone Harry. Come and meet Harry the dog and the Thunkies and find out if they can help Max out. This is with thanks to Rachel at Random Resources who invited me onto this blog tour. Read on to find out about the authors and illustrators, the blurb and my review.

Presenting the full tour details:

Home Alone Harry Full Tour Banner

About the Authors and Illustrator


Jerry Rhodes AUTHOR 

Author Jerry (2)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

Author Rachael Rachael Messiter. Author and Dog Listener with Magpie at Mission Wolf ColoradoRachael 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

Home Alone Harry Illustrator Nicky and her dogsNicky 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 Wotton-under-Edge, a small town in Gloucestershire, where she also co-runs the shop called ‘The Collective’.

Home Alone Harry Cover

Blurb

Harry is a mischievous young dog, adored by his family, Dad and Mum, Maisie (8) and Max (5). When the family leave him on his own he creates chaos. Dad demands, “That bad dog must go!” Alone and sad in bed that evening, Max asks, “Can anyone help?” How will the Thunkies respond to his call?

Review

The illustrations by Nicky Hill are bold and fun throughout the book and depict the story very well. The dog is especially cute.

The family go to the zoo without their dog Harry, who then creates havoc in the house due to being anxious about being left behind. The family don’t know what to do. This is a real issue faced by many families with dogs.
Meet The Thunkies, which are really cool symbols who give ideas of how to help the dog in the best possible way, so the dog can become less anxious and also learn that it is not in-charge of the family too.

It’s a great concept, all put in an easy to follow story, with real solutions as to how to handle the issue.


This book is incredibly child friendly with solutions children alone or children with adults can read and enjoy, and if they have a dog in the family, can also put the dog teaching method used for Harry to the test with their own dogs very easily and no equipment required.

At the back of the book are excellent questions for dog owners to ponder.

Also meet the Thunkies characters right at the very back of the book, just on the inside cover and discover what they do.

The authors/creators of this book have certainly done their research and also have the knowledge and experience behind them when it comes to dogs and their behaviours and in resolving any issues, in this case anxieties displayed at times by some pet dogs.

I would recommend looking just inside the front cover and discover the aims of the book within its educational, science yet fun and games concepts. Look at the back inside cover to discover who the Thunkies are and the wise things they do and then read the story and hopefully enjoy and at the same time gain some knowledge that you will hopefully find useful, so you can play the “game” with your dog.

Home Alone Harry The Creative Team Jerry, Rachael and Nicky

Website and Social Media Links:

Website – https://thunkies.com/

Shop – https://shop.thunkies.com/

Facebook – @thunkies

Instagram – @thunkies

Pinterest – thunkiesteam

Review of Ka-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home – A beautifully written book about the repatriation of a flag, history, culture and love by B. Jeanne Shibahara #Time to Go Home #B.JeanneShibahara #Review #WW2 #Japan #UK #USA #History #Culture #ModernTimes #fiction #Mystery #Humour

KA-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home
by B. Jeanne Shibahara
Rated 4 stars ****

About the Author and Book

B. Jeanne Shibahara studied fiction writing from Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) B Jeanne Shibharaand copywriting from Beth Luey (Editorial Consultant, Chicago Manual of Style, 16thEd.) in the MA program for creative writing at Arizona State University.

In Japan, B. Jeanne has taught English at a private university, written articles for research groups, and created jazz lyrics for composer Hajime Kitamura.

Daughter of a US military officer, she married into a family of calligraphy, ikebana, and tea ceremony teachers, shamisen player, kimono fabric artist, business entrepreneur, and architect. Her home is in Nara City, the ancient capital of Japan.

Time-slip to my Osaka life, 1995, fifty years after the end of WWII—bubble economy ready to burst and the seed to KA-E-RO-U falls into my hands. A WWII Japanese flag. A widow of a US veteran in Akron, Ohio sends the flag to a colleague of mine, asks him to find the family of the fallen soldier who had carried it into the battlefields.
Please click on the website link for more information about the author and the very interesting backstory to the book.           Link:    Website

Meryl is a Vietnam War widow who misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure to take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows British and US expats, a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”

Kaerou

Review

The book is well organised and split into 6 sections – Desert Flower M, The Backstreets of Namba, Day 2 in Japan, To Meryl To Atika, Returns and Finale.

The opening sentence is  “Everybody who knew the secretary knew she couldn’t resist any chance at serving up beefy gossip—seasoned, well done, sizzling and sputtering the latest, the most titillating, the just-gotta-tell.” I must say, it is instantly intriguing and I wanted to know a bit more and it is written so excellently.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book as a whole really, but I was intrigued enough to really want to read it. I started to enjoy it from the outset in the office and getting to know the characters. The letter interested me as do the Shakespearean quotes. I like that there is some humour mingled in with history and people’s lives.

Kaerou takes readers along with Meryl, who is a war widow from the Vietnam war, on a  journey to Japan. She discovered a Japanese flag of a fallen soldier from the second world war and wants to deliver it back to the family. She meets many interesting characters who I enjoyed reading about, including a professor and a writer. The book is very character driven. The premise of the actual plot is fine and interesting enough. Sometimes the grammar isn’t at its best, but somehow that doesn’t detract from the actual story and the richness in culture. It really is fascinating to read about the cultures and how they sit in people’s minds as the book isn’t just about Japan, it covers the UK, Vietnam and the US.

The scenery is beautifully written and picturesque.

The book is nicely written and it is interesting as there are some quick, short chapters, yet the pace is smooth and gentle. The way it goes between past and present is beautifully presented and flows well and in an unconfused way. With all the complexities of the book, everything marries up well on the whole, leaving a pleasant satisfaction.

The book is a love story and one of discovery. It is also one of history and how it can join up with the present as there is a journey to join up the flag of the fallen soldier with his family. It’s about moving on, but not without making peace first with what was lost in the war. It’s also about life ever-moving onwards and it’s there to be really lived and embraced and trying to overcome and bridge that which divides us. So, as much as this is Remembrance Sunday and we think of our war dead and the veterans who are still alive, this book is about love too and there is something to learn here as well, even though Japan wasn’t an ally nation. In this book readers can learn about the past and more present times of Japan through the characters that are written about.

I think B.Jeanne Shibahara has achieved what she set out to achieve. She has a book that has a story, great characters and I get the sense of most importantly, one that tells the world about Japan.

Overall, I recommend this book. Take a leap, take that chance and read about the familiar and the perhaps, lesser well-known and learn something from this story that, although is fictional, is based on fact. So, I recommend to try this book for something new. Sometimes we get into reading very similar books time and time again, this book brings something new, or if you like reading about people’s lives or family sagas even, or learning about different cultures and thoughts and feeling emotions and history in terms of where it also sits with the present,  then I would recommend Ke a rou. Bascially, I say give it a go for a pleasant, satisfying read.

I have to say I enjoyed reading the book. Thanks to B. Jeanne Shibahara for contacting me on my contact page on my blog and for giving me this amazing opportunity to review her book. I thank her also for buying me a copy of her book and sending it to me.

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century #Article #LibraryMatters @CressidaCowell @PhilipArdagh #libraries #education

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century

Why, you should ask, when there are Kindles and other online platforms, do libraries matter now in the 21st Century. I have heard people saying that they may be becoming a thing of the past and don’t really matter. There are also people who don’t realise, even after the existence of libraries for many years, that they are free. That is one of the beauty’s of libraries – they are free. Whatsmore books can be borrowed and new books can be obtained for free. Librarians can also introduce you to a whole new author based on what you like. If you don’t know what you like, they can find out by different means through a nice chat.

Libraries have the latest books and follow the latest trends. Pick up a book and escape into different realms, away from reality for a bit, whatever age you are. Some adults think libraries are only for children, they are for every age. Reading for Pleasure isn’t just a trend however, it is for all ages and all it requires is time to be made to relax and unwind with a book. Books are proven to help de-stress after a hard day at school or further education or work.

Books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction all have something that can expand people’s knowledge, language, imagination, exploration of the world, expand tolerance, understanding and well-being.

Libraries have computers and apps with the latest technologies as well as WI-FI. There are also often great study areas within them for all ages.

Libraries offer more. They offer sanctuary through tough times and a source of joy when times are good. They also offer times to socialise and meet you friends. They offer places to unwind. A library is many things.

Libraries offer more even still:

They offer Bookbug Sessions in Scotland and equvelent of sessions such as Rhyme Times south of the border.

Libraries look at STEM and Lego Clubs and Builders Days are popping up across the country.

Libraries give people exciting opportunities to meet an author, get a book signed, hear a talk. In Scotland it is Bookweek Scotland coming up week beginning Monday 18th November. Check your local library to see how they are celebrating it and keep a look out to see how your child’s school is celebrating. Events happen nationally within schools and public library and some community libraries throughout the year, check with your library to see what is planned and how to attend (usually with consumate ease and most are free).

Think Netflix is the greatest thing? The next greatest thing to follow at libraries is Bookflix, cropping up in libraries and school library/book corners.

Books are lovely to share, whether they are children, young adults or adults and there are many benefits from doing this, including forming new friendships.

Libraries and their books and events really are for the youngest of babies to the oldest of adults.

School libraries have been disappearing, but Cressida Cowell and Phillip Aardagh seem to be on the case to work on getting them re-instated because they matter. School visits to local libraries also matter and count. Experiences matter as does making them as positive as possible.

Libraries in both the public and school domains matter. They need people to support them by using them. There seems to be a swath of people who still think libraries are lifeless and are all about stern librarians telling them what to do or not do etc. Libraries changed quite a number of years ago and are ever evolving. Yes, they suffer from lack of funding too, but passionate librarians work many hours to deliver a great service and are always striving to do their best for the public. Support them and enjoy them! They are not a luxury, but a necessity after all and not something to be taken for granted.
So, instead of walking by a library, whether at school or in an area that has a library open to all, why not pop in and see what is going on and what is on offer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What I worry about the future of libraries is that one day in some places, people may wake up to their being no library in any form. Once something is lost it can be forever. Let’s try and keep libraries for the present and the future. Enjoy them by using them, having a chat with your librarian and seeing what is on offer.

Your library may have closed down already. My local library has and now sits within the third sector. I used to work for the local authority libraries. Jobs go though don’t they. I ironically only worked a couple of times in the library where I actually live. I now work there a lot, bringing it up to scratch and using every inch of experience to lead it and to bring it as close to the local authority run libraries as possible. I and other in other community libraries that try to compliment a council run library ensure we have a great selection of books, in every genre and that they are new, have school class visits, have (in Scotland) Bookbug sessions (I was trained under the council run libraries when I worked with them and the Bookbug co-ordinator for the area allows me to continue). Authors also kindly visit too.

Am I still passionate about libraries, even though I do not get paid anymore? Yes, although it is rather a worrying trend because always, I, anyway am wanting to deliver the absolute best possible library to people because libraries really do matter and can make a difference to people’s lives in many forms. Community libraries can be less recognised where and when it matters and I hope that changes soon, or people may find community libraries also ever more challenging to run, if they want to do it to compliment a local authority library. I feel that’s a whole other subject for another time.
Enjoy libraries and support them and reap the benefits from them before there is nothing left to pass on to present people and future generations.

Celebrating 100 Posts and Thank You #100 #Bloggers #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #Article #Blog #Authors #Publishers

Celebrating 100 posts on my Blog

Today on my blog notifications it announced I had written 100 posts. I hadn’t realised it was so many over just over a year. I have enjoyed reviewing every book from crime to political thriller to up-lit to non-fiction; and every stage performance from musicals to plays to stand-up. Articles covering a number of subjects. I love writing my blog, but most of all, I thank you all for following direct from my blog, on Twitter and my Facebook Page. I also thank those who invite me to join their blog tours, the authors and publishers who send me books and for conversing with me via my social media and the contact section on my blog homepage. It really does feel like such a privilege to be able to review so many and such a diverse selection of books by so many authors.
I thank authors and book festival organisers who have added me to their contact lists, again such a privilege and an exciting one at that.

I have more great sounding books to read and review, theatre and thoughts for further articles as time moves ever forward on my blog. So, I hope you all continue to enjoy what I am doing and thanks again for your support by your nice comments, all which I read and try to respond to.

Thank you!