Lou Presents an #Extract of The Farmhouse – A Southern Gothic Ghost Tale By L.B. Stimpson  @zooloo2008 @stimsonink @QuestionPress #TheFarmhouseOfPeaceandPlenty

Today on day 1 of this blog tour, I present an extract from The Farmhouse by L.B. Stimpson. Thanks to the author for providing the extract and Zooloo Blogtours for inviting me onto this.
Follow onto the Blurb and Extract and take a peek at a bit of this interesting, evocative, atmospheric book, that may well have your spines tingling, to see who lives in a house like this – an ageing, spooky farmhouse that just may put you in the mood early for Halloween!

The Farmhouse Book Cover

Blurb

The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy

The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972.

The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap.

The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall.

Extract

Late Spring 1972

Jenny Dowling bit her lower lip in a failed attempt to keep her opinion to herself. She had promised her husband she would keep an open mind, but she didn’t expect the house to be so dilapidated. She swallowed her doubt and concern as they traveled down the gravel road, it was so worn and lonely and if she had to admit, the surrounding fields appeared frozen in time and she and Kyle were emerging through a portal, far from modern society, disturbing the past. Haunted. Yes, haunted was the perfect description. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the past, when wagons rolled and seclusion was necessary for survival at times.

“Oh, Kyle, you can’t be serious,” she finally blurted out as her eyes wandered along the overgrown driveway beyond the padlocked cattle guard gate which appeared to be holding in the decay spilling forth from the broken windows lining the front of the house. Empty, hollow eyes. Oh, he can’t be serious, but yet, he was.

Kyle reached over and grasped his wife’s hand. “Look, I know it doesn’t, well it might not be the secluded getaway you said you wanted, but it has some charm and it’s cheap and near enough to the city if I need to get back to the university, but I doubt that anyone will be calling. Besides, it has electricity and the realtor said she would cut us a break on the rent if we fixed up a few things.”

Jenny pulled her hand away and cranked open the window. The air was still. It was as though it was holding its breath lest a breeze break through the last shards of broken windows protecting the house against the elements. The house, this house, was exactly what Kyle had always wanted. Of course he would have chosen such a place–lonely and secluded.

The Farmhouse Book Tour Poster

Year 3 of Blogging #blogversary

I’ve been blogging for 3 years now. I couldn’t have done that without your support in sharing my blog/tweets around social media and of course reading it.

Thanks too, to publishers, authors and blog tour organisers who amazingly let me loose on their books and to their events to review.

I have many more books on my review pile. I can confirm I have a couple of books for 2022, so hopefully I’ll still also grab your attention and give you inspiration for what’s out there to read so I can have a 4th year at this. I do not get paid by anyone and I create time to do this in. I do this because, apart from a love of reading and writing, I see it as a way of supporting readers, publishers and authors whenever I can. That’s not to say I rate every book 5 stars, I do not and I also ensure I have a critical eye on things so I can give an honest review and no spoilers (no mean feat), no matter what comes my way.

I started because I was approached by an author (I thought I was having an innocent coffee with) at the Edinburgh Fringe and then a blogger approached me and planted ideas I acted upon for blogging. A friend has informed me lots start off with a book. I started off at Bloody Scotland and the following weekend at Morecambe and Vice Crime Book Festivals because I figured I’d maybe make myself useful and amazingly people read and follow my blog, twitter and facebook pages. This in turn has meant I amazingly can keep a blog going.

Many, many thanks again.

Louise (Lou)
Bookmarks and Stages

https://BookmarksandStages.home.blog

#BookReview By Lou of The Family Man By Kimberley Chambers @kimbochambers @HarperCollinsUK #RandomTTours #GangsterCrime #CrimeFiction #GangsterFiction

The Family Man
By Kimberley Chambers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Family Man Graphic 4

Spectacular and mightily gritty with a fast pace. This is slick gangster crime with edge, at its best!
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to review and to Harper Collins for providing an exquisite Limited Gold Edition of the book. Follow down to find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below…

The Family Man Graphic 1

Blurb

A brand-new series from the queen of gritty crime

A fascinating interviewee and a brilliant raconteur, Kimberley has appeared on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live, Loose Ends and Front Row, BBC Radio 2 Graham Norton and the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio…

The Family Man Graphic 2MEET THE BONDS…
Kenny Bond is finally out of prison after doing a long stretch for killing a copper, and is determined to get back to life on the straight and narrow. He’s got a lot of time to make up for, he’s missed his beloved wife, Sharon, and his family is growing up fast.
A FAMILY LIKE NO OTHER…
Kenny’s son Donny might lack his father’s edge but his twin grandsons, Beau and Brett – well, they are Bonds through and through. Like him, they won’t let anyone stand in their way.
BUT THEY’RE ABOUT TO MEET THEIR MATCH…
Family comes before everything else for Kenny. There’s nothing he won’t do for them. But there are enemies from his past he can’t shake off, and a family feud is brewing. Kenny’s determined that nothing, and no one, will threaten his family. But can the Bond family stick together when someone’s out to take them down?

Family Man Graphic 3 (1)

Review

The Family Man is fast-paced and enthralling. It’s full of grit and pulls readers into the authenticity of the underground of a gangland family.

The Family Man tells the story of The Bond family throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. For a gangster family you really get the sense of those family bonds and the whole juxtopositions that is especially embodied in Kenny, who is a gangster and murderer, yet really cares about his family. Don’t be mistaken, there is nothing that is cosy and warm as such. This book feels authentic in language and situations used. It has bags of intense grit that builds from Wormwood Scrubs and throughout the book.

The bonds between the family are put to the test and there’s someone after them… It puts into question how far someone will go to protect their family, even in the gangland world.

It’s interesting reading how Sharon, a devoted wife to Kenny Bond, really feels about things as she has spent so much time standing by her man, even though he was banged up in prison. The relationships in this family and strong feelings really come through in this, at times, visceral book.

There, even in such an underground of life, is emotion in many ways, felt by the characters, simmering away, but all the while, in the forefront is that knowledge they are gangsters. The family feud that brews and betrayal, adds another level of intensity and grit.

About the Author

Kimberley Chambers Author PIcA truly unforgettable character, Kimberley injects authenticity into her gritty gangland crime novels set around the east end. She came to writing later in life, having worked as a street trader (being promoted from tea girl to sales when she rugby-tackled a shoplifter), a DJ and a cabbie.
Fed up of scraping a living, she set her mind to writing a novel, despite being laughed at by friends and family, who dubbed her ‘a female Del-Boy’. But with her creative mind, colourful life experiences and memorable covering letter (‘Take a chance on me, you won’t regret it. This time next year I’ll be wearing Prada, not Primark’), she quickly had five agents knocking at her door and a publishing contract. Fifteen novels and three Sunday Times number ones later, she’s top of her game and an incredible inspiration.
Join Kimberley’s legion of legendary fans facebook.com/kimberleychambersofficial on and
@kimbochambers on Twitter.

The Family Man BT Poster

 

#BookReview by Lou of A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore @Rachelhore @simonschusterUK @rararesources #SpyFiction #CrimeFiction #HistoricalFiction

A Beautiful Spy
By Rachel Hore

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It gives me pleasure to announce that I am closing the blog tour for A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore. It shows the perilous and dark corners of the world in a mysterious and intense fashion. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing a print copy of the book and for Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the blog tour. Find out more about the author and her book, as well as the rest of my thoughts in the review…

A Beautiful Spy

About the Author

Rachel Hore author photoRachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia until deciding to become a full-time writer. She is the Sunday Times (London) bestselling author of ten novels, including The Love Child. She is married to the writer D.J. Taylor and they have three sons. 

Blurb

A Beautiful SpyMinnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928…

Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.

Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

Review

Minnie Gray is the main protagonist, with the book predominantely sweeping through the 1930’s, but also hitting on more modern times every so often. In 1928, Minnie wants more for her life and she certainly isn’t into meeting the Chamberlains, even though they were increasingly making their mark in the House of Commons. Life moves swiftly on from that time and readers learn about Minnie and her upbringing. What she hadn’t initially realised was that her connections then were to change the course of her life. Through her connections, she certainly becomes far removed from being a dutiful and stay at home wife. She has the opportunity to be a government spy, with the remit to spy on Communist Russia and to delve deeper into UK supporters of the regime.

There’s a bit of glamour that’s in the backdrop of a deeper, darker world and has her eyes opened wide to what the propaganda really means and where meetings take place in places where no one would normally suspect anything untoward could possibly happen.

The book shows how dangerous some politics are, especially by those with no alliegence to a country. It also sets out how people are taken in by clever propaganda. There are comparison’s that can be made into the book that can be made today and not only just with Russia, but with anywhere that has a more nationalist party. Although the book is set in the past and is about the dark, dangerous, yet exciting world for a fictional protagonist, there are some lines here and there that can be linked to certain aspects of today’s world and also the world of so-called unlikely leaders being voted into power. The book doesn’t delve too much into the roads of Communism, as Communism, as readers will know, doesn’t start there, there are other books that demonstrate this, this shows more when Communism has already got its grip.

The book is a slow suspense, but none-the-less gripping, especially for those readers who find the life of a spy and keeping identities hidden, fascinating. This book is a bit different from some spy fiction in that it doesn’t totally glamourise it and can show what an anxiety inducing life it can be and how challenging it can be, and yet change a person a bit, as demonstrated in the tastes of books Minnie used to like, compared to her tastes since becoming a spy as her worldly view has changed. The book isn’t all blazing guns and gadgets either. There is however, intelligence and a life of characters that seems plausible, and there is the wrangling of Minnie and a glimmer of desire to be set free by MI5 to lead a life outside spying, but she has proven herself well and to be valuable and stays, but things get ever more dangerous…. until a point when, finally, readers will be able to breath again, as can the woman, who led a double life.

Time moves forwards to the 1940’s and Minnie’s life has changed again, as does the pace and tone, but some histories in life can’t totally be erased and nor can the residue, certain parts of life leave behind…

This is, overall, a fascinating and intense book that leaves you wondering what next for this “Beautiful Spy”, at each turn…

Social Media Links

Visit her at RachelHore.co.uk and connect with her on Twitter @RachelHore.

 

#BookReview by Lou of False Truth – A Joe Wilde Investigation by C.D. Steele #CDSteele @BookGuild #CrimeFiction #PrivateInvestigatorFiction

False Truth
By C.D. Steele

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

False Truth is a book full of mystery and just when you suspect what happened, something else does, creating the most unexpected twists that grip in a sensational story.

Thanks to C.D. Steele for contacting me to review and gifting me his book – False Truth.

False Truth

Blurb

Private Investigator and former MI6 agent Joe Wilde is hired by Sally Devlin to investigate her son’s disappearance. Liam Devlin was a rising football star. His car was found abandoned at Lea Bridge in Hackney, a known suicide spot, six weeks prior. With help from friend and retired MI6 Data Technician Mark Thompson, Joe uncovers a huge secret in Liam’s life. Putting the pieces together, he starts to suspect that this case is far more complex than he originally envisioned. Falling ever deeper into his own investigations, Joe meets with the detective in charge of the case, D. I. Carl Whatmore, who does not take kindly to Joe getting involved. As Joe and D. I. Whatmore go head-to-head in their own investigations, more lives are put in danger. But who will crack the case? Only time will tell…

Review

Joe Wilde is a Private Investigator who is a former MI6 agent, which makes him intriguing from the outset. He has other friends from MI6 who help him in cases. This time, a meaty case turns up, one that isn’t trying to find out whether a lover is cheating on their partner or not. Sally Devlin hires him because her son, Liam, considered a rising star in football has disappeared, all they’ve got is his car that turns up at Lea Bridge.

There’s also a political element to the book as Joe’s friend Phil Harkes works for MI5 in counter-terrorism, after much time in MI6 and had been working on a case where an MP was murdered.

Working relationships are often interesting to read about and there are certainly differences between Joe Wilde and Detective Inspector Carl Whatmore, who’s path he has to cross as he wonders what he wants with the Liam case.

Readers really get a sense of walking in the shoes of a P.I. as he knocks door to door (readers certainly won’t forget Joe Wilde’s name with the number of times he has to introduce himself. At first I thought this was exessive, until I thought about it and it actually gives a real sense of realism), to try and find people who knew something and to piece bits of info together. It’s worth staying with…

The case gets more intriguing the more the leads build and even takes Joe to Paraguay, where the mystery to his disappearance continues and the intrigue notches up as there appears there may be more than meets the eye. Then the mystery racks a further notch and the twists and turns that come, become tight and the pace quickens.

#Review by Lou of The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman for #BlogTour @richardosman @VikingBooks @penguinrandom @EllieeHud #TheManWhoDiedTwice #TeamOsman #CrimeFiction

The Man Who Died Twice
By Richard Osman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review written by – Louise (Lou) – Day 4 of the blog tour

Blog tour 1 copy

Firstly I am astonished and so excited to have in my grasp, as proof copy of The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman, but does it live up to his debut – The Thursday Murder Club, which was so fantastic and captured my heart? YES, YES, YES! I am captured all over again by this book and from the first page! He’s only written 2 novels and it feels like I’ve been reading them for ages because of the long lasting effect. I had high expectations. Who wouldn’t after all the success of The Thursday Murder Club and my expectations have been met, so I am very excited to tell you about this unputdownable book. It’s a phrase used a lot, but it really is and is another Must Read from Richard Osman. 
Put it this way. I read it in a couple of days. It would have been one, but I thought I should give my cat a bit of attention and also sleep, even though I did end up reading into the wee small hours.
Please follow down to the blurb and my full review of the book that takes the Thursday Murder Club to darker places and with many, many murders and a whole lot of intrigue and humour…
Before I do, I thank those behind Team Osman at Viking Books who gifted me a proof copy  and for inviting me to the blog tour.
Now, I leave you with the blurb and the rest of my review and a pic of the book I also bought with spredges.

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Blurb

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can the Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Review

The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club Book 2)For a second book, this is absolutely sublime and is just as wise and witty and just as excellent as the first book. I already know I would love to read the third book in this terrific series.
Firstly I love that it starts the following Thursday. That’s a great place to start if ever I saw one for a sequel. The gang of retirees are still sitting around in their retirement home discussing cold cases in their own formed club – The Thursday Murder Club, that is full of characters that are so easy to invest in and want to know more about, and one in-particular has a very interesting past indeed and quite some connections, which shows a life drawn into the darker corners.

There are many bodies, a life in danger and diamonds, so therefore a case to be solved and The Thursday Murder Club, using all their skills before retirement and all their wiley ways get deeply involved, but rather differently from the first book, now that they are established. It also takes one of them on quite the unexpected adventure on the Channel Tunnel. It’s all easy to get hooked into.

The mystery all begins when Elizabeth recieves a letter from an old colleague/friend, who she hasn’t seen since 1981. It piques my interest a lot. There within lies a great mystery full of tightly constructed twists and turns. The Thursday Murder Club, after all, have a wish for something exciting to happen again. Anything, it would seem.
They do indeed have the taste for live mysteries to weedle themselves into being involved now, instead of sitting around just discussing them for their amusement.

The conversation is humorous, pretty realistic and brings not only some lightness, but also the desire of wanting to stay up-to-date with tech, but in their own manner. Now she’s wondering whether to be on Instagram or have a dog. What a choice to make!
The tone of writing is just sublime and my goodness, all of the dialogue is spot-on, whether its serious, pregamatic or comical to the onlookers. It’s so expertly done and well concieved.
The creation of Joyce is still as fabulous as ever! Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron are also very welcome to see return.

The story also shows, like the first one, that older people had a life outside a retirement village and they have an interest in the world, when in one. Elizabeth for one is an interesting character with quite an intriguing past, that is delved into more in this book. Readers also get to see a number of Joyce’s likes in life, a lot involving the BBC, which adds entertainment and interest as well as a number of people and shows folk would be familiar with. It fits with the characters and in part, is perhaps rather (and nicely) shrood on Richard Osman’s part. He is an incredibly clever man after all.

There is a nice nod to independent bookshops and a direct message within this to the public, which I wholeheartedly approve of. It is also enjoyable reading about Ibrahim’s visit to one and picks up a book you would perhaps not instantly think he would, until something happens to him…

DCI Chris Hudson and PC Donna Freitas are friends and colleagues and he can’t stop waxing lyrical about her mum, perhaps to the point of obsession in a funny way. They are also after Connie, a drug dealer/wholesaler.
When they are with the group that makes up The Thursday Murder Club, they, as ever, have to put up with them wanting everything solved instantly, or even yesterday, especially when it comes to one of their friends.
There are, it turns out there are many ways that The Thursday Murder Club can help, both on the case with the skills and connections they possess and also in their  personal lives, especially Ibrahim, as the book continues its theme of loneliness. It makes a stark and really important point that it can hit people at any age and not just that of retired people. It’s weaved into the plot so well.

I think this should be made into a film too as it goes. Hopefully Steven Spielberg is looking at this book too. I also hope Richard Osman writes more of The Thursday Club. I’d be more than happy to keep reading and reviewing them.