Tunnel Vision: A Rock Ghost Story by Robert Daws – 5 star – a short read, full of suspense and atmosphere @RobertDaws @urbanbooks #review #BookReview #Mystery #Suspense #ShortBook

Tunnel Vision
By Robert Daws
Rated: 5 stars *****

I always said I wouldn’t read anything ghostly. I was adament about it. That has changed. I have discovered one more book starring Tamara Sullivan. This is a stand-alone book, but she is one of the main characters in The Rock, Poisoned Rock and The Killing Rock, which is a fantastic crime series, set in Gibraltar. Anyway, back to the book in-hand. This is a short book at 20 pages, so read on to find out what it’s all about and why it is worth 5 stars.

Tunnel Vision cover by Robert Daws

Blurb

A ‘DS Tamara Sullivan Short’
The Summer heat on the Rock of Gibraltar is intense, but deep within its dark interior, a chill horror awaits Detective Sargeant Tamara Sullivan. The shock of the supernatural sends the police officer into an emotional spin of pain and confusion. As a murder detective, Sullivan is used to the grisly truth of death. Can she come to terms with the possible fact that life – of a kind – survives its mortal bonds? This is her statement.

Review

This is a fantastic quick story, full of suspense and mystery. The length is perfect for anyone wanting a quick read. Readers are taken to an account of the events of 15th and 16th September 2016. The story starts in picturesque surroundings in Gibraltar and innocently enough, as the words float by with consumate ease. The story, then, very quickly changes pace, that and the atmosphere becomes very intense within the tunnel and not all is normal… An investigation is mounted to try to discover who it was within the tunnel and all turns more mysterious. It is far from your average journey through a tunnel. Read the book to find out more about what Tamara saw in the tunnel…

The inspiration for Tamara to be a police officer, also starts to materialise, as does her passion and determined personality. This is good, because then it really is okay if you’ve not read any of the actual series before or not, although hopefully this novella (although different from the novels), will whet your appetite to try others, since they are very much worth reading.
These are available from online sources, such as bookshops via online services – both large companies and indpendent bookshops and as e-books. Reviews of all Robert Daws Books (those featured below), can also be found on my blog.

 

#Review of Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – A Beautiful book about family, love, civil-war and more #PaperSparrows @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks #Fiction #libraries #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #readingforpleasure

Paper Sparrows
By Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thank you to Holland House Books for trusting me and my blog enough to approach me to choose a book to review. I chose 2 and one of them is Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, which is highly praised by The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times and more… The book is definitely, in my humble opinion worthy of such people praising it. It’s a fabulous book that will take you on a journey out of London to Lebanon to Beriuit. It will also take you on a journey of a perhaps, different life, but one that will have some resonance. It is emotive, powerful and yet subtle at the same time about what was going on in 2006. The book was published early March 2020.

About the Author

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her PhD in English Literature at King’s College London that she realised that she wanted to write her own novels, rather than just analyze other people’s. So, while working variously with an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust, was widely praised, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and te Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the liBeraturpreis in 2011.

Blurb

Back to Lebanon – to family, love and war…
Layla, a 19 year old music undergraduate, travels from London back to Lenanon for the summer holidays, only to find that her brother has gone missing. Without a second thought, she sets off to find him in Beirut. On her way, she picks up a stray dog, falls in love with Joe, another student, and sees her country through entirely new eyes. But just as she is beginning to pick up clues about where her brother might be, the July war breaks out and turns everything on its head.

Paper Sparrows

Review

What can I say? Amazing, Must Read, Beautifully written. The author captures music, love, civil war, family strains, compassion, warmth, anger incredibly well. I thought I would take a chance on this book and I am so pleased I did. Discover Layla, her family, the country she grew up in and what happens in her life and to the place she called home, all within this fantastic book. This is one of those books I hope many people read. It is more than what you may initially think it is. It is gently written, but the themes are anything but gentle. This is a book with substance and one I find myself hoping everyone takes a chance like I did and read it.

I cannot help but mention is the wonderful cover art. I absolutely love it, with the sparrow and pattern. It is so fitting for this book as, apart from it being called Paper Sparrow, it is set in London, Lebannon and Beirut. From the outset, this is a beautifully written book . It’s a book I felt caught up in and really hope others try reading this amazing and lovely book. This isn’t to say it is a cosy read. The words may drift easily along, but there is bite in this book as the plot builds and builds. It’s a book I highly recommend.

There is life, music and love in the air with the backdrop of civil-war. The way it is all written and joins together is encapsualting, beautiful and sensual. Wherever you live in the world, there is something that people will find relatable or familiar to what they’ve seen on the news, but written so much more subtly as this is also about the spaces in-between the war, where ordinary civilians lives go on.

19 year old Layla is the main character in this book. She is an under-graduate at the Royal College of Music in London and returns to Lebannon to attend a wedding. Imagine being away from your home country and returning to find things are just not quite the same? Layla did. She has been away for quite some time and people have changed. The book pronounces these changes and the feelings about them empathetically. There are also some wonderful and warm memories from her childhood that she reflects on from time to time, especially music.

Ziad – Layla’s brother goes missing. There’s been the pressure of exams put upon him, on-top of a worrying job-market situation and he may or may not want to take over the pharmacy. Something everyone, the world over can relate to, perhaps not the pressure of taking over a family business, but the rest of it. So, Layla goes on a road trip to Beirut to find him, picking up a stray dog along the way. It sounds trivial, it isn’t. The dog becomes more like a friend and she needs it. There is the desperate worry of what could have become of her brother.

This however is no ordinary story about growing up and life changing, this is a story taking place when there is civil war.
It is so well told and a great demonstration of how life can seem quite average and yet have different challenges from many other western countries as there are checkpoints to contend with, soldiers around and the news of what Hezbollah’s leader will do next and where his army will encroach on. This isn’t also your usual political story either. Find out the effects of civil war and family has on a person and find out where Layla goes and her geographical and life journey here. The book may be fiction, but the conflict in 2006 was very real.

There is something for most readers in this book.

In this very different time, let me take a moment to write a short note:

Bloggers care…As I write this, my thoughts also turn to everyone who is now experiencing very different times, possibly more challenging times as the Corona Virus and its effects unfold. Be Kind to Each Other and Take Care. More reviews and extracts will come on many of our blogs. Most of us bloggers have stepped up to support readers, authors and publishers and much more when we can. I want to let readers know still, what is coming soon or is newly published and independent bookshops also provide delivery services. I also know that this may be an isolating time for some and it is recognised that books can go some way in dealing with that as they can give people an outlet when they cannot go anywhere and a bit of release for a little while from these uncertain times. Books can provide the perfect escapism and are also good for wellbeing. It is lovely to see that so many Bloggers, Readers, Authors, Publishers are all trying to support each other, because we are all in it together. Take care and I hope you are all well. Thank you!

#Review of Star Child – The Healing Stone by Vacen Taylor @VacenTaylor #rararesources #kidslit #fantasy #children’sbooks

Star Child – The Healing Stone
By Vacen Taylor
Rated 4 stars ****

I have been invited by blog tour organiser – Rachel Gilbey, to return to the Age of Akra in the Starchild series, to review Starchild – The Healing Stone. I am pleased to present my review on this, the final day of the blog tour.

The Healing Stone Full Tour Banner

About the Author

The Healing Stone Vacen Passport SizeVacen Taylor is a children’s author with a portfolio of screenwriting and stage play achievements.  A selection of her poetry has been published in Art and Literature Journals. One of her plays was selected to be part of the Playwrights Program 2017 and then directed and performed as a performance reading at HOTA (previously the Gold Coast Arts Centre).

Her feature film script received a special commendation for Best Unproduced Screenplay titled Grandfathers at the British Independent Film Festival in 2018.  The logline can be found under Special Commendations for Unproduced Screenplays here.

Her TV pilot for a series (teleplay) was selected as a semi-finalist in the Hollywood Just4Shorts Film and Screenplay Competition in Los Angeles, CA. This pilot was listed in the top 50 for the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition in 2018.

She presented the first mental health panel at OZ Comic-Con in 2017. This panel was a fantastic opportunity to discuss openly and honestly about artists and their mental health to help support wellbeing, foster connectivity and provide a culture of support.

In 2018 she presented the panel, ‘An artist’s guide to creative happiness: How to strengthen your creative performance’ at Oz Comic-Con in Brisbane. Her panels are extraordinary opportunities to explore ideas with people who are currently working in the industry. She aims to discuss subjects like individualism, the community, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, creativity, co-creating and self-awareness which often leads to interesting questions from the audience.

What else does she do? Vacen is also a creative workshop facilitator and proficient in, teaching, speaking and concept creation. Guest Speaker. Workshop Presenter. Creative Panel Facilitator. Mentor. Support Worker. Counsellor. Social Welfare Advocate.

The Healing Stone - 9781922200204-Front

 Blurb

A riveting ice adventure full of incredible challenges, bravery and friendship.

When they escape the attacking forces, Mai, Akra, Kalin know they must find a way to purge the evil of the dark peddle that has consumed Long.  But as the news of the Underworld king spreads, gloom and fear begin to sweep over the lands.

The children must face a dangerous adventure across the ice to reach the healing stone. Once they reach the stone they must face the truth.

Have they made the journey in time to save Long ⸺ or is he lost to the Underworld forever?

Review

On this quest, Mai is chosen to take the journey to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts. The journey by boat is trecherous, but there is hope that the Ice Queen will help and can heal Long from his wounds. She will, however take much convincing if she is to be won round to help. There is also a crowd to be pleased and a tournament to be won.

There are memories and some of them good, such as Mai’s birthday when thoughtbankers brought her kind gifts.

As for Long, he is in a dark place indeed, but Amual wants to rescue him.

Within the book is magic and powers to be able to morph and many other creatures.

The book is moody and the setting is icy and freezing cold, but cutting through is some softer, kinder and warmer elements of characters trying to help each other.

There’s a mission to accomplish and being a Starchild has its burdens and there are dangers that must be faced if the healing stone is to be used to try to get the poison that is within Long. There are Waterclaspers to be saved.

There is enough to capture children’s imaginations and to transport them to different worlds and to think about friendship and being on a journey to accomplish things. There is enough character development from book to book in this series, as well as world building for children to follow.

The final chapter of this book, gives a hint as to what to expect and what type of land/world the Starchild will enter into next.

Social Media Links

Facebook  – https://www.facebook.com/Vacen-Taylor-Author-233611656699562/

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Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com.au/vacentaylor/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/VacenTaylor

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.

Review of The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby #TommyEllis #TheMidasCat #NewBook #Review #Fiction #Cats

The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby
By Tommy Ellis
Rated 5 stars *****

The Midas Cat

The Author

Tommy is an author and saxophonist. He’s played alongside Chas and Dave, Mud, The Troggs and Earth Wind and Fire, to name a few. He is the author of The Midas Cat books; a series of surreal dark humour featuring an Adam Ant loving, talking feline that’s being tracked down by an unscrupulous banker.

 

Review

The cover itself is mysterously quirky with the cat’s piercing blue eyes and smoke all around it. It sets up the book perfectly.
The chapters are short and sharp. It’s a relatively quick book to read with 3 short parts in 1 book, creating this witty story. I really enjoyed it.

When I was reading it, I could not help but think about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It reads like it could be staged there or somewhere similar. If you want a jovial, jaunty read with some clever twists, this is the book for you. It’s as much fun as it is quirky and all in a good way.

Part 1 – The Midas Cat – The Devil Wears Tabby
Lauren wants a Midas Cat. Of course she does, we all would like one of those right? Or would they? Ralph has the unenviable task of trying to find such a rare cat.

This book is refreshing, quirky and really good read. Obviously there’s the whole take on The Devil Wears Prada and Lauren being a bit like someone from Vogue, but that’s where this book is cleverly funny. Fashion mixed with the strongest possible desire of a rare cat, that also trumps a friend, what’s not to like and be intrigued about?
There is also the personal issues about whether Ralph is having an affair or not and also begs the question of whether the Midas Cat has something to do with this and indeed with Lord Lucan’s disappearance.

This book is clever in other ways too. Readers actually get to follow the cat. Turns out Cat has a love of Lady Penelope style cigarette holders and Adam Ant and is written cleverly like part human, part cat. This adds to the humour of it all. There is also the calamity of Ralph trying to catch The Midas Cat for Lauren. 

Part 2 – The Midas Cat – The Cambridge Institute Lectures. Readers will rejoin Ralph and Lauren; Ralph now being very unwell after the escapades of trying to capture the rare Midas Cat before. Things aren’t going so well for Ralph anymore and can’t help but feel even more sorry for him after all the trouble he’s been put through and there is some seriousness about whether he will be arrested or not. 

As for the cat, well, it’s as surreal as ever. The Cat has landed firmly on its feet (paws) and is host to the Cambridge Institute Lectures. It seriously needs to be read to be believed. There are also interesting chapters about the professor and the scientific experiments. The writing is witty and descriptive.

Then comes the final piece of the tale – The Midas Cat – Part 3 – Man Friday the Thirteenth.Cat now has a Onesie with too many pockets that it can’t find the loyalty card. There’s a charity event and a pub crawl. The Midas Cat certainly knows how to enjoy itself, whilst poor Ralph is trying to still please Lauren. Readers then meet Marvin, who is also an interesting character, who Ralph tells about the Midas Cat.
Read the book to find out whether Ralph gets the Midas Cat and if his marriage can survive.

* I thank Tommy Ellis for the free e-book and for asking to quote from me, of which I am happy about and so pleased to be asked.

* The review is unbiased

Review of Killing Them With Kindness by Andy Paulcroft @AndyPaulcroft @rararesources #BlogTour #Review

Killing Them With Kindness
By Andy Paulcroft
Rated: 4 Stars ****

 

I am pleased to be on this blog tour for the quirky book with some humour and social themes – Killing Them with Kindness by Andy Paulcroft. We are now half-way through the tour. Today is my turn and I have a review. 

Killing Them With Kindness Full Tour Banner

 

Killing Andy PaulcroftAndy Paulcroft grew up in Weston-super-Mare, and his love of books started when he borrowed his sister’s copy of Five Run Away Together and exaggerated a minor illness in order to finish reading it. He has since worked as a chef in France, Switzerland, Corsica and the North Highlands of Scotland before settling as a catering manager at a boarding school in Dorset. After many years of writing two to three chapters of a book before discarding it, he finally published his first novel Postcards From Another Life – in December 2017. The wonderful feeling of completing a novel was only surpassed by receiving a positive reaction from people who had read it. He retired from catering and recently published his second novel Killing Them With Kindness. He is now working on his third book.

Follow Andy

@Andy.Paulcroft (Facebook Page)

https://twitter.com/AndyPaulcroft

 

Killing - KTWK eBook Cover Compressed(1)

Blurb

Deirdre Cossette is the self-appointed carer for the elderly on The Avenue and all of her friends have stories to tell. Margery, whose comfortable life was destroyed by a knock on the door. Stan, who made a mistake as a young footballer which cost him his friends and his self-respect. Marina, whose slim and stylish figure hides a terrible secret from the summer of Live Aid. And, Oliver and Archie, who have survived everything from post war homophobia to a family tragedy – and they have done it together. Deirdre believes that everyone should have a choice. If they want to live on a diet of cakes, drink the alcoholic equivalent of a small hydrotherapy pool, or take on a toy boy lover in spite of a dodgy heart, Deirdre believes it is their right to do so. If they remember her in their wills afterwards, that’s not her fault, is it? However, not everyone agrees with her. When disgruntled relatives from the present meet up with disgruntled ghosts from her past, Deirdre discovers the cost of being kind.

Review

There are certainly a whole range of personalities in The Avenue for readers to get to know. Each character has lived a life with unexpected stories to tell. I enjoyed this book. It has some pretty good humour within it as well as some twists. This book really engaged me and I loved getting to know all the characters and the carer who would give the residents of The Avenue, what they wanted. It turns out that there is a cost to being that kind as readers will discover as they progress through the story.

This is a pretty emotive story that is also thought-provoking at times and also heart-warming at times too. It’s also certainly quirky, but let’s face it, quirky can be good and in this book, it’s a good path to take these flawed characters down. Just looking at the cover I could tell it was going to be quirky and rather different. It’s certainly that, but whether you’re a quirky person or not, this is worth a read.

There are also serious themes covered within the story, quite topical ones actually – social isolation and loneliness, but are skillfully written with some wit surrounding, what are serious subjects as the wit doesn’t detract from this.

You do need to concentrate a bit on the characters so you remember how people are related, but not with too great a difficulty as the story pulls everyone together and will pull you into their lives. There are also some interesting back-stories periodically, that are written so they are succinct and flow well with the present time.

For something quite original and quirky, give the book a try.

With thanks to Andy and Rachel for inviting me onto the tour and for a print-copy of the book.
This is an unbiased review.