Conspiracy of Cats By B.C. Harris @BCHarris64 #CrimeFiction #SupernaturalCrimeFiction #MurderMystery

 Conspiracy of Cats
By B.C. Harris

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I am pleased to bring a review of The Conspiracy of Cats – an involving, chilling murder mystery with a difference that makes it fairly unique. Thanks to Ian Harris for getting in touch and for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Take a look at the blurb and review below to find out more.

Conspiracy of Cats

Blurb

Conspiracy of CatsCONSPIRACY OF CATS… a supernatural murder mystery.
An apprehensive Jos Ferguson travels from Edinburgh to northern Tanzania to visit the house her Uncle Peter built before he died. But Peter isn’t as dead as he should be… he was murdered, and he wants his niece to help him exact revenge upon his killer. With a little Maasai magic and a conspiracy of cats, Jos sets out to do exactly that.
A beautiful house. A horrible death. A brilliant revenge.
Who knew death could be so lively?

Review

Meet Jos Ferguson, who’s life is between Scotland, where she is originally from, Tanzania and England. It gets off to an immense start that grips. Readers learn of freak accidents and a murder, so the book isn’t an average journey or holiday and life poses much heartache and challenge.

Meet Jude (Judith Johnstone) is Jos’s aunt who lives in Edinburgh and is most definitely a “cat lady” with no less than 7 cats. There are some heartfelt scenes as she sees Jos off to Africa. She wasn’t always in Edinburgh. It’s interesting reading about her life in the 1970’s when she travelled, rather stylishly for the times, to Bristol in her teenage years, plus attending a party that was so on-trend in Bath, where she met Peter…

The Conspiracy of Cats is immersive, being made up of descriptions and getting to know the people, especially the Maasai Beola and the cats within it. It’s texturised in words and feels rich and all beautifully written. There’s a great house and spacious, beautiful garden, full of nature, created by Jos’s Uncle Peter, where she stays when in Tanzania. It all pulls you almost into a comfortable idyll, rather like being in your own garden whatever the size, if you have one. 

A strange sighting of Peter makes your spine tingle and suddenly a whole new question is posed about his death or if he is really dead and throws Jos into some disarray, this also has an effect on Jude. The book takes a bit of an eerie turn and Jos feels the need to investigate further… There’s a little bit of a supternatural and magical bent that makes this an untypical mystery. This isn’t full on fantasy though, it is a fairly unique crime fictional book that doesn’t have a police detective’s life within it or police stations.

Readers get to know a bit about the Massai culture, which is interesting to read about.

The book certainly takes readers on their “armchair travels” as they see where the characters go and have been in past and present times. 

When the big cats are met, they are keenly described and this gives them real character and have lovely names. They are very much with Jos to set out revenge.

As the investigation continues, there’s an unexpected dark truth that begins to emerge as the sharp edges to the bit of cosyness and humour, gets even edgier and sharper that becomes more chilling than first thought, in this very involving and consuming story.

#Review By Lou of Woman In The Middle By Milly Johnson #bookreview @MillyJohnson @SimonSchusterUK #TeamBATC @ed_pr #WomanInTheMiddle

The Woman In The Middle
By Milly Johnson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Moving with a personal feel to it is what Milly Johnson brings to her latest book – Woman In The Middle. It’s got a bit of a different feel from other books I’ve read and that’s still okay in this pleasant read that delves so much into family life. Thanks to Books And The City at Simon & Schuster for gifting.

Blurb

woman in the middle cover picThe emotional, uplifting and completely relatable new novel from Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson.

Shay Bastable is the woman in the middle. She is part of the sandwich generation – caring for her parents and her children, supporting her husband Bruce, holding them all together and caring for them as best she can.

Then the arrival of a large orange skip on her mother’s estate sets in motion a cataclysmic series of events which leads to the collapse of Shay’s world. She is forced to put herself first for a change.

But in order to move forward with her present, Shay needs to make sense of her past. And so she returns to the little village she grew up in, to uncover the truth about what happened to her when she was younger. And in doing so, she discovers that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the only way is up.

Review

Shay Bastable has a lot to juggle in her family. Caring for parents, keeping her own family going will be relatable to many people. I certainly relate to the caring for parents, in my case to keep the rest of the more adult family than in the book, going in some ways. For Shay it’s a struggle to keep all the balls freely in the air and they do indeed come crashing down all around her. Shay also has children and all their demands, especially determined, strong-willed daughter – Courtney to take care of,then there is her son who is supposed to be getting married, but she is concerned that something isn’t right within the relationship.  You feel that this would no doubt have quite an impact. The book explores this as well as how her sister does little to help and her husband, Bruce is not at all useful and practically ignores what is going on around him, which makes matters even worse as there’s not the backup needed in such a situation. There’s definitely a lot to feel sorry for Shay and how her life is panning out. So, she tries to then put herself first, which seems somewhere between sensible and losing selflessness for awhile, but you can see where she is coming too and shows the challenges of life faced in this situation, trying to also take care of yourself as well as others.

You really get the sense that Shay is The Woman In The Middle instead of at the top of her family, yet is also the glue of her family holding it all together, even though the stickyness of that glue is waining along with her resillience as the weight of pressure, conveyed so well by Milly Johnson gets to her more and more, making its impact. You get the feeling that so much has shaped her life and is still shaping it, but not necessarily as she would have planned.

#Review Psychopath’s Anonymous By Will Carver @Will_Carver @OrendaBooks #WelcomeToTheClub #PsychopathsAnonymous #Thriller @RandomTTours

Psychopath’s Anonymous
By Will Carver

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Having read a few books by Will Carver now, you realise that as chilling the titles may be, there is often a point being made for the greater good of society that is compelling and to read in his thrillers. Psychopath’s Anonymous has got this too, through its dark tones. These may be some of this most important fictional books ever that never cease to amaze me.
Find out more in the blurb and my full review below.
Firstly, thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me to review on the blog tour and Orenda Books for gifting me the book.

Psychopaths Anonymous

Blurb

When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths.
Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters.
She’s also an addict: a functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men.

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve.

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…

Review

Psychopath’s Anonymous is a book where every word has strength in tone and matters so much that it grips every part of your being until the end, where it only loosens its grip every so slightly, but leaves part of its astonishing text and feeling/aura to live on within you.
The book is in 5 parts with some sentences written in a most unique way, with a score through them that holds so much poignancy and relevance. There is no detective, rather an exploration of part of society in fictional thriller form. Each part is cleverly separated into steps, like you find steps to recovery in a support group. This instantly sets up the story that unfolds. Will Carver invites readers into the h..ead of an addict and the inner sanctum of support groups, depicted by Maeve, who you enter into an AA meeting with and meet other addicts. It packs a punch! It tells a raw truth of various people sitting in this circle. The book is unique. Books don’t often have the same sentence typed out and then scored out. This one does, within its seering paragraphs about humanity and some people’s minds. It’s also about other addictions within society, such as social media, egos etc.
There is also the exploration in how people watch tv, especially the news (good versus bad news) and soaps. Then there is an even starker fact that lots of people watch reality tv. The sort where the unlikeliest of people are forced together to create entertainment. The book explores this in a way that it hasn’t been before. It could change perceptions on them and see them in a different light, or perhaps clarify what you perhaps already thought of them. It’s also an interesting way of showing how strangers are put together in what is perhaps unnatural situations, whether it be an AA group or a reality tv show, both showing egos, attitudes, behaviours in one way or another in the stories that are told or shown from lives lived.

The book delves into the mind and about God in a very matter-of-fact way and becomes a recurring theme throughout the book.
There is also an interesting part that splits a wider  into 3 types of addict too, showing that stepped programmes, thoughts go beyond AA meetings in some ways. It doesn’t question anyone’s motives or beliefs. What it does is make you see things in a different perspective. A psychopathic alcoholic’s manner of thoughts. It also has an instruction at the beginning of each step.  Maeve later creates her own group – Psychopath’s Anonymous. Like AA meetings, it has steps to support and give direction, but there are differences within those steps.

Maeve has a sponsor – Gary, who is in no doubt in a precarious position with her as warped, dark thoughts go through her mind, that takes you to the edge of your seat, whether you want to be pulled in that far or not. Sex is never far away, nor is alcohol, nor death that swirl around in this women’s mind and then on the other hand, nor is support and how it’s administered.  Then right when you don’t expect it, the book makes you cast your mind back to an earlier book – ‘Nothing Important Happened Today’; in one breath-taking moment! Certain things trickle through from Nothing Important Happens Today, such as an action, a character, an image (but take note, it is okay if you’ve not read this yet).

As the book goes on, readers find out more about who Maeve has harmed and what she has done. It’s written in a chilling fashion as it delves into her world and what it is to be a psychopath and how behaviours and thoughts are displayed. It looks like research has been done and isn’t like how some films portray a psychopath. There seems to be a lot of consideration to this, as well as encouraging people to examine other elements of society.

It’s an amazing book and one you’ll have to read to see what, if any, improvements are made within lives and see how it ends.

All books written by Will Carver leaves like a residue behind like no other. It seems that every book I’ve certainly read of his sticks for a very long time afterwards.

#Review By Lou – My Policeman by Bethan Roberts (Soon to be a film) #BethanRoberts #MyPoliceman #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction

My Policeman
By Bethan Roberts

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Policeman was first published in 2012, but has re-emerged because it is going to be a major film starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin. So, now’s your chance to read it before you see the film. I read this book in a day. Check out the Blurb and my Review below. Thank you for a physical copy of the book.

Blurb

My PolicemanAn exquisitely told tragic tale of thwarted love, My Policeman is soon to be adapted into film by Amazon Prime starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin.

It is in 1950s’ Brighton that Marion first catches sight of Tom. He teaches her to swim in the shadow of the pier and Marion is smitten – determined her love will be enough for them both.

A few years later in Brighton Museum Patrick meets Tom. Patrick is besotted with Tom and opens his eyes to a glamorous, sophisticated new world.

Tom is their policeman, and in this age it is safer for him to marry Marion. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed.

‘I loved it. Devoured it! A wonderful read. Tense, romantic, smart; a beautiful portrait of a seaside town poised at an exact moment in history, with people trapped by laws and mores’ Russell T. Davies

Review 

My Policeman sounds from the blurb that it could be a heavy read, it is anything but… It is such a well-written romance and tale that encompasses some of social history. I sailed through this book and I can see how it would make a great film.

It’s a sensuous love story that starts off with all the promise of young love and then it starts to become more complex as Tom and Patrick love each other, but Marion, loves Tom and by the end, the consequences of certain actions made in 1957 reverberate through to 1999.

The book skips between 1999 and 1957 with the setting beginning in Peacehaven and leading readers into Wormwood Scrubs.
There are some beautiful descriptions at the seaside that also lures readers into the time period.
This is a book that has themes still talked about today, a decade on from its first publication. It also provides an insight as to how far the world has come and its history in some of the attitudes of the times. The book illustrates how, even between 1957 and 1999, things were changing. This is the story of Marion, Tom, Patrick and Sylvie. The writing is romantic, warm and sensual in the beginning, in 1999, with its pool setting. There are however some dark undercurrents in mood.

Tom is the policeman, who trained in National Service first, in 1957. The book is like an account of his life, written by someone who cares for him deeply. In 1999, he is incredibly unwell and being nursed at home. The writing is powerful, caring, with some sense of matter-of-fact. 1957 focusses more on the romance. There’s Sylvia with Roy, who know exactly where they’re heading in life and there’s Marion and Tom and she knows what she wants, but then, there is also Patrick…
The relationship changes and Marion and Patrick end up sharing Tom. There is an undercurrent of the intolerances of the time in 1957, they are written truthfully and prick through this great, complex, yet tender love story that unfolds. There’s emotion and very challenging times in both years for many reasons, that are faced for all of the character, especially Marion, Tom and Patrick. All is, however, beautifully written and evocative and keenly observed.

#BookReview By Lou of State Of Terror By Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny @HillaryClinton #LouisePenny @panmacmillan @RandomTTours #StateOfTerror #Thriller #PoliticalThriller

State of Terror
By Hillary Rodham Clinton

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

State of Terror Graphic 9

Today I am excited to reveal my review of this close to the bone, absorbingly good, chilling and terrifyingly realistic political thriller that is State Of Terror.  Check out the blurb and the rest of my review to find out more about the book and my thoughts. Discover more about what Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton thought of writing together and a bit more about them, below as well as what I and 4 authors think of the fictional thriller that is – State Of Terror.

I thank Random T Tours for inviting me to review on my blog and Pan MacMillan for gifting me a hardback book.

State of Terror Graphic 1

Blurb

State of Terror CoverWhen an ingenious #1 bestselling novelist, known for her rich themes, riveting plots, and empathetic characters, and one of the world’s most experienced leaders with inside knowledge on the global power players from top to bottom, team up to write a novel, the result is STATE OF TERROR, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny.

STATE OF TERROR is an explosive, never-seen-before thriller.  Set in locations around the world, there is edge-of-your-seat suspense, breathtaking action, ride-or-die friendships, unlikely allies, even a blush of romance—plus all the heart and humanity you can expect in a Louise Penny novel. With a behind-the-scenes perspective that only an insider could know, STATE OF TERROR is a unique thriller that has a beating heart, plus plenty of female characters at the fore.

After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.

There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.

As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.

Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.


What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.

As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of influence in the places where it counts the most.

To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state and her best friend and counsellor.

Review

A critically acclaimed author (Louise Penny) and Former First Lady in the US collaborating to write a book has worked even better than imagined. It’s pretty close to the bone at times and there are certain characters you may recognise the traits of with real life people, but it does then have a way of absorbing you, so you then concentrate on the actual characters as just that, fictional people. It’s the sort of book, I can only imagine, may have taken courage to write. It works so well because Louise Penny is critically acclaimed for writing thrillers and Hillary Rodham Clinton, although has the knowledge behind the story told in State Of Terror, she has also written books before. It turns out it seems a formidible collaboration and really hits the mark.

Ellen Adams is Madam Secretary and the fabulous thing is that it is refreshing that here is a high-powered ambitious woman who ends up rushing like so many people do to get ready for work and with moments of doubt. The authors have skillfully written a high-powered woman with some details that everyone the world over will be able to relate to. Then there is the gritty work of trying to build alliances and being strong to do such a job as Secretary of State.

The newly elected President is President Williams and has a dislike of Ellen. He’s also pretty full of himself with narcisstic tendencies, then there is also the Defence Secretary, Tim Beecham, a loyal supporter of the president, but at times sits between that and occasionally being okay in attitude towards the Secretary of State. It shows the quick-fire lines that have to be ready at any given moment to give back to colleagues after their rubukes, in the corridors and rooms of such immense power. There is also Betsy, who is quite the friend within this story. The working relationships may come across as relatable to many, wholly or partly and are also interesting in the way they are weaved into the book and you really get to know the pressures and their personalities.

The book is very gripping and most pages are a tense read, with terrorists and so much life at stake. There is also the question for Ellen to work out who she can trust within the world and within the political sphere, including the administration she works for. The book has smaller details of diplomacy within it, which gives this book something quite unique and something new to perhaps learn, after all, even fiction has a base of fact to it, to bring its believability, which this has lots of, as you think about what happens in the world and see the scenes (albeit fictional ones), playing out on the page. It does somehow feel like fiction and reality rapidly colliding, with readers pulled into different parts of the world where the Secretary of State sees where diplomacy is required and terrorists try to hide and plot their next attack with deadly weaponary. Behind the scenes of the locations always seems to be movement, more evidence found, coded messages to crack.

The book also digs really deep and not just into terrorism as such, but also whatelse threatens the world and its population, some of it far away from America, but some of it within the States and it shows some attitudes that are within them. The only thing is, there is a bit of repetition that goes on, which is a pity, but it keeps certain parts of the story fresh in people’s minds as it is so complex. This doesn’t detract too much for it being a fast-paced, breath-taking read.

It’s a chilling read and one that is so close to the bone, but one that all the way through you hope the White House team behind Ellen, wins through, as the clock ticks down, that makes you want to hold your breath…
I think readers who liked Homeland on TV would enjoy this book.

 

Writing Together

“When it was suggested my friend Hillary and I write a political thriller together, I could not say yes fast enough,” said Louise Penny. “What an incredible experience, to get inside the State Department. Inside the White House.  Inside the mind of the Secretary of State as high stake crises explode.  Before we started, we talked about her time as Secretary of State. What was her worst nightmare? STATE OF TERROR is the answer.”

Hillary Clinton added, “Writing a thriller with Louise is a dream come true. I’ve relished every one of her books and their characters as well as her friendship. Now we’re joining our experiences to explore the complex world of high stakes diplomacy and treachery. All is not as it first appears.”

Filled with real-life international figures, unforgettable characters, as well as wonderful cameos that will thrill the most ardent Louise Penny fans, STATE OF TERROR is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller co-written by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.

 

About the authors:

Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny Authors PicHillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman in US history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th Secretary of State after nearly four decades in public service advocating on behalf of children and families as an attorney, First Lady, and US Senator. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and No 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of seven previous books, all published by Simon & Schuster.

Louise Penny is an international award winning and bestselling author whose books have hit #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Globe and Mail lists.  Her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels, published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group, have been translated into 31 languages.  In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture. Louise Penny lives in a village south of Montréal.

State Of Terror BT Poster (1)

#BookReview By Lou Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers – A Celtic Saga Of Warriors and Saints By Martin C. Haworth #MartinCHaworth @malcolmdownpub #HistoricalFiction #ScottishFiction #Fiction #ChristianFiction #Celts #Picts #Saga

Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers
By Martin C. Haworth

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Z-Rod – The Chosen Wanderers is book 1 of a compelling epic saga series set in Scotland during the times of the Picts and Celts.
Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in my review. Then discover even more in the links to the websites and Facebook page, where you can find out more about the book and other activities such as hillwalks and retreats and more…
Thanks to the author – Martin C. Haworth for gifting me the book, published by publishing company – Malcolm Down.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers cover

Blurb

Chosen Wanderers is the first book in the Z-Rod series: a gripping saga set in the upheavals of Pictish Scotland in the 6th century. At the initiation of two princes preparing one to rule the tribe, a mysterious power symbol, the Z-Rod, is tattooed on one, unleashing uncontrollable consequences.

Tribal power struggles are further intensified when two Irish saints arrive whose vibrant faith and daring spirit, preserving them through the Scottish wilds, demonstrates to capricious warlords and their powerful druids, an alternative worldview of reconciliation and hope.

Straddling these two worlds is a mysterious bard with prophetic abilities. His revelation has little relevance initially, but later becomes the lifeline to recover a seemingly lost destiny. What significance does the Z-Rod and ‘bearing fire to the north’ have on an exile, and how will anything be achieved amidst poverty and obscurity?

By turns epic and homely, spiritually searching and thoroughly adventurous, this story of great undoing and remaking propels us through multiple scenes and characters in a setting which is utterly convincing in its detail.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers dbl cover

Review

Z-Rod is set in Pictish Scotland in the 6th Century, as well as at the time of the Celts. The author describes Scotland (before it became Scotland as we know it today) in interesting detail in a short introduction. The fact it is set in Pictish times provides something different to historical fiction, the Picts (indigenous people north of the Forth-Clyde divide) and the Christians. The book moves at surprising pace. It sounds more heavy than it really is. It’s pretty succinct and the intrigue surrounding the Z-Rod itself adds to the compelling nature.

There are noblemen and lords within the book and the Z-rod tattooed on one, a symbol of power and authority. The story itself starts with the initiation and readers meet Taran, Oengus, Alpia and Talorgen, then later, Kessog. There’s an air of it being a great occassion with ritual and complexity, as, especially Taran discovers in the wilds of the Pictish north, where the south are a bit more tame and are also starting to dabble in Christianity.

There’s adventure into new lands by boat and faith of reaching destinations safely, there’s also the questioning of the different faiths that are presented within the Picts and the Christian stories as they learn a bit about each other, but not exactly accepting as there are percieved curses, which adds a bit of tension between the factions.

The book takes readers to different Lochs and the River Dee, where there is tribal action, raids and murder. Along the watery adventure, there is also a spot of romance and all isn’t as easy to attract a woman as it first seems… This adds to another dimension to the story and perhaps widens its appeal a bit further, but still with the depth of history by way of the people living in the 6th century, philosophical thought by way of a dream and theology by way of the religious aspects.

There appears to have been a lot of thorough research done right down to the detailing of the different names of places, lochs and the types of people that lived in this time, such as wise old women or witches. There’s a glossary at the back to translate the older words used within this otherwise fictional tale that is also about courage, attitudes, destinys, life.

There is also an excerpt of book 2 of Z-Rod to lure you into more of Taran’s life…

About The Author

Martin Haworth worked in community and church development with an Iron-age Filipino tribe, providing an in depth understanding of pagan belief practices. Under his own business, www.roamingscotland.com, he now helps others connect with Scotland’s landscapes and ancient history, and leads Celtic Christian retreats. This book has arisen from the fusion of these experiences and interests.

Social Media

Website: https://www.roamingscotland.com/blog   There is also a buy link within there that means 10% will go to support a relief project among the Mangyan tribes of the Philippines.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Z-Rod-Trilogy-101184882165861

Publisher Website: https://www.malcolmdown.co.uk/