Blog Tour: Read an Extract from Time's Tide by Adrian Harvey @Ade_Harvey @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

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The new novel from the bestselling author of Being Someone and The Cursing Stone. 

A father and son struggle to overcome the distance between them. Each is drawn irresistibly to an unforgiving landscape, one that has been the scene of tragedy and loss.

The son's return to the northern shore he abandoned as a young man promises the chance to heal the rift. But is it too late?

Arni left his remote corner of Iceland as soon as he could, seeking opportunities beyond winter and fishing. Married to an English woman, he builds a life as a successful scientist but can never quite escape the pull of the West Fjords and bleak landscape of his birth, nor shake the guilt he feels towards his distant father.

When Eirikur goes missing, he sets off to find him on a windswept spit of land lost in an angry ocean.

Time's Tide is a compelling and beautifully written story of loss, belonging and the silence between fathers and sons.  

Extract:

2008

The blunt voices downstairs barely bubbled up through the carpet, but he sat listening for a moment or two in any case, deathly still so as not to dampen them further. The late spring sun cut into the bedroom, bringing with it the sound of songbirds chattering in the garden. A car’s engine rumbled to a halt somewhere in the Close. He thought he heard an aeroplane scraping across the sky.

The now dead phone still lay in his hand and Árni roused himself sufficiently to return it to its cradle. The sound of the duvet rustling beneath him, the bed grumbling at the shifting weight, the dull plasticity of the point where the handset met its base: all these erased the slow breathing of the world outside, made his immediate surroundings solid once more. He was wholly in Cambridge once again.

Blog Tour: The Inspiration behind A Letter From Sarah by Dan Proops @Dan_Proops @UrbaneBooks @LoveBooksGroup

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Adam's sister, Sarah, has been missing for seven years, but he hasn't given up hope of finding her. He is a sculptor and lives with his bedridden father who is a bully and a curmudgeon.

One morning, as the anniversary of Sarah's disappearance nears, Adam receives a letter from her and she is apparently alive and well, living in New York. Adam travels to Brooklyn to search for Sarah as he's desperate to see her, but she seems determined to avoid him.

Sarah's letters arrive weekly, but she continues to remain elusive. Adam is perplexed by Sarah's requests for secrecy, as is his father and his girlfriend, Cassandra.

He is determined to find her, whatever the cost to his wellbeing, health and sanity....  


Rating:

A Letter From Sarah

Summation

For seven years Adam has been tormented by the disappearance of his beloved sister Sarah. And then, with no warning he receives a letter from her. She refuses to meet but won’t explain why. Adam fears she’s in trouble and sets off to find her, but the harder he looks the more elusive she becomes.
Sarah’s is alive and well, living in Brooklyn and has a son, Oliver and a daughter, Maddie. Sarah describes her life, painted in vivid hues. Her letters arrive every week. The mystery of her avoidance troubles Adam, but undeterred he intends to seek her out. 


The Inspiration for the Novel

My new book has overarching themes of coping with loss, the experience of grief and the anxiety provoked when a loved one goes missing.

The writing of the text coincided with the breakdown of the relationship I had with my own sister, seven years ago. After being loving friends for forty years, the loss was devastating. Our lives are now separate, but she is still in my heart and mind.
A Letter From Sarah is not autobiographical in the strict sense, but I was inspired to write it after falling out with my only sibling.
Many of us have fallen out with a family member; sometimes the break in relations is irreparable and sometimes not. We have to accept that some relationships can never be repaired. Others, on the other hand, can be. And it’s a triumphant moment when we’re reunited with a sibling, parent, son or daughter.
Sometimes we fall out with a lifelong friend and this can be devastating. Our relationship’s define us, and we can end up blaming ourselves when they’re fractured. 
 If we want to find reparation, we have to dig deep within us and discover a good reason to get in touch, to repair the damage. If we can manage that, then we may discover the joy of renewed love for someone that we’ve cared for so much.


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Book Review: Are you the Fxxking Doctor by Liam Farrell @DrLFarrell @AnneCater #IrishMed

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‘General practice is the great unknown. We stand on the cusp of the beyond. Science takes us only so far, then the maps stop in the grey areas of intuition, imagination and feelings: here be dragons. Lurching from heart-breaking tragedy to high farce, we are the Renaissance men and women of medicine; our art is intangible. Anything can walk through our door…’

Family doctor, Irishman, musician, award-winning author, anarchist and recovering morphine addict, Liam became a columnist for the BMJ in 1994. He went on to write for many major publications, winning a series of prestigious awards; in 2005, he was the first doctor to win Columnist of the Year in the Periodical Publishers Association awards.

The book contains a selection of Liam’s best work, from his columns, blogs and short stories.Brilliantly funny, glittering with literary allusion and darkly wicked humour, this book is much more than a collection of stand-alone anecdotes and whimsical reflections, rather a compelling chronicle of the daily struggles – and personal costs – of a doctor at the coalface.


Review:

When Anne of Random Things Tours sent me an email about Are You the Fxxking Doctor? I accepted because, one, I love reading books about medicine and science, and two, I thought it would be light-hearted and funny. 

It was amusing in parts, but it also portrays, in Liam's words, "the cold and hard-earned truths of scientific medicine."

The first chapter is filled with "pain and guilt," describing his experience with injecting morphine. Liam had a fulfilling job and a loving wife, but he became a victim of the burnout we hear described by so many GPs now. My advice to a reader who picks up this book would be to persevere through the first chapter, even if you find the content offputting. Liam writes so beautifully that it would be a shame to miss the rest of the book just because of the subject at the start.

The rest of the book is told in a diary-like format, including articles Liam has written for various medical journals. I loved this format as it meant I could pick the book at times where I had only minutes to get through a few pages. If you're not someone who can dedicate hours each day to reading then this book is for you. 

I was particularly interested in his stories surrounding The Troubles. Irish readers and particularly those in Northern Ireland will really be able to connect with this chapter. One story describes how he treated a local farmer that he had known for years. He found James with a gunshot wound that had completely shattered his femur; a life-threatening injury. 

Liam describes being "irritated" rather than scared or upset when he pulls up to his practice in Crossmaglen one morning and hears gunshots. He continues as normal because, "when you're a doctor, you're a doctor." I really admire that kind of dedication and gumption! 

I really appreciated the dark humor in Are You the Fxxking Doctor as I had first-hand experience of how it can help when I worked as a veterinary nurse and dealt with a lot of abuse cases. I found Liam's frank and honest writing meant I could connect to each story, no matter how brief it was and I found myself nodding agreement with his thoughts and outlook on life. This book is authentic, human, and powerful and I can see myself returning to its pages time and time again.

Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tour and Liam Farrell for providing the book and having me on the tour.
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Blog Tour: Read an extract from The Killing State by Judith O'Reilly @judithoreilly @HoZ_Books @lovebooksgroup

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WHAT IF THE PERSON YOU’RE ORDERED TO KILL IS THE WOMAN YOU WANT TO PROTECT?

Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the post-Brexit British government, order him to kill an innocent woman and North can’t bring himself to do it?

The woman is rising political star, Honor Jones, MP.  She has started asking dangerous questions about the powerful men running her country. The trouble is, Honour doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he's met her, neither does North…


Extract:

He carried the cup across to his desk, and sat staring at the envelope.

There was no name on it, but then there never was. The name that mattered was inside. Who was it this time? Would he recognise the face? He felt the familiar rush of adrenalin.

North never liked to hurry opening his orders. There was, after all, a man’s life at stake. It merited some ritual – a degree of reflection. He sipped the scalding coffee, savoured the earthy roast, tasting the promised notes of dark chocolate. He put down the cup, then slid the butcher’s knife under the flap, opening its crimson throat in one smooth sweep. There were no ragged edges.

The dozen 10x8s were snapped in a hotel foyer. An oversized lamp was on, so it had to be late. He lifted the first photograph. It was of a couple and he scrutinised the man. Twenties. Denim jacket. Full-blown hipster beard. His phone must have rung at some point because he took a call, turning away from the coffee table to face the camera. But instead of closing in on him, the pictures were suddenly all about the woman. Confused, North fanned them over the table looking for more close-ups of the man, but photo after photo was of the woman. She was dressed in an evening gown, and even in the black and white of the photography, it shimmered. The draped folds of its cowl neck exposing the elegant shoulders, chin resting on her fist, slim fingers covering her mouth as she listened to her companion. Her glance to one side, a slight smile. Even in two dimensions North felt the pull of her.

North flipped the photos with the knife – reluctant suddenly to touch them. On the reverse of the best one was a label written across in cramped moss-green ink. “Honor Jones (31), Tory MP for Mile End, East London. Extreme security risk. Status: critical. Termination: essential. Proposed disposal: random/sexual attack in public space. Deadline: one week. Authorisation: Tarn.”

About Judith O'Reilly:

Judith O'Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Judith is a former political producer with BBC 2's Newsnight and ITN's Channel 4 News, and, when she isn't writing novels, she writes for The Sunday Times. Judith lives in Durham.




Blog Tour: Read a extract from The Mausoleum by David Mark @davidmarkwriter @severnhouse @lovebooksgroup

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1967. In a quiet village in the wild lands of the Scottish borders, disgraced academic Cordelia Hemlock is trying to put her life back together. Grieving the loss of her son, she seeks out the company of the dead, taking comfort amid the ancient headstones and crypts of the local churchyard. When lightning strikes a tumbledown tomb, she glimpses a corpse that doesn’t belong among the crumbling bones. But when the storm passes and the body vanishes, the authorities refuse to believe the claims of a hysterical ‘outsider’. 

Teaming up with a reluctant witness, local woman Felicity Goose, Cordelia’s enquiries all lead back to a former POW camp that was set up in the village during the Second World War. But not all Gilsland’s residents welcome the two young women’s interference. There are those who believe the village’s secrets should remain buried … whatever the cost. 


Extract:

CORDELIA

The words on the burnt paper stayed with me all night. I left Felicity’s just before 9pm and resisted John’s persistent offer to walk me home. I wanted to think. Wanted to feel rain on my face and cold air on my cheeks and see if the hunter’s moon would be red or blue. I never found out. The sky was too clogged with grey to offer a view of any lunar spectacle and in truth, the rain and the cold produced little in the way of sensory pleasure. I just ended up sniffly and damp. Two cars passed me on the way back up the hill. Neither one slowed down. The village seemed even quieter than usual as I trudged past the old vicarage, already beginning to go to seed, and past The Bridge. The place was silent. No clinking glasses, no muffled songs or mumbled back-and-forth. Left, past the garage with its fleet of buses standing idle at the kerbside; their paintwork gleaming with a gloss of raindrops. Round past the church. The new church. Pretty little place built on a slope: a curve of old graves around the entrance and long, straggly grass and weeds. Newer headstones further away from the door – smaller, whiter, sadder. Children. Babies from the hospital on the hill. 

Blog Tour: Read an Extract from The Secretary by Renée Knight @AnneCater @TransworldBooks

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Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . 


Extract:


Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!’ It was
Notting Hill Gate, not Transylvania, and Mina Appleton’s
home, not Count Dracula’s, but had I known then what I know
now, I might not have stepped so freely over her threshold.
When I rang her doorbell that Saturday afternoon, it was a
bitterly cold day – midwinter – and yet I remember feeling
warm as I stood on her doorstep. The heat of excitement at a
future I had not anticipated. Quite different to the sweating I
suffer now – my body overrun with hormones that make me
feel as if I’m being slowly poisoned. Early menopause, I’m told.
I had never been to Notting Hill before, and the discovery of
such leafy grandeur in the heart of London was a revelation to
me. Mina’s house was on a terrace of six-storey, pastel-painted
houses facing communal gardens – a privileged space, accessible only to those with a key. Homeowners and their staff.
I was surprised when Mina opened the door – I’d expected a
housekeeper at least.

GuestPost: @EvaJordanWriter's Writing ToolKit @UrbaneBooks @Lovebooksgroup

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Eva Jordan's much-anticipated follow up to the bestselling `All The Colours In-Between'.

Writer, Lizzie Lemalf, and her loving but somewhat dysfunctional family are still grieving over the loss of a much-loved family member. Lizzie is doing her best to keep her family together but why does the recent death of a well-known celebrity have them all in a spin? The police suspect foul play; Lizzie and other family members suspect one another. 

Lizzie begins searching for answers only to find herself being dragged back to the past, to 1960's London to be exact, and to the former life of her father, that up until now she has never been privy to. Every family has its secrets but how can the past hold the key to a present day celebrity death? They say the past comes back to haunt you. Surely the truth will out? Maybe, but only time will tell...  


Guest Post: Eva Jordan's Writing Toolkit

Many thanks for hosting me here on the Blog Tour for my third novel Time Will Tell. Today, I thought I’d give you a humorous insight as to some of the “tools” I consider useful during the writing process.

1. Foremost—coffee! Research suggests an estimated 70 million cups of coffee are drunk in the UK every single day—wow! I can’t get anything done until I’ve had my first cup of the day, and although advice about the health benefits of coffee is conflicting, the caffeine it contains is believed to stimulate the nervous system, making us more alert and focussed. However, too much can make us anxious and shaky—so it’s all about moderation, folks.

2. A laptop or a computer. Goes without saying I suppose, although there are authors who don’t use modern technology to pen their novels. Joyce Carol Oates says she prefers to write everything by longhand, and although Neil Gaiman writes his screenplays on a computer, he prefers to write his novels by hand. I prefer a computer. I trained as a typist when I left school, so I still use my typing skills to tap away at the keyboard. However, I use notepads to jot things down, so that brings me to my third item.

3. Notepads. I have lots of them: cheap ones, expensive ones, pretty ones. Some I’ve bought myself, others given as gifts, but I always have one by my desk, plus a small one in my bag for when I’m out and about. I even have one by the bed. Inspiration can come at the oddest moments, so it’s good to be prepared. I’ve yet to find a waterproof one for the shower though! See a small selection of some of my notebooks in the pic below.

4. Peace and quiet. I know some writers who love to pen their latest creation in cafes, or at home in the kitchen among the hullabaloo of everyday life. I prefer peace and quiet, although I don’t mind the familiar background noise of family life, as long as it’s behind a closed door. Occasionally, I write to music, especially if a particular song or composition has inspired a scene or chapter in my head. However, there is a special someone in my life that I don’t mind sitting with me while I write… Simba, my rather grumpy, but rather lovely cat.

5. And last but not least—chocolate. My guilty pleasure. Aww… c’mon, writing is hard work, uses a lot of energy, surely I can be forgiven this one indulgence? Besides, it’s official, chocolate is good for you! I’ve done the research and experts suggest chocolate is beneficial for the heart, circulation and brain. Just not a lorry load of the stuff. Like the coffee, it’s all about moderation!

About the Author:



Eva Jordan is a published writer of several short stories and Time Will Tell is her third novel. Eva lives in a small town in Cambridgeshire with partner Steve and three of our four children, who are a constant source of inspiration – they are all teenagers, need I say more! Eva’s career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and more recently at the city library. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her true passion


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Guest Post: It's No Secret by @crazykids48 @AneCater #RandomThingsTours

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Danielle knew early on that she was not like most children at her school. With a chaotic home life riddled with violence, neglect, abuse, and poverty she learned early on how to survive and adapt. Every challenge taught her a valuable lesson about resilience and self-motivation allowing her to develop an unshakable positive mindset, along with a sense of humour. This book takes the reader on a journey detailing the life-changing events which tested Danielle’s resilience and willpower. She bravely shares the difficult choices she was forced to make in order to safeguard her precious family as long-forgotten secrets are revealed. This uplifting, shocking and empowering book chronicles Danielle's story and her determination to never let her past define her future. It promises to inspire the reader that change and choice are absolutely possible and that nothing is ever insurmountable.


Guest Post:

My Road to Publication

I have always written, whether it short stories, the start of books or poetry. I am an avid reader and toyed with the idea of putting my story to paper for many years, yet three things stopped me.
1. FEAR- fear of failure, what if I can't write, people thought it was crap 
2. Lack of Know How- how did I start writing, what did I do once it was finished?
3. Other peoples opinions! Who was I to write a book, why is she doing it!!

These three objections stopped me for years, UNTIL... July 2017.

I paid for a personal development course which I didn't know then, would change my life. I was in a dark place, feeling isolated, stressed and unable to detect from my traumatic past. I could barely afford it, yet found the dollar and went along, a little skeptical I hasten to add.
Part of the course was sitting and telling my story. I spoke for 2 hours nonstop, starting at the beginning, ( a very good place to start) and ending with how I felt that day. I spend up that I had always wanted to write a book to inspire and help others come through adversity and trauma, but was clueless and petrified.

Sharon looked me in the eye and with the absolute confidence told me to just do it! I know it sounds very Nike Ad. but all I had needed was the belief from someone whom I trusted and I was away. I couldn't wait to get home to start.
That night I wrote 500 words. I had in my head I needed 72k ish words and wrote constantly until finally in May 2018 the book was finished.

I printed out my huge manuscript, yet had no idea what to do with it. I was terrified of applying to agents. what of every single one though it was terrible and that I couldn't write at all! Terror once more stopped me and it gathered dust on my desk for 2 more months.

In July 2018 a friend of a friend appeared on my FB page. I stalked her a little and realised that she helped people to write and publish books. Mine was already written, so with trepidation, I called her and ask asked for her help.
I sent my manuscript over and engaged Author's and Co to get my book to print.

Finally, on 15th November 2018 my book It's No secret, Thriving after Surviving came out. It went to No. 1 in 3 categories by 8am that morning and knocked Oprah off the No 1 spot. 
For me, writing was about giving others the gift of hope and empowerment.
It's about sharing my dark, sometimes scary and socially unacceptable story in the hope that just one survivor also steps out towards their ideal life and that anyone who is faced with challenge or adversity can find the strength to get through it and not just bounce back, but bounce forwards.



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Kidlit Review: Leo and the Lightning Dragons by @leolightdragons ‏@FledglingPress @lovebooksgroup

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Everybody in the kingdom is supporting the brave knight Leo in his battle against his fearsome dragons. They try lots of different things to help him defeat them but eventually Leo realises that the most important thing to do is to believe in himself. This beautifully illustrated book with a poignant and uplifting rhyming story encourages children to persevere and find strength in the face of adversity, even when it seems that nothing is working. Written by Gill White for her son Leo who suffers from Ohtahara Syndrome, an extremely rare form of epilepsy, and beautifully illustrated by Fife artist Gilli B, this story has been positively received by parents of children with complex needs, by care workers and medical staff and by parents of healthy young children who love the book simply as an adventure story. All royalties from the sale of this book will go to CHAS (Children's Hospices across Scotland). 


Review:

Confession: I never say no when I'm asked to review a children's book/picture book. I'm a sucker for a beautifully illustrated book. But when Kelly of Love Books Group told me the story behind the book, it made me even more eager to read it. 

In Leo and the Lightning Dragon, Leo's condition is presented in the form of a brave knight who fights dragons; definitely, an accessible way for children to learn about the condition. 

Some people can run away when faced with their fears. Leo can't. The battles he fights, the lightning dragons that cause his seizures, are inside. The doctors and nurses who try to help him are present in the form of witches and wizards that brew potions in an attempt to slay the dragon. 

The most important underlying message is that Leo is not alone, he has a village of supporters behind him. It sends a positive message to children, that if you're going through hard times support and love can make the difference. 

I particularly liked the suggestions at the end of the book to make the book a sensory experience. I would recommend that if someone is intending to read this book to a child that they read the back pages first and have some of the ideas ready before they start. 

As an illustration fan. I have to say that the artwork in the book is really beautiful. Strong washes of green are accented with bright reds, with only used to show fine detail. It gives the book a bold bright appearance and will be welcoming to young readers.

I would happily recommend this book for any child that loves fairytales. And I wish Leo all the best, I hope he slays his dragons for good one day. 


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Book Review: The Age of Misadventure by @JudyLeighWriter @AvonBooksUK

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55-year-old Georgie Turner doesn’t need a new man. Her daughter, aunt and sister are the most important people in her life (and the most infuriating). But it seems the older they get, the further apart they drift.

Georgie’s never been a fan of her sister Bonnie’s husband, so when she learns her brother-in-law has been up to no good, Georgie sees an opportunity to bring the women of her family back together. Along with her 21-year-old daughter and 80-year-old aunt, she packs Bonnie into the back of her car and they leave Liverpool to hide out on the coast of Sussex. With the help of some sun, sea and bottle or two of prosecco, this will be an adventure they’ll never forget.

But could the right man find Georgie while she’s stopping the wrong man finding her sister?

Review:

I became an instant fan of Judy Leigh when I read her debut novel, A Grand Old Time, so when I was offered an advanced review copy of The Age of Misadventure, I immediately said yes. Judy has a real talent for writing older characters so I was delighted to see that many of the characters in this book were 50+. 

I dunno, I'm starting to think that maybe I'm odd AF. So many people have called Georgie bitter, but I think that's maybe because they can't connect to her experiences? If you haven't had someone you've been in a relationship with for a LONG time hurt you, then maybe you can't relate? Unfortunately, I can relate to her. I know how hard it can be when your trust is broken by a person you dedicated so many years of your life to. It makes it hard to trust again. 

Anyway, the story. I really enjoyed this read. I found this book the perfect late evening/bedtime read. The plot is not too taxing. Bonnie's (Georgie's sister) husband gets himself into trouble, so they decide to take a girls trip away while things blow over. 

My favorite character by far was Nan (Georgie's aunt). She was an absolute howl and I laughed out loud several times when reading her parts. Her character is where Judy's writing really shined. Nan has lived alone for years after the death of her husband Wilf, so it was lovely to see her growing more confident with new people and new places as the book went on. It really reminded me of Evie Judy's first book. 

I almost wish that Nan got more page space because she was such an endearing character. I could relate to Georgie because of her experience but I found Bonnie and Jade (Georgie's daughter) a little hard to gel with. I think this is because their development mostly happened towards the end of the book so it felt a little rushed. I feel like this made it hard for me to change how I felt towards those characters. 

However, for me, those issues didn't change how I felt about the book overall. This story will make you smile and it will make you laugh out loud. If you're looking for an enjoyable read I'd definitely recommend The Age of Misadventure




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Cover Reveal: Death Will Find me by @Ness_Robertson @lovebooksgroup

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Finding her husband - the feckless James - with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.

Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love. 

Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer's latest victim?

This book will be perfect for anyone who's enjoyed the work of Catriona McPherson, Sara Sheridan and Jessica Fellowes. 

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Click HERE to subscribe to Vanessa Robertson's newsletter and receive special offers, new release details, and a welcome gift delivered right to your inbox.

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Blog Tour Guest Post: The Dark Heart of Dr Binding by #Cull author Tanvir Bush @annecater #RandomThings Tours

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Categorized as one of the disabled, dole-scrounging underclass, she is finding it hard to make ends meet. When in her part-time placement at the local newspaper she stumbles onto a troubling link between the disappearance of several homeless people, the government's new Care and Protect Act, and the Grassybanks Residential Home for the disabled, elderly and vulnerable, she knows she has to investigate further... but at what cost to herself and her guide dog Chris?

Guest Post:


The Dark Heart of Dr Binding

The Secret to the Uneasy Feeling You May Get Reading CULL

Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions. Primo Levi

In 2013 I overheard Iain Duncan Smith on the radio talking about people like me. i.e. disabled, and then unemployed, as ‘economically unviable’. I stopped in my tracks. I had heard that phrase before…where? And then I remembered and I shivered. . In 1930’s Germany the Nazi’s, under a certain Dr Brandt, who had first sterilized and then murdered thousands of children and adults under their T-4 Aktion Plan and it had all happened in plain sight. Disabled children and then adults were rounded up and ‘euthanized’ under the public gaze. Buses collected local people deemed ‘unfit’ – often by their own GPs or family members- and took them to nearby institutions, killing and cremating them on site. Villagers and townspeople could see the smoke from the chimneys and yet there was almost no public reaction or outrage for several years. The inaction was in part due to the exceedingly careful and divisive propaganda used by the Nazi press. In the propaganda, people like me were called ‘useless eaters’. (photo) That is another way of saying ;economically unviable’ by the way.

There it was! I began comparing the propaganda in the lead up to Aktion T-4 Plan and the presentation of disability, the scrounging underclass, the ‘parasites’ of contemporary, austerity Britain. I wanted to address the dehumanising images and language I was seeing and hearing in the media and somehow confront the fear and anxiety that many disabled (and non-disabled) people were experiencing. Was this cruelty, stigma and mismanagement of benefits deliberate? Was this fear justified? And

if it was, how far exactly was this government prepared to go? I looked more closely at the dehumanising process of language and its ominous undertow and found a deeply unsettling and uncanny similarity.

How could I use this research? To allow my prose to flow, I decided to ensure I was steeped in the eye-witness accounts of T 4Aktion and the Nazi ‘functionaries’ I wanted to be able to shut my eyes and picture some of the men and women involved, walking, talking, making decisions. I needed to ‘meet’ them, ‘understand’ them, as far as was imaginatively possible. I mined the list of doctors, many distinguished practitioners, who had taken part in the Aktion T-4 Plan and had, in fact, been proactive in engineering and experimenting on the patients, concocting various ways to kill swiftly on the cheap

Dr Binding emerges:

What is it that makes a doctor allow killing or become a killer himself? I read through the transcripts of the Nuremburg trials and the testimony, in particular of the doctors and nurses who had undertaken to murder their patients. Some seemed unable to accept responsibility for their actions, many citing other figures of authority as the decision makers. Others were unrepentant.

I decided that the doctor in my novel would have the exemplary traits of an excellent medic. He would initially appear to be a man to rely on, to trust. Gradually though the slippage would occur. He would be highly idealistic, then full of pride and eventually it would be his arrogance which would cause his own self-blindness. I studied the real-life case of Dr Brandt, the man behind T4 Aktion a man who was perceived as an idealist.

He was a thoughtful man, an intellectual, and he took his responsibilities as a physician most seriously…He acknowledged his participation in Aktion T-4, made no apology for the program, and declared it to be justified - justified out of pity for the victim and out of a desire to free the family and loved ones from a lifetime of needless sacrifice. (Gallagher, 1990: 257b)

Dr Binding emerged into the world, and alongside him the characters of Nurse Dyer, Robin and of course, Andre; each complicit and each with their own misguided intentions

I knew that my Dr Binding would have been a phenomenal and wise medical man with an almost clairvoyant aptitude for diagnosis. He would be admired. Too much admired maybe, and like a few doctors I have known, he would be a very bad patient, unable to diagnose his own corruption, his own psychopathy.

This also helped me to fictionalise the weighty issue of euthanasia, allowed me to research the T-4 doctors’ methods of killing and from there, design my own, or should I say, my character Dr Binding’s, own, Chiller Bed:

Writing using this technique was not to test my readers’ historical knowledge. I gained personal confidence knowing I was reflecting aspects of ‘real’ people through my fiction and this confidence transferred to my work, giving me personal pleasure. Readers who got the connections might receive an additional jolt of recognition too, like finding a key clue to a crossword, a joke hidden within the text, but more than that I feel the dark truth underlying the fiction might ooze through,, creating unease…raising the hair at the back of the reader’s neck!

Let me know how it feels for you!


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Graphic Novel Review: Blankets by Craig Thompson

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Wrapped in the snowfall of a blustery Midwestern winter, Blankets is the tale of two brothers growing up in rural isolation, and of the budding romance between two young lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith, Blankets is a profound and utterly beautiful work.

Review:

Towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I found myself in an awful reading slump. When that happens I usually pick up a graphic novel, as the change often pulls me out of that slump.

Blankets did that, and more. I haven't felt strongly enough about a book in a while to really suffer from a book hangover, but I knew it was going to happen this time. I enjoyed this graphic novel so much that I read it at a painfully slow pace, taking in every detail in every page. 

The idea of "blanketing" runs throughout the entire novel. There's the snow-covered Wisconsin countryside that provided Craig and his brother with many happy hours of entertainment. There's the suffocating nature of high-school, feeling surrounded by people that you can't relate to. On top of that, while Craig is at school he feels constantly weighed down by the oppressive nature of his Christian teacher. He was told to stop drawing because it was a waste of his precious God-given time. There are also some pretty dark happenings in this part of the book, but I won't talk about them here was a passing mention. Other reviewers have mused that it is because Thompson hasn't really dealt with it properly -- I'd tend to agree. 

Craig can't even escape this oppression when he goes home, as his parents are also strict Christians. Momentary relief comes in the form of a girl he meets at a (Christain) camp. Her name is Raina and Craig becomes besotted with her. Blanketing himself in her love and affection. 

Raina introduces him to the concept of free-thinking, of having an opinion that doesn't always fit with the Bible. 

It was interesting to see how Craig's portrayal of Raina changes as the novel progresses. He seems to draw her differently towards the end. She becomes more and more angelic. As his feelings towards her grow, his feelings for her to replace his faith. On a couple of the pages, she's depicted in an almost Goddess-like way. 

Blankets has been well received because it so accurately portrays the angst we all go through during that period of first love, and that allows the reader to connect deeply to the characters. I really cared about what happened to Craig and I know this story will be one that stays with me for a long time.

If you're looking for an astounding graphic novel to read, you need to pick this one up. If you've never read a graphic novel before (and are not into superheroes), Blankets would be the perfect place to start. 

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Cover Reveal: The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle by @jemmahatt

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Today On Go Book Yourself I'm proud to be doing a cover reveal for one of my clients. Jemma messaged me about working on The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle, and when she sent me the synopsis and first chapter, I knew immediately that this was a book I wanted to work on. Not just because I love working on middle-grade novels, but also because I really enjoyed Jemma's writing style.

We worked hard together, tweaking the story until it was perfect. I'm so proud of this book and I'm proud of Jemma for working diligently to make her debut novel the best that it can be. 

When we spoke about the cover, I was delighted to hear that she was commisioning an artist to paint a scene from the book. When she showed me the final artwork, I was stunned at how close it was to what I had in my head. 

So here it is, the cover for The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle:


How stunning is the artwork? It was created by Andrew Smith

Blurb:

A mysterious curse has stricken Kexley Castle for generations ever since Egyptian treasure was transported to Cornwall by a 19th Century explorer. Can four young adventurers reveal the secrets that have been hidden for over a hundred years?

Join Lara, Rufus, Tom and Barney in their first exciting adventure together as they unravel the mystery and race to find Captain Jack Kexley’s hiding place. To succeed, they must discover and solve a series of clues left by their ancestor, ahead of two unwelcome visitors from the British Museum who are determined to get there first!

ORDER THE BOOK (publishing 29th January):
Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

About Jemma Hatt:


Jemma Hatt was born near Sevenoaks in Kent. She grew up with a passion for reading and writing short stories, which ultimately led to a degree in English Literature from the University of Exeter. The Adventurers Series was inspired by many childhood holidays to Devon and Cornwall as well as her family’s pet border collies. After having lived and worked in London, New York and Delaware, Jemma currently lives in Kent and is working on the sequel to The Adventurers and The Cursed Castle as well as other writing projects.


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