Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Woman with an Owl Tattoo by Anne Walsh Donnelly

I have been really spoiled lately with fabulous poetry. Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on the third collection I've read recently. They have all been by women, all different and all great. Today it is the turn of The Woman with an Owl Tattoo, a brilliant, honest collection by Anne Walsh Donnelly. Many thanks to the lovely Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for my review copy.

The Blurb:

This life-affirming poetry collection reflects on the author's growth since the ending of her marriage and what it means to unearth one's true sexual orientation, in mid-life. Anne Walsh Donnelly's intimate exploration of sexuality and identity is both brave and touching, marking this debut collection as a triumph.

The Woman with an Owl Tattoo is published today by Fly on the Wall Poetry. You can purchase it directly from the publisher here or from Amazon.

My Review:

The Woman with an Owl Tattoo is a slim volume, coming in at just 40 pages, but packed with beautiful, honest poems. The author talks about her marriage breakdown, realising she was attracted to women, accepting that was OK, coming out to her family and meeting a new partner. They are frank, sometimes funny and all heartfelt.

Donnelly exposes her innermost thoughts and feelings, as she comes to terms with the end of her marriage and her new awakening sexuality. She doesn't shy away from the difficulties, such as opening up to her traditional parents, and also her children. It's a very brave thing to do, to open up about things so personal and I really admire her for it.

The poems themselves tend to be short, snappy and real. Many are straightforward, although there are a couple which use metaphors of animals, an owl and a hamster, to talk about the breakdown of her marriage. Taken from 'Hamster':

When my husband stuck his finger,
through the wiry bars and poked
her to perform, she didn't know
how to tell him - she was broken

Initially, her attraction to women is troubling to her, as she discusses in 'Coming Out to My Therapist':

Ok, I'm attracted to women BUT I'm not gay.
I grip the arms of my chair, 
I'm not anti-gay and I'm not one of them either.

After accepting her new found feelings she comes out to the various members of her family including her parents. From this wee subset of poems 'Coming Out to my Father' put a lump in my throat.

The poems are positive and uplifting. My absolute favourite was 'Someone to Watch over Me', a beautiful love poem. And the final poem 'Self Love' contains a message we could all learn from.

This is a beautiful, raw, honest and brave collection of poems. It's a very confident debut, and I very much look forward to reading more of Donnelly's work.

The Author:

Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. Originally from Carlow she moved to Mayo, twenty-four years ago. Her work has appeared in several publications including The Irish Times, Cránnog, Boyne Berries, The Blue Nib, Writers Forum and Dodging the Rain.

Her short stories have been shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award (2014, 2016), the Fish International Prize (2015) and the RTE Radio One Frances Mac Manus competition (2014 & 2015). She won the 2018 Over the Edge Fiction Slam. 

Her poems were highly commended in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award (2017 & 2018). She won the Winter/Spring 2017/2018 Blue Nib poetry chapbook competition and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2018. She was also nominated for the Hennessy Irish Literary Award in 2019 for her poetry.

Her debut short story collection "Demise of the Undertaker's Wife" will be published in September 2019. You can find out more about Anne on her website or follow her on Twitter @AnneWDonnelly.

Do be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops!

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Controller by Matt Brolly

Another new (to me) author on the blog today as I share my thoughts on The Controller by Matt Brolly. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for inviting me and to the publishers for my review copy.

The Blurb:

From the bestselling author of the acclaimed DCI Lambert series comes The Controller, a gripping serial killer thriller introducing Sam Lynch and Special Agent Sandra Rose.

It is six years since special agent Samuel Lynch left the FBI following the disappearance of his son, Daniel. Lynch believes an underground organisation known as The Railroad is responsible and has never stopped searching.

When Special Agent Sandra Rose investigates a house invasion gone wrong, she discovers the assailant has the legendary, and infamous, Railroad tattoo carved onto his back and he claims to know Daniel’s whereabouts.

Rose draws Lynch in to her case, and together they become embroiled in an unparalleled world of violence and evil.

It seems that to see his son again, Lynch will have to confront his greatest fear and face the ultimate test: an encounter with the Railroad’s enigmatic and deadly leader, The Controller.

The Controller is published by Oblong Books in ebook format today, and you can purchase it from Amazon UK and US.

My Review:

This is my first Matt Brolly book, and I'm pleased to see there are others for me to try. I'm also delighted that The Controller marks the beginning of a new series, although Matt has set the bar high with book one!

We are thrust right into the story when an intruder kills a man in his house, takes the rest of the family hostage, and demand to speak to Special Agent Samuel Lynch. Except Lynch is no longer in the FBI, having been let go after the disappearance of his son Daniel six years before, when he became obsessed about an organisation called The Railroad, who he believes took his son. The FBI, on the other hand, claim The Railroad doesn't exist. The man in the house claims to have information about Lynch's son.

From there, the action really doesn't let up. The FBI reluctantly  pull Lynch into the investigation, still claiming The Railroad doesn't exist, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Lynch's only ally seems to be Special Agent Sandra Rose, but can be trust her?

This is a fabulous read. The characters are beautifully drawn. Lynch is completely consumed with finding The Railroad and it's Controller in the hope it will lead him to Daniel. His grief at losing his son is raw and palpable. Every mention or thought of Daniel is painful for Lynch and emotional for the reader. I had tears in my eyes more than once and did actually cry a little. Sandra Rose is also a strong character. Determined, thorough and always keen to do the right thing, her personal life has suffered thanks to her dedication to the job. I do wish I could sometimes see a cop or agent with a regular home life, but I loved Rose anyway. I don't really tend to swear on my blog, but my prep notes for this review say 'Mallard - crazy af !', And that's really all I want to say about him. Read the book to find out more!

There were times that this reminded me of a James Bond film, particularly the parts involving the train, but that's not a bad thing. There are also parts that are difficult to read because of the content, but they are necessary to the story. Overall, I found this to be an action filled, intelligent and emotional thriller, and I can't wait for the next book in the series.

The Author:

Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky and Dead Embers. The fourth in the series, Dead Time, was released by Canelo in May 2018 and a prequel, Dead Water, will be published in September 2019. In 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer (Amazon Publishing).

The Controller, released in May 2019, is the first of a new thriller series set in Texas.

Matt also writes children's books as M.J. Brolly. His first children's book, The Sleeping Bug, was released by Oblong Books in December 2018.

Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Author Social Media Links

Twitter: @MattBrollyUK

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Dancing Girls by MM Chouinard

Today is my stop on the tour for crime thriller The Dancing Girls. A new name to me, I really enjoyed this one from MM Chouinard. Thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookoutre for inviting me to review and for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

The Blurb:

The light in her wide brown eyes dimmed as she drew her last breath. She might have been beautiful lying there on the floor, if it wasn’t for the purple marks on her neck and the angry red line on her finger where her wedding band used to be…

When Jeanine Hammond is found dead in a hotel in the picture-perfect town of Oakhust, newly-promoted Detective Jo Fournier is thrown into a disturbing case. Who would murder this shy, loving wife and leave her body posed like a ballerina?

Jo wants to know why Jeanine’s husband is so controlling about money, and where Jeanine’s wedding ring is, but before she and her team can get close to the truth, another woman is found strangled in a hotel, arms placed gracefully above her head like a dancer.

While digging through old case files, Jo makes a terrifying link to a series of cold cases: each victim bears the same strangulation marks. But the FBI won’t take Jo seriously, and if she disobeys direct orders by investigating the killings outside of her jurisdiction, it will mean the end of the career she’s already sacrificed so much for, even her relationship.

Just as Jo is beginning to lose hope, she finds messages on the victims’ computers that make her question whether these small-town women were hiding big lies. Jo thinks this is the missing link between the victims, but she knows the killer is moments away from selecting his next victim. Will it lead her to the most twisted killer of her career in time, or will another innocent life be lost? 

The Dancing Girls was published by Bookoutre on 15th May 2019 and you can purchase it here.

My Review:

MM Chouinard is a new name to me, but having read this, I am certainly keen to read other work by her.

Jo Fournier has recently been promoted to Lieutenant and questioning the decision, as she now spends most of her time behind a desk and not out in the field investigating. The murder of Jeannie Hammond enables her to get back out there. She soon discovers other similar cases, but her theory of a serial killer is dismissed by both her own superiors, and the FBI. Her only support comes from her previous partner Arnett, and his new partner Lopez. Together they continue investigating the case, which for a long time seems completely unsolvable.

Jo is a great character. Tenacious, thorough and dedicated to the job, everything else in her life suffers. She doesn't really have any social life and her lack of husband is a huge disappointment to her mother. She comes across a s very real. Arnett also stood out for me. A straight up guy, totally supportive of Jo and appreciative of the pressures of her new job. They come across as genuine friends who totally respect each other. Martin was a really interesting character as you will see if you read the book. Diana worked less well, for me at least.

The descriptions of the murders are very detailed, but not particularly gruesome, so no need to worry if you're a little squeamish. The reader knows the thoughts and twisted logic of the killer as he sets up and carries out the killing. He is very precise and that is reflected in the writing. There is a beauty to the description too. It's hard to explain, but you'll know what I mean if you read it.

One thing I found fascinating was the lead up to the murders. All communications are done online, with initial contact made through an online multi player fantasy game, where other players can be anywhere in the world. Their in-game characters meet and it goes from there. This is a world I know nothing about, despite being the mother of two teenage boys! The level of detail given in the book would suggest the author is perhaps herself a gamer, or she has done some very in depth research. I enjoyed learning about that other world.

The pacing is good, there is enough action to hold the interest and I always wanted to turn the page to find out what happened next. I did work out the ending, but not until it was quite close, and it didn't spoil my enjoyment. Would happily recommend.

The Author:

M.M. Chouinard's first fiction story was published in her local paper when she was eight, and she fell in love with Agatha Christie novels not long after. While pursuing a Ph.D in psychology and helping to found the first U.S. research university of the new millenium, the stories kept rattling around inside her skull, demanding to come out. For sanity's sake, she released them. She's currently at work on her seventh novel.

Author Social Media Links:

Monday, 20 May 2019

Take Me to the Edge by Katya Boirand

I love poetry. I know, I know, you don't expect that from a crime fiction lover, but what can I say? I have a sensitive side. So I'm feeling pretty spoiled at the moment, as today I have another collection of poetry to review, and one more coming up in a few weeks. Thanks to the lovely Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on the tour and to the publisher for my review copy.

The Blurb:


That is what Katya Boirand discovered the first time she asked a friend for five words and then turned them into a poem, using the words and the subject as her inspiration. This spark started a movement, and soon Katya was asking friends and strangers alike for their five words of choice. Take Me to the Edge is a selection of these poems, sitting alongside a portrait of each subject, in this stunning and joyous celebration of language, connection and art.

Take Me to the Edge was published by Unbound on 16th May 2019. It is available from Waterstones, Amazon and other good booksellers. 

My Review:

Poetry is so hard to review because it is so subjective. Of course, all reading is subjective, but I feel poetry is more so, as it is usually designed to cause an emotional response, sometimes within a few short lines. And this collection is no exception. 

It comes from a great idea. Boirand asked family, friends and strangers to give her five words, and a little information about themselves. She then composes a poem, inspired by them, featuring their chosen words. In about 5 minutes. No, really. She has collected hundreds inspired by people all over the world, and this volume contains twenty-nine poems, inspired by people who mean something to the author, including her mother, sister and brother. 

It's a beautifully presented collection. A slim, hardback volume each poem is presented on a right hand page, accompanied by a portrait of the subject on the left hand side. The pictures were taken by photographer Eli Sverlander and they are gorgeous and varied. The poems themselves are short, but impactful. 

Not every poem touched me, but I enjoyed them all. I especially  liked the brevity, as they still said all they needed to. I personally related better to The 'straight talking' ones, rather than the more imaginative ones, but that's how I like my poetry - real and raw. I  marked the ones that reached out to me, and there were a few, as you can see from the photo below! 

Interestingly, I found that my favourite pictures tended to accompany my favourite poems! I enjoyed so many, but would highlight the ones inspired by Naurija Ziukaite, Matt McCabe and Imogen Prowse. I have quoted the last one below, to give you an idea of the beautiful writing. The five words given were 'branch, drop, hope, arrow, blade' and this is the result: 

Walk the blade edge
Swing from the highest branch
Ride the fastest arrow
Drop from the moon
And land among the stars
Never lose hope
You are almost there!

Isn't that gorgeous? This book was just a treat for me and I really enjoyed it. Several poems touched me, but I enjoyed them all, and loved the concept of the project. One wee niggle I had was that I had to flick to the back of the book for the subject's bio and word choice. Personally, I would have liked to see those together with the relevant poem and photograph. But this is a fairly small quibble. Overall, it's a beautifully presented collection of beautiful poetry. 

The Author:

Katya Boirand is an actress, dancer, writer and poet. She has travelled the world but now has roots in London. 

Take Me to the Edge is her first poetry collection.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I am looking forward to the launch of Breakers in Edinburgh tonight, so it's the perfect time to be taking part in the blog tour for the new book by Doug Johnstone, published in paperback today by the fabulous Orenda Books. Happy publication day Doug! This is the first his books I've read, and it definitely won't be my last! Huge big thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the gorgeous Karen Sullivan at Orenda for providing my review copy.

The Blurb:

Seventeen year old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Whilst trying to care for his little sister and his drug addicted mother, he’s also coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings.

One night whilst on a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead. And that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because they soon discover the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in  terrible danger, Tyler is running out of options, until he meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house. Could she be his salvation? Or will he end up dragging her down with him?

Breakers is published by Orenda Books today and is available to buy from Waterstones, Amazon and other good bookshops.

My Review:

Where have I been? Why have I got read any Doug Johnstone before? I will be rectifying that mistake, I can tell you! In short, I loved this book!

Tyler is a  good kid in a bad situation. He lives with his drunk, drug addicted mum Angela and his little sister Bean, who he adores. His half brother Barry and half sister Kelly live next door, with two violent dogs, Ant and Dec (lol).

The family live 15 floors up in a high rise block in one of Edinburgh's most deprived areas, and Tyler is forced by Barry to take part in burglaries in posh parts of Edinburgh, until it all goes horribly wrong and the family is thrust into danger.

I don't think I have ever been as invested in characters as I was with Tyler and Bean. I wanted to scoop them up in a big hug, feed them a good hot meal and keep them safe. There is such love and tenderness there, with Tyler doing his best to be mum and dad to his little sister, who obviously worships him. Every decision Tyler makes is made to protect Bean from Barry, and try to hide the worst of their lives from her. But she is wise beyond her years and has seen things no seven year old should ever see. We also see Tyler being tender and gentle with his mother, and the stray dog and puppies he and Bean have rescued. My heart just broke for him.

Barry is just awful. He's a violent, aggressive drug user, who has a toxic, twisted relationship with his sister Kelly, and respects no one. He expects everyone to do his bidding, or otherwise receive a beating. He has absolutely no redeeming features, and the whole family is terrified of him.

The characters in this book are so well written, well described - they were very real to me. I could picture them in my mind. The same with their living situation. We are fully immersed in the poverty, the deprivation and the filth - Johnstone doesn't spare us. The counterpoint to this is Flick - a posh girl from a posh area who Tyler bumps into one day. But she too has her darkness, and has more in common with Tyler than he realises. It was beautiful to see this budding friendship and to be with Tyler as he fell a little bit in love.

Breakers is violent, bleak, brutal, and sad, but also tender, hopeful, beautiful and full of heart. I went through an emotional rollercoaster reading it. The writing is taut - not a word is wasted. It's pacy with plenty of action But, for me, this is the tale of a young man in an impossibly difficult situation trying to do the right thing for those he loves. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Do yourself a favour and read it.


Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in  Edinburgh.

He’s had nine novels published, most recently Fault Lines.  His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published  in  numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been  optioned for film and television.

Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen  Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and  William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat.

Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is drummer, vocalist and occasional guitarist for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Lost Daughter by Ali Mercer

I was intrigued by both the cover and the blurb for this book, so joined at the chance to be involved in the blog tour. My thanks to Noelle at Bookoutre for inviting me and for providing my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

The Blurb:

If you think photos aren’t important… wait until they’re all you have left of your child.

Your life isn’t perfect, but you’re still happy. Your husband has stuck by you and he’s a good dad. Your daughter Becca makes your heart explode with love. And then, in the time it takes to say ‘bad mother’, there’s no longer a place for you in your own family. Your right to see your child has disappeared.

Life goes on in your house – family dinners, missing socks and evening baths – but you aren’t there anymore. Becca may be tucked up in bed in Rose Cottage, but she is as lost to you as if she had been snatched from under your nose.

Everyone knows you deserve this, for what you did. Except you’re starting to realise that things maybe aren’t how you thought they were, and your husband isn’t who you thought he was either. That the truths you’ve been so diligently punishing yourself for are built on sand, and the daughter you have lost has been unfairly taken from you. Wouldn’t that be more than any mother could bear?

Lost Daughter is published today by Bookoutre.

Buy  Links:   

Apple Books:

My Review:

Gosh, this one pulls at the heartstrings! There were so many things that touched me in this book.

Rachel lives alone in a bedsit, whilst her husband Mitch and thirteen year old daughter Becca continue to live in the family home. The relationship between Rachel and the two of them is very strained, and she only sees Becca once a week. Initially it's not clear why, and the chapters alternate between current day, and before the 'loss', until eventually we reach the day of the loss and we find out what actually happened.

Rachel blames herself entirely for what happened and what she lost, and it's heartbreaking. She was clearly ill, and has been taking steps to get better. Through her new job, she meets two other women whose children aren't with them anymore for various reasons, and a friendship develops. She begins to feel positive again.

I was on Rachel's side right from the beginning, before I even knew what has happened. It just felt right. She is a likeable and sympathetic character, who is punishing and isolating herself. I was delighted when she found friends. For some reason, I never warmed to Leona, but I loved Viv.  She's the older, wiser friend that we could all do with. My heart broke for her too.

For me, Mitch is very much the villain of the piece. Of course, it's not quite that simple, but he carries most of the blame, in my mind anyway.

There are so many rich characters in this story, good and bad. They are beautifully drawn and seemed very real to me. My absolute favourite was Aidan, and it was him that had me tearing up at the end.

This book touches on several issues - being an absent parent, mental health problems and disabilities. I have some knowledge of all three of these, and I appreciated the realness in the writing.

Lost Daughter has a real emotional heart and is full of hope. It tells the story of one damaged woman's realisation that perhaps everything wasn't all her fault and the beginning of her healing. And I loved it.

The Author:

Ali decided she wanted to be a writer early on and wrote her first novel when she was at primary school. She did an English degree and spent her early twenties working in various jobs in journalism, including as a reporter for the show business newspaper The Stage. She started writing fiction in earnest after getting married, moving out of London to the Oxfordshire market town of Abingdon and starting a family. She has two children, a daughter and a son who is autistic and was diagnosed when he was four years old.

Ali is fascinated by families, their myths and secrets, and the forces that hold them together, split them up and (sometimes) bring them back together again. She always travels with tissues and a book and has been known to cry over a good story, but is also a big fan of the hopeful ending.

Author Social Media Links:

For updates and pictures, follow Ali on Twitter (@AlisonLMercer) or Instagram (@alimercerwriter), or on her Facebook page (AliMercerwriter)

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connolly

I have long been a fan of Michael Connelly's books, so I was thrilled to be asked to join the blog tour for his latest one, Dark Sacred Night. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me and to the publishers for my review copy.

The Blurb:

At the end of a long, dark night Detectives Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch cross paths for the very first time.

Detective Renée Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.

The intruder is none other than legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.

Ballard escorts him out but - curious to know what he was searching for - soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton. Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?

Dark Sacred Night was published on 30th October 2018 by Orion, and you can buy it from Waterstones, Amazon UK, Amazon US and other good bookshops. 

My Review:

As I mentioned above,  I've enjoyed Mr Connelly's books for a number of years, first reading The Poet, before moving on to the Harry Bosch books. But I'm a little bit behind in the series, and so this was a jump forward. As a result, I hadn't met Renée Ballard in her previous outing, but that didn't matter, as this works perfectly as a standalone. I also read it straight after watching Bosch season 5 on Amazon Prime, so that was good timing!

Bosch is no longer in the LAPD and is a reserve for the San Fernando PD, but Ballard, working the night shift, known as 'The Late Show,' finds him looking through old files. She has, of course, heard of him, but hadn't met him previously,  and is soon intrigued as to what he's investigating. Once she finds out, she is determined to help him with it, treating it as a hobby case and working on it in her own time and on quiet shifts.

This is a long read, coming in at 489 pages, but well worth it. It was great to see Bosch back, and I really liked the introduction of Ballard. Those of us who have read previous books know where we are with Bosch, what to expect, and I love that familiarity. But it's also great to have someone new in the mix. I really liked Renée and think she is full of promise. She's strong and determined, having had a difficult childhood, and a bad time before moving to the night shift, She's willing to bend the rules to get to the truth, but not break them. It's also good to see that she has a bit of a life outside the job.

The relationship between her and Bosch is tentative at first, but develops as they both realise they can trust and rely on the other. They think similarly, which means they work well together, making for a good partnership. I do worry, though, that neither of them gets enough sleep!

There is a lot going on in this book. As well as Bosch and Ballard's joint investigation, which goes down several dead ends, we also see the cases Ballard works as part of her regular job. For a Brit, it's an interesting insight into the workings of US police cases.

I'm always intrigued by titles of books, especially when the relevance isn't immediately obvious. The title here comes from a sentence spoken by a religious zealot who is briefly a person of interest in the case, and could easily be missed. I like that.

There is plenty to keep the interest here, and lots of action. It's paced perfectly, and just flows very naturally. I found it an easy and immensely enjoyable read. I realise that eventually Bosch will have to retire properly, but if it's the plan that Ballard should eventually be his successor, I reckon she'll do a grand job. In the meantime, I look forward to their next adventure together.

The Author:

Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over seventy-four million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction.

His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly's 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit cinemas worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent number 1 New York Times bestsellers include Two Kinds Of Truth, The Late Show, The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, The Crossing, The Burning Room, The Gods of Guilt, The Black Box, and The Drop.

Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story and Tales Of the American.

He spends his time in California and Florida.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Bad Mommy Stay Mommy by Elisabeth Horan

Something different on the blog today. I love poetry but don't get chance to read nearly enough. So I was delighted to be invited to join the blog tour for this collection from Elisabeth Horan, which deals with postpartum depression. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation and to the publisher for my review copy.

The Blurb:

Elisabeth Horan was in the grip of postpartum depression after the birth of her second son, 'red and writhing a salamander underfoot'. In this collection, Elisabeth finds the courage to survive. Uplifting, guttural: Horan leaves her reader roaring for more.

Bad Mommy Stay Mommy is published tomorrow by Fly on The Wall Poetry and you can pre order it from Amazon both in the UK and the US.

My Review:

Poetry is such a personal thing, for both the writer and the reader. And this is some of the most personal, honest poetry I've had the privilege to read.

There was lots in this collection that spoke to me. I am a mother, also of two boys, and whilst I was fortunate enough not to suffer from postnatal depression at any point, I do have experience of depression, and know how debilitating it can be.

This is a short collection, just 51 pages long, but powerful nonetheless. Most of the poems are presented in a more traditional format, but some are written as paragraphs, like a stream of consciousness. All of them come from the heart.

In the poems we read of the pain of the author as she struggled following the birth of her second son. The writing is incredibly raw and honest. Some of it is hard to read, as Ms Horan berates herself for her behaviour. In fact, she is very hard on herself, when clearly she was ill. There is a poem in the collection which opens with

I hate Elisabeth Horan. She is a weak, sad woman. She is so bad, she tells at her kids. She ate her own heart.

and continues to list, in the third person, all the things the author feels are wrong with her. But I think this is something that will connect with so many people, with or without depression. We are so often harsh on ourselves, in a way we would never be with anyone else. We need to show ourselves the same kindness we show to others.

Early on, in 'A Son Is Born, The Second', Horan talks about her elder son losing his mother:

I alone know the secret; the date of the day he lost me -
and I'll tell you since I trust you:

It was the day my second was borne
came out shrieking - ghouls after me, the sinner;

A lion roaring in the night - 
a mauled honey badger. 

Some of the imagery in 'Godammit! Just Hurl That Sink Already' is very powerful:

Who am I? lashing out -
my tongue a leather whip
leaving verbal welts
on the back of someone so small - ...

But the poem that spoke the loudest to the me was 'Keeping Tabs', because I could really relate to parts of it:

Here I go again
down the goddamn rabbit hole
chasing the oily smell
of my pastas only I can do -

It's so dirty
it's such a waste of time
this hating myself -

But I go back anyway
I can't stay away
like a lover who promised me forever. 

But through the pain of depression we see hope, and the last few poems are much more positive as Horan sees light at the end of the tunnel and begins to recover. The final piece, 'Stay Mommy', is beautiful.

Not every poem worked for me, but that's fine. I appreciated them all and many touched me. This is powerful, personal and incredibly honest collection of work, and I admire the author for putting her feelings out there. It should be required reading for any woman who has struggled with postpartum depression, to know that she is not alone, and for mental health professionals to see the view from the other side. But it's valuable reading for all of us, women and men, for an insight into the pain depression, particularly postnatal, can cause.

The Author:

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain - especially those ostracised by disability and mental illness. Elisabeth is honoured to serve as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and is Co-Owner of Animal Heart Press. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique, and a 2018 Pushcart Prize Nomination from Cease Cows.

Elisabeth lives in rural Vermont with her husband and two young sons. When not being a poet, she works as a secretary and loves riding horses & dancing the salsa.

You can follow her on Twitter @ehoranpoet or visit her website here.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Night by Night by Jack Jordan

In between my blog tour reads, I had the chance to read Night by Night, the latest book from Jack Jordan through the TBC Reviewers Request Group on Facebook. My thanks to Jack and Helen at TBC for my review copy.

Night by Night was published by Corvus on 2nd May 2019 and you can purchase it from Amazon.

The Blurb:

'If you're reading this, I'm dead.'

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink . But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed - a journal dropped at Rose's feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won't the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her...

My Review:

This is the first book by Jack Jordan I have read, but it certainly won't be the last.

Lonely insomniac Rose finds a journal which belonged to a young man called Finn, and details the nightmare he experienced because of a stalker, and his interactions with the police. And nobody has seen Finn for two years. Tormented by two tragedies in her own life, and with nothing else to do, she decided to try to look for Finn. She wasn't prepared for what she found.

This is clearly a crime/psychological thriller, but it was such an emotional read! Much more so than I expected. Rose is a standout character - she just broke my heart. Haunted by her memories and rejected by her family, I could see why she was so keen to pursue an issue which was nothing to do with her, but might give her a chance to do something worthwhile. And I felt I knew Finn so well from his journal and I was close to tears at times. There are other young men featured briefly, and if their stories don't stir your feelings, I'll be really surprised.

The police don't come across at all well in this book, with their lack of action in the cases featured, and in some cases homophobic persecution of the victims. Things become clearer regarding this as the story progresses, and it's absolutely shocking. I sincerely hope that we don't have people like this in our police force in this day and age, but I fear that there will still be a small number.

The pacing is great. Every time Rose makes a bit of progress, it pushes her on, makes her more determined to keep going, in the face of countless obstacles. The finale is tense, shocking and more than a little gruesome.

I know nothing about the author, but wonder if he has suffered homophobic abuse in the past, or knows someone who has. Because, for me, this was a very 'real' story, very current. It has a lot to say about what's wrong in our society today, but it's also as much about the redemption of a broken woman. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Author:

Bestselling author Jack Jordan wrote his first novel in 2010, shut away in his home with agoraphobia. After five years of trying to get his work published, he decided to go it alone and independently published his debut thriller, ANYTHING FOR HER, in 2015, followed by MY GIRL, in 2016. His two novels have now sold more than 100,000 copies and Jack’s third thriller, BEFORE HER EYES was published in the UK by Atlantic in August 2018. Rights have also been sold in Bulgaria. His short story A WOMAN SCORNED was published in the UK by Atlantic in June 2018.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Revenge Runs Deep by Pat Young

I have had the pleasure of meeting Pat a few times, and she is just the loveliest person, so I am delighted to be taking part in the tour for this, her fourth book. My thanks to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side Publicity and Promo for inviting me to take part and to Pat for my review copy.

The Blurb:

Your boss is a bully. How far would you go to get revenge?

Thomas Smeaton is a powerful man who makes life a living hell for his employees. 

When his bullying drives a woman to suicide, three of her colleagues decide it is time to take action before Smeaton destroys any more good people. 

Six months later, a car is found submerged in a reservoir, with a single body inside. Suicide? Or murder? 

Two people were there the night that car rolled into the depths of Loch Etrin. And one is still missing.

Revenge Runs Deep was published on 1st May 2019, and you can purchase it from Waterstones or Amazon

My Review

I read a book recently where the victims of bullying were in their teens and some reviewers said it didn't ring true because the victims were too old. What absolute rubbish. Anyone can be affected by bullying, regardless of their age. Revenge Runs Deep  looks at bullying in the workplace, which I'm sure happens much more than most of us realise. And I can't think of another book I 've read which tackles this. 

Dedicated teacher Liz is bullied by Thomas Smeaton until she can take it no longer, and takes her own life. Three other people, who have suffered in different ways under Smeaton, decide they have to do something about him, before any more people suffer. And they are aided by a very unexpected ally. Their plan for revenge is a complex and interesting one, playing  on his strong Catholic faith and the idea of purgatory. 

Smeaton is a truly despicable character, who deserves a right good kick in the nuts! He's colourfully written and horribly believable.  Sheila's grief, following the suicide of her best friend, seemed very real, as did her desire to take action against the man she considers responsible for Liz's death. I wasn't entirely convinced about her in disguise in the nursing home, but Ruby was a delight. 

Joe was the character that spoke to me the most. He really cares about his job, and the young men he works with and his anger at Smeaton is for them and others like them. He feels without him, these boys have no hope for a decent future. His scenes with these boys were probably my favourite ones. 

The tension mounts steadily throughout the story as the friends put their plan into motion. There is no violence as such, but Smeaton certainly has his comeuppance, and the scenes with him in the bothy are intense. I thought the whole idea around purgatory was a really interesting one. 

This was a fab book shining a light on a very real problem, and showing how people can be pushed to terrible actions. Well written and an easy read. Very enjoyable. 

The Author

Pat Young writes psychological thrillers. Her debut Till the Dust Settles won the Constable Stag Trophy and an Amazon number 1 best-seller award. Her recent release, One Perfect Witness, sat for a while at number 2 in the Scottish Crime charts, nestled between Rankin and Cleeves and ahead of the mighty Val McDermid! 

But Pat never intended to be a writer. Then a story got inside her head, demanding to be told. She is fascinated by what happens when someone suddenly disappears and all her books have that theme. 

Pat loves meeting readers and has been on the programme at Bloody Scotland and Tidelines. She is really excited about appearing at this year’s Boswell Book Festival at Dumfries House in May where she plans to launch her fourth psychological thriller Revenge Runs Deep.

You can follow Pat on Twitter at @py321_young. 

These Lost & Broken Things by Helen Fields

I am thrilled to be on the blog tour for this historical thriller from Helen Fields. This isn't a genre I go to very often but I knew He...