Friday, 30 August 2019

The Ghost Seekers by Devon Taylor + #Giveaway + Excerpt

The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers #2) by Devon Taylor
Published in America by Swoon Reads on the 27th August 2019.

Add The Ghost Seekers to your Goodreads

"A fantastic high-stakes adventure on a ghost ship sailing forever into eternity, where every soul is (literally) worth fighting for—what's not to love?" —Rin Chupeco, author of The Bone Witch and The Girl from the Well, on The Soul Keepers

There are worse things than death.

The Harbinger is lost, sunk to the bottom of an otherworldly sea. Every soul that ever died and was protected within its hold has been lost along with it. But at least that precious cargo is out of reach of the demon Urcena and her army of soul-devouring monsters.

For now.

The soul keepers are broken, scattered, and barely clinging to existence without their ship or any way to collect or protect the souls of the newly dead. If they are to have any hope of stopping Urcena's horrifying plans to destroy the fragile balance between living and dead, they will first have to survive long enough to locate the ghost of one of their own, who sacrificed himself to save the rest of the crew.

Devon Taylor's cinematic and pulse-pounding duology comes to a thunderous conclusion in The Ghost Seekers.


In front of them, stretched across the long field of dead grass, were at least a dozen psychons. They stood tall and gruesome in the bright light, their tattered cloaks swaying slightly in the frigid breeze, their hot breath puffing in front of their constant grins. They kicked at the dirt with their bony feet, watching the syllektors with their hungry skeleton eyes, like a pack of wild dogs.

Between the psychons and the syllektors, Urcena stood waiting.

She stood in a patch of dead weeds that had gone from brown to an ashen gray under her bare feet. She sneered at Rhett, locking eyes with him over the tops of the other syllektors’ heads. He wanted to look away, wanted to avoid that gaze. Her black eyes were emptier than ever, the tiny white pinpricks of her pupils reduced to barely a speck.

She was here for Rhett, and he could just as easily have given himself up. But before that idea could even take root, madness erupted around him.

The psychons sprang forward, thundering around Urcena’s narrow shape and across the field, kicking up dirt and the few remaining patches of snow.

The syllektors, who had still been grouped at the bottom of the front steps, fanned out, unsheathing weapons. The woman with the wavy hair—Liz—yanked a hatchet out from under her leather coat, and in one fluid motion she let it loose, flinging it toward the nearest psychon. Rhett could hear a low whistle as the hatchet spun through the air, followed by a nasty, wet crunch as it collided with the psychon’s head. The creature dropped at once and didn’t move again.

Jon planted his feet, flipped his red hat around so it sat backward on his head, and pulled a short metal stick from the inside of one of his sleeves. The stick didn’t seem that intimidating to Rhett at first, but when Jon twisted it a certain way, the stick extended from both ends and turned into a staff that was almost as tall as Jon himself. He spun the staff around his body, impossibly fast. And when it came to a stop, locked firmly in both of Jon’s hands, Rhett saw it come to life with tangles of white electricity dancing along the metal.

Of course the genius inventor guy would have an electrified staff, Rhett thought.

Meet the Author 

Devon Taylor was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two daughters. His day job consists of sneaking around the house with ninja-like stealth to avoid waking up his kids. When not writing, reading, or tediously typing out text messages with all the correct spelling and punctuation, he spends his time with his family. THE SOUL KEEPERS is his debut novel.

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a print copy of The Ghost Seekers.
Open to the USA only until the 5th September.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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by Traceys Cards in
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Thursday, 29 August 2019

Confessions of a Traveler by Clara L Molina

Confessions of a Traveler: The Observations of Alien 597 by Clara L Molina
Self published in America on the 7th June 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a 2019 COYER Summer Hunt read

Add Confessions of a Traveler to your Goodreads

Grotesque insect looking beasts, which burst out of your chest, and have acid for blood. Grey and short aliens with big eyes, who want to take over your mind, and they do horrible experiments with instruments that go up your anus. They’ve come to take over the world, and make you into a zombie or dinner. If they ever land in full view, they would either be worshiped and a new religion would form, or murdered immediately, and their ship parts sold to the highest bidder. Alien 597 read her report about aliens that humans had encountered.

Confessions Of A Traveler is a quirky little story of an alien who visits America and tries to draw conclusions about all of humanity from a few glimpses into daily life there. It's an interesting premise and Molina writes in an engaging style, but I felt I needed a lot more character depth and world building for the story to be satisfying. We are told how Alien 597 observes human behaviour over the course of a few hours, but aren't shown, for example, how she travelled to this planet or how her reporting back to her home world is achieved. For a quick commute read, I think Confessions Of A Traveler will raise a smile, however the story didn't really work for me. 

Meet the author

Clara L Molina writes Science Fiction books most of the time, dabbles in comic drawings occasionally, and writes to laugh at herself all the time.  She has a computer science degree, but has been a lifelong writer. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, and enjoys fresh air and days where her hair is not frizzy.

Author links: 
Website ~ Twitter

Etsy Find!

by Memora Delia in
the USA

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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Death On A Quiet Day by Michael Innes + #Giveaway

Death on a Quiet Day by Michael Innes
First published in the UK as Appleby Plays Chicken by Gollancz in 1956. Republished under its American title, Death On A Quiet Day by Agora Books in 2019.

One of my Classics Club Challenge reads and a 2019 COYER Summer Hunt Challenge read

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

David realised that he had tumbled in upon something that was not merely a mess… He had tumbled in upon a mystery.

Desperate for some time away from his rowdy peers, David Henchman heads out of Oxford for a hike across Dartmoor. Relishing the peace and quiet, the last thing David expects to find at the top of Knack Tor is a dead body.

Positioned with a gun in his hand and a bullet hole in his forehead, David assumes the shot was self-inflicted. But when somebody else ambles up the steep tor, David has second thoughts.

And when shots ring out, David finds himself fleeing for his life across the wild moors. Will Appleby be able to find David before it’s too late – or will he be the next victim in this deadly game of cat and mouse?

Death On A Quiet Day was published in the mid-1950s, but has the sort of timeless setting common to novels about upper class English men. Here the protagonists are a small group of male Oxbridge students who have gone on some sort of study retreat with their professor. Ensconced in a Dartmoor hotel, they plan to read worthy texts and debate philosophical issues. This gentility is thwarted however when one of the group stumbles over a corpse on the moor and is then forced into a Hannay-esque race for his life, attempting to escape from anonymous shady characters who keep trying to shoot him. The hunt, for all its implausible moments, does make for exciting reading. I did struggle to take seriously the idea of an assassin wearing knickerbockers though!

Our hero, Inspector Appleby, doesn't actually even put in an appearance until a good third of the way through the novel. I'm not really sure how I felt about him because Innes didn't give him much of a character. In fact the characterisation for every man is pretty weak and the few women might as well be cardboard cutouts. Perhaps, as this is the sixteenth book of the Appleby series, readers are already supposed to be independently imagining whatever foibles and mannerisms had been described in previous stories? For me this lack of personality was a shame though. The mystery itself is well plotted and satisfying, and I liked the Dartmoor setting which gives a good atmosphere to Innes' tale. Overall I thought Death On A Quiet Day was pretty good for its time, but I wonder if the earlier Appleby novels would be stronger?

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a Kindle copy of Death On A Quiet Day by Michael Innes.
Open until the 11th September to anyone who can receive an Amazon UK gifted ebook.

Death On A Quiet Day by Michael Innes ebook giveaway

This giveaway is not connected with the author, publisher or Amazon. I will personally be gifting a copy of the ebook to the giveaway winner.
The giveaway closes at midnight (UK time) on the 11th September and I will pick a winner on the 12th. That winner will have three days to respond to my email otherwise the prize will be forfeit. And, yes, I Will be checking that the winning entrant actually completed the winning task!

Etsy Find!
by Ex Libris Artefacts in
the United Kingdom

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

More Than A Game by Ralph Robb

More Than A Game by Ralph Robb
First published under the author name Sylvester Young in April 2013. Republished by Ralph Robb in August 2019.

Add More Than A Game to your Goodreads

Sabina Park Rangers is the first team of black players to reach the final of the Watney’s Challenge Cup. But coach Horace McIntosh has more selection problems than most. The First Division champions want to sign one of his best players – and right up until the day of the match he is uncertain that he will have a team for the biggest game in the club’s history because of arrests, a scam and an atmosphere of impending violence.

The first thing I want to say about More Than A Game is that it's not just a book about football! Yes the characters are linked by their connections to the same amateur football team, but Robb's novel encompasses far more than tackles and passes. Instead I was fascinated by this authentic portrayal of members of a West Indian-British community living in early 1980s Wolverhampton. I was only about six or seven years old at the time More Than A Game is set so I don't personally remember much about the problems of Tory Britain at that time, but as we seem to be returning to that kind of divided nation, I could easily imagine this story being as much of a preview as a warning from the past.

I loved the Jamaican patois which is liberally sprinkled across every page and, similarly to Sarong Paty Girls' Singlish, allowed me to imagine myself within the community through understanding their language. Horace was the character with whom I could most easily empathise. His hard work over decades has resulted in his reasonably successful barber shop business. He feels kindly towards Britain and tries his utmost to both impart positivity to his friends and to help in practical terms - Sabina Park Rangers being a part of this. However the limited opportunities available to black people in Wolverhampton and across Britain at that time resulted in the second generation seeing their hopes swiftly curtailed. Police brutality and racism were every day hazards and I can't help but be conscious that the proposed increases in Stop And Search powers proposed by today's out of touch politicians will result in similar powderkeg situations as those of almost forty years ago. 

Despite the seriousness of my review so far though, I don't want potential readers to be discouraged. More Than A Game is an entertaining read! Robb has a great sense of pace and his characters are always very real. I fact I often felt as though I was reading an engaging history rather than a historical fiction novel. The nuanced relationships between neighbours, families and friends portray a tight community looking out for each other over many years. Many of them walk a line just on the illegal side of legal, but when the law is so stacked against you, that is easily understandable. More Than A Game is a good fusion of historical fiction, sport, crime caper and friendship. It's a strong portrayal of Thatcher's Britain and I think should appeal to a wide readership, whether they can remember the 1980s or not.

Meet the author

Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England, and now lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife, two cats and a dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and of course a good book. His world is balanced by his obsession with comic books, quality TV, global events and the great outdoors.

Author links: 
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website

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by Kiss Kiss Metal in
Dijon, France

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Monday, 26 August 2019

When Light Shatters by Laney Wylde + #Giveaway + Excerpt

When Light Shatters by Laney Wylde
Published in America by CTP Pulse today, the 26th August 2019.

Add When Light Shatters to your Goodreads

Harlow's parents are dead. So is her brother. So is Tenley.
She's like… ninety-five percent sure about that last one.

Seventeen and orphaned, Harlow is eager to leave her past behind when she moves in with her guardians. But in her new environment, she's drawn to Brighton, a senior in her art class who is haunted by ghosts similar to her own. It's not long before Harlow realizes their friendship has turned into something deeper—something that Brighton would have to sacrifice everything to pursue.

And Brighton does.

Their secret romance is perfect…until the precarious life Harlow has built crumbles beneath her. In the collapse, they both come face to face with Tenley.

Who, it turns out, is far from dead.

Perfect for fans of The Kiss Thief and The Book of Essie, Laney Wylde's coming-of-age, bisexual romance When Light Shatters is a heady and gripping read. With a touch of irreverence and suspense, Wylde's most vulnerable work yet will keep you guessing from the first page to the last.


His door is cracked, so I push it open. “Jackson, your mom wants you to––” I don’t remember what I was going to say because when I see Jackson, his cheeks are red. It’s hard to see them under his Oakland A’s cap, but his eyes look red too. Sitting on his bed, he wipes some tears off his face and sniffs.
“Did you get hurt?” I ask.
He shakes his head.
“Did something make you sad?”
He nods.
I climb up onto his bed and sit next to him. “Are you sad about Tyler getting hurt?”
Jackson looks at me. “Tyler died,” he whispers. “We’re not going to see him again.”
I shake my head. “That’s what I thought, but then I heard my dad say…” that Tyler should never have been riding my bike. If my dad wanted me riding the bad bike, he wanted me to die. He wanted to never see me again. And that can’t be true because Daddy loves me, and he tells me so whenever I’m with Tyler. But if Tyler’s gone, maybe Daddy won’t tell me anymore. Daddy hasn’t said anything to me at all since Tyler’s crash.
“Never mind,” I say. “I think you’re right.”
“I’m just sad,” Jackson says.
“Okay.” He looks down and I look around his room at all the baseball posters on the walls. “My mom holds my hand when I’m sad.”
“Does it help?”
“Sometimes.” I open my hand to him. “We could try it.” He reaches for it and holds it tight in his.
After a while, I say, “I’m sorry you’re sad.”
He nods.
“Your mom said you need to set the table.”
“Okay.” He sniffs and wipes under his nose with the back of his hand. Not the hand holding mine. The other one.
We hop down from his bed, and he lets go of my hand. I walk toward his door, but he catches up to me and gives me a hug. I hug him back, resting my head on his shoulder when he rests his head on mine. I don’t know if holding his hand made him less sad, but I hope this does. It makes me feel a little better. Because if Jackson is hugging me, maybe he didn’t want me to get hit by the truck. Maybe he just wished nobody got hit.

Meet the Author 

Laney Wylde is enamored with all things southern California--the traffic, smog, surprise earthquakes, and nonindigenous palm trees. Consequently, it's the landscape her strong and sometimes lovable female leads paint their stories on. Her New Adult novels Never Touched and the After Twelve series are bright with provocative themes, steamy romance, and inappropriately timed humor. When Laney isn't writing, she's singing Taylor Swift with her little boy or asking her husband not to tell her about his work as a surgical resident while she's eating. She daydreams about using her math degree to get into law school, then realizes that would be too much work and that she should just play pretend court on paper instead. While she loves a good book, nothing beats 30 Rock with a bag of popcorn and M and Ms.

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box (Intl winner would get eBook prizes).
Open internationally until the 5th September.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Etsy Find!
by Aamazing Bookmarks in
Toronto, Canada

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Sunday, 25 August 2019

Or What You Will (Twelfth Night retelling) by C H Clepitt

Or What You Will (Twelfth Night retelling) by C H Clepitt
Self published in April 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a 2019 COYER Summer Hunt Challenge read

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After losing her job, Sian goes to visit her brother on the island where he works, only to discover his hut in ruins and him nowhere to be found. Alone on a strange island, she takes the only path open to her… disguise herself as a man (obviously).

It is whilst she is in this disguise that she catches the eye of the lovely Olivia, and the unwanted attention of her other suitors.

All the Shakespearean hijinks, set in the modern world, with all the annoying bits fixed… Or, what you will

C H Clepitt's LGBT retelling of one of Shakespeare's silliest plays (in my opinion anyway!) actually made a lot more sense to me than the Elizabethan original. At just 56 pages, it's a quick read and mostly told through dialogue which I liked as I felt this retained a lot of the idea of the story as a performance piece. Brought forward to the present day, we still have traditional elements such the isolated island, the cross dressing disguises and the yellow stockings, but in a corporate world of competing newspapers.Or What You Will is a fun read to brighten any dreary day, whether it be Christmas time or not.

Etsy Find!
by Patrizier Paper in
Nuremberg, Germany

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Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Published by Alfred A Knopf in January 2004.

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michael and Pauline seemed like the perfect couple - young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment she walked into his mother's grocery store in Baltimore, he was smitten, and in the heat of World War II fervour, they marry in haste. From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counter-culture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayers of later years, we watch their lives unspool and see the consequences of their very mismatched marriage. 

This review was first blogged on Stephanie Jane in April 2016.
I am slowly working my way through the Anne Tyler back catalogue! The Amateur Marriage is my eighth of her novels I think and I was delighted to see it on the book exchange shelves at Camping Casteillets . The novel is, again, set in Baltimore and examines the minutiae and often mundane realities of a seemingly perfect marriage as it unravels over several decades. Michael Anton is the only surviving son of a war widow in a close-knit Polish-American community. Pauline Barclay is one of several daughters in a prosperous American family which lives just twenty minutes away but might as well come from another planet. Pauline and her red coat breeze into Michael's steady sedate life and, in the emotional maelstrom of wartime, the two rapidly fall in love. Despite some misgivings both from themselves and their communities, a whirlwind romance becomes marriage.

I loved the comments from the Polish St Cassian's women that Pauline doesn't even have a real nationality - "Ukrainian they could have understood, or even Italian". Michael's heritage is so different from what Pauline expects and this, as well as their ever increasing clash of temperaments, slowly drives the two to despair. I appreciated that neither Michael nor Pauline is portrayed as a victim of the other. Both are equally exasperating, self-centered and convinced of their own opinions. A complete illustration of the maxim "marry in haste, repent at leisure", Tyler portrays them wonderfully. The story jumps forward by several years at a time so we can understand how they grow together then apart, how cultural expectations such as Michael's mother living with them cause additional difficulties, and how their growing family suffer in the chasm.

Anne Tyler is one of my favourite authors anyway and The Amateur Marriage has reinforced my desire to read all her novels. I love how she can make the most mundane of conversations come alive with hidden meaning and how her characters are always believable and compelling even when they are not the least bit likeable. I sympathised and then rolled my eyes at both Michael and Pauline in turn! The Amateur Marriage does go to some dark places - this novel certainly is not a light romance - but it is a very rewarding read.

Etsy Find!
by Hickory Point Farm in
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Friday, 23 August 2019

Cowboy Joel And The Wild Wild West by The Gagnon Family + #Giveaway

Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West by The Gagnon Family, illustrated by Seth Yoder
Children's fiction for children from 3-7 years old. Published in America by JPV Press on the 1st June 2019.

Cowboy Joel and Blackbeard find themselves face to face with El Maton, the most feared desperado in the West. When El Maton mocks him for the way he looks, Joel must confront his biggest fear; a tongue-slingin' with the outlaw. Can Blackbeard convince Joel to do it? Will Joel find the courage?

Note to Mom and Dad: Cowboy Joel will teach your child that it's not always about punching the bully. It's about being confident in who God made them to be, and using those truths to fight the battle in their mind.

Meet the author:
The Gagnon family is an atypical, hodgepodge mix of humanity. The entire family enjoyed writing this book, with each one contributing their own input. Every child in the family has their own special story, and every one faces their own unique challenges. Stacey, the mom of this bunch, also has a blog called Ransom for Israel. She presents an honest assessment of the orphan crisis and the desperate need for families willing to adopt. After the adoption of their youngest daughter, the Gagnons started a non-profit called Lost Sparrows. Lost Sparrows is dedicated to improving the lives of orphans and those with special needs through education, proper medical care, and adoption. Their current focus is in areas of Eastern Europe and Bulgaria.

Connect with the author:
Website  ~ Twitter  ~  Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!  

The prize is one hardback copy of Cowboy Joel And The Wild Wild West by The Gagnon Family.
Open to the USA only.
Ends September 7, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Etsy Find!
by Fun Photo Cake Toppers in
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