Saturday, 31 October 2020

Ghostileaks: 13 Tales of Terror Leaked from the Other Side! by M J Peter

Ghostileaks: 13 Tales of Terror Leaked from the Other Side! by M J Peter
Self published in August 2014.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ghosts, demons… the undead... and more await you in GhostiLeaks! Join M.J. Peter on a terrifying supernatural adventure through thirteen chilling tales. An original blend of the author’s chilling real-life experiences and disturbing, vivid short stories - this is a frightening feast for ghost and horror lovers. Inspired by a lifelong quest for paranormal enlightenment, this is the strange and forbidden world… of GhostiLeaks.

I first posted this review on my Stephanie Jane blog in October 2015.

I discovered author M J Peter on Twitter and excitedly took advantage of his offer of a review copy of Ghostileaks as I had already read good comments about the short story collection. There are thirteen - unlucky for some! - tales in Ghostileaks and I liked Peter's sceptical narrator approach as this made each scenario somehow more believable. Although an indie publication, the writing is to a high standard with few typos. Each story is well paced to draw the reader in and the descriptions are wonderful: 'a surging swarm of home-time zombies besieged the pavement' is an example from The Investment which isn't a zombie story, simply describing the evening rush hour. I enjoyed unusual twists and turns that meant the story I expected to unfold was often different to its actual denouement so I was kept guessing. I think my favourites were The Sandman and Pause which is very well plotted. A nice touch throughout are the short notes after each tale describing their inception and inspiration. A couple are even true!

I was pleased that most of the horror in Ghostileaks is of the unsettling dread variety and there isn't any truly stomach-churning gore. Several stories kept me pondering after I had finished them, but fortunately none gave me lasting nightmares. The collection would be a perfect Halloween gift and ideal for reading aloud around a campfire!

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Books by M J Peter / Horror fiction / Books from England

Friday, 30 October 2020

Dance of Death: A Dr Basil Willing Mystery by Helen McCloy

Dance of Death: A Dr Basil Willing Mystery by Helen McCloy
First published in America by Heinemann in 1938. Republished by Agora Books on the 29th October 2020.

One of my Classics Club Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via NetGalley courtesy of Crime Classics

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Mrs Jocelyn,” said Basil, evenly, “the most disillusioning thing about being a psychiatrist is discovering how many kind relatives wish that other members of their family could be declared insane.”

When a New York socialite is found dead in a snow bank, no one can believe it is debutante Kitty Jocelyn – let alone that she has died of heatstroke.

How has she ended up here, dead, on the morning after her coming-out party? Why is she wearing someone else’s clothes? What was the cause of her fatal overdose? As the questions around Kitty’s death mount, psychologist Dr Basil Willing is brought in to get the the bottom of her death.

With the help of Inspector Foyle, the pair investigate their long list of suspects, motives, and clues to solve this blistering mystery.

Also published as Design for Dying, McCloy’s first novel in her Dr Basil Willing series is part of Agora Books’ Uncrowned Queens of Crime series.

I'd never heard of Helen McCloy prior to receiving my Crime Classics email newsletter this month which surprised me when looking at how many mystery novels she published during the Golden Age of crime fiction. I really enjoyed reading Dance Of Death, the first in McCloy's Dr Basil Willing series. The mystery itself was convoluted enough to keep me happily baffled and I appreciated that many of the fairly large cast of characters - especially the women - actually felt like authentic people rather than flat stereotypes. I could have done without the strange opening pages which gave us not only a list of the characters we would be meeting, together with notes on their foibles, physical appearance and relationships to each other, but also a list of the important clues to look out for and a note that readers would not need to be well versed in chemistry to fully appreciate this story! It all seemed to be giving too much away up front although I did find that there was still plenty left to get my teeth into.

I loved McCloy's lively writing style which still felt fresh over eighty years after the book's first publication. Dance Of Death keeps up a good pace throughout with my attention frequently being diverted in one direction or another. Dr Willing is an engaging lead voice and, being a psychologist rather than a detective, he often has a different take on suspects' behaviours that lends an interesting slant to proceedings. I have discovered several new-to-me classic crime authors over the past year or so as I delve deeper into the genre and Helen McCloy makes an excellent addition to my shortlist of authors to search out. I look forward to unravelling more of Dr Basil Willing's cases soon!

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Books by Helen McCloy / Crime fiction / Books from America

Thursday, 29 October 2020

The Last Wolf and Herman by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

The Last Wolf and Herman by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
The Last Wolf was first published in Hungarian as Az utolso farkas in 2009. English language translation by George Szirtes published in 2009. Herman was first published in Hungarian as Hegyelmi Viszonyok in 1986. English language translation by John Batki in 2016. Collection published together by Tuskar Rock Press in the UK in 2017.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In The Last Wolf, a philosophy professor is mistakenly hired to write the true tale of the last wolf of Extremadura, a barren stretch of Spain. His miserable experience is narrated in a single, rolling sentence to a patently bored bartender in a dreary Berlin bar. 

In Herman, a master trapper is asked to clear a forest's last 'noxious beasts.' Herman begins with great zeal, although in time he switches sides, deciding to track entirely new game... In Herman II, the same events are related from the perspective of strange visitors to the region, a group of hyper-sexualised aristocrats who interrupt their orgies to pitch in with the manhunt of poor Herman...

These intense, perfect novellas, full of Krasznhorkai's signature sense of foreboding and dark irony, are perfect examples of his craft.

On finishing reading The Last Wolf and Herman, I initially gave the book a four star rating because, while I loved both the novellas - or actually all three because Herman comprises of two novellas each telling the same story, but from wildly different perspectives - it took a while for everything to settle in my mind and, as Virginia Woolf so eloquently put it (in How Should One Read A Book?), for the true shape of the book to emerge. I saw that The Last Wolf and Herman had won the Man Booker International Prize and I had wondered how much that was influenced by the complex nature of Krasznahorkai's prose. The Last Wolf, for example, is a novella in one sentence! Admittedly it is a superlatively long sentence which, for someone like me who also tends to write in overlong sentences, would have been a perfect rebuke to my school English teacher, however it was daunting to begin with. Once I got into the style though I loved The Last Wolf and the single sentence device works wonderfully to illustrate how the babbling Professor is semi-drunkenly recounting his fantastic tale to a bored bartender who cannot escape him. I could clearly picture the Berlin bar and appreciated the extreme contrast between that claustrophobic setting and that of the wide Extremadura landscapes with which I am familiar although, sadly, only since the autopistas arrived.

Herman is an inspired idea for a mirrored tale and I didn't realise, until I came to write my review, just how long ago this story was written. It has a timelessness to it that really works alongside its portrait of a former animal trapper who goes rogue when he has a revelation about the life he has led up to that point and a way in which he can make amends. Krasznahorkai gets deeply into Herman's mental state so, while this is a grim tale due to the cruelties described, I found myself beginning to actually care about Herman - until the viewpoint switches anyway!

The more I think about these stories, the more I realise just how accomplished they are! Well worth a read for fans of quirky, darker fiction and experimental writing.

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Books by Laszlo Krasznahorkai / Novellas / Books from Hungary

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Endings by 'Abd Al-Rahman Munif

Endings by 'Abd Al-Rahman Munif
First published in Arabic in 1977. English language translation by Roger Allen published by Quartet Books in 1988. Republished by Interlink in March 2007.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Drought. Drought again! When drought seasons come, things begin to change. Life and objects change. Humans change too, and no more so than in their moods.

It is not long before the reader of Endings discovers that this drought is not just an occasional condition but an enduring one, faced by a community on the edge of the desert, the village of al-Tiba. The exact location of this village remains undisclosed, thus, al-Tiba becomes a symbol for all villages facing nature unaided by modern technology. We hear of Abu Zaku, the village carpenter, of the Mukhtar, and above all of 'Assaf and his dog, and of the creatures which share the life of the community. But it is the people of al-Tiba as a group, who discuss and argue about their past, present, and future, and the forces of change. Endings is striking not only for its setting and narrative style, but for being a vivid commentary on the emergence of the modern city and its urban middle class.

Endings is certainly one of the stranger novels I have been lucky to encounter through my WorldReads project to read authors from all around the globe. First published in Arabic in the 1970s, it is a sharply observed portrait of an isolated desert village falling into neglect and decline as its younger generations depart in search of more affluent city lifestyles and destruction of the surrounding natural environment leaving the remaining villagers insufficiently capable of surviving a terrible drought. The novel's prose style however is close to that of traditional fairytale with very little in the way of character definition, or even naming of characters for the most part, and people's motivations often being unclear as they leap from one event to another. There is also a lengthy series of essentially unconnected short stories in the middle of the overarching tale that baffled me.

I'm not really sure how I feel about Endings overall! I did enjoy the novel itself, once it got up to speed, and was very appreciative of Munif's diversions to describe the natural world around al-Tiba. I had a strong sense of this village being a last bastion of an swiftly vanishing way of life and, on this score at least, I was strongly reminded of The Beast of Vacares by Jouse d'Arbaud which similarly portrays an almost-lost lifestyle based within a natural environment. Many of Endings scenes do portray hunting and I was interested in the obvious division in tone between descriptions of 'Assaf's lone forays on foot to bring back essential food for the villagers, and those of sporting excursions by cityfolk in their Land Rovers who are simply out to kill as many birds as they can find (animals such as gazelles already having been hunted to extinction).

Unfortunately I did struggle with several aspects of Endings. The lack of distinct characters, pretty much everyone other than 'Assaf, made it difficult for me to connect with the novel on an emotional level and I found it so hard to maintain my concentration through the thirteen short stories that I had lost my sense of Endings' atmosphere by the time the main story returned. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read Endings, but I think I needed more experience with this style of literature in order to fully understand and appreciate it.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Abd Al-Rahman Munif / Contemporary fiction / Books from Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

The Puppy Baby Book by Dawn Greenfield Ireland + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Oct 14 to Oct 30, 2020!

Book Details:

Book TitleThe Puppy Baby Book by Dawn Greenfield Ireland
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+), 81 pages
Genre:  Non-Fiction, Puppy Baby Book
Publisher:  Artistic Origins
Release dates:   October 2000
Tour dates: Oct 14 to Oct 30, 2020
Content Rating:  G. This is a fill-in-the-blanks baby book for anyone who adopts a puppy, just like an infant baby book.
Book Description:


This unique hardcover "fill in the blanks" baby book gives dog lovers the same opportunity to chart their puppies' growth and progress, as parents of infants do with their baby books.

Now, as your puppy grows, you can document:
  •  Where the puppy was born
  •  The birth parents names and breeds
  •  Who the puppy resembles
  •  Where the puppy was adopted from
  •  The first meal
  •  The puppy's playmates
  •  When potty training took place
  •  Obedience school classes
  •  Favorite things to do
  •  What vitamins the puppy takes
  •  Medical records
  •  Medical emergencies and blunders
  •  And much more

There is a keepsake pocket for the first rabies tag after it expires, a page where you can place your puppy's paw prints, a pocket to keep the adoption papers, a placeholder for an adoption announcement card, a first aid kit list, and picture placeholders throughout the book. You will be able to write what you did with your puppy on special days throughout the calendar year from New Year's day to Hanukkah and Christmas -- 23 occasions in all.


Author's Website (signed copy)
Add to Goodreads


Meet the Author:

Dawn Greenfield Ireland is the author of several award-winning novels, nonfiction books, and screenplays. To date she has 12 published novels that consists of three series (cozy mystery, YA science fiction/fantasy, and adult shape-shifter), a dystopian, and a sci-fi romance adventure. The Last Dog, a dystopian novel set in 2086 is closely related to the Covid/Corona pandemic! Who knew there would be so many parallels from the time she wrote the book (2010) to this crazy pandemic of 2020! Three of her nonfiction books have won awards. Nine of her 15 screenplays (comedies, dramas, horror, action adventure and science fiction), have won awards. She has also written three short scripts. Her former day job as an award-winning technical writer (34 years) played a major role in her fiction writing – she is detailed oriented, the organizational queen of the known universe, and never misses a deadline. Dawn writes full time in addition to editing books for authors, and coaching people through the writing process.

Connect with the author:  website ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ pinterest ~ instagram ~ goodreads
Tour Schedule:

Oct 14 - KC Beanie Boos Collection – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 - Lisa's Reading – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 15 – Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 15 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 15 -  Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 16 – Pick a Good Book – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 19 – Corinne Rodrigues – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 20 –Chit Chat with Charity – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 21 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 22 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 23 –Lamon Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 26 –fundinmental - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 27 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 28 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 29 –Jazzy Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 29 - Gina Rae Mitchell - book spotlight / giveaway

Oct 30 - Cover Lover Book Review - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:
Win a Pet Adoption Certificate Courtesy of THE PUPPY BABY BOOK (suitable for framing) (ends Nov 6)

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Books by Dawn Greenfield Ireland / Nonfiction books / Books from America

Monday, 26 October 2020

A Case for the Toy Maker by Candace Havens + #Giveaway

A Case for the Toy Maker
Candace Havens
(Ainsley McGregor #3)
Published by: Tule Publishing
Publication date: October 26th 2020
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery

Ho. Ho. No…

It’s Christmas in Sweet River, Texas, and the whole town is feeling festive apart from Ainsley McGregor. Ainsley has never enjoyed the holidays and would rather ignore them, but with her shop Bless Your Art busier than ever and filled with happy shoppers, even she’s feeling some Christmas spirit. That is, until her Great Dane, George Clooney, sniffs out a dead body in the Santa House at the Christmas Festival.

When one of her favorite crafters becomes the prime suspect, Ainsley is determined to prove his innocence. The case is full of so many twists and turns that even Ainsley begins to fear the truth. Is she protecting a killer?

With help from her friends and some extremely nosey townsfolk, Ainsley and her dog hurry to find the truth––as long as they can outwit and outrun the killer first. Otherwise, this Christmas might just be her last.

Goodreads / / Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


“There’s the Santa house,” Shannon said, just as George  growled menacingly. “What’s wrong, George?” That growl was never a good sign, and the hairs on the  back of my neck stood up.  

I had a strong urge to turn around and walk back to the store. But my curiosity knew no bounds. I had to find out  what was going on. 

We stopped in front of Santa’s house, which was a bigger version of our booth except it really did look like a house right out of the North Pole. “Wow, they did a great job. It’s  fancy,” I said. 

George growled again. A knot formed in my stomach,  twisting hard. 

Shannon glanced at him and then me. “Ainsley? You  don’t think…is something wrong?” 

“I hope not,” I said. George had done this before and it  had never been good news. 

He barked and then did the high-pitched whine that told  me something I really didn’t want to know. 

“No,” I whispered. 


I took a deep breath and pulled my phone out of my  pocket. “Hold on to George—tight.” After handing her the  leash, I turned on the flashlight app on my phone. 

“You’re freaking me out,” she said, as she gripped the  leash tightly. 

“I’m freaking myself out.” Opening the double doors to  Santa’s house, I peeked inside. 

My breath caught, and bile rose in my throat. 

“Call my brother.” My voice was nothing more than a hoarse whisper. I forgot I had my phone in my hand. “What is it?” 

The image of the man with the candy-cane-striped pole  sticking out of his chest would be burned in my brain  forever. 

“Santa is dead.”

Author Bio:

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written more than 35 novels. She has won the Holt Medallion and her books have received nominations for the RITA's and Write Touch Reader Awards. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews for Hawkeye in the morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


Win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Open internationally until the 5th November.

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Books by Candace Havens / Christmas fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 25 October 2020

The Story Of Prague by Count Francis Lutzow + #FreeBook

The Story Of Prague by Count Francis Lutzow
Published in the UK by J M Dent & Co in 1902.

How I got this book:
Downloaded an ebook copy Free from Project Gutenberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prague at the Earliest Period
From the Reign of Charles IV. to the Executions at Prague in 1621
Prague in Modern Times
Churches and Monasteries
The Bohemian Museum
Walks in Prague
Walks and Excursions near Prague

The Story Of Prague would have been a handy little book to have discovered prior to my citybreak there three years ago. Its first sections do focus almost entirely on the hundreds of years of religious wars between various Christian factions that made Prague seem to be a very violent place from the late 900s up until the early 1700s. Periodic fights for the Bohemian crown added to the chaos and it's amazing that anything of historic Prague survives at all! Lutzow enlivens the dry facts with witty personal commentary so I wasn't as bored as I could have been, but it would have been nice to have learned more about the city than simply a long recounting of all the men who fought each other - just the noble men, obviously!

I was more interested in what Lutzow had to say about Prague as it would have appeared to his idea of the modern traveller - bearing in mind that this book was first published nearly one hundred and twenty years ago. He, of course, has no inkling of either World War although, with the benefit of hindsight, his repeated comments about Germanic desires to overrun the Bohemian people seem strangely prophetic. Lutzow himself seems obsessed with war and religion so even the chapter describing the Bohemian Museum dismisses in a few words all the prehistoric finds displayed there, before exhorting visitors to examine the armoury room in detail! My favourite chapter was that describing three proposed walks around various parts of the city. We did indeed follow part of Lutzow's route to the famed hilltop castle, but it would be fascinating to return to Prague now, antique guidebook in hand, and see how much of Lutzow's city remains intact.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Count Francis Lutzow / History books / Books from the Czech Republic

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Little Brutes by L N Nino

Little Brutes by L N Nino
Self published in 2015.

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review was first published on my Stephanie Jane blog in 2015.

I received a free personalised copy of Little Brutes, a short story by L N Nino, as a thank you for signing up to his email newsletter. I first discovered his work through reading his novella The Brain Within Its Groove. I was pretty impressed then and so was delighted to be emailed a few days later with this offer. 

Little Brutes is a very short story, but contains a haunting vision of callous lives within its few pages. A mother and her son are left in extreme poverty when her husband is killed. The arrival of a baby tips the mother over the edge with heartrending consequences. I can't say too much here without giving away the tale but I think this is a great, sad story. It both shocked and moved me with its sharp depictions of three desperate people. I would highly recommend anyone who likes dark writing to give Nino a try.

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Books by L N Nino / Short stories / Books from America

Friday, 23 October 2020

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
First published in the USA by Graywolf Press in 2018. Published in the UK by Faber and Faber on the 15th September 2020.

A More Than One challenge read

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here we meet Tambudzai, living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare and anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job. At every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.

In this tense and psychologically charged novel, Tsitsi Dangarembga channels the hope and potential of one young girl and a fledgling nation to lead us on a journey to discover where lives go after hope has departed.

This Mournable Body is actually the third in a trilogy of novels, after Nervous Conditions which I read over two years ago and The Book Of Not which I haven't read. Fortunately, while having read the previous two books recently enough to remember them would probably be an advantage in gaining a deeper understanding of Tambudzai's life story and present predicament, I didn't actually ever feel as though I were missing out by not having this information easily accessible.

I would disagree with the synopsis in that Tambudzai is no longer a 'young girl' but very much a woman and a woman whose bitter disappointment at her life and future prospects is so overwhelming as to be damaging her mental health. In her blind determination to achieve a certain level of material success, she is unable to recognise how much more life has to offer even when examples such as her sister's marital happiness or her mother's village leadership are staring her in the face. For Tambudzai, anything that doesn't revolve around an affluent city businesswoman's situation is simply failure. 

For Dangarembga to make me care deeply about the predicament of an essentially selfish and unlikeable character is quite the achievement. I could understand how a combination of wartime psychological trauma and wholeheartedly swallowing the capitalist myths of her education had led Tambudzai to such an impasse that her mind was no longer capable of buoying her up against ghastly reality. This Mournable Body is a sympathetically realistic portrayal of mental collapse which, I thought painted an authentic picture of both the woman at its centre and also of the family she keeps at bay.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Tsitsi Dangarembga / Contemporary fiction / Books from Zimbabwe

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Better Late Than Never by Ada Austen + #Giveaway

Better Late Than Never
Ada Austen
Publication date: October 20th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Better Late Than Never – A Second Chance Seasoned (over 30) Romance set on the Beaches and Boardwalks of the New Jersey Shore. 

Checklist for Best Romance Novel Ever

✓ BFF does not get left behind!

✓ A dress with working pockets!

✓ Toast to Girls Night Out!

✓ Toast to Damn the Patriarchy!

Checklist for Best Couple Ever

 ✓ He’s kind, compassionate and patient.

 ✓ He’s sexy, ripped and funny.

 ✓ She’s loud, bold and strong.

 ✓ She’s devoted to her BFF and her Art.

 ✓ They’re working together to raise their teenager.

Checklist for Best Hero Ever

✓ He makes a gift for her BFF!

✓ He’s sweet at that Time of the Month!

✓ He buys her a Romance Novel!

✓ He’s a Devoted Dad!

✓ He takes as long as she needs!

♥ ♥ ♥ LOVE   FAMILY  HOME ♥ ♥ ♥

Carrie’s a passionate artist and a Jersey Girl with seawater in her veins. She makes her art from the treasures she collects each day, walking the beaches of the New Jersey Shore.

Manny’s an architect and college professor. An Apache Native from New Mexico, he’s more at home in the mountains, but he moves to the Jersey Shore to be a better Dad to their teenage daughter.

Carrie’s Jersey. She doesn’t do calm. Manny’s quiet and takes his time to react. They were college sweethearts. Now, they’re strangers, each remembering the past differently. 

Manny discovers his new boss wants to tear down Carrie’s house. Carrie will blow the roof off herself if she finds out. Manny must keep it from her, but there’s another secret that she’s been keeping from him. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other?

Together they will redefine the meaning of love, family and home.

A feel-good standalone story of multicultural romance with adult sex, realistic cursing, a bitch of a heroine, Jersey sarcasm and your next book boyfriend! 

Content Warning: There is mention of a sexual assault.

Goodreads / / Amazon UK


She needed coffee. She needed coffee bad. The sun was pouring into the windows, way too bright and cheerful. Carrie heard no sound of Manny, so she put on a robe and crept into the kitchen, as quiet as possible. She could see the couch from her little kitchen. She tried hard not to stare, but the sight of his bare chest above the sheet, his long black hair hanging down across it, made her gasp. It was just a tiny gasp. She hoped he hadn’t heard it. That chest! She turned around and measured the coffee grounds, her hands shaking slightly. There were tattoos on that chest she had never seen. She turned around and took another peek. He was stirring. She looked away again, back to the coffee. Oh, that chest! It needed careful study. There was just so much more of him now. He was so filled out, so much a man. That chest needed to be above her while she studied it. She wanted to feel him against her. She would press her face above his heart.

His hands on her shoulders made her jump and cry out.

He laughed. “Sorry,” he said, letting go as she spun around. “I was just going to say good morning.”

He stopped smiling when he saw her face. She knew she was staring. She knew she was probably, as Emily would put it, pathetic looking, staring at that broad chest, so close to her, she could smell his scent. Pathetic in her flimsy, old ragged torn lace robe, full of holes. Pathetic, because she knew he could see her nipples beneath the lace. Pathetic because she could not stop her hand from reaching out to trace the lines of his bare tats. His skin was hot. So hot, so warm from sleep.

Author Bio:

Please visit my website for the latest updates and to join my mailing list.
My novels are all full stand-alone with beginning, middle and end, (no cliffhangers). I believe in Happy Ever After endings.
Ada Austen was born a Jersey Girl. She has lived in Monmouth County, NJ beach towns from Atlantic Highlands to Belmar. She currently lives in a small coastal city on the New Jersey shore called Asbury Park, and never plans to leave. ​She walks daily at the ocean, collecting shells, beachglass and stories.
Ada's first novel, Helping Each Other, was published in October 2016. It is no longer in print, but she plans to release a revised edition someday. Her second novel, Better Late Than Never, is targeted for October 2020 release. She's now working on her third novel, Boardwalk Ice which is set in Asbury Park. She's targeting a 2021 release.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Newsletter


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Books by Ada Austen / Romance / America

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Dare by Rowdy Rooksy + #Giveaway

Rowdy Rooksy
(A Bradford Academy Novel)
Publication date: August 1st 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Welcome to Bradford Academy where power and elite are bred, wealthy bloodlines bond, and a risky game of Dare can make or break your family legacy. Fallon Gamble used to believe that life was simple until she found herself in the hall of Bradford Academy. At Bradford, the only thing that matters is your family legacy and what you’re willing to do to preserve it. Fallon used to live a simple life but things are different now. Now, Fallon’s caught in the viper’s den with a power hungry egomaniac out to destroy her, a dangerous secret that’s eating her alive and she’s torn between three of the hottest, wealthiest boys on campus. 

Goodreads / / Amazon UK


“Bradford Academy is the Harvard and Yale of boarding schools. Your family has to not only be extremely wealthy but they have to have certain connections. There’s a hierarchy within the elite and that same hierarchy applies here at Bradford. The kids at the top of the food chain come from the wealthiest families and are what we call pure bloods.”

“Pure bloods?” I say with a frown.

“Yeah, it means that your family wealth goes back many generations so you’re born into wealth. It’s the only life you’ve ever known.”

“Are you a pure blood?” I ask.

“Yep” she nods.

“But I’m not,” I say.

“No, you’re not but you’re a Gamble and that trumps everything.”

“Why?” I ask. This is some secret illuminati shit she’s talking and it’s blowing my mind right now.

“Because the Gambles not only have wealth, they also have political power. The Gambles ran the inner circle for years then they lost their heir when your father died. No heir, no power. So, for a long time the Gambles had to yield to the Barringers but then you came along and even though you’re not a pure blood, you’re the future of the Gamble dynasty so the rules were changed to accommodate your existence and not everybody’s on board with that.”

“And by everybody you mean Bexley,” I say.

She nods. “Next to the Gambles, the Barringers are it. That family is worth sixty-six billion dollars and with the Gambles out of the way the Barringers took over the inner circle. And here at Bradford, there was no Gamble legacy so Bexley Barringer became the It pure blood around here.”

“So, what about the others? How do they fit in?” I ask.

“So, here at Bradford the Barringers have been at the top of the hierarchy for a long time. At least since the last Gamble heir went here.”

“My father,” I say.

“Right, but that was a very long time ago. So, it’s been the Barringers ruling this place. That family owns one of the largest fashion and retail chains in the country.  After the Barringers you have the Davenports who make their money in oil. They’re worth about forty billion. Then you have the Nadars,” she says point to herself. “My grandfather is a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist. We’re worth thirty-eight billion. Then there’s the Amhersts who own the largest energy infrastructure firm in the country. They’re worth about thirty-six billion. Next you have the Radcliffes who are cousins of the Barringers.”

My eyebrows go up in shock. “Bexley and Harlyn are related?”

“Yeah, they’re cousins but they’re nothing alike. So anyway, the Radcliffes are worth like thirty-five billion, then there’s the twins Indigo and Tatum James who are the offspring of Hollywood actor Quincy James and billionaire heiress, Leyla Motsepe James. Leyla’s family is the real power in that union. The Motsepe’s family made their fortune in gold, metal and platinum. They’re worth like thirty billion. Then there’s the Caldwells and the Norths. They’re not as wealthy as the rest of us. Their net worth is in the high millions but they’re legacies. Lucca’s the son of legendary NFL running back, Darren Caldwell. After daddy Caldwell retired he partnered with the Amherst family in some lucrative deals putting the Caldwells in the inner circle. As for the North’s, their worth about five hundred million but they’re deep into politics so they have an in with the government which makes them very valuable.”

“So, let me see if I got this right. The hierarchy here is Bexley Barringer, Alisander Davenport, You, Zade Amherst, Harlyn Radcliffe, the twins, Indigo and Tatum, then Lucca Caldwell and Chloe North.”

“You got it except…”

“Except what?” I say, leaning in.

“Except now that you’re here, technically you’re at the top of the hierarchy,” she says with sly grin.

“Me? Yeah, right?”

“I know you don’t realize it yet but you will eventually. Again, you just need to learn how things work.”

“It’s all so complicated. Why can’t we just be teenagers?” I wine.

“We are teenagers. Our bank accounts are just bigger and normal teenager rules don’t apply to us,” Devya says with a smirk.

Author Bio:

RowdyRooksy aka Rowdy fell in love with writing in junior high when she was given an assignment to read the poem Death Be Not Proud by John Donne and to write a sonnet in that similar style. She wrote the poem and hasn't stopped writing since. She has several notebooks filled with poems and short stories and she finally decided to put some of her short stories into a novella which became her first published book, Turned Out.

Rowdy loves a range of genres from Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Erotica to Young Adult. She can talk all day about aliens, ghosts and the afterlife and can get lost for hours in meditation. She hates peas but chocolate is her jam!

Rowdy loves to hang out on Instagram. Hit her up @authorrowdyrooksy.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Somebody's Daughter by Anne Goodwin + #FreeBook

Somebody's Daughter by Anne Goodwin
Individual stories previously published between 2005 and 2018. Published together in this collection in January 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the author as a newsletter signup reward
Free also through StoryOrigin until the 31st January 2022.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What does it mean to have a daughter? How does it feel to be one?

A child carer would do anything to support her fragile mother. A woman resorts to extreme measures to stop her baby’s cries. A man struggles to accept his middle child’s change of direction. Another uses his daughter to entice young women into his car. A woman contemplates her relationship with her father as she watches a stranger withhold his attention from his child.

Mothers of daughters, fathers of daughters, daughters from infancy to middle age. Three award-winning short stories plus a couple more. You’ll never think about daughters the same way again.

From the Polari Prize shortlisted author of Sugar and Snails.

I've previously enjoyed several of Anne Goodwin's short stories and full length novels so was delighted at the opportunity to read a few more in Someone's Daughter, especially as several of this themed collection are prize winning compositions. As it turned out, Tobacco And Testosterone is included in Becoming Someone so I had already read this one but was more than happy to do so again! All the stories are linked by their theme of parents and daughters, and I loved seeing the varied directions in which Anne takes and runs with this idea. The child carer story, Mummy And Me, is heart-breakingly poignant while With A Small Bomb In Her Chest really creeped me out. I wasn't as keen on the five ninety-nine word flash fiction pieces because, understandably with such brevity, I didn't feel they had the compelling atmosphere of the longer works. Someone's Daughter is, however, an excellent introduction to Anne's writing for people who haven't read her books before, and a refreshing filler for those of us who are eagerly awaiting her next publication!

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Monday, 19 October 2020

Day of the Horn by Chris J Edwards + #Giveaway + #Excerpt

Day of the Horn
Chris J Edwards
Publication date: October 15th 2020
Genres: Fantasy

A kidnapped princess.

A reluctant mercenary.

A shamed prince.

Far in the west, isolated from the weary world beyond, lies the sylfolk kingdom of Céin Urthia – a woodland realm of ancient forests and sunlit meadows. But this kingdom cannot remain secluded forever; for Princess Dawn, heiress to the throne, has been

mysteriously abducted. Not even her kidnapper, a mercenary battle-mage, knows who ordered it – or why. A fevered pursuit begins as the High King commands every servant of the crown to rescue her, even the disgraced and imprisoned Herace the Shamed. But even as he and his companions follow in wild pursuit, Princess Dawn herself must decide – does she even want to be saved?

Meanwhile, powers beyond the sight of the court plot under cover of darkness – for not all wish to see the princess safely home…

As civil war darkens the horizon, will Princess Dawn save her beloved home, or will unseen enemies win the day?

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Gentle sunlight glowed upon the faun’s face. Willow branches cast their slender shadows onto the grassy banks of the spring, shading us from the gilded morning light.

She looked peaceful there as I knelt over her; she was asleep, head nestled in the dewy grass. I had heard so much about this Princess Dawn – and now I was finally seeing her.

I had heard she lived in a secluded kingdom, somewhere bright and beautiful. A realm of vibrant flowers and alluring aromas, quiet green places latticed by cool, meandering streams. A perfect place, as perfect in its natural beauty as it was in its isolation.

And I heard that, on a perfectly calm morning in this perfectly nestled kingdom, the child that would be called Dawn was born in the idyllic splendor of the realm’s very heart. That she was raised in seclusion, away from the evil and want and sadness of the world beyond that verdant countryside.

I heard that her parents, the rightful king and queen, ensured she live a honeyed life. That Dawn would never have to experience the meanness, the savagery, the brutality of the world beyond. That hers was a youth of sweet smells and pleasant breezes and laughter under the greenest bowers of the kingdom of Céin Urthia.

One could certainly envy Dawn, her happy youth, her blessed inheritance, the Sacred ground of which she was one day to be sovereign.

I, however, did not envy her.

I did not envy Princess Dawn. Not as I knelt over her, not as she lay enchanted beside her private spring, beneath the sightless gaze of the royal keep.

I looked up to the surrounding garden and waved my riders over; as silent as prowling cats the uyrguks slunk out from the brush. I gestured to the sleeping princess. Wordlessly they bound her, picked her up.

I cast a gaze up to the keep. No curtains in the windows stirred; no guards looked down from the battlements. There was nothing to fear; Naraya was safe. Naraya was the capital. And the princess could look after herself.

I smiled. My, had they been wrong.

The uyrguks carried the princess through the garden and slung her over the back of my horse. Then, after a moment lingering in the garden as all was still and the sun was rising, I followed after them.

Steam plumed from the horses’ nostrils in the cool spring air. I was cold too; my clothes were damp from the morning dew. It had been a long, long night of lying in wait.

I mounted up and my riders did the same. I surveyed the garden, the private spring, the imposing shoulders of the royal keep. Still no one stirred; clearly my careful preparation was paying off. No guards, no handmaidens, no attendants… the perfect kidnapping.

I looked back at Princess Dawn, slung like a slain deer behind me, antlers and all. The perfect kidnapping.

I smiled to myself, relieved that my task was coming to fruition, my debts that much closer to absolution.

Then I looked up to the sun crawling steadily over the teeth of faraway mountains.

The princess was mine. It was almost all over. The cool sense of relief that washed through me matched the crisp spring breeze.

I spurred my horse and rode away.

Author Bio:

Chris J Edwards is a Canadian author of fantasy novels. Formally educated in history, informally educated in poetry, Chris now spends time writing fiction.

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Sunday, 18 October 2020

Under Your Skin by Rose McClelland

Under Your Skin by Rose McClelland
Published by darkstroke on the 21st May 2020.

A Found On Twitter Challenge read

How I got this book:
Took advantage of a free Amazon download offer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where is Hannah?

When Kyle’s wife Hannah goes missing, the whole town is out in force to try to find her. One person knows where she is. One person is keeping a secret.

Detective Inspector Simon Peters and Detective Kerry Lawlor have been brought in to investigate the case, but Hannah has left no traces and Kyle has no clues.

Local Belfast resident Julia Matthews joins the #FindHannah campaign and becomes friendly with Kyle, sympathising with his tragedy. As Julia becomes more involved in the case than she bargained for, she begins to uncover more secrets than the Police ever could.

Julia was only trying to help, but has she become drawn into a web of mystery that she can’t escape? 

Discover a gripping thriller that has you on the edge of your seat!

I follow Rose McClelland on Twitter because I like her style and humour, although I hadn't previously read any of her books. When she tweeted about a limited time freebie on her new thriller, Under Your Skin, I leapt at the chance to download myself a copy. The novel is a fast-paced, exciting read told in turn from the first person point of view of each of the central characters. I did wonder whether having so many narrating voices would make it difficult to tell people apart, but McClelland has given everyone their own distinctive voice so I rarely lost track of whose thoughts I was reading. I enjoyed reading pivotal scenes from alternative perspectives because it was interesting to realise how these characters could interpret events so differently. Perhaps Julia's naivete let the story down because I struggled to believe how she could have usurped Hannah's place so swiftly without misgivings.

McClelland has a good understanding of how abusive relationships can develop so I felt this aspect of the story was authentically and sensitively portrayed. The police procedures didn't always feel as realistic, but Under Your Skin is a psychological thriller rather than a police procedural novel so I wouldn't have appreciated it getting bogged down in that level of detail either! I did love the snippets of Belfast slang which added to the story's geographic grounding.

Under Your Skin was a nicely tense thriller which kept me hooked over the couple of days it took me to read. I liked its female-centred cast and that Hannah was not conveniently written off as a bland, mute victim. McClelland's previous romance author experience could be glimpsed in characters' interactions throughout the story and I liked this unusual angle. I felt Under Your Skin was as much about the people themselves as about the search for Hannah. I did guess the 'where' before it was revealed, but was way off on the 'why' and the 'how'!

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Friday, 16 October 2020

Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord

Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord
Published by Small Beer Press in July 2010. Audiobook, narrated by Robin Miles, published by Whole Story Audiobooks in March 2012.

How I got this book:
Bought the audiobook from Audible

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bursting with humour and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairytale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. When Paama leaves her husband, she attracts the attention of the undying ones - the djombi - who present her the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world.

This review was first published on my Stephanie Jane blog in February 2015.

I've finished Redemption In Indigo at last and, despite the ages it has taken for me to listen to its fairly short length, I am feeling a little sad to be away from Pamaa and her world. Having started at an awkward time without access to long solo walks which is when I do most of my listening, it is a credit to Karen Lord's memorable writing that I always found it very easy to both pick up my place in the tale, and remember how we had all got there, even though I had been away for several days. Redemption In Indigo is a perfect book to be heard, rather than read, because its narrator often breaks away to address the listener directly. With Robin Miles' able narration, these moments feel perfectly natural, but I think they might be odd for if reading a paper book.

Apparently the beginning of this enchanting tale is based on a traditional Senegalese folk tale. I loved the early episodes as the gluttonous Ansige attempts to win back his wife, Pamaa. She is forced to invent ever increasingly bizarre excuses to explain his mad behaviour! The intervention of various supernatural creatures, such as the Djombi and the tricksters meant that I never knew where Lord would take us next. I was reminded of the Neil Gaiman story Anansi Boys which is set in a similar environment. I think anyone who liked that would enjoy this although the stories themselves are different in their approach.

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Thursday, 15 October 2020

Silence of Islands by W.M. Raebeck + #Giveaway


Join us for this tour from October 12 to October 23, 2020!
Book Details:

Book TitleSilence of Islands — Poems by W.M. Raebeck
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18 +),  170 pages
PublisherHula Cat Press
Release date:   July 2020
Content Rating:  G. this book of poems is 'grown-up' but nothing violent, explicit, illegal, profane or hardcore.

Book Description:

Poetry for the summer day, poetry for the dark night. Poems that cut a walkable trail through the forest of life. Always with a nudge and a wink, “It’ll be okay.” This collection reflects a lifetime of nature, love, travel, death, joy, art, family, and the eternal questions. A potion of emotion to soothe and move you.

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KOBO ~ Book Depository ~ Waterstones
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Poetry is such a personal writing medium yet, when done well, it has an uncanny way of channelling universal emotional responses to love or grief or joy and that is exactly how I felt reading so many of W M Raebeck's accomplished poems in her collection, Silence Of Islands. This retrospective of her life's work takes us from a picturesque Greek island to the serene beauty of Hawai'i, from the rush of kindling a new romantic relationship to the grief of parental bereavement. I loved transposing Raebeck's atmospheric portrayals of her Zaxos sojourn over my memories of Lesbos and Paxos, and I was very moved by the way in which I could so completely identify with her grief at losing her father when I remembered my own mother's passing. I wish I had had this book back then. Raebeck's words articulate so beautifully how I was feeling at a time when I didn't have the clarity of thought to express myself adequately. I could have simply pointed to Don't Leave or I Will Not Pretend, for example, and allowed these poems to help others understand me.

Silence Of Islands is a generous collection comprising more than eighty poems and I appreciated how the timespan over which they were written resounds within the work as a whole. The 1970s poet is a very different woman to the 2010s poet, yet I felt I could sense her increasing maturity with her youthful experiences informing her later compositions. A lovely, brave collection that I am grateful to have had this opportunity to experience.

Meet the Author:

W. M. Raebeck's trademarks are humorous candor, spiritual stretching, and frequent exits from the comfort zone. She lives in Hawaii, with regular Mainland visits. Her 5 books to date are true-life accounts, from the misadventures of a sugar-freak hippie chick ('I Did Inhale'), to 20 stories about art, Hollywood, and spirits ('Stars in Our Eyes'), to trekking through the Costa Rican rainforest ('Expedition Costa Rica'), to teaching yoga in Santa Monica ('Some Swamis are Fat'),* and now her poetry collection, 'Silence of Islands.' Before authoring, Raebeck was a film and television actress based in LA, London, and NYC. She went on to freelance journalism, contributing to the then-alternative world of green politics, environmental protection, U.S. involvement in Central American wars, socially conscious investing, and much more. Her articles were always accompanied by her own photography, including numerous cover stories for the LA Weekly and other papers like the East Hampton Star from her former hometown. In Raebeck's personal life, yoga and natural health (sugar notwithstanding) remain institutions. As is maintaining a zero-waste household. Animal rights and environmental activism are lifelong commitments, including all-too-frequent bird rescue. W. M. Raebeck's books are available in print and ebook worldwide, and can be ordered from any book store or library. Audio editions are in the works! For additional info, or to join the email list, visit Her next book, 'Nicaragua Story—Back Roads of the Contra War,' takes a hard look at a people's war, and will be out in 2021. * 'Some Swamis are Fat' is under the pen-name Ava Greene.

connect with the author:    website   ~   facebook pinterest goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Oct 12 – Merlot Et Mots – book review / author interview
Oct 12 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Oct 13 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 14 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / author interview / giveaway
Oct 14 - Cover Lover Book Review - book review / giveaway
Oct 15 – Literary Flits – book review / giveaway
Oct 15 - Books and Zebras @jypsylynn – book review
Oct 15 - Pick a good book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 16 – 30-something Travel – book review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 16 - Chit Chat with Charity - book review / author interview
Oct 19 – Pen Possessed – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 19 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book review
Oct 20 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 20 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Oct 21 – Alexis Marie Chute – book review / author interview
Oct 21 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 22 - Lisa's Reading - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 23 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 23 - Books for Books – book review

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Win 1 of 5 ebooks SILENCE OF ISLANDS or a $25 Amazon Gift Card (6 winners) (open to customers) (ends Oct 30)

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