Inside Voices by Sarah Davis

Some first novels feel like debut works and when Inside Voices by Sarah Davis was recommended to me, I approached it on that basis. I did the author and the book a disservice. Throughout Inside Voices Davis makes her own voice as an author crystal clear. It is a triumph of a novel, not just a debut novel.

The Blurb

The mind is a strange beast…extraordinary, unpredictable, protective.

Penny Osborn’s mind is no exception. In High School, Penny witnessed a massacre and lost her father to the same killers. She had seen it unfold before it happened, in a premonition, but could not prevent it.

A college research project at the edge of the Arctic is her chance for a new beginning. Struggling with PTSD, Penny’s therapy includes running, dogs, and guitars. Yet her fresh start is plagued by new premonitions, dark and foreboding, that coincide with a rising number of murders in the community. Her visions are vague, offering little to identify the killer.

When confronted with an orphaned polar bear cub, Penny risks everything to save its life. The deepening mystery of the murdered women, coupled with the exhaustive duties of caring for the small cub, draw her closer to her friend, Noah, and further from her sister.

Fearful for the serial killer’s next target, Penny discovers where her physical abilities can help her.

Will letting go of the past lead to healing? And can she stop the murders?

The Review

Inside Voices is a tightly drawn novel that lends much of its tension to what the reader must deduce, long before it is revealed. The descriptions of the landscapes of Alaska and its wildlife are infallible and Davis draws the reader into her protagonists world with a precision that defies the title of a debut author.

Penny, the main protagonist and her twin sister Lucy have such a tight bond that they can communicate through thought, even when they are apart. Penny also has premonitions that allow her glimpses of the future, but without the power to change it,

When murders occur in her community in Alaska, Penny attempts to stop future attacks by delving deeper into her psyche. She draws away from her sister, but that bond id too strong to break.

This is an excellent novel that would make a good book group read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

The Author

Sarah Davis is many things…wife, mother, veterinarian, writer. An avid reader, she enjoys stories that transport her into new and exciting lands. Having read more books than she could ever count, she has considered writing a novel for ages. It wasn’t until the idea for “Inside Voices” popped into her mind that she finally started pursuing that dream, with much encouragement from her family. She and her incredible husband share their remote home on the prairie with their three extraordinary children and one mostly human weimaraner. She is working on her second novel as you read this.

Val Penny

The Last Blast of the Trumpet by Marie Macpherson

It is a pleasure to be involved in the blog tour for The Last Blast of the Trumpet by Marie Macpherson @scotscriever published by @PenmorePress1 and run by Love Books Group @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours.

The Blurb

Conflict, Chaos and Corruption in Reformation Scotland

He wants to reform Scotland, but his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent him.

Scotland 1559: Fiery reformer John Knox returns to a Scotland on the brink of civil war. Victorious, he feels confident of his place leading the reform until the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots returns to claim her throne. She challenges his position and initiates a ferocious battle of wills as they strive to win the hearts and minds of the Scots. But the treachery and jealousy that surrounds them both as they make critical choices in their public and private lives has dangerous consequences that neither of them can imagine.

In this final instalment of the trilogy of the fiery reformer John Knox, Macpherson tells the story of a man and a queen at one of the most critical phases of Scottish history.

The Excerpt

The Author

Scottish writer Marie Macpherson grew up in Musselburgh on the site of the Battle of Pinkie and within sight of Fa’side Castle where tales and legends haunted her imagination. She left the Honest Toun to study Russian at Strathclyde University and spent a year in the former Soviet Union to research her PhD thesis on the 19th century Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov, said to be descended from the Scottish poet and seer, Thomas the Rhymer. Though travelled widely, teaching languages and literature from Madrid to Moscow, she has never lost her enthusiasm for the rich history and culture of her native Scotland.

Writing historical fiction combines her academic’s love of research with a passion for storytelling. Exploring the personal relationships and often hidden motivations of historical characters drives her curiosity.

The Knox Trilogy is a fictional biography of the fiery reformer, John Knox, set during the 16th century Scottish Reformation. Prizes and awards include the Martha Hamilton Prize for Creative Writing from Edinburgh University and Writer of the Year 2011 awarded by Tyne & Esk Writers. She is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association (HWA), the Historical Novel Society (HNS) and the Society of Authors (SoA).

Twitter: Dr Marie Macpherson @Scotscriever

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/TheKnoxTrilogy

Instagram: @scotscriever

Website: https://mariemacpherson.wordpress.com/

Publisher page: Penmore Press: https://www.penmorepress.com/project/marie-macpherson/

 Review Quotes 

‘Macpherson has done for Knox what Hilary Mantel did for Cromwell.’ Scottish Field

‘This richly realized portrait of a complex man in extraordinary times is historical fiction at its finest.’  Linda Porter, author of Crown of Thistles; Katherine the Queen, Royal Renegades; Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II

‘Marie Macpherson has once again given us a cavalcade of flesh and blood characters living the early days of the Scottish Reformation in a complex tale told with economy and wit.’ S.G. MacLean, author of The Seeker Series and Alexander Seaton mysteries

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Adventure to Dark Island by Bev Mietz

I am pleased to be involved in the blog tour run by Love Books Tour @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours for the new book by Bev Mietz, @MietzBev Adventure to Dark Island #AdventuretoDarkIsland.

The Blurb

On the remote, sub-tropical Coco Island, Mac, Merrow, Patience, Will and Dan live simply, self-sufficiently and usually peacefully together. But sometimes trouble can happen between even the best of friends. And trouble is what happened when an argument between Patience and Dan got out of hand.

Will and Dan, tired of Patience bossing them around, decide it’s time to find a place of their own. Under cover of darkness, they take one of the boats and leave the island. But don’t realise the danger of sailing into the open ocean with no idea where they are going, and without telling the others.

Alone in the middle of the ocean, a tropical storm gathers speed and rushes at them with full force. Whilst trying to turn the sail to steer away from the storm, their mast snaps and goes overboard along with the now shredded sail, leaving Will and Dan at the mercy of the rough sea. Surviving the storm, their food and drinking water lost, they drift along helplessly ‒ but finally, there is land in sight. A small island, surrounded by a dark mist. On the island, Will and Dan survive dangerous black swamps and hear frightening screams and cries as they explore. Meeting an old man, they are taken to a clearing in the forest. He points to a drinking well and explains the island is cursed and the cries Will and Dan had heard came from the Well of Lost Souls. Can they escape? What they don’t know is that back on Coco Island Mac, Merrow and Patience are preparing to set out to look for them. Soon all of them will be in this adventure together… can they break the curse, release everyone from Dark Island and help free those poor lost souls?

The Author

I’m a Yorkshire girl, born and raised in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England.  I have lived and worked in England, South Africa and the island of Mauritius. I enjoy reading, gardening and sewing.

In 2018 the company I worked for closed their office and at the age of 69 years found myself out of a job!  But, thanks to my wonderful Sons I am now retired and have lots of time to spend with them and to have a little time for myself too!

The idea for Adventure to Dark Island came to me whilst living on Mauritius. At every opportunity, Mauritian families head to the beaches and often sail to the many small islands close to the main island. I used to enjoy watching the young children having fun sailing their small boats in the safe lagoons and the idea for the story was hatched!

I’m surprised how much I enjoyed writing Adventure to Dark Island… my first book!

Buy Link 

Disquiet by Ella May

I am thrilled to be included in the tour run by Love Books Tour @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours for the new novel, Disquiet by Ella May @EllaMay. #DisquietTour but before you read the book, please be aware of its vivid content. Disquiet contains mentions of suicide, psychotic episodes, self-harm, child-loss, sexual motive, abuse, drugs and crime.

The Blurb

A Mentally Unwell Sister

A Devoted Wife.

A Husband and Brother With A Secret.

A Psychopath Seeking Revenge.

Elowen has been attacked in her brother’s home. The aggressor’s body lies cold next to her. 

In a secure psychiatric facility, on suspicion of murder, Elowen struggles to recall the attack. The police are quick to assume that she is guilty. 

However, Elowen protests her innocence and begins revealing a series of dark, twisted secrets.

What really happened? 

The Excerpt

The Author

Ella May is a self-published author that lives with her Mum, Dad, Brother and her dog Mia in Cambridgeshire.

When she isn’t writing or spending time with her dog, she enjoys reading and going to the cinema. Her favourite genre to read is thriller, but she also loves literary fiction. Her film genre is a lot more diverse, and she will watch anything as long as it’s not horror! After suffering for years with her mental health, Ella is passionate about creating awareness and she says that writing has become a bit like therapy for her. She hopes that Disquiet will also create a wider understanding of more serious mental health issues and her biggest wish is that Disquiet might help someone feel less alone with their mental health. 

Buy Link 

Trace Evidence by Vanessa Robertson

I had not read any books by Vanessa Robertson before, but her work had been recommended to me as novels I would enjoy. This is the second book in a series, but it works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.

The Blurb

Art crime investigator Kate Carpenter is back in this fast-paced and twisty follow-up to Don’t Blink. This time it’s not a priceless painting that’s disappeared but her childhood best friend.

Beatrice Copley and Kate were best friends all through school and but recently they’ve drifted apart. When Beatrice disappears without trace, her mother hopes Kate might know something.

Kate hasn’t heard from Beatrice for months, but she can’t shrug off the pull of that old friendship and returns to her home town to track her old friend down.

Where is Beatrice and what has she done? What secrets was she so desperate to keep? And will Kate find her in time?

Trace Evidence is the second full-length Kate Carpenter novel.

The Review

Trace Evidence starts at a tangent from the main story and guides the reader to where the author wants them to be. It is a cleverly woven plot that moves seamlessly from South Africa to England and back again. The main characters are tightly written and credible. There is no doubt this book would make for interesting discussions in a book group.

The story starts when Kate, the main protagonist, goes to meet with someone in South Africa who holds a valuable painting that was mis-appropriated by his Nazi grandfather during World War II. When she gets there, with her guards, both the man and the painting have disappeared. Indeed, it seems he has destroyed the painting and left the ruins for Kate to find.

When Kate returns home to the UK she finds her best friend is missing and sets about using the skills she normally uses to find pieces of art to track down her friend.

Trace Evidence is a clever novel that keeps the reader gripped from start to finish. it employs mystery, humour and fear to keep the pages turning. This may be the first book by Vanessa Robertson that I have read, but it will not be the last.

The Author

Vanessa Robertson has lived in Scotland for over twenty years. A former publisher and bookseller, she won the Pitch Perfect event for unpublished writers at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in Stirling in 2015.

Death Will Find Me, a crime novel set in 1920s Edinburgh featuring former spy, Tessa Kilpatrick, was her first novel, and Don’t Blink, the first in a series set in the world of art crime investigator Kate Carpenter will be out in May 2020.

Vanessa lives in a cottage in the middle of a Scottish wood where she’s editing the third Kate Carpenter thriller and researching the next Tessa Kilpatrick 1920s novel.

Val Penny

Journey with Grace by Sarah Grace

What a joy it is to start off the blog tour for Journey with Grace by Sarah Grace. @PublishingSarah @malcolmdown run by Love Book Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours.

The Blurb 

Do you want to feel confident and comfortable in your own skin? When we decide to improve ourselves the ripple effect on others is contagious. When we feel comfortable in our own skin the benefit can be redemptive for those we love. What does your ripple look like? Unpacking your personal journey and seeing what is really going on emotionally at a deeper level, is a challenge, yet also a privilege that each of us can go through. Reading this book can turn confusion into clarity, fear into peace, anxiety into creativity, doubt into trust. You will discover confidence in your path ahead and find new freedom in your everyday life. Find out what limits you so you can choose to make the changes. So often we are afraid of appearing self-centred but who else is going to do it? Sarah had to go there and hopes you can go there too. Read Journey with Grace so you don’t have to go there alone.

The Author

Sarah is a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist, so is uniquely placed to guide authors through the often-demanding writing process, bringing out the very best in their manuscripts and helping them shape their content.

She also has an amazing creative eye, so oversees the cover designs of all our books. She loves helping and mentoring young people, developing their creative talents and giving them a platform to move into their future careers. Sarah loves swimming, walking her two adorable rough collie dogs and travelling.

Buy Link 

https://www.malcolmdown.co.uk/journey-with-grace

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

I am pleased to be part of the tour for the original new novel by Jaime Jo Wright, @jaimejowright The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus published by @bethany_house and run by @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours. Do follow the tour.

The Blurb

1928

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day

The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

The Author

is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo, her husband Cap’n Hook, and their littles, Peter Pan, and CoCo. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.com

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/3bzX8UU

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path was part of my birthday present from one of my daughters. I had seen an interview with Raynor Winn on television, so I was especially keen to read the book. Raynor and her husband, Moth, had lost everything, including their home when an investment went sour.

The Blurb

Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.

The Review

The Salt Path reminded me of a book I read many years ago about a rail trip across Canada. It is descriptive, measured and intensely moving. Ray and Moth cope with Moth’s terminal diagnosis, poverty, homelessness and prejudice when people they learn they are homeless. Nevertheless, they manage to survive, largely on a diet of noodles, pasties and cups of tea.

Left with nothing but time, Ray and Moth become time millionaires and begin to walk the south-west path. Their walk took them along the walking path from Minehead to Land’s End and then on to Plymouth. They struggled through pain, exhaustion and depression as they recalibrated their outlook on life as they journeyed.

They did have friends who helped them including Moth’s brother, their friend Polly who allowed them to trade labour for a roof over their heads for some months Through Polly, Ray also found seasonal work with sheep which allowed Ray and Moth to save some money, so when they met Anna towards the end of their walk, life took a more positive outlook.

The Salt Path is not a journey for the faint-hearted and the book is not a story for those of a feeble disposition. However, Raynor and Moth are anything but that and the book is well worth reading. I highly recommend it.

The Author

Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She lives in Cornwall. The Salt Path was her first book and became a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and paperback. It was shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Costa, the Wainwright and the Stanfords Travel Writing awards.

Val Penny

Killing the Story by Joan Livingston

I have enjoyed each of the novels by Joan Livingston that I have read and Killing the Story, the fourth in her Isabel Long series of crime mysteries is no exception.

The Blurb

An accidental death that was no accident…

For the record, Estelle Crane, the gutsy editor of The Observer newspaper, died after a hard fall on ice. But years later, her son discovers a cryptic note hinting her death might not have been an accident after all.

Was Estelle pursuing a big story that put her life in danger?

That’s what Isabel Long — along with her 93-year-old mother, Maria, her ‘Watson’ — agrees to investigate in Dillard, a town whose best days are in the past.

A former journalist, Isabel follows leads and interviews sources, new and familiar. She quickly finds a formidable threat in Police Chief James Hawthorne, who makes it clear Isabel is not welcome in his town — and who warns her against poking her nose into Estelle’s death.

Of course, that’s after Isabel has discovered the chief’s questionable policing and a troubled history with Estelle that goes way back.

Killing the Story means dropping it because there aren’t enough facts to back it up. But Isabel won’t make that mistake. She’ll see this one through to the very end.

Can she uncover the plot that led to Estelle’s murder?

Killing the Story is the fourth in the popular Isabel Long Mystery Series.

The Review

Although Killing the Story is the fourth book in Livingston’s series, each of the novels works perfectly well as a stand alone story.

This book starts with when Isabel encounters law enforcement officers from a neighbouring town. Her interest in them increases when the owner of the town’s newspaper, Emerson Crane, asks her to investigate his mother’s death. The death was classed as an accident, but the man doubts that.

Isabel takes on the case and the reader is soon engrossed in her life with her mother, Maria, her love, Jack and the ‘old farts’ she bounces ideas off in the back room of the local store.

I especially enjoyed this book because the reader is allowed to learn more about the depth of Isabel and Jack’s feelings for one another. The readers is also privy to more information about the ‘old farts’ and Maria’s love of diner food results in some amusing interludes.

Killing the Story is an excellent novels that drops subtle clues to the conclusion of Isabel’s investigations. Her assistance comes from an unexpected source and that results in a particularly satisfying ending to the story. As I have said, I enjoy all the novels by Joan Livingston the I have read, but Killing the Story is a particularly engrossing story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

The Author

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, Checking the Traps, and Killing the Story, published by Darkstroke Books, are the first four books in her Isabel Long Mystery Series, featuring a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. solving cold cases in rural New England.

She draws upon her own experience as a longtime journalist in Massachusetts and New Mexico to create Isabel Long, a sassy, savvy widow who uses the skills she acquired in the business to solve what appears to be impossible cases. She also relies on her deep knowledge of rural Western Massachusetts, where she lives, to create realistic characters and settings — from country bars (where Isabel works part-time) to a general store’s backroom where gossipy old men meet.

She credits her mother, Algerina — the inspiration for Maria, Isabel Long’s ‘Watson’ — for instilling in her a love of reading and the power of the written word.

For more, visit her website: http://www.joanlivingston.net. Follow her on Twitter @joanlivingston and Instagram @JoanLivingston_Author. Her author page on Facebook is: http://www.facebook.com/JoanLiving

Carrion by Graeme Cumming

It is my great pleasure to join the blog tour run by Love Book Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours for the new novel, Carrion by Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

The Blurb

CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY. WORDS HAVE POWER.

A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.

Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.

With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.

The future is about to change. But who for?

The Excerpt

Prologue

His master’s current home was large and undoubtedly comfortable, but the messenger knew his place: outside, huddled in the cold night air. He took shelter in the nearby wood, using a tree trunk as a windbreak while he waited patiently.

There was no indication anyone lived here. The rocky outcrop was less than thirty feet from the edge of the wood, so trees shielded it from the view of anyone passing by. Even if someone ventured closer, all they’d see would be a large hollow forming a cave in the rock face. The entrance to the chamber his master used could only be found if you stepped into the cave and felt around the shadowy edges of the right-hand wall.    

The messenger had never been inside. He was only a servant and expected to be treated accordingly. A vital tool, he would be maintained to keep him sharp – fed, watered, rested – but not pandered to in any way.

Of course, any stranger who happened along would almost certainly be distracted from the cave by the hulking creature slumbering just outside. Through the trees, it might go unnoticed, its colouring blending well with the surrounding greenery. But this close it’d be hard to miss.

Even though he knew his master needed the information he carried, and that the beast was under his master’s control, the messenger still felt apprehensive in its presence. Its stillness was unnerving, and its sudden appearance offered no comfort at all. The master kept a string of horses ready for the journey that lay ahead of him, but they’d moved as far from the animal as their tethers allowed. The messenger preferred to keep his distance as well.  

Overhead, dark clouds were gathering. A storm could be on its way. The messenger took no notice. If it rained, he would use the overhanging leaves for shelter. His overriding objective was to be there when his master returned, and he’d remain in place as long as necessary.

Dusk drifted into darkness. The clouds passed, and the messenger spent the night cold, but dry.

The Author

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country, and has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – turning to writing his own during his early teens.  

With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied.  Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.

 This diverse interest in fiction continued with his reading and his discovery of the magical world of cinema.  As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but will always maintain the style of a thriller. 

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.

Buy Link  –https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08774Y72T/?ref=exp_kellysloveofbooks_dp_vv_d