And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I have read several books by Khaled Hosseini including The Kite Runner and A Thousand Yellow Suns. The latter is also reviewed on this site. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini | Val Penny’s Book Reviews (bookreviewstoday.info) I thoroughly enjoyed the earlier novels and was looking forward to reading And The Mountains Echoed.

The Blurb

Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

The Review

I enjoyed the beginning of this novel very much indeed. However, in the middle I felt it began to wander. After the death of Nabi, the story became increasingly unrealistic and unfocussed. It regained some focus when we met Abdullah but wandered further when the author took the reader down the background story of Markos and Thalia. I appreciate this is a clever story, but the author’s display of his cleverness spoiled the story for me. It was too rambling and disjointed to make for a good read and this bitterly disappointed me as I had so enjoyed his previous novels.

I regret that And The Mountains Echoed was such a disappointment to me that I doubt I would read any further novels by this author.

The Author

Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. In 1970 Hosseini and his family moved to Iran where his father worked for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tehran. In 1973 Hosseini’s family returned to Kabul, and Hosseini’s youngest brother was born in July of that year.
In 1976, when Hosseini was 11 years old, Hosseini’s father obtained a job in Paris, France, and moved the family there. They were unable to return to Afghanistan because of the Saur Revolution in which the PDPA communist party seized power through a bloody coup in April 1978. Instead, a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in 1980 they sought political asylum in the United States and made their residence in San Jose, California.
Hosseini graduated from Independence High School in San Jose in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. in 1993. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in 1996. He practiced medicine for over ten years, until a year and a half after the release of The Kite Runner.
Hosseini is currently a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for the foundation was inspired by the trip to Afghanistan that Hosseini made in 2007 with UNHCR.
He lives in Northern California with his wife, Roya, and their two children (Harris and Farah).

Val Penny

Bad Karma by Debi Chestnut

I am pleased to host Debi Chestnut @DebiChestnut1 today on the blog tour for her new book, Bad Karma published by Cayelle Publishing @CayellePub and run by Love Books Group Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours. You can follow the tour here.

The Blurb

ZOEY CALLAWAY is an introverted Information Professional, content with her cramped apartment above her mother’s garage. She’s a simple person with a simple life until murder shatters her small town of Hope Harbor, Michigan.

When Zoey’s uncle is found dead in his bathtub, police think it’s an accidental overdose, but circumstances tell Zoey a different story. After inheriting her deceased uncle’s home and black kitten, she moves in and catalogues his belongings, inadvertently piecing together clues to solve a crime her uncle had stumbled upon before his death. With a stalker following her every move, Zoey calls upon all her investigative skills to identify the killer before she becomes the next victim.

The Excerpt

It wasn’t even nine a.m. and I was already having a bad day. I was working on Project Shadow for the FBI. Suspected human traffickers. I shook my head. What some people won’t do for money! The FBI occasionally hires freelance information professional like me to dig into the lives of “persons of interest” as they call it when they need to circumvent the law – and they pay extremely well .

Anyway, the database I needed to complete the project was down and my call to tech support was a waste of time. I wound up talking to some guy on the other side of the planet named Pardeep. He was pleasant enough, and his English quite intelligible. He tried to help, but in the end he couldn’t fix the problem, leaving me behind the eight-ball with the FBI. With nothing left to do but wait, I decided to go for a run.

A wall of cool air hit me as I stepped out the door of my apartment; rain-laden clouds darkened the western sky. Thunder rumbled in the distance as I popped my earbuds in and hit my

6 | B a d K a r m a favorite playlist. With luck, I’d be able to complete my five miles and be back home before the early fall storm hit.

I was just hitting my stride, listening to Aerosmith doing “Walk this Way,” one of my favorites, when the phone call came. Damn it, I had told Pardeep not to call for another hour. I guess hours pass quicker in India. I stopped running and gulped in air as I wheezed a weak, “Hello.”

“Is this Zoey Cal away?” The voice was not Pardeep’s. This voice was low, sultry, and very sexy. He sounded hot, I thought, but he’s probably short, fat and bald, so don’t get too excited, Zoe.

“Yes,” I said between breaths. I willed my heart rate to lower itself. “Who is this?”

“Miss Cal away, my name is Seth Andrews. I’m a detective with the Hope Harbor Police Department.”

My stomach flipped. The detective continued. “I’m sorry to have to do this over the phone, but I’m afraid I have some bad news. I believe Felix Cal away is your uncle. Is that correct?”

My mouth dried up. I couldn’t talk. I managed to squeak a response, “Yes, he’s my uncle…why? What—?”

“I’m truly sorry,” the voice cut in. “A neighbor found your uncle this morning. I’m afraid he’s dead.”

My legs turned to rubber. Oh God, not Felix. Not Uncle Felix.

Dropping to my knees, I managed to sit myself down on a lawn next to the sidewalk.

“What do you mean he’s dead? I saw him a few days ago. He can’t be dead.” This was not happening. No, no, no! Not Uncle Felix. He couldn’t die. We had so much to do.

“I’m sorry, Miss Cal away. I wish I didn’t have to make this cal.

I’d rather we talk in person. Yours was the only number we could find. We still need to talk to you, however, and it should be face-to-face. Are you able to come to the station?”

And then the tears came, cascading down my face, soaking my cheeks and entering the corners of my half-open mouth I tasted the salt and looked through unseeing eyes at the empty street before me.

The Author

A Northern girl with a wicked imagination, Debi fell in love with mysteries after reading her first Nancy Drew book. She left her job as a paralegal to write full-time. Along with her mystery series, Debi is also the author of many books on the paranormal.  She lives in Michigan with her husband, two black cats, and her lab, Hunter. You can find her at www.authordebichestnut.com

Faith in Him by Julia Firlotte

It is a pleasure to join in the tour for the new book, Faith in Him by Julia Firlotte @juliafirlotte run by Love Books Tour @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours 

The Blurb

Adam’s deepest wounds are abandonment and betrayal. He’s spent years searching for that special someone who can fill his desolate world with love and trust. He thought he’d found her once, but instead got dragged into a dangerous criminal underworld that tore his wounds wide open and left him broken.

But as he falls in love, Adam fights back hard and fast against the darkness that surrounds him. Fidelity, bravery, and integrity become his values, and he’s sticking to them. That is until he meets Ella, the tender-hearted soul mate he’s yearned for. Now suddenly there’s more at risk than just himself.

Adam’s an all or nothing kind of guy. How far will he go to keep Ella safe? And will Ella have enough faith in him to love him anyway?

The Excerpt

Some mornings you wake up and just know that something has got to change. Not that things haven’t changed for me recently. I’ve lost my dad, finished college, moved to a new country, started a business; there’s not much more that possibly could change in my life right now, but that’s beside the point. I’m talking about things that you’ve got to change about yourself.

I was bullied as a kid by the boys that lived on our estate, so I hung out with my older sisters and Hannah from next door rather than make friends of my own. It didn’t mean I was happy, though; I didn’t want to always be treated as the baby of the family that everyone had to look after. I wanted to be that confident girl who could saunter up to those boys hanging out at the end of my street and cut them dead with just the arch of a carefully plucked eyebrow, but I wasn’t that girl back in school, and at almost twenty I’m still not that girl.

Just now was no different.

We pulled up at a petrol station on the way to the market and while Rose was re-fuelling the van, she sent me inside to pay the cashier. And he was gorgeous. Stunning eyes and a warm smile for me as I passed him the money, he could have come straight out of the pages of a Harlequin romance novel. He started the conversation with, ‘I haven’t seen you in here before, I’d have remembered you,’ and my pulse did that weird racing thing as I realised he might have been flirting.

All great, huh? Not so much.

Did I smile and reply with something cute and witty? Of course not. I blinked at him, mumbled ‘no’ and scurried out of the shop before realising I’d left my change on the counter and had to go back in again. By then I was blushing a shade of red that a London bus would be proud of.

It’s the story of my life.

When I returned to the van, I plummeted into the seat next to Hannah with a thump that gained me a concerned look, but I just stared out of the side window, desperately trying to catch the breeze on my face from the open window as we started to drive again, still lost in my thoughts.

I want what most girls want, a boyfriend who I can love and trust. Oh yeah, and a fabulous career in song writing wouldn’t go amiss, would it? But not me, I can’t even talk to a cute guy in a petrol station. What am I, still at school?

But one day, I’m going to be that confident independent girl who can stand up for herself and flirt with a cute guy.

One day.

The Author

Julia Firlotte loves writing gripping stories about strong alphas with big hearts and the heroines who fall for them. Angst and passion, trust and intrigue are fundamental to all of the love stories Julia writes, so regardless of how her characters misbehave, you’ll definitely want to keep reading about them.

Julia has been reading romance novels since she was a teenager and started writing her own in 2018. She has lots of stories in her head, but never enough time to write them all. Julia believes strongly in making her character’s worlds as real as possible and there are many character insights on her website if you’d like to learn more about them.

Julia lives in Southern England with her husband, son and daughter and their five cats and would love to meet you on social media.

The End of Where We Begin by Rosalind Russell

I am pleased to be involved in the tour for The End of Where we Begin by Rosalind Russell @Ros__Russell arranged by Love Books Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours. The novel is published by Impress Books @ImpressBooks1. You can follow the tour across social media.

The Blurb

Veronica is a teenager when civil war erupts in South Sudan. Lonely and friendless after the death of her father, she finds solace in her first boyfriend, and together they flee across the city when the fighting breaks out. On the same night, Daniel, the son of a colonel, also makes his escape, but finds himself stranded by the River Nile, alone and vulnerable. Lilian is a young mother, who runs for her life holding the hand of her little boy Harmony – until a bomb attack wrenches them apart, forcing her to trek on alone.

After epic journeys of endurance, their lives cross in Bidi Bidi in Uganda – the world’s largest refugee camp. There they meet James, a counsellor who helps them to find light and hope in the darkest of places.

The End of Where We Begin is a gripping and intimate true life account of three young people whose promising lives are brutally interrupted by war. It documents their heart-breaking and inspiring battle to keep moving on through the extremes of attack, injury, exile and trauma. It is a story of the bonds of community and resilience in adversity – a powerful message for our troubled times.

The Excerpt

PROLOGUE

With the first hint of dawn the camp begins to stir. The darkness fades and the small, twittering birds that share this desolate, unsatisfactory home with a quarter of a million refugees launch into their feeble chorus. A pale, violet light seeps through the cracks around the door toLilian’s one-roomed home and slowly her eyelids open. Another day. She sits up on the narrow iron bedstead, plants her feet on the dirt floor and steps straight outside in her nightdress. The jumbled remnants of a dream slip away as her muscle memory walks her, barefoot, to the water tap.

Things move slowly in the camp. Time and money, the twin engines of life elsewhere, aren’t so important here. There are hardly any jobs and very little cash. It is always hot, so no one rushes, but there are still certain chores that need to be done. At the water pump, neat lines of yellow plastic jerrycans radiate from the single tap like sun rays in a child’s drawing. Lilian sets down her container at the end of a row. Dozens of women have got there before her. The tap won’t be switched on until seven and they have scratched their initials onto the containers so they can come back to claim their places once they’ve got the cooking fires going.

Lilian lives by herself in the camp, but she hasn’t always been alone. She was married at nineteen and she and her husband had a beautiful baby boy. In South Sudan she had a job. 

The Author

Rosalind Russell is a journalist who worked for more than a decade as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and the Independent in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Her reporting has included the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq and Burma’s Saffron Revolution. She lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Burma’s Spring is her first book.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/34vBxK8

A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn

What a treat it is to be included in the tour for Clare Flynn’s @clarefly novel A Painter in Penang. The tour is arranged by the fab team at Love Books Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours – do follow the tour across social media.

The Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

The Excerpt

JANUARY 1948, NAIROBI

Evie took another sip of mango juice and gazed towards the distant Ngong hills. Arthur had been right when he’d said all those years ago that she would love Africa. He had promised the majestic continent would seep into her bones and possess her, so that afterwards everywhere else would be a poor substitute – smaller, less significant. He’d also been right that she would sense its age, its primeval history, a land where if you were to see a dinosaur lumbering towards you it wouldn’t surprise. After only nine months living here, Evie didn’t want to be anywhere else.

She leaned back in her chair, letting the sun touch her face, bathing her skin with its dry sensuous heat. Still only ten in the morning and it was already hot. Instead of making her lethargic, the heat revitalised her, endowing her with strength and energy. Evie loved quiet moments of reflection like these when she would count her blessings and recognise that, after the years of sorrow, loss and war, she had so much to be thankful for. She’d lost her first husband after forgiving his infidelity, been forced to flee her home as the Japanese invaded Penang, endured years of loneliness, refusing to accept that Arthur, the love of her life had not survived the war. But he had and here they were.

At the edge of the paved terrace a lizard stretched out on the stone wall, basking in the morning sunshine. Evie watched its heavy-lidded eye open lazily as its tongue darted out and snagged a passing insect. Turning her head, she could see Gichinga, the houseboy, was hanging sheets out to dry, their whiteness blinding under the power of the sun. He flipped the sheets with a snapping action to get the creases out as he pegged them on the line. The name Gichinga meant firebrand, but the boy was gentle and shy, like a young deer.

The sheets flapped gently as the breeze caught them. Laundry dried in moments here, unlike in the sultry humidity when she lived in Penang, Malaya. There the heat had been oppressive, like a steam bath, and she’d had to change her clothes several times a day.

Thoughts of Penang made her think of her stepdaughter. Jasmine had loved her island birthplace in a way that Evie was only now beginning to comprehend. Here in Africa, Jasmine was like a young plant, pulled up and replanted in ground too shallow for her roots to gain purchase. She appeared to be wilting, listless and etiolated, despite the constant sunshine.

Evie’s own love affair with Kenya made it hard for her to understand what her daughter was going through. While Evie had loved Penang, her connection to East Africa was deeper, almost visceral. Living anywhere else would never come close.

Jasmine had been born in Penang, spent four years in Australia and several months in England and appeared unmoved by the majesty and vastness of Kenya.

The Author

Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she’s not gazing out of her windows at the sea.

Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.

Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World – 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea – World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River – post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories – both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.

Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Get a free copy of Clare’s exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at www.clareflynn.co.uk.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/3iyTFYD

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 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

Buy Link 

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