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Anne Bonny #BookReview November Road by @Lou_Berney #NewRelease #Literary #CrimeFiction @HarperCollins ‘Fantastic historical American noir 4*’

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November Road by Lou Berney
US Review Copy
Synopsis:

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel – a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out…

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead. Suspecting he’s next, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas. When he spots a beautiful housewife and her two young daughters stranded on the side of the road, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his trail.

The two strangers share the open road west – and find each other on the way. But Guidry’s relentless hunters are closing in on him, and now he doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love. And it might get them both killed.

My Review:

November Road is an atmospheric novel set amongst the backdrop of the JFK assassination. I am a huge fan of American Noir and historical fiction, so I couldn’t wait to get started on this novel. I am new to Lou Berney’s writing but will be keeping an eye out for future titles by the author.

The novel opens in 1963 New Orleans, with one of our central character Frank Guidry. Frank currently works for mob boss Carlos Marcello, but fears after the assassination of JFK, he himself will be left for dead.
‘Someone shot him. Someone shot President Kennedy’

Franks possibly involvement and links to the assassination is all fully explored within his narrative. You actually begin to become quite attached to Frank, as he desperately seeks to leave town before he is killed. . .

‘Bobby Kennedy and the FBI wouldn’t stop until they’d turned over every goddamn rock’

The other central is mother of two young daughters Charlie (Charlotte). Charlie is a photographer by trade, she is married to a deadbeat alcoholic named Dooley. They are behind on their mortgage and struggling financially. In a moment of madness, she packs up her and her daughter’s Rosemary and Joan’s possessions and leaves town. Charlie seeks a better life for her daughter’s, than the life she has lived. She knows the only way to achieve this, is to break free of Dooley.
But Dooley might not be quite so keen to see her leave. . .

‘Divorce was the edge of a cliff. Once you flung yourself into the great blue yonder, there was no going back’

The lives of Frank and Charlie collide, and this is when the novel really shines. We are show the narratives of Frank, Charlie and those hunting Guidry.
It amps up the intensity of the novel and threat to Guidry’s life.

‘He couldn’t chase the idea from his head that maybe, just maybe, Seraphine and Carlos planned to kill him’

Through Charlie’s eyes we learn what life was truly like in the 1960s. An era that would go on to be the beginning of the female sexual revolution. But also, one where divorce was considered a scandal of the highest order.
Between Charlie and Frank, a meeting of minds develops, an unusual pairing but both desperately fleeing uncertain circumstances.

The era and background history really add to the story.
Fantastic historical American noir 4*

LB
Lou Berney
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Anne Bonny #BookReview A House Of Ghosts by @WilliamRyan_ 5* Genius #WW1Fiction #Séance #Ghosts #Mystery #Thriller @bonnierbooks_uk @BonnierZaffre ‘A House Of Ghosts is pure perfection!’

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A House Of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .

My Review:

A House Of Ghosts is pure perfection!
It has several themes that I absolutely adore and some that strike at my heart. It covers a multitude of genre’s it is literary, historical with a slight occult theme also. It really is 100% worth your investment in the beautiful hardback edition. *See images below*

The novel centres around several characters, mostly of the upper class and privileged of society. But as we know from history, this alone did not absolve you from the battle lines of The Great War. The novel is set in the winter of 1917 and you can fully appreciate the psychological impact of ww1 on several of the characters.

This struck very personal to me, as my great-grandfather fought in ww1 and came back having received a severe head injury. Eventually, he took his own life years later. I guess we will never truly know if it was the head injury, the psychological trauma of a mixture of both. But all I do know is he took his life via slitting his own throat and my grandfather was the one to find him at just 10yrs old. His death would leave a substantial impact on one of the greatest men, I’ve even known, my Grandad Alan.

Back to the novel itself, the central characters are Cpt Robert Donovan and Kate Cartwright. When they are summoned to Blackwater Abbey to take part in a séance to summon the dead of ww1. They have no idea, they’ll end up becoming amateur detectives themselves. The characterisation of these two is phenomenal and they work brilliantly together. What we are yet to discover, is that Kate has a gift of her own. . .

‘Any supposed contact with the dead is either the work of charlatans or some kind of group psychological disorder’ – Kate Cartwright

We learn more about each individual character present at Blackwater Abbey. Their ties to the estate and their loss of loved ones in ww1. Kate for example has lost her own brother and despite her reservations, she is desperate for some kind of communication or confirmation of his death.

‘The problem with corruption among the English upper classes wasn’t that it existed but thatg it wasn’t dealth with firmly and publicly’ – C

Blackwater Abbey is located on Blackwater island as island rumoured to be full of ghosts and the perfect location for a weekend of spiritualism and séances. That is until the stormy weather cuts the group off from access and contact with the mainland. . .

‘In a house of ghosts, the living await, their certain fate’

Eventually we are introduced to the two eccentric characters, that have been acquired to carry out the seances. Madame Freda and Count Dmitri Orlov. The séance will require 12 people and equal numbers of men and women, which requires two unwilling servants to join their number.

‘Spirits from the other side, join us’ Count Orlov

For me personally, this novel has it all. A haunted island, superstition, wartime secrets and trauma. Kate and Donovan make the perfect crime solving pair and the novel strongly reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
5* Genius

***images of Hardback edition***
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WR
William Ryan ~ W.C. Ryan
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Blackbird season by @KateMoretti1 #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Thriller @TitanBooks ‘When does it ever end, if people continue to up the ante?’

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The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
My own copy
Synopsis:

Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

My Review:

‘Alecia forgot what that was like, to have friends who were just people’

The novel opens in May 2015, two weeks before the birds fall. The time line then moves around to give a greater understanding of the characters and further depth into the incidents before and after the birds fell. It is an intense novel, with emotive themes.
I became engrossed in the plot line, as I read further on.

Nate and Alecia Winters are the married couple at the centre of the scandal, with Nate accused of an affair with a student. But Alecia is not without her character depth either. She is an isolated and lonely mother to the couples 5yr old autistic son Gabe. As mother of an autistic son, I can assure you the isolation, loneliness and shunning are 100% REAL!

‘Sometimes it seemed like it was Alecia and Gabe against the whole world’

The missing student at the centre of the accusations/claims Lucia, is a mysterious student experiencing great hardship and poverty. Lucia is a student in crisis, Did Nate help her? or take advantage of her situation?

We learn that the Winter’s family life is extremely complex. With Alecia shouldering the majority of the parental duties and Nate being responsible for financing the multiple therapies Gabe requires. It is easy to see this marriage being torn apart by the sheer stress of raising a special needs child, let alone the accusations of the local town.

‘Nate was the last person to see her’

Nate denies the allegations against him and insists there was no affair. But when he is suspended from his teaching position the gossip and speculation only intensifies.

‘There was a missing piece something that no one knew’

Is Nate the perpetrator? Or are the cops making him suspect #1?

The middle part of the novel is much slower paced.
But the novel in whole deals with some tough themes.
Themes of abuse, neglect and bullying.
When does it ever end, if people continue to up the ante? 4*

KM
Kate Moretti
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***Review coming soon for, In  Her Bones***

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @mredwards #Author of #NewRelease In Her Shadow #Suspense #Psychological #Thriller @AmazonPub #InHerShadow

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In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards
Review To Follow
Synopsis:

Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?

Q&A:
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I come from Hastings on the Sussex coast, famous for its battle. I’m not sure if that has any relevance but it’s possible that the salty air combined with constantly hearing stories about a man getting an arrow in his eye may have done something to my brain and imagination.

My new novel, In Her Shadow, is about a woman, Jessica, who lost her more glamorous older sister, Isabel, a few years ago. Isabel was found dead beneath the balcony of her beautiful home and the death was ruled accidental. But now Jessica’s four-year-old daughter seems to be communicating with Isabel. She knows things she can’t possibly know. She is acting up at school. And as Jessica is forced to question everything she believes, she starts to investigate what really happened to Isabel.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) This is my eighth solo novel; fourteenth if you include the books I co-wrote with Louise Voss. I came up with the idea for In Her Shadow when I was halfway through my previous book, The Retreat. I thought of it as Big Little Lies – with its focus on female relationships and school gate drama – crossed with The Sixth Sense, with its child who sees dead people. My regular readers will know that there is always, in the end, a rational explanation for everything that happens in my books, and the big challenge was figuring out what was really going on with Olivia. Once I worked that out, it was relatively easy to write. It was also influenced by a big story that was happening in the news at the time I was writing it, a story about sex and power, but it would be too spoilery to reveal what it was.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I read loads and I’m always worried about missing people out when I start listing my favourites, but a few books I’ve read recently that I loved are Skin Deep by Liz Nugent, Take Me In by Sabine Durrant and A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne. All beautifully written and, most importantly, utterly gripping.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I used to read lots of Doctor Who books when I was about 11 or 12. I collected them and read one or two a week. I was obsessed with Doctor Who! Then I moved on to Stephen King and James Herbert. The scarier, the better…Herbert’s The Fog had a profound and disturbing effect on me. Also, his books were pretty rude and we used to read the most outrageous scenes out in the playground. Ah, the good old days!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I could mention my seven No.1 bestsellers or receiving an award from my publisher for selling two million books but don’t like to show off. The best moments are usually spent at festivals with my writer friends, especially at Harrogate, which I attend every year. The crime writing community is filled with funny, clever, irreverent people and I love hanging out with them, drinking too much and, occasionally, doing karaoke!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My wife, Sara, is incredibly supportive and helpful. She has to put up with me rambling on about my writing, talks to me about my plots and helps me untangle the knots I’ve created. She listens to me and, most importantly, locks me in my office until I’ve written my daily 2000 words.
I’m joking about that last bit. Kind of.

ME
Mark Edwards
Website ~ where you can sign up to get a free box set of scary short stories
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Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Lost Daughter by @GillPaulAUTHOR 5* Genius #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #RussianHistory @headlinepg ‘It is a beautiful story of the hardships people can endure and their desire for a better life. A story of hope’ #TheLostDaughter

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The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
Giveaway winner copy
Synopsis:

A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret…

From the author of The Secret Wife, a gripping journey through decades and across continents, of love, devastating loss and courage against all odds.

1918
With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of Russia’s imperial family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria Romanova captivates two of the guards, it will lead to a fateful choice between right and wrong.

Fifty-five years later . . .
Val rushes to her father’s side when she hears of his troubling end-of-life confession: ‘I didn’t want to kill her.’ As she unravels the secrets behind her mother’s disappearance when she was twelve years old, she finds herself caught up in one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

I was super lucky to win a very early proof via Twitter which came with a box of treats which I have to share……
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My Review:

When I opened this novel, it was so much more than I was expecting. It is a story of endurance, sacrifice and humanity, that spans the decades. It is undeniably moving and emotive. I shed so many tears. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough!

The novel centres around the plight of the Romanov family and specifically middle daughter Maria. It is set from 1918 onwards, when the Russian government turned against the aristocracy. I personally found that the novel struck at the chords of your heart by focusing on one family’s struggle to survive. There are obviously historical/political references and the accuracy is outstanding. But by keeping the focus on one family in particular, you begin to question the humanity of their situation. You begin to feel as though you are with the family in their struggle against oppression.

Maria’s father was a Tsar and her mother a Tsarina. Their titles entitled them to a life of luxury and wealth, that few Russian citizens had ever known. Commissar Avdeyev removes them from Alexander palace (their previous home) and places them under house arrest. They are forbidden to leave the house and are told they will be exiled. They spend 14 months as prisoners and begin to wonder when and how it will all end.

‘It’s more like a mausoleum in which we have been interred’ Anastasia

The novel focuses on the siblings, sisters Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana and brother Alexei. Maria is the chatty and inquisitive child, who dreams of marriage to a Russian officer. She is young and naïve, which shows when she decides to befriend the officers on guard. A situation she will later come to regret.

Under house arrest are the seven members of the Romanov family and several members of their staff. Eventually the staff are slowly stripped away; and the family must learn to fend for themselves without servants for their every whim. Which is more difficult for Alexei, who suffers from haemophilia and requires extra supervision. Tatiana is fearless and outspoken, she makes regular demands of Avdeyev.
She is also determined to find the family a way out.

Maria continues to befriend the guards and on her 19th birthday Ivan Skorokhodov even brings her a birthday cake. A luxury they have not been afforded in captivity. However, this simple act of kindness will have much greater repercussions when the commander and guards are all replaced.

‘He never looked directly at any of them; it was as if to him they were not human’

The new commander Yakov Yurovsky, allows his guards to make lurid comments towards the daughters and treat the family with utter contempt. When Maria mistakenly attempts to befriend guard Anatoly Bolotov, it will have a devastating impact on her future and emotional state.
Tatiana has a daring plan, but before it can be executed. . . .
The family are. . .

‘Tsar Nicholas Romanov guilty of countless bloody crimes against the people, should be shot’ Yurovsky

Maria is saved, but what will become of the young woman who trusts so easily. . .

The novel then jumps to its other narrative, the life of Val in 1973 Australia. Val has known a difficult childhood, with her Chinese mother walking out on the family. Leaving her to be raised by a cold and heartless father. She has been married to husband Tony for 18yrs and they have a daughter Nicole (3yrs).
But it is a marriage tainted by domestic violence control and fear.

Val receives a call from Sandy bay nursing home, where her aging father resides. They have been estranged for many years and he is not suffering with dementia. The staff inform her, he has been making wild claims and ask if she can shed any light on the meaning. . .

‘I didn’t mean to kill her’
‘There was so much blood’

The novel fully explores Val’s childhood and marriage. It also draws from the 1970s attitudes towards domestic violence; as something that can be justified and explained away. The only positive in her life, is her love for her daughter Nicole. Which gives her life a form of meaning. But when Tony crosses the line and physically disciplines Nicole. Val knows she has a choice to make.

The novel jumps between the narratives of Val and Maria. Weaving its magic through the decades. I was absolutely captivated by the story and couldn’t put the book down. There are so many themes, it is impossible for me to cover them all in one review. I think this novel is perfect for book groups and historical groups.

It is a beautiful story of the hardships people can endure and their desire for a better life. A story of hope. 5* Genius

GP
Gill Paul
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***Currently just 99p On Kindle Ebook***