Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Lives Before Us by @JulietConlin #NewRelease #HistFic #HistoricalFiction #ww2Fiction @bwpublishing #TheLivesBeforeUs

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The Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin
Currently Reading – Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

“I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of it. Even my vivid imagination could hardly fathom a place as tight, or dense, or narrow as Shanghai.”

It’s April 1939 and, with their lives in Berlin and Vienna under threat, Esther and Kitty – two very different women – are forced to make the same brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.

Shanghai, they’ve heard, Shanghai is a haven – and so they secure passage to the other side of the world. What they find is a city of extremes – wealth, poverty, decadence and disease – and of deep political instability. Kitty has been lured there with promises of luxury, love, marriage – but when her Russian fiancé reveals his hand she’s left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai’s nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her little girl take shelter in a house of widows until the protection of Aaron, Esther’s hot-headed former lover, offers new hope of survival.

Then the Japanese military enters the fray and violence mounts. As Kitty’s dreams of escape are dashed, and Esther’s relationship becomes tainted, the two women are thrown together in the city’s most desperate times. Together they must fight for a future for the lives that will follow theirs.

Extract ~

Kitty can’t sleep, despite the five Manhattans she ended up drinking to try to stop her whirring thoughts. Or at least slow them down long enough to fall asleep. Earlier, the young Chinese boy eagerly fixed her one drink after the next, but at one point – when the room began spinning – she shooed him away. She didn’t want a child witnessing her humiliation.
She turns to her side, the sheet sticking to her damp skin. It seems even hotter now than during the day. Finally, when the silver-plated clock on the dresser strikes out three thin chimes, she gets out of bed and goes to the window. The street below is dark and quiet, just a few lone vendors sitting here and there in front of charcoal braziers, calling out to the occasional passer-by. The apartment is located in the French Concession, the section of Shanghai under French authority, Vitali explained at length on the drive from the port. Of course, he knew all along what he intended to tell her once they’d arrived and just wanted to cover his own uneasiness with a pretend air of nonchalance.
As soon as he left, Kitty began to panic. Her first thought was to get out of there, to head back to the port before the ship started out on its return journey and get as far away from Shanghai as possible. But even before she carried her suitcase to the door, she realised it was futile. Pride has so far prevented her from counting the money Vitali left behind, but she knows there is no going back. She placed all her bets on one card – Vitali, the coward – and now, it seems, she has lost.
She presses her cheek against the cool window glass. If she cranes her head, she can make out the intersection, see the red, blue, yellow glow from the electric neon signs that line the façades of the buildings, can hear the noise of cars and trams and the shouts from rickshaw runners.
She yawns, then shivers, in spite of the cloying heat.
A shriek of laughter travels up from the street, and somewhere in the distance a car backfires. Four Chinese women in skintight embroidered dresses walk, arms interlinked, along the pavement towards the intersection fifty metres away, chatting in sweet sing-song voices. Kitty can well imagine what they are talking about. For all their exoticism, the women’s conversation is unlikely to be much different in content from those Kitty had with Resi, walking home along Stuwerstraße at dawn.
She and Resi parted on poor terms. Another dancer at the Nachtfalter accused Kitty of accepting tips that weren’t rightly hers; there was an ugly row, allegiances were formed, and Resi ended up taking sides against Kitty. Because she’d found out she was Jewish, Kitty is sure. And then, the following evening, Vitali came to the bar – the proverbial dark handsome stranger – and all seemed suddenly well. And now . . . Her breath is crushed in her chest as she fights down another surge of panic. Eyes closed, forehead resting on the windowpane, she takes several deep breaths. She has survived before. She has endured fear and suffering and humiliation at an age at which most girls would be sitting pigtailed behind school desks. She is fearless – isn’t that what Esther said?
And if Vitali really does love her, all will be good. She won’t force his hand but will wait until that wife of his has recovered from (or succumbed to, she thinks spitefully) whatever illness she is suffering from, and she will be ready and waiting and irresistible. It is far from what she envis¬aged, but if this is her only choice, well, then she will make it her own. She wipes her tears away with her hand. There is no use in crying. Life is hard, and it is a vanity to believe any different.

JC
Juliet Conlin
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Where No Shadows Fall by @PRitchieAuthor 5* #NewRelease #Scotland #CrimeFiction #GraceMacallan @bwpublishing #WhereNoShadowsFall

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Where No Shadows Fall by Peter Ritchie
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Expose the truth or let the dead lie still?
Grace Macallan’s life is on an even keel – at last. But a 9-to-5 career away from the frontline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So when she’s sent to investigate a suicide at Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie prison, Grace gladly escapes her desk. The dead inmate is Tommy McMartin, heir to a ferocious criminal family. His murder conviction saw Tommy’s fall from power; cast out not for violence but because the victim was his gay lover.

The investigation drags Grace into contact with her McMartin adversaries of old. But the gangland dynasty is under threat and, as it topples, secrets once dead and buried are unearthed.

As she unravels Tommy McMartin’s fate, Grace senses someone watching her from the shadows, someone who aches for revenge. An awful dilemma faces her: to expose the truth or let the dead lie still.

My Review:

I absolutely LOVE the Grace Macallan series. It is modern, gritty and always a rollercoaster of a read. The crimes are always incredibly dark and the characterisation intense. The author often provides a backstory to various characters major and minor. They offer an insight into what drives or motivates each character, whether it be cop or criminal.

‘The evidence might be gone but some crimes can never be completely washed away’

The prologue provides the perfect introduction to the authors dark and edgy style of writing. We immediately jump straight into the lives of those who pursue crime and mayhem as their trade.
Firstly we are introduced to Tommy McMartin and his position in the notorious criminal family in Edinburgh.

Unfortunately, for Tommy the life of crime is brought to an abrupt halt, when he is arrested on a murder charge. With all the evidence pointing to Tommy having committed the murder and Tommy having no memory.
He quickly finds himself locked up, as a lifer!

‘He’d walked into the trap like as amateur and forgotten every lesson he’d ever learned’

For Danny Goldstein (Tommy’s barrister) it will be the case that will haunt him long into retirement.
If Tommy is innocent, why can’t he prove it?
With the guilty verdict, Tommy’s sexuality is quickly exposed. His family maybe a crime family, but they are devout Catholics when it comes to sexuality.
They also abandon Tommy, throwing him to the prison wolves…

When Tommy can finally take the prison abuse anymore and feeling little hope for his future, given his current state of health. He resides himself to his fate, of taking his life literally in his own hands.

‘Tommy McMartin went still; no one could hurt him anymore’

Peter Ritchie set the pace, characters and scene incredibly well, by page 60 “I am hooked into the storyline”.

Grace takes Tommy’s case, due to various factors, this is not the run of the mill suicide. Whilst reporter Jacqui Bell is brought back into the series, as the reporter following up on stories of suicides in jail. Previous character Bobo McCartney also brings some very welcome comical relief to the gritty storyline.

If Tommy McMartin was innocent, then who murdered his lover? And set him up?
5*

PR
Peter Ritchie
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Anne Bonny Q&A with @karinamelvin #ArtfulEating The psychology of lasting weight loss #EatingDisorders #Recovery @bwpublishing

artful-eating
Artful Eating by Karina Melvin
Book description:

This book can change your life forever!
Rediscover the magic of eating for pleasure and enjoy a life of balance with the freedom to eat the foods you want without dieting.

Artful Eating will take you on a journey filled with stories, life lessons, practical tools and strategies all rooted in the most up to date scientific and psychological research. Learn how to reprogram your mind to lose weight and achieve the body you desire, by changing your thoughts, behaviours and approach to pleasure.

Successful weight loss is not about what you eat, it’s about why and how you eat. We are missing the most vital ingredient in the weight loss battle: the mind. It is our mind that fuels every decision we make about food and by focusing solely on the symptom, the excess weight, we have lost sight of the cause.

There is no strenuous exercise regime, no food elimination, no strict meal plan, just powerful psychological tools and strategies which will create lasting change. You will be amazed at how easy it is to achieve the body you desire and truly deserve.

Q&A:

Q) Who is your perfect reader?

A) I wrote my book for anyone who is tired of ‘trying’ to lose weight. What I mean by this is anyone who has spent years feeling dissatisfied with their body and uncomfortable around food. My hope is to emancipate people from restrictive eating and the oscillation between being ‘good’ and ‘bad’ when it comes to dieting. What my readers consistently tell me is that they feel such freedom after reading this book, so I guess the perfect reader is someone who feels trapped in their relationship with food and their body. There is another way- and its all about enjoyment!

Q) What books are on your bedside table?

A) Jacques Lacan’s Seminar VIII On Transference, which is full of post-it notes and coloured tabs as I’m lecturing on it in UCD. Lacan is a psychoanalyst and his writings are notoriously challenging to read, but so worthwhile. I’m also dipping in and out of Audrey at Home: Memoirs of my Mothers Kitchen, which is written by Audrey Hepburn’s son, Luca Dotti. Its a gorgeous book, filled with anecdotes, beautiful home pictures and delicious recipes. Finally I just finish the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels and I am so saddened, I cant bring myself to take them off my nightstand! I cannot recommend them highly enough, her writing is sublime and I was completely immersed.

Q) Do you have a writing routine?

A) I used to, before my daughter was born and when she was newborn and breastfeeding, writing was a doddle! Now my routine consists of grabbing time whenever its quiet, I do need it to be quiet to write. I’ve taken recently to waking up at 5am as its very bright and peaceful and I can get so much written before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

Q) Where do you write best?

A) In my old place it used to be at this big old bankers desk I bought in a warehouse sale for 80 euro, the thing is a beast! So solid, huge and welcoming. But since we’ve moved I now enjoy sitting at the table in our front room facing the window. We’re currently in an apartment in a very grand, old Georgian house so the rooms are huge, with very high ceilings and large sash windows, so its light, bright and airy. The Irish writer Patrick Kavanagh used to live here, so I feel in very good company when I’m writing.

Q) Where did your inspiration for Artful Eating come from?

A) There were a lot of little “bread crumbs” which amassed over time to come together in the form of Artful Eating. I think the penny really dropped for me though in Barcelona. We were there for a long weekend and I was really struck by the mini versions of everything. Their cortados, which are sort of micro lattes or the una caña which is a very small beer – and of course their tapas. We ate like kings over the weekend, not denying ourselves anything, but also never over indulging. I’d been to Spain before; in fact I spent a wonderful summer in Madrid when I was 16, so I was familiar with their approach to food, but the inspiration to create Artful Eating happened while I was away that weekend. It was actually my 33rd birthday, now that I think of it! Around that time I had been noticing how so many of my clients, regardless of their size, were struggling with their relationship with food and their body and the idea hit me like a lightning bolt in Barcelona that I had to do something about it. After a lot of research and trials I created an online program and it was through the course that I got approached to write a book!

Q) What would your top ten store-cupboard ingredients be?

A) Oooh… This is a good question! And one which probably changes depending on my mood…
Butter- everything tastes better with butter!
All- purpose Flour
Chickpeas- great for anything- curries, hummus, salads…
Seeds and nuts
maple syrup
dried mushrooms
bullion
cuscus
Mustard
tinned tomatoes

This is too hard! I always think it’s incredibly helpful to have a well stocked pantry and I love collecting different jars of preserves and chutney’s, herbs and spices, sauces and alcohol when I’m travelling- way better than a fridge magnet or a postcard!

Q) What are you working on next?

A) I’m working on another book, which is a slight departure from Artful Eating. It’s all about enjoying life and I cannot wait to share it with you.

The-Gloss-Magazine-Writers-Block-Karina-Melvin-c-Sean-Cahill
Karina Melvin
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Shores Of Death by @PeterRi13759572 Peter Ritchie #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #GraceMacallan #Series @bwpublishing ‘An absolutely EPIC read!’

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Shores Of Death by Peter Ritchie – Grace Macallan #3
Review copy
Synopsis:

Detective Grace Macallan is at crisis point. She’s unsure of her future, of whether she has the strength to continue with her role in serious crime. Events are threatening to run out of control, and this new investigation will test her to the limit.

An undercover officer is missing and a woman is washed up, traumatised and barely alive, on the shores of Berwickshire. She has witnessed horror on the dark waters of the North Sea, and her subsequent ordeal to survive turns her life into a nightmare.

As she untangles the woman’s story of trafficking and abuse, Grace is drawn into the world of organised crime in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. At their head is Handyside, a brutal gangland boss who’s fought hard and dirty to control his territory. But there’s a traitor in his midst, and soon the most cold-blooded criminals in the North East of England and Central Scotland turn on one another in a desperate race to destroy the evidence that will lead Grace to them.

Grace must pit her wits against Handyside, knowing he’ll stop at nothing to protect his criminal empire. She knows, too, that one wrong move could end in tragedy.

My Review:

The Grace Macallan series had really grown on me, the characterisation in this novel and Evidence Of Death is brilliant. The ‘baddie’ characters are described brilliantly, very reminiscent of Stuart MacBride who also does this to an outstanding degree.
This particular case deals with themes of trafficking and modern-day slavery. Whilst also giving us, the reader, a real insight into the organised crime gangs that run such criminal enterprises. But the one thing these gangs have underestimated is the sheer driving force that is, Grace Macallan.

The novel opens with a heavily pregnant Grace taking down prolific career criminal Tony Capaldi; real name Hugh Elvis Mcnally. He is a known con man with the gift of the gab and is quickly ceased by Grace and her team.
Before Grace decides it is time for maternity leave.

Meanwhile, a trafficking network is in operation between the various gangs of Scotland and Newcastle. The novel details how the criminals manipulate not only their victims, but others into joining their network. Three petty criminals are tasked with disposing of four female sex slaves. When something goes wrong and one of the women Ingrid escapes into the freezing sea. The harsh reality of the life of modern day sex slaves is laid bare. They are simply to be exposed of when their owners tire of them. The three petty criminals aboard the ship, know this error within their task will land them in big bother with their boss Pete Handyside. They all fear being on the wrong side of their boss!

Pete Handyside and his right-hand man Maxi Turner call a meeting with various leaders of the criminal gangs. We are reunited with Eddie & Pat Fleming of the Edinburgh gang. We also meet Bobby ‘crazy horse’ McMaron and his sister Brenda ‘the bitch’ of the Glasgow gang. They are aware of DCI Jimmy McGovern’s police operation; that searched the boat once docked in hopes to locate drugs. Pete is convinced they have a snitch in their midst!
Which won’t bode well for someone.

When Rob ‘Dixie’ Deans undercover cop, does missing. Police Scotland become aware that his fate may mean death. With various clues leading here, there and everywhere. The police need solid evidence and links they can work with. They need Grace.

After the birth of her son Adam and enjoying family life with her partner Jack Fraser. Police work is the furthest thing from Grace’s mind. It is at this point that Grace begins to have serious doubts about if she will even return to be a police officer.

At Chief Superintendent John O’Connor’s request, Grace does return to work. But she makes it fundamentally clear, this maybe her last case. As O’Connor hands Grace the case files, I must admit I had a huge buzz of excitement. With the theme from 1990s TV show cops going through my mind.
Bad boys, bad boys, what ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when they come for you?

Ingrid Richter’s body is discovered on a beach. She has a story to tell and it is one that will shock everyone whom hears it.
‘You keep thinking you’ve heard it all and the next case proves you wrong’ – McGovern

Ingrid relays her story to specialist cop Fitzgerald.
‘Fitzgerald did the job, but she would remember her time with Ingrid Richter for the rest of her life!’

Betrayal, back-stabbing and merciless killers of the organised crime world, this novel has it all. The gritty organised crime of Martina Cole mixed with the characterisation of Stuart MacBride. An absolutely EPIC read! 5*

PR
Peter Ritchie
Twitter
My review of, Cause Of Death – Grace Macallan #1
My review of, Evidence Of Death – Grace Macallan #2

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Gravity Of Love by @NoelleHarrison #NewRelease #Saga #Romance @bwpublishing #Arizona #Soho #Ballycastle

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The Gravity Of Love by Noelle Harrison
Synopsis:

In love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence …

Scottsville, Arizona, 1989

In small-town America, Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but longs too for the sea’s elemental wildness. It’s a dream never realised – and now, facing the brutal truth that her husband is a cheat, Joy learns of unimaginable secrets in her early life. Riven by betrayal and loss, a chance encounter with the enigmatic Lewis, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her true identity – and to discover why the sea pulls so strongly at her heart.

Soho, London, 1967

Lewis Bell, abandoned by his mother and responsible for his wayward sister, is now living the dream. An ambitious young graphic designer, he’s aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. His talented girlfriend Marnie adds pressures of her own and, as Lewis’s troubles intensify, sixties London fast shows its darker side.

Ballycastle, Ireland, Easter, 1989

Unexpectedly drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, with themselves and others. But the truths they encounter and connections they create will transform everyone’s lives forever.

Bold, intimate and joyful, this glorious novel deftly interweaves decades, continents and lives to tell a story of the irresistible gravity of love.

Extract:

The words on the back of the postcard were written in block letters, a neat black print.

EVENTUALLY THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT

Lewis read the words again, and again, until they brought him back to the morning upon which they had been said. He could almost hear her voice. He imagined her soft Irish lilt, and it took him back in time, transported him to another world altogether, when he was a different man.
He placed the card gently on the counter in front of him then looked out of the window at the star-strewn night hanging above the dark silhouette of the McDowell Mountains. He was right on the edge of the desert and its vast sky, like those words, gave him hope.
He leaned on the sink, gazing out into the Wild West. He still felt a sense of awe at being an Englishman, an outsider, in cowboy country.
He was about to pull the blinds down when he saw a shimmering red light in the desert sky. It intrigued him for the sun had long set. The red light turned into swathes of fuchsia, and bright green, moving in waves above the mountains. He’d never seen anything like it.

 

*

It was the darkest hour before dawn. Joy was sitting on her old Navajo blanket spread upon a rocky mound on the Papago Butte. Eddie had refused to drive out to the desert. He’d told her he was too tired and warned her not to go on her own.
‘Anyone could be lurking out there,’ he’d said.
She hadn’t told him that she went out to the desert on her own all the time, although maybe not at night.
When they’d gone to bed, she’d tried to give up on the idea. But she’d been unable to sleep. Her daddy had told her about the wonder of the Northern Lights – that she must see them. And here they were on her doorstep. She never went anywhere. It was now or never.
She’d waited until Eddie’s breathing shifted to a deep sleep and slipped out of bed. Made herself a thermos of hot coffee and crept out the house before she had a chance to change her mind.
Now, in the desert, she was not alone. There were several couples nearby, arms around each other, as they waited. A few whispers, but nothing more. There was a hush of anticipation as she looked up at the sky again. Was she imagining it, or was the dome of the night sky crackling with a kind of electricity? Shivering, she pulled the blanket tight around her shoulders and cradled her hands around her cup of coffee. She was going to sit here all night if she had to, for Joy had faith in her daddy’s words.

*

It was only when Lewis had pulled in at the side of the road and begun to climb up Papago Butte that he realised he should have woken Samantha and brought her with him. He had taken off on the spur of the moment, but surely this vision was something he should share with his wife. Would it not have been the perfect symbol for their twenty-first wedding anniversary?
But the truth was he was glad to be on his own. Samantha would know exactly what was causing this light display in the desert sky. She would take all the magic out of it with her scientific explanations, and for the moment he didn’t want to know.
He drank in all the colours in the sky. Deep shudders of purple, ecstatic pink and luminous green shot through him. It felt like a message. Things could change. The unexpected could happen. The postcard could be just the beginning.
If only he was brave enough.
Lewis kept climbing up Papago Butte, his way illuminated by the fantastical lights, his heart pounding. He felt exposed, thrilled to be doing something out of the ordinary.

*

 

Joy looked up and what she saw took her breath away. It was beyond anything she could have imagined. Clouds of vivid reds and purples, shot through with a mystic green, shifting high in the sky, shimmering over the distant desert.
She was aware of those around her standing up. The clicking of cameras as they tried to capture this rare Arizona moment.
Joy took a step away from the flash of cameras, bumping into someone as she did so.
‘Excuse me,’ she said, losing her balance slightly as she stumbled.
A hand reached out, caught her by the elbow and steadied her. ‘Careful – you don’t want to fall.’
It was a man’s voice. An English accent.
Something about it reassured her. He was tall, but she couldn’t make out his face in the dark.
‘This is amazing,’ he said.
‘I know,’ she whispered.
They watched in silence. She realised they were the only two not taking photographs. She wanted to tell the other people to put their cameras down. By creating that barrier between themselves and the experience of the lights, she felt they were missing it.
She glanced at the man standing beside her. He was still, as if held in a spell.

Noelle Harrison 1 (c) Chloe Martina Salvi - cropped low res
Noelle Harrison
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