Brief blogs for busy bees

Author: Alyce

Rapid Reviews #2: The NetGalley edition

Rapid Reviews #2: The NetGalley edition

Boy howdy, it has been a while. I’ve been vaguely reviewing over on Goodreads, but it wasn’t until I was looking through NetGalley this morning that I realised that there are so many books on there that I’ve read and just haven’t had a chance […]

Blog tour: I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Blog tour: I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Hello everyone! This is the most exciting blog tour I’ve been involved in all year, and I’ve been dying to share my thoughts on I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory’s third novel – with you all. I absolutely loved Countless and Skylarks left me […]

Blog tour: The Partisan Heart by Gordon Kerr

Blog tour: The Partisan Heart by Gordon Kerr

Hi there, and welcome to my stop on The Partisan Heart‘s blog tour.

It’s a huge honour to have been invited to take part in this tour, and I’m so excited to be sharing a brilliant extract from Gordon Kerr’s newest release with you.

As usual, I’ll share some more information about The Partisan Heart before we dive into the extract:

The death of his wife has left Michael Keats bereft and the subsequent discovery of her adultery devastates him. Michael resolves to discover the identity of her lover. That journey leads him from London, to rural Scotland and back to the Italian Alps where stories from the present intertwine with another illicit love affair between a partisan and a villager during the darkest days of World War II. It marks the unravelling of a complex story of treachery and revenge as he uncovers five decades of duplicity and deception.

The Partisan Heart is Gordon Kerr’s first non-fiction book, set partly in 1944 and partly in 1999 and providing a fascinating insight into the Italian Civil War, which was fought from September 1943 until the German surrender in 1945.

Ready to read that extract? Well, here we go…

He had left the motorway some miles back and, after following the A75 for a distance that made him think he had gone too far, he came to the small town of Annan. Traffic was bad – it was early evening and the road was filled with people returning home from their day’s work. He should have been doing the same himself, of course, but had phoned Harry, his boss at the Evening Post, this morning to say that he could not get back for another couple of days. Harry had reassured him that it was fine, but Michael had picked up just a tinge of irritation in Harry’s voice. Probably just having a tough day, he thought, but just the same he reckoned it would be unwise to push his luck. At Annan he stopped to get petrol and peered in the dark glow of his interior light at a hotel guide that gave directions to the Lighthouse Inn. He pulled out of the petrol station, rain still spattering on the car windows and follow the sign for the coast road.

About seven miles later, the village he wanted was signposted to the left. It was dark by now and the road was narrow, barely wide enough to take two cars abreast. At least the rain had eased off, however, and the sky was beginning to clear, revealing a bright quarter moon scudding between the clouds.

He came to a village, which consisted of little more than a few houses and a shop, as far as he could see, and then followed the road along what appeared, in the dark, to be a rocky coastline. Then he saw a sign bearing a line drawing of a lighthouse with a beam spitting out of it on all sides. It announced that the Lighthouse Inn was one hundred yards further down the road on the right.

The Lighthouse Inn was an old sandstone building with an empty car park outside. It stood alone, staring grimly out to sea, its slightly lighter outline showing through the darkness. He took his overnight bag from the back of the car, the wind pulling at the car door as he struggled to shut it. He bent into it and ran the few paces to the hotel entrance.

The roar of the wind disappeared suddenly as he closed the door. He placed his overnight bag on the floor and stood there gathering himself, running his hand through his windtousled hair.

The Lighthouse Inn took its name seriously, indeed. Its walls were covered in framed photographs and paintings of lighthouses of every description. The window ledges held models of lighthouses, large and small. In the far corner was what he took to be the working of an old light – huge cogs interlinked and levers stuck out at irregular points. Ropes hung the length of the walls and had been stuck onto the bannisters of the stairs. The overall effect was that of a concept carried too far.

He approached the desk which, like every other surface, was edged with rough rope. The only sound was the cracking and spitting of a large fire, which roared into a huge chimney to his right.

“Hello?” He said hesitantly, before repeating it, almost shouting. “HELLO!”

He then turned and surveyed once again the bits of lighthouse that surrounded him.

A distant door opened and the sound of a familiar piece of music emerged – the theme tune to some TV soap or quiz show, he couldn’t quite remember. TV wasn’t really his thing.

“Good evening, sir, welcome to the Lighthouse Inn.”

She was about twenty-five or so, attractive with blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and wearing a blue skirt and a similarly-coloured jumper. Her skin had a slight glow about it, the glow that comes from sitting too close to a good fire.

“Good evening. I’d like a room, please.” He put his bag on the floor and rubbed his hands together to get some feeling back into them after the iciness of the wind outside.

“Would that just be for the one night, sir?” she said, handing him a form on which were spaces for his name, address and credit card details.

“Yes, I think so,” he replied.

“Well, if you change your mind and want to stay longer, it won’t be a problem. We’re a wee bit quiet at the moment.” Her Scottish accent was soft and precise and she had a slow, lambent smile that, when it flickered across her face, struck him as being well worth the wait.

“Is Mrs Stewart in tonight?” he asked, handing her the completed form and reaching into his pocket for his wallet so that she could swipe his credit card.

“Oh no, Jacquie went home ages ago, but she’ll be in early tomorrow morning.” She handed him his key, directing him to the first floor and added. “Enjoy your stay… Oh, and if you’re hungry or want a drink, the bar’s open.” She indicated a doorway to his left, under the stairs. “The restaurant’s closed tonight, but I can do you a toasted sandwich and some salad, if you want.”

“Thanks, I think I might just take you up on that,” he replied, smiling. “Give me fifteen minutes to freshen up.”

“See you in fifteen minutes then,” she said, filing away his form and letting another of those smiles drift across her face.

The hotel had an out-of-season atmosphere. It felt as if it were in hibernation. Needless to say, his room persisted with the lighthouse theme. The walls once again provided a photographic record, it seemed, of every lighthouse in the world and the window was round like an enlarged porthole. Nonetheless, it was clear, comfortable and quite spacious. He emptied his bag, laying the jacket he had been sent carefully on the bed. He showered quickly and changed into a fresh shirt and pair of black jeans before heading downstairs once again in the direction of the bar.

The girl was behind the bar, pulling at one of the pumps and emptying the results into a slops pail that stood in the sink. The walls around her were decorated with still more pictures of lighthouses and mysterious brass items – pieces of the workings of lighthouses sat on shelves.

“Hello!” she said cheerily as he entered, “I hope everything’s alright with the room?”

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of The Partisan Heart, it’s available in all good bookshops and on Amazon now.

About the author:

Gordon Kerr worked in bookselling and publishing before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of several non-fiction history titles but this is his debut crime fiction. He was born in East Kilbride and went to Glasgow University. Having worked in London for many years he now divides his time between Dorset and Southwest France. His band, Elsie at the Piano, will be releasing a single, The Partisan Heart, with lyrics written by Gordon Kerr, to tie in with publication. Move over Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, there’s another singing crime writer in town…

A huge thank you to Muswell Press for inviting me to get involved with this blog tour. Make sure to check out the earlier posts on the tour – it’s been running for a couple of weeks, and there have been some brilliant bloggers involved.

Alyce

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Blog tour: Breaking the Lore by Andy Redsmith

Blog tour: Breaking the Lore by Andy Redsmith

Hi there! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had time to post (working in a chocolate shop at Easter is even busier than working retail at Christmas, so I’ve been struggling to recover) but I’m glad to be back and taking part in the […]

Top Ten Tuesday: First ten books I reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday: First ten books I reviewed

Wow, this is such a fun topic. For this post I’m delving back in time to the beginning of my previous blog, Everything Alyce. Travel back in time with me to the summer of 2014, and check out my first ever book reviews. 10) Picture […]

Blog tour: Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Blog tour: Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Fallen Angel blog tour. This is the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve ever read, but as soon as Caolinn invited me to take part I knew I had to say yes – she described Fallen Angel in a way that made me desperate to read it.

As always, I’m going to share a little bit about Fallen Angel with you before I share my thoughts. It’s extremely difficult to say anything about this book without giving it all away, so I’m not going to be going into details, but I think the synopsis sells itself…

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

Fallen Angel is told in an extremely intriguing way. Beginning with a murder – a man slumped over his desk, a nearly invisible needle mark nodding towards the cause of his death – it’s pretty obvious that the body belongs to recently deceased world famous professor Max Temple.

The Temple family gather together at their villa for the first time in almost two decades, summoned at the behest of their mother Celia. The matriarch of the family, Celia is determined that her family are going to honour their dead father properly, scattering his ashes near the bench that he loved and putting all of the drama from their last couple of visits far, far behind them.

At their neighbour’s villa, Canadian nanny Amanda is watching the events unfold. A huge fan of Max Temple and his ability to demolish the arguments of conspiracy theorists, Amanda can’t believe it when she stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the Temples themselves. Because Max’s granddaughter, Niamh, died the last time the family were all together, but the internet is convinced that of the Temples is responsible for her death – and that the rest of the family have all been covering it up.

When the police arrive at the villa and another death is announced, Amanda knows there is something fishy going on with the Temples, and she’s determined to use her talents as an investigative journalist to uncover the buried truth.

Chris Brookmyre has chosen an interesting way to tell the story of the Temple family, as it jumps between multiple perspectives but Amanda’s is the only one told in first person. This choice was hard to adjust to at first, but it ended up making me feel far more invested in the story: a little splash of kinship with Amanda made me care a lot more about the mystery.

The Temples are very difficult to empathise with. All of them are rather selfish – although most of them have extremely good reasons for their behaviour – but if it hadn’t been for the down-to-earth attitude of Amanda I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much.

There are two stories running alongside each other throughout Fallen Angel, with the story periodically jumping back to that fateful visit to the villa sixteen years before. I did find the conclusion of the present day story predictable, however I was impressed by the resolution of the mystery of Niamh’s death – I was guessing up until the big reveal and I was so close yet so painfully far.

If, like me, you haven’t read any of Chris Brookmyre’s novels yet, I think Fallen Angel is a great place to start. With similarities to the case of Madeleine McCann, Fallen Angel is the perfect book to pick up if you’re always interested in unsolved mysteries and can’t wait to get to the bottom of the unknown.

Before I go I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little, Brown for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for Fallen Angel.

I’m definitely interested in reading more of Brookmyre’s work now. If you’ve read any of his other novels, is there anywhere you would recommend I start?

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

I feel as though it’s tempting fate to say this, but the weather in England has been uncharacteristically bright for the past few weeks. It’s still cold, yes, but there’s been a surprising lack of rain: although April is supposed to bring showers, it’s instead […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous bookish things I’ve done

Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous bookish things I’ve done

I found it really hard to think of ten things to put on this week’s list, because I haven’t done anything that outrageous in the name of books. I just about managed to scrabble a list together… Then I completely forgot to write it up […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that make me pick up a book

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that make me pick up a book

It’s been hard to narrow this list down to just ten, because there are so many different reasons I choose to read a book. I’ve had a lot of fun trying to pick which are my top ten reasons, though – I hope you enjoy this list as much as I liked making it!

10) View potential

Okay, so this is a totally self-absorbed reason, but sometimes I do choose to read a book based off of how successful I think a review post about it could be. I’d be surprised if other bloggers didn’t feel the same – isn’t that one of the reasons that we sign up for blog tours and read and review books by majorly hyped authors?

9) Proof design

This reason is quite shallow – almost as shallow as judging a book by its cover (which is coming later on in this list, don’t you worry!) – but if a book has an intriguing proof design I’m far more likely to remember people talking about it when it’s eventually released. Some of my favourite proof designs that I’ve received include The Last by Hanna Jameson (which features a mobile phone covered in emergency alerts, introducing the story) and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (blue sprayed edges <3). When I’m thinking of books which I’ve reviewed to recommend, they stick at the forefront of my mind because of their memorable designs.

8) Intriguing titles

I’m a huge fan of book titles that make books sound like they’re going to be about something completely different. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell… All of these are books that I might not have picked up if they hadn’t had such interesting titles, but surprisingly enough they aren’t informative books about fruit, trees or the various aromas of living rooms across the world.

7) Price

I love a bargain. If there’s a book I’m not too sure about reading and it’s on sale on Kindle or I find it in a charity shop, I suddenly can’t resist throwing it in my basket (even if I haven’t gotten around to reading most of the books I own for this exact reason!).

6) Enthusiastic bloggers

If a blogger I like recommends an author or book, I’m more likely to trust their opinion than I am that of a professional reviewer. I recently bought my first ever Abi Elphinstone book just because of how highly she’s recommended by Aimee over on Twitter, and it’s impossible to resist reading Melinda Salisbury or Maz Evans if you go anywhere near Steph’s blog. I’m also willing to try anything that’s loved by Amy at Golden Books Girl – we have almost identical reading tastes, so if she rates a book highly I’m sure it’s going to knock my socks off!

5) Length

I’ve had to put length in the middle of this post, because it’s not the most important thing I consider when picking up a book but it really does bias me against certain releases. I’m terrified of huge books – A Game of Thrones, The Priory of the Orange Tree and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy are some off of the top of my head – and if a book is too long then I’m sure to avoid reading it. However, I don’t automatically turn towards shorter releases (unless I’m trying to catch up on my Goodreads challenge #sneaky).

4) Author

As soon as I love a book by an author, they become an autobuy author. This is one of the reasons that I love reading debut authors so much: Sara Barnard, Lisa Williamson, Melinda Salisbury, Kathleen Glasgow, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Steven… The list is practically endless, but they’re all authors who blew me away with their debuts and whose releases I eagerly anticipate.

3) Hype

Hype is a contradictory one. As soon as a book is hyped I buy it instantly – Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – but it takes me YEARS to actually get around to reading them because I’m so certain that they aren’t going to live up to my expectations. It’s definitely one of the primary reasons that I buy books, but it’s the furthest down the list when it comes to actually making me read the book.

2) Cover

The only thing that’s surprising about me putting covers as a reason I pick up books is that it’s not the highest thing on my list. I am so biased towards beautiful books. If I pick up a book with a boring cover and I love it I find myself getting so surprised, and if a gorgeous book disappoints me it feels like the end of the world!

1) New releases on Borrowbox

I only started using Borrowbox last year, but it is ADDICTIVE. Every week I check the new releases in the young adult and children’s genres and I find myself inundated with brand new titles, some of which I haven’t even heard of! It’s awful, because it means I’ve stopped prioritising all of the NetGalley books which I have to review, but I’ve also found some absolute gems so I’m going to continue doing it (until I run out of new releases, which will literally never happen).

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday post! What’s the one thing that makes you instantly grab a book off of the shelf?

Alyce

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Rapid Reviews #1

Rapid Reviews #1

It’s been practically impossible for me to blog recently, as my glasses are broken and my laptop screen just isn’t clear when I’m wearing my contact lenses. However, it hasn’t slowed down my reading, which is why it’s time for my first ever Rapid Reviews […]