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Blog tour: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Blog tour: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Foul is Fair blog tour. It has been a whopping six months since I last took part in a blog tour – I know, where has the time gone?! – but when Meghan from Wednesday Books reached…

Rapid Reviews #4: The Rant edition

Rapid Reviews #4: The Rant edition

So, when I said at the start of my last post that I hoped I’d be posting more regularly, what I actually meant to say was that you wouldn’t get a new post from me for two months. Whoops. In all fairness, since the last…

Rapid Reviews #3

Rapid Reviews #3

Oh boy, it’s already been over a month since I last posted. I wish I could say that things were going to start getting more frequent on here, but I can’t guarantee it!

Throughout the last month I’ve continued binge reading NetGalley books from many moons back, as well as picking up a few more recent titles too, so I have another set of rapid reviews for you.

I’ve got a few more post ideas bubbling away in the back of my mind at the moment, so ideally I’ll be writing those and getting those up soon, but if you’ve been missing my normal posts I’d suggest checking out my Goodreads page because I’m finding it much easier to update that more regularly.

Anyway, let me stop babbling and get on with reviewing these titles…

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz – 1 star

I finished A History of Glitter and Blood yesterday and I’m still so exasperated that I wasted my time on it. I read an excerpt of this book about four years ago and I thought the writing style seemed so fun – it’s third person present tense, with regular interruptions as though the author is correcting themselves as they write – but after reading more than a couple of chapters it gets old very quickly. Gnomes eating chunks of fairy prostitutes, mysterious creatures called tightropers vomiting up ropes and trying to emancipate the fairies… Yeah, none of it makes sense, and it’s definitely not well written. The only good thing is that the pacing improves drastically in the second half of the book (I managed to read 50% in one day, after struggling through the first 50% over the course of a week or so).

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay – 3 stars

The Assassin Game was nothing like I’d expected, in particular because it’s set on an island in Wales and is written as though it’s taking part in a generic American boarding school. A gang of kids play a game called Killer, but one of them decides that they don’t want it to be a game anymore and suddenly the players lives are at risk. I enjoyed the concept, but the Killer was very predictable – a couple of the red herrings would have been far more interesting choices, but instead the most obvious suspect ends up being the culprit, which took the wind out of my sails a little bit.

Me, Myself and Them by Dan Mooney – 5 stars

It was my partner’s choice for us to read Me, Myself and Them, which is a book I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own as I read far more YA than adult fiction. This was a case of right place, right time: it was EXACTLY the kind of book I needed to read, and it ticked absolutely every box. Denis lives with four roommates – a cat woman, a zombie professor, a controlling clown and a silent hairball – and he causes himself no end of trouble when he offers his spare room to his ex-girlfriend. This story tackles mental health in an interesting and unique way, and I’ve certainly read nothing else like it.

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan – 4 stars

I’d heard so many amazing things about Needlework that I couldn’t resist picking up Perfectly Preventable Deaths when I spotted it on the new releases section of my library app. It’s not for the fainthearted – a scene at the end of the story is still haunting me despite the fact that I finished the book almost a month ago – and it certainly brings a gruesome element to witches and magic. The setting of Ballyfran is very atmospheric; you have to make sure you set aside a huge chunk of time when you pick this one up because it sucks you in and makes it impossible to put down.

This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow – 5 stars

I took my time reading This is What it Feels Like because I read Rebecca Barrow’s first novel, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, in one sitting. Dia, Hanna and Jules were band mates and best friends, until Hanna’s alcoholism spiralled out of control and Dia found herself becoming a single mother following the death of her boyfriend. Sprinkled with flashbacks to their previous time in a band, in the present day the three girls are learning how to forgive each other to enter a competition to possibly support their favourite band of all time. I didn’t love This is What it Feels Like as much as Barrow’s debut, but I still loved it more than basically everything else I’ve ever read so it had to be a five star read to me. Friendship, grief, parenthood, addiction, sexuality and music… It’s hard to think of a better set of elements to blend together.

That’s it for this set of Rapid Reviews! Have you read any of these books yet, or are they still sitting on your TBRs?

Hopefully see you again sooner rather than later,

Alyce

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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…