Friday, 30 November 2018

A Hollow Sky by M. Sean Coleman - Blog Tour, Extract & #Giveaway

Today, I am delighted to be part of M Sean Coleman's blog tour for his new book A Hollow Skythanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources ...... I have an Extract and a fantastic giveaway prize!

Genre:  Mystery Thriller
Publication Date:  21 November 2018
Standalone book two of the Alex Ripley Mystery Series

Jane Hewitt had been miraculously healed—cured of a terminal cancer that had been eating away at her body for months. After one meeting with an incredible young woman, Jane rose from her wheelchair and walked out, believing that her lifetime of devoted faith had been rewarded.
The next day, Jane died in her husband's arms, devastated that her God had deserted her. Her husband, Ian, blames her hastened death on the faith healer she visited. But that faith healer is a teenage girl called Megan, who has been in a coma for five years, and has no say over how her gift is used.
When Ian is arrested after being accused of breaking in to Megan's house and trying to tamper with her life support, he turns to the only person he knows can help clear his name, and stop this family deceiving any other victims—Dr Alex Ripley, the so called Miracle Detective.
Fascinated by Megan's case, and needing a distraction, Ripley finds herself on Holy Island, off the coast of North Wales, caught up in an investigation that will prove more sinister and dangerous than she could have imagined. Ian is not the first person to complain about Megan and her supporters, but he seems to be the only one left alive. For now.
A Hollow Sky is the second Alex Ripley Mystery

Purchase Links
Direct from Red Dog Press -


RIPLEY WAS GRATEFUL for the stupid woolly hat she’d shoved in her bag at the last moment. Colourful candy stripes with a pompom on top, it was an unwanted and unexpected gift last Christmas from a friend who obviously didn’t know her as well as she’d thought. She felt it made her look unnecessarily cheerful and quirky. But at least it was warm, and no one knew her here, so let them judge.
It was a bitterly cold, crisp day. Ice in the air made her nose run and her eyes water. She shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her long coat and tucked her chin into her collar. The arctic wind coming off the sea brought a familiar smell of salt, seaweed, and sand. A big gust caught her full in the face as she rounded a long bend in the narrow road.
A narrow pavement grew up out of the verge as the road straightened out. A neat row of cottages, small-windowed and compact, ranked along it. Their white-washed walls all stained grey with the years of being battered by the elements. Weather-beaten.
Short, mossy paths led from the pavement to a series of narrow front doors, all painted that ubiquitous seaside blue. An old man in a heavy coat and flat cap, raking leaves from the small patch of grass in front of his cottage greeted her with a cheery ‘hullo’. So far so pleasant.
The church loomed into sight, steeple first. A small building in a small town, though its dark, flinty walls made it seem imposing against the grey sky. The whole church, including the small surrounding graveyard, was above road level on a grassy slope, forcing the observer to look up at it from any angle, lifting their eyes to the heavens in the process. Clever.
A stone wall which protected the graveyard from the road was mostly obscured by a long canvas banner with the words God’s Gift – The Power to Heal printed across it. The same logo she had seen on the poster in the police station, advertising the group prayer meeting with Megan Shields. Sure enough, beside the words this time was an image of a young girl, seemingly asleep. Megan.
Ripley rolled her eyes as she passed the banner—such cynical commercialism had no place on a church wall. She walked up the stone steps to bring herself up to ground level with the church. The door was ajar, and she could hear a gentle burble of voices within. Chatter, rather than worship. A high, joyous peal of laughter made her smile.
She pushed the door open and peered into the body of the church. A handful of round tables nestled in the space behind the pews. Some kind of social morning was in full swing, complete with plump sponge cakes and the rich smell of coffee.
There were only a few empty seats, with the rest filled with well wrapped-up parishioners, pinkie-fingers held aloft as they sipped from fine cups. Some women knitting as they chatted, a couple playing dominoes, another reading a faded-covered, well-thumbed, romance novel.
A man in a thick-knit, heavily patterned jumper looked up at Ripley and smiled. He waved happily.
“Come on in,” he said, his voice loud enough to carry clearly over the hubbub, which showed no sign of abating. The world was being put to rights here, just as it doubtless was every week.
Ripley pushed the door closed behind her and stepped into the church as the man headed over towards her, his arm outstretched, low and welcoming.
“Don’t be shy,” he said. “Everyone’s welcome. There’s coffee or tea in the urns, and there’s plenty of cake left.”
He shepherded her in without waiting for an answer, steering her towards a low trestle table, decked in a check cloth. A pair of silver catering urns sat side by side, radiating heat. China cups on matching saucers lined the table beside them, and a selection of cupcakes and sponge cakes sat beneath transparent plastic lids. Ripley’s stomach rumbled spontaneously. The cakes looked great.
“Help yourself,” he said. “They’re all handmade. Not by me. There’s no charge. Apart from a little friendly conversation and a smile.”
“What a nice idea,” Ripley said, as he handed her a cup. His hand trembled ever so slightly. His smile revealed yellowing teeth, overcrowded enough to overlap in places, forcing their way over each other at strange angles.
“Gets people together, doesn’t it? I’m Colin, by the way. Can I tempt you?”
He lifted a plate of cupcakes towards her, and she chose a small one.
“Of course, if you feel compelled to make a contribution, we have a local fund we like to collect for, but there really is no obligation. We love new faces.”
Ripley noticed that the collection box he was talking about also bore that same God’s Gift logo. She filled her coffee cup and added a splash of milk. She fished a pound coin out of her pocket and dropped it into the container.
“Yes, I’ve seen some of her posters while I’ve been wandering around today,” she said, treading carefully. “It must be quite a thing to have someone like her right here in the village.”
She’d made her voice sound enthralled, excited by this miracle girl. She wasn’t sure of Colin’s role here, but she’d bet he was very much in favour of Megan Shields and her so-called healings.
“We are all very proud to call Megan one of our own,” he said, leaning in too close, his hand patting her arm just briefly. An awkward gesture. His breath smelled of stale coffee, lingering cigarettes, bad gums.
“I’m sure.”
“Are you in town for an audience yourself?”
“Not specifically, no,” Ripley said, truthfully. “Although I would love to meet her. We all have something that needs fixing, don’t we? Maybe I should look her up while I’m here.”
“Oh, you definitely should,” he gushed. He dashed across to a table near the door and came back with a leaflet which he thrust into Ripley’s hand. “We will be holding a group prayer the day after tomorrow. At the All Souls Meeting Hall, just through the back there. We’re very excited.”
She looked at the leaflet, turning it over to glance at both sides.
“Having come all this way, I would far rather see her in person, if I could,” Ripley said, folding the leaflet and dropping it into her pocket.
“Oh, but you will see her,” Colin said, looking at her like she was stupid. “She will be right here in the church, otherwise what would be the point?”
Again Ripley questioned how Anne Shields could wheel her daughter out in front of all these people, in her condition. It was barbaric. The poor girl.
“Oh, great,” she said, masking her surprise with false enthusiasm. “Well, in that case, I may well drop in.”
“Please do,” said Colin. “It’ll be busy, but we’ll make room for everyone who wants to come. One way or another.”
“Are you the vicar here, then?” Ripley asked.
“Oh, Lord no,” Colin laughed explosively, and Ripley leaned back to get some clean air between them. “No, they let me do the odd sermon now and then, at peak times, you know? But no, Reverend Rodwell is your man. He’ll be here this afternoon, if you were looking for him.”
“Great,” said Ripley, thinking it would be as good an excuse as any. “Perhaps I’ll pop back then. Thanks for the coffee.”
“Not to mention the cake,” he said.
She waved the cupcake aloft in acknowledgement as she headed for the door.
Ripley took one bite of the cake as she strolled away and dropped the rest into a waste bin as she passed. It had a strange flavour she couldn’t quite pinpoint. Mostly cheap margarine and sugar.

About the Author

Author Bio – Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook and a graphic novel series.
He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.
He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.
Social Media Links –  

Giveaway to win paperback copies of The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
To enter the giveaway click here

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson - Book Review - Historical Fiction

Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie.
Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art.
But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

The Paris Winter is set during the winter of 1909/1910, a time of peace and prosperity where the arts flourished and gained recognition, known as La Belle Epoque.

Maud hates being poor and hates being hungry but she's determined she'll survive and when she gets the chance to be a companion to Sylvie, the sister of a wealthy Parisienne, she's convinced she has never been happier.  They walk the streets of Paris, sketching and painting, forming a friendship that Maud treasures.  But secrets in the Morel household turn Maud's world upside down.

Author Imogen Robertson's beautifully descriptive writing was an absolute joy to read, she paints such a wonderful illustration of the sights, sounds and smells of Paris.

Some afternoons, Sylvie rebelled against sketching and demanded that they take a turn through the Jardin des Tuileries then along Rue Saint-Honore so she could peer in at the windows.  The displays were becoming more splendid by the hour as Christmas approached: sweet shops filled with great banked displays of pastel coloured macaroons or truffles like scrunched scraps of silk peppered with flakes of gold: stationers, their windows heaving with reams of butter-coloured writing paper and glistening silver fountain pens; haberdashers plumed in an explosion of lace.

The Paris Winter is a slow burner, but when it crackled into life I was taken on a journey from the highs of  the splendour of the wealthiest homes, the fancy boulevards and avenues of Paris, the elegant ladies in their fashionable clothes, to the cafes, low-life bars and opium dens of the thieves and the poor all set against the backdrop of the rising waters of the river Seine, where the floodwaters threaten to take away all of Paris with it.

As Maud changed from a young meek woman into a strong woman who was unafraid, shrewd and clever, the story twisted and turned. 

This is also a story of unlikely friendships between three very different women and I loved how these relationships developed and how they interacted with each other.

This was spoken by Suzanne, one of the artists who helps Maud:

The Russian princess, the French model and the English miss.  Sounds like the start of a bad joke or a good brothel!

Love that quote!  Loved this book!  

The Paris Winter is one of my favourite reads of this year and one I would certainly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about this particular period and place.

My thanks to NetGalley and publishers St. Martin's Press for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

You can buy The Paris Winter from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository

Please feel free to share this post using the links below.  Thank you!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Dark Corner by Vicki Vass - Blog Tour, Spotlight & Giveaway (US only)

Dark Corner: A Witch Cat Mystery by Vicki Vass

About the Book


Paranormal Cozy Mystery 
2nd in Series 
Tedeschi Publishing (October 9, 2018) 
Paperback: 190 pages 
ISBN-10: 0998989363 
ISBN-13: 978-0998989365 
Digital ASIN: B07J4P2521

Evil has awoken in Asheville, North Carolina, and Terra Rowan must prepare the Ladies of the Biltmore Society for battle. With her familiar, Pixel, a crooked leg fluffy orange cat, and her apprentice Abigail Oakhaven, a stubborn teenage girl with a bloodline dating back to the beginning of time, she begins their journey. The witch hunters have come to the Appalachian Mountains in search of the last witch of Salem. The magic of the mountains can no longer protect her and her coven. She must travel to the one place on earth that holds the secret to save mankind – Dark Corner.
Combining elements from different cultures, Appalachian folklore, Celtic legends, Native American mysticism, Dark Corner continues its new witch mythology while staying true to the realm of cozy mystery.
Terra Rowan is a witch trapped between worlds and lost in time.

About the Author


Vicki Vass traded in her reporter’s notebook to pursue her passion of writing cozy mysteries. Her Antique Hunter series was a finalist in the 2016 Mystery & Mayhem contest. Bloodline is the first book in the Witch Cat Mystery series. Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle. 

Author Links – WebsiteBlog Facebook 

Purchase Link – Amazon 

a Rafflecopter giveaway 


November 19 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT 
November 20 – Jane Reads - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
November 21 – Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf – GUEST POST 
November 22 – THANKSGIVING U.S. - OFF 
November 23 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
November 24 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
November 25 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW 
November 25 – Carole's Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT 
November 26 – T's Stuff – SPOTLIGHT 
November 26 - Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
November 27 – Book Babble – REVIEW 
November 27 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 
November 28 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST 
November 28 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
November 29 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST 
November 29 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
November 30 – Mallory Heart's Cozies - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
November 30 – Sneaky the Library Cat's Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
December 1 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
December 1 – Varietats – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
December 2 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
December 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The Merest Loss by Steven Neil - Blog Tour & Extract

Today, I am delighted to be part of Steven Neil's blog tour for his new book The Merest Lossthanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources ...... and I have an exclusive extract .....

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?

Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?

The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centres on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery.

The Merest Loss is historical fiction with a twist. It’s pacey and exciting with captivating characters and a distinctive narrative voice.
Purchase Links


The plot thickens

All seems lost in the relationship between Harriet Howard and Jem Mason, but an unexpected meeting, prompted from an unexpected source shifts the plot. In chapter seventeen of The Merest Loss Jean Mocquard emerges as an unlikely ally.

Chapter Seventeen
Everything is Risked
London, England
Paris, France

At La Marche, Tom and Jem walk the course to familiarise themselves with the layout of the track. The turf is a pristine, luxuriant green. Old turf. They find a figure of eight course, laid out on a broadly flat, meadowland site. The track goes right-handed, then left-handed, then right-handed again. The plain fences are tightly packed with birch. Unforgiving to a lazy jumper, thinks Tom. As well as the familiar fences found in England, there is a rail and ditch, a bullfinch, a bank, a water jump and a few sheep hurdles. Jem thinks it owes more to what might be encountered in a day’s hunting in Ireland, than an English steeplechase course. There is a complete absence of guide rails and only very occasional flags. It is a test of memory as well as bravery.
    ‘Should be a craic,’ says Tom.
    ‘If we don’t get dizzy first,’ says Jem.
    Harriet and Mocquard arrive at one o’clock. The newly painted grandstand shines white in the sunlight and multicoloured pennants flutter overhead in the breeze. On the first floor, an elegant dining room, fitted out with crystal and damask, greets the opulently dressed racegoers. French and English voices mingle. Waiters glide between the tables. In a far corner, a bearded student sits at a piano and makes a passable attempt at some Chopin sonatas. Harriet picks at her food and twists at the end of her napkin. When the horses come into the parade ring for the first race the room empties, as everyone makes their way to view the runners and riders. The scene never fails to excite Harriet, but there is an added frisson today. Standing across the paddock, she sees Jem Mason and Tom Olliver, smiling and joking together. The afternoon passes in a blur of flashing jockey silks and the glint of gleaming thoroughbreds. Tom and Jem ride two winners each: Tom, all power and strength and driving finishes, whip high, roaring; Jem, almost lazy by comparison, long rein, squeezing the horses into the fences, his whip an ornament, patting the horses on the neck as they pass the winning post.
    At the conclusion of the racing, Mocquard arranges an introduction to Lord Hertford, in his private box. He, in turn, introduces his jockeys to Harriet.
    ‘How lovely to see you again Tom. You must tell me all the gossip from home,’ she says.
    ‘I see you know each other. Do you know Mason as well?’
    ‘Hello, Jem.’
    There are perhaps twenty-five people in the box, which has two balconies attached: one looking forward across the racecourse; one looking back at the stables and parade ring. Mocquard is adept at manoeuvring people around, making introductions here and there, turning this person to that; a deft pull at an elbow, a gentle hand in the small of the back. After a while, Jem and Harriet find themselves alone on the rear balcony. A door closes behind them.
    ‘We may not have another chance, Jem,’ she says. ‘I don’t want to live my life in complete regret. What do you want?’
    ‘I wish I knew.’
    ‘You wish you knew or you wish you could admit it?’
    ‘You know what I think but I don’t, is that it?’
    ‘No. I know what I think. I have no pride. But you are the mystery. Let me be clear. I would like us to be as we once were. I am prepared to risk a rebuttal. But I will have tried. Is it so hard to tell the truth? Walk towards me or walk away from me. But don’t stand and look at me. What is it to be?’
    When the carriages are called, Mocquard leaves without Harriet. She and Jem are nowhere to be seen.

© Steven Neil

THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.

Follow Steven Neil on for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.

Author Bio Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.

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