Tuesday 30 April 2019

Not From Above! by Alexander Mayor @afestivalhall BLOG TOUR @Unbound_Digital #NotFromAbove #Giveaway #Win

Not From Above! is the debut collection of stories from musician Alexander Mayor (who releases music under the name Alexander s Festival Hall). It s a series of what-ifs, how-abouts and darkly comic thought experiments, populated by central Asian dictators with overreaching literary ambitions, anxious young spies pursued on canals, passive aggressive board games, and starship captains who really need to learn to prioritise. 
These are tales of decisive moments for indecisive people. Dating becomes rather more dangerous and promenade theatre a little too immersive. Adventures are undertaken largely by mistake, in stories that catalogue the increasingly esoteric ways Londoners try to keep themselves amused. And of course, there s that moment when a breakdown on a country road might just be the start of something promising... 
Not From Above! is also an album of twelve upbeat, lush and romantic pop songs from Alexander s Festival Hall see inside the book for download details.

Not From Above! by Alexander Mayor was published by Unbound Digital on 25 April 2019.

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to offer a paperback copy as a prize to one reader today. Entry is simple; just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK Entries only.


Here's the accompanying album, also called "Not From Above!"

One Copy of Not From Above! by Alexander Mayor

Alexander Mayor is a writer and musician based in London.
He started his musical adventure as one third of early noughties synthpop band Baxendale, peddling unashamedly upbeat pop to European dancefloors.
In 2013 he reinvented himself as the sole proprietor of a literary-minded pop group called Alexander's Festival Hall with the album 'Not A Dry Eye in London'.
He also writes for German culture magazine 'Chart - Notes to Consider', pens sleeve-notes for the popular Too Slow To Disco vinyl AOR re-issue series, and turns out finely-tooled paragraphs about brainy subjects for cold hard cash.

Website : www.alexandersfestivalhall.org
Twitter : @afestivalhall

Monday 29 April 2019

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen Paperback Publication #Giveaway @PenguinUKBooks #Win #Competition

Inside East London's Dead Letters Depot, William Woolf unites lost mail with its intended recipient. White mice, a miniature grandfather clock and a full suit of armour are among the more unusual items lost then found thanks to William's detective work.
But when he discovers a series of letters addressed only to 'My Great Love', everything changes. Written by Winter to a soulmate she hasn't yet met, her heartfelt words stir William in ways he has long forgotten. Could they be destined for him? But what about his troubled marriage?
William must follow the clues in Winter's letters to solve the mystery of his own heart.

I read and reviewed The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen when it was published in hardback back in October last year.
To celebrate the paperback publication on 2 May 2019, I'm delighted to re-share my review and to offer one paperback copy as a prize.

Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK Entries only.


William Woolf is a letter detective, he works in the Dead Letters Depot in London. He and his colleagues spend every day trying to find the original intended recipients of the letters that end up in the Depot.
Letters and packages that have lost their address labels, or are damaged and smudged. Letters and packages of all shapes and sizes that have been undelivered; William and his colleagues do their very best to solve these mysteries and to reunite lovers,  to deliver news or a gift that has gone astray.
William and his wife Clare fell deeply in love many years ago, but William can feel Clare slipping away from him. She’s distant and so involved with her work. She’s inpatient with him and he feels as though he is a disappointment to you. William originally took the job as a letter detective as a temporary position, something to tide him over whilst he wrote his book. All these years later, he’s still there, and the book is still unfinished.
When William discovers a letter signed by a woman called Winter and addressed to ‘My Great Love’, he is intrigued. The letter is beautifully written and passionate, and as more letters from Winter arrive, he becomes convinced that maybe he is that ‘great love’ that Winter is writing to.
The reader follows William as he makes every attempt to track Winter down. Running alongside William’s journey we hear from his wife Clare, and learn so much about their relationship.
The Lost Letters of William Woolf is a lyrical and warm story that is written with wit and wisdom. William and Clare are recognisable by their relationship dilemma but their strategies for fixing this are unexpected and  imaginative.
An enchanting story of lost love, new love and recapturing love, combined with the magic of writing and receiving letters. 


'An enchanting contribution to the popular new trend of 'up lit', such as Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' Irish Times
'I found myself totally transported into William's poignant and beguiling world of lost opportunities and love' A. J. Pearce, author of Sunday Times bestseller Dear Mrs Bird
As heard on BBC Radio 2 The Steve Wright Show . . .
'Delightful' Sunday Times
'Deeply moving' Irish Times
'If you liked Harold Fry and Me Before You, you will love Cullen's nostalgic debut. This life-affirming book will draw you in and keep you there' Independent
'Captivates. William has what seems to be the best job in the world . . . Honest yet lyrical, Cullen's characters are drawn with sympathy. Lose yourself' The Scotsman

One Paperback copy of The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen 

Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.

The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published this year, 2018 in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and Israel.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.
Find out more at : www.helencullen.ie
Twitter: @wordsofhelen

Sunday 28 April 2019

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald @FitzHelen #WorstCaseScenario @OrendaBooks #Menopause

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald is published by Orenda Books, as an ebook on 16 March 2019 and in paperback on 17 May 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

**DISCLAIMER**   I am a fifty-two year old woman. I spent many years working in the criminal justice system. The only reason that I have not been arrested, or sectioned over the past year is purely due to the fact that each night I take a small tablet. That small tablet is HRT, and for that, I am eternally grateful; as is my husband, my parents, my colleagues, my friends, and my cat.

If you too are a menopausal woman, or you are the partner of one, or the friend, or relation, or colleague, you will read Worst Case Scenario and will realise. You will realise that you are not alone; you are not the only one who lays towels on the bedsheets to mop up the unrelenting night sweats, or who wears layers of clothing that can be rapidly removed as your interior heating system goes crazily out of control. You will realise that when your partner/mother/sister/colleague/friend shouted at you last week because the bin men didn't put the wheelie bin back in exactly the right place on the driveway, and that the words that exploded from their lips in louder and more aggressive bursts were not really directed at you, or even at the bin men. No, these were the words and actions of the menopause. I can assure you that whilst it may have hurt you, it hurts us even more.

Worst Case Scenario is a novel about flexi-time. Flexi-time! Well, it's not really the subject of the story, but it's certainly the spark that lit Mary Shield's firework. It was the final straw after years and years of working in Probation. Years and years of doing her best for her clients; running an unofficial food bank from the boot of her car; letting small children keep her expensive sunglasses because they'd never owned anything before.  Years and years of writing reports, enduring re-structures and student social workers. Years and years of trying to make a difference. When you are owed over 40 hours in flexi time, and you know that it has to be taken by tomorrow, and you know that tomorrow the machine will tell you that those 40 years have disappeared because it is impossible to take any time out, you know that finally, it's time to leave.

It helps if your husband has finally been 'discovered' and is on the verge of signing a contract for huge amounts of money for his illustrations. It helps that your only son is now settled and training to work in Law. After years of being the main bread winner, it helps.

Mary is leaving. She is going. She is going to be a stand up comic, or practice yoga, or read books. No more will she have to endure the lowest of the low; the child abusers and the rapists. She will be free.

Mary's final case is that of Liam. He murdered his wife, has served a jail sentence and is due to be released. Liam is something of a celebrity, having written a book whilst inside. He has a manager, a huge social media following, and Mary hates him. She hates him even more when her own son becomes mixed up in Liam's family. Her menopausal symptoms come to the forefront and what follows is a roller coaster ride of pure craziness, mixed with flash backs from Mary's life and that of her clients that are heartbreakingly poignant. You will cry; tears of laughter, and also snorting tears of sadness.

Mary is a wonderful character. She's flawed, yet perfectly so. I really can identify with her feelings; with her determination to protect those who she loves, she's like a lioness defending her brood and that single-minded intention is often her downfall.  She speaks without thinking, she does things that make you want to cover your eyes in horror; but she's real and funny and underneath the coarse language and the near-alcoholism, she's a tiny bit vulnerable too.

Complex and intricately woven. Worst Case Scenario is a character-led story with a middle-aged, menopausal lead character who one should love, and cheer and applaud; despite her mistakes. It's a brave and clever novel, hugely addictive, tense and hilarious, all at the same time.

Highly recommended from me. Treat yourself, buy this book.

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. 

Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.

Find out more at her website
Follow her on Twitter @FitzHelen

Friday 26 April 2019

Caught In A Web by Joseph Lewis @JRLewisAuthor BLOG TOUR @rararesources #CaughtInAWeb

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson.  But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives come to realize that the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Caught In A Web by Joseph Lewis was published on 3 May 2018.  As part of the Rachel's Random Resources Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here today. He's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life in Books 

My Life in Books - Joseph Lewis

This book has a profound effect on me. It was the first book I remember reading as a kid. I read this book as I sat between the stacks and racks of books in the local library after school as I waited for my dad to take me home after elementary school. I tried to find it on Amazon, but couldn’t. That saddens me. It was about a young boy who became a leader among his people, mostly through his actions rather than his words. It infused culture and life among the people and the author did this in such a way that, as I write my own stories, I use description and setting in much the same way. In fact, one of my characters – a favorite among my readers (one of mine, too, if truth be told) – is a Navajo boy born and raised in Navajoland in Northeastern Arizona.

I think I read this book two or three times. It took the first hundred pages before the book took off, and when it did, at first, I couldn’t put it down. But then, I found that I couldn’t read it at night. Fenny Bate scared the living daylights out of me. He, and the book, gave me nightmares. Haunting, dark. Everything a great horror and suspense novel should be. An awesome book.

The book is made up of four different novellas, each with a separate storyline. In particular, the novella, The Body is and was my all-time favorite. I read that story so much that the pages fell out of the spine and I had to buy a new copy. The Body was made into a movie directed by Rob Reiner titled, Stand by Me. I must have watched that fifty or sixty times. The first time I watched it, I went home and wrote a short story, Dusty and Me, and it was the first piece I ever had published. The Body is a fantastic story by a master storyteller. A story of friendship and loyalty. A story of kids trying to find a place in their world, a world that is often unkind and unfair.

A long, long novel but it impacts all who read it. A classic story of good vs evil, of personal triumph over greed and all that is wrong or could be wrong in the world. So many rich and wonderful characters. Setting and place is a character onto itself. The characters grow, as does the reader. There are anger and tears, there is fear. It isn’t a “horror” novel per se, but a story on life, the light side as well as the dark side. Perhaps a story that evokes a warning for us all.

Actually, I could have named any of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport novels. Great character, especially if you like cops and detectives and mysteries. There are hurdles to jump, dead-ends aplenty, and always a twist at the end that catches the reader by surprise. Language and action are authentic, probably because Sandford is a former newspaper guy and he covered local police over his years in that capacity. This is just a guess though. In any case, he has a knack for cops and bad guys.

Just about any of his books that have Harry Bosch as the main character are worth a read. I like the Bosch series for the same reason I like the Lucas Davenport series by Sandford. Honest, authentic writing. Great characters. A plot that keeps you guessing. These two detectives are not perfect by any means. No way! They are human. They make mistakes. They push the boundaries and sometimes, take a step or two over the line. I’ve not found a story containing Bosch or Davenport that wasn’t satisfying.

Of all the writers I have mentioned thus far, James Patterson is perhaps my favorite. I enjoy his Alex Cross character the most. In Kiss the Girls, we have a serial “snatcher” for the lack of a better term. I won’t tell you too much because I do hope you take the opportunity to read it. Several twists, some psychology, and a whole lot of fun. I’ve read so much Patterson over the years, one reader/reviewer wrote, “If you like James Patterson, you’ll love Joseph Lewis.” I find that humbling and daunting. Yes, my chapter set up is similar in that I end on action forcing the reader to move on. Yes, I use my background in counseling and psychology in my character development and story line, but Patterson is “The Man” in my eyes. His Alex Cross books have it all: great characters that you want to get to know, big city setting, and a great and satisfying story. 

Joseph Lewis - April 2019 

Joseph Lewis has written five books: Caught in a Web; Taking Lives; Stolen Lives; Shattered Lives, and Splintered Lives. His sixth, Spiral into Darkness, debuts January 17, 2019 from Black Rose Writing. Lewis has been in education for 42 years and counting as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. He is currently a high school principal and resides in Virginia with his wife, Kim, along with his daughters, Hannah and Emily. His son, Wil, is deceased.

Lewis uses his psychology and counseling background to craft his characters which helps to bring them to life. His books are topical and fresh and appeal to anyone who enjoys crime thriller fiction with grit and realism and a touch of young adult thrown in.
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor