blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Good Shepherd and the Last Perfect – Susan Kaberry

In 14th Century Languedoc, after a century of persecution drove the Believers underground, a revival of the Cathar heresy gains a foothold in the mountain villages of the County of Foix. As it sweeps around the region, two men leave their homes and families and become embroiled in the forbidden faith.

Based on Inquisition records archived for nearly 700 years in the Vatican, this is a fictionalised account of the epic, true story of these two men, Pierre Maury (Pedro, the shepherd) and Guillaume Belibaste (Guy), who was fated to become the last of the Cathar Holy Men (Perfects).

As the Inquisition launch a brutal campaign against them, the men must again leave their loved ones and seek safety across the border in Aragon. As many Perfects are burned alive and friends and family are arrested, can Guy and Pedro stay safe? And can their faith and their friendship survive as the Inquisition become closer and ever more brutal?

Susan Kaberry lives in Manchester with her husband and two miniature dachshunds. She began writing fiction when she retired after working in the NHS for most of her life. Her first Cathar novel was The Chatelaine of Montaillou, also based on Jacques Fournier’s records. She has also written a memoir Britannia Street under her maiden name of Beth Cox.

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My thoughts: based on records by Bishop Jacques Fournier, about the interrogation and torture of Pedro Maury and Guy Belibaste, Cathars and Good Men or Perfects, this is the story of how two ordinary men became important figures in what was called The Heresy, for which thousands of people were killed in the Middle Ages.

Pedro is a shepherd, working for his wealthier cousin Raymond when he is inducted into the secret faith of the Cathars, while Guy was raised in the beliefs. The religion was forced underground following the massacre at Beziers and incarceration at Carcassonne of many more. But Good Men or Perfects, as the leaders were called, still travelled to speak to believers, and Pedro and Guy become the last two. Their lives must have been shrouded in secrecy and fear.

The book tells of their attempts to live quietly and not attract the attention of the Catholic Church, while preaching to their flock and carrying out the duties of their office. Sadly they are betrayed by a man they thought was trustworthy and subjected to the offices of the Inquisition.

Based on the testimony of Pedro (Guy’s unfortunately has been lost) recorded by Fournier, this story about faith and strength, even to the cruellest of ends – Pedro is imprisoned, Guy burnt at the stake as a heretic, is moving and tragic.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Long Way From Home – Brian W. Caves

A sleepy town in 1960s South Georgia, where to some residents, segregation is more important than catching a killer. 

An ex-homicide detective from Chicago called to honour an old promise. 

With a rising body count and a community guarding their secrets more fiercely than their children, asking questions could prove deadly for the outsider…

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I started out as an engineer, then an estate agent, followed by senior management roles in cable TV and telecoms. Spent a few years as a management consultant and now work in the language translation industry.

I have played music all my life. Classically trained on the clarinet from the age of eight until fourteen when my world took a quantum leap forward after hearing Jimi Hendrix and Voodoo Child on the radio. I thought, wow, I gotta do that. I dumped the clarinet and I picked up the guitar and have never put it down. I have played alongside topflight musicians, both live and in studios.

From a young age I read books like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Black Beauty, Swallows and Amazons, then The Famous Five, Billy Bunter, Jennings and Derbyshire, Biggles, and Tarzan. Agatha Christie had a major impact as did Georges Simenon. I penned short stories at school – mostly adventure, but it wasn’t until I became hooked on American Crime Noir that my urge to write came crashing to the forefront of my mind. Reading Hammett, Chandler, Jim Thompson, Macdonald, and the master, James M. Cain had the same effect on my potential writing career as Hendrix had for my music.

Currently, having been further influenced by the greats of Southern literature, I write crime stories based in the Deep South as well as UK based dark noir crime set in the county of Northamptonshire where I reside. Throw into the pot crime and horror short stories and novellas and you’ll have some idea of what goes on in my head.

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My thoughts: this is a tale of cruel men doing dark deeds and getting away with it because of who they are and the colour of their skin. Until a PI from Chicago comes to town and starts looking for a missing girl.

Tom is not afraid of the Klan, of the townsfolk and the men who run things. He’s determined to find out what happened to Alice, and when he realises there’s a pattern of disappearances over the years, those other victims too. The Sheriff is too eager to punish a young black man for the crimes but Tom smells several rats, white ones.

Violence simmers under the surface in segregated Georgia and Tom’s refusal to toe the line brings him close to danger too often but his determination to see justice done properly wins over.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own

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Cover Reveal: The Gifts – Liz Hyder

The paperback edition of The Gifts is out 1st September in all good bookshops. And I’m sharing the beautiful cover today. So get your orders in!

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In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

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Cover Reveal: The Garnett Girls – Georgina Moore

I am really excited about this book and thrilled to be sharing the cover with you today, here and on social media. Due to be published in February 2023. Available for pre-order now!

Margo and Richard’s love affair was the stuff legends are made of – forbidden, passionate, all-encompassing. But ultimately, doomed.

When Richard walked out, Margo shut herself away from the world, leaving her three daughters, Rachel, Imogen and Sasha to run wild.

Having finally put the past behind her, charismatic Margo holds court in her cottage on the Isle of Wight, refusing to ever speak of Richard. But her silence is keeping each of the Garnett girls from finding true happiness.

The eldest, Rachel, is desperate to return to London, but is held hostage by responsibility for Sandcove, their beloved but crumbling family home.

Imogen, the dreamy middle child, feels the pressure to marry her kind, considerate fiance, even when her life is taking an unexpected turn.

And wild, passionate Sasha, the baby, trapped between her increasingly alienated family and her controlling husband, has unearthed the secret behind Richard’s departure … and when she reveals it, the effects are devastating.

blog tour, books

Blog Tour: Taking on Secrets – Kevin Pilkington

TakingonSecrets copy

Welcome to my stop on the Taking on Secrets tour! Read on for more details about this book!

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Taking On Secrets

Publication Date: April 2, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Coming-of-Age

Publisher: Blue Jade Press

A coming-of-age tale about our protagonist Benjamin Kissel as he grows up as a single child in a upper middle class catholic home during the 60’s and 70’s. Experience his struggles with his family, lust, lies, and love as he grows from a teenager to a successful adult in the city that never sleeps, NYC.

“A coming-of-age story by Kevin Pilkington, who is a creative writing professor at the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, a tony suburb of New York. The story is also set in Bronxville and Manhattan. I used to live in Bronxville, and Pilkington’s descriptions are spot on.” – Susan Schwartzman

“A spirited, humorous mosaic of teen life in a 1970’s America, an adult life in a forgotten Hollywood, a forgotten Lower East Side, too, and dead-on reflections on pop culture, family, and traditions. Taking on Secrets is a furious, transcendent, urgent sweep of a full life, with a prose filled with rhythm, energy, humor and poetry.”—Ernesto Quinonex, author of Bodega Dreams

“Are we merely the sum of our experiences, or can we become something more? That’s the questions that Kevin Pilkington’s Taking on Secrets is asking between the lines of every page. An addictive, funny, fearless coming-of-age story.”—David Hollander author of Anthropica and L.I. E.

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About the Author

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Kevin Pilkington is a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of ten collections: Spare Change was the LaJolla Poets Press National Book Award winner; Getting By won the ledge chapbook award; In the Eyes of a Dog received the New York Book Festival Award; The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree was a Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award finalist. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies including: Birthday Poems: A CelebrationWestern Wind, and Contemporary Poetry of New England. Over the years, he has been nominated for four Pushcarts.

He poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Harvard Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Yankee, Hayden’s Ferry, Columbia and North American Review.

He has taught and lectured at numerous colleges and universities including The New School, Manhattanville College, MIT, University of Michigan, Susquehanna University and Georgia Tech. His debut novel, Summer Shares, was reissued in paperback. His collection, Where You Want to Be: New and Selected Poems was an IPPY Award Winner. A new collection entitled Playing Poker with Tennessee Williams was recently published. Taking on Secrets is his second novel.

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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Twelve Nights – Penny Ingham

The Theatre
London, 1592
When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.
Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?
With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time
runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

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I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and
regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more
thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.
I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a
small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.
I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of
enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London,
and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.
I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get
better!

Facebook: Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook
Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter
Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

My thoughts: for me this book ticks lots of boxes, as a theatre history nerd, a Shakespeare (apparently my husband’s family are distantly related), a literature student, a crime fiction fan, a history lover and more.

Helpfully it’s also well written, enjoyable and has a great protagonist in Magdalen Bisset, my first name is derived from Magdalen and I have French ancestry, so I felt a kinship with the Theatre’s wardrobe mistress. She’s falsely accused of murder and being as the constable is the one convinced of her guilt and there not being a proper police force to investigate, Magdalen sets out to prove her innocence and uncover the real killer.

I loved the theatricals, most of them notorious drunks and rogues, from Burbage to Kemp, Marlowe to Condell. And of course the Swan of Avon – William Shakespeare, scribbling away in his attic room at the Mountjoys’ house on Silver Street.

I also really liked the evocation of the world of Elizabethan London, the stinking, crowded mass of it, the streets and alleyways, the fact that there was only the one bridge so you needed to catch a boat across the Thames, and they weren’t supposed to run after dark. The proximity of actors to royalty has always intrigued me, and like the author, I think Marlowe was a spy of some sort.

The conspiracy Magdalen uncovers as she seeks to clear her name is shocking but does tie in to several rumours that floated about the court even after James I & VI took the throne. I hope there’s more to come from this world. I want Magdalen and Louisa to set up as the first all women PI firm and investigate more crimes in the morass of religion, poetry and pubs of London in the 1500s.

The author’s notes at the end about the discovery of various theatre’s remains in London has given me a new activity to do next time I catch the train to the capital – go and visit these sites. So make sure you read on beyond the end of the story.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.


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Blog Tour: Singapore 52 – Murray Bailey

Chinese New Year 1952

Ash Carter had to leave the Near East in a hurry. But when he arrives in Singapore he finds himself in the middle of a much bigger problem. No one knows where, or when, or who but someone is planning an attack. Carter is told to make sure it doesn’t happen. With pressure from politicians and the army and with Chinese Secret Societies watching his every move, he has other plans. He is more interested in finding out who killed his friend.

My thoughts: inspired by the author’s father’s time as an MP (military police) in Singapore while it was a British colony, this next installment of Ash Carter’s adventures finds the former Army captain looking for a missing friend who sent him a telegram. Needing to get away from Cyprus, Ash leaps at the chance to help his friend Tom out. Unfortunately he’s too late. But Tom had found something, and now Ash needs to find out what, get revenge, and help out the Governor’s office too.

Temporarily assigned back to the Army, he’s assisted by two MPs, the local police inspector and the glamorous Su Ling, niece of local businessman Andrew Yip. Who might also be a criminal.

Lots of twists and turns, red herrings (you’ll find out the meaning of lots of phrases as you go along too, thanks to Hedge), and distractions follow as Ash attempts to untangle his investigation. He’s also asked to find the mysterious lady dubbed Madam Butterfly who’s been robbing naive soldiers and causing embarrassment for the barracks.

Tired of playing politics, Ash of course immediately goes off book, conducting his job in a rather unorthodox manner – not keen on sharing the details with his superiors, his official investigation is a little light on the how he gets answers. And despite vowing not to spend too long in town, he starts to quite like Singapore and might just stick around….

Always fun and enjoyable, this had Ash hit the ground running. He’s out of SIB (Special Investigations Bureau) and doesn’t enjoy being dragged back into the military way of doing things, which bodes well for his future. Although he’s a rogue, he’s a lovable one and even the women he disappoints don’t seem able to stay mad at him.

The book is now available free on Amazon, and the sequel Singapore Girl is currently 99p or free on Kindle Unlimited.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Ghost of Ivy Barn – Mark Stay

August, 1940.

As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes to Woodville with a ritual to repel the imminent Nazi invasion. The only catch is it involves full-frontal nudity on the White Cliffs of Dover. The Witches of Woodville are having none of it, but when more witches arrive they realise they might have a spy in their midst, and it’s up to Faye Bright to uncover the traitor. But she’s got enough on her plate already with the ghost of a Polish Hurricane pilot who may hold the key to the truth.

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co­presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.

My thoughts: I do enjoy this series and Faye gets more and more interesting with each book. I still have many questions about Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach but perhaps the mystery makes it better?

This time they’re fending off an aerial invasion with magic – or are they? Bellamy is very enthusiastic but the Woodville witches don’t seem too keen and Faye’s distracted by her life and the ghostly Polish pilot in the barn. Otto Kopp – who continues to be deeply annoying, is still hanging about, and causing trouble. There’s a spy in their midst and no one’s quite sure who it is.

Bits are very funny and the ending is very moving and sweet, there’s a lot of toing and froing to Dover for the ritual, including a very funny scene with a tweed clad dogwalker, and at some point Bertie and Faye might get around to some proper canoodling (without a witchy emergency or half the village as audience).

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my

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Blog Tour: The Maids of Biddendum – GD Harper

‘There is no me; there is no you. There is only us.’
The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.
Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women – one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants.
Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.
This is the heart-warming and inspirational story of two remarkable women leading one joint life, challenging adversity to become the best they can be.

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I became a full-time author in 2016, publishing three novels under the pen name GD Harper. I have been both a Wishing Shelf Book Award finalist and Red Ribbon winner, been shortlisted for the
Lightship Prize, longlisted for the UK Novel Writing Award and longlisted for the Page Turner Writer Award. The Maids of Biddenden was a finalist in this year’s Page Turner Book Award for unpublished
manuscripts, longlisted for the Exeter Book Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and shortlisted for the Impress Prize.

Facebook: @gdharperauthor
Twitter: @harper_author
Website: http://www.gdharper.com
https://www.instagram.com/gdharperauthor/

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this, Eliza and Mary are brought vividly to life, kind and brave, enduring people’s stares and comments all their lives. All they want is to be happy, to live in their village with their family and devote themselves to music (Eliza) and healing plants (Mary).

Conjoined twins are very rare and in the 12th century seen as either divine marvels or tools of the Devil. Luckily for the Chulkhurst sisters, most seem to see them as marvels, and treat them kindly. It helps that they’re clearly intelligent, gentle and care for others. Their father is a decent man and even their stepmother comes to love them and feel terrible guilt about her earlier treatment.

They are talented and meet many important figures of the day, including the Queen, in this novel inspired by their lives, although they most likely merely lived quietly in Biddenden, and never achieved such fame. But by creating a version of the world where they do meet notable people, their world is much bigger than one Kent village and they interact much more widely than you would expect. I liked their courage in the face of their differences, their bond with each other and the way they worked together to be both be happy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Fatal End – Faith Martin

Oxford, 1963
In a backstreet club, people dance the night away to their favourite band. But behind the scenes there is trouble afoot. An argument is brewing between bandmembers, two possessive girlfriends have plans for their partners, the club manager is creaming off profits – and a tragic accident leaves the lead singer dead.

But was it an accident at all? Coroner Clement Ryder is suspicious, and WPC Trudy Loveday knows there’s only one thing for it. She’s going undercover, deep into the seedy underbelly of Oxford nightlife.

Meanwhile Clement’s own secret is becoming increasingly difficult to keep hidden, and discovering the singer’s murderer might not be the only shock in store for Trudy…

My thoughts: another pleasing outing for Dr Ryder and PC Loveday, as they investigate the death of a pop singer on the rise. His death looks like an accident at first but his injuries are a little off for a tumble down the stairs in a nightclub. Something else is definitely going on. With several suspects and not many willing witnesses, the duo could be struggling to get some answers.

Then there’s also Ryder’s declining health, his Parkinson’s disease is progressing and he knows it’s time to hang up his coroner’s robes. My great-uncle, a lovely man, died of Parkinson ‘s, so I know it can be a truly horrible condition and slowly robs you of your ability to do things. In the 1960s, when the book is set less was known about it than now, so it must have been terrifying. It adds an element of sadness to the story – this could be the pair’s last case.

As always I really enjoyed this book, the writing is so good. I always root for Loveday to get one over on her sexist boss, making her do the filing and make tea just because she’s a woman, and having the brass acknowledge her skills and successes is always good.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.