Blog Tour: Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts…

What I Thought:
Dinah Jefferies first came to my attention with her novel, the Silk Merchant’s Daughter and, like with Before the Rains, I was struck by the beautiful cover designs used on her books. The covers are sumptuous, with rich colours and little details showing you more about the setting of the novel within – I’m a sucker for judging a book by its cover, but in this case, the cover and the novel go perfectly hand in hand.

Eliza Fraser is a fantastic character with a deep sense of responsibility to her elderly mother, but still wishing to set out on her own and make a name for herself in photography, at a time when it was still unusual for women to have a career. Her determination that she will have a life, even after she is widowed, is in sharp contrast to the traditional view of widowhood in the India of the time – the tradition of widows being burned alongside their husbands is vividly depicted in all its horrific detail.

With the world watching, it’s difficult these days to paint authentic characters of colour, especially as a white author, but it was my impression that the Indian characters were portrayed in a sensitive way and Jay, our romantic lead, was multi-dimensional, and not just a handsome face.

The writing is beautifully descriptive, so evocative that you can almost feel the baking Indian sun on your face, and the historical detail is impeccable, without being shoehorned into the plot (a bugbear of mine!).

As with most romantic fiction, Eliza has many obstacles to overcome to reach her goal and her happiness, but it is a real pleasure to root for her, while absorbing an impression of colonial India, right on the cusp of change.

The blog tour for Before the Rains continues, so please do visit some of these other fantastic book blogs:

You can find out more about Dinah Jefferies on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

I received a copy of Before the Rains, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: The One by John Marrs

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

What I Thought:
I was immediately intrigued by the concept of The One – I’ve had many a philosophical discussion about soul mates and whether there is one person out there for you, so the idea that the multi-million pound dating industry can be distilled down to a single mouth swab is definitely worth a conversation.

I can’t really go into huge detail about the book, as it would very quickly get into spoiler territory, but this one of the things I liked about it. The plot kicked off very quickly after each character was introduced, and did not have a chance to get over-dulled with back story and description, blah-de-blah – the information the reader is given is what is needed at the time and very quickly gets you hooked.

I enjoyed the way the book was written, in vignettes that cycled through each character in sequence, revealing more and more about them. It worked really well as, although the book focuses on 5 characters, there was no attempt to shoehorn them into friendships that seemed unnatural. It would have been weird to have 5 people of the same friendship group suddenly going through these momentous, life-changing situations, so they are kept separate and the book is the better for it.

The One is billed as a psychological thriller, which it is, but there is also the central element of science fiction, plus crime fiction, romance and soap opera but, as I’ve said, as each story is self-contained, it’s at some points like reading a short story collection. This is by no means a bad thing, and it keeps the novel running at a good pace.

The characters themselves are all very different, with many elements to love and hate, but their reasons for taking the DNA test and what they do with that information will either have you rooting for them, or shouting at them and, although they were all excellently written, I think Christopher was the most interesting to read about – perhaps that’s because of my own love of crime fiction??

As the book comes to a close, there are some huge twists, and surprises that I would have never guessed, but it was definitely a rewarding read!

The One is out now, published by Del Rey, in paperback and ebook.

To find out more about the book and the author, you can catch up with John Marrs on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the book’s release. If you want to read some fab content about The One, then please visit some of the participating sites:

I was given a copy of The One by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie

The charred body of an enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out shell of his car on the Southend sea front.

Meanwhile, a vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery of their colleague’s death, dark, dangerous secrets begin to surface. Can they solve both cases, before it’s too late?

Mark Hardie’s stylish and gripping debut introduces a brilliant new detective duo to the world of crime fiction, weaving together two suspenseful stories that end in a breath-taking finale.

What I Thought:

A good crime novel is always a winner with me, and – although I’ve nothing against them – many, many crime novels out there are focused on the mean streets of the capital, so it’s refreshing to meet a new police force – in this case, Essex Police.

As a debut novel, Burned and Broken is complex, touching on many controversial topics, including the care system and children’s homes, insurance fraud and police officers operating outside the rules. Given that they are such big topics, they are handled well, and mesh together to form an exciting and fast-paced plot.

This debut novel introduces the double act of DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell and while they are partners, they both have things they are keeping back. Hopefully these things will come out in the open in future novels, and their relationship will be more fully explored.

When the case is fully resolved, it’s tinged with sadness, rather than pleasure that it has been all wrapped up nicely. There’s plenty to think about once the book is closed and, hopefully reflect on in future books in the series (are my hints subtle enough??).

Burned and Broken is out now in hardback and eBook, and the paperback will follow in May. For more reviews and fab content about Burned and Broken, check out the blog tour, which is still ongoing…

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher (Sphere) for review purposes, but all opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Chasing Shadows by T. A. Williams

After an extended blog break over Christmas (for various reasons), we’re kicking off 2017 with a blog tour. As a big fan of historical fiction, I’m thrilled to be hosting on the second day of the tour for Chasing Shadows by T. A. Williams. In the piece below, Trevor tells us a bit about the book, and his own love of history – I’m currently still reading the book, so a review will follow…

Those of you familiar with my books will know that every now and then a bit of history crops up. In When Alice Met Danny, the period in question is the First World War, with the appearance of a box of letters from a Tommy, in the run up to the Battle of the Somme. What Happens in Cornwall has the discovery of medieval artefacts on a Cornish island and What Happens at the Beach talks about the Cathars of southern France. So I’ve got a thing for history, that much is clear.

My new book takes my love of history to the next level. Chasing Shadows is a time slip book, where a modern couple find themselves following in the footsteps of a similar couple back in the Middle Ages. Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a history book, it’s a romance. Or rather, it’s two romances. It’s also a thriller and a mystery. It’s a road trip along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in north west Spain, the famous Camino or Pilgrims’ Way. The book explores the struggle of people trying to come to terms with appalling misfortune that has struck their lives, the sort of bitter blows we all dread. As I was writing it, I was constantly asking myself just how well I would have coped if I had found myself in the position of my characters.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Camino, let me tell you a little bit about it. This is a route from France, over the Pyrenees and across the hilly and often desolate north of Spain to Compostela, the city where, allegedly, the Apostle James was buried. Why there, you may ask? Well, the story goes that his body floated magically across to Spain from the Holy Land in a stone coffin and somehow got itself interred up in the north western corner of Spain. Now, to the modern eye, the fact that the saint’s body just happened to be discovered at the time when the other two major pilgrimage sites in Christendom, Rome and Jerusalem, were inaccessible due to hostilities may appear just a bit too much of a coincidence. Pilgrimages were (and still are) big business, and the medieval Catholic Church needed the money. Whatever the truth of it, the fact remains that millions upon millions of people believed it and undertook the lengthy journey, mostly on foot, to pray at the saint’s tomb. By so doing they hoped to achieve remission of their sins, or at least, a considerable reduction in the time they would have to spend in Purgatory.

People still undertake the arduous 800 kilometre (500 mile) trip on foot, bike or even horseback. Many still do it for religious reasons, but many do it just because it’s there. I’ve done the whole thing by bike and I’ve also walked a good few of the stages and I would recommend it most highly to anybody. I’m not a religious person – having spent years studying the atrocities committed by the medieval church, my cynicism has grown ever stronger. But you don’t need to be a Catholic, or even a Christian, to follow the Camino and it is, I can assure you, a fabulous experience. You get to meet amazing people from all over the world, see some stunning examples of medieval architecture, and enjoy Spain’s wonderful scenery. You will climb mountains, slog across dry, dusty plains, cross dried-up rivers and make your way through narrow, winding cobbled streets, worn smooth by the passage of millions upon millions of feet before you. It’s the sort of experience you will never forget.

Certainly, for the characters in Chasing Shadows, it is a life-changing experience. If you read the book and like it, then think about trying the Camino for yourself.

Chasing Shadows is published by Canelo and was released on 16th January. It’s available in ebook form and you can find out more about the book and T. A. Williams on Facebook, Twitter or on the author’s website.

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Blog Tour: Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

scared-to-death-cover-ebook-largeA serial killer murdering for kicks.

A detective seeking revenge.

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

Scared to Death is a gripping fast paced crime thriller from author Rachel Amphlett, in a new series introducing Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…

What I Thought:
Scared to Death is a really solid series opener, featuring Detective Kay Hunter. There is a trend at the moment for fantastic women writers, writing equally fantastic female detectives and police officers, and Rachel Amphlett definitely makes an excellent contribution to this.

From the first page, the action is piled on as we see Yvonne and Tony racing to rescue thier daughter, who has been kidnapped for ransom – their nervous energy and the drama of their situation leaps right off the page in a scene which could easily be transferred to a TV or movie screen.

The novel is well paced, with plenty of room to slowly flesh out Kay Hunter and her supporting characters in further novels – even at the closing stages of the book, personal secrets are revealed among the team.

As a premise, the idea of victims being literally scared to death is fascinating, what makes us scared and how does that physically affect us? The thought of the victims’ last moments is unnerving to say the least!!

I really look forward to more from the Kay Hunter series, she’s definitely keeping the strong female detective fresh and alive!

To find out more about Rachel Amphlett, visit her website or find her on Twitter.

Scared to Death is published on 6th December 2016.

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Blog Tour: Gravity by Andy Briggs

img_20161024_193801Eeek! Think that’s a monster? Nope: it’s a person. What terrible weapon could do this…? Errr – well, that used to be top-secret. Problem: it’s not quite so secret anymore. Dev messed up big time the day he let the ruthless Shadow Helix gang into the Inventory. What is the Inventory, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the secret lockup for all the deadly battle tech the world is NOT ready for. Which is why letting it get nicked was a REALLY BAD IDEA. Now the Shadow Helix have Newton’s Arrow: a terrifying weapon that messes with gravity, causing … well, you get the picture from this book’s cover. Dev and his mates HAVE to get it back – even if it means crossing the entire globe. To stop this evil, no trip is too far!

What I Thought:
What a fantastic follow-up to Iron Fist! As good as the first Inventory book was, Gravity picks up the baton and runs with it, making another exciting mystery, with lots of original gadgets and gizmos, helping Dev, Lot and Mason to retrieve the items stolen in the Inventory heist.

There are some new, nefarious characters alongside others who help guide Dev through his missions and foil the evil plans of Double Helix.

Although Gravity is an adverture tale – and there is plenty of that – there are also some important questions thrown up by Dev’s ‘unique situation’ (no book one spoilers!), questions about who we are as people, what makes us who we are and how our mistakes make us human. It’s really nice to see a book aimed at younger readers looking at some of these deeper questions, alongside the obviously entertaining action plot.

About the Author:
Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events. 

Website: www.andybriggs.co.uk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/aBriggswriter

I was sent a copy of Gravity by the publisher (Scholastic) for participation in the blog tour and in return for an honest review – all views are my own…

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Book Review: Skinjob by Bruce McCabe

9780552171083A bomb goes off in down town San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this is no ordinary target. This target exists on the fault line where sex and money meet.

Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a badge, a gun and the Bureau’s latest piece of technology. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber – and before he strikes again.

In order to understand what is at stake, Madsen must plunge into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual, and the dead hand of corruption reaches all the way to the top. There’s too much money involved for this investigation to stay private…

What I Thought:
Skinjob is quite an unsettling look at a potential future where our whole lives are recorded and instantly available. It doesn’t go quite as far as Minority Report, in predicting crime, but it uses real potential tech that we might be dealing with in ten years time.

McCabe paints a vivid picture of the porn industry gone into hyperdrive, where the almighty dollar is King – not so dissimilar to today really – and the novel is brilliantly plotted, with twists and turns, leading to a jaw-dropping conclusion.

Daniel Madsen is a typical damaged detective, but he’s not any less appealing for that, and I had hoped to hear that another Madsen novel was on the way but, sadly, no news as yet…

As a debut novel, Skinjob is fantastic and it’s amazing to think that it started life as a self-published novel. It goes to prove that there are some reals gems out there in the self-publish arena!

I was sent a copy of Skinjob by the publisher (Random House) in return for an honest review – all views are, as ever, my own!

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Blog Tour: The Wraiths of War by Mark Morris

Out on blog tour again today – this time, though it could not be a more different book than our previous outing. The Obsidian Heart trilogy by Mark Morris is part horror, part fantasy, with a good helping of time travel. There are elements of steam punk and the time travel angle allows the author to write in both contemporary and historical settings – I don’t think I’ve read something quite so original for a long time.

To celebrate the release of the third book in the trilogy – The Wraiths of War – I’m hosting an exclusive extract today. Hopefully I’ll not spoil myself for the third book!! To set the scene, Alex Locke has obtained a mystical item, a human heart carved from obsidian and, among other things, it has allowed him to travel through time. During the extract below, Alex finds himself in the trenches of World War One…

wraiths-coverTHE WITCH

‘Come on,’ Frank coaxed. ‘Come on, old son. That’s it. You know you want it.’

Stan Little, rain dripping off the brim of his steel helmet, chuckled, and was immediately shushed by the rest of us. He put a hand over his mouth, looking both contrite and amused. Squatting in the trench, plastered in clinging mud, which oozed up over the ankles of his boots, he reminded me of the Speak No Evil monkey.

The rat crept closer, its fur so slick with mud and rain it looked metallic. It was wary, but hungry too, and the gobbet of bread on the point of Frank’s bayonet was proving impossible to resist. Out in No Man’s Land, amid the mud and the corpses, the barbed wire and the shattered remnants of ordnance, it would be able to see nothing of us, hunched below ground level in our water-filled trench. Neither would it be able to smell us; the stink of death on the battlefield would mask our scent. But if we made too much noise it would hear us, whereupon it would be gone in a flash.

Like all the rats here – and there were so many of them they often scampered across our bodies at night – this particular specimen was a big bastard, but mangy and diseased-looking. Frank remained motionless as it moved to within a few feet of his bayonet, the tip of which was poking at an angle above the sandbags stacked on the lip of the trench. I glanced at the men. Stan had removed his hand from his face, leaving brown streaks, and was now grinning, his eyes almost feverish with excitement. The others, shivering in the cold, their uniforms soaked through and plastered with mud, their faces drawn with the effects of dysentery and exhaustion, were staring avidly at the lump of white bread, as if they wouldn’t mind snaffling it themselves.

After prevaricating for a moment the rat suddenly darted forward. As it clamped its teeth around the bread, Frank almost casually pulled the trigger. As ever his timing was perfect. As the rat turned away with its prize, the bullet from Frank’s gun transformed it from a living creature into a red explosion of unrecognisable meat. We watched it, or rather the bits of it, scatter across No Man’s Land. Geoffrey Ableman, a new recruit, barely eighteen, was so entranced by the spectacle that he forgot himself for a moment and raised his head above the lip of the trench to watch its progress.

Instantly there was the crack of a rifle from the German trenches and a bullet whined over our trench and smacked into the mud somewhere behind us. It might have drilled through Ableman’s skull if Reg Coxon hadn’t grabbed him and yanked him back down a split second before the bullet’s arrival.

‘That were yer one and only chance, lad,’ Reg told him in his broad Barnsley accent. He stabbed a finger at the sky. ‘Him up theer’ll not grant thee another one.’

As a grinning Frank descended the wooden ladder propped against the inside wall of the trench, the men surged forward to clap him on the back. His skill at ‘rat bagging’, one of the few things that kept us amused during the grinding hell of trench life, had earned him the nickname ‘Dead Eye’. The only member of our squad who didn’t come forward to congratulate Frank was John Pyke. As ever he sat a little removed from the rest of us, beneath the sheet of rusty corrugated iron that was laid over the top of the trench and served as our only shelter. Eyeing us balefully, Pyke was hunched like a gorilla over the brazier we used to keep warm and to boil water for tea. When I glanced his way he dipped his head, as if he was afraid I might hypnotise him.

It was early December 1915, and we’d been on the front line for five weeks. From when I’d first signed up to becoming a battle-ready soldier had taken around fifteen months. On 5th November we’d set sail for France, the men joking that although we’d miss Bonfire Night at home we’d be seeing plenty of fireworks once we crossed the channel. From Boulogne the eight hundred plus men and thirty or so officers who made up our battalion had boarded yet another rickety train, which had transported us to a railhead south-east of Abbeville in the valley of the River Somme. Although we’d camped there for the night with the intention of getting some rest before the next stage of our journey, it had been so cold that none of us had been able to sleep. Instead we’d walked around for hours, fully clothed and wrapped in our blankets, in an effort to keep warm. Another long train journey the next day, followed by a ten-mile trudge, during which each of us had been loaded down with equipment (rifle and ammo, blanket, ground sheet, eating utensils and other kit), had brought us to the village of Bellancourt. By the time we arrived in what turned out to be a filthy little place, the streets strewn with refuse, we were so exhausted and hungry that we’d been fit for nothing more than collapsing into our billets. Mine was a draughty barn, full of dirty straw, on the edge of the village, but I made myself a makeshift bed and fell into an immediate deep sleep. I woke several hours later to find my body covered in flea bites and the place swarming with rats, some of which had nibbled at my boots and clothes.

A really atmospheric extract, and it gives you a good idea of the rest of the series which is well-researched and uses lots of period detail, without being bogged down. Having read The Wolves of London, I can’t wait to crack on with the rest of the series!

The blog tour continues as follows below, so do please check out some of the other reviews and exclusive content.

mark-morris-obsidian-blog-tour-1-1-1

I was sent a copy of the Obsidian Heart trilogy by the publisher (Titan Books) in exchange for participation in the blog tour and an honest review – all the thoughts and opinions are my own!

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Blog Tour: The Devil’s Feast by M. J. Carter

Historical fiction is really my thing – really, really my thing – so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in a blog tour for M. J Carter’s latest Blake and Avery mystery, The Devil’s Feast. By happy coincidence, I was treated for my last birthday to a fantastic reading spa at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights (I have the best friend EVER) and The Strangler Vine, the first Blake and Avery novel, was one of the recommendations that I ended up buying. Having read that, I can’t wait to get stuck into The Devil’s Feast, but for today, Miranda has written a piece for us about her transition from historian to historical fiction writer.

devils-feast-blog-tour-banner

I am so not a natural storyteller. I started out writing non-fiction, I am an historian by training and passion, and in the biographies and histories I wrote I never had to worry about what was going to happen next.

Then, about fifteen years ago, I had an idea for a Victorian detective, a world-weary working-class guy, brilliantly clever—much cleverer than his superiors, a lone sceptic seeing through the cant and injustice of Victorian England, but forced to kowtow to those above him because he has to earn a living. I knew just where I wanted to put him, in London in the 1840s, the first decade of Victoria’s reign, an amazing city full of surprises, in a time of tumultuous change, amazing inventions, and terrible poverty. A vision had popped into my head of my protagonist going to visit a witness named Charlie Marks in seedy lodgings in Dean Street in Soho. The conversation starts and gradually we realise that this witness, with his huge beard, constantly complaining about the boils on his bottom, is none other than Karl Marx himself. I’d recently read Francis Wheen’s biography of Marx and it had painted a portrait of a raffish, often irresponsible character, who suffered dreadfully from boils on his bum.

Marx only arrived in London in 1849, and so far in my books my protagonist Jeremiah Blake (as he ended up being named) and his sidekick William Avery have only got to 1842 so they’ve a way to go yet, but this first idea started me off thinking about how I could mix real historical figures with my fictional characters, and that all sorts of very surprising people ended up in London during this period, and one could have a lot of fun with that.

Where had all this come from? My incessant history reading, of course. Anyway, the idea sloshed around in my head for years. I had a character and a set-up. But I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do plot. I’d never been a natural at making stuff up, how would I manage now? The key proved, of course, to be my old mainstay, my history reading and research.

I’m never happier than when I’m researching —basically being paid (a bit) to read books and find out about things, and I’ve always been good at gathering a lot of information very quickly. I’d say that historical research kick-starts every plot idea and bump I have.

The idea for my first book came to me when I was reading about colonial India and the Thugs, the bandit gangs who befriended, then strangled, unwitting travellers on the roads of India. I read about the British officer who succeeded in crushing them, and the fact that now there is a fierce debate among historians about whether the Thugs ever really existed, or were a convenient British fabrication. Ah! I had the plot of my first thriller: The Strangler Vine. My second, The Printer’s Coffin, came out of a book I came upon by chance at the London Library about the democracy- and freedom-of-speech campaigners and revolutionaries of the 1820s, who all ended up either selling pornography, and blackmailing in London’s red-light district in the 1840s or publishing gossip mags that blackmailed their subjects.

The third, my new book, The Devil’s Feast, came out of two things. Firstly, reading about Alexis Soyer, the first great celebrity chef, who cooked at the Reform club in the 1840s. His kitchens were so cutting edge and amazing, that people paid to take the tour, and the papers called him ‘the Napoleon of food.’ Secondly, the fact that the 1840s were the beginning of the Victorian ‘fashion’ for poisoning—there were 98 murder trials involving poison over the decade, all of them gleefully covered by the press.

No, I’m not what you’d call a natural storyteller. But when I’m stuck these days I know where to go, back to my history books.

Huge thanks to Miranda for that – The Devils’s Feast is published on 27th October by Penguin.

You can keep up to date with Miranda Carter via Twitter, or Facebook.

The Devil’s Feast
the-devils-feastLondon, 1842. There has been a mysterious and horrible death at the Reform, London’s newest and grandest gentleman’s club. A death the club is desperate to hush up.

Captain William Avery is persuaded to investigate, and soon discovers a web of rivalries and hatreds, both personal and political, simmering behind the club’s handsome façade – and in particular concerning its resident genius, Alexis Soyer, ‘the Napoleon of food’, a chef whose culinary brilliance is matched only by his talent for self-publicity.

But Avery is distracted. Where is his mentor and partner-in-crime Jeremiah Blake? And what if this first death was only a dress rehearsal for something far more sinister?

The blog tour for The Devil’s Feast continues this week, details below, so please do check out some more of the fantastic content Miranda has written…

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Book Review: Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan

img_20161007_074424Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.

Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

What I Thought:
I gave a quick precis of what I thought of Shadow Magic in the blog tour post I published on Monday, and I can reiterate how good it was.

In that blog tour post, Joshua Khan gave some examples of books that are his favourites and that have been inspirational, and – for the ones I have read at least – you can see some of those influences coming through. Although this is a fantasy book, and there is a necessary thread of magic running through it, there are also lots of threads coming through from real-life history, which make it all the more riveting.

I loved the characters of Thorn and Lily, despite their very different backgrounds and upbringing, they work very well together, and it’s easy to believe that this peasant boy could be our hero. The reveal of the villain is done well, and the scenes in the cemetery have enough zombies for even the most hardened horror lover.

This is the first book in a series with the second, Dream Magic, due in 2017 – I for one can’t wait to see what Joshua Khan has in store for Lily and Thorn!

I was provided with a copy of Shadow Magic by the publisher (Scholastic) in return for an honest review.

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