~Blog Tour~ The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup by Angie Smith~Ellen’s Review

Hello everyone,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup by Angie Smith and she’s sharing her review with you all.

About the book:

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Arms dealing. Murder. Corruption.

In Africa, Taylor Hudson reaches the stark realisation that she is in imminent danger. Time is nearly up when, out of nowhere, she is thrown a lifeline.  Left with little option, she places her trust in a complete stranger. But who is this stranger and why the interest in saving her?

The answers lie 6,000 miles away, deep inside the British Secret Intelligence Service, where a former, disgraced, senior officer is attempting to work his way back into the heart of the organisation. But what are his real intentions?

What ensues is a deadly game of bluff, double-bluff and triple-bluff. Can The China Teacup survive this time?

The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup by Angie Smith

About the author:

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Angie Smith, having recently survived locally advanced breast cancer, discovered that her lifelong desire to write had been rekindled. Consequently, her love for international crime thrillers became the springboard to the creation of the highly acclaimed CXVI Trilogy.

Her passion for travelling to exotic places greatly inspires her work. A recent trip to Southern Africa inspired her fourth novel, The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup.

Angie, born in 1961, was educated at Huddersfield University where she graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Education and Training. She was nominated for an award on her knowledge transfer partnerships work, during which she co-produced and presented a journal article at the International Social Work Conference in Durban.

Ellen’s review:

I’ll be honest and say I have never read an espionage/spy thriller as I never thought they’d be my “thing”, so was intrigued to pop that particular cherry with this book by Angie Smith. I do have the CXVI trilogy on my kindle to read and apparently there are characters from that series that appear in this novel, I did not feel I had missed out and it didn’t affect my enjoyment.

This book transported me from my dreary, cold reading spot in West Yorkshire to the beautiful white beaches of South Africa; Angie has obviously put a lot of research into this area. There are a lot of prominent roles and I did get a little lost at the beginning with who was where and what they did. Once I got into the swing of it I really started to relish all the twists, turns, bluffs and double bluffs. In fact I think there were some treble bluffs in there at some point!

My favourite person was Stephany Pascal and I was annoyed on her behalf when she was met with such wariness and scepticism, especially when this was mainly from the other female players Taylor and Zoe. They seemed to be particularly harsh on her and it really irritated me! My second favourite was Daniel Shepherd – a man of many faces and talents.
I enjoyed my first taste of espionage brew and wouldn’t hesitate to read more. Four stars.

Catch up wiith the blog tour:

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The Mayfly by James Hazel~ Mini Review

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*Many thanks to the publishers for my Netgalley review copy*

About the book:

A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

When lawyer Charlie Priest is attacked in his own home by a man searching for information he claims Priest has, he is drawn into a web of corruption that has its roots in the last desperate days of World War Two.

When his attacker is found murdered the next day, Priest becomes a suspect and the only way to clear his name is to find out about the mysterious House of Mayfly – a secret society that people will kill for.

As Priest races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

The Mayfly by James Hazel

My thoughts:

The Mayfly opens with a pretty grizzly murder and this sets the tone for the rest of the book. It then follows Charlie Priest in the aftermath of an attack in his home, an attack that comes completely out of the blue. When his attacker is found dead the next day, Priest becomes entangled in a web with so many threads that it is hard to see where they begin and end.

I really liked Charlie Priest as a character. As with many main characters, Priest has his own demons and they follow him throughout The Mayfly. I really liked how he was developed during the course of the book and I would be interested to read more about him.

I enjoyed The Mayfly! It was a compulsive and engaging read. I liked the characters, and the plot was interesting. This is the second book I’ve read recently to feature Buchenwald which is an odd coincidence. The dual timeline works well, but I found the jumping between characters to be a bit confusing at times. However, it’s a good read. A little gory, and with plenty to keep the reader guessing!

Recommended! 

~Blog Tour Review~Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul Hardisty

Hi everyone,

Today I’m going to be reviewing Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul Hardisty as part of the blog tour, with thanks to Orenda Books. I read and loved The Evolution Of Fear by Paul E. Hardisty so I was thrilled to be able to read the follow up.

About the author:

Paul Hardisty

Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

About the book:

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Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

Buy the book:

Out now in ebook, and out in paperback on May 30th, you can pre-order your copy by clicking HERE.

My thoughts:

Reconciliation For The Dead is the latest instalment in the Claymore Straker series and I swear these books keep getting better and better. Filled with hard-hitting and emotive subject matter, they evoke such a wide range of emotions in the reader from beginning to end.

In Reconciliation, Straker is in the midst of Apartheid Africa where he has to testify to the Truth and Reconciliation Comission. During his testimony, he recounts what happened in the lead up to his dishonourable discharge. What follows is an often harrowing and unflinching recollection of one of the toughest times Clay has experienced .

There is something a bit special about these books. Paul Hardisty has the ability to make the reader connect with his characters, and none more than Clay. The reader is inserted into the story right alongside him, feeling both fearful and hopeful at the same time. In the middle of war-torn Africa, we are brought right into the heart of it, through the superbly constructed and wonderfully evocative prose. Every puff of stifling heat, every step in the arid and harsh climate is almost tangible to the reader thanks to the author’s writing.

I don’t want to give the game away on this one. There are so many subtle nuances and vignettes that the joy of this book is discovering them as you read it. Paul Hardisty has written a tense and haunting book, showing the depths of human depravity and the lengths at which people to go to protect what they believe in.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. 
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I Found You by Lisa Jewell~ Mini Review

*Many thanks to the publishers for my Netgalley review copy*

About the book:

Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’
‘I got here yesterday.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

 

My thoughts:

I Found You is a highly addictive read. I had the whole book read in one day as I had to find out what was going on. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I found that I had guessed a lot of the bigger stuff early on. This niggling feeling in my head continued as I was reading until it was proved to be true. 

I think that Lisa Jewell has a great writing style though. Short chapters, great descriptions and interesting characters are what made this book for me. 

I definitely liked it, and I would read more from this author, but overall I think I’ve read so many similar themed books lately, that the twists just didn’t wow me. 

I would still happily recommend I Found You!

The Liar by Steve Cavanagh

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About the book:

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE…

WHO IS DEADLIER …

Leonard Howell’s worst nightmare has come true: his daughter Amy has been kidnapped. Not content with relying on the cops, Howell calls the only man he trusts to get her back.

… THE MAN WHO KNOWS THE TRUTH …

Eddie Flynn knows what it’s like to lose a daughter and vows to bring Amy home safe. Once a con artist, now a hotshot criminal attorney, Flynn is no stranger to the shady New York underworld.

… OR THE ONE WHO BELIEVES A LIE?

However, as he steps back into his old life, Flynn realizes that the rules of game have changed – and that he is being played. But who is pulling the strings? And is anyone in this twisted case telling the truth…?

The Liar (Eddie Flynn #3) by Steve Cavanagh

About the author:

Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast and is a practicing lawyer and holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy. He is married with two young children. The Defence was chosen as one of Amazon’s great debuts for 2015, as part of their Amazon Rising Stars programme. In 2015 Steve received the ACES award for Literature from the Northern Ireland Arts Council. The Defence was longlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and shortlisted for two Dead Good Readers Awards.

Steve writes fast-paced legal thrillers set in New York City featuring series character Eddie Flynn.

Steve also hosts the weekly Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast along with Luca Veste.
Find out more at http://www.stevecavanagh.com or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

My thoughts:

Regular readers on here will know two things:

A) I am a huge fan of series

B) I love a good legal thriller

So when I heard Steve Cavanagh’s The Liar was on its way, I was beyond excited as I read and LOVED the first two books in the Eddie Flynn series, The Defence and The Plea (those reviews are linked at the bottom of this post). The lovely folks at Orion sent me a proof copy, along with some yummy US chocolate and a lie detector machine, which you’ll have seen me do if you follow my blog on Facebook and Twitter! What a fun way to get bloggers interested in reading a book!

The Liar is without a doubt my favourite book of the series so far. It’s got an absolutely cracking plot, and is filled with the kind of characters I enjoy reading about. In this one, Eddie takes on Leonard Howell’s case. His daughter has been kidnapped, and Eddie knows only too well what horrors this entails as he has been through the same thing (that’s not a spoiler btw, it’s in the blurb!).

What follows is an epic game of cloak and dagger. The reader is kept as much in the dark as Eddie is, which makes it all the more fun as we learn things at the same time. From the outset, the tension crackles and it does not let up until the very end of The Liar. I found myself barrelling through the chapters, unable to put the book down until I reached the brilliant and gripping end. There isn’t a single bit of downtime in this book, so be prepared for an absolute rollercoaster of a read.

I love Eddie Flynn, I don’t hide it, I shout about it. He is one of my most favourite characters in recent years. There is something underdog-ish about him, something that makes the reader instantly root for him from the beginning. Beautifully flawed, yet it works in his favour. You shouldn’t underestimate Eddie Flynn. Ever!

I honestly cannot recommend The Liar highly enough. There aren’t enough superlatives in my vocabulary to vocalise how much I enjoy these books. Addictive, thrilling, massively fun, you won’t be disappointed picking up The Liar, or the previous two books either!!!

Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

Bring on the next one, Rogue Juror!!!!

Previous reviews:

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

~Blog Tour Guest Post~ Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Hi all,

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler and I’ve got a guest post on What Not To Do When You’re Writing by the author. I recently read and enjoyed the book too, you can catch my review here!

About the book:

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The worst thing that ever happened to you
And no one believes its true . . .

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

 

Guest post:

What Not To Do When You’re Writing.

Prepare yourself to go bonkers when you’re writing and safeguard yourself against embarrassment, injury and costly accidents. Make sure your mind is free of the plot when doing the following; otherwise people who know you may consider that you would suit a white straitjacket:

Never think about the plot when you’re filling up your car at the garage, otherwise you could end up putting petrol instead of diesel into the engine. If you do, however, do this – DO NOT TURN ON THE ENGINE!!

Don’t forget about routine appointments to the dentist or doctor, and if you do remember you have an appointment, please make sure you present yourself to the correct professional – the dentist will not wish to carry out a smear test on you.

When shopping, especially in January, if you have to think about the plot, it is advisable to take only a shopping basket and not the extra-large trolley. Otherwise you will fill it! Pay for the goods and have to explain why you bought an electric barbeque for your garden which doesn’t have an electrical outdoor socket.

Never book a holiday unless your mind is completely focused, otherwise you may forget that you have been there before and not only did you not like it, but your kids didn’t either. They will delight in proving to you that you have been there, no matter how much you deny it, by showing you the evidence of their all-inclusive photo ID, dated the year before.

Don’t forget to pick the kids up from school and if you do, have a very convoluted reason – the dog got out and ran for three miles before you got hold of him! Don’t tell the teacher this excuse in front of the kids; otherwise they may remind you that you don’t have a dog.

Never ever think about the plot when your husband is talking to you about his job. Never call him by one your characters and if you do accidently rename him, just make sure it is the name of the handsome, but diffident, hero of the story.

Lastly, never forget your age. But if you do, make sure it’s a year older! So that when you end up back in the same holiday destination, the one you didn’t like, to the same hotel, the one you definitely didn’t like, and your kids start questioning your memory, you discover that you have been thinking for whole year that you are a year older! Best holiday ever!

 

Follow the blog tour:

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~Blog Tour Extract~ The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

Hi everyone,

Today I’m one of two stops on the blog tour for Barbara Copperthwaite’s The Darkest Lies and I’ve got an extract to share with you all. And don’t forget to pop over to Emma at damppebbles.com, my blog tour buddy to catch her post too!

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About the book:

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

About The Author:

The people behind the crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite.

She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both nature and the written word – the latter leading to a successful career as a journalist. For over twenty years people have kindly and bravely shared with her their real experiences of being victims of crime. Now, through fiction, Barbara continues to explore the emotional repercussions.

 

An extract from The Darkest Lies…

 

PROLOGUE

The cry for help is ragged and desperate, the voice hitching. There is no one to hear it.

A moon hangs so fat it oozes an aura into the sky that almost blots out the stars surrounding it. It looks down on land as flat as an open palm, and as unforgiving as a clenched fist, and gives no answer to the screams of fear and rage that float up to it.

This is the wind’s playground. It races across the North Sea and hits the land full force. There is nothing to slow it; no hills, few trees or hedges here on land reclaimed from the water to create the marshes and fertile flats of Lincolnshire. It screams ecstatically, punching the handful of houses it comes across, revelling in its unfettered freedom as it rattles windows. On its journey it picks up the entreaties for help that are echoing into the sky. Hurls them across the landscape, as gleeful as a toddler with a toy.

‘Help me! Please! Help!’

There is no one to catch the words.

No one, except a lone figure, turning, walking away towards lights in the far-off distance.

CHAPTER ONE

BETH

FRIDAY 22 JANUARY

Beth chewed at her thumbnail as she stared at the clothes that were carefully folded in the bottom of the rucksack. Was she doing the right thing? Yes; there’d be no harm done, and no one need ever find out. This was not a big deal. Still she gnawed, worrying at the nail.

The thirteen-year-old suddenly yanked her thumb from her mouth. She must remember not to chew it tonight; it looked as if she was sucking it, like a baby. Tonight, she needed to show that she was grown-up, no longer a little girl.

Right, had she remembered everything? Yep, it looked like it.

It had taken ages to choose both her outfits. One for her parents; one for her secret. She slipped a jumper on and smoothed down the Minnie Mouse picture on the front. It was a firm favourite of her mum’s so it was the obvious choice, even though she didn’t like the childish top herself any more. Everything was perfect for tonight – and her parents would never guess in a million years.

A huge grin on her face, Beth glugged a glass of milk and set it down on her dressing table. Then called out: ‘Mu-um. You ready to go?’

A laugh floated up from downstairs. ‘Isn’t it normally me asking you that?’

Beth hurried downstairs with her rucksack, her dad making the usual joke about ‘a herd of elephants’. She gave him a peck on the cheek and a big hug, which he returned, but peered around her at the television.

‘Ooh, offside,’ he groaned.

‘See you tomorrow.’

‘Have a nice night, Beans.’ He grinned as he used her nickname, but continued watching the football, casting her only a sidelong glance.

Minutes later, Beth and her mum were wrapped in their hats and coats, and striding along with Wiggins by their side. The russet cocker spaniel held his nose high, tail swishing casually from side to side, catching various scents on the cold January air.

‘Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could smell things the way Wiggins does? We could follow scent trails!’ Beth said.

She linked arms with her mum as they took the left-hand lane from the village crossroads on which they lived, towards the home of Beth’s best friend, Chloe.

‘Like a superhero? You could be called Dog Girl,’ her mum joked.

Beth wrinkled her nose. ‘Yeah, on second thoughts… The name’s not great, is it?’

‘What other superpowers would Dog Girl have?’

‘Well, okay, she could take all sorts of things from nature. Like, she could have echo-location, like a bat, so she could find her way in the dark. That’d be handy now!’

They giggled.

‘What are you up to with Chloe tonight, anyway? Pamper night? Watching a film?’

‘Yeah, we’ll probably watch a film. Not sure about the pampering – Chloe might not have any face packs.’

‘We could nip back and get some. There’s a couple in the bathroom cabinet.’

‘No. It’s fine. We’ll probably watch a film and eat a lot of chocolate.’

‘Want some money for a pizza? It’s a Friday night, you might as well treat yourselves.’

‘Ooh, great!’

Her mum stopped abruptly, waving the tenner at the sky before handing it over. ‘Look how big the moon is tonight.’

‘Is it a supermoon?’ Beth asked, gazing upward too. There had been one a few months earlier, and her dad had told her about how it was special, being closer to the earth and bringing bigger tides. That had been really cool.

‘Don’t think so, but it’s beautiful, isn’t it?’

She nodded. ‘I can see the man in the moon ever so clearly.’

Given that they had stopped, it seemed as good a time as any to try…

‘So, I might as well walk the rest of the way alone.’

‘No, I’ll walk you to the door. It’s dark, Beth.’

She gave her mum her very best puppy dog eyes look. If the plan were to work, her mum couldn’t take her to Chloe’s house. Despite her parents thinking she’d be spending the night there, she had no intention of setting foot inside the place.

‘I’m a teenager. I’m not a baby. Pur-lease, Mum!’

After a second or two, there came a reluctant nod. ‘Be careful.’

‘I will!’

‘I love you to bits and whole again,’ Mum added.

Beth felt her nose prickle with guilty tears. They had been saying that to each other since she was about four. She remembered it vividly, being cuddled on her mum’s lap; her feet tucked under Dad’s legs to keep them extra toasty warm. One hand twirling a piece of hair round and round and round her fingers as Dad read to them. She’d loved to hear the sound of his voice, but no matter how hard she’d fought, her eyelids had grown heavier and heavier and…

The sensation of weightlessness had woken her, as Dad carried her upstairs. When he’d tucked her in, he had stroked her face and kissed her forehead.

‘Sleep tight, Beans. I love you to the moon and back,’ he had murmured.

Beth had stirred sleepily. ‘To the moon? That’s a really, really, really long way.’

‘It is, but I love you so much that it would easily stretch all the way there and back again – and more.’

The next day her mum had walked her across the road to school, holding her hand. As Beth slipped from her grasp, her mum had pulled her back, into a bear hug.

‘Love you to bits,’ she’d whispered.

Beth had paused in her squirming. ‘To bits and back?’ she’d checked.

Her mum had laughed. ‘Er, yes, I suppose. To bits and whole again.’

Ever since, that saying had stuck. Hearing her mum use it now, Beth wanted to call a halt to her plan. To throw her arms around her and confess everything. She wanted to go home. She wanted to curl up and watch telly with Mum and Dad, while Wiggins did sneaky trumps that they all tried to blame on each other, laughing, even though they knew it was the dog. She wanted to tell her mum she’d love her forever and ever and ever, to bits and whole again.

Instead, she grinned cheekily, turned and skipped away like a little girl. Taking the mickey was easier than trying to articulate all of those feelings.

The wind plucked at her ponytail as she flew from sparse light pool to light pool between lamp posts until they ran out completely. The darkness swallowed her. Ahead she could feel her fate waiting for her and she rushed towards it eagerly. Tonight was going to be a big night.


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