Seeing as we are halfway through 2020 I’ve seen so many people taking part in mid year tags and talking of what they have read so far, and how they are fairing against Good Reads challenges.
Thank So it got me thinking about my reading journey in the craziest year of my life. So my target for the year is 100 books which for a book blogger should be easy but life often gets in the way. I’ve generally always got at least one book on the go – sometimes if I’m reading more than one it takes me longer sometimes it makes no difference.
During lockdown to date I’ve read 47 books and I’m currently at 62 out of my 100. So lockdown well and truly has helped my reading mojo. I’ve downloaded and took advantage of the Libby app supporting my library from afar, and I’ve got back into audiobooks. Following my issues with my left ear I had cancelled subscriptions and had mostly stopped listening to audiobooks I’m loving having them back.
So 47 lockdown reads and 15 prior to that….I’m feeling pretty darn good about that. Woah it’s a long and a late one…can you imagine if I had the other 15.
Another week has flown by. It was a bit of a weird one for me few things I had to do and help sort out where possible, and I was a bit headachey. So after finishing Call Me Joe last Sunday I started…
So this week I haven’t finished a book since last Sunday I should finish my audiobook today and hopefully get back on track with my Jaimie Admans read and my buddy read which is my very first Santa novel – I do own a few others so watch this space.
Running seems to be my newest addiction that has stuck. Monday and Wednesday saw runs 2 and 3 of week 4 and wow the pace is definitelyhotting up.
Friday was the start of week 5 and wow it has increased again with three runs of 5 mins and wow!!! My persistence and resilience shone through and I’m so so proud of myself it was the hardest but my most rewarding and fun.
Now I don’t know who said it or where I read it but someone said about having motivational songs or songs you love. I made a playlist of a few upbeat songs of Westlife and a Mr Ronan Keating and my it helped especially on my final run I was feeling it and hearing a Ronan track live from 2013 was the motivation I needed to not give up and to keep on running no matter how much I wanted to walk and it sure did work. I have a new aim for my next run. Week 5 is definitely a change in tempo and where we usually repeat the same format each of the 3 runs is different with Monday’s having two 8 min runs that’s two and a half songs right?? Those of you on my Twitter will see I regularly update my run info almost instantly but as ever I will keep adding it to my weekly Update.
So what was on the blog this week??
On Sunday I posted my thoughts on The Girl on The Train film and you can read it Here.
As ever I apologised for double posting and then pretty much double posted on both Monday and Tuesday but I’m pretty proud of all four of them posts with a few blog tour commitments kept.
Up first was a blog blitz for Shalini The Defence Of Exeter Station can be read Here. I had also agreed to a blog tour via Red Door and they have been pretty good to me and their books have often taken me on journeys I would never have chosen you can read my thoughts on Call Me Joe Here.
Tuesday was another unique day following last weeks Top Ten Tuesday this weeks prompt got under my skin so here is a Top Ten Tuesday brimming with my favourites and you can read it Here. I’m a sucker for a cover reveal and having already posted I came across this and had to share the gorgeous Hit List by Holly Seddon Here.
I welcomed July with what I read in June and you read that again Here. Not as impressive as May but still not a bad effort.
There wasn’t a post on the Thursday and I didn’t want to post something half hearted. I’ve prided myself on being more organised and posting when it’s sufficient. So yesterday I posted my July TBR (although I rarely post these so let’s see if I can actually read all these and a few more shorts) hoping I haven’t jinxed myself. You can read it Here.
Feeling headachey hasn’t helped hoping lots more fluids and stuff will help and I can smash my reading goals and keep the blog consistent. As ever I’m always looking for inspiration and feedback so if you would like to see more of something and less of something else do get in touch. I may add books I’ve purchased or loaned from the library?
Welcome to another week…I know how quickly is this crazy year flying by. I know a few of you have said how you loathe double posting days and I promise I will do my utmost to keep them to the minimum.
Today I have two commitments to uphold this blog blitz and a blog tour review but as I say I will do my best not to get so many double days but I want to just say I do like to support publishers and blog tour organisers where possible.
So today I am taking part in a blitz thanks to Shalini and it’s for Thom Bedford’s The Defence of Exeter Station. This is available to purchase now as publication day was on 27th June and you can purchase it Here.
Blurb: At the turn of the twenty-ninth century, the Milky Way is on the verge of a galactic war. The Combined Systems Alliance continues to expand their territory—much to the displeasure of the Free Planetary Union who, until now, lacked the resources to halt the encroachment. In a bid to wrest control from the Alliance and retake their former colonies, Union agents throughout the Alliance Fleet organize a mass insurgency seizing countless assets. During the ensuing chaos, numerous ships are decimated and millions of lives are lost.
Retired Alliance Commander Tanic Sandorn finds himself stranded on a border station after the Union launches an all-out assault. Fighting against anxieties from the incident that pushed him into early retirement, Sandorn accepts being recalled to active duty and propelled to the front lines. This time, he will protect his crew and the inhabitants of the Exeter star system from any approaching threat—never again will he leave anyone behind.
But outnumbered, outgunned, and outflanked, Exeter Station is left running at a fraction of its operating capacity. Sandornand the Alliance officers on board must strategize quickly and carefully to hold their ground, or they will be forced to surrender the station, the system, and their lives.
About the Author: Thom grew up in suburban Cheshire, England with his parents and brother. During school he had a propensity for creativity, either writing, building models, painting, or programming. Every subject choice was motivated by creating and building, whether it be design technology, graphic design, programming, or creative writing.
After studying Computer Science at The University of Manchester, he started working as a Software Developer. Following in his father’s footsteps, he worked as a Technical Consultant in London for several years, then in Data Warehousing back in Manchester.
In his spare time, Thom still writes, build models, paints, and programs, but nowadays also listens to a lot of music, watches a lot of films, and enjoys playing computer games.
His love for science fiction comes from blockbuster films like Starship Troopers, Star Wars and Star Trek, as well as B-movies like Wing Commander, Pitch Black, and Iron Sky. Computer games like Homeworld, EVE-Online, and Stellaris, and books like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and David Weber’s HonorHarrington series. In other words, sci-fi—particularly space opera—in any media.
Thom currently lives in Cheshire, England, with his wife, Helen, and their two cats.
I’m also extremely pleased to be able to share an extract with you today…
Every crew member aboard the Veloz ran from stem to stern working tirelessly to patch every hole in the ship. The damage was critical to the point that nearly half the ship had been evacuated. With so little power available, compartmental force fields were inoperable, leaving only a single fire door between repair crews and the vacuum of space in many areas.
Not a single deck was spared at least some devastation, for as the ship’s superstructure twisted and contorted under heavy firepower, panels came loose and circuits overloaded throughout resulting in debris littering every room and corridor. The floors weren’t only littered with discarded paneling and blown circuitry, but also injured, dying, and dead crew members. The initial unexpected surprise attack caused the most death and destruction, taking over a hundred lives. Then as the battle wore on, further loss of life was inevitable.
The victory was Pyrrhic, but it was a victory, nonetheless.
So another week has passed and it’s been a weird one. Not all good but not all bad either. This week has also shown me in an abundance that I have some truly awesome people in my life and I’m forever grateful to them.
This last week I finished week 2 of Couch to 5k and just yesterday I undertook week 3 run 1 and I’m so shocked at my progress in just 3 weeks. The 90 sec run that seemed hard previously I’ve paced well and as much as the 3 min runs were hard I got through them.
So what have I read this week??
So what’s been on the blog this week?
Last Sunday I posted my thoughts on the truly heart wrenching What Doesn’t Kill you? And you can read my thoughts Here.
Monday saw a blog blitz for the lovely @lovebooksgroup and you can read it Here.
Isabelle Broom is one of those authors who always manages to sweep me away and leaving me full of wanderlust you can read my thoughts on Hello Again Here.
Wednesday saw another blog tour post thanks to @lovebooksgroup and this sure is an interesting one. You can read it Here.
Thursday was dedicated to an exceptional lady in Victoria Walters and here I am showing you the gorgeous cover reveal of the third book in the Glendale series Hopeful Hearts at Glendale Hall.
I keep asking what your thoughts are on double posting on Friday I had another blog tour commitment and you can read that Here. I read and really loved Cathy Bramley’s free novella and wanted to share my thoughts you can read my piece on Rescue Me Here.
I am trying to diversify my reading so would love any recommendations. I’m also hoping to add more short reads to my reading. As I’ve said before if you would like to see any specifics on my blog or my update do get in touch.
Happy Publication day to Benjamin Gohs it’s a pleasure to be part of the book blitz from Love Books Tours today.
Blurb: When 19-year-old Abeona Browne’s renowned abolitionist father Jon Browne dies in summer of 1860, devastating family secrets are revealed, and her life of privilege and naiveté in Southern Michigan becomes a frantic transatlantic search for answers—and someone she didn’t even know existed.
Still in mourning, Abeona sneaks aboard the ship carrying her father’s attorney Terrence Swifte and his assistant Djimon—a young man with his own secrets—on a quest to Africa to fulfill a dying wish.
Along the journey, Abeona learns of her father’s tragic and terrible past through a collection of letters intended for someone he lost long ago.
Passage to the Dark Continent is fraught with wild beasts, raging storms, illness, and the bounty hunters who know Jon Browne’s diaries are filled with damning secrets which threaten the very anti-slavery movement he helped to build.
Can Abeona overcome antebellum attitudes and triumph over her own fears to right the wrongs in her famous family’s sordid past?
So named for an African proverb, A Thin Porridge is a Homeric tale of second chances, forgiveness, and adventure that whisks readers from the filth of tweendecks, to the treachery of Cameroons Town, across the beauty of Table Bay, and deep into the heart of the fynbos—where Boer miners continue the outlawed scourge of slavery.
About the Author: Benjamin J. Gohs is a longtime award-winning news editor whose investigative journalism has included stories of murder, sex-crime, historical discovery, corruption, and clerical misconduct. Benjamin now divides his time between writing literary thrillers and managing the community newspaper he co-founded in 2009.
If that’s wet your appetite you can order A Thin Porridge Here
Back in May I took part in a blog blitz to showcase Graeme Cumming’s Carrion. In doing so I had a chat with the author and here lies what come from that.
A novel where the cover has drawn me in and left me intrigued. I as yet still haven’t read this offering from Graeme but I will be taking part in the @lovebooksgroup blog tour in July and I cannot wait to see whether these crows scare me….I’ve read a few things over the years where crows have left me feeling bereft and when I’ve stumbled upon one I’ve literally eye balled it so I didn’t lose my cool.
Graeme kindly offered to guest here at Hayley Reviews and I’ve been trying to find the right time to post it. In talking to Graeme I wanted to know more about his inspiration for Carrion and obviously as I haven’t yet read it he’s been mindful to that in explaining to me…..without further ado I welcome Graeme Cumming. Not only has he explained a bit about the book and how it came to be there is also a short extract from Carrion to wet your appetite.
Cut-outs Don’t Cut It
When I first started writing Carrion, it was called Salin, after the main protagonist. The reason for this name was significant to how I envisaged the book turning out. Before long, I realised it wasn’t necessary, but liked Salin’s name and kept it.
When I started writing it, the plotline was still pretty vague. Having been part of the writing community for several yearsnow, I realise my approach leaned more towards what’sreferred to as the ‘pantser’ than the ‘plotter’ – which was one of my first mistakes.
Although I didn’t know exactly how things were going to turn out, there were ideas. I’d even drawn a rough and ready map to refer to because Salin and his friends would be going on a journey. I wanted to envisage their route and the physical obstacles in their path – forests, mountains, river – as well as the order they might be encountered. A couple of key scenes had begun to play out in my mind in advance of writing, so the map helped me work out where those scenes should take place.
Even so, I was pretty much making it up as I went along and, when I got to the final, climactic confrontation, it was clear it’d take a different form to my expectations. Still, by the time I typed ‘The End’, I liked the overall concept and felt happy with what I’d written. But it’d taken me five years to reach that point, and I needed a break from it, so I wrote what turned out to be my first published novel, Ravens Gathering.
The progress I made with Ravens Gathering was much faster than with Salin. A key factor was the decision to plot it all out in advance. But it still meant almost two years passed before I returned to Salin. I remained broadly happy with it, but there was something missing and I couldn’t quite work out what.
Over the following months, I edited, rewrote and got feedback from friends and family. Eventually, I felt ready to send it to my editor and sat back waiting for glowing praise.
It didn’t materialise. Instead, I was told it was an interesting concept, but too slow and, more importantly, my villain was little more than a cardboard cut-out. I’m paraphrasing here, and covering in a few lines what he said in four pages, but the essence is correct. And it hurt. Five years’ work, plus another year or so of reworking… For nothing.
The temptation to throw the towel in was very strong, and it was a temptation I felt several times because the scale of the changes was so significant.
The key, though, lay with the villain. His role needed beefingup. More importantly, I needed to give him more backstory. It’s become a cliché to refer to actors wanting to know their character’s ‘motivation’, but that was what made Carrion work. Not that it came easily.
At first, it went too far in the other direction. I drafted a summary of the villain’s whole life, which was something I’dlearnt writing Ravens Gathering. Knowing a character’s history helped to express them better on the page. The mistake I made was including everything in my next rewrite, increasing the word count from 120000 to 180000. The story became far too cumbersome, and the pace even slower.
It took three more attempts to get it down to a little over 125000 words and, more importantly, set the right pace. Based on early reviews, though, it seems to have worked, and the villain’s character has given Carrion the very edge it needed.
“You can’t hide anything from me. Remember that.” There was a certain gratification in the dread he sensed in them. “But you’re right, I do like to leave something behind for the birds.” He could never explain to anyone else the surge of energy he got from that simple act, and he had no intention of trying now. He didn’t need to.
It was time to let the ravens loose…
“You’ll die for that!” one of the guards yelled. He raised his sword, ready to charge. Behind him, the others were preparing to do the same.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
He probably saw the doubt in their eyes before they registered it themselves. It wasn’t enough to feed off yet. But it would be when it turned to fear.
“Have I introduced you to my friends?” He didn’t wait for an answer. The wings were beating before he’dfinished speaking.
About theAuthor: Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country. He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.
You can find more out about Graeme at the links below.
Today I am pleased to be a part of a blog blitz to showcase One Fatal Night by Helene Fermont. So let me dive in and tell you what it’s all about.
Blurb: One woman’s quest for revenge unearths a fatal secret from her past.
Astrid Jensen holds one man responsible for her mother’s suicide, and she’ll do whatever’s necessary to get close to Daniel Holst and destroy his life – even if it means sleeping with him to gain his trust. Astrid knows he’s not who he pretends to be. But before she can reveal his dark secret, people from her mother’s past start turning up dead, and it looks like she and Daniel are next. In order to survive, she might have to put her trust in the man she has hated for so long.
Daniel Holst has worked hard to climb into Norway’s most elite and glamorous circles, and he’s not about to let any woman bring him down. But when a psychopathic killer starts murdering people from his shadowy past, he discovers that the only person who might be able to save him is the woman who wants to destroy him.
As Astrid digs deeper into her past, she uncovers secrets long buried and realizes everything she once believed is based on lies. What began as a quest to avenge her mother’s death becomes a desperate struggle for survival and leads to the truth about what happened one fatal night ten years ago—and the surprising mastermind behind the most recent murders.
If that’s wet your appetite you can purchase it Here the ebook is currently cheaper than most decent coffees at £2.99 so grab it while it’s an absolute steal. It’s a 63% saving on the ebook over the paperback.
About the Author: Hélene is an Anglo-Swedish fiction author currently residing in her home town of Malmo, Sweden, after relocating back from London after 20 years.
Her thrilling character-driven psychological fiction novels are known for their explosive, pacy narrative and storylines.
Hélene is the proud author of four novels – One Fatal Night, Because of You, We Never Said Goodbye and His Guilty Secret.
Thank you once again to the ever professionalkelly @lovebooksgroup for having me.
Today we are celebrating the release of Gray Genesis by Alan McDermott. The 7th Tom Gray novel. Gray Genesis is the prequel and it is set in Afghanistan a few years before Gray Justice.
One of the best things about this being at home lark means I can spend more time on the blog. It seems to be working as last month there were only two days where I didn’t post. Once again I would like to know whether you like or loathe the days I post twice a day.
Blurb: Tom Gray is back in his most explosive adventure yet!
Afghanistan. As the war on terror intensifies, Taliban leader Abdul al-Hussain has plans to turn the tide in his favour. His objective: a US virologist named Miriam Dagher. She’s about to pay a visit to the land of her birth, and al-Hussain has her in his sights.
Out to stop al-Hussain is Sergeant Tom Gray, SAS veteran and leader of 8 Troop. His team are tasked with disrupting Taliban operations, snatching high-profile targets and wreaking havoc on enemy supply lines. Their missions are routine, until the Taliban unleashes a new breed of warrior.
Gray Genesis is a prequel to the million-selling Tom Gray series, a familiar blend of intrigue, camaraderie and explosive action.
About the author: Alan McDermott has an eclectic work history, with roles ranging from developing software for the NHS to shovelling custard powder in a food packing factory. He tried his hand at writing in 1990, but after completing half a draft, he started a new job and threw it in a drawer. It wasn’t until 2010 that he picked up his pen again, and published his first novel, Gray Justice, in 2011. Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption soon followed, and his success as a self-published author attracted the attention of Thomas & Mercer an Amazon publishing imprint. They commissioned three more books in the Gray series, plus a spinoff called Trojan. In 2014, Alan gave up his day job to become a full-time writer, and has written three books in a new series (Run and Hide, Seek and Destroy and Fight to Survive) featuring CIA assassin Nolene Driscoll. He also has a standalone thriller called Motive, which has a new lead in Ryan Anderson.
If that’s wet your appetite you can purchase a copy Here.
Thank you once again to the ever efficient Kelly @lovebooksgroups for inviting me onto this blog blitz.
Today I am pleased to be a part of the blog blitz introducing The Strange Book Of Jacob Boyce By Tom Gillespie. The book publishes on 21st July and you can pre order it Here.
Blurb: A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late?
When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.
About the author: Tom Gillespie grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the university as an English lecturer. Tom writes long and short stories. His stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and e-zines. He is co-author of Glass Work Humans-an anthology of stories and poems, published by Valley Press. Visit Tom at tom-gillespie.com
Thank you once again to Kelly @lovebooksgroup for organising this blog blitz and letting me be a part of it.
Today I am on the blog blitz for Carrion By Graeme Cumming. Carrion is published on Saturday 9th May and you can click Here to order a copy today.
Blurb: CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY. WORDS HAVE POWER.
A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.
Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.
With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.
The future is about to change. But who for?
About the author: Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country, and has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – turning to writing his own during his early teens.
With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied. Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.
This diverse interest in fiction continued with his reading and his discovery of the magical world of cinema. As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but will always maintain the style of a thriller.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.
Thank you as ever for Kelly at Love Books Group for inviting me onto this blitz and thank you to Graeme for also reaching out to us bloggers. I’m intrigued by the crows although I’ve read a few things in the past with crows and it’s chilled me to the bone….this one is an absolute steal of a price…