‘The Devil’s Bride’ by Emma S. Jackson #BookReview #BlogTour @ESJackson1 @darkstrokedark @crookedcatbooks #paranormalromance #TheDevilsBride

Kindle Edition: 257 pages
Published: February 5th 2020 by crooked cat / darkstroke
ASIN: B081697ZJZ

To buy now, please click here.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Devil’s Bride’ by Emma S. Jackson. Many thanks to Emma for my e-copy of the book in exchange for my thoughts as a reader.


Front Cover

What’s it about?

England, 1670

No one goes near Edburton Manor – not since the night in 1668, when demons rose from the ground to drag Lord Bookham’s new bride to a fiery death. Or so the locals say.

That’s what makes it the perfect hideout for the gang of highwaymen Jamie Lorde runs with.

Ghost stories have never frightened her. The living are a far more dangerous prospect, particularly to a woman in disguise as a man. A woman who can see spirits in a time when witches are hanged and who is working hard to gain the trust of the most ruthless, vicious man she has ever known because she intends to ruin and kill him.

But when the gang discovers Matthew, Lord Bookham’s illegitimate brother, who has been trapped by a curse at the Manor ever since the doomed wedding, all Jamie’s carefully laid plans are sent spiralling out of control.

My thoughts:

I was thrilled to be included in this book tour, not necessarily because I know much about paranormal romance, but I because I get a real thrill out of being chilled to the bone by the gothic and horrifying.

Emma S Jackson’s The Devil’s Bride does not disappoint in this regard. It’s atmospheric, gripping and very creepy. As female protagonists go, Jamie Lorde makes not only a very convincing man, but is canny, intuitive and intelligent and I was totally absorbed in her character.

The pace is very well controlled, the plot smart, addictive and dripping with menace. I read it in a couple of sittings, but it was actually very hard to put down and I did so a bit begrudgingly to feed little people and read bedtime stories etc.

The writing is so very good, as is the actual storytelling. It’s a challenge to bring something new to either the paranormal romance or gothic genres, but ‘The Devil’s Bride succeeds, and this is really exciting – many elements of the plot surprised me, which was extremely refreshing. There are rich descriptions, none of which are extraneous, and never seem forced or awkward – the same with the dialogue.

I love being able to keep track of characters and plot, even when complex motivations and twists and turns are revealed – this makes for a memorable story. There are some swashbuckling action scenes, and plenty of intrigue for readers to look forward to having unpicked in the sequel.

The Devil’s Bride is an accomplished, entertaining, atmospheric and spooky read, which has left me wanting more, and quickly! Really loved this.

About the author:

Author pic

Emma Jackson is the best-selling author of A MISTLETOE MIRACLE, published by Orion Dash.

A devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old, she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writers’ Scheme at the beginning of 2019, determined to focus on her writing.

Her debut novel was published in November 2019.

When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished.

THE DEVIL’S BRIDE is her second novel, published by DarkStroke as Emma S Jackson. She hopes to continue working across sub-genres of romance, as she believes variety is the spice of life.

You can follow Emma on:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Mine is the second entry on this blog tour – be sure to check out the rest!

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Review of ‘Beyond The Margin’ by Jo Jackson @rararesources @jojackson589 #ApedalePress #beyondthemargin #giveaway

Genre: Contemporary literary
Publication Date: 19th October 2019 by Apedale Press
ISBN:978-0-9956094-1-9
Estimated Page Count – 242
Standalone Novel

Purchase links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

It gives me enormous pleasure to be on the blog tour of Beyond the Margin by Jo Jackson. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for the copy of the book in exchange for my honest reader experience. Details of an exciting bookish giveaway at the bottom!

What’s it about?

Beyond The Margin Cover

Is living on the edge of society a choice? Or is choice a luxury of the fortunate?
Joe, fighting drug addiction, runs until the sea halts his progress. His is a faltering search for meaningful relationships.

‘Let luck be a friend’, Nuala is told but it had never felt that way. Abandoned at five years old survival means learning not to care. Her only hope is to take control of her own destiny.

The intertwining of their lives makes a compelling story of darkness and light, trauma, loss and second chances.

My thoughts:

From the first chapter, this book just had me. I need say nothing much about the plot other than what you see in the synopsis because Beyond the Margin is all about the way it makes you feel.

I found it both captivating and strangely, perhaps even inexplicably, calming. It’s raw and honest and visceral but is told with such skill that, despite the pity, the fury and the pain, it becomes beautiful, warm and uplifting. I was compelled by Joe’s journey. Near isolation makes him face himself; his spinning merry-go-round of regret and guilt is slowed sufficiently by the wonderful couple who both need him and show faith in him, for him to get off and start to heal.

Nuala is so blameless and broke my heart many times on her journey. Luck is no friend to her, until it is. Good people in her life are transient and so often become out of reach. Trying to make it on to the main page when your life is lived out beyond the margins may never be an available option, but she shows a resilience which is borne of her traumatic experiences, with an added strength of character and intelligence that maybe even she doesn’t see.

An exceptional piece of writing, characters to treasure and remember. I didn’t want this to end; very emotional. I now have a book hangover that I don’t have time for! Wouldn’t swap it for the world though – can’t recommend this highly enough.

About the author:

Beyond - Author P9200709 Beyond the Margin-2

Jo Jackson reads books and writes them too.

Having worked with some of the most vulnerable people in society she has a unique voice apparent in her second novel Beyond the Margin.

She was a nurse, midwife and family psychotherapist and now lives in rural Shropshire with her husband. She loves travelling and walking as well as gardening, philosophy and art.

Her first novel Too Loud a Silence is set in Egypt where Jo lived for a few years with her husband and three children. Events there were the inspiration for her book which she describes as ‘a story she had to write’.

To connect with Jo:

Facebook

Twitter

My thoughts come on the last day of what I hope has been a very successful tour for a wonderful book. Please have a look at the tour banner as you’ll be able to find some other opinions, excerpts and author interviews to read.

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Giveaway to Win signed copies of Beyond the Margin and Too Loud a Silence by Jo Jackson. (UK only)

Beyond The Margin - Giveaway Prize

Enter here!

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

‘A Portrait of Death’ by Rhen Garland @rararesources #APortraitofDeath #BlogTour #BookReview @RhenWitch

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for ‘A Portrait of Death’ by Rhen Garland. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for the e-copy of the book in exchange for my thoughts.

What’s it about?

A Portrait of Death Front cover 2018

In the quiet English village of Marmis Parva, a weekend house party is organised by a society hostess and all the top names are invited.

But this is no ordinary party.

Two men are savagely murdered during the course of the first evening and a young man, presumed dead, returns home after two years imprisonment in South Africa bringing with him proof of treason.

Detective Chief Inspector Elliott Caine’s long-awaited holiday in the Lake District is cancelled as he is brought in to investigate the peculiar nature of the murders. More bodies are discovered and Elliott has to manoeuvre between high society, Government protocols, and the heinous nature of the crimes if he and his old friend Detective Sergeant Abernathy Thorne, are to catch the sadistic killer, and the traitor lurking amongst them.

When Caine’s past comes back to haunt him, will his judgement be too clouded to focus on solving the crime?

Will the Boer spy’s identity be uncovered before they can flee?

How are these murders connected to another in New York?

My thoughts:

There are two separate prologues to set the scene for this macabre tale, and they set the scene for the gruesome crimes to follow.

Marmis Hall is the perfect setting for some nasty goings on, and the novel sits comfortably in the Victorian era which is one I particularly like reading about.

Detectives Caine and Thorne are called after two people are murdered at a dinner party, and the story follows their investigation into the killer, at odds with high society. There are false trails aplenty, and it is a satisfyingly gruesome tale, laced with the supernatural.

Lots of time and effort has been put into each sentence, and this pays off well. The plot is well organised and twisty, and the characters are complex and believable. I won’t spoil it any further but suffice it to say that I enjoyed it.

Buy yourself a copy here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the author:

Me September 2018

 

Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.

She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.

“I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy.”

“A Portrait of Death” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.

To connect with Rhen:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Bookbub

Goodreads

For other perspectives, please check out the thoughts of the other bloggers on the tour.

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#BookPromo of ‘False Flag’ by Rachel Churcher @rararesources @Rachel_Churcher #BattleGroundBookSeries #falseflag #blogtour

Today, I am delighted to be promoting ‘False Flag’ by Rachel Churcher on my stop of the blog tour. Thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for including me. ‘False Flag’ is the sequel to ‘Battle Ground’ and is part of the Battle Ground series, which imagines a dystopian near-future UK after Brexit and Scottish Independence. As a Brit, this is a very interesting premise and an engaging topic for young adults facing a post-Brexit future.

False Flag Rachel Churcher cover

The Blurb:
Ketty Smith is an instructor with the Recruit Training Service, turning sixteen-year-old conscripts into government fighters. She’s determined to win the job of lead instructor at Camp Bishop, but the arrival of Bex and her friends brings challenges she’s not ready to handle. Running from her own traumatic past, Ketty faces a choice: to make a stand, and expose a government conspiracy, or keep herself safe, and hope she’s working for the winning side.

There has been some enormous enthusiasm for this series so far, and here’s what the good people on the blog tour have been saying:

“Before reading this book I thought I knew how I felt about all the characters, but now I’m torn & unsure, & I’ll be going into book 3 feeling very confused on where my loyalties lie. Rachel has made this series a lot deeper & dangerous by choosing to write book two how she has done, & if anything, it just goes to show how much of a talented writer she is.” Writing with Wolves

“for the intended target YA audience, this one gets 5*.” Ayjaypagefarerbookblog

“Rachel Churcher is fantastic at world building and character crafting” Jessica Belmont

“I am enjoying this fascinating and plausible series and I’m looking forward to reading book 3” Just Books

“Frighteningly close to real” … ”While these books focus on young adults, the situations and the ways in which Churcher handles them are, by necessity, very grown up. This should appeal to all fans of dystopian fiction (or, as some folks are calling it: Current Events).” I feel you, Joe’s Jots!

“Churcher pulls off a real trick by giving us exactly the same events but from a completely different viewpoint.” Rea’s Reads

“This is again a fast paced book that is full of action conspiracy and has a challenging reader dilemma.” Me and my Books

“I found False Flag to be a fascinating read. It was more thought-provoking, seeing how things played out from a different character’s perspective” Jazzy Book Reviews

Check out all the other reviews by following the author’s social media links, or @rararesources on Twitter!

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I’m sold! I don’t know whether it is the current political atmosphere, which I’m fairly sure should be making me anxious, but I have a real penchant for dystopian fiction at the moment. The series so far is going for a song at  Taller Books.

Author bio:

Rachel Churcher Author photo.JPG

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction.

In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

To connect with Rachel:

Goodreads

Twitter

Instagram

Blog

‘In The Company Of Strangers’ by Awais Khan @rararesources @AwaisKhanAuthor #bookreview #bookbloggers #blogtour

It is my pleasure to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Awais Khan’s debut novel ‘In The Company Of Strangers’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey, from Rachel’s Random Resources, for including me, and to the author for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader; honestly, individually and impartially.

In The Company of Strangers Cover

The Blurb:

Mona has almost everything: money, friends, social status… everything except for freedom. Languishing in her golden cage, she craves a sense of belonging…

Desperate for emotional release, she turns to a friend who introduces her to a world of glitter, glamour, covert affairs and drugs. There she meets Ali, a physically and emotionally wounded man, years younger than her.

Heady with love, she begins a delicate game of deceit that spirals out of control and threatens to shatter the deceptive facade of conservatism erected by Lahori society, and potentially destroy everything that Mona has ever held dear.

My Review:

The prologue, which sets the scene for this story, makes us party to the tormented final thoughts and observations of a suicide bomber who is making his way into a crowded area in order to avenge his family. When he puts his finger to the detonator, he sets in motion a devastating chain of events.

Ali’s little brother is caught up in the blast, with life changing consequences. To pay for the medical bills, Ali must return to the sleazy work he had hoped to leave behind, despite being extremely successful. He becomes a top billing for the Lahori socialite Meera, who has been newly reunited with her best friend from her youth, Mona, who had married Bilal, a construction magnate, many years earlier. Their social circles are the same; glamourous and bitchy, a superficial whirlwind of parties and home visits which are very amusing to begin with, but palpable tension builds up throughout the story.

It is through Mona and Ali, our star-crossed lovers, that the story is told. The warmth with which these characters’ experiences are told is utterly pervasive and compelling.

I was struck with the author’s ease of writing from a female perspective. I lived and breathed with Mona for the duration of this novel. She has a sense of abstraction from the Lahori high society to which she belongs, allowing us to see the cracks and strains in her life and the lives of those around her.

Although the men believe they are the controlling force in society, there are some very formidable women too. Meera, thrice divorced and fiercely independent, makes it her mission to supersede all others in the pursuit of high society domination. This incenses the cunning and calculating Shahida Elahi, an older woman with a social agenda of her own. Mona’s mother in law, Nighat, is a complex character and I think I ended up liking her, despite her treatment of Mona throughout most of the story.

Away from the high life in Lahore, where secular conservatism is being espoused, young men are becoming radicalised. The dangers of charismatic leadership have been well documented throughout history, in all walks of life and fields of influence and Mir Rabiullah is no exception. He is a monstrous character, and unlike all others in this book, one who the author does nothing to redeem.

Mona experiences huge anxiety about the bomb attacks in Pakistan, which seem to be increasing in frequency and moving closer to the circles in which she moves. She is treading a dangerous path herself and there is great risk in what she does.

The plot of the novel is so compulsive; I found myself reading through the night to find out how Mona and Ali’s troubling situation would resolve.

I have experienced Istanbul through Orhan Pamuk, Kabul through Khaled Hosseini and now Lahore through Awais Khan. He is an author to watch, and I hope that he continues to write much more. As English speakers, to have language barriers broken down for us by skilled writers and translators, we are gifted access to recognise ourselves in others and to see the similarities in human society, no matter the location or culture.

Without reservation, I highly recommend In the Company of Strangers. It is an emotionally charged, stunning debut with masterful characterisation and a tremendous sense of place.

Trigger Warnings: domestic violence, bomb blasts and associated injuries, self-sacrifice, pregnancy related triggers.

This is of course, a blog tour, and there will be many unique perspectives on ‘In The Company of Strangers’ and I would urge you to read them. Some have interviews with the author and on others there are extracts from the novel.

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If you would like to order a copy, please follow one of these purchase links:

The Book Guild

Waterstones

Foyles

Amazon

About the Author:

Awais Khan photo

Awais Khan is a graduate of Western University and Durham University. Having been an avid reader and writer all his life, he decided to take the plunge and study Novel Writing and Editing at Faber Academy in London.

His work has appeared in the Missing Slate Magazine, Daily Times and MODE, and he has been interviewed by leading television channels like PTV, Voice of America, Samaa TV and City 42, to name a few.

He is also the Founder of The Writing Institute, one of the largest institutions for Creative Writing in Pakistan. He lives in Lahore and frequently visits London for business.

To connect:

Instagram

The Writing Institute on Instagram

Facebook