Chasing Ghosts : Blog Tour

by Madalyn Morgan

CG-6.inddIn 1949 after receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire’s husband disappears.

Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?

Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.


I didn’t realise that this is the 6th book in a series, but it didn’t matter one bit; there wasn’t anything I felt I missed or needed explained.

The gentle beginning belies the conflict and friction that surrounds the rest of the book. If the reader is paying attention, they’ll pick up on the tension and mystery circling round Mitch’s therapy at the beginning of the book. The writing creates a discomfort for the reader, a suggestion of fore-shadowing without being explicit.  As we progress through the quest to find Mitch and what is at the bottom of his disappearance, the tension gradually becomes more and more palpable.

Told from Claire’s point of view, we discover that Mitch, her husband, is suffering from what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His wartime experiences as an SOE Operative and prisoner have left him deeply scarred. He is receiving treatment, but Claire is concerned, not least because in his nightmare riddled sleep, he calls out the name ‘Simone’, and there was clearly an incident surrounding her which has left him with some level of guilt.

Has Mitch had an affair? Was Simone killed? What is going on? Claire can’t ask, she has been instructed never to question Mitch in case she triggers some devastating reaction from him.

With his disappearance, she comes to realise that the military now consider Mitch a traitor. Discovering that he might be back in France, Claire sets out to find him, and hopefully find answers to all the mysteries surrounding him, his condition, and his disappearance. She has to call on her wartime skills, and set aside her roles as wife and mother, and re-clothe herself in her coldly dispassionate former self:

She had a long journey ahead of her. She must call on her training, be detached and committed to the job she had to do. If she let sentimentality get in the way, she wouldn’t get beyond the next town along the railway track.

The development of the story and the central characters is superb. While I found some of the detail a little extraneous, it was easy to overlook as the author’s research is meticulous. She writes with great style, and certainly brings both periods of history to life. She builds the tension and drama step by step, and  at various times you are relaxed and enjoying the pace and others it’s an edge-of-the-seat ride to get to the end of that particular episode of excitement.

While we are primarily concerned with Mitch and his suffering with PTSD, it would be easy to overlook the fact the Claire has her own issues. It is so subtly written, but it is interesting that Claire, who was a highly successful SOE Operative, frequently cries for example. On reflection, the reader should realise that this is peace-time and Claire’s reaction to her war-time experiences are most likely manifesting themselves this way, and in other ways too, that people would consider uncharacteristic of her.

The vivid descriptions and the haunting narrative pull at the heart. It is achingly painful in places. The fast-paced ending had me holding my breath and turning the pages as fast as possible. If you don’t read any of the others, do read this one. It is a fantastic novel and may well make it on to my Books of the Year. I highly recommend it to you.

Enjoy!

PS: and while we should never judge a book by its cover – I really love this one!


Purchase HERE

Chasing Ghosts


Giveaway

Win signed copies of China Blue and Chasing Ghosts (UK Only)

*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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click HERE

China Blue and Chasing Ghosts for Blog Tour


Author

CH - Author photographMadalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in Lutterworth, at the Fox Inn. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live, as there were so many different characters to study and accents to learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and started writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

Happy to be an Indie Author, Madalyn has successfully published six novels. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue and The 9:45 To Bletchley are set before and during WW2 and tell the wartime stories of Bess, Margot, Claire, and Ena Dudley. Foxden Hotel and Chasing Ghosts are both post war.  Chasing Ghosts is a sequel to China Blue.

Madalyn’s books are available on Amazon – in paperback and all formats of eBook.

Author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Madalyn-Morgan/e/B00J7VO9I2

Social Media:

Madalyn’s Blog: https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/madalynmorgan/

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Oh! What a Pavlova : Blog Tour

Oh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May

Oh What A PavlovaKate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.
Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.
Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.
And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…
But will she escape before it’s too late?


The synopsis does not do this book justice.

Set between 2000 and 2009, this novel reflects the attitudes and behaviours of the time. From my perspective, much has changed in the ten to twenty years since then, though it seems so recent. Small, unheard beginnings in the Noughties, have come to great fruition, certainly in the UK. Attitudes towards women, towards our LGBTQ community, equality in marriage, and more. That’s not to say there isn’t an Everest of work to be done, but the story of Kate and Dan falls between 2000-2009, and that is our interest here. A powerful tale of love, misguided and misused, romance that isn’t, loneliness and friendship, it switches between light and dark through the entire work. It is emotional, painful, and cruel, while at the same time it amuses, engages, and entertains. The characters are mostly well-drawn though the central pair, Kate and Dan, are superbly defined and narrated.

Kate’s infidelities are raised in the very first sentence of Chapter One. I hesitated; she’s a cheat? I despise cheats. By the end of Chapter Two you are in turmoil and glued to the book, never mind the page. Torn in two, as a reader, between her ‘infidelities’ and her terrible partner Dan, it was imperative to find out what would happen to Kate, and how. (This is the point at which I have to say that I think readers would have been better served with a little less of her job and a lot more about her, Dan, and their relationship. It is the driving force of the book – but that’s just my opinion.)

Kate is a good woman, regardless of what we think of her behaviour. She is compassionate, kind, and cares about her friends and her job, which is running the Foreign Rights Department of a publishing house; a dynamic and important role. She could be described as something of a split personality, and reading her behaviour and actions, it takes a little getting used to. You see, at work and travelling from Book Fair to Book Fair, Kate is forthright, confident, and audacious; at home with Dan, she is cowed, timid, and submissive. He is abusive, and he terrifies her. Bit by bit Dan has undermined, criticised, and intimidated her and finally resorted to violence.

How did she end up here?

We learn that she was bullied and isolated at school, and Dan who is two or three years older, made her feel wanted and loved. Something she hadn’t experienced outside her family, and now they think Dan is wonderful and perfect for her, so she feels unable to talk to them, convinced no-one would believe what he does to her and how he scares her. We can now understand that Kate’s infidelities fill a desperate need for emotional and physical validation; she is desired, she is beautiful, she is wanted. So many times I wanted to shake Kate, point out how brilliant she is, but sadly abuse doesn’t allow its victims to operate rationally, or in their own best interests.

I know Dan. I met him growing up, at university, at work, and in other women’s marriages. You will recognise him too, I’m sure. Manipulative, sarcastic, belittling; eating away at a Kate’s self-esteem, her judgement, and making her second-guess herself. He follows his cruelty with the well-worn patterns of blaming her, ignoring what has happened, or sorrow, regret and begging for forgiveness.

Her friends Steph and Daisy are her partners in work and fun, and the men though typical of their kind in that time, made me laugh and howl in equal measure. These characters are nice and nasty, charming and contemptuous, quite real if not deep.

What is so great about this book, is that the author written about a very difficult and painful subject with a light and gentle hand. It would be easy to make certain scenes very ‘in your face’ violent, but what she does is ‘power it down’. That is NOT to say she shies away from what Dan does, but less is more. She makes the menace frighteningly and chillingly real so the impact is more powerful.

The episodes travelling abroad are a welcome light relief, and there plenty of them; they are comical, absorbing, filled with food and drink, and ‘shenanigans’. They also give the reader great insight into the working Kate who stands in stark contrast to the abused Kate. All things considered, it is a very enjoyable novel, her abusive relationship notwithstanding.

You really must read it.

According to Women’s Aid, ‘domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer.’ Click on the link to contact them.

Men also suffer domestic abuse, and Mens Advice Line is there to help. They have an excellent booklet you can download – just click on the link to go to their website.

Myth: The law only protects women who experience domestic violence but does nothing to help men.
Reality: Men and women have the same rights to protection from domestic violence.


Purchase HERE

 


Giveaway

Oh Giveaway Prize - The Cocktail BarWin a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar

(Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Author

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Social Media:

Website: www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter: @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram: @isabella_may_author

 

 

 

 

Fake Date : Review

The Fake Date by Lynda Stacey

Fake Date CoverNine hours and eleven minutes …
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead. 
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly. 
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill? 
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive …


While strap lines and publicity blurb are fun to read, the books they promote rarely live up to the hype. So, what about Fake Date?

  • Gripping
    • YES
  • Edge of the seat
    • YES
  • Thrilling
    • YES
  • Twists and turns to keep you guessing
    • YES
  • Romantic
    • YES

It ticks all the boxes, but in all honesty I would have never put these words together to make up a new genre – Romantic Psychological Thriller. Sounds utterly implausible and complete nonsense, and yet this is what Lynda Stacey gives us with Fake Date, and its brilliant.

Within a few pages of opening, the reader is reeling with shock, and you are straining to send life to Ella through the pages. It is one of the most powerful and dramatic opening chapters I have ever read, and combined with the killer’s dark and threatening thoughts peppered throughout the book, both ploys are clever, seductive, and compelling.

It is Ella who sets the tone and pace of the book. This is her story as much as it is any of the pawns in the killer’s game. She refuses to play the victim, and as a journalist she is determined to follow it to the bitter end, to find the person who tried to kill her and murdered others. The inevitable twists, turns, red-herrings, and blind alleys are equally effective in ramping up the tension. Believe me, if you get as involved in this book as I did, there are some sections that will exhaust you mentally and emotionally. Thank goodness for the romance. Lynda Stacey cleverly breaks up those intense passages with not only a delightful romance, but also the ‘hot’ romantic action of her policewoman friend. Both provide much-needed light relief, and moments of great hilarity.

Ella is a feisty, strong-minded, independent woman who has the character and determination not to let what happened to her take over her life or crush her spirit. Her first meeting with Will, her new neighbour is fraught with fear, but this is one of the moments where the tension is broken with humour. Will is a kind and gentle man yet strong-minded. Driven in both career and his personal life, he suffered a personal trauma in his past that has left deep scars both emotionally and psychologically. Whilst he has dealt with them well over the years, and is an out-going and confident man, it is the vulnerability these scars have left him that makes Will as a convincing, interesting, and complex personality as Ella. They are both impressive characters and a delight to read.

Whilst this is a relatively fast-paced story, it has layers, and even the layers have layers. The author takes several elements of the plot and slowly reveals them to the reader bit by bit, creating edgy, suspense-filled chapters. The romance between Ellie and Will is sweet and gentle, heated and passionate and sits in perfect contrast to the twisted, obsessive love that is central to the murders. The race to the end was just that, I couldn’t read and turn pages fast enough. It was on several levels devastating and shocking.

Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is one of the best I have read this year and may well make it on to my Books of the Year list.


Purchase

Just £1.99 in Amazon UK Kindle Store HERE

Audio Book HERE (FREE with Audible free trial)


Author

Lynda StaceyLynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire and went to both Bentley New Village School, and Don Valley High School.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.
Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

@LyndaStacey 


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Haircuts, Hens, and Homicide : Blog Tour

Haircuts, Hens, and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg

HaircutsHensHomicideBig2Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France.
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed. 

There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.


This is not an ordinary straight-forward romance; it is a mix of genres (and we all know I like that), filled with a brilliant cast of characters, human and otherwise. I believed in these people, they were as real to me as my friends, and I’m convinced that if I rolled up in a village these people would be in residence and recognisable. The author has created a wholly realistic and believable world inhabited by characters that have all the strengths, weaknesses, and failings of human beings everywhere.

Megan’s life is vastly different from the one her grandmother has been living in France in recent years; she’s a hairdresser in Maidenhead, living an average life, but with aspirations for her career. Although Megan has visited France many times, and feels relatively ‘at home’ there, she encounters much that she doesn’t quite understand. The constant invasion of her kitchen for a start. In an area populated mostly by old and older people, cousins Romain, an unsmiling, serious gendarme, and Nico, a seriously hot looking farmer with a severe ‘bull in a china shop’ problem, are constantly locking horns around Megan. Some of their encounters are comical as are some of her reactions.

Stephanie Dagg’s depiction of the main characters is absolute delight, and she reveals them to us in different ways. Cleverly writing in the first person, we see everything from Megan’s point of view, so immediately we know her thoughts and feelings, her opinions and reactions. With Romain, she peels back the layers slowly and steadily, so like Megan, we are kept wondering just what is going on inside his head. Megan and Romain are constantly thrown in each other’s company, partly by accident and partly by design on Romain’s side. While their backgrounds and experiences are very different, through the narrative the author subtly highlights the underlying similarities. These two devices are a masterclass for anyone with writing ambitions.

Megan was abandoned by her mother, has no clue as to who her father is, and was raised by her prickly, no-nonsense, but loving grandmother. Not only dumped by her fiancée but now newly redundant, apart from her best friend Kayla, Megan is alone in the world. Romain has recently returned home but we don’t know why, he has family, friends, and a community that he belongs to, and though his parents are wealthy and he had a somewhat privileged background, it wasn’t a fun childhood.

Frivolity was frowned on

So whilst one set of parents were there, and the other parent disappeared and declared dead, they have each marked their children. Megan and perhaps Romain too, learn that family is more than blood relatives. Megan’s friend Kayla, and the little community they belong to show more real and genuine care and concern.

Both characters have escaped potentially disastrous relationships. Megan started the new year being dumped by her fiancée in January, two months before their wedding. Romain has escaped from a relationship with Michelle, a rather domineering woman with a demanding career. She is high maintenance, very much a city-dweller, and a force to be reckoned with. Her return causes a frisson of dread to both Romain and Nico, and the reaction of the men to her entrance in the café was hilarious. Megan is not in the least put out or perturbed by Michelle, she deals with snooty domineering women often in her business, and while she has some similar traits to Michelle, they are more subtle and less selfish.

Megan is a feisty, warm-hearted and loving young woman yet simmering quietly beneath the surface is a discontent. She is bright and intelligent, and the walking talking epitome of the phrase, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Torn between returning to England and remaining in France, she weighs up what each has to offer. As the trail of criminal activity expands, shocking secrets revealed, and homicide is on the doorstep, Megan is undaunted. Her open and unsophisticated nature is in sharp relief to Romain who seems to be somewhat aloof. He keeps his behaviour, thinking and emotions, under strict control, and Megan enjoys confronting and provoking him, as much as Romain enjoys doing the same to her. Gradually however he is revealed to be a caring and compassionate man, with a warm and passionate nature.

With a cast of ‘villagers’ that includes Erik the vet and his mother, Alphonse and Monsieur Moustache,  Megan’s girls, the Mayor, and many more, we are presented with a plethora of characters who entertain and endear themselves to the reader. Who hasn’t experienced the rural French lunch hour, where almost everyone and everything stops work, as Megan says:

No-one messes with lunchtime in France

Stephanie has given us a novel that is humorous and romantic, lively and cheerful. The tone and language are light and amusing, and it’s an all-round bloody good read. The burgeoning romance and the murder detection are woven together with subtly and ease. We are flipped from yes they will to no they won’t with no regard for the readers sensibilities – and its brilliant! To find out who killed who and who ends up with who, you’ll have to read the book. Be prepared for face-achingly hilarious situations, cringe-worthy moments, and plenty of wonderful animals, but for me Monsieur Moustache ultimately steals the show.

ShockerAnd the extra bit at the end?

Shocker!

Give me Perms, Pigeons, and Poisons NOW!!

 

What to more can I say?

Buy it. Read it.

Enjoy it. Love it.

I did.

Haircuts, Hens, and Homocides has been added to my books of the year list. Yes. Its THAT fantastic.


Purchase

HERE : Amazon

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide


Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.

I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.

Social Media Links

@llamamum

www.facebook.com/StephanieDaggBooks/

www.bloginfrance.com


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