The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes by James Lovegrove

Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

I’ve recently become a real fan of short stories so I was thrilled when Lydia Gittins at Titan sent me a copy of James Lovegrove’s new collection The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes in return for an honest review.

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes is published today, 21st January 2020, and is available for purchase in all the usual places including through these links.

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

Tales of treachery, intrigue and evil…

Maverick detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful chronicler Dr John Watson return in twelve thrilling short stories

The iconic duo find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events: an otherworldly stone whose touch inflicts fatal bleeding; a hellish potion unlocks a person’s devilish psyche; Holmes’s most hated rival detective tells his story; a fiendishly clever, almost undetectable method of revenge; Watson finally has his chance to shine; and many more – including a brand-new Cthulhu Casebooks story.

My Review of The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

Twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories; some previously published, some new to this collection and one even written as a drunken bet.

I had intended to dip in to James Lovegrove’s The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes over several days, but I began reading and before I knew it I had devoured the entire collection. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories as I found myself transported to an atmospheric world of crime and intrigue.

James Lovegrove has pitch perfect prose that emulates Conan Doyle utterly convincingly. Both Holmes and Watson’s voices ring out clear and true so that any fan of Doyle’s original stories will love The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes. The style works brilliantly and I think James Lovegrove goes beyond a pastiche and brings a fresh vibrancy to much loved characters. He draws on details that traditional Holmes readers will recognise in both character and plot but adds other elements that create further interest too, making for a very entertaining read.

Whilst each story is satisfying and engaging, being meticulously plotted and crafted, I particularly liked the added details from the author about the origins of each tale. There’s a dry wit and insight into James Lovegrove’s own life as well as links with, and information about, Conan Doyle – though if I were James Lovegrove’s wife I’d avoid flying insects! I loved the attention to social and historical detail so that there is also quite a Dickensian feeling to the settings of The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes and I think that fits perfectly with the more supernatural element James Lovegrove weaves in to this collection.

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes is a collection any Sherlock Holmes lover would be delighted to own. I’m not normally especially keen on Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes but I thought The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes was super and really recommend it for those wanting some cracking entertainment in their reading.

About James Lovegrove

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James Lovegrove is the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Odin. He was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1998 and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2004, and also reviews fiction for the Financial Times. He is the author of Firefly: Big Damn Hero with Nancy Holder and Firefly: The Magnificent Nine, and several Sherlock Holmes novels for Titan Books. He lives in south-east England.

For more information, follow James on Twitter @JamesLovegrove7, visit his website and find him on Facebook.

Staying in With Glynis Peters, Author of The Orphan Thief

The Orphan Thief Cover Image

I’m delighted to be helping begin the blog tour for The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters as it looks just my kind of book. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate.

I’m thrilled that Glynis is staying in with me today to tell me more about The Orphan Thief.

Staying in with Glynis Peters

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Glynis. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hi Linda, thanks for having me over. I’m thrilled to be here.

I think we already have a good idea, but which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

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I’ve chosen, The Orphan Thief. It’s my latest novel with One More Chapter / HarperCollins, and I’m rather excited as the paperback launch is this week for the UK and USA (Canada February). The cover is taken from a scene in the book, which means the creator gave it serious thought when putting it together. I love that I have two coloured coats, too. The navy coat is for the American and Canadian market, and the red one is for the UK.

How exciting. Happy publication week! I shall have to see if I can spot the moment in The Orphan Thief when I read the book!

What can we expect from an evening in with The Orphan Thief?

I’m told the story is an emotional read, and took me to a few dark places whilst researching. So, on a night in with this book, I’d suggest having a box of tissues to hand.

Ooo. I love a good cry when I’m reading. This sounds just my kind of story.

I cannot imagine going through a world war, and wanted to express the loss people went through in England, during WWII, and not just adults. Ruby Shadwell and friends are created characters, but believe me, the horrors they experienced were based upon my findings. I wanted to set the book in Coventry again, as I did with my first book, The Secret Orphan.

the secret orphan

The blitz took so much from so many. I thought we could have a look at the opening to The Orphan Thief so you can see what I mean:

CHAPTER 1

Coventry, 15th November 1940

Ruby Shadwell stared out into the street, blinked away her disbelief and then looked down once again into darkness over the edge of a large smoking crater. A flash of light from the rising sun emerging from behind a cloud skimmed across scattered shards of glass, giving her an insight as to what was below. The epicentre of horror.

The place her parents and two siblings would have sat enjoying their cocoa around the fire, as they did every night. Ruby had no doubt their routine hadn’t altered despite the air raid warnings.

Even if they had been in the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden, the scene before her would be the same. Total devastation. Her family crushed to death like ants under the foot of a human.

White-grey flakes fluttered from the sky. She held out her hand. It wasn’t snow, but something like the ash from the fireplace in their house. The house which no longer existed.

Ruby wrapped her arms around her chest and shoulders and gripped hard, digging her fingers into her flesh through the woollen coat she wore. At sixteen, she could not recall a pain so deep, even when her precious grandfather had passed away. Unable to absorb the enormity of the disaster, she remained staring downwards into the crater in the hope it could be a dream. She’d even accept a nightmare. One from which her family clawed their way back to the surface. Back into her life.

Her body, freezing with the November frost and easterly wind, felt stiff and bruised. Heavy drizzle dripped across her face and she brushed it away, her skin sore with cold, but she was unable to move away from the place she once knew as home. How had it come to this?

Walking home from Lammas Road, Ruby had witnessed the first of the bombs before a warden had grabbed her arm and took her at great speed to the public shelter underneath Radford Common.

Someone gave the time as seven-­twelve when the sirens blasted their warning around the city. They ran past the group and towards the shelter, the warden shouting for them to run faster. An elderly lady stumbled and the warden left Ruby in order to help. The enemy attacked before the wailing of the siren had stopped. Ruby screamed as a bomb dropped on the rooftops of a nearby street.

A feeling more than the fear of the bogeyman forced her onwards – it sickened her to think she was streets away from the comfort of her family. Her lungs burned with the cold of the evening air and by the time she made it into the shelter, huddled amongst strangers and a few familiar faces, more bombs had fallen. Too many to count, too many to ignore.

Everyone waited for the all clear to sound. It never rang out, but the reassurances and door-­banging from

ARP wardens now that the raid was over came as a huge relief. The warden seeing them out of the shelter warned people to be careful of fires and unexploded bombs, and that electricity was no longer on supply.

Ruby moved forward in the queue to leave and was stunned by what she saw as she stepped outside. Enemy bombs had proved themselves to be powerful and destructive – they’d destroyed Coventry.

My goodness Glynis. I can’t wait to read the rest now. You’ve conveyed brilliantly what it must have been like. 

I’m glad you think so Linda. Here’s what one of my American readers thought:

TheOrphanThief USA review Dec 12

That’s fabulous Glynis. You must be thrilled with a review like that.

What else have you brought along and why? 

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I’ve brought along a few carrot scones, orange squash, bottles of brown ale, and spam sandwiches. I’ve also invited a few friends along; service men and women, a few of the home guard (my granddad is on duty so won’t be able to join us), and ladies from the aeroplane and ammunition factories. The others are on fire watch duties.

(My granddad was in the home guard too!)

gas mask

The bombers flying back to Germany might pay a visit, so don’t forget to grab your gasmask when heading for the shelter. How about a sing-song to take our mind off things for an hour or so? I’ll start with a Vera Lynn number, We’ll Meet Again.

If it’s all the same to you. I’ll just listen. My singing sounds worse than the air raid siren and we don’t want to panic anyone!

Oh, and just a whisper, I heard there might be sausages at the butcher’s tomorrow. I’ll send my daughter to stand in the queue. Two hours I spent queuing last time. I’ll have to leave early tonight, as I have to drive the bus to town, and am on early shift.

It’s amazing how we take so much for granted now compared with the time of The Orphan Thief isn’t it?

It is Linda. Today, I head to the supermarket whenever there is a get-together, where there is no shortage of treats. I’d never think of standing in a queue for food any longer than a few minutes. The thought of wearing a gasmask is beyond me. I can’t bear things over my face.

I agree. I’m very claustrophobic.

My grandfather used to finish his day job, then join the Home Guards for the evening, after he’d tended the vegetable plot. Days and nights were filled with endless chores, so to have a siren go off just as you manage to climb into bed, must have been exhausting. Writing these books have made me eternally grateful for those who had so little, yet gave so much.

I bet it has. Tell me a bit more about your writing style.

My writing style of capturing the WWII life and romance, is a bit different to some of the saga books out there. I try to bring the strife and struggles of loss to the fore. I’m told this book has achieved just what I set out to do, and now I’ve written about WWII Coventry, I feel can visit the city for the first time. I didn’t want to lose the image of the war-torn city by visiting, and folk find it hard to believe I’ve never been. One reader praised my setting as she lives there, for which I heaved a sigh of relief, but was also delighted I’d managed to express what I’d learned enough to satisfy a true Coventarian. My next book will be set in a different blitz city; Southampton.

I think The Orphan Thief sound brilliant Glynis. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about it. 

Let me tell readers a bit more:

The Orphan Thief

The Orphan Thief Cover Image

From the international bestselling author of The Secret Orphan

When all seems lost…

As Hitler’s bombs rain down on a battered and beleaguered Britain, Ruby Shadwell is dealt the most devastating blow – her entire family lost during the Coventry Blitz.

Hope still survives…

Alone and with the city in chaos, Ruby is determined to survive this war and rebuild her life.  And a chance encounter with street urchin Tommy gives Ruby just the chance she needs…

And love will overcome.

Because Tommy brings with him Canadian Sergeant Jean-Paul Clayton.  Jean-Paul is drawn to Ruby and wants to help her, but Ruby cannot bear another loss.

Can love bloom amidst the ruins?

Or will the war take Ruby’s last chance at happiness too?

Published in paperback by Harper Collins imprint One More Chapter on 23rd January 2020, The Orphan Thief is available for purchase through the links here.

You can also purchase your e-copy of The Orphan Thief here.

About Glynis Peters

Glynis peters

Glynis Peters, lives in Dovercourt, Essex, England.

She married her school sweetheart in 1979, and they have three children. They also have three grandchildren, with another due in the spring of 2019, the year of their ruby wedding Anniversary.

​In 2014, Glynis was short-listed for the Festival of Romantic Fiction New Talent Award.

​In 2018, HarperCollins/HarperImpulse published her novel, The Secret Orphan. The novel rose to several bestseller positions within a few months of release.

​When Glynis is not writing she enjoys fishing with her husband, making greetings cards, cross stitch and the company of her granddaughters.

Her grandson lives in Canada, and it is for that reason she introduced a Canadian pilot into The Secret Orphan.

You can follow Glynis on Twitter @_GlynisPeters_ for more information, or visit her website and find her on Instagram and Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Orphan Thief BT Poster

Lampie and the Children of the Sea by Annet Schaap

Lampie

My enormous thanks to Poppy Stimpson at Pushkin Press for sending me a copy of  Annet Schaap’s children’s book Lampie and the Children of the Sea in return for an honest review.

Already available in hardback, Lampie and the Children of the Sea, will be released in paperback on 27th February 2020 and is available for pre-order here.

Lampie and the Children of The Sea

Lampie 2

Every evening Lampie the lighthouse keeper’s daughter must light a lantern to warn ships away from the rocks. But one stormy night disaster strikes. The lantern goes out, a ship is wrecked and an adventure begins.

In disgrace, Lampie is sent to work as a maid at the Admiral’s Black House, where rumour has it that a monster lurks in the tower. But what she finds there is stranger and more beautiful than any monster. Soon Lampie is drawn into a fairytale adventure in a world of mermaids and pirates, where she must fight with all her might for friendship, freedom and the right to be different.

My Review of Lampie and the Children of The Sea

Illiterate and poor, Lampie is about to start a new life not of her choosing.

What a glorious book. If Lampie and the Children of the Sea doesn’t take its place in the canon of children’s classic books there is no justice. Annet Schaap has captured the very best in children’s writing, with peril, adventure, mythology, good and evil, and distilled it into a mesmerising and captivating tale that children of all ages will love. I adored it because not only did it transport me back to my own childhood, when I first discovered the love of books, but Lampie and the Children of the Sea is a stunning and spellbinding narrative for readers of all ages.

There is everything a reader could want in Lampie and the Children of the Sea. The plot races along, elevating the heart rate and ensnaring the reader. Atmospheric illustrations enhance the story and the quality of Annet Schaap’s descriptions ensures a vivid setting both on land and water. Her use of the senses brings the writing alive and although this book is in translation, I didn’t once feel there was anything awkward. It’s beautifully written and translated, making for a smooth and affecting read. Laura Watkinson has translated the original flawlessly.

The characters are fantastic. Annet Schaap understands so intuitively what it is like to be different or an outcast, that she made me long to put my arms around Edward and Lampie and comfort them. Physical, mental, social and educational differences are explored thoroughly, ensuring that any reader can identify with so many of the people here. I loved the feminist element to Lampie too. She demonstrates that lack of formal education does not mean a person is stupid, and her feisty attitude is a wonderful role model to other girls. I also loved the concept that strength doesn’t have to be physical and the development of Edward throughout the story is incredibly touching.

In fact, I experienced many emotions reading Lampie and the Children of the Sea and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes it so special. I was horrified by Lampie’s treatment from many of the adults around her, saddened by Edward’s aggression masking terrible unhappiness, afraid at what might happen to the characters at different parts of the story, gladdened by some of the outcomes and amused by some of the events. This really is a magical book.

As Lampie and the Children of the Sea comes to a satisfying conclusion, there is the potential for further adventures and I am desperately hoping that this isn’t the last we see of Lampie and of Annet Schaap’s wonderful writing. I thought Lampie and the Children of the Sea was just fabulous.

About Annet Schaap

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Annet Schaap is one of the Netherlands’ best-loved illustrators. Lampie and the Children of the Sea is her debut novel and won four prizes in the Netherlands and Flanders, including the Gouden Griffel for the best Dutch children’s book of the year.

You can follow Annet on Twitter @schaap_annet for more information or visit her website.

The Alligator Who Liked To Jump by Janet Popham

The Aligator Who Liked to Jump

My grateful thanks to Janet Popham for sending me a copy of her children’s book The Alligator Who Liked To Jump in return for an honest review.

Published by Olympia, The Alligator Who Liked To Jump is available for purchase here.

The Alligator Who Liked To Jump

The Aligator Who Liked to Jump

Archie is an autistic alligator, who worries that being ‘different’ from the other animals will make him stand out.

Archie likes to jump and bounce but the other animals think he shouldn’t do this, until the wise elephant tells them that they should listen to Archie.

Archie finds it difficult to speak, but he manages to explain how he feels and makes the other animals understand him, so that they realise he isn’t all that different, after all!

A lovely story told in rhyme, for very young readers, different or not.

My Review of The Alligator Who Liked To Jump

Archie feels different to all the other animals.

What an utterly charming children’s book. Janet Popham has taken a highly emotive subject in The Alligator Who Liked To Jump and turned it into a story that all ages can relate to and in which they can find understanding of those who are different, or, in Archie’s case, autistic.

Through Archie’s words and actions in The Alligator Who Liked To Jump we are shown carefully how what could appear to be a temper tantrum or uncontrollable behaviour might simply be a frustrated child trying to express themselves, so that readers gain a greater understanding. Exploring the themes of tolerance, difference and the basic human need for friendship and company, The Alligator Who Liked To Jump gives a realistic and heart-warming narrative that I thought was brilliantly conveyed. The fact that Archie likes computer games and sport also helps exemplify that he isn’t so very different from the other animals after all.

The rhyme scheme is also a benefit when sharing The Alligator Who Liked To Jump with children because it helps them develop their own language use as well as provide a structure that will appeal to young readers who are themselves on the autistic spectrum.

The illustrations that accompany the writing are perfect because the range of expressions on Archie’s face provide brilliant talking points about how we convey emotions. The colours are vibrant and the images dynamic in style making for a hugely entertaining book.

I heartily recommend The Alligator Who Liked To Jump because it is written in an entertaining style by someone who obviously knows first hand the frustration of young children who live with autism. That said, any child would enjoy this book too.

About Janet Popham

janet

Janet Popham is a primary school teacher, originally from Glasgow who now lives in South Wales with her husband and children. She is a mum to three children, one of whom is autistic.

You can follow Janet on Twitter @Janetpops for more information.

Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain

six wicked reasons

When I attended a Quercus book evening last October (see here) I was thrilled when I got my hands on an early copy of Jo Spain’s Six Wicked Reasons and am delighted to share my review with Linda’s Book Bag readers today as part of the blog tour celebrating the publication of the book. My enormous thanks to Milly Reid at Quercus for inviting me to participate.

Released by Quercus on 16th January 2020, Six Wicked Reasons is available for pre-order here.

Six Wicked Reasons

six wicked reasons

It’s June 2008 and twenty-one-year-old Adam Lattimer vanishes, presumed dead. The strain of his disappearance breaks his already fragile family.

Ten years later, with his mother deceased and siblings scattered across the globe, Adam turns up unannounced at the family home. His siblings return reluctantly to Spanish Cove, but Adam’s reappearance poses more questions than answers. The past is a tangled web of deceit.

And, as tension builds, it’s apparent somebody has planned murderous revenge for the events of ten years ago.

My Review of Six Wicked Reasons

A dysfunctional family at its most extreme!

Six Wicked Reasons is a brilliant read. I loved Jo Spain’s clever plotting that ranges over years and settings from the Irish Spanish Cove to New York because she entangles the reader into the narrative until they are as complicit in the action as any of the characters. Whilst I’m not normally a fan of multiple viewpoints and different time frames I really, thoroughly, enjoyed them here as they weave together so perfectly. I finished the book feeling I had been completely captivated.

My brain was reeling because every time I thought I had it all worked out, Jo Spain hit me broadside with something I simply hadn’t seen coming so that Six Wicked Reasons is wonderfully entertaining. Although I had my suspicions, I genuinely didn’t know for certain who had done what until the very last word. In fact, the writing is so cleverly constructed that I identified every single one of the characters as being the murderer at some point. Jo Spain’s short chapters and almost blase, yet powerful and shocking, chapter endings genuinely made me gasp aloud. I simply had to read on every time.

The Lattimer family is a gloriously dysfunctional family and so believable.  I was totally convinced by the creation of the family members and I got to the point where I’d gladly have climbed into the book and murdered several of them myself. In fact, that’s one of the aspects of reading Six Wicked Reasons that I found so compelling. Murder is, quite simply, wrong. However, Jo Spain’s writing made me feel that not only was murder justifiable here, but that it was essential. She made me question my own morals as well as the morals and motives of her characters. That’s a powerful thing to do.

It’s hard to say too much about Six Wicked Reasons without giving away elements of the plot – even when it comes to commenting on characters, so I think it best to say that Six Wicked Reasons is a corker of a book. It’s fast paced. It’s exciting. It’s well written and satisfyingly resolved. In fact, In Six Wicked Reasons, Jo Spain presents the reader with everything they want from a murder thriller with real people at its heart. I loved it.

About Jo Spain

jo spain

Jo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number
one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking RTE television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European
television projects. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

You can follow Jo on Twitter @SpainJoanne, and find her on Facebook.

#SixWickedReasons

Cover Reveal: The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain

the secret seaside escape cover

With Heidi Swain’s book Poppy’s Recipe for Life featuring here on Linda’s Book Bag as one of my 2019 books of the year, I was thrilled to be asked by Heidi to help reveal her latest book, The Secret Seaside Escape.

Heidi is a regular on the blog and you can read my full review of Poppy’s Recipe for Life here. I’ve also reviewed Heidi’s Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market here and was thrilled to ‘stay in’ with her to chat all about Sunshine and Sweet Peas In Nightingale Square here.

Heidi provided a smashing guest post for Linda’s Book Bag when Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland was published, explaining exactly what Christmas means to her and you can find that post here.

So, let’s see what is coming up with Heidi’s new book, The Secret Seaside Escape.

The Secret Seaside Escape

the secret seaside escape cover

Following a shocking revelation within her family, Tess Tyler is looking to escape her hectic city life – and where better to hide than Wynmouth, the seaside town she visited as a child, with its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community. But little does she realise, Wynmouth isn’t quite the haven she remembers it to be, and her real life is still threatening to catch up with her . . .

Also returning to Wynmouth is Joe. Having fled over a decade ago after an accident that changed his life forever, he’s back and is determined to face his demons. But, like Tess, Joe realises that the town is nothing like he remembers and quickly his arrival brings old tensions to the surface.

As the pair begin to familiarise themselves with the town they once knew, they each realise that the secrets they carry are becoming harder to conceal – but will revealing them bring the answers they’re looking for? Will Tess and her new friends finally get the second chance they’ve been hoping Wynmouth will give them?

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Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I know we’ll be in for a treat and I can’t wait to read it. The Secret Seaside Escape will be published by Simon and Schuster on 30th April 2020 in e-book, audio and paperback is available for pre-order through the links here.

About Heidi Swain

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Heidi Swain is the Sunday Times bestselling author of several novels including The Cherry Tree CafeSummer at Skylark FarmMince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas MarketComing Home to Cuckoo Cottage , Poppy’s Recipe for Life, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair. and now The Secret Seaside Escape. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two teenage children.

heidi's books

You can follow Heidi on Twitter @Heidi_Swain and visit her blog or website. You’ll also find Heidi on Facebook

Thank You @OrendaBooks and @ReviewCafe

Now, I get sent an awful lot of books and although I tweet my thanks on Twitter, I rarely write a blog post about them but I simply have to thank Karen Sullivan, publisher extraordinaire at Orenda Books, and fellow blogger Lorraine for the most amazing collection of books that arrived on Christmas Eve.

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During December lovely Lorraine over at The Book Review Cafe hosted a series of posts featuring books from Orenda with a giveaway. I couldn’t believe it when I was the lucky winner of that giveaway and the books came in time for Christmas on Christmas Eve.

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Having been brought up correctly, I had meant to write a blog post thanking both Karen and Lorraine as soon as Christmas was over, but life got the better of me. Obviously Christmas Eve and Day were busy with family and friends and then at just after 1.30 on Boxing Day morning I had an emergency call from my Mum who has been ill ever since, so that my usual reading and blogging time has been taken up somewhat. I’ve also managed to develop some weird abscess in my upper jaw which has seen me at three dental appointments and currently waiting for potentially around £4000 worth (eek) of treatment in Cambridge some 50 miles from where I live, so I simply haven’t had a moment. Until now!

To say I was thrilled to receive a bundle of 18 Orenda Books is an understatement but when I found an extra treat included of Louise Beech’s I Am Dust which won’t be out until April 16th in paperback I was delighted. Louise’s Call Me Star Girl was also in the prize bundle and it’s signed too! When I say that Call Me Star Girl was one of my books of the year (see here) you’ll know why I’m so pleased. You can read my review of Call Me Star Girl here.

As I looked through the books I found myself quoted in SJI Holliday’s Violet as I’d been lucky enough to have an early ecopy for review, and you can read that review here. It’s always so exciting to find myself in a book!

Even better, another two of the books are also signed copies: Changeling by Matt Wesolowski and Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir.

So by way of a rather belated thank you to Lorraine and Karen, I thought I’d share the details about the books in the prize bundle with you today as I’m sure there will be something there that takes your fancy too.

If you click on the title and author headings you’ll find buy links for the books.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech

I Am Dust

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.
And Chloe has been watching…

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

Violet by SJI Holliday

When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, an intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending …

… a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday.

Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Cage

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.

As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.
Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Changeling

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone.

No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night.

He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is… Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking,

Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

Faultlines by Doug Johnson

Faultlines

A little lie…a seismic secret…and the cracks are beginning to show…

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret.

Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact someone who claims to know what she’s done…

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

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Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

Blood Song by Johanna Gustawsson

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Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning instalment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen

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A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his. As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland Little Siberia is both a crime novel and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.

Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

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On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.

Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.

A smart, dark, probing thriller, full of all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the very best noir, Beton Rouge is both a classic whodunit and a scintillating expose of society, by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

We Were The Salt Of The Sea by Roxanne Bouchard

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Truth lingers in murky waters…

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets.

Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots.

Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation.

Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone

In the absence of miracles

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

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Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

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Welcome to the Heady Heights …

It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks’, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…

A hilarious and poignant nod to the elusivity of stardom, in an age when ‘making it’ was ‘having it all’, Welcome to the Heady Heights is also a dark, laugh-out-loud comedy, a heart-warming tribute to a bygone age and a delicious drama about desperate men, connected by secrets and lies, by accidents of time and, most of all, the city they live in.

Dead of Night by Michael Stanley

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When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, but within a week she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that she doesn’t want, but can’t get rid of…

Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late, both for the rhinos and for her. She has a powerful story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it…

Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller from Michael Stanley, author of the award-winning Detective Kubu series, introducing an intriguing new protagonist, while exposing one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent..

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb

Deep Dirty Truth

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty-hunter Lori Anderson finally has her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in 48 hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

In this race only the winner gets out alive…

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

The Ringmaster

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl

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In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in an exceptional, shocking thriller.

And last but by no means least in this amazing prize bundle…

Attend by West Camel

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When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.

Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.

With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

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Orenda books have featured a few times here on Linda’s Book Bag and every one I have read has been an absolute stunner, so I have a feeling that I’m going to enjoy each and every one of these prize books. Once again I’d like to thank Lorraine and Karen for sending me such a wonderful collection. I was thrilled to win.

I wonder which of these superb books appeals most to you?