Tag Archives: Dark Humour

When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell @emmamitchelfpr @BakerPromo #WhenStarsWillShine #HelpForHeroes

Today I’m thrillled to be one of the book bloggers taking part in the When Stars Will Shine blog tour. The book is a collection of short stories from numerous authors. The money raised is going to a fabulous cause, to explain all here’s a message from Emma Mitchell who compiled When Stars Will Shine……

A Note from Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas-themed short stories compiled to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble owl proof reading  and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s get booked  I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s not so secret blog , who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

There isn’t a person in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour working on these stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

And now for the book description……….

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When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

When Stars Will Shine is the perfect Christmas gift for the bookworms in your life!

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I was really excited when I was offered an ARC of When Stars Will Shine in exchange for a review, (I have pre-ordered a few copies, as it’s such a fabulous cover, plus it’s for such a worthy cause, it will also make the perfect Christmas present for a bookworm). When I saw a list of the authors who had written short stories for this book I recognised quite a few authors, but not all so I was interested to see how their writing compared to those authors I’m more familiar with. 

As this book is a collection of short stories it’s the perfect book to dip into when the mood takes, or you could be like me,  I intended to only pick out a few of the stories to read, but once I picked it up I read one, and then another, and then another……and before I knew it I had read the whole book!  Every author’s story deserves a mention but unfortunately I’m only reviewing three, I chose an author who’s books I’ve already read, and two new authors to me.

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman

Anyone who has read a book by Rob Ashman knows what to expect, his books are gory, brutal and gritty. So I expected something along these line, but how wrong I was. The author gave me goose pimples, my eyes filled with tears, as he recounted the story of his great uncle, it’s short, poignant, and sums up the fragility of life for the brave soldiers who fought night and day for their country. It’s a simple story but it had a profound effect on me, as it’s the story of millions of soldiers who never returned home to their loved ones.

The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin

Billy McLaughlin is a new author to me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much he packed in to his short story. It’s a bittersweet tale of forgiveness and families. As I read this story I had a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat. The invitation tells the story of Terry King, a war veteran, a man who was left broken by the things he saw, and the things he did. You get a real sense of Terry’s character as he looks back on his life, he has plenty of regrets mostly concerning the family he abandoned for alcohol, you can’t but help sympathise with someone who has seen and suffered so much. There are heartwarming moments in this short story that made me smile, and other moments bought me close to tears. This was definitely one of my favourite stories.    

***Forgive me if my reviews are giving you the sense that this book is a depressing read, it’s not by any means,  but the first two I choose to review had the most impact on me*** 

Penance by Jane Risdon

I really enjoyed this one, Jane Risdon isn’t an author whose books I’ve read before, but I loved this ghostly Christmas tale. This one also gave me goose pimples, but they were mostly caused by a feeling of dread as Gabrielle looks for his missing wife and daughters. Christmas should be a time where families get to spend precious time together, and yet Gabrielle missed these special days, putting work first, leaving him full of regret. There’s something sinister about reading a story based around Christmas and the big man himself, especially when a crimes committed. I was impressed with how well written this short story was, the author creates a spooky atmosphere with an undercurrent of tension and unease,  but ultimately it’s a touching story that pulls on the heartstrings.

Where Stars Will Shine is like no other book I have read there’s literally something for every kind of reader, true war tales, gritty Christmas crimes, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found. It’s the perfect book to dip or read in one sitting on a dark Winters night. Highly recommended.

Full contents:

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman

Four Seasons by Robert Scragg

The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff

Believe by Mark Brownless

What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell

The Art of War and Peace by John Carson

A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton

Free Time by Stewart Giles

Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake

The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen

The Village Hotel by Alex Kane 

A Present of Presence by HR Kemp

The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin

Brothers Forever by Paul Moore

Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen

Pivotal Moments by Anna Franklin Osborne

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli

Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke

Christmas Present by Lexi Rees

Inside Out by KA Richardson

Penance by Jane Risdon

New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg

Family Time by Graham Smith 

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to Emma Mitchell and Shell Baker for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Follow the blog tour…..

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A Dark matter by Doug Johnstone (Skelfs #1) #BookReview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir

Today I am sharing my review for A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone if you are looking for a different type of thriller, one that stands out from the crowd I may just have the book for you, but first the book description……

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Three generations of women from the Skelfs family take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a taut, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators…

When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

A compelling, tense and shocking thriller and a darkly funny and warm portrait of a family in turmoil, A Dark Matter introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, marking the start of an addictive new series.

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When I picked up A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone, I felt a frisson of excitement, (Breakers one of his previous book is sitting solidly on my list of top reads of 2019) as you are never sure what road the author will take you down, but once again the author has written an impressive book, with remarkable characters. A Dark Matter is certainly different to Breakers but how I loved this book, it’s the first in a series following three generations of Skelf Woman. This is a book that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, it’s a kind of family saga, thriller, crime thriller all rolled into one, making for an unusual but compelling read. 

When the head of the family, Jim Skelf passes away, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of the family businesses, a funeral-home, and private investigators.Two very different businesses, that are polar opposites, but the two blend perfectly, creating a plot that’s teeming with mystery, dark humour and tension. The story is narrated in alternating chapters by the three women, normally this can cause me issues with the flow of a story, but that’s not the case with A Dark Matter the author moves fluidly between the three POV creating a read that’s seamless.

Doug Johnstone has a knack for creating well-rounded characters, they are characters who get under your skin; you find your thoughts continually returning to them. I admire the fact the author isn’t afraid to create characters who aren’t without flaws, after all none of us are perfect! Neither are they stereotypes, they are likeable, credible, and relatable. The women face overwhelming challenges; we feel their grief, anger, turmoil, and anxiety as they become overwhelmed by hidden secrets, strange disappearances, and adultery. As the three main characters are not bound by rules or regulations, they aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, their techniques aren’t always professional, their unpredictable, rash, led by their emotions, which means you are never sure what they are going to do next, for me personally I thought this made the read even more unpredictable. 

As the location for A Dark Matter is a funeral directors, there is some talk of death, and references to what happens to people after death. In the wrong hands this could have made A Dark Matter a gloomy read, but not the author he deals with the subject with a delicate hand, injecting just the correct amount of ‘dark humour’ to lighten the mood, without appearing insensitive. Doug Johnstone captures the reader’s attention from the original opening, tension mounts as each chapter ends, and with a winning combination of diverse  characters A Dark Matter is a thriller that begs to be read in one sitting. Highly recommend

  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (23 Nov. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks as always to Karen Sullivan for my ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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