Tuesday, 5 March 2019

An Abiding Fire (Thomazine and Major Russell #1) bt M.J. Logue (2019)

Welcome to the Blog Tour for
'An Abiding Fire' by M.J. Logue.
Sapere Books.

Murder and mystery in Restoration England! Perfect for fans of C. S. Quinn, S. G. MacLean and Alison Weir.

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects…

1664, London 

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another. 

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London. 

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life. 

Whispers about his sister’s violent murder follow him and accusations of treason abound. 

When more deaths occur Russell finds himself under suspicion. 

He is ready to escape from the capital, but Thomazine is determined to find the truth and clear the name of the man she loves. 
But who is the real killer and why are they so keen to frame Russell? More importantly, will they succeed?

And has Thomazine’s quest put them all in mortal danger? 

An Abiding Fire is the first book in the Thomazine and Major Russell Thriller series, compelling historical mysteries with a dash of romance, set in seventeenth century England.

An Abiding Fire is primarily a wonderful romance and clever mystery set within the backdrop of seventeenth century London.

The excellent opening scene shocked me as I wasn't expecting to be drawn straight into the action so quickly. This injection of excitement so early in the book was clever. The scene stayed in the back of my mind as I read the novel. The chapters following it were more gently paced with much of the focus being on Thomazine and Russell.

The character development is well worth the time spent on the couple. Their relationship is the most important element and will keep readers coming back for more from the pair and their shenanigans. Their interactions are full of sweet moments and lots of humour. I enjoy Thomazine as she's not afraid to speak her mind, stand up for her man and she prefers to wear ordinary, serviceable clothes than the fashionable garb required by London society. Russell is a complex character- a soldier, spy, trader and a romantic, soft mush when he is around his young wife. They make a charming couple and great partners in solving crime.

The last few chapters were particularly riveting. There was much excitement as the walls closed in on the killer Thomazine and Russell found themselves surrounded by evil and trapped in the maniac's clutches as his identity was revealed.

An Abiding Fire is an excellent read and I look forward to the next installment.

About the Author

M. J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.
Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.
After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.
Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.
An Abiding Fire is available now   Amazon  
Get in touch with MJ
She can be found on Twitter @Hollie_Babbitt, lurking on the web at asweetdisorder.com, and posting photos of cake, cats and extreme embroidery on Instagram as asweetdisorder.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Chalkboard Outlines Mysteries by Kelley Kaye

Book 1

Death by Diploma

Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.

Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.

As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.


A clever 'who dunit' with quirky characters and quick, smart dialogue.

I loved the humour running through the book especially in relation to school and the different <i> kinds </i>  of teachers there are in the profession.  The observational comments made by Emma and Leslie about their colleagues really made me laugh out loud. It was so spot on!

The main characters in the book are lively and relatable. Emma and Leslie just clicked as friends from the first page and their chemistry was completely believable. Hunter and Emma's first interactions were very cute and funny. I couldn't help but smile all the way through their first meetings. I can't wait to see more of how that romance develops.

The mystery itself was very cleverly written. The red herrings had me distracted and completely clueless right to the end when I inevitably had that 'duh' moment. Why didn't I see that coming?! 

I experienced a broad range of emotions whilst reading this book. Although the story was very humorous it was also sad and poignant especially in relation to the victim and his lost opportunity at love. 

I really liked that there were literary quotes sprinkled throughout the story. It brought back great memories of when I studied Shakespeare as an undergraduate.

This was an excellent introduction to the series and I can't wait to read more.

Book 2                  Poison by Punctuation

High school teacher Emma Lovett is finally recovering from her first year of teaching when she discovers another dead body. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this time, someone has killed a student, Kisten Hollis.

Emma and her best friend, Leslie, are desperate to solve this murder. But suspects abound. The perpetrator could be a teacher, an administrator, a member of Kisten’s zealous church community, or even another student.

Emma must juggle her teaching responsibilities, her new romance with handsome Hunter Wells, and interest from a hunky second suitor, all while searching for evidence to bring a killer to justice before someone else dies.


The Chalkboard Outlines is proving to be my newest favourite cozy mystery series.

There are so many things about this story that I just loved. The character development is brilliant. Leslie and Emma are so funny as best friends and they are just great together as partners in solving crime. They make the perfect partnership.
Hunter is still a cute character but I couldn't help but really like Will the doctor as well. It's always good to a have a gorgeous doctor on speed dial and a well written love triangle can be lots of fun. I hope Will becomes a permanent part of the crime solving gang. He is more useful than Hunter in that regard and he's a vital source of information in the absence of a nice police detective. 

Poison by Punctuation is choc full of suspenseful and exciting scenes. I couldn't put it down.

Both books are available now in paperback, digital and audio.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Author spotlight: Kelley Kaye

This week I am featuring author Kelley Kaye, Kelley Kay Bowles. She is the author of the brilliant Chalkboard Outlines mystery series and YA novel 'Down in the Belly of the Whale.' 
About the Author

Kelley Kaye lives in sunny California. She taught high school English and Drama for twenty years, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions for her high school yearbook. She is married to, what sounds like, the perfect man. He cooks!!
And she has two wonderful sons.

Kelley kindly took the time to provide me with the following interview.

What has been your biggest adjustment going from teaching to writing?
Going from teaching to writing has been an unbelievable adjustment in a couple of ways, both wonderful and difficult ways. I didn’t get to write too much when I first moved to San Diego, but that’s because I was gifted with this amazing opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years here, which I NEVER thought would happen in a two-teacher family. My sons were going on three and five when we arrived, and while my oldest got to start in a transitional half-day kindergarten right away, my youngest and I got to explore San Diego. We went to the library and local parks and activities, and I am immeasurably grateful. But what I noticed then, and continue to adjust to now that I’m at home writing while the boys are at school, is how difficult it is to not interact with other adults in a meaningful way. I took adult conversations for granted, for sure, even conversations with my teenaged students had a different ambience than time with a three-year-old, or now, time with just me. Well. I do converse with myself, but my answers are never as interesting as the ones I hear from others. My schedule is really busy, but I still plan a once-a-month coffee and a once-a-month lunch date with two of my friends here, just to keep myself sane.
And on that note, here’s the second biggest adjustment—scheduling. As a teacher, my life was laid out for me minute-by-minute and keeping my organization productive was tricky, but a writing schedule is tricky in a whole ‘nother way. I have all these stories in my head, and I know I have to work on marketing and spotlighting and looking for reviews and all of the minutiae which is mostly the responsibility of the writer in the 21st century, and still I want to have huge chunks of time devoted to the writing itself. It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media, even though I’m doing it for the purpose of my job. I have a schedule on the wall of my “office” AKA a chair in the corner of my bedroom, laying out sections of time every day to write articles (I work for a local community magazine here in San Diego), check Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, Linkedin, post on all of those sites and interact with people on all of those sites, and write a blog for my website. I also interact with other authors from my publishing houses, RedAdept Publishing, and Aionios Books, and they provide a lot of knowledge and support. Which is great, because I’m still feeling new to this and I really know nothing. Then, of course, the rest of the day (well, until 3:30 when the boys come home) I am working on a novel or nonfiction project. Right now I’m trying to find an agent for a nonfiction self-help memoir (yes, you’re right, a nonexistent genre. For now.) called The A or B Principle, and then I need to finish Book #3 of the Chalkboard Outlines series (working title Strangled by Simile). Then I have to COMPLETELY overhaul the first story in a Paranormal YA trilogy. I get to apply the knowledge I’ve gained from having editors for Chalkboard Outlines and Down in the Belly of the Whale to existing books I’ve written and books I’m writing now. I have a lot of stuff to do! So it’s amazing to be able to schedule myself in whatever way I want, but also overwhelming to have so much to do and only myself to make it happen. Maybe someone in my house should start handing out detention.

What did you learn about writing from your years of grading high school essays?

I think more than what I learned about writing from all my years of grading essays is what I learned about people from those years in the classroom. Teaching is a study in human dynamics, and teaching English even more so—because analyzing literature helps students recognize themselves and think about their place in the community and the world at large.
My almost 20 years of teaching gave me countless experiences to draw from in my future 50 or more years as a writer, and I’m ridiculously grateful for those, too.

What — and who — do you think people here will recognize in your book?

The school is definitely based on Fruita Monument high school, from the colors to the mascot. I had to change the layout in some ways, though, to make some of the scenes work better. The teacher’s lounge and main office remained pretty true to the way I remember it…haven’t been back there for five years, but you will see it the way I experienced it. Nathan Farrar, the principal in the book, was inspired by Mark Zipse, my favorite principal of all time. Although there are only two main character elements I borrowed from Mark: 1) Nathan skateboards all over the campus of Pinewood High school, which Mark really did when I was in high school and he was Assistant Principal. When he became Principal I guess he had to stop. and 2) Nathan doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is something I always loved about Mark and cherish in any bosses or supervisors I’ve ever had. It is a characteristic I try to practice, myself, which is a good thing for me to keep aspiring to because now I am my own boss. The other characters within the story are amalgamations of me and all my friends, and friends, if you see a personal idiosyncrasy you recognize, well…

The teachers in your book deal with some pretty pushy parents. Any war stories you’d like to share?

Um. No, thank you. Dalton Trumbo I am not. Suffice it to say all teachers have dealt with parents who don’t understand most adolescents will lie to keep themselves out of trouble at least once in their lives, even their own children. There is Teenager Truth, and then there is Actual Truth, and the gap between them can be yawning. Most parents, though, are just trying to do what’s best for their kids. As are most teachers!

What was your thought process behind choosing to have your protagonist to be from the South?

What an excellent question. I wish I could say it came from a specific thought process, because maybe that would make me sound deeper or more profound than I actually am. Really, I knew I wanted Emma to travel a long way to start over after her cheating husband. I took students to England one year on a student travel program (this is the way teachers can afford to travel), and my roommate was a teacher from Holly Hill, South Carolina. I liked her and I liked the name of the town, and I guess I’m partial to the idea of Emma being ‘a delicate Southern flower’ in some respects, who is coming to realize her own personal strength. Plus I’m always about using the cards you are dealt, and Emma uses her Southernness with great success, to question suspects or maybe just to flirt.

Shakespeare references are a continuing thread in the book, and a bonding point between two teachers. Why did you select this narrative advice?

Shakespeare, in my opinion, knew more about human nature than…anyone, really. It’s turning out to be a wonderful element for cozy mystery amateur sleuths who have more than a passing knowledge of him and his themes—the ladies can tap into his vast understanding of humanity when they’re searching for a killer.

What’s the advice you got during the writing and editing of your book?

Before I’d even started the book, I read a Harlan Coben (Myron Bolitar series) mystery called Drop Shot. I loved it so much and I really wanted to do something like it, so I emailed him and asked him for advice. He actually wrote right back and gave me some, which I used when I started writing the book. Then my publisher, RedAdept, gave me a Content Editor and a Line Editor! I learned so much through this process, especially about paying attention not only to the words themselves, but to how they can and might be received and perceived by my readers. It was a humongous eye-opener for me. RedAdept is an independent publisher, and they are very thorough and detail-oriented. My editors both really liked my story and the characters within it, and they worked with me for several months to help make it the best it could be. I hope to apply what I’ve learned to all the projects I’m working on now.

This is presented as the first in a series. Have you completed subsequent books or where are you at in this process?

I actually got the name of the series trademarked, which makes me feel so ‘big time. Chalkboard Outlines® Book Two came out last April. I’m 50,000 words into book 3. And like I said earlier, I still want to finish the first draft of the memoir. Humorous. Self-help. Groundbreaking new genre. Woot woot

What else would you like to add?

I grew up in Western Colorado and then taught there for sixteen years. The place and its people mean so much to me, but I’ve been living with MS for the past 25 years, and the temperature extremes were always a major stressor in my life—the high desert hots and colds were no Bueno, and don’t even get me started on swamp coolers. The move to San Diego not only provided me with a more temperate climate and better health, but also the opportunity to stay at home with my awesome little boys and be a WRITER! The life change was arduous and initially very stressful, but so worth it. It’s turned me into one of those annoying proselytizers always trumpeting the value of risk-taking and following your dreams. But do it. Take the risk, and follow your dreams. I’m not expecting to be the next Stephen King, but I am raising sons (a long-standing, almost unrealized dream which is another article altogether) and telling stories that hopefully people will want to read, and life is great!

Watch a book trailer for 'Poison by Punctuation.'

What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

My Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/kelkay1202

Friday, 22 February 2019

Winged Passion (Heaven's Heart Series #3) by Amanda Pillar (2019)

Once an angel, now a blood slave.

Seraphina would do anything to protect her fellow Darts—even become a blood slave. But can an angel survive living in the depths of Hell, surrounded by demonic killers?

Trick’s entire life is a lie, which is exactly how he likes it. Ruler of the Halcyon Guild, he is one of the most powerful demons in Hell. But for the first time in centuries, he’s been outwitted—and by a damned angel.

His bad luck doesn’t end there. Hades has a mission for the guild: one only Trick and Seraphina can complete. The catch— they have to complete it within a week or their lives will be forfeit.

Can Seraphina and Trick set aside centuries of prejudice and work together, or will their pride see them both destroyed?

The Heaven's Heart series goes from strength to strength. 

This installment was more fun and lighthearted in tone. The witty banter and innocent moments between Trick and Serpephina made their story very sweet and charming.

Trick's character surprised me. I hadn't expected him to turn out to be such a good soul. He was the perfect antidote to Serpehina's horrible ex and I was gratified to see how that particular story arc unfolded in the end.

I loved the idea of mythical, magical artefacts and having to track them down. It made for high adventure with lots of magic and disappearing tricks.  

This was a great read, highly addictive and unputdownable.

I can't wait for the next adventure!

Winged Passion is available now.

Amazon  Book Depository