Saturday 30 September 2017

#Blog Tour - Maria In The Moon - Louise Beech

Maria in the Moon is a poignant novel that left me bereft when I finished it.

Catherine Maria is a young woman who hasn’t had an easy life; her mother died when she was born and her father remarried a woman who was less than loving to her and didn’t nurture her in any way. But things changed when Catherine reached the tender age of 9. She knows that something happened but she can’t recall exactly what.

Now known as just Catherine, for reasons she can’t remember, and 31 years old she is working as a volunteer at the crisis centre following the floods in Hull. Her own home has been flooded and she sees volunteering as a way of filling her time and helping others with their problems, which is ironic as she can’t seem to solve her own.

While she’s working here her memories start to come back and she starts to lower her barriers as she bonds with her fellow volunteers at the crisis centre, in particular Christopher, who along with her close friend Fern, are there for Catherine when her long hidden memories start to return.

Her conversations with Stan, an elderly man who has suffered a stroke and finds speech difficult broke my heart. Refusing to leave his home and isolated as his neighbours have left because of the floods, he calls the crisis centre regularly asking for Catherine (or Katrina as he knows her) by name and the pair strike up a special bond, both becoming reliant on the other.

Maria in the Moon is one of the most beautifully written books I think I’ve ever read. I laughed with Catherine, but I also cried with and for her. She is the kind of character that you just want to put your arms around and tell them that everything is going to be ok. She’s flawed, but then isn’t everyone, but she’s also funny and she’s a loyal friend and I felt that she was mine right from the start of this book. It’s difficult to read in parts but it truly is a book to be savoured right down to the very last word and it’s one that I would highly recommend.

Louise Beech took me on a journey that will stay with me for a very long time and for that reason I will definitely be bumping her other books up my toppling TBR.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour on these wonderful blogs:

With kind thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the review copy.

Sunday 24 September 2017

Cover reveal - Absolution - P. A. Davies

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Absolution, the fifth novel by P. A. Davies.


When the Militia came in the peaceful village of Nyanyar Ngun, South Sudan in 1993 – amidst the backdrop of a bitter civil war – it wasn’t in peace. Under the command of General Ode Tombura, the soldiers of the SPF committed untold atrocities in that small farming village before finally razing it to the ground. 

Boys were taken from their families to be trained as soldiers of the Militia, whilst girls as young as eight-years-old were abducted for trafficking to a waiting market of odious buyers. 

In a field of high-maize, sixteen-year-old Jada lay hidden and afraid, witnessing the merciless slaughter of his parents and the capture of his sister Kadeni powerless to stop it, too frightened to try.
But now – tortured with grief, consumed with shame and driven by guilt – Jada must embark on a long and arduous journey to rescue his sister from a sinister world and find his absolution … or die trying!

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I’ll be reading this very soon as I’m on the blog tour next month and I’m looking forward to getting started, but you came here to check out the cover didn’t you so let me show it to you all . . . .

Absolution will be published on October 24th but you can pre-order it now on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

You can find out more about P. A. Davies and his other books by using the links below:


Tuesday 19 September 2017

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to S.D. Mayes

Today it's publication day for Letters to the Pianist and I'm absolutely thrilled to be handing over to the author S.D.Mayes. 

I hope you're all on your best behaviour as she's brought along a guest character and when I caught a passing glimpse of her earlier she certainly looks like she’s a lady with high standards!

But before I hand you over, let me tell you about the book.


In war torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.

Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.

Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?

LETTERS TO THE PIANIST is a compelling page turner packed with drama, intrigue and suspense. If you loved The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or The Pianist, then you will love this exciting new novel.

I love the sound of this book and The Book Thief is one of my all-time favourite books, so I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing Letters to the Pianist here on The Hippo very soon.

So now I’ll hand you over to the author herself and she can reveal who she’s brought along with her today.

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I travelled back in time to 1941, for an interview with a character from my book LETTERS TO THE PIANIST, Connie Douglas-Scott.

Today I sit opposite the beautiful and elegant debutante, Lady Connie Douglas-Scott in the grand living room of her parent’s home in Richmond, South West London. 

Good to meet you, Lady Douglas-Scott. I’m so grateful that you agreed to speak with me and allow me insight into your exotic world.
Lovely to meet you too, my dear.  And do call me, Connie. I apologise for being two hours late.  I awoke at midday. And my maids had to dress me in my finest and curl my hair … and, of course, I do worry terribly that my shoes and handbag are the right match. 
You look beautiful as usual, Connie.
Why, thank you. People always tell me I look like Vivien Leigh, you know, the actress in Gone With The Wind.  Although I’m twenty-four so look much much younger. Anyway, silly me. You must be terribly thirsty, so let me get our butler, Rutherford to pour us both a glass of champers. I always need a few bubbles to keep me going.  RUTHFORD, come please.

Photo found on Google

Thank you, Connie.  With the war going on, I don’t get a chance to indulge in such luxury.
Oh darling, don’t you. You do know that alcohol isn’t rationed. As long as you’ve got the moolah, as daddy calls it, it’s yours. But I suppose you’re a writer, so you must survive on bread and wine like all the creatives do. 

I can’t afford wine. But yes, something like that, Connie.
Well, I promise, before you leave, I’ll make sure you’ll get some smoked salmon and caviar.   Don’t want you starving to death now, do we?

Thank you, Connie, now can I get to the nub of things and ask why a beautiful debutante like yourself is still single.  It is hard to believe.
Goodness you are a cheeky one, aren’t you?  Okay, hmm, well, Mummy says I’m far too fussy. Although there was one man I met. Very powerful he was too, but he was much older and ... he um … well, he lives in Europe, so it wouldn’t have worked … but there’s always some chap whisking me off to the races or taking me to dine at some official function.

Sounds wonderful.
Yes, but I’ve discovered that one can be wined and dined by a perfect gentleman with a top-notch pedigree and still feel very much alone. Mummy would be livid if she heard me say this, but many of these men are terribly dull and dare I say pompous, obsessed with their investments or chasing off on shooting jaunts to the country. They want the right sort of girl on their arm but they show little interest in the real me.

So what do you want, Connie?
Just a good man … kind and loving. Someone I can talk to ... who listens, that’s all. Am I asking too much?

No, that’s completely understandable.  So there’s no one?  No one at all?
Well, umm, I do charity work you know, visiting the sick and the injured in hospital for my sins … 

Really, how wonderful of you, to give your time in this way.
Yes, I try and do my bit. Bring a bit of colour into their poor lives, you know … anyway there’s a man there – oh it’s silly really, he’s very ill and can’t remember a thing about his past … and I don’t know … I just feel quite drawn to him. Maybe it’s just that he’s a bit of an enigma, but my heart did flutter a bit. And I could see that beneath that hairy face of his, he is rather handsome.

Goodness, Connie, would your father, Lord Douglas-Scott approve?
Well that depends. We can become anonymous with this silly old war. People lose their homes and their identities. We might discover that the poor devil is from rich stock when his memory returns, you never know.   And even if he were just a handsome ruffian, well, daddy, he just indulges me. I can twist him and most men around my little finger, you know.  But I do want to settle down.
Hmm, anyway, darling, mystery is such fun. So let’s have a sip of champers and drink to the unknown … chin chin!

I’m so pleased that S.D. brought Connie along today, she sounds like an intriguing character with a very interesting story to tell.

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                                          About the author

Photo courtesy of S.D. Mayes

S.D. Mayes worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years before turning her hand to fiction. Inspired by the bizarre but factual events of Hitler’s supernatural obsession, Letters to the Pianist is her first historical suspense novel. Originally from the West Country, she currently lives in Berkshire, UK.

Letters to the Pianist is published by BHC Press and is available now in hardback and e-book and the paperback will be available from 6th October.

You can find out more about S.D. Mayes and connect with her using the links below:

I’d like to wish S.D. Mayes a happy publication day to say thank you for taking the time to stop by on what must be a very busy day. I wish you every success with Letters to the Pianist. 🥂

Saturday 16 September 2017

#Blog Tour - Her Dark Path - Ken Ogilvie

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Her Dark Path with a guest post from the author Ken Ogilvie.


16 years ago Rebecca Bradley’s mother was murdered. Rebecca was only eight years old. The killer has never been caught. Growing up, Rebecca vowed that one day she would track him down and make him pay.

Now Rebecca is a young police woman in Ontario. She wants to become a homicide detective. Her first investigation is the cold case of a woman who vanished for 16 days and then was found dead in her own home. The brutal crime shocks the small Canadian town of Conroy.

The puzzling case has uncanny similarities to the murder of Rebecca’s mother. Both victims were found strangled in their own kitchens.

Can Rebecca keep her emotions together as she closes in on a killer with connections to her family and tragic past? And will she finally get justice for her mother?

Discover a new crime writer who will have you gripped till the pulsating end.

                                                   About the author

Photo courtesy of Ken Ogilvie

I’m currently an independent environmental policy consultant, working from home in Toronto, Canada, although I’m on the road a lot. I still mostly write fiction in the early morning, and edit it later in the day. Recent consulting contracts of mine include preparing a case study designed to be used by the Said Business School, University of Oxford, on the province of Alberta’s recent transition towards being a climate policy leader in Canada, and I’ve done research and ran workshops on the creation of a new Canadian Energy Information Organization. I serve on the Boards of Directors for two leading environmental and energy organizations – the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development, and Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST). And when spare time and suitable opponents permit, I play the odd game of chess, which was a passion of mine in younger days.

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                                                   Book Rationale

I wrote Her Dark Path because a couple of decades ago I was reading a mystery novel that I suddenly snapped shut and declared, rather too vehemently, “This book is crap! I could write a better one.” I forgot about that bold (and somewhat rash) declaration for many years and focused all of my energy on my career in three Canadian governments (Federal, Ontario and Manitoba) in the environmental policy field. In 1995, when I became the Executive Director of Pollution Probe, a Canadian environmental organization created in 1969, I found myself working 24/7. The job was all-consuming, and I felt that I needed a distraction of some sort. Watching TV didn’t work, because I was tired at the end of long working days and would nod off. I tried reading books, but they just put me to sleep faster. Then I recalled what I’d said years ago about how I could write a better book. I challenged myself and got up early the next morning. By 6 a.m. I was sitting in a coffee shop with my computer booted up. I started working on a science-fiction novel – not a mystery, because I had mostly read science fiction in my youth, and only later read mysteries when I had the inclination during my busy career.

I began my fiction writing as a novice, but I had extensive writing experience in technical and policy areas, and I was a ferocious editor of staff reports at Pollution Probe. Novel writing would come naturally to me, or so I thought (incorrectly). I wrote half of a really crappy science-fiction book, and then struggled over whether to continue. But I’m not a quitter, so I shelved that book for the time being, took a deep breath, and hit the reset button. I started working on a mystery. My parents grew up near the south shore of Georgian Bay, Ontario, so I set my book close to there, just off the eastern side of that massive bay (which is about 80% of the size of Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes). I grew up in small towns in southern Ontario, until high school, so I decided to create my own small town, which I named Conroy. I made it a dying town and not very picturesque, like Louise Penny’s Three Pines, although it’s surrounded by the stunningly gorgeous landscapes of Georgian Bay (rocky, wind-swept shorelines that inspired The Group of Seven artists) and the tens of thousands of sparkling lakes dotting the Canadian Shield in the Muskoka area are not far north of where I set poor little boring Conroy (on the surface). I moved against the heavy flow of mystery novels that feature older, heavy-drinking detectives having marital and other family problems, and made my protagonist young (Constable Rebecca Bradley, 24 years old). The plot of Her Dark Path is fairly intricate and ended up with a story arc that will continue into future books. I hadn’t initially set out to write a series, although the first book contains a complete story in itself. But enough on that subject – for more, you’ll have to read the book!

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Her Dark Path is currently available to download for just 99p (at the time of posting)

You can follow the rest of the tour on these fabulous blogs:


With kind thanks to Jill at Books n All for asking me to take part in the blog tour.