BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! The Chocolate Clouds by Marc Remus

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting The Chocolate Clouds by Marc Remus.

The cover of The Chocolate Clouds features a young boy holding a lollipop. Next to him appears to be a humanoid carrot. They are both sheltering under an umbrella from a cloud raining chocolate.
Image Description: The cover of The Chocolate Clouds features a young boy holding a lollipop. Next to him appears to be a humanoid carrot. They are both sheltering under an umbrella from a cloud raining chocolate.

About the Book

Everybody in Sugarland is overweight because there’s no food other than sweets. For decades, delicious Chocolate Clouds soared above Choco-Locoville, the hometown of ten-year-old Henry. They would melt in the intense summer sun and chocolate would drip from the sky. Henry’s family collected the drops and made a fortune, building a candy empire that controlled Sugarland’s food supply.

One morning, Henry wakes up to the shocking news that the Chocolate Clouds have disappeared. With the family‘s empire in jeopardy and Sugarland at risk of starvation, Henry now ventures beyond the scary Monster Mountains and embarks on a wild journey. Along the way, he befriends magical creatures, learns about healthy food choices, and discovers that the Chocolate Clouds didn’t just disappear but were actually stolen.

Now he must visit the creepy Barebone Island, where monsters are said to live …

About the Author

Marc Remus is an award-winning German painter and author. His books have received more than twenty literary awards and have been translated into seven languages.

Remus was educated in the United States, graduated with a BA in art and illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and lived in Japan and Central America for many years. He has traveled to almost seventy countries and visited over a thousand cities, of which he has painted over two hundred. His work has been featured on TV and in many magazines and newspapers in Germany, USA, and Mexico.

During his art studies in California in the 1990s, Remus took his first children’s book illustration class. His college teacher inspired him to start writing and not just illustrating. The result was a picture book called Painting Brian, which led to his first book and eventually to the Magora series. In the early 2000s, Remus studied for four years at the Institute of Children’s Literature. In 2016 the Magora book, which he had initially written more than twenty years before, was finally published. During the five years that followed, eight more books were published, and Remus received many literary awards for his achievements.

Having a sweet tooth since childhood, Remus embarked on a new journey in 2019. Surrounded by many overweight friends and family members, Remus came up with an idea to teach children a healthy way of eating without preaching. This idea resulted in The Chocolate Clouds. It took the author two years to illustrate the book. With over 150 drawings, it is a rarity in children’s literature.

Today, Marc Remus is working on a new children’s book while The Chocolate Clouds are being translated into more languages. He continues to eat chocolate.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Marc and his work by visiting his website, and by following him on Twitter (@MarcRemusArt).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

The Chocolate Clouds by Marc Remus is published by Misty Moon Books and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! Wonder Rush by Dan McKeon

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting Wonder Rush by Dan McKeon.

The cover of Wonder Rush features an emoji blowing bubble gum and giving a thumbs up. A bloody handprint is visible at the bottom of the image.
Image Description: The cover of Wonder Rush features an emoji blowing bubble gum and giving a thumbs up. A bloody handprint is visible at the bottom of the image.

About the Book

Wendy Lockheart has been known by many names—none of them her own.

With each new school, she is assigned a new identity and a new foster family, but the same mission—kill whoever she is told to kill.

Most agents in her network of female teen assassins begin training at age ten, but for Wendy it has encompassed her entire life. Abducted at birth, she was engulfed in a world of psychological manipulation, brainwashing, and physical training. At seventeen years old, Wendy is the most highly trained assassin in the agency.

“Wendy Lockheart” is her twenty-fourth identity and one that won’t be hers much longer, which is unfortunate. She finally found a place to call home. She has an inexplicable connection to her friend, Amaya. Her foster family is caring, and she loves her foster brother, Corey, who has cerebral palsy. Nonetheless, her days as “Wendy” are limited. They always are.

After carrying out a hit on an alleged drunk driver, conflicting information leads Wendy to suspect corruption within the ranks of the agency. Intent on discovering the truth, Wendy intentionally botches an operation, making her the agency’s next mark. As their dark intentions come to light, Wendy realizes she must destroy the organization that shaped her in order to discover the person she truly wants to be—that is, if they don’t kill her first. Wonder Rush is a thrill ride through the dangerous world of a teen assassin, but it is also a journey of self-discovery—a coming-of-age tale under the most extreme circumstances. How can a girl develop her own personal identity when she never had one to begin with?

About the Author

I am the author of four feature-length screenplays as well as several short stories. Wonder Rush is my first novel, and it was recently named a Silver Falchion Award finalist.

My interest in writing blossomed during a film analysis class I took while studying psychology at Villanova University. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Villanova, I also hold a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems from Boston University and a Professional Certification in Screenwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

When I am not writing, I work as a software developer and enjoy spending time with my wife, Rosa, and my two sons, Justin and Brandon.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Dan and his work by visiting his website, or by following him on Twitter (@DanMcKeon01).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Wonder Rush by Dan McKeon is published by Hush Moss Press and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian by Jeanne Roland

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian by Jeanne Roland.

The cover of Journeys features a classical painting of St Sebastian, pierced with an arrow. Around it are poppies.
Image Description: The cover of Journeys features a classical painting of St Sebastian, pierced with an arrow. Around it are poppies.

About the Book

15-year-old Marieke disguises herself at the elite all-male archers’ guild of Saint Sebastian, the most prestigious institution of Ardennes and the place she suspects houses her father’s brutal killers. Here every year the twelve best young archers in the country compete as Journeymen in a series of gruelling public competitions: six will win permanent guild membership; one will win a coveted spot on the prince’s bodyguard.

Marieke’s been obsessed with St. Sebastian’s for as long as she can remember, but when she flees to the guild for refuge, there are really only two things she knows about the place: one is that a mysterious injury ended her own father’s Journey days.

The other?

There are no women allowed inside Saint Sebastian’s. 

Marieke knows disguising herself as a boy at the guild means embarking on a dangerous deception. But it might be her only chance to find out the truth about her father’s past, and to keep a deadly plot from coming to fruition. And when the handsome young Journey Tristan takes her under his wing as his squire, she’s got to stay – at least long enough to help him beat out his bitter rival to pass the guild trials.

Keeping her identity hidden will be hard. Living among all those gorgeous boys, without giving herself away? That will be harder still. But the hardest thing of all will be keeping the vow she makes for herself: to see Tristan become the next Guardsman, without ever letting him discover her secrets. 

Robin Hood meets Mulan and Princess Bride in this frothy but literate coming-of-age romp through 14th century Belgium that’s packed with romance, wit, a hint of mystery, and plenty of longbow archery competitions. 

About the Author

Roland hails from Davis, California, where she spent most of her youth lounging at the pool, soaking up the sun, and daydreaming. She had a key ring that read ‘I’m running away to join the circus,’ and her favourite moment of the day was when the local movie theatre went dark, and the slogan ‘escape to the movies’ appeared on the screen.

As an adult, her passions include all things melodramatic and beautiful — everything from classic movies, British romantic poetry, ancient tragedy and epic, to Italian opera. She is now a professor of Classics in a small midwestern town, where she lives with her Greek husband, her fraternal twins, and a Bernese mountain dog named Franco Corelli.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Jeanne Roland and her work via her website, and by following her on Twitter (@booksbyJeanneR).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian by Jeanne Roland is published by Nepenthe Press and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! City of Reckoning by Brianna da Silva

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting City of Reckoning by Brianna da Silva.

The cover of City of Reckoning features a bat wing and has the silhouette of a figure holding a bow against a back-drop of orange and red flames.
Image Description: The cover of City of Reckoning features a bat wing and has the silhouette of a figure holding a bow against a back-drop of orange and red flames.

About the Book

Kindy Sharro is used to hiding. As a Nocturan, her bat wings, claws, and night vision place her under constant threat of hunters, who cruelly slaughter her kind for sport.

But everything changes the day of the invasion. The Dorish Empire drafts the Nocturans it once persecuted to help defend against a godlike foe. Kindy enters the war, but she has an ulterior motive: Use the war to destroy her arch enemy, Charris Pouden, before he gains enough power to destroy her first.

Meanwhile, Lasía Mae’olo, an elite wolf-accompanied warrior, plots rebellion against the Dorish Empire. When she is drafted to fight for her enemies, she must find a way to subvert the war for her own purposes.

But suspicion and distrust haunts her every move. This war has many sides—and she’s not sure which side she’s on anymore.

The bonds of friendship will be tested. Alliances will be questioned. In a story of political intrigue, ethics of war, and young love, one question must be answered: Which side will you join?

About the Author

Brianna is a proud geek who loves real-life adventure just as much as the imaginary kind. With a bachelor’s degree in Digital Arts & Design from Full Sail University, Brianna keeps a busy schedule, divided between freelance graphic design, working on indie films, and of course, writing novels.

When she’s not working, she spends her time devouring books, practicing Krav Maga, and hiking in the pine-covered mountains of Colorado.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Brianna and her work on her blog, and by following her on Twitter (@Brianna_daSilva).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

City of Reckoning by Brianna da Silva is published by Freya Publishing and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! You Need Me by Sharon Bairden

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting You Need Me by Sharon Bairden.

The cover of You Need Me features a broken heart with blood dripping from it.
Image Description: The cover of You Need Me features a broken heart with blood dripping from it.

About the Book

‘Your secret didn’t die with me.’

The mysterious note tucked inside the pages of a recently returned book leaves librarian, Morag McLaughlin, chilled to the bone. She knows it was meant for her.

Someone out there knows her darkest secrets and they could destroy everything.

Torn apart from her own family, she will stop at nothing to create a perfect new one.

Why are they all so ungrateful? She’s only looking after them…

Isn’t she?

About the Author

By day Sharon Bairden manages in a small local independent advocacy service and has a passion for human rights; by night she has a passion for all things criminal. She blogs over at Chapterinmylife and is delighted to be crossing over to the other side of the fence to become a writer.

Sharon’s debut novel, Sins of the Father, was published in November 2020 and is published by Red Dog Press

You Need Me, was released on October 2021, also published by Red Dog Press

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Sharon and her work by following her blog, and by following her on Twitter (@sbairden), Facebook, and Instagram (@sharon_baiden_author).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

You Need Me by Sharon Bairden is published by Red Dog Press and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! Don’t Think a Single Thought by Diana Cambridge

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting Don’t Think a Single Thought by Diana Cambridge.

The cover of Don't Think a Single Thought features a woman in a 1960s pink twinset, a typewriter, and a city skyline.
The cover of Don’t Think a Single Thought features a woman in a 1960s pink twinset, a typewriter, and a city skyline.

About the Book

1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for…

Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought is a captivating exploration of mental health, of women’s place in society, and of the inner workings of a picture-perfect marriage.

About the Author

Diana Cambridge is an award-winning journalist. She has written for many national newspapers and magazines, gives regular writing workshops, and is a Writer-in-Residence at Sherborne, Dorset. She was Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine. She lives in Bath.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Diana and her work on her page at the Louise Walters Books website, and by following her on Twitter (@DianaCambridge).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Don’t Think a Single Thought by Diana Cambridge is published by Louise Walters Books and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW!!! The Vicious Circle by Katherine St. John

The cover of The Vicious Circle features a luxury villa amidst dense tropical forest.
Image Description: The cover of The Vicious Circle features a luxury villa amidst dense tropical forest.

A perfect paradise? Or a perfect nightmare?

On a river deep in the Mexican jungle stands the colossal villa Xanadu, a wellness center that’s home to The Mandala, an ardent spiritual group devoted to self-help guru Paul Bentzen and his enigmatic wife Kali. But when, mysteriously, Paul suddenly dies, his entire estate–including Xanadu–is left to his estranged niece Sveta, a former model living in New York City.

Shocked and confused, Sveta travels to Mexico to pay her respects. At first, Xanadu seems like a secluded paradise with its tumbling gardens, beautiful people, transcendent vibe, and mesmerizing de-facto leader Kali. But soon the mystical façade wears thin, revealing a group of brainwashed members drunk on false promises of an impossible utopia and a disturbing, dangerous belief system–and leader–guiding them.

As the sinister forces surrounding Sveta become apparent, she realizes, too late, she can’t escape. Frantic and terrified, she discovers her only hope for survival is to put her confidence in the very person she trusts the least.

Young, beautiful, and engaged to a handsome and wealthy fiancé, Sveta – the protagonist of Katherine St. John’s latest novel The Vicious Circle – should be on top of the world and living her best life. But with her prospective in-laws trying to end her marriage before it’s even started, and her modelling career on hold, Sveta can’t help feeling that something is missing from her apparently gilded life.

When Sveta receives that her estranged uncle, the wellness guru Paul Bentzen, has passed away – and that he has left her his entire fortune – she decides that attending his funeral might provide the space and perspective she needs on her life, and help explain the estrangement between Paul and the rest of his family. But when Sveta arrives at Xanadu – the wellness retreat and commune deep in the Mexican jungle that Paul ran with his wife Kali – she begins to suspect that she’s inherited a poisoned chalice. For all Kali’s effusive gestures, something isn’t right about Xanadu or its inhabitants. There’s trouble in paradise…and Sveta has found herself right in the middle of it.

Katherine St. John certainly knows how to keep the pages turning, with a combination of short chapters and plenty of cliff-hangers keeping the plot moving and the narrative tension high. Despite not being the brightest of sparks, Sveta makes for an engaging and relatable narrator, and I enjoyed the tension between her Lucas, her old flame and her uncle’s lawyer.

The remaining characters are an interesting bunch, albeit somewhat lightly sketched out in terms of their individual personalities and character development. Kali makes for an excellent over-the-top antagonist and, whilst the plot primarily focuses upon Sveta’s inheritance and the reasoning behind it, there’s plenty of sinister rituals, mysterious ceremonies, and general ‘this wellness retreat is actually a cult, right’ weirdness going on to make for a highly entertaining read.

Whilst all the thriller tropes are present and correct in The Vicious Circle, Katherine St. John’s writing – and in particular her sharp observations of her various characters – and her tight control of the plot makes this a gripping read that manages to be escapist without becoming overly soapy. Whilst Sveta’s wide-eyed naivete and Kali’s over-the-top dramatics did have me rolling my eyes at times, it’s a testament to the power of the plotting that the mystery kept me engaged and interested to the very end, even when some of the plot twists became apparent.

With an exotic and isolated setting, some disturbing cult shenanigans, and some page-turning plot twists, The Vicious Circle is the perfect read for thriller fans looking to escape this winter.

The Vicious Circle by Katherine St. John is published by Harper360 UK and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones, Bookshop.org, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 25 November 2022 so please do check out the other stops for more reviews and content!

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BLOG SPOTLIGHT!!! Silenced by Jennie Ensor

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting Silenced by Jennie Ensor.

The cover of Silenced has a hooded figure against a background of a building which appears to be on fire.
The cover of Silenced has a hooded figure against a background of a building which appears to be on fire.

About the Book

A teenage girl was murdered on her way home from school, stabbed through the heart. Her North London community is shocked, but no one has the courage to help the police, not even her mother.

It’s DI Callum Waverley’s first major case as a senior investigating officer – can he break the code of silence that shrouds the case?

This is a world where the notorious Skull Crew rules through fear. Everyone knows you keep your mouth shut or you’ll be silenced – permanently.

This is Luke’s world. Reeling from the loss of his mother to cancer, his step-father distant at best, violent at worst, he slides into the Skull Crew’s grip.

This is Jez’s world too. Her alcoholic mother neither knows nor cares that her 16-year-old daughter is being exploited by V, the all-powerful leader of the gang.

Luke and Jez form a bond. Is it friendship, love or fear that brings them together? Can Callum win their trust, or will his own demons sabotage his investigation? And can anyone stop the Skull Crew from ensuring all witnesses are silenced?

About the Author

A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor writes emotionally-charged psychological suspense and thrillers, and darkly comic fiction.

She began her writing career as a journalist and loves to tackle controversial issues in her novels: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in Blind Side (a thriller set in the year of London’s 2005 terror attacks), abuse and sexual exploitation in The Girl in His Eyes. Not Having It All is a darkly humourous novel about love and relationships, not having children and the perils of family life.

Jennie’s fourth book Silenced published December 2021 with Hobeck Books – a crime thriller with a strong psychological element that ventures into the shadowy world of teen-exploiting gangs and police corruption.

Ms Ensor lives with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She writes short stories and poetry as well as novels, her poem Lost Connection placed second in its category in the 2020 Fish Lockdown Prize. In her spare time (?) Jennie reads widely, sings choral music, practices yoga and cycles the punishing local hills. Evenings, she’s often collapsed in front of a TV crime drama with a bar of chocolate/glass of strong alcohol.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Jennie and her books on her website or follow her Twitter (@Jennie_Ensor), Facebook, and Instagram (@jennieensor).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Silenced by Jennie Ensor is published by Hobeck Books and is available from Amazon from their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

BBNYA · Blog Tours · Spotlight

BBNYA SPOTLIGHT!!! Children by Bjørn Larssen

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight for each title. For those of you who don’t know, BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of the BBNTA team again in 2022 and I’m thrilled to be part of the spotlight tours to celebrate our fantastic semi-finalists! Today I’m starting things off by spotlighting Children by Bjørn Larssen.

The cover of Children features a raven
Image Description: The cover of Children features a raven

About the Book

Gods make lousy parents.

All Magni wants is peace and quiet, but when your father is the God of thunder, you don’t get to live the life you want. When Thor destroys all his son knows and loves, Magni vows to bring prosperity and end the violence… forever. But can you escape cruelty in a universe built on it, or the shadow of your father when everyone calls you by his name?

Maya, her rage more powerful than she knows, wants freedom to pursue her own destiny. Neither torture nor blackmail can make her obedient or pretty enough for Freya, her foster-mother and Goddess of love. Fighting for independence and revenge, can a mere human win a game where Gods dictate the rules?

NB: The book includes strong language, depictions of sexual, physical, and emotional violence. For full list of triggers, which may contain spoilers, see: https://www.bjornlarssen.com/children-tw

About the Author

Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with his first book containing multiple sentences and winning awards he didn’t design himself. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds.

Bjørn has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland.

Find Out More!

You can find out more about Bjørn and his work by visiting his website and following him on Facebook and Twitter (@bjornlarssen).

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official.

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Children by Bjørn Larssen is published by Josephtailor and is available from Amazon via their UK, US, and Canadian storefronts.

My thanks go to The Write Reads and BBNYA for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtag #BBNYA2022.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Reviews

REVIEW!!! The Deception of Harriet Fleet by Helen Scarlett

The cover of The Deception of Harriet Fleet features a woman in Victorian dress walking towards a desolate house across misty fields.
Image Description: The cover of The Deception of Harriet Fleet features a woman in Victorian dress walking towards a desolate house across misty fields.

1871. An age of discovery and progress. But for the Wainwright family, residents of the gloomy Teesbank Hall in County Durham the secrets of the past continue to overshadow their lives.

Harriet would not have taken the job of governess in such a remote place unless she wanted to hide from something or someone. Her charge is Eleanor, the daughter of the house, a fiercely bright eighteen-year-old, tortured by demons and feared by relations and staff alike. But it soon becomes apparent that Harriet is not there to teach Eleanor, but rather to monitor her erratic and dangerous behaviour – to spy on her.

Worn down by Eleanor’s unpredictable hostility, Harriet soon finds herself embroiled in Eleanor’s obsession – the Wainwright’s dark, tragic history. As family secrets are unearthed, Harriet’s own begin to haunt her and she becomes convinced that ghosts from the past are determined to reveal her shameful story.

For Harriet, like Eleanor, is plagued by deception and untruths.

As the nights draw in and autumn turns to winter, my reading life tends to head for the cosy comfort blanket that is historical fiction. I love curling up with something historical and gothic during the winter months, especially if it has a crime, mystery and/or supernatural element. With its isolated setting and Jane Eyre vibes, Helen Scarlett’s The Deception of Harriet Fleet, thus had ‘winter reading vibes’ written all over it.

Billed as an ‘atmospheric Victorian chiller’, The Deception of Harriet Fleet follows the eponymous Harriet as she takes up the post of governess at the brooding and isolated Teesbank Hall, home of the prominent Wainright family. Entrusted with the charge of Eleanor, the daughter of the house and of a similar age to Harriet, it is soon apparent to the new governess that all is not well with her charge. Prone to outbursts of sudden violence and watched night and day, Eleanor is feared by the staff and despised by almost all her relations. But is there some method behind the young woman’s apparent madness? As Harriet learns more about her charge – and about the tragic history of the Wainwright family – she begins to think that not only might Eleanor have unearthed a dangerous family secret, but to fear that the ghosts from her own past will be revealed.

With a dark and brooding house, an isolated and chilly family, and a protagonist with secrets of her own to hide, The Deception of Harriet Fleet certainly ticks all of the ‘Victorian Gothic’ boxes! Helen Scarlett does an excellent job of conveying the sinister atmosphere of Teesbank Hall and the intimidating authority that the various members of the Wainwright family hold over Harriet and her future. Teasing the reader with the promise of secrets both within Teesbank Hall and within Harriet’s own past, Scarlett also does an excellent job of introducing and maintaining an uneasy tension right up until the novel’s dramatic final act.

Key to this tension is the combative relationship between Harriet and her charge. By turns manipulative, cruel, deceitful, frustrated, maligned, neglected, and brilliant, Eleanor is a complicated figure, whose intellectual curiosity and fierce ambition are being repressed by old-fashioned notions of female duty and societal position. Harriet, meanwhile, tells us from the outset that she has committed a great deceit herself: running away from home and assuming a new identity to escape unspeakable horrors. As the two women realise that they are both victims of society’s lack of respect for women, an uneasy accord grows between them that is both fascinating and nerve-wracking to witness.

This unlikely alliance – and the tension that arises as a result – was the driving force of the novel for me, with Eleanor and Harriet both unwittingly (and often unwillingly) assisting each other in uncovering the secrets of Teesbank Hall. I also enjoyed the way in which their discoveries tied into the ‘age of discovery and progress’, with forays into the dark fringes of the scientific world. It should be noted, however, that some of Eleanor and Harriet’s investigations lead to traumatic discoveries so trigger warnings for mentions of or discussion of child death, mental illness, confinement, forced institutionalisation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, infidelity, and pregnancy.

There are some glimmers of hope for Harriet amidst all the gloom. A burgeoning friendship with Eleanor’s brother Henry provides some moments of levity, although I have to say that personally I found the relationship that eventually develops between them to be somewhat lacking in meat on the bones and, as a result, one of the weaker elements of the novel. Another friendship with a fellow servant was more successful, and featured a twist that had me reeling at the novel’s end!

With its absorbing story of family secrets, revenge, jealousy, betrayal, and forbidden love, The Deception of Harriet Fleet definitely meets the criteria for a haunting gothic read. Fans of historical mysteries are sure to enjoy discovering the many macabre secrets of Teesbank Hall, as will anyone who is looking to fill a Bronte-shaped hole in their reading lives!

The Deception of Harriet Fleet by Helen Scarlett is published by Quercus and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher and to NetGalley UK for providing an e-copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However, if you enjoy the blog, please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!