The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill#Blog Tour#Horror Short Stories#Suspense @RandomThingsTours

About the book:

The debut short story collection from a fresh new voice. Thirteen tales of horror and suspense. In the forgotten places of Scotland, terror awaits.

Contains the chilling stories: The Great Slime Kings – Three’s a Crowd – The Summer Bullet – The Only Emperor – Down Below is Silence and Darkness – Guardians – In a Jar of Spiders – We the Dark Deniers – Blocks – Nightmare Soup – The Dumps – Once Upon a Flame – The Nightmare Tree

My thoughts:

Well short stories then. What do you think about them? Some people like them and some don’t. Personally I like them if they are well done. A good short story can condense all the essence of a novel and wrap it up in a short enjoyable read.

Short stories can be read be read when you don’t feel like a long novel or there are constraints on your time for reading are just fancy something different. These 13 stories range from a four page tale to a novella that lends its title to this collection.

The stories in this collection are nominally classed as horror but I would say they are more in the suspense category and I would say they’re fine examples of their type.

I’m sure if you give them a go you will find you are in for a treat.

Not the out and out horror I expected, but suspenseful short stories. A good example of the short story writer’s craft. An added bonus is author comes from Scotland.The writing is of a high quality and the reader will find themselves turning the pages at a rate of knots, but my advise would be to take it slowly and enjoy.

The author:

Paul O’Neill is a short fiction writer from Fife, Scotland. He is an Internal Communications professional who battles the demon of corporate speak on a daily basis.

His stories have appeared in Eerie River’s It Calls from the Doors anthology, Scare Street’s Night Terrors series, Purple Wall stories and many more. He placed second in Teleport Magazine’s short story competition, and was shortlisted by Writers’ Forum Magazine in one of their regular contests.

His debut short story collection, The Nightmare Tree is available now!

Outside of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include laughing with his family, the Green Bay Packers, and repeating how to pronounce his sons’ names over and over until people actually get it.

You can find him at or on Twitter @PaulOn1984.

Memorial by Bryan Washington Book Review#Gay Life Mixed Race# Japan and USA. @Charlotte Walker

About the book:

A funny, sexy, profound dramedy about two young people at a crossroads in their relationship and the limits of love.

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson’s a Black day care teacher, and they’ve been together for a few years — good years — but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. There’s the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike’s immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they’ve ever known. And just maybe they’ll all be okay in the end. Memorial is a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you’re supposed to be, and the limits of love.

My Thoughts:

This was a hard book to review . It was a book about a scene I don’t know much about. It was a book of distances Distances between partners, distances between family members. Distances between the gay and straight world.

But most of all the book is about exploration. Exploration of life together, also life apart and strangers in your home or in a strange land.

I also think that Benson’s and Mike’s relationship is so dysfunctional and not really good read.

I further appreciated the sharp characterizations of both Mike and Benson in relation to how their families affect their psychological health. Through compact yet affective dialogue, Washington shows how Mike and Benson’s painful relationships with their families – especially their fathers – negatively impacts their own communication patterns and how they feel about themselves and others. There are funny scenes that involve Benson and Mike’s mother, Mitsuko, yet a heartfelt and well-written feeling of sadness and loss pervades Memorial even in its more relaxed moments.

I will read more books by Bryan Washington in the future as I think he is good writer but somethings in this book just jarred with me.

Thanks to for the ARC.

About the author:

Bryan Washington is a writer from Houston. His fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. He published his debut short story collection, Lot, in 2019, and Memorial is his debut novel, which was published in 2020.

Blog Tour# Book Review Cold as Hell by Lilja Sigurdardottir#Orenda Books @RandomThingsTours @Karen Sullivan

About the book:

With rights sold in 14 countries, Cold as Hell is the first in the
riveting, atmospheric and beautifully plotted five-book series
An Áróra Investigation, from one of Iceland’s bestselling
crime writers.
Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries,
and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses
contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look
for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her …
she has disappeared, without a trace.
As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend
Björn, and begins to probe her sister ’s reclusive neighbours –
who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is
drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.
Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister ’s life, and blinded
by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer,
Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track
her sister ’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only
one watching…

my thoughts:

I have read all of Lilja’s previous books including her groundbreaking  “Reykjavik Noir” trilogy which established her as one of the most imaginative new Icelandic crime authors. This was another fine example of Lilja’s fine writing. She is not only an Icelandic writer but a writer who embodies Iceland in her writing.

This is not a fast read with 100% action full of car chases, dead bodies( though there are a couple), but rather a slow burn of a book. But there is a lot going on and can be quite confusing at times but when you get a handle on who is who you will get it. Or rather it will get you.

A story of two sisters Arora, who lives in Britain and Isafold who lives in Iceland. As both sisters are products of a mixed marriage Isafold considers herself more Icelandic whilst Arora considers her more British. When her mother phones in a panic, not having heard from her daughter asks Arora to go over and check she is ok.

Against her her best thoughts she agrees to do so. The main reason she does is because Isafold is in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Bjorn. She goes to confront him and that is where the story takes off. Set in Summer in Iceland, where the sun never sets and this makes the reader more aware of the darkness of this tale. A book that will grip and not let you go.

Lilja is a very confident writer and in this novel takes disparate threads, some quite sinister and weaves a story of sisterhood.

Highly recommended and well worth your hard earned cash. Grab a copy when you can you wont regret it.

Thanks to Lilja for the tale.

Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for the ARC

Anne Cater for the tour invite.

About the Author:

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes
in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning
playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, her English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists
worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning
the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the
Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for
Best Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures
in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner

To All The Living by Monica Felton#Blog Tour#@I.W.M. @RandomThingsTours#Reprint

About The Book:


“If poetry was the supreme literary form of the First World War then, as if in riposte, in the Second World War, the English novel came of age.  This wonderful series is an exemplary reminder of that fact.  Great novels were written about the Second World War and we should not forget them.’         WILLIAM BOYD

In September 2021, IWM will publish another novel in their Wartime Classics Series which was launched in September 2019 to great acclaim, bringing the total number of novels in the series to eleven. Each has been brought back into print to enable a new generation of readers to hear stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. 

First published in 1945, To All the Living takes place in a munitions factory throughout 1941 in Blimpton, a place ‘so far from anywhere as to be, for all practical purposes, nowhere.’   The novel gives a lively account of the experiences of a group of men and women in the factory from both a top down and bottom up perspective, detailing the triumphs and tragedies of a diverse list of characters.  It is wide-ranging in the themes it touches on, including class, sexism, socialism, fear of communism, workers’ rights, anti-and xenophobia.  Much of it was based on the author’s own experiences in the Ministry of Supply in the first years of the war, and it is one of the best depictions of factory life during wartime, providing the reader with a fascinating insight into this vital aspect of Britain’s home front.

Factory work, as depicted in the novel, could be exhausting and repetitive, with workers often receiving low pay.  Initially work was on a voluntary basis which meant there was always a shortage of labour.  As the war progressed, conscription for women was introduced in December 1941 to help stem the shortages.  By 1945, 6.7 million women were contributing to the war effort out of a population of 48 million with a further 2.5 million in the voluntary sector.  Only the Soviet Union mobilized a higher percentage of women for the war effort and the novel reflects the experiences of a tiny proportion of these women.

The work undertaken by women at munitions factories will also be explored in IWM’s new Second World War Galleries with personal items belonging to a worker at the Leeds based Blackburn Aircraft Factory on display for the first time when they open in October of this year.

IWM Senior Curator, Alan Jeffreys, has written an introduction that provides context and the wider historical background.  He says, ‘researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM.   It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

My Thoughts:

This is a book of its time. First published in 1945, this novel published by the Imperial War Museums chronicles life in a wartime munitions factory. It is well written social history.

This novel is full of misogyny, anti- semitism, fear of communism etc. In fact the factory in which it is set, called Blimpton is so large it could be considered a small town and all the men and women who work there bring all their prejudices and fears with them. All who work there seem to have an axe to grind.

The contradictions that are voiced in this novel raises questions in the reader’s mind. Such finding no quandary in expressing anti-semitic views whilst making arms to fight an anti-semitic enemy. Also the higher echelons of the factory are dominated by the male of the species. Women’s rights and thoughts seem to be dismissed out of hand. Women must know their place. Then again this was the viewpoint of the timescale that this book is set in. Some would indeed argue that not much has changed.

There is so much detail here about how the factories supplying the mechanics of war operated. This was repetitive and tiring work, for which the workers were paid very little, and Felton shows exactly why such factories found it hard to recruit and retain the staff they needed to run a smooth operation – it also shines a light on exactly why the decision was taken in December 1941 to conscript women to contribute to the war effort.

I think this book was an exceptional fictionalisation of a time in our history that makes it accessible to the general reader where a dry nonnarrative history would not appeal.

This is my first taste of the books on offer from the Imperial War Museums and it was an enjoyable and educational read.

I recommend this book highly to all readers interested in this period of historical fiction.

About The Author:

Monica Felton (1906 – 1970) was a feminist, socialist, historian, peace activist and a pioneering proponent of town planning.  She went to University College, Southampton and then did a Phd at the LSE.  In 1937 she was elected a member of the London County Council representing St Pancras South West.  During the Second World War she served in the Ministry of Supply, an experience she reflected in To All the Living.  In 1942 she became a Clerk of the House of Commons.

After the war she became involved in town planning, serving as Chair for the Peterlee and Stevenage Development Corporations.  However, she was fired from this post after taking an unauthorized trip to North Korea on behalf of the Women’s International Democratic Federation in 1951.  On her return from this trip she accused American troops of atrocities and British complicity.  There was a media and establishment backlash and even accusations of treason. As a result she became increasingly isolated in Britain and moved to India in 1956.  She died in Madras (modern day Chennai) in 1970. 

The Family Man by Kimberly Chambers#Blog Tour#Crime New Series. RandomThingsTours Anne Cater

About the book:

Kenny Bond is finally out of prison after doing a long stretch for killing a copper, and is determined to get back to life on the straight and narrow. He’s got a lot of time to make up for, he’s missed his beloved
wife, Sharon, and his family is growing up fast.

Kenny’s son Donny might lack his father’s edge but his twin grandsons, Beau and Brett – well, they are Bonds through and through. Like him, they won’t let anyone stand in their way.

Family comes before everything else for Kenny. There’s nothing he won’t do for them. But there are enemies from his past he can’t shake off, and a family feud is brewing. Kenny’s determined that nothing,
and no one, will threaten his family. But can the Bond family stick together when someone’s out to take them down?

My thoughts:

Well Kimberly has written another corker of a book and what looks like a belter of a new series. Tough, gritty and not for the faint hearted! Kenny is a cop killer and has just been released after serving a hefty prison sentence and not only expects to step into, not only as head of his family but top dog in the crime world. Will it be as easy as it seems to be?

Kenny has a son, Donny who doesn’t seem tough enough to be his heir apparent. But not to worry his grandsons Beau and Brett are chips off the old block. In fact they are evil little buggers, and the apples of granddad’s eye.

Kimberley Chambers is back and back with a bang, a massive bang with this book,where as we have learnt to expect anything and everything can and does happen.

At the start of the book Kenny is celebrating being out with his wife, son, grandsons and the rest of family: blood related and crime related. And this is the start of a belter of a book as Kenny says he is going straight but is this just a front. Well you would be bloody surprised if it was true.

There are a lot of people to get to know in this book and some you will like and others you will simply detest. Kimberley always has plenty of meat on the bones of her characters. She knows how to build a tale and keep you turning the pages.

 It is told in the past from the 70’s onwards as it charts their stories and lives and dramas. Known for her her no holds barred approach this book is for me her rawest and most shocking and some of the situations the family find themselves in will leave you reeling, it doesn’t describe the writing well enough to say it’s ‘down to earth’, fans will know what to expect and will not be disappointed by this book and like me look forward to Book 2 and hearing more about what has and is happening to them all

Recommended highly and all the stars from me. Grab a copy if you like gritty, earhy crime books.

A brand-new series from the queen of gritty crime
A fascinating interviewee and a brilliant raconteur, Kimberley has appeared on
BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live, Loose Ends and Front Row, BBC Radio 2
Graham Norton and the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio

About the Author:

A truly unforgettable character, Kimberley injects authenticity into her gritty
gangland crime novels set around the east end. She came to writing later in life,
having worked as a street trader (being promoted from tea girl to sales when she
rugby-tackled a shoplifter), a DJ and a cabbie. Fed up of scraping a living, she set her
mind to writing a novel, despite being laughed at by friends and family, who dubbed
her ‘a female Del-Boy’. But with her creative mind, colourful life experiences and
memorable covering letter (‘Take a chance on me, you won’t regret it. This time next
year I’ll be wearing Prada, not Primark’), she quickly had five agents knocking at her
door and a publishing contract. Fifteen novels and three Sunday Times number ones
later, she’s top of her game and an incredible inspiration.
Join Kimberley’s legion of legendary fans on and
@kimbochambers on Twitter.

The Accused by Owen Mullen Blog Tour Crime# Wrongful Imprisonment# Fight For Justice#Is It What It Seems @Rachel’sRandomResources.

ABOUT THE BOOK: When Private Investigator Charlie Cameron agrees to take on a cold case, he is drawn back into Glasgow’s dark underworld… Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron knew Kim Rafferty was bad news the moment they met. Desperate people always spelled trouble in his experience, and Mrs Rafferty was as desperate as they come. What she was asking for was insane. If he agreed to help the wife of the notorious East-End gangster, the consequences for them both could be fatal. Twenty-four hours later, another betrayed woman with a hopeless case is pleading for Charlie’s help. The PI is her only chance to keep an innocent man from serving a second prison sentence for murders he didn’t commit. Dennis Boyd is on the run, and as Charlie fights against the clock to keep him out of jail, he crosses a line that puts him on the wrong side of the law and pits him against his old friend and ally, DS Andrew Geddes. As the body count grows, and the defence for his client falls apart bit by bit, Charlie refuses to accept the inevitable. But everyone has their limits – even the infamous Charlie Cameron. Will he be forced to admit that this case may be the one to beat him… MY THOUGHTS: Well here we are at book four in The Charlie Cameron series. I have read all the previous books in the series, which are exceptional this book continues in the same high quality. Charlie Cameron is a Private Investigator who usually specialises in finding missing people and he never has been known to take on cold cases. It is just not his thing. So when Kim Rafferty appears on his doorstep asking him to investigate a cold case in which she says Dennis Boyd who has just been released from prison after serving a long sentence for a crime he did not commit and there had been a miscarriage of justice. His first reaction is to say no. For two reasons firstly he doesn’t believe her story and secondly and more importantly Kim is the wife of notorious Glasgow gangster Sean Rafferty and anyone who gets involved with this man is asking for trouble and obviously has screw loose. But as Dennis finds himself involved in another crime and is on the run. Charlie finds himself like a dog with a bone, holding on and refusing to let go. Charlie says no but the big problem is he finds himself backtracking on that original decision. He is quickly up to his neck in the murky waters of this investigation. This is a great book, brilliant story and top quality writing wrapped up in one delicious bundle. You will love this book and though it is part of a series it can be read as a stand alone but do yourself a favour and read the other three books. You will bloody well enjoy them. I can guarantee this and you wont be disappointed. A belter of a book and a great central character in Charlie but great supporting cast in Patrick Logue, David Geddes, Charlies ally and nemesis and Jacky manager of NYB where all these characters hangout at times. Give Charlie a try you wont regret it, I haven’t.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bestselling author Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist. Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His great love for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where all of his crime thrillers were created.

The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves Blog Tour # Two Rivers(2) NorthDevon#Matthew Venn RandomThingsTours.AnneCater


North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to
its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime
scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an
elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed.
His daughter Eve is a glassblower, and the murder weapon is a
shard of one of her broken vases.
Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public
servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though to
find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.
Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. It’s not long since Matthew’s returned to North
Devon with Jonathan, after 20 years estranged from his deeply religious family, now he finds
himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that
is dangerously close to home . .


Well Ann fairly gets around in her writing journey. The far north with Jimmy Perez, Northeast England with Vera Stanhope and now North Devon with the second in the Matthew Venn series. I read this as a standalone, not having read The Long Call. It worked quite well as a standalone but I will go back and read book one in the series.

What I liked about this book, in fact in all of Ann’s books, is not only the great storyline but her characters and their backstories.

I really like the way Ann delves into the character’s background and their relationships. That is what is good and what I love about great story telling. The way way the author builds a picture that you can see clearly in your mind. This is a slow paced book and sometimes that is what you as a reader need. Time to try and connect the dots and usually failing.

The plot is very twist and throws up red herrings and misdirection galore. Just when you think you have it all sussed you find you are totally wrong and are back to square one!

The ending is totally unexpected and will astound you.

Yet again, Ann Cleeves just keeps hitting them out of the park. As with all of her books, this is another I highly recommend.


Ann Cleeves is the author of over thirty critically acclaimed novels and is translated
into as many languages. She is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope and
Jimmy Perez who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland.
The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations,
capturing the minds of millions worldwide. Sunday Times number 1 bestseller, THE
LONG CALL, was the first in Ann’s Two Rivers series set in Devon, and is now in
production for an ITV drama.
Ann moved to North Devon when she was 11 years old. Before then the family lived in
a tiny village, and as the headmaster’s daughter she always felt like the outsider at
school. But in Barnstaple, Ann found a real home. She made life-long friends and fell
in love with the beautiful North Devon coast, which still has a very special place in her heart. She worked as a
probation officer, librarian, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she embarked on her career as an author.

Ann’s been awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the 2017 CWA Diamond Dagger, and is a
member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. A
passionate champion for libraries, she was a national libraries Day Ambassador in 2016. Her new ‘Reading Coaches’ project, providing support for health and wellbeing in communities, launches in the North East this summer

. Ann lives in North Tyneside near where the Vera books are set. Find her on twitter @AnnCleeves.

Black Reed Bay by Rob Reynolds #Blogtour.RandomThingsTours crime novel#female detective @orendabooks


When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night
call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive
beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything
suggests a domestic incident.
Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit
right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple
suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies,
and interference from the top threatening the integrity of
the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an
increasingly puzzling case that looks like it can have only one
And then the first body appears, and Casey’s investigation
plunges her into a darkness she could never have imagined..


Well this my first read by this author and on this form it wont be my last. Rod has several books under his belt, but this is the first in a new series. I’m glad I’m in at the start and I will definitely be onboard with each subsequent book featuring a fabulous new female detective Casey Wray.

Casey is a no nonsense heroine who not only finds herself battling to solve the crimes placed in front of her but also the powers that be who seem to being playing office politics and hard and fast with peoples emotions. At time Casey finds herself confronted with obstacles not of her own making when trying to do her job.

This book is a slow burner; no bad thing but the reader is drawn into the solving of the crimes that they feel they are investigating along with Casey.

A solid, meaty and somewhat grim book that gives the reader a delicious slice of American Noir. If a lover of crime fiction gets their hands on this book and gives it a chance I’m sure they will love it! I know I did!

Casey is, as stated earlier, is a no nonsense woman. A woman who will give any man a run for their money. She has got grit, takes no b******t and has b***s of her own’

The author has written a great book. The prose is essential to the storyline and keeps the reader invested in it. I recommend it to all.

Black Reed Bay introduces a breathtaking, powerful and
addictive new series, fronted by the fantastic Detective Casey
Wray, from the CWA-nominated author of Blood Red City and
The Dark Inside.


Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series.
His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger,
and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018);
the Guardian has called the books ‘pitch-perfect American noir ’. A lifelong
Londoner, Rod’s first novel set in his hometown, entitled Blood Red City, was
published by Orenda Books in 2020.
Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in
novel writing from City University London. He lives with his wife and family and
spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. Follow
him on Twitter @Rod_WR

A Final few words: Thanks to Rod for the tale.

Karen Sullivan@OrendaBooks for the ARC.

Anne Cater@annecater for the tour invite.

A Hundred years to Arras by J.M. Cobley# Blog Tour @RandomThingsTours GREATWar


On a painful, freezing Easter Monday in 1917, Private Robert Gooding Henson
of the Somerset Light Infantry is launched into the Battle of Arras.
Robert is twenty-three years old, a farmer’s boy from Somerset, who joins up
against his father’s wishes. Robert forms fast friendships with Stanley, who lied
about his age to go to war, and Ernest, whose own slippery account betrays a
life on the streets. Their friendship is forged through gas attacks, trench
warfare, freezing in trenches, hunting rats, and chasing down kidnapped
regimental dogs. Their life is one of mud and mayhem but also love and laughs.
This is the story of Robert’s journey to Arras and back, his dreams and
memories drawing him home. His story is that of the working-class Tommy, the
story of thousands of young men who were caught in the collision between old
rural values and the relentlessness of a new kind of war. It is a story that
connects the past with the present through land, love and blood.

My Thoughts

This was my first read by this author and what a book it was. A short book yes, but it covered a large event in human history, The Great War. But in this book there is the story of friendship between three men and the circumstances that placed them there.

Robert signs up against his father’s wishes; maybe in a misguided attempt to impress. Stanley who lied about his age and Ernest who thinks the hell of war is better than life on the streets.

This book centres mostly on Robert and tells of his time in France and his life on the family farm.

The quality of the author’s writing is such that a no time does the reader feel lost and appreciates the balance between the two narratives.

The story highlights the everyday and the mundane. It also highlights the forces that put these men in the position they find themselves in; and how they’re dispensable to these forces.

A story that centres more on the humans than on the war.

The story has its basis in truth. This book is so close and personal to the author , you can feel how much it means to him , the author is related to the hero of the book which means that you can feel the depth and the emotion that has gone into the book , you feel it in the words on the page !

The story and the quality of the prose and writing is top notch. A book I would recommend without question to all lovers of a great story wrapped up in a great bundle.

If it crosses your path, pick it up and read it!


J. M. Cobley was born in Devon of Welsh parents and now lives in Warwickshire
with his wife and daughter. Jason studied English Language and Literature at
university and is currently Head Teacher at a hospital school in Coventry.
Jason is otherwise known for his work writing scripts for the long-running
Commando comic and graphic novel adaptations of classics such as Frankenstein
and An Inspector Calls, as well as the children’s novel The Legend of Tom
Hickathrift. Jason also hosts a weekly show on Radio Abbey in Kenilworth, where
he indulges his passion for classic and progressive rock. The central character
of A Hundred Years to Arras is based on his relative Robert Gooding Henson.

The Gathering Storm by Alan Jones The Sturmtaucher Trilogy#Book 1 Blog Tour@RandomThingsTours Historical Fiction# Rise of Fascism


Book 1 in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy: a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

‘Kiel, Northern Germany, 1933. A naval city, the base for the German Baltic fleet, and the centre for German sailing, the venue for the upcoming Olympic regatta in 1936.

The Kästners, a prominent Military family, are part of the fabric of the city, and its social, naval and yachting circles. The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be in service with the Kästners as domestic staff, but the two households have a closer bond than most.

As Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party claw their way to power in 1933, life has never looked better for families like the Kästners. There is only one problem.

The Nussbaums are Jews.

The Sturmtaucher Trilogy documents the devastating effect on both families of the Nazis’ hateful ideology and the insidious erosion of the rights of Germany’s Jews.

When Germany descends ever deeper into dictatorship, General Erich Kästner tries desperately to protect his employees, and to spirit them to safety.

As the country tears itself apart, the darkness which envelops a nation threatens not only to destroy two families, but to plunge an entire continent into war.’


Where do I begin to tell you about this book. This book is completely different from anything Alan has written before. I have read his previous three books. Short, gritty crime novels.

When I met Alan a few years ago, he hadn’t had a book out for a while and he told me he was writing a book about the Second World War. He said it was possibly going to be a trilogy.

Now I have read books about this period before but never one so all encompassing as this one. And this is before we even get to the war proper.

Set in the year 1933 it tells the reader about the rise of the Nazi Party and the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. It also tells us about the Kästner family and also their servants the Nussbaums . The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be servants to the Kästner family .

The only problem with this is Nussbaums are Jewish and their lives are becoming more and more untenable in pre war Germany.

As the book progresses we find General Erich Kästner trying to protect his employees and save them from persecution. Is it a battle he can win?

Enough about the story. What stands out in this novel is the amount of research Alan has done in time, place and settings. He perfectly marries the mundane and everyday with descent into dictatorship and anarchy.

Boat trips with his sons and his wife and eldest daughter attending functions, where the wives of the new order jockey for position to further their husbands careers.

A book that at first you would think would affect the Nussbaums directly,, because of their Jewish heritage but also General Erich Kästner and his family. It is a climate that affects everyone who comes under its sway. This is a picture Alan describes so well.

This is a very long book but don’t be put off by that. I found myself to quickly become invested in the characters. I found it difficult to read, especially the treatment of the Jews, it made for uncomfortable reading but obviously necessary to the story. A book that will play on your emotions.

Highly commended and recommended !



Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published in August 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.

He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren.

He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the RNLI volunteer coxswains on the local lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.

His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.

He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at Bloody Scotland and has done two pop-up book launches at the festival in Stirling.

He has spent the last five years researching and writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy.