Blog Takeover/Promo – Patient Zero by Terry Tyler

I’m delighted to hand Bloomin’ Brilliant Books over to the fabulous author, blogger and reviewer Terry Tyler today to tell you about her latest book Patient Zero and a special promo. 

A big thank you to Abbie for inviting me onto her most excellent blog to tell you about my brand new short story collection, Patient Zero, which will be *FREE* on release across all Amazon sites until midnight on Sunday 19th November (GMT). You can grab your copy HERE.

 

Patient Zero comprises nine stories from my post-apocalyptic world of 2024—a deadly virus is sweeping the UK, and normal life is breaking down. The stories are all completely ‘stand alone’ but run alongside my two novels, Tipping Point and its sequel, Lindisfarne. When I was writing these books, I would find myself creating minor characters for the purpose of the main plot, then developing their own stories in my head. I started to make notes; soon, I realised that a collection of shorts was the best way of telling their tales.

Some of the characters in this collection are mentioned just once in the main story, such as Aaron in #NewWorldProblems, who makes a two line appearance in Tipping Point. Others, like Flora in Princess Snowflake, play a larger part; she arrives in the second half of Lindisfarne. Princess Snowflake is her backstory.

I hope you will download Patient Zero while it is free, and please tell your friends!

The Blurb

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.

Within days, ‘bat fever’ is out of control.

1. Jared: The Spare Vial
Jared has two vaccinations against the deadly virus: one for him, one for a friend…

2. Flora: Princess Snowflake
The girl with the perfect life, who believes in her father, the government, Christian charity and happy endings.

3. Jeff: The Prepper
What does a doomsday ‘prepper’ do when there is nothing left to prepare for?

4. Karen: Atonement
She ruined her sister’s last day on earth, and for this she must do penance.

5. Aaron: #NewWorldProblems
Aaron can’t believe his luck; he appears to be immune. But his problems are far from over.

6. Ruby: Money To Burn
Eager to escape from her drug dealer boyfriend’s lifestyle, Ruby sets off with a bag filled with cash.

7. Meg: The Prison Guard’s Wife
Meg waits for her husband to arrive home from work. And waits…

8. Evie: Patient Zero
Boyfriend Nick neglects her. This Sunday will be the last time she puts up with it. The very last time.

9. Martin: This Life
Life after life has taught the sixty year old journalist to see the bigger picture.

Tipping Point and Lindisfarne are the first two full length novels in the Project Renova series. A third will be available around late spring/early summer 2018.

A huge thank you Terry for taking the time to tell us about your latest book. It sounds great, I particularly like the sound of Aaron’s story. What are you waiting for, folks? Get downloading HERE for free while you can!

Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Review of The Constant Soldier by William Ryan

Oh my God Hull Noir is now only two sleeps away and I’m so excited I’m unbearable to live with! William Ryan is one of the authors I am particularly looking forward to hearing speak. Ryan is taking part in the Behind Bars: Freedom, Oppression and Control talk on Sunday 19th November alongside Eva Dolan, Kati Hiekkapelto and Stav Sherez. For all Hull Noir information and tickets access their site HERE

In this countdown I am sharing with you my thoughts on William Ryan’s novel The Constant Soldier.

The Blurb

1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut – a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who – against all odds – have so far survived the war.

When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.

But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope – for Brandt and the female prisoners – grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.

And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .

My Thoughts

I really enjoy historical fiction and I’m determined to read more in this genre. I’ve had The Constant Soldier on my TBR pile for a while after hearing wonderful things about it from other bloggers.

Set in 1944, The Constant Soldier follows Paul Brandt as he returns to his village after being badly injured fighting for the German army on the eastern front. Brandt’s village has changed, people are missing and the village is home to a retreat for SS officers and is complete with female prisoners. One of these prisoners is the woman Brandt was arrested with five years earlier and he feels compelled to ensure her safety. It becomes clear fairly quickly that Brandt is not a Nazi sympathiser and his involvement in fighting on their behalf was not a choice but a lesser of two evils.

The Constant Soldier is not just a book about a moment in history – as interesting as that is – but is a book about the human condition, the fight for survival and atonement. Brandt has a strong sense of conscience and he wants to make up for the atrocities he committed as a soldier despite him having no choice in the matter.

I went into this book expecting to loathe all of those who had chosen to take up roles as SS officers. However, while Ryan shows that there were those who relished the SS officer role, the power and the acts they are allowed to commit, he also portrays the other side and I found myself sympathising with those SS officers who saw it as a means to survive.

Ryan clearly shows that there were those involved in the implementation of the holocaust who were affected by the acts they had to commit. Survival is the initial motivation behind those in The Constant Soldier who engage in the Nazi’s acts but their survival ends up costing them dearly and in ways they couldn’t initially imagine. The Constant Soldier made me wonder how many of those who played a direct part went on develop post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health difficulties. I remember being taught in A level history that while those in Stalinist Russia complied due to fear, those in Nazi Germany complied as they believed in what Hitler was doing. Ryan reminds us that, when it comes to humans, things are never that black and white.

I adored Ryan’s style of writing. Each chapter is short yet perfect in their brevity. He has a way of ending each chapter, often with a singular sentence, that has a huge impact on you. The prose draws you in to the story wholeheartedly and places you firmly within The Constant Soldier’s time and place. This book has you feeling incredibly tense with moments when you barely dare breath in case it somehow changes the outcome for Brandt and the female prisoners.

The Constant Soldier is a powerful, emotive book that is wonderfully written. Perfect for those readers that enjoy historical fiction, particularly those set during World War 2. Highly recommended.

Blog Tour – The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne *excerpt*

Today I am taking part in the blog blitz for The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne and I’m delighted to be able to share with you a tantalising excerpt. First up, here’s what the book is about:

The Blurb

Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.

Unbeknownst to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems.

Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played?

One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

And to whet your appetite further, grab a coffee, put your feet up and enjoy this excerpt from the first chapter…

Chapter One Present Day – 2018
Billie

Billie stole down the street avoiding all eye contact and people.

Once a week, on Sunday, she braved the world to visit the bookstore not far from her flat. Once Upon a Time had thousands of books and a quaint little cafe; it was her haven. “Same as usual, love?” asked the elderly lady at the till.
“Err … yes, please,” whispered Billie, blushing bright red. She focused on her tray, the same hot chocolate and sandwich she had each time. She didn’t really like the sandwich but she felt silly just buying a drink.

“That’s five pounds fifty then please, love.” Avoiding her gaze, Billie handed over the money she had already got out in preparation. “Thank you,” Billie said, and scuttled off to the same table by the window that she always had. She liked this table because she could look out of the window at people hurrying down their way through their lives no one stopped or took their time any more. But if she didn’t fancy that, she could people watch in the cafe. It was a small, intimate place with a few tables and lots of quirky signs dotted around. Her favourite was ‘Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup’. Today, she watched two women through the gaps in her long red hair, shielding her gaze. They were at the table next to her, chattering about the possible affair that one of their husbands may or may not be having. She enjoyed these little snippets of society.
Some days she felt a pang of loneliness. No one would ever sit at this table with her. But mostly that was a relief. It wasn’t safe. People were dangerous.

She looked over at the lady who had served her. Her face was wrinkly with laughter lines, her smile wide and welcoming. White hair bounced cheerfully on her head as she moved. But Billie knew that appearances were deceiving. Nearly everyone wore a mask. No one was themselves any more, too afraid at being judged. Everyone had to fit in with what was ‘normal’.

Billie could just make out the lady’s name badge. Martha could easily be hiding something. She could be stealing children and cooking them just like the witch in Hansel and Gretel.

She shook her head trying to dislodge the feeling. It was no good thinking like this. It would only trigger memories of her past.

She went back to eating her food, surreptitiously watching the people around her. She could live through their lives. People watching was much safer than making actual connections.

At another table, a mother was helping her son with a jigsaw. She watched them and allowed herself to become absorbed in their lives. She wondered what the woman did. She was dressed haphazardly and appeared to be a full-time mum. The boy looked happy and content. Billie hoped his mum would keep him safe. That she wouldn’t abandon him when things got tough. That she wouldn’t put herself first.

She was distracted from her thoughts by a man who had entered the cafe. She watched as he made the rookie mistake of ordering his food without checking to see if there was a table free. For a moment, his black-clad body stiffened as he realised his mistake. But then, instead of putting his head down and scurrying away as she would have, he moved over to her table. Billie wanted to look away as he stared down at her with his unusual pale-green eyes, which were in perfect symmetry to his mouth. His stance exuded a sense of restless energy.

For the first time she could remember, she wasn’t scared. He stood there, devilishly handsome, and she was captivated.

A lock of his wavy blond hair fell casually on his forehead as he spoke. “Can I sit here?” Billie knew words weren’t going to come, so she just nodded.

He was calm, as if sitting next to strangers was normal. She couldn’t stop fidgeting, her eyes not knowing where to look.

Why was he sitting here?

He sat down and looked at her intently; his eyes were pale and unreadable. But then, as if she had passed some test, a smile broke across his face.

“So, how are you?” he said.

She didn’t reply straightaway, thrown by his familiar tone as if they knew each other.

“Err … Fine … Do I know you?” Blushing from head to toe she wracked her brain, trying to remember if he worked with her. She made a point of not talking to anyone outside work, and just kept her head down.

“Nope, never seen you before, just thought it would be rude not to talk,” he said. His smile widened and his face changed; a light came into his eyes and her pounding heartbeat lowered. She realised she was staring and quickly lowered her head.

“Okay,” she murmured into her shaking hands. She focused on them to calm herself. She’d always had fat fingers, but her fingernails were nice. Now she was grateful she’d managed to kick the habit of biting them.

“Are you texting someone for help? Is that why you keep looking down?” he said.

She looked up instantly, her face feeling redder still.

“I’m going to have to work on my image. I thought I’d mastered looking sweet and innocent but, from your reaction, I don’t think it’s working.” Despite herself, she smiled. Her stomach was fluttering.

“I don’t have a mobile.”

“How curious, are you also one of those loons that doesn’t have a television?” He visibly shuddered. “I’d rather sit on the floor if that’s the case. I don’t trust people who don’t watch TV; it’s unhealthy.”

She chuckled quietly, still unable to look him in the eye. “I have a TV.”

“Is it black and white?”
“No, it’s a regular TV.”
“Phew, that’s a relief, you had me worried then.”
She laughed as he flopped back in his chair in exaggerated relief. It was strange. Although she was wary and uncomfortable, it wasn’t as bad as it usually was.
She remembered her first week at her current job. She was staring out of the window, grateful to have a window seat, when one of her male colleagues came over to her.

“Hi, I’m Andy, you must be Billie?” His hand reached out to shake hers and she froze. She stared at it. The hand loomed over her and began to magnify. She could see every hair on it. His hand was massive and all she could think about was how easily it could crush hers.

Instead of shaking it, she got up and ran to the ladies’ bathroom. She went in a stall and was sick. From then on she never spoke to anyone unless she absolutely had to and no one spoke to her. She heard the muttered rumours that people said about her, but she didn’t listen to them. The only people she talked to regularly were customers on the phone, and they were only perfunctory conversations.

With the shock of this man’s arrival at her table wearing off, she was surprised how little she felt intimidated by him. Alarm bells had begun to ring in her head as soon as he had started talking to her but his relaxed manner and humour had put her at ease. She couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed with someone, let alone spoken comfortably.

Life had kicked Billie down. The only way she could exist safely in this world was to close herself off from the rest of humanity.

People were dangerous.

She had lived alone, with this mantra, for the last five years since leaving university. She had thought that she no longer felt loneliness, but this stranger was stirring feelings she didn’t know still existed.

“Although we still need to discuss the phone thing … I’ve never met someone who doesn’t have a phone. How do people get in touch with you?”

“I have no one that needs to get in touch with me.”
“No one? I don’t believe that. What about your parents?” She sucked in a painful breath and was reminded why she didn’t like to talk. People were nosey. They walked around quizzing people about their personal lives, believing they had the right to ask whatever they wanted. Life felt like one big interview and Billie hated it.

“I don’t have any, and before you ask, no siblings or any other relations; just me.” She hoped her sharp tone would make it clear that she did not want to talk about this anymore.

“Aw. Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head and added, “No.”
He was quiet for a moment, brow furrowed. Then his face brightened.
“What about work? They have to be able to contact you …?” “I have a neighbour; she has a phone that my work can call.” “You know you could just get a phone, don’t you?”
“I don’t want one.”
“Why?”
She floundered. How could she explain that such a simple question would require her life history to answer?
This was the most she’d spoken with anyone for a long time. His light tone and handsome smile had her mesmerized. She was considering telling him everything. She’d never told anyone the whole story and, until now, she hadn’t known she wanted to.

She realised she hadn’t answered him and she panicked. He must have seen it on her face because he changed the subject.

“So, can I know your name, or would you prefer crazy, beautiful, anti-phone lady?” The word beautiful echoed in her head. She felt sick. He was just like the rest. She got up quickly, sloshing his coffee on the table.

“I need to go, sorry.” She ran to the door and out of the cafe. Trying hard to beat down the memory of the last time someone had called her beautiful.

The Puppet Master was published on 13 November 2017 by Bloodhound Books. Follow the other bloggers on the blitz for reviews and author guest posts.

Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Deep Blue Trouble Review and Author Q&A

So, it is now a mere five sleeps until Hull Noir and, as it creeps slowly closer, I’m delighted to bring you my review of Steph Broadribb’s next novel Deep Blue Trouble but even better than that I have a fab Q&A with the lady herself.

Steph is taking part in the Brawlers and Bastards panel on Sunday 19th November. Full programme and ticket details can be found HERE.

Right, first up my thoughts on the upcoming second Lori Anderson book and then the bit you really want to read, the Q&A with Steph.

 

The Blurb

Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. Teaming up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor threatens to put the whole job in danger. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

My Thoughts

Okay, I’m starting off this review with an embarrassing confession … I have not yet read Deep Down Dead, the first Lori Anderson book. I was unable to take part in the blog tour due to other commitments and it was on my October/November reading list. I had the perfect excuse to bump it up the TBR pile when I found out that Steph Broadribb was taking part in Hull Noir. However, plans sometimes don’t go the way you want them to and I actually ended up reading Deep Blue Trouble first instead. Broadribb’s debut got rave reviews from other bloggers and having read Deep Blue Trouble I can clearly see what all the fuss is about! I LOVED this book.

As said, Deep Blue Trouble is the second book in the Lori Anderson series and it does follow up from where Deep Down Dead ended. As I have read Deep Blue Trouble first, however, you can take it from me that it works perfectly as a standalone. There is enough information to ensure that new readers are able to follow what is going on. Lori, a Florida bounty hunter, has little choice but to take on a job from FBI agent Alex Monroe in order to free her daughter Dakota’s father from prison where he is currently being held for a murder he didn’t commit. This job involves bringing in on-the-run criminal Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher and it ends up being far from straight forward.

Lori Anderson is a kick ass, gutsy, independent, fierce protagonist and yet Broadribb has manged to also make her a sympathetic character. A single mum whose daughter has Leukaemia in a country that does not have free health care, Lori is doing everything she can to ensure her daughter’s health needs are met. I liked the additional layers to Lori – while her job inevitably brings her into danger and has her having to commit violent acts herself, she does not take this lightly and she has a sense of morality and a conscience. This makes Lori an ultimately likeable character and one you root for and want to follow further in to the series.

Deep Blue Trouble is set in the USA and it’s always a bit of a worry as to whether or not an author is able to authentically create the country their book is set in when they are not from there. Broadribb does a great job of this. From the descriptions of the places to the way Lori tells us her story, Broadribb completely transports the reader to the Florida sunshine.

The plot twists and turns like a waltzer car at the fairground and Broadribb kept me on the edge of my seat, on my toes and my fingernails are now bitten down to the quick. The plot moves along at an exceptional rate barely giving you time to catch your breath.

Deep Blue Trouble is a great book and this is set to be a fantastic series. If you’re looking for fast-paced, by-the-seat-of-your-pants action this is the series to read. Deep Blue Trouble is published in paperback in January 2018 so you have plenty of time to read Deep Down Dead before its release and get fully acquainted with Lori Anderson. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Steph Broadribb and Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for the opportunity to read Deep Blue Trouble in advance.

Deep Blue Trouble is published on ebook on 15 November 2017 and paperback on 5 January 2018 by Orenda books. It can be pre-ordered HERE.

Deep Down Dead is out now and can be purchased HERE.

And finally the moment you have been waiting for … my Q&A with Steph!

It sounds like you have had an interesting life as you trained as a bounty hunter in California. Did the inspiration for Lori Anderson come from your training?
I actually trained as a bounty hunter as research for the first book in the Lori Anderson series – Deep Down Dead. I’d had the idea for Lori when I was driving from West Virginia to Florida in the previous autumn and had started writing the book, but realised pretty fast that I needed to learn more about the world of bounty hunting and also, specifically, what it was like to be a woman in that predominantly male world. I read books about it, and watched a couple of television series, but felt that for my book, and Lori, to be truly authentic I needed to experience it for myself. So I got in touch with a bounty hunter in California and when out to train with him. I guess you could say I’m a fan of ‘method writing’!

How much is Lori based on your real life experiences and people you have met?
There’s quite a lot of me in Lori. In some ways she’s a bolder, tougher, version of me! And although the characters and the action in the books are fictional, I do draw on the emotions I’ve experienced and try to put that feeling into my writing. I definitely use elements of people I’ve met in characters I create too, although it’s more like taking a mannerism from one person, and mixing it with the way another person looks, and the speech pattern of another – never a direct copy. Mind you, that said, in Deep Blue Trouble the character of Bobby Four-Fingers is named after a one of the guys I trained as a bounty hunter alongside, and I’ve used a few of his characteristics for the character because he asked me to make him into a fictional character!

Was it always your intention for the Lori Anderson books to be a series?
I’d always hoped that it would be, and luckily for me the wonderful Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books shared my vision.

What are the pros and cons of writing a series?
I think the biggest con is trying to get enough backstory from previous book/s into the current book so that the character’s past makes sense, without it coming across as too ‘tell’ and boring for the reader (or confusing). No matter what number in the series it is, a book needs to be able to be read as a standalone if a reader picks it up first, yet it also needs to develop and build on the characters from previous books. It’s a tricky balance to achieve, and I hope that I’ve managed it in Deep Blue Trouble! I think the pro of a series is that you get to carry on working with (and reading) the characters. As a reader I’m a big fan of series. Jack Reacher, Charlie Fox, Tom Thorne, John Rebus, Travis McGee, Carter Blake are all great series characters that have long running series which develop your knowledge of the characters and their stories with each book. I aspire to doing that!

Do you have the rest of the series and what happens to Lori, Dakota and JT planned out or do you see where each book takes you?
At this point, I have a rough idea of the first scene in the third book in the series, but that’s all. I tend to just see where each books takes me. There are a few things in Lori’s past that I want to explore more – either in book three or four – and there’s a job that’s been offered to her that she might do in book three, but other than that I sit down at my laptop with a blank page in front of me and take it from there!

Do you become emotionally attached to your characters?
Yes, totally! I think it’s inevitable given how much time they are in your head for as you write. But, as it’s crime fiction, you still need to put them through the wringer as much as possible too. If everything was easy for them it would make for a very boring thriller!

You are British and have spent time in the USA. Were there any difficulties that arose from setting the books in the US to ensure that the setting comes across as authentic?
I’ve lived and worked in the USA and I also have a lot of family who are American. Part of my research for the books was to travel to many of the settings used and experience them from myself – like training as a bounty hunter in California, driving from West Virginia to Florida, kayaking through the everglades and getting up close to gators, and hiking through the Blue Ridge Mountains and sleeping out under the stars. I check out phrases with my American friends, so that I can try and get Lori’s voice as authentic as possible. I’ve actually just got back from a trip to the USA where I was scouting out settings for book three.

What does your writing day look like? Do you have a set writing routine?
I tend to be better at writing in the morning so from when I get up to around lunchtime is my best time for first drafts. Then I usually take a break – take my dog for a walk, feed the horses – and then carry on, either writing or editing what I wrote in the morning, until around 4pm. I’m pretty active on social media – I love a bit of tweeting! So I’ll tend to go on Twitter intermittently throughout the day and then do Facebook and Instagram once I’ve finished writing. I usually write seven days a week during a first draft. When I’m editing I tend to shut myself away and plunge myself into the edits, only coming up for air and social media once they’re done!

You are taking part in Hull Noir this month. How do you feel about speaking at events? Do you get nervous or take it in your stride?
I actually really enjoy them. I’ve been a huge fan of the crime thriller genre for as long as I can remember and it’s fantastic getting out and meeting people who love the same kind of books as me. When I first started doing panels I was a bit nervous, and I have to admit that for my first few (evening) events I had a glass of wine or two to help my nerves! But everyone in crime fiction is so lovely, I find the panels and the people great fun – so now it’s usually just water in my glass when I’m on stage!

A huge thank you Steph for taking part and for the brilliant answers. I really enjoyed reading this. Looking forward to seeing you at Hull Noir!

Review – Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers by Terry Tyler

The Blurb

Three women, one dream: to become a successful author.

Eden Taylor has made it—big time. A twenty-three year old with model girl looks and a book deal with a major publisher, she’s outselling the established names in her field and is fast becoming the darling of the media.

Becky Hunter has money problems. Can she earn enough from her light-hearted romance novels to counteract boyfriend Alex’s extravagant spending habits, before their rocky world collapses?

Hard up factory worker Jan Chilver sees writing as an escape from her troubled, lonely life. She is offered a lifeline—but fails to read the small print…

In the competitive world of publishing, success can be merely a matter of who you know—and how ruthless you are prepared to be to get to the top.

BEST SELLER is a novella of 40k words (roughly half as long as an average length novel), a dark, edgy drama with a twist in the tale.

My Thoughts

After reading Terry Tyler’s Author Influences (you can check it out here) and discovering that her novella Best Seller was inspired by a true event in her life I just knew I had to read it. Best Seller centres around three women – of which two are friends and the other is known through writer groups on social media – and their dream to be a bestselling author. Sounds like a straight forward enough book, however, there is more to Best Seller than meets the eye.

Best Seller is only around 155 pages long and yet Tyler manages to fit so much into this small and perfectly formed book. It is a dark tale about the less attractive emotions we all have as human beings, the pursuit of ambition, the world of writing and the impact of media and social media.

The central characters in the book, Eden, Becky and Jan, are incredibly well crafted. Tyler is clearly an acute observer of people and their individual nuances as she captures everything – their characters, the impact of their social class and upbringing on their behaviour and speech, their age – about them through their dialogue and thoughts. All of the things that people say out loud in order to present an image of themselves that is in contrast to what they actually think especially when it comes to the success of others. I imagine any reader of Best Seller will recognise people they have come across within the book and, I have to say, it made me think about my own emotions in certain circumstances and how I come across, particularly on social media.

Best Seller is also a satirical look at the writing world. The misconceptions about independently published authors, the falsities of social media groups and the who you know rather than the what you know aspect of success all had me nodding my head in agreement. Tyler does not paint a pretty picture yet the honest way she portrays those everyday social interactions we all partake in and of life in general make delicious reading.

Once I started Best Seller I found it incredibly difficult to put down. Unlike anything I have read before, the plot is perfect in its pace and structure. It is incredibly current and astute and will have you questioning your own morals and the morals of those around you. Best Seller would make a great reading group book. A short read that packs a punch, I loved it!

A huge thank you to Terry Tyler for my copy of Best Seller in exchange for my honest review.

Author Influences with Carol Warham

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for another Author Influences and this week I’m delighted to welcome Carol Warham. Carol’s debut novel Resolutions is out now and I will tell you more about it a little bit later. 

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
My first love as a child was Enid Blyton. I never read The Famous Five, I preferred The Secret Seven. As I grew older I loved all her school books – Mallory Towers, Naughtiest Girl and St Clares. I was lucky enough to go to a school which encouraged reading and gave us reading lists for the school holidays. One memorable author, from these lists, that I grew to enjoy, was John Buchan.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was reasonably good at English. I was never a child that ‘stood out’ in any subject. However I had an excellent teacher for English and Literature, and I learned a lot from her and a love of classic authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
History is my first love, both fiction and non-fiction. This has not had an impact on my writing so far. However my second novel will feature some historical links. I do have an idea for an historical novel, which is a constant itch – I will have to scratch it one day!

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I would love to write a paranormal or a fantasy novel. I enjoy reading this genre and watching these type of films. It would be wonderful to create your own world and settings, however, I’m not sure I have the imagination to do it.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think one of the authors which I would love to emulate is Dorothy Dunnett. I love her Lymond series. When I get stuck, these are the books I turn to. I also have a friend, Paula Martin, who is a great writer, and has a number of published books. She has encouraged me every inch of the way.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I buy all of Paula’s books as soon as they are released. There are a number of authors that I enjoy and wait for their latest offering. At the moment I’m waiting (and have been for some years!) for the latest book from Hilary Mantel, on the Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Dorothy Dunnett has always made me feel like that when reading her books. The intricacy of her plots and the depths of her characters are amazing. If I could have a tiny fraction of her genius, in my writing, I would be thrilled.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not really. I have used my dog’s names in the story and I have a character mentioned, who lives in Houston, Texas, which is where my brother lives. These were put in for my own enjoyment.

A huge thank you, Carol, for taking part.
Thank you very much for the invitation. I’ve enjoyed coming along and, particularly, discussing my favourite authors.

Carol’s debut novel, Resolutions, is out now. Here’s what it’s about:

A few days before the New Year, Carly Mitchell returns home to the small town on the Yorkshire moors. Her intention for the short visit is to make her apologies and offer an explanation for her action. A year earlier, she fled, leaving her bridegroom and friends bewildered.

She’s met with mixed reactions, ranging from curiosity to open hostility. However, when an emergency arises, Carly agrees to change her plans and stay a little longer. Falling in love with the new local doctor, Ben Thornton, was not part of her original plan either. Especially when it appears his past is shrouded in mystery.

Complications and tensions increase during the town’s New Year celebrations and she begins to doubt whether she has done the right thing by coming home.

Can she find the resolution she needs to overcome the challenges facing her, or will she run away again?

About the Author

Writing has been Carol’s love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up she settled down to writing and having published short stories, poems and holiday articles.

In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.

Earlier this year, she represented her book group on BBC Radio Leeds, talking about books and the work on her novel.

Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam. This lovely area is the location for her first novel, Resolutions.

Website: https://carolwarham.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carol_warham

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolwarhamauthor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Review of Dark Winter by David Mark

As part of the Hull Noir countdown I’m sharing my review of Dark Winter by David Mark. David Mark is from Hull and his Detective Aector McAvoy novels are set in the city. I have to admit that this book has been sitting on my Kindle for far too long while review copies took priority. I’m so glad I finally read this book and I’m looking forward to hearing Mark speak at Hull Noir. Mark is taking part in Sleeping with the Fishes on Saturday 18th November with Nick Quantrill, Lilja Sigurdardottir and Quentin Bates and I can’t wait!

The Blurb

DS Aector McAvoy is a man with a troubled past. His unwavering belief in justice has made him an outsider in the police force he serves, a good man among the lazy and corrupt.

Then on a cold day in December he is the first cop on the scene when a young girl is killed in Hull’s historic church – and the only one to see the murderer. A masked man, with tears in his eyes…

When two more seemingly unconnected people die, the police must work quickly. Only McAvoy can see the connection between the victims. A killer is playing God – and McAvoy must find a way to stop the deadly game.

My Thoughts

‘“Hull isn’t in the North East, sir. It’s in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”’

Dark Winter is a book that has been sitting waiting on my Kindle for what seems like an eternity! This means that I am way behind everybody else with Mark’s Detective Aector McAvoy series as Dark Winter is the first in a series of six. I was initially drawn to this book because it is set in Hull and written by a Hull author.

When a fifteen year old is stabbed to death in Holy Trinity Church, Detective McAvoy is first on the scene and sees the killer. When further killings occur McAvoy is the only detective to see a link between them.

I really liked Aector McAvoy as a character. He is a big bear of a man who has a real gentleness about him. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his dark side – let’s face it, most detectives in crime novels do – and he can undoubtedly hold his own but he is principled and believes in honest justice which is something his colleagues are often willing to overlook. From a character point of view, Dark Winter works well as the initial novel in a series. The reader is given enough information about McAvoy’s past to be intrigued and there is clearly more to come with this character.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot for fear of giving anything away but have to mention that I really liked the reasons for the killings. It adds another layer and pulls together what seem initially to be disparate threads together nicely. The plot kept me interested and wanting to read more. Dark Winter is well paced and Mark ensures that the plot moves along at a decent speed.

The setting of Hull plays a large and important part in Dark Winter. It perfectly adds to the atmosphere of the novel. Dark Winter was first published in 2012 and at that time Hull was one of those northern cities that had been decimated by the loss of industry. There was always a prevailing sense of loss and hopelessness within Hull and its many run-down streets that Mark captures well in Dark Winter. However, he also captures the sense of pride and identity that people from Hull have about their city and this is highlighted when even McAvoy, a non-Hull native, points out that Hull is in Yorkshire. I very much hope that with City of Culture status and five years on from Dark Winter that Hull is able to reach its potential and become the great city I hold so affectionately in my heart. I will be interested to see if there are any changes in the way Hull is portrayed by Mark in the following books.

A great start to a detective series, I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Winter and read it in no time at all. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series now that I have started and look forward to seeing where Mark takes McAvoy. I am also interested to see if the descriptions of Hull change over time. If you are looking for a gritty, northern read check Dark Winter out.

First published 19 December 2012 by Quercus and on 5 October 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton.

You can get all the information about Hull Noir, including tickets HERE.

Continue reading Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Review of Dark Winter by David Mark

Author Influences with Lesley Downer

I am absolutely delighted to welcome the wonderful Lesley Downer to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today for this weeks Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
The book that springs to mind immediately is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I also loved Roger Lancelyn Green’s versions of the Greek and Roman myths and Norse myths. Also The Wind in the Willows, the Pooh books, Alice in Wonderland. I was a traditional child! There was a great little library near my house and I was always there discovering treasures.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was lucky enough to have two amazing English teachers at school, which is probably why I did English at university and went on to write. I also had an amazing history teacher who told history as stories and had us all totally entranced – the little princes in the tower drowning in a butt of malmsey, Charles I having his head cut off …

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
For quite a long time I’ve been reading books and novels set in the period and place I write about – nineteenth century Japan. When I have a breather and can read anything I like, I love to read fiction. I also like to read history. And when I read fiction I like to learn something, so I’m not so interested in contemporary fiction but more in stories with a historical setting.
When I’m writing I like to keep myself engrossed in the genre of book I’m writing and the period and place I’m writing about. I started off writing travel books and had travel books on the floor all around my desk. Then I wrote non fiction and had books on my subject – geisha, Madame Sadayakko – all around. Now I write fiction and am surrounded by books on my subject (nineteenth century Japan) and by historical novels.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I don’t really think in genre. I’ve written travel, biography (Madame Sadayakko), an indefinable ‘book’ (Geisha), and now write fiction. My subject as an author (though not as a journalist) has always been Japan. Now I’m thinking not in terms of another genre but another subject …

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I’ve always been a reader and I’ve always been a writer. I love the great classics – Dickens, the Brontes, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Dostoevsky. I’d like to write great sweeping dramas like those myself that take you away to somewhere entirely different and make you see the world through new eyes.
I’m also really steeped in Japanese literature, which is by turns profoundly moving and achingly romantic (Tale of Genji), encapsulating the world in a few words (Basho), strange and subversive (Tanizaki), and has entirely transformed the way I see the world.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Peter Carey! I adored Oscar and Lucinda and went to Cheltenham Literature Festival a couple of years ago just to see him receive the Lifetime Award for Literature.

Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. David Mitchell is simply another league. His use of language, the way he writes dialogue, takes you so deeply into another era.
I also adored Oscar and Lucinda which entirely breaks all the rules of fiction writing – so baroque, so many loose ends. Wonderful stuff!
The Sheltering Sky had me gripped from sentence one. I like dense, thought-provoking novels.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My plots are all based on true historical stories and many of my characters really existed. My most recent novel is almost entirely based on historical fact. But when I imagine a character, yes, I do also think of real people I know and of how they would behave in particular situations.

Thank you for taking part Lesley and for the wonderful answers. Like you, I am a fan of the classics too and adore Thomas Hardy in particular. I have never read Oscar and Lucinda and have now added it to my TBR list.

Lesley’s latest book The Shogun’s Queen is out now and I can highly recommend it (you can read my review HERE). Here is what it is about:

The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.

When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.

Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .

About Lesley Downer

Lesley Downer lived in Japan for many years. She tramped around Basho’s Narrow Road the Deep North, lived among geisha, interviewed sumo wrestlers and enjoyed the glitzy life of Tokyo. She is the author of many books on Japan, including Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World, Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha who Seduced the West and The Last Concubine, short listed for Romantic Novel of the Year. Her most recent novel, The Shogun’s Queen, is a prequel, chronologically the first in the Shogun Quartet, and takes place largely in the Women’s Palace, a kind of harem in Edo Castle in what is now modern day Tokyo..

Twitter: @Lesley Downer
Facebook: AuthorLesleyDowner
www.lesleydowner.com
Lesley blogs on the-history-girls.blogspot.co.uk on the 14th of each month.

 

 

Review – London Noir by Ann Girdharry

The Blurb

Memory loss, nightmares, the urge to kill – Sophie has it all. Is it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Or something more sinister? Kal is about to find out…

After a near-fatal road accident, Kal helps a young girl in trouble. The girl’s friends are being murdered one by one. Why? And who by?

Kal must kick start herself out of her downward spiral to save the young stranger.

But Kal is in the grip of the London Cartel and is someone after the girl, or is the girl after someone?

 Crime Suspense Thriller.
A stand alone story.
The second Kal Medi book.

My Thoughts

London Noir is the second book in Girdharry’s Kal Medi series, following on from Good Girl Bad Girl which was published last year. While London Noir does work as a standalone, it is better to have read Good Girl Bad Girl firstly because you will get more of a sense of Kal’s history and secondly because it’s a cracking read.

When Kal is involved in a road traffic accident with a young woman called Sophie she is immediately drawn to her … and subsequently drawn into Sophie’s dangerous life. Sophie’s friends are being killed and Kal helps her to find out who is responsible and why.

I really liked the character of Kal in the first book and knew this would be a protagonist I wanted to follow. She is a kick-arse, gutsy, intelligent photo-journalist with an interesting background, thanks in part to her father who her taught her all about understanding body language and how to read and manipulate people. In this second book we see a softer and more vulnerable side to Kal. This makes me like her even more and there is plenty of scope for Girdharry to continue with this character and I look forward to seeing how Kal develops as the series progresses.

London Noir draws you in immediately with a first chapter that captures your attention and leaves you wanting to know more. From there the pace gradually gains momentum and you become completely gripped. The plot is fast-moving and keeps the reader of their toes with twists and turns galore making London Noir a thrilling ride.

The killer in London Noir may well be the most evil, chilling antagonist I have come across this year! Punctuated with chapters in which the killer narrates in first person, Girdharry ensures that the reader’s attention is maintained throughout. I loved getting an insight into what makes the killer tick but bloomin’ heck it sent shivers down my spine as it is as creepy as hell!

What I really like about this series is the use of psychology and body language that Girdharry incorporates. This adds an additional layer and there is an intelligence in Girdharry’s books that make them stand apart from other crime thrillers.

If you haven’t yet checked out the Kal Medi series yet I strongly suggest you do. Current, unnerving, well cast and plotted, London Noir is a must for crime fiction fans.

Published on 17 October 2017 by Chassagnard Publishing.

A huge thank you to Ann Girdharry for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Read my review of Good Girl Bad Girl HERE.

Author Influences with JA Baker

Today I’m joined by the lovely JA Baker to talk books and writing in this week’s Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was completely hooked on Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I adored English at school from starting Primary right through to College and beyond. It was definitely my favourite subject. I was fairly good at it and loved writing stories.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I like reading most genres but my favourite without a doubt is psychological suspense/domestic noir. Reading them has had a huge impact on my own writing, helping me to sharpen my skills and use the element of suspense in the best way possible in my stories.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I would love to have a go at writing something with a supernatural theme. I think I would fail miserably at writing romance and will therefore stick to thrillers!

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
It was Penny Hancock’s thriller, Tideline that finally set me on the path to becoming an author. I had always wanted to write but lacked the know how and the drive to do it even though I had completed a writing course a few years previously. I just thought it was so brilliantly written and was such an unusual theme that I felt compelled to have a go, and so here I am!

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I generally don’t rush out to buy a book as soon as it comes out but so far have loved reading anything by Sabine Durrant as I think her style of writing is poetic.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Again, anything by Sabine Durrant and also Tideline. I also wish I had written both of the Paula Hawkins books as she is gifted at writing.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I steer clear of using real life characters as inspiration for that very reason but in Undercurrent the location where I live was my inspiration for the book. A river runs at the bottom of my garden which at night can be pretty eerie so thought it would provide a perfect setting for a thriller.

A huge thank you for taking part. Thank you so much for inviting me to take part Abbie. It’s been a pleasure.

JA Baker’s second novel Her Dark Retreat was published on 17 October 2017 by Bloodhound Books. 

The Blurb

The coastguard’s residence Chamber Cottage, which sits high up on the North Yorkshire cliffs, overlooking The North Sea, holds many dark secrets.

Alec and Peggy are struggling to overcome their marital problems. Both damaged by issues from their childhoods, they are trying to get on with their lives. But this is hard for them to do when they both believe they are being watched. As a result, Peggy, who has terrible scars on her face, becomes more agoraphobic.

To make matters worse, Peggy discovers her estranged mother is stalking both she and Alec, claiming she has a dark secret that is putting Peggy in danger.

What caused the scars on Peggy’s face? Is Alec really the monster Peggy’s mother believes him to be? And what secrets does Chamber Cottage hold?

About the Author

I live in the North East of England and am married with four grown up children, a grandson and a crazy dog called Theo. My first book, Undercurrent is available on Amazon and my next novel entitled Her Dark Retreat was released on October 17th.

My website is www.jabakerauthor.com and you can follow me on Twitter @thewriterjude or on Facebook by clicking on J A Baker Author. Please feel free to visit and contact me with any question about my writing!