Author Influences With William L. Stuart

I am really pleased to welcome William L. Stuart to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today. William has been a huge supporter of the blog on Twitter and it is lovely to try and return that support a little bit today. So, before we hear more about William and his books let’s find out about the books that he loves.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I read most everything. I own (still) the first 60 Hardy Boys Books, about 20 Nancy Drew Books, and just about anything I could get my hands on. I spent one summer reading the World Book Encyclopedias (my geekiness is showing…)

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
English wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t mind the literature part, but diagramming sentences and conjugating verbs was boring. Luckily, I have an amazing editor!

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?  I still read many different genres. As I got older, I became a member of the Science Fiction Book Club and bought everything from hard core SciFi to epic fantasy. While I was in the US Navy stationed on submarines (long before the Kindle days), I would read whatever happened to be in the ship’s library. I read Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlam, Ursula K. LeGuin, Steven Donaldson, and the list goes on. Even today, though I tend to read fantasy, I still enjoy thrillers, and occasional crime novel, sci-fi, and some paranormal. About the only thing I don’t read is horror and romance.

The fantasy genre certainly had an impact on my stories, though I tried very hard not to allow the books I read to bleed into my own writing.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Thriller or action adventure. I’ve read most of Clive Cussler’s books, most of Brad Thor’s, and almost all of Ted Bell’s thrillers. I actually have a WIP of a thriller in the works (though the research keeps sidetracking me).

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Believe it or not, my biggest influence to write The Gemstone Chronicles was my grandson. He and I were out rock hunting in the North Georgia Mountains and I told him about the magical and mystical properties of gemstones. He was deeply involved with playing World of Warcraft and suggested I go home and write a book about elves, magic, and gemstones. I said OK and the series was born!

I never planned to publish the books. They were simply stories for my grandchildren to enjoy. After Aidan (the real one) read Book One, he encouraged me to publish. My brother John (Alatariel the Elven Scout in the books) read it as well, and urged me to publish. My wife started a cooking blog almost a decade ago and, despite her introvert nature, put her work out there for the world to see, and she encouraged me to publish. I contacted an editor friend to do my editing and a graphic artist friend designed the covers. I decided to self-publish since I never intended them to be commercial successes. Luckily, they have been well-received!

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I used to grab every Brad Thor, Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, and Tom Clancy as soon as they hit the shelves. Not so much anymore. I spend more time reading Indie authors than anything else. I do enjoy Terry Maggert’s Halfway Witchy series. I’ve read 4 of the books and can’t wait for Book 5. I also add any of Doug J. Cooper’s Crystal Series to my TBR as soon as they are released.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
In the fantasy realm, Steven Donaldson’s first Thomas Covenant series is one I wish I had written. The world building in this series was amazing!
In the thriller world, probably Robert Ludlam’s Bourne books, especially The Bourne Identity. The plot twists and use of description made those books among my favorites.
Lastly, again in the fantasy genre, any of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. The imagination and storytelling are topnotch, and her characters really made the books.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I based my books in the North Georgia Mountains and used my grandchildren and wife as the basis of the 4 major characters. I could have conversations with them in my head and it helped with the dialogue in the books. The elves names are family members’ names translated by a elven name generator. For the antagonists, I used the names of people I didn’t particularly like (though I won’t name them).

I used some of the things I learned in the Navy as part of Beebop’s character, and Nana’s cooking blog is based on my wife’s cooking blog that I mentioned earlier.

Thank you for taking part, William. I love how The Gemstone Chronicles came about, it’s a wonderful and inspiring story.

There are four books in The Gemstone Chronicles series: The Carnelian, The Amethyst, The Emerald and The Ruby. This is what the first book is about:

Elves, magic, stolen gemstones, a quest to restore the balance between good and evil, and who is the mysterious Keeper???

When Aidan and Maggie find a fairy cross while rock hunting with their grandfather, it’s just an oddity. When they discover an elf imprisoned in the stone and free him, Dark Elves attack the siblings and their grandparents, forcing them to flee to Celahir, magical home of the Elves.

The family, with the help of their Elven friends, embarks on a dangerous adventure to find the first of the four stolen gems, the Carnelian. Without restoration of the stones, the balance between good and evil is slipping toward evil – in both Celahir and the human world…

You can buy your copies HERE in the UK and HERE in the US.

About William L. Stuart

William Stuart is a ten-year veteran of the US Navy Submarine Force, works in the animal health field, and is the proud father of his daughter Laura and grandfather of two wonderful grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie. When he isn’t working, he enjoys rock-hunting, gold prospecting, playing softball, playing golf, and dabbling in woodworking. He lives in the Greater Atlanta area with Lana, his lovely and adorable wife of almost thirty years.



Literary Book Gifts – Exclusive Discount

I am delighted to welcome Melissa from Literary Book Gifts to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today. Melissa is here to tell us about her beautiful products. She also has a very special offer for Bloomin’ Brilliant Books’ readers who can claim a 20% discount on all goods ordered and this is unlimited! There are some really gorgeous bags and T-shirts in Melissa’s store. Read on to find out how to claim your discount and to find out more about Literary Book Gifts.

So, I will now hand you over to Melissa…

About Literary Book Gifts

Literary Book Gifts specializes in bringing novels and their characters to life on t-shirts, backpacks, and tote bags.

A few titles include works by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Books exist primarily on paper and as ideas. Wearing a shirt of your favorite book makes the experience tangible in a way that reading the book or talking about it does not. If anyone has spent an afternoon looking at vintage book covers they will understand the nostalgia that comes with reading very old literature.

Shirts and bags make amazing presents. Giving someone a shirt with their favorite novel on it, such as Walden by Henry David Thoreau or Ulysses by James Joyce makes for a fun and unique gift.

All design work is done in house, with an effort to create designs that look and feel authentic. You will not find anything similar to most of the designs anywhere else. Take for example The Origin of Species shirt with the famously extinct dodo bird. You can hunt far and wide but you won’t find this print elsewhere.

Every style is available in many different colors and sizes. There are hundreds of products available in the store with over 45 many more to come so there is always something for everyone.

Check out the rest of the gorgeous products Melissa has by heading over to the Literary Book Gifts website:

I absolutely love the tote bags and there are a couple of my favourite books depicted – The Secret Garden and Wuthering Heights – and any of these would make great presents. I also love The Origin of Species one that Melissa mentions. 

As promised, Melissa is giving  all readers of Bloomin’ Brilliant Books 20% off everything in store:

I have created a promo code BLOOMINBRILLIANT20 which is good for 20% off anything in the store, no minimum, and can be used unlimited times.

It is really simple to use; just pop the code into the discount box and click ‘apply’. Literary Book Gifts are based in the USA but Melissa ships overseas so UK readers can use the code and order too, hurrah! 

A huge thank you, Melissa, for this offer. You are incredibly kind!

Happy shopping!

Author Influences With Ewa Dodd

Hello and welcome to another Author Influences. Today I’m delighted to welcome Ewa Dodd to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books. Ewa is the author of The Walls Came Down and I will tell you more about her book later. But now, Ewa talks about the books that have influenced her.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
My dad was a bookseller and I read widely as a child, from murder mysteries to classic fairytales, but my absolute favourite books are still David Almond’s Skellig and The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
English was my favourite subject at school and the only one that I could confidently say I was good at.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I mainly like to read relatable fiction. My favourite authors are Maggie O’Farrell, Hanya Yanagihara and David Nicholls.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Possibly a crime thriller – I’ve had a few ideas in this genre!

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I would say Astrid Lindgren. I picked up Pippi Longstocking as a child and wanted to create some wonderful characters like her.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Definitely Maggie O’Farrell. There isn’t a single book of hers that I haven’t enjoyed.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I think Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life is beautifully written. The characters awakened something in me as a reader, which I didn’t know was there.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes, the main inspiration for The Walls Came Down was an article that I read in a Polish newspaper about a missing child.

Thanks for taking part, Ewa. I like David Nicholls too.

Ewa’s novel The Walls Came Down is out now and can be bought HERE. Here is what it is about:

A young boy goes missing during a workers’ strike in 1980s Communist Poland, unravelling a chain of events which will touch people across decades and continents. Joanna, a young journalist in Warsaw, is still looking for her brother, who’s now been missing for over twenty years. Matt, a high-flying London city financier is struggling with relationship problems and unexplained panic attacks. And in Chicago, Tom, an old man, is slowly dying in a nursing home, losing his battle with cancer. What connects them? As the mystery begins to unravel, the worlds of the three protagonists are turned upside down. But can they find each other before time runs out?

You can read my review of The Walls Came Down HERE.

About Ewa Dodd

Ewa Dodd has been writing since she was young – starting small with short self-illustrated books for children. More recently, she has delved into novel-writing, and is particularly interested in literature based in Poland, where her family are from. The Walls Came Down is her first published novel, for which she was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction.

You can follow Ewa on Twitter: @EwaDodd

Review – Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

The Blurb


Following the sudden death of her beloved mother, Jessica Gibson’s world falls apart. But after meeting a man who seems heaven-sent, she starts to feel she has something to live for again, and soon discovers that their connection holds far more significance than she could ever have imagined. And when Jessica strikes an unlikely bond with Alexandra Green, the two new friends are taken on an emotional journey into the world of the supernatural, where psychic mediums pass on messages from beyond the grave. What — or who — is causing the strange goings-on in Alex’s home? What secret is she keeping from Jessica? And who is the young woman who so badly needs their help? In a series of surprising twists and turns, the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and a mystery is unwittingly solved — with life-changing consequences for all involved.

Out of the Darkness is an uplifting tale of friendship and redemption; of love and loss. And life…after death.

My Thoughts

If I’m completely honest Out of the Darkness is not the sort of book I would normally pick up, but I had seen some lovely reviews of it and decided to give it a read. After some initial doubts I’m really glad I did.

Out of the Darkness is the story of three women, Jessica, Alex and Hannah, whose lives become unexpectedly intertwined following the death of Jessica’s mother. Initially, I was unsure that I would be able to get into Hogan’s book as it has elements of the supernatural and involves mediums and signs from beyond the grave. I’m extremely sceptical about mediums and their alleged abilities, as I personally believe that many of them prey on the grief of those who are vulnerable in order to make money. However, as I continued to read I found myself getting completely wrapped up in the lives of these three women and I could get over my issues with mediums.

I really enjoyed the relationship between the three women and wanted to know what the connection between them was, as it was clear that their coming together was more than just coincidence. Out of the Darkness is very much a book about fate and I really liked this element.

Hogan writes about grief with real emotional acuity, and she really captures the feelings, thoughts and difficulties involved when you lose someone you love. She doesn’t just focus on the immediate aftermath of grief but also how it impacts in the long term with those moments when it sneaks up on you when you think you have reached a point that you are okay.

What I took from Out of the Darkness is that the one thing that unites every one of us is death – the certainty of death and the experience of death. While I knew this, Hogan’s book made me think about this at a deeper level. Out of the Darkness is one of those books that makes you want to take hold of your loved ones and hold them to you extra tight, such are the emotions that it generates.

Out of the Darkness is in turns both heartbreaking and uplifting and Hogan managed to make this cynical bugger cry! A real gem of a book.

Out of the Darkness was published on 6 July 2015 by Illumine Publishing. You can get your copy HERE.

My thanks go to Katy Hogan for the copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Blog Tour – When I Find You by Emma Curtis *Review*

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Emma Curtis’s second novel When I Find You today. So, here is the blurb before I share my thoughts.

The Blurb

What do you do when someone takes advantage of your greatest weakness?
The brilliant new thriller from the author of ONE LITTLE MISTAKE
Perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh, C L Taylor and Claire Douglas

When Laura wakes up the morning after her office Christmas party and sees a man’s shirt on the floor, she is horrifed. This is no ordinary one-night-stand.
Laura suffers from prospagnosia – severe faceblindness – a condition that means she is completely unable to identify and remember faces. The man she spent all night dancing with and kissing, the man she thought she’d brought home, was identifiable only as ‘Pink Shirt’.
But the shirt on her bedroom floor is blue.
And now Laura must go to work every day, and face the man who took advantage of her condition. The man she has no way of recognising.
She doesn’t know who he is, but she’ll make him pay.

My Thoughts

After enjoying Emma Curtis’s debut novel One Little Mistake I eagerly anticipated her second book and was thrilled to be able to get an advance copy of When I Find You.

Twenty-eight-year-old Laura Maguire suffers from prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, which impacts on the way her brain receives information. Laura cannot recognise faces at all – not even her own – and it is a condition that she has lived with all her life. She has managed to live with her condition and has a successful career as a designer in advertising. However, things begin to unravel when following a boozy staff night out she wakes up with a man … but it is not the man she believed she had spent the night with as this one is wearing a different coloured shirt. As the shock settles in, Laura becomes determined to find out who took advantage of her.

This is an interesting theme that really made me think. While Laura willingly participated in the sexual intercourse, the fact that she cannot recognise faces and subsequently discovers that she has slept with a different man to the one she had intended to be with is an unnerving concept. Add to it the fact that nobody knows about her face-blindness apart from one of her managers – who is female – and the tale becomes even more creepy. Somebody has clearly found out and taken advantage of her, in fact they have raped her. Curtis’s exploration of Laura’s feelings around this and the dilemma she faces as to whether she could go to the police or not is really well done.

Curtis writes really well about Laura’s experiences of living with prosopagnosia and I really got into her skin. Written in first person narrative there are some exceptional passages that really describe and convey the feelings and emotions Laura goes through on a daily basis as a result of her condition. At times I felt the confusion Laura felt when coming in to contact with different characters she knows but cannot recognise, and Curtis really demonstratess how disconcerting this would be. Curtis has clearly carefully researched prosopagnosia.

When I Find You is a bit of a slow burner as it follows Laura in her quest to find her abuser, and also her manager Rebecca who has issues of her own to contend with. If you are after fast spills and thrills When I Find You may not be for you, but if you like your thrillers to be more chilling and unnerving it will be a great addition to your bookshelf. I loved its subtlety, its concentration on emotions and its intensity. The pace does increase greatly towards the end as it reaches its final crescendo. A crescendo that left me open-mouthed and wide-eyed.

Undoubtedly a disturbing thriller, When I Find You is also a story about how appearances do not give the full picture of what a person is capable of … you can never tell from the outside what is going on in the inside. A great read that is well written.

Published on ebook on 1 July 2018 by Transworld Digital and paperback on 9 August 2018 by Black Swan. Get your copy HERE.

About the Author

EMMA CURTIS was born in Brighton and brought up in London. She is a member of ‘The Prime Writers’, a collective of writers who have all had their first books published after the age of 40.
Emma has two children and lives in Richmond with her husband.
@emmacurtis #WhenIFindYou

A huge thank you to Emma Curtis, Black Swan and Netgalley for the advance copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.


Author Influences with David Olner

It’s Wednesday which means it is time for another Author Influences. Joining me today is David Olner, author of The Baggage Carousel.

Which authors/books did you read as a child?
I was bang into science fiction when I was a kid, before all the wonderment got knocked out of me. Quite high-end stuff, too, like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury. I remember the sense of disappointment when I took Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” home from the library, giddy at the prospect of reading it, only to find out it was some childhood memoir. I was a kid in a small town. I didn’t want to read about some other kid in a small town. I wanted robots and spaceships.
From there, I digressed into reading horror. I read James Herbert and Stephen King at what was probably a far too tender age. I don’t think the gore ever bothered me but I do recollect being completely distraught when Tad, the little boy, died in Cujo. I remember shouting “Why, Stephen King, why?” repeatedly and banging a scrawny fist against the top of my cabin bed. Cabin beds were a thing in the 80’s, by the way, I wasn’t at sea swabbing the decks or anything.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was, I even won a prize! My mum and dad still have the book (sci-fi, natch) I was awarded for my efforts. Maybe because it’s the only thing I’ve ever won. Meritocratically, that is, not including tombolas and scratchcards. I have enclosed photographic evidence.


Which genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read across the board, there’s no particular genre I’d care to be tethered to. I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking, so often my reading choices were dictated by whatever was available in hostel book exchanges that wasn’t printed in Scandinavian or German. Thanks to that I’ve read a lot of crappy books, but I’ve also picked up so much good stuff. The stuff you know you’re supposed to read but would never ordinarily get around to if it wasn’t an enforced choice. My first exposure to writers like John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson was through those book exchanges and I’d count them amongst my favourite authors now.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
“The Baggage Carousel” turned out a lot darker than I expected and a second book I wrote proved even bleaker. As a palette cleanser, I had a go at writing a YA book for a while. It felt good to be writing something that didn’t make me want to scrub my eyes away after I’d shut the laptop down. Time constraints meant I had to shelve it, but I’d love to return to it at some point.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and if so who, what and why?
I read Martin Amis’s “Dead Babies” in my early twenties and it blew my tiny mind. I remember when I was reading it I kept flipping the book over, amazed that a book like that could have a Penguin on its spine. Even the title seemed like an affront to decency. At that point, I realised that you could get away with almost anything under the banner of contemporary fiction. I determined to use that to my advantage, but it took me over twenty years to get around to it.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
George Saunders. I can’t stand it when people bandy the word “genius” around recklessly, it’s like when someone calls you a “legend” just for putting the kettle on. But I think George Saunders probably is a genius. I know he’s definitely a writer to be treasured.

Which books have you read that made you think “Wow, I wish I had written that?” and what was it about the book?
None. If I read a book that moves or inspires me in some way it seems obvious that the author was exactly the right person to write it. But if I read a book by, say, Sarah Waters, I am in awe at the amount of research that’s gone into it. All the depth of field she creates before she can even insert her characters and plot machinations.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
The basic conceit of “The Baggage Carousel” is true. I had a holiday romance with an Australian girl whose ardour cooled considerably when we return to our respective homelands. I remembered that I’d loaned her a nominal amount of money and contacted her to politely ask for it back and it was at that point she expunged me from her social media. The first time I asked her about the money I could’ve done with it, but the next half-dozen times I emailed her it was more about the principle! For the purposes of the novel I tried to imagine how something like that would affect a character who wasn’t as mentally well-balanced as I so obviously am.

Thanks for taking part, David.

David’s novel The Baggage Carousel is out now. Here is what it’s about:

Dan Roberts has a troubled past, anger management issues and a backpack named after an abducted heiress. A chance encounter with Amber, a free-spirited Australian girl, seems to give his solitary, nomadic life a new sense of direction. But when she doesn’t respond to his emails, the only direction he’s heading is down…

The Baggage Carousel is a visceral yet humane travelogue of a novel about life’s great let-downs; family, work and love. Dan Roberts is destined to go down as one of fiction’s great solitary men, equal parts Iain Banks’ Frank, Camus’ Meursault and Seuss’ The Grinch.

You can get your copy of The Baggage Carousel HERE.

About David Olner

Dave Olner likes to travel, relishing the opportunities to annoy people from different cultures. He currently lives in Humberside where he works as a fork-lift truck driver by night and sleeps during the day. Like a vampire, except without the bloodletting, immortality or superhuman strength.

Dave studied Film at the University of Derby. Films are like books where you don’t have to turn the page. He only got a Desmond, though, but bumped it up to a 2.1 on his CV. That little white lie enabled him to fulfil his lifelong dream of driving a fork-lift truck, by night, in Humberside.

“The Baggage Carousel” is his debut novel and will be released by those miscreants at Obliterati Press on the 23rd of March 2018.

Twitter: @daveocelot


Blog Tour – Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen *Review*

I am delighted to finally be sharing my review of Big Sister by the fabulous Gunnar Staalesen. Before I share my thoughts, here is what the book is about:

The Blurb

When PI Varg Veum is approached to find a missing girl, by a half-sister he barely knew, his investigation takes him deep into the dark web, and some personal history he’d rather forget…

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My thoughts

The wolf is back! I was so pleased to be re-acquainted with Varg in Big Sister. He is a character I have a real soft spot for and I had eagerly awaited Gunnar Staalesen’s next book. And, oh boy, does Staalesen deliver again with the latest Veum instalment. While this is a long running series Big Sister does work as a standalone although I would highly recommend checking out the earlier books in the series.

When Varg is commissioned to look for the missing god-daughter of Norma Bakkevik, the case takes him into the murky world of a biker group and the darkest corners of the internet. This isn’t all, though, as the lady commissioning Varg on his latest job is the half-sister he had never met before which adds a personal element to the case.

Staalesen’s writing is pitch perfect and the translation by Don Bartlett is, as always, flawless. Big Sister is well paced and it is the combination of his writing, the characterisation of Veum and a tight plot that makes this book so good. Every word is perfectly placed and yet comes across as effortless. Staalesen has perfected the character of Veum and it really feels as though he is talking directly to you. I adore Veum’s dry observations of life and his down to earth manner.

As Veum has to deal with a whole cast of characters who are never a hundred per cent truthful, and who each harbour their own secrets, the plot is chock full of red herrings. It is utterly gripping and it left me stunned.

As the title suggests, family and its varying guises is one of the underlying themes of Big Sister, however, Staalesen looks at it from its darkest angle. One of the things I really like about the Varg Veum books is that Veum is a private investigator rather than a detective and he is an ex social worker. This enables Staalesen to go further with the plots as he is not constrained by police procedural issues. This fits perfectly with the often uncomfortable story lines that Staalesen writes. He never flinches from covering topics that are taboo, and he pushes you to the limits of what you are used to in crime fiction. This makes his books current, topical and thought-provoking and Big Sister is no exception.

The wolf is back and he is on top form! Big Sister is dark, contemporary, intelligent and incredibly well written. A real page-turner, it’s a fantastic addition to the series.

About the Author

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at
the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book
in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been
published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film
adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring
the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being
filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of
Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives
in Bergen with his wife.

Big Sister was published on eBook on 30 April 2018 and paperback on 20 June 2018 by Orenda Books.

Purchase Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US

My thanks go to Gunnar Staalesen, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.



Blog Tour – The Date by Louise Jensen *Review*

I am beyond delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Louise Jensen’s latest novel, The Date with my blogging buddy Jen at Jen Med’s Book Reviews. Before I tell you what I thought, here is what it is about:

The Blurb

One night can change everything.

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her…

My Thoughts

Oh, how pleased I was to get my hands on Louise Jensen’s latest book, The Date. I loved The Sister and The Gift (I have The Surrogate sitting on my Kindle but, as with a lot of the books I have bought, I have not had time to read it yet).

In The Date we meet Alison Taylor who, having quite recently separated from her husband, has been on a date with Ewan following encouragement from her friends. However, the following day Alison wakes up with an injury to her head and she can’t remember anything about the night before or her date. The worst, though, is to come. When she looks in her mirror she doesn’t know who she is looking at.

Ali is later diagnosed with prosopagnosia, a condition which affects the ability to recognise faces. Ali’s world is turned upside down as she is no longer able to recognise her loved ones, friends or even herself. The whole concept of The Date is, quite frankly, terrifying. Having this condition would be frightening enough, but to have it happen just as you have woken up from a night out in which it appears you have been attacked, and you have no memory of it makes it doubly so. And things are about to get a lot worse for Ali.

What I really like about Jensen’s books is the way in which she takes a sensitive subject and, while making it frightening, also deals with the issue in a gentle manner. Jensen demonstrates a real emotional acuity in her writing, and she writes about Ali’s diagnosis of prosopagnosia in such a way that it is incredibly affecting and stirring. I just melted for Ali as she struggled to adjust to her diagnosis. Jensen’s depiction of a young woman dealing with this condition is realistic and heart breaking. Rather than skirting over it to concentrate on the thriller aspect, Jensen incorporates it in such a way that it adds so much more to the book.

The Date is also an incredible thriller. As the plot progresses it becomes incredibly unnerving and it plays on all our deepest fears. It becomes clear that Ali has a stalker who is going out of their way to frighten her. Jensen has weaved twists and turns that had me constantly trying to guess the identity of the perpetrator of Ali’s torment (at one point I was looking at the dog suspiciously, and I love dogs!). The Date seriously messed with my head.

Jensen has a real way with words. She manages to crank up the tension so you are constantly chewing on your lip or your fingernails as you read. Jensen also manages to make her thrillers beautiful with prose that is stunning and The Date is no exception. It feels as though every single word has been carefully chosen and yet it also feels as though it has come naturally.

Once again, Jensen has written an outstanding novel. The Date is utterly unnerving and totally tense, while at the same time sensitive and moving. An absolute must-read.

The Date is published on 21 June 2018 by Bookouture. You can get your copy here: 


About the Author

Louise Jensen is a Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate. To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at, where she regularly blogs flash fiction and writing tips.

A huge thank you to Bookouture, Louise Jensen and Kim Nash for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.



Author Influences with Rachel Amphlett

A huge welcome to this week’s Author Influences guest, Rachel Amphlett. Rachel has taken time out to tell us all about the books and authors that have influenced her.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
From an early age, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series – I think it’s a prerequisite for being a crime writer! From there, I discovered Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series and because we used to go to a second-hand bookshop quite regularly, I picked up both The Crimson Rust and The Ring of Nenuphar by CB Rutley. The Ring of Nenuphar made an early impression on me because although written in the 1930s, it featured a female pilot and an adventure in northern Africa. It took me a while, but I managed to locate a copy to replace the one I had as a child a couple of years ago – and it’s still a great story.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English at school – I got bullied from an early age through most of my school years, and so the library became a sanctuary for me. All that daydreaming paid off, because I used to love writing my own stories.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Crime fiction and spy novels are at the top of the list – that stems from reading my grandparents and parents collection of books, including Dick Francis and Jack Higgins. Outside of those genres, I really enjoy historical fiction, especially by authors such as Ken Follett and Robert Harris.

Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Peter Robinson, and countless others have all had an impact on what I write – I make sure I read all their interviews, and every time they have a new book out I pounce on it, because I know I’m going to learn something new about the writing craft.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d really like to write historical fiction – I’ve got a couple of projects on the sidelines, but it’s difficult to find the time to write them!

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
When I was still at school, reading books by Alistair Maclean and Jack Higgins got me started writing my own action and adventure stories.

I think my crime fiction writing happened by osmosis – I read so much of the genre, it’s impossible not to soak it up and after a few years of not doing anything creative after I left my last band, when I started writing again it was natural to lean towards the crime genre.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Yes, Michael Connolly is one, and Robert Crais is another. They have a real knack for pulling you into the story and you become invested in the characters and setting.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Any of the Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. His research is meticulous, so you feel like you’re in Tudor London with all the sights, smells, and political intrigue. He’s another author that when there’s a new book out, I’ll drop everything to read it!

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
No, but I hear snippets of conversation or read a headline and my brain goes off on a tangent playing “what if?” – that’s usually how stories begin in my head!

Thanks so much for taking part, Rachel.

Rachel is the author of the Detective Kay Hunter Mysteries and the first in the series is Scared to Death. Here is what it’s about:

“If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

You can grab your copy HERE.

About Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance, usually with a crime fiction festival tacked on for good measure!


Author Influences with Richard Rippon

Today I’m delighted to welcome Richard Rippon to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books for this week’s Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I used to read a lot of Enid Blyton stuff when I was very young. Not so much Famous Five, but The Secret Seven, which was obviously better because there were two more of them. I’d also read Roald Dahl. The Twits was a favourite. Then when I was a little bit older, I remember reading Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, which might have been where my fascination with darker stories began.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Yeah, I was pretty good at it. In middle school I won a story writing competition, where they gave you the start of the story, and you had to finish it. In my ending, everyone died of course. I won a nasty-looking lime green Parker pen.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I don’t read much crime fiction, with the exception of Thomas Harris and a bit of Val McDermid. I like to read stuff like Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh and Cormac McCarthy. I like the irreverence of Welsh and the economy of McCarthy, so that might come over in my work.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I think I’d like to make a Dario Argento-style leap from serial killer novels to more supernatural stories. Or maybe a dark sci-fi novel, like Under the Skin.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I can’t think of anyone specifically. It’s always been an ambition, but I never thought I could be any kind of success. I always thought it was too fanciful to pursue as a career, so I went off and became a scientist instead. It took me a long time to realise I was more suited to writing. Maybe Roger Hargreaves. It goes that far back. I wrote a book when I was very young called ‘Mr Lick-a-Lolly’.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
The truth is, I don’t read a huge amount at the minute, if it’s not for research. That said, I always buy the latest Brett Easton Ellis. The same used to be said for Palahniuk, but I’ve missed a few now.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I can remember reading High Fidelity and loving the natural style it has. I was going through a break up and I thought I could have written something similar at the time. I loved About a Boy too. I like a lot of Nick Horby’s stuff, but he loses me whenever he writes about football.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not so much plots, but I do steal bits of people, certain characteristics, traits or little scenarios. It makes things easier, because you’re drawing from real life and it makes everything feel more authentic. It’s not always the best idea though, because people recognize something and assume the entire character is based on them. Then you have to explain it’s a composite character, to their disappointment or relief, depending on the case.

Thanks for taking part, Richard. The Twits is my favourite  Roald Dahl book too!

Richard’s latest novel, Lord Of The Dead, is out now. Here is what it’s about:

A woman’s body has been found on the moors of Northumberland, brutally murdered and dismembered. Northumbria police enlist the help of unconventional psychologist Jon Atherton, a decision complicated by his personal history with lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Kate Prejean.

As Christmas approaches and pressure mounts on the force, Prejean and Atherton’s personal lives begin to unravel as they find themselves the focus of media attention, and that of the killer known only as ‘Son of Geb.’

You can grab your copy HERE. Check out my thoughts on Lord Of The Dead HERE.

About Richard Rippon

Richard Rippon has been writing since 2007, when his short story, Full Tilt, was long-listed for a Criminal Shorts Award. In 2009, he won a New Writing North Award for his first novel, The Kebab King. Since then he’s had a number of short stories published in newspapers, magazines and online. In 2012, he was commissioned to write a short story (The Other One), which appears in the Platform anthology. He lives on the North East coast with his wife and two children, and works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Richard was also a social media phenomenon in 2016, as one of the men behind the twitter sensation #DrummondPuddleWatch.

Follow Richard on Twitter @RichRippon and Facebook