Review – The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

The Blurb

On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of a barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.

When runaway Annaleigh first meets the Twentymans, their offer of employment and lodgings seems a blessing. Only later does she discover the truth. But by then she is already in the middle of a web of darkness and intrigue, where murder seems the only possible means of escape…

My Thoughts

Tell that me a novel is set in the 19th Century and features an old house on the North Yorkshire Moors and, being a huge fan of Wuthering Heights, I’m just about guaranteed to want to read it. I couldn’t therefore resist The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin.

It is 1814 and orphan Annaleigh Calvert finds herself far removed from the London she is used to when she takes up the position of housekeeper at White Windows in the North Yorkshire Moors. Brother and sister, Marcus and Hester Twentyman, appear to have offered Annaleigh the perfect escape from the difficulties she faced in London, however, it turns out that all is not as it seems and she finds herself caught up in a nightmare.

Split in to two parts and following a prologue that perfectly draws the reader in, The Vanishing begins with Annaleigh’s arrival at White Windows and it slowly builds up to the nightmare that Annaleigh is destined to find herself in. The first part is very much a slow burner but incredibly necessary to lead the reader in to the shocks that lie in wait later on. As with all small places, rumours abound about the inhabitants of White Windows. Why are the wealthy Twentymans residing in Yorkshire rather than their home city of London? Why are brother and sister residing together in almost isolation? And what exactly did happen to their previous housekeeper who mysteriously disappeared? I loved the way Tobin kept me on the back foot in this first part as, like Annaleigh, I was not sure what to make of her employers as I found myself swinging between feelings of pity, trust and mistrust. As The Vanishing progresses to its gradual inevitable conclusion it becomes clear that Annaleigh never stood a chance at White Windows.

In Marcus Twentyman Tobin has created an intriguing figure. I constantly found myself being caught between feelings of pity and warmth to fear and wariness. He is intriguing and I can’t help but compare him to Heathcliffe.

Tobin’s prose throughout is stunning and in true gothic novel style she described the colours of the moors in beautiful detail and attributes its changing colours to the mood of Annaleigh. I found myself completely wrapped up in Tobin’s words.

Part Two shocked me to the core. It touches on issues that were prevalent at the time – laudanum use, illegitimacy and the position of and treatment of women. The times were undoubtedly harsh and especially for those in Annaleigh’s position – female and of low class. I didn’t expect The Vanishing to be as brutal and heartbreaking as it is and it ended up shaking me to the core.

Dark, harsh, atmospheric and beautifully written, I loved The Vanishing. I’m so pleased I finally got around to reading it and I will be checking out Tobin’s other books. If you like historical fiction that has a touch of the gothic about it then you will love it too.

Published on 12 January 2017 by Simon & Schuster.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster and Sophia Tobin for my copy in exchange for my honestand unbiased review.

Blog Tour – Dead Of Night by Michael Stanley *Author Influences*



I am very excited to be taking part in the Dead Of Night by Michael Stanley blog tour today. I have read the book and it’s bloody brilliant, but unfortunately I haven’t had time to write my review yet. However, instead of my review I have a very special Author Influences with Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip instead.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?

Michael: I read all the usual books, but a few others stick in my mind. The Hobbit, of course, made me fall in love with Tolkien, and I immediately ploughed into The Lord of the Rings although I was much too young to really appreciate it. I also remember being fascinated by The Tree That Sat Down by Beverley Nichols and read it several times. Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass were big favourites too.

Stanley: Over the years growing up, I read a huge variety of books: Enid Blyton, The Hardy Boys, Teddy Lester’s Schooldays, Alice in Wonderland, Biggles, Nevil Shute, historical fiction, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, Alan Paton.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?

Stanley: Yes and yes! In high school, I had wonderful teachers who instilled great enthusiasm in me for language. I was even excited by grammar! In addition, every other year, the school produced a Shakespeare play (I played Salerio in Merchant of Venice), which gave me a love for the power of drama.

Michael: I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I did like it. I recall writing ridiculously long and, no doubt, boring essays with no regard for the poor teacher who had to mark them!

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?

Michael: I do read a lot of crime fiction and that was certainly a factor in the attraction of the genre. When I was younger, I liked science fiction – the more science or character driven kinds such as Clement’s Mission of Gravity and Farmer’s The Lovers. I tried my hand at writing it when I was a student. Fortunately, none of my stories was ever published!

I also read widely in non-fiction – history and biography mainly. 

Stanley: I read mysteries and thrillers, as well as history. Both genres have influenced my writing. The two books that had the greatest impact were Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and Alice in Wonderland – the first for the power of words to pull a reader into another world; the second for the appeal of imagination.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?

Stanley: I’d probably write about people on whom events have had a powerful impact. This interest probably emanates from my passion for the poetry of World War I – the bitterness of the soldiers and the agony of their families.

Michael: I think I might try science fiction again because the alien settings allow one to explore people under new and unusual stresses. It wouldn’t be the space adventure kind, though.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?

Michael: I would say PD James and John Le Carré. I think they are both superb writers. They make one think: ‘Could I do that? Could I at least try?’

Stanley: As mentioned above, Nevil Shute and Lewis Carroll influenced me greatly, but no one inspired me to be a writer. They influenced me more on how I wrote.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?

Stanley: All the authors on the Murder Is Everywhere blog, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Tim Hallinan, Kent Kruger, and Seon Meyer.

Michael: There are a few authors whose books I must read as soon as I can. John Le Carré and South African crime author Deon Meyer are in that category.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?

Michael: Two examples –

Le Carré’s The Mission Song. Although not generally regarded as one of his best novels, I felt that the characterisation of the African translator Salvo was brilliant. The African corruption theme has been done to death, but here it’s balanced by the much more cynical British corruption. It’s very hard to make all that work!

Deon Meyer’s Fever. The slightly future setting and the post apocalypse South Africa are brilliantly combined in a coming of age story. Again, characterisation is everything. I think that’s what good writing is all about.

Stanley: So many! Charles Dickens, John le Carré, P D James, Nevil Shute, Lewis Carroll.


Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)

Stanley: All our characters incorporate aspects of many people. So I’m not concerned about a law suit. However one friend, whose name we used in A Carrion Death for a character whom we killed off, has threatened to sue when we become a mega-success. I’m not losing much sleep!

Michael: Our book Deadly Harvest is loosely based on the real case in Mochudi of a young girl, Segametsi Mogomotsi, who was abducted by witch doctors and killed for body parts. When we were working on our first book, the then director of the Botswana CID told us that was what we should be writing about. We felt he was right, even though it was several years later before we actually did so.

Our rotund Detective Kubu isn’t based on anyone we know, but many of his characteristics are!

A huge thank you to you both for taking part.

Michael Stanley’s latest standalone novel Dead of Night is out now. It is an absolute corker and here is what it’s about:

When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But, within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything.
Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough
to tell it…
Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent…

You can buy your copy HERE.

About the Authors

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both
were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a
flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a
wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their
first mystery,  A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the
Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards,
including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and
their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for
an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’
award. Dead of Night is their first stand-alone thriller.



Author Influences AND Giveaway with Urcelia Teixeira

I am really pleased to welcome Urcelia Teixeira back to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today for this week’s Author Influences. And Urcelia has something a little special for today’s Author Influences. Not only is she giving us the lowdown on her favourite books and authors BUT she also has a great giveaway for today’s readers. Read on to find out more…

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?

I grew up with Walt Disney books and read my first book, Sleeping Beauty, when I was only four! I still have my collection in my bookshelf. Later I read Enid Blyton’s books and devoured her The Famous Five series.  As a teen Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Agatha Christie’s books were my favorites. 

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?

I grew up in a fully bilingual home with Afrikaans (South Africa’s native language) and English spoken equally. My grandmother lived with us and she had the strong British influence on my life. I did love English, mainly because my high school teacher had a passion for the theatrical, so I was always plugged in.  I think I got a B for English in my finals.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?

 Without a doubt, yes!  You can tell from the early books I read that I gravitate towards detective and mystery books.  Hunting down murderers through a series of clues, unraveling mysteries and good old whodunits.  As long as they’re clean!  I’m not a fan of fantasy, horror or romance books.  I have read the odd psychological thriller (Linda La Plante) and found it haunted me for long periods of time, so I steer away from these too.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?

I’d love to write a wholesome murder mystery series like Murder She Wrote.  Who knows?  I might very well do this still in the near future.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?

I can’t really pinpoint one particular author, no.  My mom tells me that I started writing poems and stories in my journals around 9/10 years of age.  Apparently I used to leave them under her pillow.  I’ve just always found it easier to express myself on paper. 

When a good friend of mine turned full-time author (she writes paranormal romance) five years ago and I saw how easy it is to self-publish, I set myself a goal to author at least one book before I turn fifty.  The rest is history!

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?

I tend to see which books are hot and happening and pounce on those rather than any particular author.  When Dan Brown’s book Origin recently released, I had to get it purely because I wanted to satisfy my curiosity – see what the big fuss was about.  I’m not particularly a fan of his.  The same happened with Marian Keyes’ latest book, The break, which I was utterly disappointed in.  Hmm, perhaps I should change this strategy…

I also attempt to read a broad spectrum of books so I can learn from other authors and must confess that I try to avoid books in my writing genre simply because I don’t want their narratives to influence mine. 

Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?

There are many fantastic books, but I guess the one that still sticks is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The sheer raw emotion-filled beauty of it gripped me to explore who I really was and what happiness meant to me.  It was inspiring and empowering at the same time.  The author is immensely talented with her words; evoking strong emotions in her readers.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)

Yes! My Alex Hunt books are based on true events, real relics and actual history. I am naturally a very curious person and I love researching things so I often get hold of a bizarre news story or headline which sets my mind off to a “what if this happened?” or “suppose he did that” frenzy.

The lost city of Rhapta is very real and so too is The Golden Urn. (You can read all about it on my website!) 

Often my head runs away with me, and the true-life stories get turned upside down into my fast-paced action & adventure thrillers.

My characters are mostly original.  Alex has been compared to Lara Croft, but I think Alex is far more authentic.  She’s nowhere near perfect and her flaws show throughout the books.  Alex has grown a lot and will continue to evolve as the series progresses, but I don’t want her to become so perfect and on point that my readers can’t relate with her.  As for Sam Quinn; well he is as rugged and handsome as your mind can conjure up!  

About Urcelia’s Books

Alex Hunt and the Chase for Rhapta: A Relic Chaser Adventure

When Alex Hunt’s mother tragically dies during her lifelong quest to find Africa’s ancient Lost City of Rhapta, Alex develops Agoraphobia – an unnatural fear of specific places and situations. She vows to never go on another archaeological expedition again.

So when her father, Professor Charles Hunt, Head of Archaeology at a prestigious British University mysteriously disappears several years later, she is forced out of hiding to find him.

With nothing to lose, battling her worse fears and with the mighty University behind her, she travels to Tanzania, Africa in search of her missing father.

Tasked to accompany her, the inexperienced Sam Quinn joins her on an action-packed adventure through the treacherous African savannah.  Faced with an abundance of danger, fear, and heartache they come face to face with sabotage, crime and betrayal that will test their inner strength and will to survive. 

Will she find her father and the infamous Lost City of Rhapta or will she die at the hands of the natives who believes the vanished city is best kept undiscovered?

Alex Hunt and The Golden Urn: An Archeaological Adventure Thriller

ALEX HUNT and SAM QUINN are back for another Action-packed Archaeological Adventure!  This time, in the Cambodian jungle!

Finding The Golden Urn was supposed to be easy.  Nothing the skilled Alex Hunt and Sam Quinn haven’t done before.  But little did they know they would become the center of an international conspiracy.  A conspiracy, so entangled in a web of secrets and crime that it could cost them their lives.

Faced with danger and underground syndicates, they soon realized they couldn’t trust anyone.  Nothing was as it seemed.

After their return from The Lost City of Rhapta (Alex Hunt Adventures Book 1), Professor Charles Hunt retired and handed the reins to his daughter, Alex.

So, when the sacred Golden Urn believed to have contained Buddha’s remains, mysteriously disappeared from a mountain shrine in Cambodia, the Cambodian government hired the highly acclaimed pair for their assistance in finding the holy ancient relic and returning it to its rightful position in the Royal temple in Phnom Penh.

Alex and Sam were on the next plane to Cambodia in their quest to find the sacred Golden Urn.  But what they encountered was far more than what they expected.

Would their pursuit for The Golden Urn put them through the ultimate test, or would it lead to the discovery of a relic no one even knew existed? 


Urcelia is exclusively giving one lucky reader of Bloomin’ Brilliant Books the chance to win ONE full autographed paperback set.

To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is sign up to Urcelia’s Elite Squad newsletter by following this link:

The winner will be picked via a draw and announced on 10th September. Good luck!

A huge thank you, Urcelia, for taking part and for the giveaway.

About Urcelia Teixeira

I, Urcelia Teixeira am a NY Times Bestselling Author!

Ok, so it’s a bit of a stretch right now, but this has become my daily affirmation while I strive to get there.  And when I do finally get to the top, you’ll know, but for now, I will introduce myself simply as a loving wife, doting mother and an aspiring self-published thriller author!

As an emerging thriller author most known for my Alex Hunt Archaeological Thriller series, my inspiration for my novels emanate from my keen interest in all things mysterious. From vanished civilizations, ancient relics, and lost treasures to UFO’s, conspiracy theories and bizarre news stories.

As a mother of three sons, I stand little to no chance not to be swept up in classics like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and The Mummy.  My busy boys ensure my days are naturally filled with lots of action and adventure!

I read my first book when I was four and never stopped.  Action/Adventure books laced with conspiracy and crime are my favorite, which is what I enjoy writing as well.

My insatiable lust for adventure regularly propels my family and I to take annual vacations to faraway places all around the world. Besides traveling, I love solving mysteries and hold fast to the idea that Bigfoot is real and Elvis is still alive.

A lifetime in the service industry and my passion for people lead to a commitment that I will answer emails and social media messages from my readers personally.

Though nowhere near the top of my craft, my stubborn determination will push for success as I continue to grow and deliver books my readers will love!

 Lying ahead are more Alex Hunt Adventure books to complete the series, and hopefully a Murder Mystery Series and a couple of single novels that have been brewing in the back of my mind.

Never miss a thing!  Join my Elite Squad and be the first to know of New Releases and what I get up to.

To get to know me better, I’d love you to follow me on:





There is also an opportunity to become a member of my Book Launch Team.  Read all about it here:

See you between my pages!

Review – The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

The Blurb

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

My Thoughts

Louise Beech has fast become one of my favourite authors. She is my ‘go-to’ writer when I want to read a book that is going to take me to a whole other level emotionally and when I want more from the writing than just a good storyline. So, I was really pleased (and lucky) to get my hands on an early copy of The Lion Tamer Who Lost.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is the story of Andrew and Ben, two men who it appears that fate is determined to bring together. Since childhood, Andrew has made wishes and kept them in a box … He may now be wishing that his latest wish hadn’t come true. Ben promised his mother that he would volunteer at a lion reserve in Africa … when he finally achieves his promise and his dream, it has a bitter taste.

With prose that you just fall into, Beech demonstrates, once again, that she is an incredibly talented wordsmith. With numerous passages underlined in my copy, each word that Beech uses has maximum impact on your emotions. She manages to make you laugh, cry and pause to think in a few pages. The Lion Tamer Who Lost left me reeling with a whole range of raw feelings.

Alongside believable, authentic characters, Beech has created the most wonderful sense of place in The Lion Tamer Who Lost. Switching between Zimbabwe and Hull, she captures the essence of both, let’s face it very different, places. I have never been to Zimbabwe, but Beech had my imagination soaring as I spent time there with Ben, soaking up the weather, the sights, sounds and smells. Now Hull, on the otherhand, is a place I know very well and Beech has captured the place and the characteristics of some of its inhabitants perfectly.

During his stay at Liberty Lion Park, Ben has to essentially raise a lion cub, Lucy, that has lost her mother and I adored these parts. As he tries to help Lucy find her place and confidence within the pride, Ben also has to find his own self and place in the world. Something that does not come easily to him.  

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a book about complex family relationships and learning to find and love yourself and Beech writes tenderly about some difficult and complicated issues. It is also a story about the often-harsh reality of love. The combination of these themes and the way Beech has delicately woven the intricate threads of the story together make The Lion Tamer Who Lost a very special novel.

I have loved Beech’s previous books (although I still have to read How To Be Brave) but The Lion Tamer Who Lost may be my favourite yet. Incredibly moving, at times desperately heartbreaking and always tender, The Lion Tamer Who Lost reminds us that if fate exists, it is fickle and may not always be leading you to the outcome you expect. A truly outstanding and beautiful book.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost was published by Orenda Books on 15 July on Ebook and is out on paperback on  30 September. You can buy a copy HERE.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Louise Beech for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.


Blog Tour – Do No Harm by L. V. Hay *Review*

I am delighted to be one of today’s stops on the Do No Harm by L. V. Hay’s blog tour. Check out the blurb and then my review.

The Blurb

Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

My Thoughts

L. V. Hay is back with her latest psychological thriller, Do No Harm. This is one of the books I have been highly anticipating this year following her scorching debut, The Other Twin.

Do No Harm follows Lily as she and her son embark on a new life with partner Sebastian. Sebastian is the absolute antithesis of her ex-husband, the possessive Maxwell, and life should be plain sailing and happy. However, Maxwell has decided that Lily and their son should still be with him.

Sounds like your average domestic noir, right? Wrong! Hay takes the domestic noir, shakes it up and turns it completely on its head. Do No Harm is more twisty than a slinky toy and as unpredictable in which direction it is going to take.

Do No Harm is skilfully written as Hay has cleverly weaved a plot that keeps the reader totally on the back foot when it comes to trying to work out what is going to happen. My theories were completely blown out of the water every time. The twists and turns are cleverly executed and utterly chilling. Hay has a way of building the tension to the point that when you finally reach the crescendo you feel as wrung out as the poor characters involved.

Using first and third person narrative to convey Lily and Sebastian, we are given unique access to the thoughts and views of those closely involved. The characterisation is totally on point and I couldn’t help but become totally immersed in the lives of Lily and Sebastian. It’s clichéd to say, but Do No Harm is unputdownable.

Hay will make you look at love in a whole new way. In Do No Harm, the concept of love is portrayed via those whose interpretation of what love is is totally skewed, and the result is a clever, chilling and utterly unnerving thriller. In Do No Harm, Hay takes the shock factor you expect in a psychological thriller and increases it by a hundred. One of the must-read thrillers of 2018.

Published on 15th June by Orenda Books, you can buy your copy HERE.

About the Author

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Lucy V. Hay for my copy of Do No Harm and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.


Author Influences With David Owain Hughes

Today David Owain Hughes joins me for another Author Influences. David’s novel South By Southwest Wales is out now, but more about that after David tells us about the books and authors that have influenced him.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?

Point Horror books. I used to devour them. Then, when I got older, I chewed my way through Richard Laymon and Dean Koontz books like there was no tomorrow! Horror is my first love. For crime, Iain Rankin. I discovered Rankin much later in life, I’m ashamed to say. Also, fellow Welsh author Mike Thomas – his Pocket Notebook novel is fantastic. I can’t praise it, or him, enough.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?

No. I was dreadful in school – too much of a daydreamer. However, I loved the subject, and it wasn’t until I was that little bit older—twenty-five—did I truly learn to appreciate it. I went back to college and retook both English Literature and Language, before successfully going on to undertake the A-level. This was around the time I was chewing through books for fun. My passion had finally awoken. What can I say? I was a late bloomer.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?

I’ll read pretty much anything if it takes my fancy, although horror is my number one genre with a bullet. Richard Laymon and his works have had a massive impact on me as a person, what and how I write.  Currently, I’m reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Before that, Sweet and Vicious by David Schickler, with William Boyd’s The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth next in line. These books stand in all different genres. It’s nice mixing it up from time to time, which definitely helps with my craft – I get to taste multiple styles of writing. 

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?

Crime is definitely my thing at the moment. For the past two decades, up until I wrote South by Southwest Wales in 2016, all I’d ever jotted was horror; it’s all I’ve ever known since my high school days. However, with one crime novel now successfully under my belt, I’m keen to write another. Also, I’ve recently had thoughts about branching out into satire – comedy has always been a great passion of mine. 

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?

Richard Laymon. Definitely. He and his works not only encouraged me to pick up a pen and write but change my life and mindset. During my late teens, nineteen, I think, I discovered his novel One Rainy Night. I was blown away. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was in awe. I didn’t think such boundaries could be pushed in the world of professional publishing. And so I set out on my own path. I went back to higher education, grabbed some qualifications, devoured books and wrote, wrote, wrote! I practised like my life depended on it.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?

Not currently, no, but I was rather taken by Schickler’s Sweet and Vicious – I think I’ll be buying more of his books soon. Firstly, I need to chip away at my ‘To Be Read’ pile that’s stacked neatly against my computer.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?

Robert Bloch’s Psycho. That book was way ahead of its time! My copy is well thumbed and my DVD well-worn. It’s a fantastic story with a great twist ending. I’ve paid homage to the tale.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real-life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)

Nothing stands out, but I do take a lot of inspiration from the news, TV shows, music and film.   

South By Southwest Wales is out now. Here is what it’s about:

Samson Valentine is the best private eye ever to wear a fedora–or at least he was, before he became a washed-up booze hound. There simply isn’t demand for a whiskey-swilling Welsh gumshoe who insists he’s living in 1940’s Chicago. Everything changes when a massive diamond falls into his lap.

Before he’s too sure of what’s going on, he’s swept up in the biggest case of his life. The mob will do anything to get its gemstone back, and they prove it when Sam’s friend turns up dead. Now it’s personal, and Sam sets out on a one-man mission to take down the Welsh crime syndicate. Armed with little more than his wits and his fists, the odds don’t look good. Too much time at the bottom of a whiskey bottle has given him trembling hands and an addled brain. If he’s to have any chance of bringing the mob to justice, he’ll first need to come to grips with his worst enemy–himself.

Like the sound of South By Southwest Wales? Get your copy HERE.

About The Author

David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly instil in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…He’s had multiple short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine, and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novels “Walled In” (2014), “Wind-Up Toy” (2016), “Man-Eating Fucks” (2016), and “The Rack & Cue” (2017) along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and “Choice Cuts” (2015). He’s also written three novellas – “Granville” (2016), “Wind-Up Toy: Broken Plaything & Chaos Rising” (2016).







Review – Out Of The Dark (The Revenge Series Book 1) by Marshall Hughes

The Blurb

Come. Come here. Come closer. Let me whisper in your ear. Let me tell you my secrets and take you on a journey that will chill your very soul. I want to invite you into the life and mind of a serial killer. My story may fascinate you or it might disgust you, but only you can decide. My name is Jayden Edward Scott; a killer with no remorse, no guilt and no fear of retribution. I am too clever to be caught, too meticulous in my method of killing and too smart to care. At thirty years old, I am a self-made millionaire; businessman, entrepreneur and venture capitalist with copious amounts of money to spend on a lavish lifestyle. My story starts seven years ago on a foggy night in Edinburgh – my victim unaware of his fate. With one swipe of my blade, the knife slit his throat with precision. I bundled him into the boot of the car. He stared at me with familiarity before I slammed the door shut. I left him there to bleed to death. He was my first kill, but certainly not my last. So… come with me. Let me tell you my story. It is a tale of revenge, murder, death, sex, love and intrigue.

My Thoughts

I wanted to read Out Of The Dark as, like a lot of people, I am intrigued by serial killers and their psychology. What is it that makes them kill and is it as a result of nature or nurture? The synopsis for Out Of The Dark promised an insight into this very topic.

Out Of The Dark is the first in The Revenge Series following serial killer Jayden Scott. Told in first person perspective, Jayden tells us about his childhood and what led to his first murder. As the title of the series suggests, Jayden kills people as an act of revenge for their behaviour. The perspective changes through the book as we also hear from the detective investigating one of the murders and Jayden’s girlfriend and childhood friend.

I really liked Out Of The Dark’s prologue. It is kind of Jack-the-Ripperesque, if there can be such a thing, with Hughes building up the tension and atmosphere with his descriptive prose. The prologue successfully whet my appetite and had me wanting to read more.

From there we meet Jayden who lets the reader into his life and the reasons behind the acts he has committed. Out Of The Dark is a slow paced book as it concentrates on the whys rather than the hows and its focus is on the character of Jayden. Generally I like books that are character driven and slow burning but I feel that there were areas Hughes could have developed a bit more to make Out Of The Dark more compelling and dark. I didn’t feel convinced about Jayden as a remorseless killer as at times he did seem, to me, to demonstrate a bit of remorse. I would have liked to get more of a sense of how those aspects of his personality that allow him to kill come out in his business life and in his relationships and their impact on these areas.

It is my understanding that this is Hughes’ first novel and while the idea is good a little help with the execution may have helped to make it more pacey and darker. We are aware from the outset that Jayden is a multiple killer however the telling of the other killings felt rushed.

I liked the structure of the book and the different perspectives given throughout. This made it more interesting as the impact Jayden has on others can be seen directly from their point of view rather than just relying on Jayden.

Hughes has ended Out Of The Dark well with a real cliff hanger moment and, despite some of my reservations, I am intrigued enough to want to check out the second in the series.  

My thanks to Marshall Hughes for my copy of Out Of The Dark in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

You can buy your copy HERE.

Author Influences With Neal James

Hello and welcome to another Author Influences. I’m delighted to welcome Neal James to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today to talk books.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Like most boys of that age, I was fascinated by adventure stories and for me, the Richard Hannay novels by John Buchan held me in awe. My favourite was, and still is, ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’, and on a holiday in Helmsley a few years ago I was fortunate enough to spot Buchan’s complete works for only a couple of pounds.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was average at English at primary school, but loved what was called ‘composition’. This gave free rein to my imagination and I did come top of my class in that part of the subject. By the time I moved on to secondary education, there was less focus on composition at the expense of analysis and appreciation of established authors.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love crime novels, science fiction, and some paranormal. I am, primarily, a crime writer and my reading helps to develop the characters which I have invented to further my writing. I’m also a great fan of science fiction, and the reading of top authors in that field was of enormous help in the writing of ‘The Rings of Darelius’.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Science Fiction would be my second choice of writing style, and the reasoning behind that is my love for the novels of Isaac Asimov. His way of weaving the reader into the story has long kept me riveted, and his books line my shelves – I rarely lend them out.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
James Patterson was the writer who set me off on the trail of crime writing. His short, punchy chapters had me turning pages at an alarming rate. The character of Alex Cross seems so real, and Patterson’s way of bringing the reader into the Cross family life is what holds me.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I suppose Stephen Booth, and his ‘Cooper and Fry’ series would fit that bill. He writes in my native county, Derbyshire, and I can relate easily to the locations which he uses. I have met him at an author event, and he is such a good speaker – a style which I have used when on his side of the audience.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
‘A Place of Execution’ by Val McDermid. Again, it’s set in an area close to my home, and uses historical references in the plot which I find ground the book in believability. The plot is so tightly wound that you are forced into reading just ‘one more chapter’.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I use incidents from my own experiences at work to flesh out plot lines, but make sure that names are changed in order to protect myself. However, unless you knew the set of circumstances special to the incident in question, you would never know. I have had a number of my readers ask to be written into books, but I always get written permission first and also approval for that section of the book where they appear.

Thanks for taking part, Neal. 

Neal James’ latest book, Three Little Maids, was published in January 2018. Here is what it is about:

When vengeance calls, death is its shadow

Billy Robertson is out for revenge and the target in his sights is Dennis Marks.
Holding the DCI responsible for the death of his younger brother, Jack, Robertson seizes on the opportunity given to him by Harold Shaw – another violent criminal falling foul of the skill of one of the Met’s finest detectives – from the confines of his cell at HMP Wandsworth.
After his run-in with the IPCC, Marks is plunged into a murder case involving the death of a teacher at Lainsford Grammar School in Edmonton. Without the services of Home Office pathologist, George Groves, and with the prospect of his own team breaking up, Marks’ abilities are tested to the limit as he follows a trail of false leads, lies and a wall of silence.

You can grab your copy HERE.

Check out Neal’s other work over on his website and say hello on social media:



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!