Monthly Archives: May 2017

Blog Tour – Obsession by Amanda Robson *Review and Guest Post*

I am so excited to be part of Amanda Robson’s Obsession blog tour today, and I will be sharing with you my thoughts on her debut novel and an article about one of the four characters. I have to admit to finding it hard to write my review for Obsession (I always seem to find it difficult to write reviews of books I love) so hope I have managed to do this great debut some justice. 

My Thoughts

Obsession is the debut novel by Amanda Robson and it certainly got under my skin. It revolves around four friends, two couples, who find their lives in a turbulent spiral of deceit and fixation when Rob, the husband of Carly answers her ‘Who else would you go for, if you could?’ question honestly. I don’t want to talk about the plot in any way as you need to experience Obsession for yourself and come to your own conclusions without outside influence.

The events that unfold are told in first person narrative by Carly, Rob, Jenni and Craig, giving the reader, what should be, unprecedented access to their thoughts and feelings. Throughout, I didn’t know whose version of events to believe and who to trust. I adore an unreliable narrator and Obsession has them in abundance. Robson cleverly pulls this off, with each chapter being perfectly crafted, leaving you doubting your own thoughts as you turn each page. Maximum impact is further created with short, punchy chapters and a rhythm that is wonderfully dark in tone. As the book progresses you can’t shift the unease and sense of foreboding that sits with you and increases with each chapter.

This is a novel that lends itself perfectly to discussion. It twists and turns, raising issues you weren’t expecting to come across. Mental health, adultery, religious beliefs, honesty and maternal instincts are all in there along with, as the title suggests, compulsive infatuation. Every time you put the book down, part of it is scorched into your mind and you can’t help but mull over what you have read. The big questions that arose for me were: are we too quick to judge someone who has suffered with mental health difficulties as paranoid if they raise what seem to be outlandish concerns? And how far can someone hide who they really are? I adore a book that entertains me whilst also getting the old cerebral juices going, and Obsession hit the mark perfectly.

A novel that explores the darker side of human nature within ordinary people, Obsession will have you infatuated from the first chapter. The need to know and understand the thoughts and behaviour of the characters becomes like an itch you can’t scratch. A fantastic debut novel that is well-written and simultaneously dark and heart-breaking, Robson is an author to keep an eye on in the future.

Obsession  centres around four characters. Rob is the husband of Carly, he is a well-respected, much loved local GP and father of three. Amanda tells us more about Rob…

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Rob

1. When he was in the sixth form he was intending to apply to study law not medicine. He changed his mind at the last minute and decided to read medicine, almost on a whim, after watching a TV documentary about GP’s. Sometimes he regrets it, especially when his patients are being difficult.

2. When he was a teenager he was an atheist for a while. Looking back he thinks he was just rebelling against the inevitable before he accepted the truth. It is quite common for religious people to have had a period of atheism, apparently. Or at least that is what a lay-preacher once told him. At that stage of his life he felt angry about lots of things, including God. He didn’t want to think about an omnipotent being having control over his life. But one day he saw an old film of Billy Graham preaching in America and all of a sudden Jesus’s story made sense. A new world fell into place. A rational world of kindness, hope and forgiveness. He felt a lightness in his heart. He still feels that sense of release whenever he prays to the Lord.

3. Rob does fifty sit ups every night before he goes to bed, and fifty bench presses when he gets up in the morning, listening to Two Pac or Notorious BIG. He listens to rap to get himself riled up. When he is riled he works harder.

4. Rob smoked cigarettes all the way through his medical course. By the time he took his finals he was on two packs of B & H a day. He always kept the second pack carefully hidden from Carly, and swapped it around at an appropriate moment so that she thought he only got through about twenty, not forty. He used to smoke cigars as well. When Pippa was born he finally managed to give up because passive smoking would damage his daughter’s health. Perhaps if he lives until ninety he will go back to it.

A huge thank you to Amanda Robson and Helena Sheffield for the advance copy of Obsession and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Obsession was published by Avon on eBook on 1 May 2017 and  paperback on 1 June 2017.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

 

 

 

 

Author Influences With Angela Marsons

Super-duper excited today as I have the fan-bloody-tastic Angela Marsons joining me  to talk about her favourite books and authors. Angela is the author of the DI Kim Stone books and her latest, Dead Souls, has just recently hit the bookshelves. Angela doesn’t really need any introduction, so lets get straight on with it…

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

I absolutely loved reading the Enid Blyton books as a child. I couldn’t read them fast enough and was always thrilled at the sense of adventure and feeling like I was a member of the gang. I never wanted these books to end.

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

Yes, I loved English and always looked forward to the lessons. I once won an award for the correct use of commas. I was very proud of that at the time and for a few years after. In fact, I think I may still have my certificate somewhere. My English class was where I first discovered the power of words to paint a picture.

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

I love to read crime procedurals and psychological thrillers. They have definitely impacted the genre I write although it took me many years to actually find the courage to try and write one. I was very intimidated by the level of planning and plotting required and didn’t feel I could do it. Ultimately I challenged myself to give it a try and expected to hit a wall half way. The result was Silent Scream.

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

I think I’d try a bit of comedy. I like to include a bit of humour in my crime books to life the darkness as there is very little romance and occasionally I’ve had to pull myself back from putting too much humour in there. So, it would be nice to just pick a subject matter I could have some real fun with.

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

Absolutely. When I was twelve my English teacher asked if she could bring in some books that were above my reading age. I was thrilled. The books were by Andrea Newman and I could not put them down. The books ignited my fascination in the complexities of the mind and the psychology behind people’s behaviour.

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

There are a few but especially Renita D’Silva. I have discovered this lady’s writing through being a Bookouture author and her work is so different to everything else I read. She has the power to transport me to India with her sweeping tales of family drama and dynamics and her words have brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

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

Disclosure by Michael Crichton. It was the only book that ever made me call in sick for work as I just could not put it down. Months later I re-read the book so I could understand how it had ensnared me so brilliantly. His skill for posing questions that simply have to be answered before you stop reading is simply jaw-dropping.

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

The plot for Silent Scream was definitely influenced by my childhood. I used to pass a Children’s home on my way to school and there was an air of mystery surrounding the kids that were placed there. The general consensus was that they had all done something bad but I just didn’t believe it. The feeling stayed with me and formed the storyline of my first crime book.

Angela’s latest DI Kim Stone book Dead Souls is out now!

For my reviews on Angela’s previous books click on the title Play Dead, Dear Mother and Blood Lines.

About Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons is the author of the Amazon Bestselling DI Kim Stone series – Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines and Dead Souls and her books have sold more than 2 million in 2 years.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their cheeky Golden Retriever and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (The Forgotten Woman and Dear Mother) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 16 books in the Kim Stone series and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Her last two books – Blood Lines and Dead Souls – reached the #1 spot on Amazon on pre-orders alone.

Connect With Angela

Website: www.angelamarsons-books.com

Twitter: @WriteAngie

Facebook: @AngelaMarsonsAuthor

Review – Dark Heart by Catherine Lee

The Blurb

Could you live with the heart of a killer?

A mystery always begins with a murder – but what if it’s the killer who turns up dead?

Detective Charlie Cooper is on the verge of leaving Homicide to spend more time with his young family. But when the serial killer he’s been chasing for a decade is murdered, Cooper has the chance to save the killer’s final victim and atone for all the ones he’s failed.

After a life-saving heart transplant, Eva Matthews just wants things to get back to normal. But when she learns she’s received the heart of the serial killer, she can’t ignore the strange dreams that now haunt her. Is the killer’s heart telling her where his final victim is hidden?

DARK HEART is the first book in the Dark Series of contemporary mysteries set in Sydney, Australia. If you love a tough, clever detective, a loyal sidekick, an evil villain, and a twisting plot, you’ll love the first book in Catherine Lee’s page-turning series.

Pick up Dark Heart to discover this exciting new series today!

My Thoughts

I have to admit to having Dark Heart sitting on my Kindle for a while. This is the first in Lee’s Dark Series featuring detectives Charlie Cooper and Joe Quinn, set in Sydney, Australia. I began reading this book having not reminded myself of the synopsis and was expecting your average run-of-the-mill crime thriller. Boy, was I wrong, Dark Heart proved to be anything but!

For nine years Cooper has been trying to find a serial murderer dubbed the Adultery Killer to the point that it has made him reconsider his position within the homicide team. Imagine his surprise when the victim of a recent murder is discovered to be the elusive Adultery Killer! A chain of events is set in motion which takes Cooper, Quinn and the reader on an unusual, twisting journey. Will Cooper and Quinn be able to find the Adultery Killer’s latest victim before it’s too late? Dark Heart moves along at a great pace and while I enjoyed the crime and procedural aspect to the book, it is the social and psychological themes that really appealed to me.

Cellular memory features heavily in Dark Heart and gives it a thought-provoking edge. Following a transplant Eva Matthews discovers the new heart she has so desperately needed comes from a multiple murderer and this completely rocks her world. As she becomes unwittingly caught up in the frantic search for the Adultery Killer’s last victim. This really got me thinking about organ transplants and the psychological issues that can arise from this. I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that it is done anonymously or the reasons why this is the case, and Dark Heart caused me to mull this over. Lee has carefully considered the emotional fall out of finding out the heart you have placed inside of you that has, ultimately, saved your life, has come from a less than salubrious person. Would this have been as much of an issue to Eva if she hadn’t read about cellular memory prior to her transplant? While I’m not sure if I believe in the existence of cellular memory, I did wonder how I would feel to have the organ of a murderer inside of me.

Dark Heart flits between three points of view. There is the police procedural conducted by Cooper and Quinn, Eva’s experience of receiving a heart from a killer and Amanda, the final victim of the now deceases killer. Lee has also added a depth to the story of Amanda. As Amanda helplessly awaits her fate, not knowing if she will live or die, she contemplates her life and the decisions she has made. This effectively brought Amanda to life for me as more than ‘just’ the victim who has to be found.

An enjoyable read, Dark Heart surprised me with its hidden layers and thought-provoking themes making this different from your average crime thriller. As a result, I will be checking out the rest of the series.

Published on 31 July 2013 by CreateSpace Publishing.

Thank you to Catherine Lee for the copy in exchange for my honest review.

Author Influences With Louise Beech

Today’s edition of Author Influences features the lovely and brilliant Louise Beech. I am thrilled to be joined by Louise as I loved her second novel The Mountain In My Shoe, and she comes from my home town of Hull! I am desperately trying to get her first novel How To Be Brave read, so keep your eyes peeled for my thoughts on it in the future, and I can’t wait for her forthcoming novel Maria In The Moon. Anyway, that’s enough from me, you want to hear about Louise’s favourite books and authors…

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

I absolutely loved Paul Zindel’s YA books. He wrote both truthfully and beautifully about all the things you go through as a teenager – love, your identity, fitting in, being different. My favourite was My Darling, My Hamburger. A real classic. Lois Duncan’s YA books were ahead of their time, dealing with pretty dark topics like adoption, murder, and, again, fitting in. Before that I loved the What Katy Did series (still do, I have them all!).

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

I was, and I did. It was the only subject I was any good at, the only one I got an A for. I didn’t do particularly well at school (had no interest, to be fair) but I came alive in English. I’d fill entire exercise books with novel-length stories, including chapters, forewords and everything. The teacher’s heart must have sunk when it came to marking!

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

I’ll read anything. I don’t read by genre. I read by what takes my fancy, whether this is the cover, the title, the blurb, word of mouth, or reading the first few pages and ending up hooked. This ultimately means I’ve read all kinds of genres. I suppose I have a soft spot for beautiful literary works, and also for Historical, the odd Psychological Thriller, but especially those that defy any categorisation. I think I’ve probably learnt something from everything I’ve read, so yes, there’s always an impact.

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

I fancy writing a bit of Erotic Fiction. I’ve written a few short stories, and a couple of those were quite sexy. So, who knows? Never say never. Watch this space.

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

John Irving’s The World According to Garp was a turning point for me ten years ago when I first read it. The incredible use of language and the bravery of creating something like nothing else spoke directly to me. I started my first novel (my first complete adult novel anyway) right after.

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

I would say Sophie Hannah, John Irving, Markus Zusak, Gill Paul, Amanda Jennings, Julian Barnes, Craig Lancaster, and Cassandra Parkin. There are many many more. Too many to name.

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 wish I had written The Book Thief. I almost felt I had, in that when I read it it was so… right. The choice of having Death as a narrator was genius, the prose was divine, and the characters leapt off the page. In the midst of it, I looked up and had quite literally forgotten where I was; my front room looked alien and I had been holding my breath!

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

How to be Brave was completely inspired by my grandfather’s true survival at sea during World War 2, and how I then told this tale of bravery to my little girl to help her through an illness. It was very emotional to write, naturally. I drew on all the emotions I hadn’t felt during that difficult time. And I felt I got to know the grandfather I never met. In fact, I often felt he was looking over my shoulder.

How To Be Brave and The Mountain In My Shoe are out now! You can read my review of The Mountain In My Shoe HERE.

About Louise Beech

Louise Beech remembers sitting in her father’s cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar’s chords. He’s a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her – such strange language that translated into music. Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise’s interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism. Her debut novel was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015.

She is inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story. Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe,  released in September 2016,  was inspired by her time working with children in the care system.

When she was fifteen Louise bet her mother ten pounds she’d be published by the time she was thirty. She missed this self-set deadline by two months. Her mother is still waiting for the money.

Connect With Louise

Website: www.louisebeech.co.uk

Twitter: @LouiseWriter

 

Blog Tour – Watching The Bodies by Graham Smith *Review*

Absolutely thrilled to bits to be taking part in the Watching The Bodies by Graham Smith blog tour today and finally sharing my review.

The Blurb

WATCHING THE BODIES: An utterly gripping new crime thriller.
When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.
As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive. But who will it be?

My Thoughts

Watching The Bodies is the start of Graham Smith’s new series featuring Jake Boulder. Along with introducing us to new characters, Smith takes us to the USA as it is set in Casperton, Utah. I have really enjoyed the books I have read in Smith’s Major Crime Team series and was eager to get my hands on a copy of Watching The Bodies.

Jake Boulder is a Glaswegian living in Utah, working as a doorman in a local rock bar and occasional private investigator to help out his friend, Alfonse. When the body of a local girl and friend, Kira, is discovered with multiple stab wounds, Alfonse is hired by her family to find her killer. Jake agrees to help his friend as the local police force are, quite frankly, pretty useless. As more bodies are found, Jake and Alfonse find themselves in a frantic race against time to work out who the killer is before the body count becomes even higher.

It’s always exciting to be introduced to the new characters in a series and Jake Boulder is brilliant! I loved the fact that he is Scottish (especially Glaswegian) and that he feels a connection to his Scottish roots despite having lived in America for a number of years. It makes a change when the main character is not a detective as it gives you a different perspective and they are not governed by the procedures and red tape that police personnel are. It gives them scope to be a bit naughty within their investigation, bypassing the need for court orders. I’m looking forward to seeing how Jake’s character develops throughout the series.

I love a well-developed, intriguing baddie in a crime novel and Smith has created his wonderfully. Smith tells the story through Jake in first and the Watcher in third person narrative, the switch between the two works really well in giving you both perspectives. Smith tantalisingly drip feeds information about the Watcher throughout the novel leaving you wanting to understand him. I was dying to find out the motivation for his crimes and the reasons for who he is choosing to kill. Smith has created a clever, fascinating antagonist. Smith’s prose in describing how the Watcher chooses his murder weapons really stood out for me, and the Watcher is both compelling and abhorrent.

As Jake makes the connections needed to solve the crimes, and the book reaches its staggering crescendo, the reader is left on the edge of their seat. Watching the Bodies is a fast-paced, riveting page-turner that is incredibly difficult to put down. A fantastic and promising start to a new crime series.

Published on 18 April 2017 by Bloodhound Books.

About Graham Smith

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team.

A huge thank you to Graham Smith and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the advance copy of Watching the Bodies and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour…