Monthly Archives: November 2017

Author Influences with GB Williams

Happy hump day folks! I’m joined by GB Williams today for more bookish talk in this week’s Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Odd ones. I read a fair bit of Enid Blyton, but I’ve always been a very slow reader, so didn’t even read all of those. The books that I remember most – because I’ve struggled to get hold of them as an adult – were Fattypuffs and Thinifers and Bottersnikes and Gumbles. As I got into my teens, I turned to authors like Paul Zindel, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, Weis and Hickmen, David Eddings and a lot of other writers no one now will ever have heard off.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Oh definite mixed answer to that one. I cannot spell for toffee, my handwriting is awful, and grammar isn’t my forte, so I wasn’t exactly popular with the English teachers. However, when they could read my writing – they tended to like my compositions. Even once wrote a play they wanted to send to the drama department to put on. I was never the top of the class, but I always could tell a good story. I did not enjoy English Literature classes. Take a book, analyse it to death, tell me my interpretations were wrong just because I didn’t see it the way they did, leading to good books and poetry permanently ruined for me.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Mostly crime, but also steampunk/fantasy. Well the old adage is write what you know, so I guess it has influenced what I write because these are the genres I chose to work in.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
This is a surprisingly difficult question because while most of my stuff is contemporary crime, I already write (and get published) in steampunk and erotica. I guess if I went anywhere else it would be horror. Deep dark, can’t-sell-because-they’d-lock-you-up, dangerous, gory horror. Mind, I also have two such stories in two horror anthologies, so not really sure where to go with this now…

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
No one from my youth springs to mind, but I do remember thinking at lot when I was teens and twenties that some of the stuff was so bad I couldn’t see how it was getting published and being certain that I could do better, but I couldn’t give you the names of those authors now. But of late I think Simon Kernick is the one I would have to say I would most like to write like. He’s got that easy of flow and readability that really does keep me turning the pages and I’d love to have the same affect on my readers.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Not so much these days. Used to be that I’d have to have anything by Simon Kernick, but I still haven’t got the last couple. Have to say this is mostly because I have a To Be Read pile that’s taller than I am. Similarly with Christopher Brookmyre, from the first of his I read (The Sacred Art of Stealing) I was hooked on his style and I brought everything he published – right up to Pandaemonium, which I didn’t even bother to finish reading. Have not read with one since, though I’m assured that if you skip Pandaemonium, the later ones are great again. So maybe once the TBR pile is down again…

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Can’t say I’ve ever thought that about any book I’ve read, because if I’d have written that book, the twists wouldn’t have surprised me. But as I’ve said would love to be able to write like Simon Kernick, so for pace, characters and action, I guess The Business of Dying would be the closest thing to a book I wish I could have written.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes. There was a robbery in my home town of Tonbridge a few years ago and there is a detail from that that I wrote into the second book of the Locked Series Locked In, but I’m not giving away what the detail was. As for people, there is a character in an unpublished physiological thriller which I have, who is a direct interpretation of a teacher of mine from secondary school. Doubtless there are others, but mostly that will be subconsciously.

Thank you for taking part Gail. Great answers. I can say that Chris Brookmyre’s later books are brilliant!

GB’s latest book Locked Up is out now. Here is what it’s about:

An unmissable crime thriller
A prison officer and a convicted killer must work together to solve a brutal murder and expose conspiracy inside a prison.
Ariadne Teddington is surrounded by people who lie but that is to be expected when you work in prison where every man claims to be innocent.
Charlie Bell, an ex Detective, now finds himself in that prison serving time for murder after having taken the law into his own hands.
When a fellow inmate is killed Charlie is asked to investigate the case from the inside. Soon Charlie finds himself working with Ariande but she is a guard, he is an inmate and some lines should never be crossed…
Can two people on different sides of the law come together to solve the case?
And do the answers lie closer to home than anyone ever imagined?

About GB Williams

GB lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are absolutely wonderful. With a vivid imagination fuelled by a near death experience at the age of three, there was really no other choice for Gail than to write, something she’s been doing her for as long as she can remember. She’s tried not doing it, but it never works for long, her brain gets itchy if she hasn’t written anything for a couple of days. A freelance editor and keen reader, she really needs to learn to sleep.

Originally from Kent, GB moved to South Wales as a supposed first step on a year around the world. Then she met a guy. Kept the guy, kissed the travel goodbye. Besides, GB knows the best way to travel is by book. GB now has two grown-up children, the world’s most imperious cat, a house full of books and a hard drive full of manuscripts (though some will never be allowed out of the dungeon).

Books:
Locked In 
Shades of Aether 
Last Cut Casebook
Steel & Bone

Twitter: @GailBWilliams
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gail-Williams/261748000603425
Blog: https://thewriteroute.wordpress.com/
Website: https://www.gailbwilliams.com

Blog Tour – Twice The Speed Of Dark by Lulu Allison *Excerpt*

Today I am joining the blog tour for Lulu Allison’s Twice The Speed Of Dark and Lulu has kindly allowed me to share an excerpt with you. Firstly, what is the book about?

The Blurb

Caitlin, killed by violent boyfriend Ryan, tells her story from the perplexing realms of death. Ten years on, her mother Anna is still burdened by suppressed grief. Dismayed by the indifference in the news to people who die in distant war and terror, Anna writes portraits of the victims, trying to understand the real impact of their deaths. It is only through these acts of love for strangers that she can allow herself an emotional connection to the world. Anna’s uneasy equilibrium is disrupted when Ryan is released from prison. As her anger rises will Anna act on her desire for revenge, or will she find freedom at last from the terrible weight of grief? And will Caitlin reclaim herself from the brutality that killed her?

Excerpt from chapter one

It began on a morning much like this one, a cold and sunless day six years before and a little deeper into the winter. Christmas, itself a burden, had been passed with relative ease, though the relief of that was tarnished by the anticipation of the greater test to come. The most appalling of anniversaries was looming, a few small squares in the calendar away. Four years since Caitlin’s death, aged just nineteen. On this day, not long before the anniversary, she had not answered the phone or gone out. After cleaning already clean cupboards and shining already clear windows, she sat to read the paper. In her habitual, well-rehearsed way, she acknowledged the dead. There had been a bomb in a distant marketplace, one of several that day. A filament snagged and slowed the story down, her habitual soft focus pulled into unexpected sharpness. Somehow that detail caught her; a marketplace, perhaps the most domestic public space there is. People shopping for food, plastic buckets, scarves, aluminium pans. A place providing easy acquisition of the humbler tools of life: domestic wares, phone parts and gaudy cases, vinyl handbags, eggs, cabbages. Mothers buying an evening meal, teenagers shopping for the excitingly new and obligingly affordable. A man buying a bucket so he could clean his house. These ordinary people doing ordinary things, they would be the dead.

She thought of there being no dinner in some households, because the shopping never came back from the market. A husband whose anxiety makes him fear, as if seeming finally by prophecy rather than grinding habit, that his wife has been killed. A family who wouldn’t know for long hours where their father had gone. Somewhere in a town where death might just as easily come at the hands of a checkpoint soldier, a sniper, a drone. Somewhere in a world where escape from such horror resulted in thousands of drowned bodies day by day, as boats and brutal businessmen cast people to their fate in the deceptive, seductive glint of a blue sea that pretended to show the way to safety.

Over the next days, the people behind the numbers began to materialise when she picked over stories in the news. As she was standing at a supermarket checkout she was hit by a surge of connection to the others in the queue. They were ugly and beautiful, unkempt, elegant, all mixed. Their banal ordinariness for once caught her attention, linked them to those killed by bombs in markets in Iraq or by roadsides in Afghanistan. The young man with a backpack and scraggly beard, buying four hooped-together cans of lager and some broccoli and biscuits, trousers carelessly rolled above bare brown ankles. The woman with tired eyes and pink plastic earrings, grey showing at the roots of her black hair. The old man with beige slacks and an olive cap, a small brown shopping bag ready for his bread rolls and two bananas, a small shakiness in his hands. Anna felt a tender kind of love and sadness for them, those ordinary people caught there in a tiny moment of complex lives, as those killed were caught in what became the last moment of their lives, when a crude bomb exploded near enough to kill them. Any one of them, all of them, could be one of the bodies, a life behind the numbers. She made her way through the queue and looked intently at the young cashier, haunted by a sudden picture of her, dead amidst the rubble of a faraway town, her mouth open, small teeth exposed to the heat and dust of disaster. She felt the upwell of a sob, an echo that pulsed in her chest, an inappropriate urge to shield the unknown girl from a fate that was not hers, from any fate that meant her harm.

Sounds good, right? Twice The Speed Of Dark was published on eBook on 24 November 2017 by Unbound Digital. You can get your copy here.

A huge thank you to Lulu for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and fr allowing me to share this excerpt with you. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour.

Review – Love Them and Leave Them by Sue Shepherd

The Blurb

Six years ago, Jessica’s dad made a split-second decision that changed her life forever …

Now, twenty-something Jessica has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home.

But in a parallel world, Jessica’s dad made another choice and everything turned out differently …

Now, twenty-something Jessie is stuck in a job with no prospects, with an unreliable boyfriend, Chris; her dreams never fulfilled.

Can Jessie gain the confidence to get her life back on track? And will Jessica lose everything she cares about because of one stupid mistake?

Whichever decision Jessica’s dad makes, the same people are destined to come into her life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.

Another page turner from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?

My Thoughts

Love Them and Leave Them is the second novel from Sue Shepherd and I confess it has been sitting waiting to be read for quite some time (apologies Sue!). I have to start by saying that, for me, the title of this book gives the impression that it is about something entirely different. Part of the delay in me getting around to reading this book may be down to the title. Being terrible at reading and remembering blurbs, I had the impression that this was a book about someone’s love life – a love life in which a person finds it difficult to commit. I was so wrong and there is so much more to Love Them and Leave Them than the title initially suggests.

Jessica/Jessie’s dad makes a split-second decision that changes his life and the life of his family members forever. The result of this decision is what provides the story for Love Them and Leave Them as we simultaneously follow Jessica/Jessie at the point that her father makes this decision. The two very different paths that Jessica/Jessie’s life takes shows how one seemingly innocuous decision can alter the life course of so many people and I adored this. It really had me thinking about the decisions I had made throughout the course of my life and wonder ‘what if?’ We all have those moments when we reflect on our lives and Shepherd has captured this wonderfully.

The two different storylines mean that Love Them and Leave Them could easily become confusing but Shepherd manages to pull it off without the use of separate chapter headings. There were moments when I picked the book up after a break and I would be confused however I was quickly able to establish which thread I was following and that for someone with a memory as appalling as mine is saying something! I have huge admiration for Shepherd for her ability to manage the two threads and ensure the story flowed and that both gelled together despite being different storylines. I imagine she must have had a copious amount of notes while writing this book.

Love Them and Leave Them is funny at times, sad at times but always heart-warming and the characters ensure that you want to keep on reading to discover what will happen to them. I became fully invested in the lives of Jessica/Jessie and her family and friends during the time it took me to read this book.

On finishing the book I now get that the title refers to Jessica/Jessie’s dad and the different outcomes of that initial split decision and it seems apt. I just hope it doesn’t put people off reading it due to assumptions that it refers to something entirely different as within the pages of Love Them and Leave Them is a wonderfully constructed tale about life, fate and consequences.

Love Them and Leave Them was published on 27 September 2016 by Corazon Books.

A huge thank you to Sue Shepherd for the copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Blog Tour – His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont *Excerpt*

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont today and have an excerpt to share with you.

The Blurb

Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

Excerpt

He joined her at the window, a big white towel around his waist. “I love you just as much as her, you know? Perhaps things would have been different if it was just the two of us, you and me… but I’ve no regrets. Most people never get to meet one person to love and who loves them back. I’m extremely fortunate to have met and fallen in love with two such extraordinary women. If things weren’t as they are, you and Patricia would have enjoyed spending time together as friends. Of that I’m absolutely certain.”

Pushing his comment to the back of her mind, the woman took his hand as they returned to bed and made love a second time.

Much too soon it was time to get up and pack their things. They hadn’t brought much with them; both were acutely aware they never had the opportunity to spend more time than the bare minimum. She’d lied to her husband for years, saying an old school friend wanted to meet up with her at their home in Marseille.

Thank God for Milou, she thought. Without her I’d have no one to confide in and cover for me in case I’m found out or something happens to my preciousour precious gift. Reluctantly, she willed herself to focus on what little time they had left together.

She was in the shower when she heard him shout, “Tom’s arrived with our breakfast, it smells delicious!” She joined him soon after, having applied subtle makeup to hide the sorrow she carried in her eyes each time they parted.

The man reached for her hand. “We’ll find a way to meet again soon, just like we always do. Meanwhile, I rely on you to look after our special gift. Can you do it for us both? I’ve two regrets in life: one is that I’ve caused you much pain by refusing to divorce my wife; the second is that I never got to spend enough time with what matters most to us.”

Together they sat at the small table by the bed, drinking coffee and eating croissants, pretending they were okay and already looking forward to the next time they’d meet, usually in Paris after he finished a shift with Air France or in London before he returned home to his wife.

His Guilty Secret by Hélene Fermont is out on 27th November 2017 and will be available on Amazon.
For more information see helenefermont.com

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – Anything for Her by G J Minett *Excerpt*

I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for Anything for Her by GJ Minett today. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read the book but I’m excited to be able to share an excerpt with you today. Let’s face it, an excerpt is probably better than listening to me blah on about my thoughts! I will firstly tell you what the book is about and then on to the excerpt. So, grab a cuppa and enjoy.

The Blurb

A devilish psychological thriller from the widely loved GJ Minett, for fans of The Girl Before and Lie with Me.

You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

Excerpt

Matthew had a golf match scheduled for midday and was happy to leave them to it. He offered to give them a lift to Tenterden, suggesting they could get a taxi home. Mia’s Fiat was sitting there in the driveway and Billy wondered why they didn’t just take that. As if reading his mind, she launched into an obviously pre-rehearsed spiel about the brakes being a little unreliable lately and how she wouldn’t feel comfortable using it until she’d had them checked over. It sounded shaky, her swift glance at Matthew not lending any conviction to it whatsoever and it was difficult to escape the conclusion that the real problem was the prospect of Mia being behind the wheel. He thought of offering to drive instead but didn’t want to make her feel any more uncomfortable than she already was.

He found the Alpen halfway down the aisle, pondered over it for a few seconds and then opted for the Original rather than the No Added Sugar variety. Sod’s law said it would be the wrong one but he’d try to remember to check with her before they got to the checkout – always assuming he could find her in here. She’d gone off to queue at the deli counter ten minutes earlier and he hadn’t seen her since. The place was heaving.

He fetched the list out of the trolley and worked his way down it to see where he needed to go next.

‘Billy?’

He looked up, half-expecting it to be Mia standing there although even as he did so it dawned on him that the voice was wrong – familiar, yes . . . but not quite right. And the moment he realised who was standing there in front of him, this whole morning’s trip down memory lane took on an altogether different perspective. He was dumbstruck for a second or two in a way he’d have been the first to dismiss as a cliché in different circumstances. He stayed rooted to the spot for a moment, uncertain as to what would be the most appropriate way of greeting her, and it was only as she solved the problem for him by stepping forward and giving him a hug that his mouth finally managed to find his voice.

‘Aimi?’ he said.

Mia’s on her way back from the deli counter, trying to track down Billy and the trolley. She’s just rounded the corner at the far end of the aisle when she catches sight of him, locked in an embrace with someone she doesn’t recognise at first. She takes a few steps towards them but when they break apart and she has a chance to see who it is, she promptly turns on her heel and heads back in the opposite direction, hoping they won’t have noticed. All of a sudden, the washing products seem to offer an attractive alternative.

Has that whet your appetite? If so you don’t have long to wait. Anything For Her is published on eBook on 30 November 2017 and paperback on 22 March 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre.

A huge thank you to G J Minett and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for allowing me to share an excerpt. Catch the rest of the tour…

Author Influences with Chris Thomas

It’s Wednesday! It’s time for Author Influences! Today I’m joined by Chris Thomas to talk books.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
To be honest, I didn’t really read much as a child, but if anyone remembers them, I was massively into the Choose Your Own Adventure series. As I got older, I started to get into the Star Wars expanded universe books.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
No, I utterly detested it. I disliked the books they forced us to read (Shakespeare mainly), couldn’t get to grips with analysing poetry and was fairly awful at creative writing. It was only once I found myself writing complaint letters to companies (it’s always good to complain, you never know what free stuff they might send you!) that I started to become creative and tried to inject humour into what I wrote. That, and writing official business emails made me realise that, actually, putting words down on paper about what I want to write about, not what I’m told to write about was actually quite fun.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Thrillers obviously, but something with an edge. A lot of my reading, and my degree course, was non-fiction based around criminal psychology and serial killers so I try to include as much ‘real-life’ into my writing as I can.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Children’s books. Sounds weird and the complete opposite end of the spectrum to gruesome, dark, disturbing writing, but I’ve had a go at writing a children’s book for a writing competition and it was a lot of fun. I could think like a big kid and basically be as silly and outlandish as possible.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
In all honesty, not particularly. It may seem strange for an author, but I actually struggle to sit down and read novels for any great length of time. I can happily sit at a computer and type away at a story for 2-3 hours, but my attention span doesn’t seem to work for reading novels. I have authors whose books I have read more than others (Dan Brown, Brett Easton Ellis, Mark Billingham). Although having recently started to read Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris’ writing style and story-telling did encourage me to try to ‘write better’- it’s very intelligently written.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Dan Brown. Probably not the book purist’s choice, but I just enjoy all his stories. There’s something about having Wikipedia open at the same time as reading a book, so that you can look up his references to buildings, works-of-art etc, just in order to know what the hell he is talking about, that makes them quite satisfying.

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’m going to base this answer on the fact that, as it is one of my all-time favourite films, I will assume I wish I had written the book for it. I’ve not read it yet, it’s there waiting, but Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lector is just about the perfect villain: intelligent, evil, violent but in a sophisticated way.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Absolutely. I’ve only written one so far, and the main protagonist is based on me, a lot of it is set in the exact place where I work and my house. It made it easier to write from a point of view I knew well, my own (of course, the other things that happen to him never happened to me thankfully!). In terms of other people, most of the bad guys who end up as victims on the dark web show, are based on real people that have committed horrific crimes in real life (I won’t say who, but readers might have an inkling).

Thanks Chris for taking part. I really enjoyed reading your responses. Chris’ debut novel Enter The Dark is out now and published by Bloodhound Books.

A chilling Dark Web thriller

An anonymous website, a few clicks, and Joe Henderson’s life is changed forever.

‘The Red Room’ is the only place where the failings of a weak justice system are righted and where the line between good and evil becomes blurred. When the lights go up, viewers bid, criminals are punished, and the Brotherhood of the Righteous broadcasts a show like no other.

The room has remained hidden until now, when a video arrives in the inbox of the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit. But outclassed, outplayed, and torn apart by corruption, is there anything Detective Pete Harris andhis team can do except watch?

Their only lead may be the room’s latest bidder, Joe Henderson. Because when Joe found the Red Room, it found him too, and now the Brotherhood are watching through the wires, willing to do wrong for a righteous cause.

As they pull Joe deeper into the dark web, will he find any mercy or a way out? And could he be the Red Room’s next volunteer?

Find out more about Chris Thomas by visiting his author page at Bloodhound Books: http://www.bloodhoundbooks.com/chris-thomas

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christhomasauthor/
Twitter: @cthomasauthor1
Website: www.christhomasauthor.com

Blog Tour – Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson *review*

I’m delighted to be taking part in today’s turn on the Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson blog tour with the fabulous Noelle at CrimeBookJunkie and I’m sharing my thoughts on the book with you.

The Blurb

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister  take place beneath the lighthouse and the old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason
discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and the secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with this book at the prologue! Whiteout begins with a brief and beautiful prologue that perfectly sets the reader up for the mysteries and secrets that are to follow. Jónasson’s prose throughout is enchanting.

Whiteout is the fifth in the Dark Iceland series, however, it can be read equally well as a standalone. When the body of a young woman is found at the bottom of the cliffs in the desolate village of Kalfshamarvik, Ari Thór is called upon to investigate and determine if this was a suicide or something more sinister.

Whiteout reminded me of a classic crime novel with its emphasis on old school detective work rather than forensic science and that adds to the enjoyment and sheer pleasure you get from reading this book. It is solidly crafted and meticulously plotted. Red herrings abound and Jónasson keeps you on the back foot in regards to who can and cannot be trusted. I adored the characters in Whiteout as Ari Thór finds himself amongst the strange inhabitants of a village that has been largely abandoned. The cast are most definitely odd and, thus, utterly compelling. I found myself mesmerised by Whiteout – not something I usually get with crime fiction.

Whiteout is absolutely brimming with atmosphere and the setting plays an important part in the overall sense and structure of this book. The feelings of isolation and bleakness serve to add to the sinister undercurrent that runs throughout. Whiteout moves at a steady pace and is a book to be savoured rather than rushed through as you want to take in every word.

The perfect winter crime read, especially for fans of more golden age crime fiction, Whiteout is beautiful for a crime novel. Jónasson’s writing talent shines through and it has been translated to perfection by Quentin Bates. Grab yourself a steaming mug of hot chocolate, get cosy in front of the fire and immerse yourself within this stunning book.

Published on 1 November 2017 by Orenda Books.

A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.
His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after
publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting
the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18
countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he
continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14
Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels
worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Follow the rest of the tour…

Blog Takeover/Promo – Patient Zero by Terry Tyler

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

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

 

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

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

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

The Blurb

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blurb

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter One Present Day – 2018
Billie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why was he sitting here?

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

“So, how are you?” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

She looked up instantly, her face feeling redder still.

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

“I don’t have a mobile.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People were dangerous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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