Monthly Archives: July 2018

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:

https://www.facebook.com/neal.james.125

http://nealjames.webs.com/

 

 

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.

Links:
Website: https://www.williamlstuart.com/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/williamlstuart
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thegemstonechronicles
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473734.William_L_Stuart

 

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:

https://literarybookgifts.com

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shopping!

Author Influences With Ewa Dodd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Ewa Dodd

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

You can follow Ewa on Twitter: @EwaDodd

Review – Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

The Blurb

DOES EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAPPEN PURELY BY CHANCE? OR ARE WE GUIDED TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED?

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blurb

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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