Monthly Archives: August 2018

Review – The Rave by Nicky Black

The Blurb

It’s 1989, the second Summer of Love, and Tommy Collins is doing what he does best: organising all-night raves on a shoestring, and playing a game of cat and mouse with the police. But Detective Chief Inspector Peach is closing in on him, and his dreams of a better life are beginning to slip through his fingers.

DCI Peach finds it all a nuisance, a waste of his force’s time, until he finds his teenage daughter unconscious at one of Tommy’s raves. Then the chase becomes personal, and his need to make Tommy pay becomes an obsession.

The Rave is a fast-paced, gritty portrayal of life on the edges of society at the end of a decade that changed Britain forever.

My Thoughts

It’s the summer of 1989, the country has gone house music mad and raves are, well, all the rave. Tommy Collins is determined to change his family’s life from one of poverty, living on the Valley Park housing estate in Newcastle, to one of prosperity by organising all-night illegal raves in the North East. However, his plans are soon to be thwarted as Detective Chief Inspector Peach finds his daughter unconscious at one of Tommy’s raves and he goes all out to bring Tommy down.

To be perfectly honest, when I first started reading The Rave I wasn’t sure that it was going to be for me, but the further I got into the book the more I liked it. The characters really drew me in. Tommy is the likeable rogue, thwarted by the social class he was born into and can’t seem to escape, who wants to succeed to make life comfortable for his family. Despite his illegal activities, Tommy has a good heart and you can’t help but warm to him. In DCI Peach, Black has managed to create an antagonist who is also a well-rounded character. From initial dislike, the reader eventually begins to empathise with him as each revelation about his daughter unfolds. Black has, I’m pleased to say, included the truly despicable characters we all love to see in crime fiction. Again, though, she has ensured they are two dimensional by allowing the reader to understand why they are the way they are.

The Rave does fall under crime fiction but it is different to the majority of crime novels out there due to its premise. Black deviates from the usual catching a killer trope that we see in the majority of crime novels, and if I was to categorise by genre the description of grit-lit would be appropriate given the vivid sense of place, the importance of social setting it stands in and its authenticity. The Rave is unique and refreshingly different which made it all the more enjoyable.

Black’s depiction of life on a northern housing estate is bleak and yet I finished The Rave feeling kind of uplifted.

The Rave is a gritty read that perfectly captures the plight of the North East in Thatcher’s Britain. Black has successfully combined gripping crime fiction, interesting characters and authentic social setting with an original premise. If you are in the need for something different from your usual crime fiction, check The Rave out.

A huge thank you to Nicky Black for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 14 August 2018 you can get your copy HERE.

About the Author

The pen name Nicky Black is a combination of two writers – Nicky Doherty and Julie Blackie. Julie was a script writer for many years, and Nicky has created two novels based on Julie’s TV and film scripts. Both are stories set on the fictional estate of Valley Park in Newcastle, and the criminal world that inhabits it. 

 

The Prodigal was a bestseller in 2015 and The Rave was published on 14th August 2018.

 

Nicky is a proud eighties throwback and cat lady and lives in North Tyneside.

Review – Into The Darkness by Sibel Hodge

The Blurb

The Missing…
In a hidden basement, eighteen-year-old Toni is held captive and no one can hear her screams. She’s been abducted after investigating unspeakable things in the darkest corners of the Internet.
The Vigilante…
Fearing the worst, Toni’s mother turns to ex-SAS operative Mitchell to help find her missing daughter. And when Mitchell discovers Toni’s fate rests in the hands of pure evil, he races against the clock to find Toni and bring her out alive. But even that might not be enough to save her.
The Detective…
DS Warren Carter is looking forward to a new job and a simpler life. But when he’s called in to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly normal couple, he becomes entangled in lives that are anything but simple. And as he digs deeper, he uncovers a crime more twisted than he could ever have imagined.
Into the Darkness is the chilling new thriller from the bestselling author of Duplicity and Beneath the Surface.

My Thoughts

As regular readers of my blog will know, I always eagerly anticipate a new book by Sibel Hodge and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into Into The Darkness.

The quote by Shakespeare at the beginning of the book hints at the wickedness we are about to encounter as we go Into The Darkness.

When eighteen-year-old Toni goes missing, her mother calls ex-SAS officer Mitchell to help find her daughter. While they search for the missing girl, DS Warren Carter is investigating the apparently motiveless murder of a couple in a quiet well-to-do village. Told from three perspectives – Toni, Mitchell and DS Carter – Hodge endures that the reader is kept at the heart of the all the action. This also gives a unique insight into each of the characters.

I really warmed to DS Carter and , as we again meet Mitchell and Maya from Untouchable in this book, I hope that we will be seeing him again in the future.

Hodge never flinches from writing about the darkest echelons of society. Quite often her books have a political edge to them and feature those real-life taboo issues that people don’t talk about much. This is one of the things I really like about her books. It ensures that you are left with something to think about and adds a depth to what would otherwise be your standard – but brilliant – thriller. Into The Darkness explores the murky corners of the Internet – the dark web in which anything goes and can be bought for a price. The fact that the subject matter could be grounded in reality takes the chill factor of Into The Darkness up (or down) several degrees.

The three threads of the story come together perfectly as Hodge weaves a twisted tale in which nothing is as it seems. Incredibly tense, Hodge once again show her prowess as a skilled writer.

Hodge has written another scorching, unsettling thriller that left me holding my breath. If you like your thrillers on the blackest side of dark, then head Into The Darkness.

My thanks to Sibel Hodge, Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.

Published on 3 July 2018 by Thomas & Mercer. You can get a copy HERE.

Review – The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

The Blurb

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on 12 January 2017 by Simon & Schuster.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael: Two examples –

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

A huge thank you to you both for taking part.

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

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

You can buy your copy HERE.

About the Authors

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

 

 

Author Influences AND Giveaway with Urcelia Teixeira

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Urcelia’s Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Hunt and The Golden Urn: An Archeaological Adventure Thriller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

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

http://bit.ly/ALEXHUNT_Giveaway

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

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

About Urcelia Teixeira

I, Urcelia Teixeira am a NY Times Bestselling Author!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram 

BookBub

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

https://www.urcelia.com/join-my-book-launch-team/

See you between my pages!

Review – The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

The Blurb

Be careful what you wish for…

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Blurb

Till death do us part…

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

 

Author Influences With David Owain Hughes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About The Author

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

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