All posts by Abbie

Author Influences With Mark Tilbury

Chase away those mid-week blues with some bookish chat. Mark Tilbury joins me for this week’s Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I loved Enid Blyton, particularly the Famous Five. I used to devour the adventures of the four children and their dog, Timmy, then write my own stories. I can’t really remember much about them, but I can guess they were probably in a very similar vein, and the plots were more than likely nothing short of plagiarism.
I also loved Agatha Christie as I got a bit older. She used to live about a mile away from me on the edge of town. We’d sometimes go carol singing at her house at Christmas hoping to see her and have untold riches bestowed upon us. No such luck!

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English. I was naturally good and didn’t really have to work too hard to get good marks. To be honest, there’s quite a gulf between being good at English and creative writing, as I’m learning on a daily basis.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love horror, dark humour and psychological thrillers. I think my novels are a combination of all three, although they are predominantly psychological thrillers.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d like to have a go at children’s books one day. I have an idea for a series, so you never know. The birth of my first grandson in January seems like an excellent reason to seriously think about doing so.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Without doubt Stephen King’s Misery. Annie Wilkes was the first antagonist I’d ever read who made me think wow! This is someone who really inspires me. Her contradictions. The way she hated profanity, yet could chop a man’s foot off and make him suffer. Annie had the lot for me.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Stephen King is the usual, but there are so many great authors out there. Shani Struthers, Mel Comley, Mark Wilson, Sarah England, Tony Forder and David MacCaffery.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
As I said earlier, Misery by Stephen King. Also The Green Mile because of the way King ties the whole book up with the characters in the prison. I could probably list at least half a dozen of his books. But my favourite is From the Corner of his Eye by Dean Koontz. The antagonist, Junior Caine, made me laugh and scream in equal measure. This book has everything, and I urge anyone who hasn’t yet read it to do so.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
The Abattoir of Dreams was influenced by some bigwig being named as an abuser by a guy who used to be in a children’s home. Then, the guy said he’d made a mistake and got the wrong man. As far as I was concerned, the abused guy was leaned on and forced to retract his accusation. It got me to thinking how these disgusting bastards get away with it just by virtue of their standing in society. It made me so angry, The Abattoir of Dreams poured out of me in less than three months as a result.

All my other stories have been purely a product of my imagination, but I’m sure there have been many influences on a subconscious level.

Thank you for taking part, Mark. 

Mark’s latest book, The Liar’s Promise, is out now. You can grab a copy HERE.

The Blurb

How does a mother protect her child from the unknown?
During a visit to a local theatre, four-year-old Chloe Hollis becomes hysterical. But her mother, Mel, doesn’t realise that this is just the beginning of the nightmare. In the coming weeks, Chloe talks of The Tall Man – Of death.
At her wit’s end, Mel confides in Charles Honeywell, the headmaster at the school where she works. But what Mel doesn’t know is that Charles is linked to what is happening to her daughter.
Will Mel learn the terrible truth? And can she overcome her own tragic past and save her daughter before it’s too late?
The Liar’s Promise is a story of past lives and future torment.

About Mark Tilbury

I grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire, but moved to the beautiful county of Cumbria two years ago with my girlfriend. I have two daughters and a beautiful grandson, George who is nine months old.
I’ve had a love of writing from an early age, but it was only a few years ago, with the introduction of Amazon kindle, that I started to seriously attempt to get published. I self-published my first two novels, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused, and then Bloodhound Books published my third book, The Abattoir of Dreams and republished the first two. My fourth novel, The Liar’s Promise was published by Bloodhound on 28th November.

My blog: www.marktilbury.com
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor/
Twitter: @MTilburyAuthor

Review – Anna: One Love, Two Stories by Amanda Prowse

The Blurb

One Love, Two Stories.
Anna Cole grew up in care, and is determined to start a family of her own. Theo Montgomery had a loveless childhood, and wants only to find his soulmate.
Then, one day, Theo meets Anna, and Anna meets Theo. Two damaged souls from different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each others’ hearts?
There are two sides to every love story. This is Anna’s.

My Thoughts

I’m going to start this review by saying I absolutely loved Anna: One Love, Two Stories by Amanda Prowse. Two stories about one love affair, Prowse introduces us to Anna, one half of Anna and Theo, in the first book in this duet.

Beginning in 1977 when Anna is a child, Prowse takes our hand and guides us through Anna’s life. This gives us unique insight to all of Anna’s thoughts and feelings in order for us to understand how she grows in to the adult she becomes and the impact this has on her side of the relationship she has with Theo. Now, I’m not a person who cries or gets upset easily but Prowse broke me at chapter 2! This is a testament to her skill as a writer and the talent she has for portraying raw emotions in such a way that you feel them alongside the character.

From the outset you are invested in Anna and her journey. I adored her and by the end of the book I felt as though I was saying goodbye to an old friend. As a self-confessed people-watcher, I love getting under the skin of people and understanding their nuances and what makes them tick, Anna appealed to me greatly as it is about life and one person’s take on their relationship. Prowse has created a well-rounded character in Anna and one who is believable and authentic. Anna is very much a character-based book that gets right to the core of the emotions felt by our heroine via Prowse’s beautiful use of words. Anna is seeking her sense of belonging and she believes she has eventually found it in Theo and the possibility that with him she can finally have the family she has longed for. Of course, relationships involve two unique individuals and, as a result, the course of love rarely runs smoothly.

I really enjoyed the way Prowse takes you through the decades in Anna. I adored the suspicion that Anna and her work colleagues had about moving from the typewriter to the computer. The various time periods came through credibly in Anna as Prowse doesn’t try too hard to get it across. Subtlety in her descriptions ensured that it came across naturally and not contrived.

I really can’t wait for Theo to come out as Prowse leaves you with just enough knowledge about him for you to be intrigued and to find out his side of the story. Having the two sides of one relationship split over two books is a great idea and Prowse pulls it off wonderfully.

Beautifully written and completely all-absorbing, Anna is a wonderfully emotional portrayal of life and all the ups and downs it can bring. Be prepared to devour Anna’s story, and ensure you have a box of tissues at hand as you will need them. Just gorgeous!

Anna: One Love, Two Stories is published on eBook on 8 March 2018 and paperback on 4 October 2018 by Head of Zeus. You can pre-order your copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Amanda Prowse for my advance copy of Anna.

Author Influences With Liz Mistry

It’s Wednesday which can mean only one thing … it’s time for this week’s Author Influences. I am delighted to be joined by Liz Mistry for today’s book chat.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys fan or if you go earlier than that I loved Mr Pinkwhistle followed by The Famous Five and the Secret Seven. In my teens I loved Agatha Christie and Alastair MacLean.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Loved it and was good at it. Did Catcher in The Rye for my sixth-year study dissertation (Scottish after Higher qualification). Loved EM Forster and Jane Austen.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read mainly crime fiction but I read a wide selection of Crime Fiction genres sub genres. I love YA crime and I love futuristic and paranormal crime. My favourite though are noir police procedurals.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Eek! Maybe try my hand at futuristic crime…. Maybe not.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Every author I loved over the years contributed to my writing bug. Nowadays Northern noir writers like Stuart MacBride and Val McDermid or US writers like Michael Connolly or Harlen Coben or Canadian Linwood Barclay.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Stuart MacBride definitely. Also, JD Robb who writes futuristic police procedurals with a dose of romance. MJ Arlidge too and Val McDermid and James Carol and Graham smith and…. The list is endless. Too many really great books and too few hours.

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 recently read Mark Billingham’s Love Like Blood and was ‘Wow that is so good’. It wasn’t just the book itself that got me. It was the message from the book about Honour Killings and FGM. A brilliant book full of rage and passion!

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Everything I write is influenced to a greater or lesser extent by people I meet, conversations I over hear and things I’ve done. Hopefully my creative juices make them unique enough to not be obvious.

Massive thanks for taking part, Liz. I have a copy of Love Like Blood and will have to push it up the TBR pile after hearing this.

Liz’s latest book, Untainted Blood, is out now and you can grab a copy HERE.

The Blurb

In a city that is already volatile, tensions mount after a Tory MP in Bradford Central is discredited leaving the door open for the extreme right-wing candidate, Graeme Weston, to stand in the resultant by-election.
However, Graeme Weston is not what he appears to be and with secrets jeopardising his political career, he must tread very carefully.
Meanwhile, a serial killer targets Asian men who lead alternatives lifestyles and delivers his own form of torture.
As DI Gus McGuire’s team close in, the deranged killer begins to unravel and in an unexpected twist the stakes are raised for Gus.
Are the murders linked to the political scandals or is there another motive behind them?
DI Gus McGuire and his team are back and this might be their toughest case yet.

About Liz Mistry

I am an author from Bradford but originally from Scotland. My gritty crime novels draw on the richness of Bradford’s diverse cultures. My writing is influenced by Tartan Noir writers like Stuart MacBride and Val McDermid.
I completed an MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University. My three novels are Unquiet Souls, Uncoiled Lies and Untainted Blood.
Twitter: @LizCrimeWarp
FB : @LizMistrybooks Website: https://lizmistrycrimewriter.wordpress.com/

Author Influences With Jan Harvey

Welcome, welcome to another Author Influences. This week we are joined by Jan Harvey for the mid-week book talk.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was eight when I read The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe. I very quickly read the whole set of Narnia books and then read them over again. I loved them and still do.

At the end of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe C.S.Lewis says he hopes one day I will pick up my copy again, blow the dust off it and read it to my own children. I was so looking forward to that but my son sadly didn’t like the Narnia books at all and I can’t express how disappointed I was, because Harry Potter had won the day!

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved it. I was hopeless at maths and science (I still am) but I adored English and Art. I have always loved all things cultural. When I was twelve the school took us to see Twelfth Night, it was my first Shakespeare play. I was completed hooked and knew my life would be about art, theatre, music and literature. As for science? Well I married a physicist who tells me maths is beautiful so we can cover all bases between us, it’s very handy for Trivial Pursuit.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love mystery novels, a good thriller and any book that is beautifully written. I just picked up The Loney, I have absolutely no idea what it’s about but I loved the cover and when I started reading it I was hooked, because the writing is exquisite.

All the books I have read have impacted on my own novel. I think a writer takes a lot in subconsciously, which then comes out in her work. Good books will do that to a person.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d write a thriller. I have no idea if I’d be good at it, but people have commented that my novel, The Seven Letters, is ‘unputdownable’ and that’s because each chapter leaves you in suspense. Put it this way, I would enjoy giving it a go.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Daphne du Maurier. Her writing is so beautiful I often go back and re-read a paragraph to enjoy it again. When my friend Myra told me that she had done that with The Seven Letters I thought, ‘I’ve done it. I’ve achieved the highest praise possible.’

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Barbara Erskine, queen of the time-split novel. Also Kate Morton who is a masterful writer and plotter. The House at Riverton is in my top ten. However, the contemporary author I simply ‘can’t wait to read’ is Patrick Gale, he is awesome.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Nicole uses language so creatively that she is a true master. I buy spare copies of the book from second hand shops to give to people who need a good read.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Oh, that would be telling! One of my characters has elements of a well-known actor who I have admired since childhood and another, Madame Odile, was written for a famous actress who kept coming into my mind. I know she would play her so perfectly.

Film companies have already shown interest so you never know what might happen. I have learnt one thing about writing a book, you have no idea what will happen next, it is tremendously exciting.

Thank you for taking part, Jan. I am the same as you in that I loved English but am hopeless at maths and science. Great choices with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Du Maurier.

Jan’s debut novel, The Seven Letters, is out now. You can grab a copy HERE

The Blurb

Claudette Bourvil is a shy country girl recruited by the Resistance to work in Paris. Claudette must quickly learn to survive in a city ravaged by war as she works undercover in a bordello for the cold, calculating Madame Odile. Claudette falls in love with one of the visitors to the bordello. Fritz Keber is a Nazi officer. He is complicated, sophisticated, powerful and, at the same time, a lost soul. He does not tell Claudette that he is linked to Madame Odile and when she finds out his dark secret she is horrified. It is she who is forced to pick up the pieces. Claudette falls foul of timing, betrayal and the need to do what is right. She is wrongly punished and pays a heavy price. In England, 2014, Connie Webber witnesses her friend the playwright, Freddie March, commit suicide. A kind stranger, Matt Verney, comforts her and becomes her friend. Together they sort out Freddy’s belongings and uncover the mystery of his mother. They find seven letters which lead them to Paris and one of the former prostitutes who tells them she remembers a maid who was with the French Resistance. Connie and Matt trace Freddy’s mother to the quiet village in Normandy where they find out the terrible truth of how she died…

 

About Jan Harvey

Jan Harvey was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1961. After a career as a magazine editor/designer working on various business publications she became an author five years ago. The Seven Letters is her debut novel and her fans will be pleased to hear that her second novel is underway. The two books are linked by Paris, the city that inspires her work.
www.janharveyauthor.com

Blog Blitz – Past Echoes by Graham Smith *Review*

I’m de-bloody-lighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for Past Echoes by Graham Smith. This is the third in Smith’s Jake Boulder series and I’m pleased to have been able to follow it from the start. Here is what this latest instalment is about and what I thought of it.

The Blurb

Tasked with finding a beneficiary and revealing a dead woman’s secret, Jake Boulder travels to New York with his girlfriend Taylor. He also has to find his estranged father for a life-saving transfusion.
Once there he becomes embroiled in a web of mystery, deceit and violence which sees him pitted against a professional assassin known only as The Mortician. Boulder must use every drop of his courage and cunning to survive the chaos that envelops him.

My Thoughts

Past Echoes sees the welcome return of doorman and private investigator, Jake Boulder, in the third book of the series. Can you read this book as a standalone if you haven’t yet managed to catch the previous books? I guess you can, but it would probably make more sense following the other two books.

Smith takes a slightly different path with this Jake Boulder novel, venturing outside of Jake’s home town of Casperton and to the bright lights of New York to find the beneficiary of a will and reveal a long-hidden secret. Jake also has to find his estranged father to try and save the life of his half-brother. Jake quickly ends up in a situation out of his control and pitted against a deadly hitman.

Past Echoes starts with a bang as we meet Jake in a violent situation with four men and this sets the tone for what might be the darkest and most brutal Boulder novel yet. Personally, it’s a case of the more brutal the better as I like to be shocked and Smith certainly managed to pull it off making me wince on more than one occasion. The pace is unrelenting from the outset and Smith ensures that you have to read just one more page.

Alfonse takes more of a back seat in this novel and we start to get more of a glimpse into what shaped Jake’s character. Jake’s father features heavily in Past Echoes and I really enjoyed finding out about him, despite him being a loathsome character. As the situation Jake finds himself spirals, he ends up having to make decisions that are bound to have an impact on him and I look forward to seeing where Jake ends up next. Will he continue to be the Jake we know and love or will his recent experiences, coupled with the potentially shared character traits he has with his father, turn him into a more bitter and less caring character?

A great addition to the Boulder series, Smith has ensured with Past Echoes that you want to keep following Jake on his journey. Another fast-paced, gripping and dark read.

Published on 1 February 2018 by Bloodhound Books. Grab a copy here.

You can read my reviews of the first book, Watching The Bodies, here and the second book, The Kindred Killers, here.

Huge thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books and Graham Smith for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog blitz

Catch the rest of the blitz…

Blog Tour – Nucleus (Tom Wilde #2) by Rory Clements *Excerpt*

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Nucleus by Rory Clements today. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read the book so instead of my review I am sharing an excerpt. Grab a cuppa and enjoy.

The Blurb

The eve of war: a secret so deadly, nothing and no one is safe

June 1939. England is partying like there is no tomorrow, gas masks at the ready. In Cambridge the May Balls are played out with a frantic intensity – but the good times won’t last… In Europe, the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, and in Germany the persecution of the Jews is now so widespread that desperate Jewish parents send their children to safety in Britain aboard the Kindertransport. Closer to home, the IRA’s S-Plan bombing campaign has resulted in more than 100 terrorist outrages around England.

But perhaps the most far-reaching event of all goes largely unreported: in Germany, Otto Hahn has produced the first man-made fission and an atomic device is now a very real possibility. The Nazis set up the Uranverein group of physicists: its task is to build a superbomb. The German High Command is aware that British and US scientists are working on similar line. Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory is where the atom was split in 1932. Might the Cambridge men now win the race for a nuclear bomb? Hitler’s generals need to be sure they know all the Cavendish’s secrets. Only then will it be safe for Germany to wage war.

When one of the Cavendish’s finest brains is murdered, Professor Tom Wilde is once more drawn into an intrigue from which there seems no escape. In a conspiracy that stretches from Cambridge to Berlin and from Washington DC to the west coast of Ireland, he faces deadly forces that threaten the fate of the world.

Excerpt

The Cavendish, in the heart of Cambridge, was where men had first split the atom. The lab had long been at the very heart of experimental particle physics and Geoff Lancing was one of its leading lights.
Wilde studied Flood. What he saw was a career man who hadn’t quite made it to the top, but still managed to wield influence. Perhaps he had spent too long on campus, not enough time on the parade ground.
‘We need to know what’s going on there,’ Flood continued. ‘The world of atomic physics is a small place. There are questions to which we would like answers. For instance, do Britain’s top men believe this superbomb is possible? How difficult is it to make? Who are the real brains – the leaders in the field? We’d like to hear what you can find out. And we’d like to hear it in layman’s terms. Simple as that.’
‘Then I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.’
‘Come on, Wilde,’ Flood said. ‘We know your background. You may not call yourself a spy, you may not be part of any agency, but goddamn it, professor, you’re in the thick of it already! You take briefings from Vanderberg at the US embassy, you watch your contemporaries like a bird of prey . . .’
‘Take briefings from Jim Vanderberg? He’s a friend, that’s all, an old college friend. We just talk, shoot the breeze like friends do.’
Flood held up a defensive hand and grinned. ‘No one’s accusing you of anything, professor. You do good work. We’ve got a pretty good idea what you did at the back end of ’36. You’re just the sort of guy we need.’
Did Flood really know Wilde’s role in those events? The foiling of the conspiracy to prevent the abdication of Edward VIII had been a closely guarded secret. Wilde shrugged. ‘I suppose I should be flattered.’
Roosevelt clapped his hands. ‘Good man. We don’t want to be caught off guard. If anyone looks like they’re going to get a superbomb, I want to know about it.’ He glanced at his watch and Wilde began to rise, as did Colonel Flood. The interview was over. Ten short minutes in which they had covered the likelihood of war, the possibility of an atomic superbomb and the pleasures of jazz. All that and good White House coffee. The President put the dying butt of his second cigarette in the ashtray groove, then leant across and shook Wilde’s hand warmly. ‘Good to meet you, professor. Keep in touch. I need a clear, unbiased voice over there in the dark days that lie ahead of us. Missy LeHand is my gatekeeper and she will tell you exactly how to contact me. I’d value your view over those of a dozen diplomats. Just keep everything short and to the point. On the science matter, communicate with Dexter.’
‘Certainly, Mr President.’
‘And perhaps you’d send me a signed copy of your new book.’
‘It would be my pleasure, sir. I think you’ll find that Sir Robert Cecil was every bit as ruthless in his own way as Walsingham.’
‘Power politics! Nothing changes down the ages.’
Flood walked towards the door. ‘I’ll show the professor out, Mr President.’
‘Thank you, Dexter.’

Published on 25 January 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre, you can grab a copy HERE.

My thanks go to Rory Clements and Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for allowing me to share an excerpt.

 

Author Influences with Nick Quantrill

Hello and welcome to another Author Influences. I’m chuffed to be joined today by crime writer and fellow Hullian (is that what you call people from Hull?) Nick Quantrill to talk books.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was a big reader as a child and would make my mum take me to the local library every week. I loved the Famous Five, devoured them all, and couldn’t be more delighted that my six-year-old daughter is discovering them and their brilliance. From there I moved on to Sherlock Holmes, so I guess crime stories are in my blood…

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
There’s a loaded question! I don’t recall massively enjoying English at school, but like a lot of teenage boys, I simply stopped reading for pleasure, unable to find books that appealed to me at the time. Maybe it was the sense of enforced reading and other things in life becoming more interesting, but I guess the reading bug was always there, even if it was dormant for a few years.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I’m proud to say I’m a crime writer and love reading around the genre. The beauty of it is that it’s so varied. One week it might be a Lee Child thriller, the next it might be a psychological novel or a police procedural. The choice is endless. It was always going to be crime when I started to write. I see the reading I did in my twenties as my apprenticeship.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve dabbled with writing for children and it was definitely fun. I’d also really like to try to write a non-fiction book. I’ve lived with Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter project for a decade, so have seen the effort that goes into such a thing. It clearly needs to be a subject you’re passionate about, but I keep looking around…

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
In many ways it was Ian Rankin. I love the way he blends together razor sharp views on society with such a strong sense of place. His work sets the bar, in my opinion. Maybe the actual prompt was reading a really bad crime novel and thinking I could do better, that it couldn’t be that hard … turns out it is incredibly hard…

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I have so many favourites! From the big hitters, Rankin, Child and Connelly are must buys. I’m also a huge fan of Graham Hurley and will buy anything he writes. Lesser well-known, but Ray Banks is a brilliant modern noir writer. He keeps a low profile, but a new book from him is an event in my world.

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 it’s largely as above, but a recently blagged a copy of Eva Dolan’s new one, This Is How It Ends. It’s so sharp and astute. Her eye for what’s happening in the world and what needs exploring in crime fiction is exceptional. On a wider note, Grapes of Wrath and To Kill A Mocking Bird still resonate with their power and anger. Who wouldn’t want to leave a legacy like that behind?

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Ha! I think when you write about a specific, real life location like I do with Hull, you can’t help but be influenced by events and people. I’m fortunate that the city has changed hugely over the last decade – from UK Crap Town to UK City of Culture – so I’ve had plenty of material to go at from regeneration to cigarette smuggling. Follow the money…

A huge thanks for taking part, Nick. I’m also a fan of Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Nick’s latest book The Dead Can’t Talk is out now. Here’s what it’s about…

How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance? Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber’s desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.

About Nick

Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull, an isolated industrial city in East Yorkshire. His crime novels are published by Caffeine Nights, the latest being The Dead Can’t Talk. A prolific short story writer, Nick’s work has appeared in various volumes of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. Nick is also the co-founder of the Hull Noir festival and regularly writes for the official 2017 UK City of Culture website.

Website: www.nickquantrill.co.uk

Twitter: @nickquantrill

Review – All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

The Blurb

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

My Thoughts

‘“God’s darkened Grace, Chief Black … The clouds pour down their moisture, and abundant showers fall on mankind”’

I adored Chris Whitaker’s debut novel Tall Oaks and had heard so many great things about All The Wicked Girls, his second novel that I was dying to get my hands on it. As is often the case when you have heard nothing but praise for a book, I went in to All The Wicked Girls with a sense of excitement and trepidation.

Set in the small town of Grace in Alabama’s bible belt, All The Wicked Girls centres around a spate of girls going missing in the local area. When much-loved Summer Ryan goes missing her twin sister, Raine, along with two local boys carries out her own investigation as to what has happened to her.

I always have to remind myself that Chris Whitaker is a British author when reading his books as he writes so convincingly as an American. The sense of place and the character’s voices all come across as authentic. From the outset I found myself reading All The Wicked Girls with a southern American drawl. Whitaker tells the story through the perspective of Summer, leading up to the point in which she goes missing, and through the perspective of Raine, the police officers investigating and Noah and Purv, the two boys assisting Raine.

I have to confess that initially I struggled to get into this book partly, I think, due to the amount of characters I had to get my head around and also because I had, perhaps, gone into it expecting it to be a certain way. It therefore took me a little while to settle into it and fully appreciate it. All The Wicked Girls is a slow burner and the characters, imagery and setting are all of as equal importance as the central storyline. If I had to, I’m not sure what genre I would put this book in.

In fitting with the setting, sin and religion play a huge part in this book. Grace is a small town that has had the industry and life sucked out of it. While the various inhabitants of Grace struggle to build a life and survive via a variety of methods that include prostitution, alcohol misuse, and abuse, they continue to attend church and hope for redemption via confessing their sins. As someone who doesn’t subscribe to any religious beliefs and often struggles with, what seems to me, the hypocrisy of it all and yet is fascinated by it, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

All The Wicked Girls is a very dark book and the overall feeling of oppression consumes you as you read it. In keeping with the religious angle of the book, Whitaker effectively uses the contrast of light and dark to evoke atmosphere and get across the extreme religious views of original sin and what constitutes as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Dealing with some difficult topics, there were a couple of times in the book when I felt my heart break.

As Whitaker carefully plots the story with cleverly placed red herrings, I did not manage to guess what had happened to Summer Ryan. The actual outcome surprised me, but not in the usual way. I initially felt a bit deflated, however, as the book came to a close I found myself appreciating it. There is so much more to this book than the central storyline and, on reflection, it fitted perfectly. A little cryptic, I know, but you will have to read it yourself to find out what I am talking about!

Brilliantly constructed, wonderfully written and yet heavily oppressive, All The Wicked Girls is a book that weighed heavy on my mind and that I came to appreciate more as I progressed through the book. A totally unique take on ‘the missing girl’ scenario.

Published on 24 August 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre you can buy a copy HERE.

My thanks go to Chris Whitaker and Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for my copy in exchange for my review.

Blog Tour – Stand By Me by S.D. Roberston *Review*

Today I bring you my thoughts on S.D. Robertson’s latest book, Stand By Me, as part of the blog tour. This was a gorgeous book to read in what is, let’s face it, the crappy month of January. So, before I share my thoughts with you here is what Stand By Me is about…

The Blurb

They’ll always have each other…won’t they?
Lisa and Elliot have been best friends ever since the day they met as children. Popular, bright and sporty, Lisa was Elliot’s biggest supporter when the school bullies made his life a misery, and for that, he will always be grateful.
Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, looking much better than she remembers, she can’t help but be delighted to see her old friend again.
With Elliot back in their lives, Lisa’s family problems begin to improve – he’s like the fairy godmother she never had. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she’s missed him, and prays that this is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes, life has other ideas…
A heartwarming story perfect for fans of Keith Stewart and Jojo Moyes, that will leave you with a tear in your eye but hope in your heart.

My Thoughts

Stand By Me is the first novel by S.D. Robertson that I have read although I have been aware of his previous two novels. Now I have ventured into his books I will definitely be reading more by him. Stand By Me is a gorgeous tale of friendship, life and appreciation.

When Lisa’s childhood best friend, Elliot, returns to their home town for a visit after twenty years, she has no idea about the impact he will have on her and her family’s life. Struggling through a difficult time, Lisa’s life is about to change for the better thanks to her old school friend.

The prologue and the first few chapters work effectively to draw you into the book. You know from the start that there is more to what’s going on than meets the eye but you are not sure what that is and you have to keep reading to find out. Luckily, I had a box of tissues from the cold I had over the Christmas break and, oh boy, did I need them at the end of this book!

Roberston takes us between timelines, flitting between the present and the 1990s. There is often a danger with dual timeline books that you will prefer one storyline over the other, however, this wasn’t the case with Stand By Me. The 1990’s side of the book worked effectively to show the friendship between teenage Lisa and Elliot and the reason behind Elliot’s current actions. It also ensures that you feel emotionally invested in the characters. I found myself really caring about the main characters. I also really enjoyed how Robertson captured the early 90s – through the TV programmes, music and lack of technology – and it added a nostalgia that I really enjoyed.

Equally I enjoyed the current storyline and while this isn’t a fast-paced book with thrills, spills and cliffhangers, Stand By Me gets under your skin as spend time with the characters and the issues they are each facing. Robertson gives us a depiction of family life and how it can become difficult following one dreadful event and yet it is optimistic. The appreciation Elliot has for his old friend, Lisa, is moving and will have you thinking about the people and friends that have come (and sometimes gone) through your life.

As it progresses Stand By Me becomes more than just a book about friendship and becomes a book about hope. It will have you mulling over life, death and the universe. How many of us are remembered for the seemingly small acts of kindness we have bestowed on others without thinking about it? In an often cynical and dog-eat-dog world, Stand By Me is a welcome break from the doom and gloom. It is a book to snuggle up with and immerse yourself in which, despite the tears at the end, leaves you feeling uplifted. Wonderful!

Like the sound of Stand By Me? You can grab a copy HERE.

A huge thank you to S.D. Robertson and Sabah at Avon Books for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Catch the rest of the tour…

Author Influences with Denise Deegan

Happy hump day and welcome to another Author Influences. Today I am delighted to be joined by Denise Deegan who tells us all about the books and authors that have inspired her.

What authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was obsessed with The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Feels like I read it every day. Also loved the Happy Prince.

I was also particularly fond of Irish Fairy Tales by Sinead DeValera. There was a lot of mischief in these stories.

I remember adoring the illustrations in The Water Babies.

I loved all the Ladybird classic fairytales. My favourites were: The Elves and the Shoemaker, Rumplestiltskin and the Magic Porridge Pot.

(I am having the best time checking out all these books on Amazon and remembering all the illustrations.)

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was an honours student but didn’t particularly shine; our teacher never read out my work, for example. I loved all of the stories we read: Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, even Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Macbeth. I didn’t like analyzing the stories, though. For me, it got in the way of a good story. I have the sneakiest feeling that the authors just wanted their work loved not analyzed. But maybe that’s just me.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love books for young people – from teenage novels right through middle-grade and down to picture books. I think some of the best writing falls into these categories.

I also love smart, contemporary stories for adults such as The Rosie Project.

I cannot explain my fascination with WWII books, across genre.

Rather than being influenced by what I read, I would say that I am drawn to read the same kinds of stories that I am drawn to write.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I am smiling here because I’ve written for adults, teenagers and children. I’ve also written both contemporary and historical. If anything, I should stick to one genre! But I write the stories that come.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Consciously, no. Subconsciously, I would say, yes. The trauma of watching Bambi’s mum die must have had a big impact! I continually write about loss.

I also think that The Selfish Giant has left its mark. My stories make people feel – as The Selfish Giant did to me, day after day after day.

And look at all those fairy tales I grew up on…. Not such a surprise, maybe, that I’ve written The Prince and the Pea.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Two great Irish, Young Adult authors: Deirdre Sullivan and Claire Hennessy. I’ve also just stumbled on an American writer of teen fiction called Adam Silvera. I will be reading all of his backlist.

Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I wish I had written a picture book called Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson because it’s fun and clever and joyous.

I also wish I’d written The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because I loved those characters so incredibly much.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people?
Just one, Through the Barricades. My historical novel is based on a revolution that happened in 1916 in Ireland called The Easter Rising. It is also based on life in the trenches of WW1 in Gallipoli. I researched this story for two years.

Through the Barricades has changed my experience of the city I live in. Every time I go into Dublin now, the old buildings jump out at me and I imagine rebels and soldiers on the streets and on the buildings. I love Dublin even more now and feel so connected to its past. It’s a wonderful feeling.

A huge thank you for taking part.
A huge thank you for having me, Abbie.

Denise’s current novel, Through the Barricades, is out now. Here is what it’s about:

She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her.

‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. She is still carrying them in her heart, years later, when she signs up to become a freedom fighter.

‘Don’t go getting distracted,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says after seeing Daniel with the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative… as downright infuriating.

The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive?

About Denise

Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies.
Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…
Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.

Denise’s most recent novel, Through the Barricades, won the SCBWI Spark Award 2017.
Her writing for Young Adults includes the much-loved contemporary trilogy, The Butterfly Novels: And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually.
Denise writes women’s fiction as Aimee Alexander including Pause to Rewind, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar and All We Have Lost.

website: http://denisedeegan.com/

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