Category Archives: Authors S to U

Reviews by author surname S to U

Blog Tour – Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the debut by Ronnie Turner, Lies Between Us, today.

The Blurb

Will they ever learn the truth?
Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Shari Lapena and Lisa Jewell.

My Thoughts

I was extremely excited to finally read Ronnie Turner’s debut novel, Lies Between Us, and also a little bit apprehensive as she is a fellow book blogger. I am delighted to finally be sharing my thoughts on this epic blog tour.

Lies Between Us follows three characters over three different timelines. We see Miller, a child in the 1980s, Maisie an ICU nurse in 2016 and John, whose daughter has been kidnapped, in 2015. Throughout we are left wondering how the three threads will eventually come together. Lies Between Us is an ambitious debut novel and hats off to Turner for trying her hand at such a complex plot.

Turner is an incredibly talented writer and Lies Between Us is beautifully written. The chapters in which we follow Miller really demonstrate what Turner is capable of and had me in mind of a kind of reverse We Need to Talk About Kevin. Her portrayal of a child who is clearly a psychopath is incredibly chilling and unnerving. Miller’s sections are written in second person narrative, often a difficult feat to pull off, but Turner does it brilliantly and this adds to the creepiness of Lies Between Us.

The rest of the characterisation in the book is also really well done. John’s parts in particular are incredibly emotional. Turner’s portrayal of a parent whose child has been kidnapped is really moving and she has a real sensitivity when it comes to describing emotions and conveying them to the reader.

I did have a few difficulties with the plot. I guessed quite early on who the perpetrator was and the ending left me feeling confused and almost as though the plot and the layout of the book were at odds with each other. I feel that it could have been set out better and that the headings of some of the chapters may have been better left anonymous as this was what caused me the most confusion.

Lies Between Us is a slow burner and while the pace fit perfectly with the storyline, I felt that Maisie’s thread slowed it down a little too much at times. By the end of the book I did struggle to understand the significance of her storyline.

Turner has clearly demonstrated her skill as a writer and while I did have some issues with the execution of Lies Between Us, I adored Turner’s use of language, her ability to show emotional acuity and her skill at developing solid, believable characters. An ambitious debut, Ronnie Turner has shown herself to be an author to watch out for and I look forward to reading her future novels.

Published on E-book and audiobook on 1 October 2018 and paperback on 13 December 2018, you can get your copy HERE.

About the author

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Twitter:@Ronnie_ _Turner

Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor

Instagram: @ronnieturner8702

Website: www.ronnieturner.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RonnieTurner

My thanks to Ronnie Turner, HQ Digital and NetGalley for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Review – Loner by Hildur Sif Thorarensen

The Blurb

Which is worse, trying to catch a cunning killer leaving decapitated women in the woods, or trying to tame an unconventional forensic psychiatrist that seems determined to go his own way?

The Oslo autumn is creeping in with its cold spells and Homicide Detective Julia Ryland is feeling pretty content with her team of three, but when the FBI behavioral analyst, Alexander Smith, is thrust upon her, the crisp autumn air doesn’t feel as refreshing anymore. A young Icelander is found dead, an arrow piercing his heart and the extensive list of his former lovers suggests that many long nights are ahead. The murdered lothario suddenly becomes the least of their problems as headless corpses start appearing in the woods, positioned in terrifying ways and on their bodies they find messages that don’t seem to have any meaning at all.

My Thoughts

I jumped at the chance to read and review Loner by Hildur Sif Thorarensen. I do enjoy a slice of Nordic Noir and Loner promised that with humour as well.

Loner is the first in Thorarensen’s Oslo Mysteries and it follows Detective Julia Ryland of the Oslo police department and her colleague, criminal psychiatrist, Alexander Smith. This first book starts with the body of a young Icelandic man being found and escalates when the bodies of young women start to be discovered.

The prologue is really nicely written with oodles of atmosphere and it totally draws you in. It perfectly sets up the first murder and the setting and had me keen to read more. The prologue demonstrates that Thorarensen has real potential as a writer.

From the prologue Loner became like no other crime novel I have read before. It is full of quirky characters who deviate from your usual crime book. They behave in ways that you don’t normally see in police procedurals and I can imagine that some readers may find this aggravating. With the exception of Julia Ryland, none of the characters seem to behave in a ‘typical’ way giving the sense that they don’t take the whole thing seriously and they do come across as infantile. The author has intentionally added the humour to Loner, and while I have enjoyed humorous crime novels in the past, the humour in this one wasn’t my cup of tea. My sense of humour tends to be more on the dark side and so this doesn’t mean that others will not enjoy it. I did, however, wonder at times if something had been lost in the translation. For me, the characterisation let it down a little as I struggled to take them seriously.

I really enjoyed the crimes – that sounds so wrong, but you know what I mean – and where it took the characters and the twists are well-plotted and surprising. I certainly didn’t predict where it was going. Loner is the first in a series and while part of the story was concluded there are other parts that are not, so don’t go into this book expecting it to be all tied up at the end.

The antagonist makes for an interesting character and the themes around him are ones I really liked. Thorarensen uses religion and psychology to give the added chill factor to Loner.

If you are after a change from your usual crime fiction novel and you like quirky give Loner a try. I have to say it didn’t blow me away and as stated I wonder if something was a little lost in the translation. It will be interesting to see how Thorarensen develops her writing and the characters in the next book in the series.

Loner was published on 30 May 2018 by Antonov Publishing. You can get a copy HERE.

Thank you to Hildur Sif Thorarensen for the copy in exhange for my review.

Review – Overkill by Vanda Symon

This review originally went out on Craig Sisterson’s Crime Watch blog in June to coincide with the eBook publication. Today is the paperback publication of Overkill by Vanda Symon and I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to share my review of this bloomin’ brilliant book again.

The Blurb

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.
A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

My Thoughts

Before I rave about the contents of Vanda Symon’s Overkill I want to quickly mention the cover. I’m ashamed to admit that I often judge a book by its cover and Orenda are well known for their stunning book jackets. However, with Overkill they have really outdone themselves. I could look at it for hours it is just so stunning! I would happily have this on my wall. But I’m here to discuss the inside of the book, not the outside.

Without doubt Overkill will be on my final ‘books of the year’ list as it ticks so many crime fiction boxes and it is wonderfully written. Overkill is the first in Symon’s PC Sam Shephard series and I am already eagerly anticipating the next book. Set in a rural community in New Zealand, the town is shocked when a young mother is found dead. It quickly becomes apparent to Matuara’s only police constable, Sam, that this is not the suicide it originally appeared to be. Sam is soon suspended from her job when she is viewed as the prime suspect in the woman’s murder due to the victim being the wife of her former partner. Sam sets out to clear her name and find the killer on her own.

The beginning of Overkill literally  left me breathless. It is startling and I haven’t had the reaction that I had to the start of Overkill for a long time. Brutally beautiful, Symon gets right to the emotional core of absolute fear and the writing is uncomfortably outstanding. It’s clichéd to say, but I was immediately hooked.

Overkill continues to deliver on all fronts as the book progresses. Police Inspector Sam Shephard is a fantastic character and Symon has ensured that readers will want to meet her again in further books. While Overkill is a great example of crime fiction, the sense of humour displayed by Sam adds an additional appeal. Sam’s humour is sarcastic, dry and she is the kind of woman you want to go to the pub with. She is incredibly human and it was her honesty about her feelings along with her humour that really made me warm to her. I have no doubt that everyone who reads this book will love Sam. Symon’s characterisation is second to none.

The plot is perfectly paced with twists and turns that constantly keep you on the back foot. Prepare to be constantly second guessing and looking at everyone with suspicion. The small community setting aids this perfectly with a cast of characters who all potentially have something to hide. Secrets and lies abound as Sam tries to get to the bottom of the murder. Overkill is a real page turner with shocks and surprises throughout.

The sense of place is created well and the reader is completely transported to New Zealand. The setting shines through via Symon’s prose and it also ensures that the crime is unique in the reasons behind it, making it totally original.

With a twisty plot, a protagonist who shines and beautifully written observations of the cruellest things, Overkill is crime fiction at its best and this is an outstanding book. I predict that this  book is going to soar here in the UK and it deserves to. I adored this book and can’t wait for the next in the series. If you read and enjoy crime fiction, you will adore it too.

Published on eBook on 30 June 2018 and paperback on 6 September 2018, you can get a copy of Overkill 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.

 

 

Blog Tour – Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen *Review*

I am delighted to finally be sharing my review of Big Sister by the fabulous Gunnar Staalesen. Before I share my thoughts, here is what the book is about:

The Blurb

When PI Varg Veum is approached to find a missing girl, by a half-sister he barely knew, his investigation takes him deep into the dark web, and some personal history he’d rather forget…

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My thoughts

The wolf is back! I was so pleased to be re-acquainted with Varg in Big Sister. He is a character I have a real soft spot for and I had eagerly awaited Gunnar Staalesen’s next book. And, oh boy, does Staalesen deliver again with the latest Veum instalment. While this is a long running series Big Sister does work as a standalone although I would highly recommend checking out the earlier books in the series.

When Varg is commissioned to look for the missing god-daughter of Norma Bakkevik, the case takes him into the murky world of a biker group and the darkest corners of the internet. This isn’t all, though, as the lady commissioning Varg on his latest job is the half-sister he had never met before which adds a personal element to the case.

Staalesen’s writing is pitch perfect and the translation by Don Bartlett is, as always, flawless. Big Sister is well paced and it is the combination of his writing, the characterisation of Veum and a tight plot that makes this book so good. Every word is perfectly placed and yet comes across as effortless. Staalesen has perfected the character of Veum and it really feels as though he is talking directly to you. I adore Veum’s dry observations of life and his down to earth manner.

As Veum has to deal with a whole cast of characters who are never a hundred per cent truthful, and who each harbour their own secrets, the plot is chock full of red herrings. It is utterly gripping and it left me stunned.

As the title suggests, family and its varying guises is one of the underlying themes of Big Sister, however, Staalesen looks at it from its darkest angle. One of the things I really like about the Varg Veum books is that Veum is a private investigator rather than a detective and he is an ex social worker. This enables Staalesen to go further with the plots as he is not constrained by police procedural issues. This fits perfectly with the often uncomfortable story lines that Staalesen writes. He never flinches from covering topics that are taboo, and he pushes you to the limits of what you are used to in crime fiction. This makes his books current, topical and thought-provoking and Big Sister is no exception.

The wolf is back and he is on top form! Big Sister is dark, contemporary, intelligent and incredibly well written. A real page-turner, it’s a fantastic addition to the series.

About the Author

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at
the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book
in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been
published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film
adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring
the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being
filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of
Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives
in Bergen with his wife.

Big Sister was published on eBook on 30 April 2018 and paperback on 20 June 2018 by Orenda Books.

Purchase Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US

My thanks go to Gunnar Staalesen, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

 

Author Guest post – The Battle of the Bucket List Author by Urcelia Teixeira

I am delighted to welcome author of the Relic Chaser Adventures Urcelia Teixeira to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today. She has a great guest post for you to read and after I will tell you a little about her books. So, I will now hand you over to Urcelia.

The Battle of the Bucket List Author 

When I recently escaped my demanding brood and fled to the nearest coffee shop to finish my latest book, I soon found a complete stranger –all corporately dressed – pull up a chair at my invitation only table.

He had been sitting behind me and noticed that I was writing a book. I have no idea how long he’d been eyeballing my screen, but what followed was forty-five minutes of him sharing his dream to write and publish a book.

If you log onto Amazon or any of the massive online publishing portals, you’ll notice it’s flooded with – as I call them – ‘bucket list’ authors.
The stay-at-home moms, corporate dads, retirees or bookbloggers who have always had the desire to author a book are forced to succumb to the self-publishing monster to fulfill their dream. (Because let’s face it. You’d have to be JK Rowling or EL James to instantly get signed by a traditional publisher!)

And herein my confession… I am a proud bucket list author!

Yup, I am one of those who had the fulfilling corporate career, did my dues by raising three children (to where they are finally able to feed themselves!) and realized I only have about 20 years left before I am supposed to retire. (Yes! I’m 46!)

So, if not now, then when, right? And then came the self-doubt. That little voice in the back of your head that tells you the whole world will be laughing at you, so why bother?

Well, I did bother and have zero regrets! Yes! Even when my husband and kids had to resort to making their own two-minute noodles three nights in a row so I could finish another couple of chapters. I did it! I self-published not one, but two Archaeological Thrillers that will have Indiana Jones and Lara Croft cringing with jealousy! (Or so my reviewers keep telling me #grin). I have fans! Ones who actually want an autographed book and liken me to the Ernest Dempsey’s and Nick Thacker’s of the world!

But do you, the bookblogger, the avid reader, and dare I say publisher really know what goes on in the mind of a self-published author?

While I certainly can’t speak for the other bucket list authors out there, I most definitely can share what this bucket-list author endures on a daily basis.

Let’s start with the fact that I have to pop a pill every night just to switch my mind off from plotting a book good enough to sit next to my mentors, mentioned above, on the bestselling list. It never stops. Grocery stores, while driving my car, next to the soccer field even in church (Don’t judge me! Blame Alex Hunt!)

Point is; my mind is continually conjuring up exciting characters, ancient relic mysteries and evil criminals that will keep my readers coming back for more. I have become the catatonic zombie wife and mom, entirely self-absorbed and removed from my household because my mind is busy hunting down a relic in an underground tunnel in the middle of Cambodia somewhere. (Hint! Check out my latest book in the Alex Hunt series.)

Then, at some point, you heed to the advice of the professionals out there and fork out a small treasure to hire beta readers, editors, and proofreaders to turn your masterpiece into a scarlet canvas. Enter the devil on your shoulder that says you should stick to carpooling and take this dream off the bucket list! But you bounce back and keep going, tougher and stronger than before.

Then comes the copious amounts of self-marketing that tests your sales skills like never before! Years across multiple corporate sales industries left me totally unprepared for tackling this beast! The (I believe) sole reason so many authors chase after the coveted publishing contract. After all, they know all the shortcuts to beating Amazon’s algorithms and shoot you straight to #1 on the Amazon Bestseller lists; have the world’s best editors and book cover designers at hand and have a thousand book marketers fighting to get a copy of your book. What’s not to covet?

Which brings me to the much-needed book reviewers whom, as a new self-published author you simply cannot do without. But nothing grows a thicker skin than seeing that dreaded 1-star with the giant axe that chops you and your book to pieces and dooms you into slamming your laptop shut for two weeks while you lick your wounds. And we all get them. It’s an essential part of ‘growing up’; so don’t sweat the small stuff. Let the sarcasm and malicious word porn roll off your back and CARRY ON! It’s ok. It shapes you, humbles you, pushes you to do better and helps you learn from your mistakes.

So what’s left? Oh yes… the budget! Book marketing costs money; lots of it! Listing your book on large promo sites like Bookbub and Netgalley costs a small fortune (or a thirteen times bigger one if you live in South Africa and have to convert Rands!) Can you market your book for free? Absolutely, but it might take several books and years to get anywhere near any bestseller spot worthy of being discovered by hungry, adventurous readers.

What’s the moral of the story, you might ask?

Stay true to yourself as a bucket-list Author, don’t get discouraged and keep doing what you love! WRITE!

If I’ve missed anything or you wish to add more, do comment below or shoot me an email at books@urcelia.com

To sign up for my VIP reader’s list, please click HERE.

Massive thanks, Urcelia, for writing this great guest post. I really enjoyed reading it.

Urecelia has two books in the Relic Chaser Adventure series. Here is what they are about:

Alex Hunt and the Chase for Rhapta

I am Alex Hunt, daughter of the famous Archaeological Hunt Team. Head Researcher and… Relic Chaser!

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) and vows never to chase again.
So when her father, Professor Charles Hunt, Head of Archaeology at a prestigious British University mysteriously disappears several years later, it leaves her with no choice and forces her 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.

The chivalrous and charismatic Sam Quinn, the University’s illusive top Archaeology student accompanies her, and she finds herself in unfamiliar territory with a man who manages to chip away her self-built walls.

Her action-packed adventure through the treacherous African Jungle brings forth an abundance of danger, fear, and heartache as she rediscovers her love for life, science and ancient relics, beyond her cocooning existence and disease.

Will she find her father and the Lost City of Rhapta or will she die under the curse and the native-fearing Rhapter-bird said to guard the vanished city?

Alex Hunt and The Golden Urn

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?

You can buy Urcelia’s books here:

Amazon UK and Amazon US

About Urcelia

An emerging author in Mystery Adventure Fiction, Urcelia’s inspiration for her novels emanate from her keen interest in all things mysterious. From vanished civilizations, ancient relics, and lost treasures to UFO’s, conspiracy theories and even Ghosts.

As a mother of three sons, she stands little to no chance not to be swept up in classics like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and The Mummy and often binge-watches Netflix mystery series like Stranger Things, with her husband.

Her novels are generally based on true-life historical legends, which she turns upside down into page-turning Action & Adventure Mystery fiction, and occasionally Romance Mystery Fiction; suited to readers from 15+.

She loves travel and solving mysteries and can’t resist sharing her adventures with her readers.

Connect with Urcelia:

www.urcelia.com

Facebook: @urceliabooks

Twitter: @UrceliaTeixeira

Instagram: urceliateixeira

 

Review – Safe With Me by K.L. Slater

The Blurb

Thirteen years ago someone did something very bad to Anna. Now it’s her turn to get even.

Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn’t like to let people to get too close – she knows how much damage they can do.

Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it’s Anna’s chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully…

First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows…

But as Anna’s obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home?

My Thoughts

I have to admit to having had K.L. Slater’s debut novel, Safe With Me, sitting on my Kindle for far too long. Having finally read it, I wish I hadn’t left it so long and I will be reading her follow up novels. I’m on a bit of a roll with psychological thrillers at the moment after having gone through a bit of a rough patch with them.

Safe With Me focuses on main character, Anna, after she witnesses a traffic accident and stays and takes care of the injured party, Liam. She recognises the driver of the car involved as Carla, a woman who ruined her life thirteen years ago. As Anna slowly plans to get her revenge on Carla, we see her behaviour begin to turn into an obsession that gradually takes over her life.

The narrative switches between present day and thirteen years earlier which works effectively in building up the reader’s understanding of Anna’s behaviour. With the present-day chapters told in first person narrative via Anna, Slater slowly drops hints throughout the book about Anna, her life and her current situation which keeps you turning the pages and has you guessing as to what will become of her and those she is involved with. Will she be successful in getting her revenge on Carla?

Slater’s characterisation of Anna is fantastic and it is hard to tell that this is a debut novel. As we become aware of Anna’s mental health difficulties while we watch her unravel, this initially unlikeable character becomes one that I felt a great deal of sympathy for. Yes, she is unreliable but she also has a vulnerability that made me want to look after her. I found myself worrying about her. Slater has developed a well-rounded, multi-faceted character with all the layers that human beings have. Her portrayal of mental health difficulties is incredibly well done.

The tone throughout is oppressive and heavy as we get into Anna’s head. I really liked the way Safe With Me is written and Slater is clearly a talented writer.

In relation to its impact as a psychological thriller, Safe With Me works brilliantly. It has a compelling main character who is unreliable and you never know what she is going to do next, especially as her thought pattern becomes more erratic. Slater had me guessing to the very end and kept me on my toes in my quest to figure out what would happen.

Safe With Me is a great debut. Well written, brilliantly characterised and a total page-turner, if you like psychological thrillers definitely check it out. I’m off to go and read Slater’s other books!

Safe With Me was published on 3 November 2016 by Bookouture. You can get your copy HERE.

My thanks to K.L. Slater, Bookouture and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my honest review.

 

Blog Blitz – No Comment by Graham Smith *Review*

I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog blitz for Graham Smith’s new novella, No Comment, today. A huge thank you to Graham and the lovely Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me along for the ride. 

 

The Blurb

When a single mother, Julie Simon, is found in her kitchen with a stab wound to her stomach, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the case. Under the supervision of DI Campbell and witîh advice from his former DI, Harry Evans, DC Amir Bhaki fights to discover who assaulted an innocent woman and left her with life-threatening injuries.
Nothing is as it first appears and when the team looks into Julie’s life they uncover a hidden sex-life that may just hold the key to the identity of her attacker.

My Thoughts

The irrepressible Harry Evans is back in Graham Smith’s novella No Comment and we see him in a different role following his retirement from the Major Crimes Team. Acting as an advisor to the team who have a murder case in which a single mother has been found stabbed in the stomach in her kitchen, Evans and the rest of the team quickly discover that nothing is as it seems.

Those who are familiar with the series of books will be pleased to know that DI Harry Evans continues to play an important part in the book. Those who haven’t yet been acquainted with Evans and the Major Crimes Team will find that this book acts perfectly as a standalone. Fans of police procedural novels should definitely check this series out if they haven’t already.

No Comment is a novella of around 100 pages. The brevity of this book takes nothing away from the story that lies within. Smith’s perfect use of the English language and his way of making every word count ensures that No Comment has everything you would expect from a full-length novel.

Pacey and full of surprises, No Comment delivers on all counts of great plot, twists and turns, and first-rate writing. Smith had me on the back foot as I tried to figure out who had committed the crime and why the stabbing had happened, and I was pleased to find myself way off the mark. Totally unpredictable, No Comment gets a huge thumbs-up for original plot.

A cracking quick read, No Comment is a great addition to the DI Harry Evans series and marks Graham Smith out as one of the authors to go to if you are after a good police procedural.

No Comment is published on 22 March 2018 by Caffeine Nights Publishing. You can grab a copy HERE.

About the Author

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009
Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.
Graham can be found at
Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor
Twitter
https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972
Website
www.grahamsmithauthor.com

Be sure to catch the rest of the bloggers on the No Comment blog blitz.

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…