Category Archives: Blog Tours

Blog tours Bloomin’ Brilliant Books has participated in.

Blog Tour – Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister *Review*

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister and sharing my review. 

The Blurb

Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

My Thoughts

Having really enjoyed McAllister’s debut novel Everything But The Truth I was eager to read her next novel Anything You Do Say. McAllister has definitely proved herself as a talented writer and an author who has a great career ahead of her.

Anything You Do Say is narrated in first person by main character Joanna Oliva. Following a night out with her friend in which a man in the pub has become a little too ‘friendly’ Joanna, who usually avoids making decisions, finds herself having to make the biggest decision of her life. On her way home Joanna believes she is being followed by the creep from the pub and as he gets closer she pushes him down some steps. As his body lies at the bottom of the steps Joanna has to decide whether she will stay and call for help or run and keep quiet about it.

McAllister presents both outcomes to us as Anything You Do Say is split into alternating chapters of Reveal and Conceal. We follow Joanna through the outcome of each decision and see the impact that both have on her life and the lives of her family and friends. This could have the potential of becoming complicated and muddled but McAllister pulls it off perfectly. It works incredibly well and makes the book really compelling. Each chapter is flawlessly crafted and the fact that each alternating chapter tells one half of the story makes Anything You Do Say really difficult to put down.

I loved the moral aspect of Anything You Do Say and this would make a great book for a reading group as there is so much to discuss. McAllister has considered every possible outcome for the two scenarios and this is a book that really gets you thinking. I was also emotionally moved as the consequences of both outcomes are heart breaking. I spent quite a lot of time trying to decide whether the fall out was worse for concealing or revealing and for me I found concealing the hardest to take.

Anything You Do Say is a wonderful book. It is meticulously plotted, well written and offers something unique to the psychological thriller genre. I loved it and highly recommend it.

Published on  eBook on 19 October 2016 and paperback on 25 January 2018 by paperback.

A huge thank you to Gillian McAllister and Penguin for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour…

 

 

 

Blog Tour – The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen *Review*

I am delighted to be one of today’s hosts for The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen and I’m finally sharing my review of this fab book. But first the all important blurb…

The Blurb

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

My Thoughts

I love a book with a cracking first line and Tuomainen’s The Man Who Died has one of THOSE first lines. It is both amusing and unexpected. It perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Jaakko is a successful mushroom farmer in Finland and is shocked when he finds out that he is dying. Not only is he dying but it is due to being poisoned. Jaakko embarks on a journey to discover who it is who wants him dead and discovers more secrets and lies than he expects.

I absolutely love Jaakko! Tuomainen has created an incredibly likeable, relatable character. You become completely at one with him and he is the sort of person I would love to have a pint with. Jaakko is incredibly human as we see his everyday concerns – such as having put on a bit of extra weight in his thirties – those things that we all, at times, worry about. His sardonic outlook and wry, dark wit appealed to me greatly. As somebody with a chronic illness who has had to adjust to certain limitations and symptoms, Jaakko’s outlook on his health and situation and how he deals with it really struck a chord with me. He manages to see the humour in his situation and The Man Who Died had me giggling out loud and nodding my head in agreement.

Tuomainen has also written a great mystery novel. As we join Jaakko on is journey to discover who is behind poisoning him we are treated to twists, turns and red herrings all set against a stunning backdrop. Tuomainen’s prose is, quite simply, gorgeous. It’s as though he has spent time carefully considering every word to ensure it fits and makes an impact and yet it flows effortlessly. As always with Orenda books, the translation by David Hackston is flawless.

The Man Who Died subverts being categorised into a genre. For me it is a book about the absurdity of living and dying and how we, as humans, deal with it. It’s almost philosophical in tone in that it makes you think about the ridiculousness of worrying about the minutiae of life – something we are probably all good at but which does us no favours.

Full of the darkest, wonderful humour and a gripping plot Tuomainen’s The Man Who Died is a fantastic read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Tuomainen’s abilty to pull off this departure from his usual writing and to pull it off with such skill is a testament to his talent as writer.

Published on 10 October 2017 by Orenda Books.

About the Author

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, published in 2016, was an international bestseller. All of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at his
literary best.

A huge thank you to Antti Tuomainen, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and guest posts…

 

 

 

Blog Tour – Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir *Review*

Welcome to my turn on the Snare blog tour today in which I am sharing my thoughts on this, the first in Lilja Sigurdardóttir’s Reykjavik Noir Trilogy. But first, here is the all-important blurb…

The Blurb

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonja embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Thoughts

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir is a fast-paced, heart-pounding ride that takes you into the depths of Rekyjavík’s underbelly. Following the divorce from her husband, Sonja finds herself in a financially desperate situation. With her ex having full custody of their son, Tómas, Sonja has to find a way to dig herself out of the financial hole she finds herself in in order to regain custody of Tómas. Unfortunately, the spade she has been handed involves her becoming deeper and deeper involved in drug smuggling.

Sigurdardóttir has a way with words that ensures you are with Sonja with every step she takes. The tension when she is going through customs with kilos of cocaine in her suitcase is palpable, and I could literally feel my blood pressure rising! As you get to know Sonja and get drawn into her life you are dying to know how this bright, respectable woman found herself in this predicament. As Sonja has discovered, life’s twists and turns can sometimes result in you doing things and making choices you wouldn’t normally. Snare is the perfect title and accurately describes Sonja’s situation. The question is can she get out of it? I was desperate for Sonja to be able to escape the snare, but knew this was going to be virtually impossible.

The characters involved in the snare are unsavoury and unpleasant, as you would expect, and parts make for uncomfortable reading. Snare is set following the financial crash in Iceland and Sigurdardóttir has cleverly entwined the Snare storyline around the consequences of the crash. The impact the crash has had on relationships, families and behaviour is a theme that runs throughout the book, making it politically and socially current. We can see how each of the main characters have been damaged by financial insecurity.

Narrated in third person but told through different perspectives, Sigurdardóttir’s writing talent really shines through with her effortlessly capturing the unique perspectives and voice of the individuals – from Tómas’s very childlike perspective to the mature, verging on retirement, Bragi. This ensured that I was fully involved in the book. While Sonja and Bragi, the customs officer, are on opposite sides of the fence I found myself routing for both of them. Tómas was the character that touched me the most, however, with his confusion over his living arrangements and the loss of his mother following his parents’ divorce – Sigurdardóttir has portrayed him beautifully.

As always, Quentin Bates has ensured that the translation from Icelandic is perfect making Snare wonderfully readable.

With plenty of twists and turns, a fantastic cast of characters and a plucky female protagonist, Snare is a fantastic start to the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy and I look forward to seeing where Sigurdardóttir takes us next.

Published on eBook 12 September 2017 and paperback on 1 October 2017 by Orenda.

A huge thank you to Lilja Sigurdardóttir, Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – The House by Simon Lelic *Review*

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s turn on The House by Simon Lelic blog tour. This appears to be a book that has caused mixed opinions and I would love to know what you think if you have read it! But first, what is it about?

The Blurb

The perfect couple. The perfect house.
THE PERFECT CRIME.

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.

AND NOW THE POLICE ARE WATCHING THEM.

My Thoughts

The House by Simon Lelic had all the things I generally love in a book – the promise of a spooky house, a striking cover which differs from what we are currently used to seeing and the tag ‘psychological thriller’. I was really excited to get stuck into this book and I wanted (and expected) to love it, but sadly it turned out not to be for me.

Jack and Sydney have moved into their first home together. A house that should have been out of their reach financially somehow ends up being theirs. As the saying goes: ‘If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ and Jack and Sydney find this out to their cost. Jack always feels uneasy in the house and when he makes a grim discovery in the attic his fears are confirmed and things rapidly decline for them both.

Told in alternating chapters via Jack and Sydney in first person narrative, the story gradually unfolds via their individual perspectives. Lelic is a great writer and his ability to totally capture each unique voice is second to none. I believed I was being spoken to by two different people. Neither of the characters are particularly likeable, again this is something I normally relish within a novel, however, on this occasion I felt numb to it. The House is a very character driven plot and is very much a slow burner. Lelic has weaved together an intricate tale in which the threads are meticulously plotted and all come together well at the end.

While writing this, I can see all the things that should have made me love this book. I have wondered if I have a kind of psychological thriller burn-out, as I have been quite saturated by this genre recently. I worry that my mood at the time of reading may have hindered my enjoyment of this book. Sadly, I had guessed the eventual outcome correctly so I didn’t have the ‘oh my God’ revelation moment that others may have. I wasn’t effected by the characters which also had an impact on my enjoyment and I can’t really put my finger on why this was the case.

From the title and the cover I was expecting the actual house to feature more prominently within the story. I get why the book is called The House, however, I was expecting the book to be focused more strongly around it and it isn’t. A part of me was a little disappointed by this, but bear in mind that I am rather partial to a gothic story with a looming, all-embracing, spooky house and Lelic’s The House is more subtle.

The House appears to be one of those books that divides opinion and, unfortunately, I’m one of those who it didn’t work for. I certainly appreciate the writing and the way in which Lelic has created the main characters and woven the plot together, but it just didn’t effect me or shock me. As stated earlier, it may be that I have read too many novels in this particular genre recently. Would I recommend it? This is tricky for me to answer as although I wasn’t grabbed by it, I know others who were. Read a selection of reviews and decide from there would be my advice.

Published on eBook on 17 August 2017 and in paperback on 2 November 2017 by Penguin.

About the Author

Simon Lelic is the author of The House, Rupture (winner of a Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the John Creasy New Blood Dagger), The Facility and The Child Who (longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012).

The House is his first psychological thriller, inspired by a love of Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King.

Simon is married, with three young children, and lives in Brighton, England. Other than his family, reading is Simon’s biggest passion. He also holds a black belt in karate, in which he trains daily.

A huge thank you to Simon Lelic and Penguin for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – Losing Myself by Victoria J Brown *Author Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be taking part in the Losing Myself blog tour with a great guest post by Victoria J Brown. 

Character Inspiration

People often ask me, and other writers, where do you get your ideas from? I like to write stories that people can relate to, therefore most of my own ideas come from real life experiences, either my own or others.

However, I was inspired to write about Kat because of my own real-life experiences and experiences from close family and friends around me.

Once I’d created Kat’s character the story began to flow, before I knew where I was, I was writing book three. I realise when people start to read the first book they might not have the highest opinion of Kat, she seems quite a bitter character, but from the reviews, I’m pleased to say that most readers can see why.

She lost her mum at such a young age, her dad found this hard to cope with, she’s angry at the world … there are so many people who are angry at the world. There are many people who put on an exterior pretence, an exterior that they feel protects them from hurt and hatred … I feel Kat does this to her detriment.

But, I hope as the story enfolds, my lovely readers can see why. Hopefully, their hearts go out to Kat. It was difficult writing about Kat, as I felt her upset and sadness. I couldn’t make her a fluffy character when she’d been through so much, however, she will develop into so much more, which is why I felt Kat deserved, not just one book but three! Her story as she becomes a better person needed to be told, and by the time readers reach book three, they’ll hopefully love Kat even more.

I felt as if, Book 1, Holding Myself, was the beginning of her journey, a great place to start in Kat’s life, it gave grounding as to where she was from, where she’d been and what her aims in life were. Obviously, Holding Myself, disrupted some of these ‘ideals’ but ‘that’s life’. Book 2, Losing Myself, is where Kat faces her decisions, and once again, as in life, things don’t go to plan! By Book 3, we see Kat’s emotional rollercoaster reaching an all time high. I believe, many women will relate to book 3, it’s probably the most serious, but the most comical. Sometimes in life, we need to look at the funny side. I just hope my readers can see this with Kat.

When I was creating Kat I wanted to connect with readers. I wanted to connect with women. The idea was, they would pick up Kat’s story and understand her as they would any other friend. Some of the reviews have stated they felt instantly connected to Kat and that it was as if they were reading about a friend. This makes Kat’s story worth telling. I’m so grateful to my readers, they are my inspiration to keep on writing.

Thank you Victoria for such a lovely guest post. I always love to find out where authors got their inspiration from. So, what is Losing Myself about? Here is the all-important blurb:

Since Kat made her decision, everything around her seems to be falling apart. Not only is she dealing with family’s secrets, lies and deceit but the salon, which is opening around the corner, threatens her livelihood.

To make matters worse her relationship with Max is on the rocks. Although her relationships with Max’s mother, her step-mother and her sister have grown stronger, are they strong enough?

Working tirelessly to save her salon and save her relationship with Max, she is battling everyday to stay focused on her future. But what will the future bring?

Losing Myself is published on 29 September 2017 by Bombshell Books.

Author Bio

Victoria J.Brown has always had a passion for writing. When asked at the age of 9 years old, what she wanted to be when she grew up, her reply ‘an author’ was met with a disheartened response, ‘that jobs like that, don’t happen to people like us!’

Luckily, Victoria didn’t listen to this advice and never gave up on her passion. She continued to write while perusing a career in Marketing after gaining a BA (Hons) in Business and Marketing.

In 2006 her eldest daughter was born and then two years later her 2nd daughter came along. Victoria realised in the midst of the mummy madness, that she’d let her writing dwindle and that nappy-changing, sleepless nights and not being able to go to the toilet in peace could not stop her fulfilling her writing dreams. So when her girls were 3 years old and 18 months old, she decided that sleep was over-rated and enrolled at Teesside University. A year later she proudly left with a MA in Creative Writing, some wonderful friendships and a passion for therapeutic writing. While studying for her MA she was also delighted to win a short-story competition judged by Adele Parks, to which she received publication and mentoring from Adele.

After her MA, Victoria concentrated on writing women’s fiction. She loves writing stories that women can relate to. The Chaos Series grew from her own experience of pregnancy, motherhood and life.

Victoria is also passionate about mental health and likes to write of such issues in her stories. Her dedication to mental health and living life to the full has led her down a spiritual path. Through her learning of spirituality she qualified as a Law of Attraction and NLP Practitioner, which she integrates into her writing. Her inspirational blog includes an A-Z motivational journey with weekly therapeutic creative writing exercises. She has developed this further and will soon launch her inspirational shop. The shop has been created to pass on positivity and love to others … you never know when someone may need to see those messages.

Being accepted by Bombshell Books is a dream come true for Victoria, she hopes that her mantra for giving love always and never giving up will inspire others to follow their dreams and passion.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Victoria, her inspirational blog and shop you can visit www.victoria-brown.com, plus you can follow her on:
FB: www.facebook.com/vicjbrown/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/victoriajbrown
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriaj.brown/
Pintrest: https://uk.pinterest.com/victoriajbrown/

A huge thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bombshell Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour:

 

Blog Blitz – A Time To Change by Callie Langridge *Author Guest Post*

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for Callie Langridge’s A Time to Change today and sharing a great guest post on inspiration by the lady herself. But first here’s the all important book blurb:

A Time to Change Blurb

“I would rather love passionately for an hour than benignly for a lifetime.”

In a house full of history and secrets, the past will not stay where it belongs…

Lou has always loved Hill House, the derelict manor on the abandoned land near her home. As a child, the tragic history of its owners, the Mandevilles, inspired her dream to become a history teacher. But in her late twenties, and working in a shop to pay off student debts, life is passing her by.

That changes when a family disaster sends Lou’s life into a downward spiral and she seeks comfort in the ruined corridors of Hill House. The house transforms around her and Lou is transported back to Christmas 1913. Convinced she has been in an accident and is in a coma, Lou immerses herself in her Edwardian dream. With the Mandevilles oblivious to her true identity, Lou becomes their houseguest and befriends the eldest son, Captain Thomas Mandeville, a man she knows is destined to die in the First World War.

Lou feels more at home in the past than the present and when she realises the experience is real she sets out to do everything in her power to save her new friends.

Lou passes between 1913 and 2013, unearthing plots of murder and blackmail, which she must stop no matter the cost.

On her quest to save the Mandevilles by saving Thomas, Lou will face the hardest decision of her life. She will learn that love cannot be separated by a century.

A Flash of Inspiration by Callie Langridge

I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I’m fascinated by where writers get their ideas. If you’re lucky and have an interesting life – maybe you’re a polar explorer, an historian with a wealth of knowledge on an era, or a world-leading expert on a particular subject – then you have a great background on which to frame your fiction. But if you’re like me, you are none of these. What interests me is being human. I’m fascinated by our feelings and emotions and intrigued by what lurks inside all of us that makes us who we are: what shared experiences join us and what has happened to each of us to distinguish us from the person who sits beside us on the bus, with their bag of shopping on their knee or flicking through the newspaper.

If you write about feelings and emotions, you run the risk of having a book full long passages of internal monologue. That might work for some great writers, but for most of us, we need a good story with characters and layers to wind our stories around and within.

At school I spent a lot of time gazing out of the classroom window, creating stories of a world infinitely more interesting than the lesson I was supposed to be participating in. I was, am, and will always be an unashamed daydreamer. I’m also an observer. Like a sponge, I soak up life that’s going on around me. I watch people, I eavesdrop on conversations, I cherry pick aspects of life to turn into stories, scenes and dialogue. I allow myself to be inspired by TV, films, books, the news, anything and everything. And then there are my amazing dreams. I’m lucky to have the most vivid dreams like scenes from movies. The idea for A TIME TO CHANGE came in a dream. I dreamt of a splendid party in a beautiful manor house with chandeliers and champagne. It was on the eve of the First World War. I knew that there was a conflict about a man. I saw the party through the eyes of an outsider who ran from the party, stumbled through the snow and then – I don’t want to give too much away here! – but something amazing happened and it was clear that the person through whose eyes I was seeing this was not of that time. I woke up and wrote it down. But that was it. Until I thought about it. The story germinated. Shoots came off. Who was this person? What was this manor house? Why was she there? Bit by bit a story began to take shape.

And those are the two most important tools in my writing box. I get my ideas by listening to my imagination – being open to the stories it finds for me – and then asking ‘What If’. What if this happened, what if that happened. What if she said this? What if he did that?

I find a springboard and then go off on a journey of discovery.

A huge thank you Callie for the wonderful guest post. I’m always curious about where authors get their ideas from and really enjoyed reading this.

Author Bio

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for social history and currently works in marketing for a national historical institution, promoting projects and running events.

On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to take her A levels and gained A’s in English Literature and Language, and Film Studies – not bad when working full time! – and this spurred her on to take the first of many creative writing course. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London.

Callie lives in London with her long-term partner and an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities.

Twitter: @CLangridgeWrite
Facebook: Callie Langridge https://www.facebook.com/people/Callie-Langridge/100017408860162

A huge thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bombshell Books for inviting me to take part in the Blog Blitz and to Callie Langridge for taking the time to write a great guest post. A time to change is published on 24th September 2017.

 

Blog Tour – The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan *Author Guest Post*

Welcome to my turn on The Doll House blog tour. I am delighted to have a great guest post by Phoebe Morgan on writing tips! I will hand you over to Pheobe and then tell you more about her debut novel.

My Top Three Writing Tips by Phoebe Morgan

1. Don’t try to edit as you go
It can be really hard as you write to resist the urge to correct every sentence as soon as it’s down on the page, but my advice would be to try not to do this. Instead, keep writing, and once you have a first draft, you can then go back and edit it as much as you like! If you keep stopping and going back after every new paragraph, you will find that your manuscript progresses very slowly, and the chances are that you’ll end up changing it all again later anyway. No first draft is anywhere near perfect – far from it – but you will feel so much better psychologically when you have a body of work that you can then play around with. There is something about having the finished draft that takes some of the pressure off – and then you can begin sculpting it into the end product, which I often find more enjoyable than the initial scramble to get words on the page.

2. Know your characters’ backstories
In the first draft of The Doll House, the character of Mathilde had a whole backstory where we got to see her marriage, how she first met her husband and the different jobs she had as a young woman. During the editing process, all of that got cut out, but it didn’t really matter because I knew all about her life and so it made for a (hopefully!) more rounded, 3D character in the final draft. Even though the reader hadn’t seen her backstory, it was all fleshed out in my head and so I knew what kind of character I needed her to be. I think it’s always important to know your characters really well, so that their actions, thoughts and decisions ring true to your readers. I like plotting the characters out in spider diagrams before I write – just little things like their traits and hobbies, and even if that content doesn’t go in the book or only takes up a sentence or two, it just makes them into believable people on the page.

3. Don’t be scared to cut things out
When you’ve worked very hard on something, the idea of deleting great swathes can seem terrifying, and you’ll probably find that every instinct in your body is screaming out no! But it’s like that moment when you swim in the sea – you really don’t want to put your shoulders under but then when you do, it’s really fun and you’re glad you did. Once you actually start cutting out bits that aren’t adding to the pace, aren’t moving the story forwards or just aren’t of interest to a reader, you’ll find you get a bit of a buzz as you see your clean manuscript emerging in front of you, without all the unnecessary extra words that were weighing it down.

Thank you Phoebe for the great tips.

The Doll House Blurb

You never know who’s watching…

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?

A gripping debut psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of I See You and The Widow.

Published on 14 September by HQ Digital

A huge thank you to Phoebe Morgan and Helena Sheffield for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the est of the tour for more author guest posts and reviews…

 

Blog Tour – House of Spines by Michael J Malone *Review*

I am super excited to be on the House of Spines by Michael J Malone blog tour today with the fabulous Blue Book Balloon, and to finally be able to share my review of this bloomin’ brilliant book. I loved it! To find out why, read on…

The Blurb

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman …

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

My Thoughts

I have been eagerly anticipating this book, however, there is always a worry that a book you are desperate to read won’t live up to expectations especially when you have loved an author’s previous work as much as I loved Malone’s A Suitable Lie. I am pleased to say I had nothing to worry about as House of Spines is amazing and I adored it!

I do have one problem though, and that is how on earth to write this review and do House of Spines justice. Malone has combined so many things I love in one book and while I want to talk about it, I want readers to have the same experience I did in reading it for the first time. Talking about it is, therefore, difficult. I wish I was a member of a reading group that currently had House of Spines as their current read as there is so much to discuss.

House of Spines has everything you could want in a novel – the uncovering of closely held family secrets, a complex and damaged main character, a web of deceit and enough left to the reader’s interpretation to make you continue thinking about it long after you have closed the book for the final time. It also has the gothic elements I have loved since first discovering Wuthering Heights and Du Maurier as a teenager.

The prologue captured my attention immediately and literally begged me to read on. Simultaneously intriguing and moving, Malone has created the perfect introduction to main character Ranald. You just know there are going to be several layers to this man due to his experiences. I was with Ranald for every step of his journey – from him inheriting a house from the great uncle he never knew existed, to his unravelling and the position he ultimately finds himself in in the end. While there were moments I doubted him, I desperately wanted him to be okay.

My other favourite ‘character’ in House of Spines was Newton Hall – the property in which the book is named after. While Newton Hall cannot be classed as a character in the normal sense of the word, its importance to the book cannot be ignored. It has an omnipresence that is both disturbing and delightful. I found myself both loving Newton Hall and being repelled by it. I was in awe of it and yet nervous in its presence and about the impact it had on Ranald. I wanted the best for Ranald yet I also wanted the best for Newton Hall and being unsure if the two could go hand in hand, I wasn’t sure, if push came to shove, which of the two I would support. The energy Newton Hall emits, the secrets it harbours and Malone’s writing and conveyance of the two caused a mix of emotions within me. Newton Hall caused me much trepidation and yet I was enthralled by it.

House of Spines is a story of mistruths, mistrust and generational discord in which the most harmful aspects of being human are passed down from one relative to another. Whose version of events are to be believed continues to be a question I am mulling over days after reading. Malone incorporates the right amount of red herrings in order for the reader to be caught off guard and the distrust that lies amongst the characters of the book becomes a state the reader also finds themselves in.

Malone touches on mental health issues throughout House of Spines and deals with this with sensitivity and insight. It is a credit to Malone’s skills as a writer that he has managed to combine a current issue with a gripping psychological thriller while maintaining an otherworldly element and feel. Malone’s prose at times hit me right in the heart and you can clearly see the poet within him.

House of Spines will send shivers down your spine, leave you questioning, take you by surprise and mess with your emotions. Read it, it’s fantastic and will undoubtedly be included as one of my books of 2017.

Published on 15 September 2017 by Orenda Books.

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

A massive thank you to Michael J Malone, Orenda Books and Anne Cater for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith *Review*

Hurrah, I’m really pleased to be one of the turns on The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith blog tour today alongside Have Book Will Read. I couldn’t wait to read the second Jake Boulder book after thoroughly enjoying the first (read my review of Watching the Bodies HERE). Before I share my thoughts here is the all-important blurb:

The Blurb

Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children.
As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common.
With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?
After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI is invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned of the investigation.
When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts.  But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?

My Thoughts

I was lucky enough to read and review the first in Graham Smith’s Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies, and knew that I would definitely be following the rest of the series. We haven’t had to wait too long for the next instalment and, I’m pleased to say, The Kindred Killers lived up to expectation, firmly placing Boulder on the ‘must-read series’ list. If you haven’t yet read Watching the Bodies I suggest you do, however, The Kindred Killers works equally well as a standalone.

Private investigator and doorman Jake Boulder is back … and back with a bang! The first chapter introduces/re-introduces the reader to the character of Jake brilliantly and it quickly progresses into, what may turn out to be, possibly the most personal case he and his partner Alfonse ever face. I can’t help but like Jake – he is a tough Glaswegian who finds it difficult to maintain relationships – and The Kindred Killers hints that there is more to find out about him in the next books. I look forward to learning more about him. The combination of his ability to handle himself in almost any situation and his detective skills alongside Alfonse’s tech skills make the duo a great team.

Following the gruesome murder of Alfonse’s cousin and his family, the pair set out to find who is responsible. While looking for the motivation for the killings Jake and Alfonse uncover something more sinister and threatening than they imagined. In The Kindred Killers Smith has written a gripping thriller that is incredibly topical and, quite frankly, a scary look at the extremes that certain factions of society will go to in the name of their beliefs. The gruesome way in which the murders are committed show that Smith has researched many aspects of the issues raised in the book. I don’t want to say anything more on this as I don’t want to spoil anything!

The pace doesn’t let up and I found myself racing through The Kindred Killers in no time at all. Smith ensures that each chapter is essential and has you having to read more. Again, Smith pulls off the setting of America perfectly making you forget that this is written by a British author.

A fantastic follow-up to what always promised to be a great series, The Kindred Killers is a cracking crime thriller and is a must for your bookshelf if you enjoy this genre.

Published on 12 September 2017 by Bloodhound Books.

A huge thank you to Graham Smith and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – The Mother by Jaime Raven *Excerpt*

I’m really pleased to be on The Mother by Jaime Raven blog tour today. I loved Jaime Raven’s other books and I was gutted that I didn’t have time to read and review The Mother in time for the tour. I have, however, something even better for you today … an excerpt from the book! So, grab yourself a cuppa, relax and enjoy.

The Blurb

Prepare to be gripped by the heart-stopping new thriller from the author of The Madam.

South London detective Sarah Mason is a single mother. It’s a tough life, but Sarah gets by. She and her ex-husband, fellow detective Adam Boyd, adore their 15-month-old daughter Molly.

Until Sarah’s world falls apart when she receives a devastating threat: Her daughter has been taken, and the abductor plans to raise Molly as their own, as punishment for something Sarah did.

Sarah is forced to stand back while her team try to track down the kidnapper. But her colleagues aren’t working fast enough to find Molly. To save her daughter, Sarah must take matters into her own hands, in a desperate hunt that will take her to the very depths of London’s underworld.

Published on 7 September 2017 by Avon.

Excerpt

His words registered, but only just, and they failed to provide any comfort. How could they? My precious daughter had been kidnapped. My mind was still reeling and I felt weighted down by a crushing despair.

I was on the verge of losing control so I lowered myself onto one of chairs around the kitchen table. There I sat, my head spinning, my stomach churning, as Brennan gently prised more information out of my mother.

She revealed that the man had rung the bell at just before nine – an hour or so after I had dropped Molly off. My father had just left the house to go to his allotment and she was giving Molly her breakfast before taking her to the park.

She remembered very little about her attacker. His face had been covered and he’d been wearing what she thought was a dark T-shirt and jeans.

‘He was average height but strong,’ she said. ‘I tried to struggle free when he attacked me but I couldn’t.’

She started crying again and this time it set me off. I broke down in a flood of tears and heard myself calling Molly’s name.

I was only vaguely aware of the commotion that suddenly ensued, and of being led out of the kitchen and along the hallway.

Raised voices, more people entering the house, some of them in uniform. Molly’s face loomed large in my mind’s eye, obscuring much of what was going on around me. I wondered if I would ever hold her in my arms again. It was a sickening, painful thought and one that I never thought I would have to experience.

I’d witnessed the suffering of parents who had lost children, seen the agony in their eyes. But as a copper I had always been one step removed, professionally detached and oblivious to the real extent of their plight.

Now I had a different perspective. I was in that horrendous position myself. The grieving, desperate mother wondering why fate had delivered such a crushing blow.

‘We’re taking you next door,’ Brennan was saying as we stepped outside, to be greeted by the flashing blue light on top of a police patrol car. ‘This house is now a crime scene and the forensics team needs to get to work. Mrs Lloyd, the neighbour to the right, has kindly agreed to make some tea for you and your mother.’

‘I don’t want tea,’ I wailed. ‘I want Molly.’

‘I’ll do whatever it takes to find her, Sarah,’ Brennan said. ‘We all will. But look, I really think it’s time that Molly’s father was informed about what’s happened. Do you want to call him or shall I?’

The prospect of breaking the news to Adam that his daughter had been abducted filled me with dread. I knew I couldn’t do it, that as soon as I heard his voice I would fall apart.

‘You ring him,’ I said. ‘Tell him to get here as soon as he can.’

That has certainly whet my appetite and I can’t wait to read The Mother. A huge thank you to Jaime Raven and Sabah at Avon for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for the excerpt. Follow the rest of the tour…