Category Archives: Blog Tours

Blog tours Bloomin’ Brilliant Books has participated in.

Blog Tour – Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl *Review*

Thrilled to be hosting one of today’s stops on the Faithless blog tour alongside Clues and Reviews and to finally be able to share my thoughts on the book by Kjell Ola Dahl.

The Blurb

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal…

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

My Thoughts

Faithless is my first venture into Dahl’s books and I guess I did have some concern as to whether I would be able to get into the story as I had not met Oslo detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda before. Much to my relief the story works well as a standalone and you can instantly pick up with the characters and not feel as though you are missing out on any back story. One of the reasons, I feel, for this is the concentration on the crime and police procedures rather than the personal lives of the detectives.

From reading the above it may come across that I didn’t get a feel for the characters but this is not the case. We do get an insight into the private life of Gunnarstranda and Frølich and a sense of the relationship between them, however, it is in addition to the main story at hand and not in your face. The death of a woman Frølich knows and the involvement of an old friend certainly makes the case in Faithless personal to him, yet it is done in such a way that it never detracts from the main crux of the story. Memories from Frølich’s past re-surface and his feelings about being involved in a case in which he knows the victim adds a great layer to the story with it becoming very much a welcome addition rather than a distraction.

I really enjoyed the police procedural aspect of Faithless which is written with an authenticity that highlights the instincts that come after years in the profession and does not overly rely on modern technologies in order to discover who committed the murder. In addition, Dahl expresses the feelings and thoughts that the detectives have towards their colleagues and the work they do in a candid, realistic way which gives the characters and the book a whole added layer. Faithless is a refreshing change from the emotionally challenged detectives we often see in crime fiction.

Dahl is a skilled writer and in Faithless he has written a story that threads and winds its way around leaving you guessing and counter-guessing, never knowing where you will end up. The tension starts subtly and quietly descends into a darkness that leaves you stunned and totally taken aback. The translation by Don Bartlett is fantastically done and I never felt that something was lacking or lost in translation as I have in other translated novels. To be fair, however, this has never been an issue with books published by Orenda and they have restored my faith in translated fiction.

Faithless is a subtly disconcerting read with an ending that takes you totally by surprise. I liked it for its genuineness, its realism and the fact it concentrates on the nitty-gritty detective work. If you like police procedurals that take you into the heart of the work detectives carry out you will enjoy Faithless.

Published on 15 April 2017 by Orenda Books.

A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy in exchange for my review and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. You can catch the rest of the tour at the other fantastic blogs…

 

Blog Tour – Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell *Review*

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of the Sleep Tight blog tour today along with Sharon at Chapter In My Life and Claire at Crimebookjunkie. So what did I think of the second book in the Detective Ruby Preston series? Has Caroline Mitchell managed to pull off another cracking read? Read on to find out…

The Blurb

Close your eyes … Just pray you don’t wake up.

A killer stalks the streets of East London. All over the area, murdered young women are discovered, their bodies posed into a sickening recreation of fairytale princesses.

Detective Ruby Preston is determined to hunt down a disturbed individual who is using the women to realise their twisted fantasies. But when body parts are found at the home of her lover, Nathan Crosby, Ruby is torn between her job and her heart.

Convinced that he is being framed, Ruby must catch the killer before Nathan becomes the number one suspect. But as more victims are found, it becomes harder to prove his innocence.

Ruby is in too deep, knowing that the cruel individual is getting ever closer, looking for his next beautiful victim. But can she stop a killer hell-bent on fulfilling their horrific desires – before it’s too late? And how well does she really know the man she loves?

A terrifying, addictive serial killer thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for readers of Angela Marsons, Peter James and Rachel Abbott.

My Thoughts

Detective Ruby Preston is back and I have to say I’m very pleased she is! I adored Love You To Death and couldn’t wait to get my mitts on the second in the series. I’m pleased to say that Mitchell has done it again with Sleep Tight and written another bloomin’ brilliant book.

Ruby has her work cut out for her as a serial killer is on the loose and bodies of young women are being discovered across East London. The case becomes personal when body parts are found at her on-off lover and gangster Nathan Crosby’s home.

Mitchell has written a macabre, twisted novel in which the bodies are dressed as fairy tale princesses. I love the way she has incorporated the fairy tales within the killer’s MO harking to the original dark stories told by the Grimm brothers. It makes the killings even more disturbing thus making Sleep Tight all the more thrilling.

I devoured this book in a matter of hours. The prologue is darkly enticing and creepy, and the pace that follows is unforgiving and relentless, forcing you to read ‘just one more’ chapter until, before you know it, you have finished the book. Mitchell takes you to the brink of thinking you have it all sussed out and then quickly pulls the rug from underneath you.

I really liked the character of Ruby with her complicated life in the first book and Sleep Tight has cemented my view of Ruby being a Detective to follow. The personal perspectives on police procedures, the investigation and interrogation give that real insight into how the job is viewed by those who undertake it every day adding that extra layer to the story. Mitchell’s previous life as a detective shines through and gives her work an authentic feel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sleep Tight, it is fast-paced, creepy and nail-biting. Mitchell has created a fantastic follow-up to Love You To Death and I can see the Detective Ruby Preston series being a big hit with crime fiction fans. Read it, you will love it!

Published 20 April 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links
UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2oFTxLj
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2npDVLY

About the Author

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.
Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. She now writes full time.
www.caroline-writes.com
https://www.facebook.com/CMitchellAuthor/
https://twitter.com/Caroline_writes

A huge thank you to Noelle at Bookouture and Caroline Mitchell for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Be sure to catch the rest of the fab bloggers on the tour…

 

Blog Tour – We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings *Review*

I’m so pleased to be on the We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings blog tour. Regular readers of the blog will know how much I love to discover a debut author so I was delighted when I was asked to take part in this. Today I’m sharing with you my thoughts on this book, but first what is it about?

The Blurb

It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary English village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘The Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.
When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes The Fox is responsible.
But as the residents scramble to solve the mystery of Anna’s disappearance, little do they know it’s their darkest secrets The Fox is really after…
Inspired by a real events, and with a brilliant cast of characters, WE ALL BEGIN AS STRANGERS is a beautiful debut novel you’ll want to recommend to everyone.
If you loved THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP by Joanna Cannon, ELIZABETH IS MISSING by Emma Healey and THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce, you’ll adore this wonderful British debut novel.

My Thoughts

We All Begin As Strangers is the debut novel by Harriet Cummings. Set in the 1980s it centres around a small village in the Chilterns, the inhabitants of which are experiencing break-ins by someone they have nicknamed ‘The Fox’. Nothing of value is taken from the homes but, for obvious reasons, it unnerves the residents. When a much-loved resident of the village, Anna, goes missing, however, all fingers point towards her being kidnapped by The Fox.

Cummings was inspired to write this book by real events that took place in the 80s. A person the newspapers dubbed ‘The Fox’ was breaking into houses in villages across the Chilterns, but not stealing anything. The story of the real Fox is more sinister as he committed rapes during his reign of terror.

Told from the perspective of four of the village’s residents who spent time with Anna, We All Begin As Strangers is more than the mystery of a missing girl and a strange intruder. It is a story about loneliness, trust, secrets and the idiosyncrasies of human beings. Deloris is the dissatisfied newly-wed; Brian, the village police officer whose personal life is not straightforward; Jim is the local clergyman who harbours a secret from his past and Stan manages the local supermarket and struggles with a part of himself he can’t tell anyone about.

Anna is the villager everybody loves – regular church-goer, unassuming and quiet – the village is rocked when she disappears. Curtains twitch as each resident becomes suspicious of the others. How well do they really know each other? Could one of them be The Fox? As secrets and histories are unfurled, it would appear that nobody is as they seem. The Fox is integral to those secrets coming to light and one by one they get to know each other better, although not necessarily with a positive outcome for some.

Cummings captures what I imagine life in a small village where everybody knows everybody would be like although, as we discover, we often only know the part that the person wants us to see. Cummings is a great writer and has crafted a plot that is carefully put together. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about We All Begin As Strangers through the course of my reading with moments of loving the book to moments of not being sure if I actually liked it, and if I’m honest I can’t put my finger on why. The ending, however, blew me away and led to me having a completely different view of the novel as a whole. The idea behind We All Begin As Strangers fascinates me and the ending left me feeling satisfied and wanting to read it again to see what I would perceive differently.
This is not a fast-paced novel as it centres around the characters, their lives and feelings in the midst of an awful event. It relies on an interest from the reader in the quirks and nuances of human behaviour and village life alongside the need to get to the bottom of who The Fox is and the motives behind their behaviour.

I think We All Begin As Strangers will have a mixed reaction from readers. It is a book I appreciated a lot more on finishing, and it is one of those books that makes you think over what you have read. It is a book that, for me, warrants discussion during the course of reading it and would, therefore, make a great book for a reading group. It has certainly left its mark on me and I look forward to what Cummings brings to us in the future.

Published on 20 April 2017 by Orion.

About the Author

Harriet is a novelist and copywriter with a background in history of art.

She currently lives in Leamington Spa, UK, with her husband and springer spaniel.

A huge thank you to Virginia at Orion Books and Harriet Cummings for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Catch the rest of the fab bloggers on the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – My Mourning Year by Andrew Marshall *Excerpt*

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Andrew Marshall’s My Mourning Year: A Memoir of Bereavement, Discovery and Hope and am able to share with you an excerpt from this very special book.  But first here is what the book is about –

The Blurb

In 1997 Andrew Marshall’s partner, and the only person to whom he had ever truly opened his heart, died after a gruelling and debilitating illness. Unmoored from his old life, and feeling let down by his family, Marshall struggled not only to make sense of his loss but to even imagine what a future without Thom might look like. In his diary, he wrote about what set him back – like a rebound relationship – some weird and wonderful encounters with psychics and gurus and how his job as a journalist gave him the chance to talk about death with a range of famous people, a forensic anthologist and a holocaust survivor. Slowly but surely with the help of friends, a badly behaved dog and a renewed relationship with his parents, he began to piece his life back together. Although his diary was never meant for publication, Marshall did share it with friends and colleagues dealing with bereavement, who found it immensely helpful, so to mark the twentieth anniversary of Thom’s death, he has decided to open it for everybody to read. My Mourning Year is a frank and unflinching account of one man’s life for a year after the death of his lover. In turn heartbreaking, frustrating and even sweetly funny, this is no step-by-step guide to dealing with bereavement but a shoulder to lean on when facing the unknowns of death and a resource for those left behind.

And now for the excerpt…

Thursday 16 October – Germany

Strange unidentifiable feelings ran through my stomach as I checked in at Gatwick airport. I was shattered, both physically and emotionally. I might need a holiday but for some reason that I cannot explain, I’ve chosen to return to Germany and confront the past. The couple ahead of me in the queue were speaking German. There was something very reassuring about the familiarity of Thom’s mother tongue. I’d forgotten what a central part of my life Germany has been. For five and a half years, I flew there at least once a month to visit Thom. Even after he moved to England, we would return together several times a year. It was only in the last few months that it became tied up with sickness, disease and death. So I’m returning for the right reasons, aren’t I?

The bustling terminal was not the place for self-examination. It was only after I sat on the plane and looked out of the window, that I came face to face with my true feelings. As usual, I’d bought a copy of Vanity Fair to read during the journey. It was just another flight to Germany. Except my other purchase was a packet of tissues. It has been months since I had always carried an emergency supply.

Waiting for my baggage at Dortmund airport, I found myself looking for Thom the other side of the barrier. How many times had he collected me from that airport? How many times had I left customs and thrown myself into his arms?

I dug deep for some consolation. At least this time I would not be hiring a car and driving to that hospital – the heart of my hell. Instead, I took a taxi to my friend Martin’s flat (where I had stayed during Thom’s final weeks).

Dortmund was full of nostalgia but it was a gentle pain and the tears I’d expected were sweet rather than bitter. I was amazed at how easily I fell back into sync with Thom’s friends. It was wonderful to talk about him and hear them recount their favourite stories. Back in England, it always seemed to be me who brought up his name. Even if I couldn’t have Thom, I could spend time with his friends and walk the streets that he walked.

You don’t stop loving someone just because they’re dead. In fact, the love grows greater, as it’s easier to forget their faults.

My Mourning Year is published by RedDoor Publishing and is available on eBook now and paperback on 20 April 2017. You can purchase a copy HERE.

About the Author

Andrew has been a marital therapist for almost thirty years. He trained with RELATE the UK’s leading couple counselling charity. He now has a private practice in London and Sussex (England), gives workshops on relationship and inspirational talks. His books have been translated into twenty languages (including French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Italian). He also writes for UK newspapers Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. These articles are collected on his Facebook page. As well as being a writer, Andrew is a keen reader and is always looking for suggestions of great books to read (either about relationships or novels).

A huge thank you to Anna at RedDoor Publishing for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and share with you this extract. Be sure to catch the other bloggers on the rest of the blog tour.

 

 

 

Blog Tour – Ashes to Ashes by Paul Finch *Excerpt*

Whoop whoop it’s my turn on the Ashes to Ashes blog tour and I’m very excited to be able to share an excerpt from Paul Finch’s latest Detective Mark Heckenburg book. First up here is the synopsis…

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with his next unforgettable crime thriller. Fans of MJ Arlidge and Stuart MacBride won’t be able to put this down.
John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.
A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.
But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck.

Sounds good, right? To whet your appetite further here is an excerpt from the book…

The hanging rope was only five feet away. Heck knew there was a good chance he’d make it, but he also knew that if he stopped to think about this he wouldn’t go any further. So he didn’t think, just launched himself out, diving full-length – and dropping like a stone, maybe ten feet, before managing to catch hold of the rope. Several more feet of cold, greasy hemp slid through his fingers before he brought himself to a halt, ripping both his gloves and the flesh of the palms underneath. Doing his best to ignore the blistering pain, he clambered down and alighted on the garage roof nearest the building.

‘Suspect heading northeast along Bellfield Lane!’ he shouted down to the two uniforms who’d spilled onto Charlton Court from their patrol car, faces aghast at what they’d just seen Heck do. ‘Spread the word!’

Without waiting for a response, Heck ran due north along the flimsy roofs, feet drumming on damp planks covered only in tarpaper, jabbering into his radio again, giving instructions as best he could. At the far end, he dropped onto all fours and swung his body over the parapet. He hung full-length and dropped the last five feet, before careering down¬hill through grass and clutter onto the road.

‘Bellfield Lane heading northeast,’ he shouted, hammering along the tarmac. ‘Any units in that direction to respond, over?’ But the airwaves were jammed with cross-cutting messages. ‘Shit . . . come on, someone!’

As he ran, the vast concrete shape of a railway gantry loomed towards him. Above it, stroboscopic lights sped back and forth as trains hurtled between East Dulwich and Peckham Rye. Conversely, the shadows beneath the structure were oil-black. In normal times this would be a muggers’ paradise, but Heck was armed, and besides the night was now alive with sirens – it was just a pity none were in the immediate vicinity.

Beyond the railway overpass, a sheer brick wall stood on the right, but on the left there was wire fencing, and behind that another slope angling down to a glass-littered car park. The fence’s second section was loose, disconnected along the bottom, giving easy access to the other side. Heck swerved towards it – only to find that his quarry, neatly camouflaged in his all-black garb, had secreted himself flat at the foot of the waiting slope. The first Heck knew of this was the muzzle-flash, and the hail of shot that swept the wire mesh.

He threw himself to the pavement, rolling away and landing in the gutter – where he lay on his back, gun trained two-handed on the wall of fencing.

Until he heard feet clattering away again.

He scrambled to his knees.

A dark shape was haring across the car park below, at the far side of which a concrete ramp led down onto yet another housing estate, this one comprising rows of near-identical maisonettes. Heck slid under the fence and gave chase, stumbling down the slope until he reached the level tarmac, all the time trying to get through on his radio.

‘Is no one fucking listening to me?’ he shouted. ‘For what it’s worth . . . still in pursuit, suspect still on foot, still armed, opening fire at every opportunity. Heading west onto the Hawkwood estate. Listen, this is a built-up area with lots of civvies. Not many around at present, but someone’s got to get over here fast. Over and fucking out!’

The latest Heck instalment sound fan-bloody-tastic and is definitely on my TBR list! A huge thank you to Paul Finch and Helena Sheffield at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and allowing me to share an excerpt.

Be sure to catch the rest of the Ashes to Ashes blog tour for reviews and author guest posts.

Blog Tour – Deadly Game by Matt Johnson *Book Review*

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s turn on the Deadly Game blog tour and sharing my review of Matt Johnson’s amazing new thriller. But first a little bit about what Deadly Game is about… 

The Blurb

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed.

Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all…

Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.

My Thoughts

Deadly Game is the second book in the Robert Finlay series, the first being Wicked Game. I have to confess to not having read the first book and I did worry initially that Deadly Game wouldn’t work as a standalone. I didn’t have to worry as Johnson has written the book in such a way that you get enough information about what happened in the first book making it easy to pick up and follow.

Police Inspector Robert Finlay has been assigned to a new team to investigate people trafficking and the sex-slave industry. This brings him, inevitably, into contact with a ruthless Eastern European gang intent on keeping their business going. This becomes personal when the life of a fellow police officer comes under threat. We learn that in the previous book attempts were made to take Robert and his family’s life and this threat has not yet fully diminished, leading you into a world of spies, terrorism and conspiracies.

The prologue draws you in immediately and sets the tone for the rest of the book. The tension you initially feel does not let up as Deadly Game twists and turns its way through to its dramatic and breath taking conclusion. The writing is slick and smooth with short chapters that tease and keep you turning those pages. I found myself muttering ‘oh my God’ frequently to the book. I could really see Deadly Game on the big screen, it would make a great movie!

Characters, whether good or bad, are really important to me in a book. Robert Finlay comes across as real and authentic, and Johnson has done a great job in creating a believable character. As ex-SAS and recently having had his and his family’s life on the line he is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite the dark and frantic nature of the book, Johnson has portrayed this aspect in a sympathetic, knowledgeable way. It does not get in the way of the character, rather the subtle way it is dealt with adds to the character and those around him. Finlay is really likeable and I will definitely be following his story throughout the rest of the series.

There is so much going on in Deadly Game, and with dual storylines it could easily get muddled and confusing but Johnson pulls it off seamlessly. This is not your straight forward detective story and I really enjoyed the thread involving MI5 and MI6 which gives it a real edge. With conspiracies, cover-ups and doubts over who is to be trusted, Deadly Game is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes throughout.

Johnson has created a gritty and current novel dealing with, sadly, very real issues. It is disturbing yet credible and has a real intelligence behind it. Days after finishing the book I still find myself worrying about one of the characters demonstrating just how immersed you become in this book. I eagerly anticipate the next book in the series.

Highly recommended, Deadly Game is tense, topical, exciting and gripping. More than ‘just’ a detective novel it really packs a punch and leaves you breathless!

Published on 15 March 2017 by Orenda.

A huge thank you to Matt Johnson and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

 

Blog Tour – Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski *Guest Post*

Hurrah it’s my turn on the Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski blog tour. Due to having a ridiculously busy month I couldn’t get Six Stories read in time which I’m pretty gutted about. Instead I have a fab guest post by Matt on ‘Tying Up The Threads’ Before I hand you over to Matt here’s what Six Stories about…

The Blurb

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Sounds good, right? The reviews for Six Stories have been great and this is one I will be trying to push up my TBR pile. Anyway, I will hand over to Matt…

Tying Up The Threads by Matt Wesolowski

I once went to a writing event and heard an author talk about how she planned and kept track of her plot lines. A great whiteboard in her writing room, spider-legs of red pen, like the web of some criminal investigation. That’s such a good idea, I thought to myself, I should really get rid of my shelves of skulls and odd trinkets, get a whiteboard, do this writing thing properly. Why do I do things so backwards?

I never got round to it, I’m afraid.

The amount of times I have tried to plan, to keep track of a plot, to make fastidious notes about characters and locations, all to no avail. These notes end up between tea-stained scraps of A4 that cower, unobserved beside my keyboard or else piled beneath books about monsters.

I just can’t do it. Every other aspect of my life is bound by logistics. All but my writing.

I often feel like that scene in the office where David Brent is being reprimanded and asked why he never writes anything down.
“It’s all up here.” Brent says, tapping his temple.
“It’s not though, is it David?”
I feel like I’m David Brent, ridiculous ideas pirouetting through my mind, never settling into a semblance of order.

What I tend to do when writing is start with an idea, an image then spool out a load of different threads in a story and hope for the best. Yes, that’s as technical as I get, I’m afraid.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s very rare that I know what’s going to happen at the end before I start a book, usually I just start and hope that somehow the end ties itself up on its own.

Which 99% of the time it does. I shelved a manuscript 50,000 words in because there just seemed no way anything would resolve. Maybe I’ll go back to it. Most probably, I wont.
I’ve tried to plan, I’ve tried to flesh out characters before I start, even draw maps of my imagined locations but they’ve all killed the story stone dead.

When I was writing Six Stories, I actually had no idea who killed Tom Jeffries or why, when I began. I just knew he was dead and the circumstances of his death. This was the quickest novel I ever wrote (1st draft was completed in about 4 or 5 months) and I didn’t research, I didn’t plan, I just wrote. The reasons for his death would come in their own time. If I kept writing, surely they’d come…

Believe it or not, I actually didn’t know how or why Tom Jeffries died until I was half way through episode five! It was panic stations for a while, wondering if this novel would end up on the unfinished, never-to-be-looked-at-again part of my hard drive.

I wasn’t going to let this happen for the second time in a row so I just waited until the solution hit me, which it eventually did (probably in the shower, I usually get over a knotty plot-point in the shower).

So there you have it; I have no strategy for plotting, no formula for writing, my characters emerged as pale things, skeletal; they took their forms as I wrote them, as did the plot.

For me, this is the most exciting thing about writing, that not-knowing until you are hit with a revelatory moment where, somewhere in some dark place at the bottom of your subconscious mind, those threads that you spooled out somehow knit themselves together.

Because who wants to have the ending spoiled?

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

A massive thank you to Matt for the bloody brilliant guest post and to Karen at Orenda for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Be sure to check out the other hosts on the Six Stories blog tour…

Blog Tour – After She’s Gone by Maggie James – *Review*

Chuffed to bits to be hosting today’s turn on the After She’s Gone by Maggie James blog tour. I love a good psychological thriller so quickly agreed to take part in this one. What did I think? Read on to find out…

The Blurb

Lori Golden’s family has had more than its fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.

Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family starts to fall apart. And as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.

Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…

My Thoughts

Having never read a Maggie James novel before I was keen to discover a ‘new to me’ author. When Lori Golden’s sixteen-year-old sister, Jessie, fails to return home one night, Lori’s family are thrust into a rapid descent of grief, mistrust and suspicion as long held secrets are gradually revealed.

The prologue introduces us to a mysterious figure who is setting fire to Bristol’s disused buildings and serves to hook the reader in immediately. From there we are introduced to Lori hours before her world falls apart. I really liked the way James sets the scene in chapter one and the sense of foreboding she instils into the reader. Largely told from the perspective of Lori with brief glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of her mother, step-brother and the arsonist, you are taken along with the tide of emotions and individual worries they all have.

The beauty of After She’s Gone for me was the portrayal of a family unravelling in the wake of a tragedy. James depicts this brilliantly. The Golden/Hamiltons are a blended family and the small cracks that were there from the beginning become ravines in the aftermath. The doubts and misgivings Lori and her mother had about their newest family members become more prominent in their minds and take on more significance and meaning, resulting in the family becoming fractured. As long held secrets are gradually revealed they all begin to look at each other through different eyes.

I thought I had it all figured out in regards to who was responsible for Jessie’s death. In some respects I did, but in other ways I was very wrong…which won’t make sense unless you read it! James cleverly plants red herrings and the plethora of secrets within the family has the reader second guessing themselves. Who, if anyone, can truly be trusted?

After She’s Gone is a great psychological thriller which plays on the fear of not being able to trust those closest to you. I loved the combination of trying to figure out who had done it along with the emotional response I had to a family falling apart. A great read.

Published on 16 March 2017 by Lake Union Publishing.

Purchase Link (will take you to any amazon site world-wide)
http://smarturl.it/aftershesgone

About The Author

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Connect with Maggie James

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MJamesFiction/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjamesfiction
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/828751.Maggie_James
Blog: http://www.maggiejamesfiction.com/blog
Website: http://www.maggiejamesfiction.com

A huge thanks to Maggie James and Noelle Holten at Thick As Thieves Publicity for the advance copy and inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Catch the other fab bloggers on the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – Mystery At Maplemead Castle by Kitty French – *Book Review*

I am absolutely delighted to be one of two hosts on the Mystery At Maplemead Castle blog tour today. This is the second book in Kitty French’s The Chapelwick Mysteries series and was one of my hotly anticipated reads of 2017.  So what did I think of it? Did it live up to expectations? You bet it did! Carry on reading to find out what the book is about and my review…

The Blurb

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?

An utterly hilarious, gripping, spooktastic read for fans of HY Hanna, MC Beaton, Gina LaManna and Jana DeLeon.

My Thoughts

Mystery at Maplemead Castle is the second book in The Chapelwick Mysteries and heralds the much welcome return of Melody Bittersweet and her ghostbusting agency. I was very excited to get my hands on this book after loving the first book The Skeletons of Scarborough House (previously titled Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency).

If you haven’t read the first book, don’t worry, this book works perfectly as a standalone–although you are really missing out on a treat and should read it–as French introduces the characters in the first chapter which also helped as a great refresher for those, like me, who have a terrible memory.

The second case Melody’s new ghostbusting agency has been assigned to is at Maplemead Castle. Owned by brash American couple Lois and Barty Letterman, they have let out the castle to be used as a film set but some of the actors won’t step foot inside the place until it is cleared of its resident ghosts. How difficult can this be for psychic Melody? Very, when you add into the mix rival psychic and ex-boyfriend Leo Dark, reporter Fletcher Gunn who Melody should hate but finds herself attracted to and the ghosts of a circus troup! This is an unconventional, eccentric mystery and it works brilliantly.

The characterisation in Mystery at Maplemead Castle is fantastic. Told in first person narrative by Melody, French has a way of writing that makes you feel as though you are conversing with an old friend. I was drawn in immediately and found it really difficult to put the book down. You can’t help but fall in love with quirky, sugar-addicted Melody, her mother, champagne-swigging grandmother, slightly-scary-but-lovable Marina and sweet, geeky Artie. Then of course there is Lestat; Melody’s food obsessed, farting pug! You could really see yourself having a pint down the pub with Melody and her friends and family. French has also taken great care with the peripheral characters including the ghosts Melody has to try and send back to the other side.

The humour is wickedly funny and starts from the very first page. I love the references to popular culture French uses, demonstrating her sharp wit. There is also a depth to this book and I found myself being really moved by the final chapter. I was also touched by Melody’s experiences of being ‘different’ to everyone else and how this has made her feel throughout her life. French effortlessly combines comedy with poignant moments.

I love everything about Mystery at Maplemead Castle! It is quirky, has great characters, ghosts, a mystery, will-they-won’t-they romance and is pee-your-Wonder-Woman-pants funny! Fantastic…roll on book three in the series!

Published 16 March 2017 by Bookouture.

A huge thank you to Kitty French and Kim Nash at Bookouture for the advance copy and the invite to take part in the blog tour.

Purchase Links –

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2kQqows
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2kd2Qjp

Be sure to catch the rest of the hosts on the blog tour

 

 

 

Blog Tour – The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney *Book Review*

Thrilled to be taking part in The Missing Ones blog tour today alongside Shell at Chelle’s Book Reviews. I love discovering a new author and Patricia Gibney is one to look out for in the future. This is a cracking start to the DI Lottie Parker series!

The Blurb

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My Thoughts

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney is the first in a new crime series featuring DI Lottie Parker. I’m always excited to start a brand new detective serial, so really anticipated this debut novel.

I was hooked from the very start! The prologue, which is set in 1976, is chilling, creepy and unnerving—a great way to start a book—and draws you in immediately. It then switches to December 2014 and we are involved in the first murder. From there we are taken through the eight days of the investigation with Lottie and flashbacks to the past. The Missing Ones moves along at a fast pace with Gibney including teasers at the end of the chapters that leave you hanging and just having to read more.

I really liked DI Lottie Parker and she is character I look forward to seeing more of. She is a tenacious detective who is struggling to juggle her career with her role as a mother to three children. She has an intriguing background and has had her fair share of significant life events which still cause her issues. The relationship between her and fellow detective Mark Boyd is one that I will watch with interest. Gibney has set the ground for Lottie’s development through a series really well.

The Missing Ones is a dark novel that deals with corruption, the attempt to bury disturbing secrets and abuse. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to risk giving any of the plot away, but Gibney reaches into the disturbing echelons of Irish and Catholic history which is discomfiting and alarming.

Gibney is a talented writer and, weirdly, I found her description of the first victim’s death rather beautiful. She has created a wonderfully twisting tale that keeps you reading late into the night and the plot progression is flawless. She seamlessly weaves the tale together, combining past and present with great results. A very accomplished debut novel.

The Missing Ones heralds the start of a great new detective series. With a dark and twisting tale, an interesting lead character and wonderful writing this is a book not to be missed. Highly recommended for lovers of crime fiction.

A huge thank you to Patricia Gibney and Bookouture for the advance copy and for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

Published 16 March 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2i8lVTY
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2imcDD0

Be sure to catch the other stops on the blog tour!