Category Archives: Blog Tours

Blog tours Bloomin’ Brilliant Books has participated in.

Blog Tour – Kill Me Twice by Simon Booker *Review and Author Influences*

After really enjoying Simon Booker’s debut thriller Without Trace (read my review HERE), the first in the Morgan Vine series, I was eager to read the next book in the series. I’m really chuffed, therefore, to be on the blog tour for this much anticipated second novel, Kill Me Twice. Not only do I have my review but Simon has also taken part in my Author Influences feature for today’s blog tour post.

The Blurb

Karl Savage is dead.
He must be. His ex, Anjelica, is in prison for murdering him in an arson attack. Multiple forensic experts testified to finding his charred remains.
So when Anjelica begs investigative journalist Morgan Vine to prove her innocence, it seems an impossible task. It doesn’t matter that Karl was abusive. That Anjelica has a baby to care for. That she’s petrified of fire. The whole world knows Karl is dead.
Then he turns up outside Morgan’s window . . .

My Thoughts

Kill Me Twice is the second in the Morgan Vine series following on from Booker’s debut thriller Without Trace. I really enjoyed the first book and really looked forward to this one. While I have the benefit of having read the previous book in the series, Kill Me Twice stands up as a novel that can be read on its own.

What really appealed to me about this series is the fact that Morgan is an investigative journalist rather than a detective which gives this series a different slant and it, therefore, comes from a different perspective. In Kill Me Twice we meet with Morgan following the success of her book Trial and Error: A History of Miscarriages of Justice as she is setting herself up to help those who have been wrongfully convicted. This leads her to assist in the case of Anjelica Fry, a mother currently in prison for the murder of her partner and baby’s father Karl Savage. But is Karl Savage actually dead?

Booker has created great characters for this series. Morgan is an independent, tenacious single mother who will not give up on what she believes to be the truth even when those around her doubt her. Lissa her twenty-year-old daughter again plays a large part in this book. I’m not keen on Lissa, she is not particularly likeable and comes across as a bit of a spoilt brat although I sense a vulnerability about her that I don’t yet fully understand. This adds to the series in that it gives you a contrast of characters and Lissa, while I don’t like her, would be a miss as she adds to the trouble that Morgan faces and I feel that there is more to learn about her.

I always like it when we gain an insight into the antagonist and the writer gives them depth making them a fully rounded character. Booker has written the character of Karl Savage in such a way that while he is utterly despicable you understand why and how he ended up being this way and at points I did feel a degree of sympathy for him. This adds an additional layer to Kill Me Twice.

Kill Me Twice took me on a journey I really wasn’t expecting, I had read the blurb (and actually remembered what the synopsis of the book was, which is pretty amazing for me!) and, I guess, I was expecting a certain plot direction. Kill Me Twice’s trajectory ended up being far, far removed from the average storyline. While Morgan expects to be assisting in a miscarriage of justice case her relationship with Anjelica ends up in her discovering a seedy underground business that relies on vulnerable women to propel it forward and, ultimately, becomes very personal.

Booker’s use of short, punchy sentences in the first chapter are incredibly effective in building up tension, a sense of unease and ensures that the atmosphere and tone of the book is set. You just know that Booker is going to take you to some dark places.

A complex story that is well written and well plotted, Kill Me Twice takes you on one hell of a ride. The ending shocked me and had me muttering ‘oh my God’ to the book. A deliciously dark read that has me eagerly awaiting the third in the series.

Published on 24 August 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre.

Simon now takes over to tell you about his author influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was hooked on Sherlock Holmes from the age of 10.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
My ‘best’ subject. I wrote and performed plays too, which gave me my first taste of applause. Been hooked ever since.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read a lot of crime but it can become a busman’s holiday.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve written rom coms for TV (as well as crime), including Perfect Strangers starring Rob Lowe and Anna Friel. A good rom com is a work of genius, but they’re few and far between, eg, When Harry Met Sally and The Apartment.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Conan Doyle, for the reason above.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Sarah Waters is unmissable.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
More films than books (see above). If I could have written When Harry Met Sally, Little Miss Sunshine or Sideways I would die a happy man.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My heroine Morgan Vine is obsessed by miscarriages of justice, and so am I. True story: my ex wife is now married to a man who spend 26 years in a US prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Thank you for taking part Simon!

You can get a FREE Morgan Vine short story and find out more about my books Kill Me Twice and Without Trace at simonbooker.com

Follow me on Twitter @simonbooker

A huge thank you to Simon Booker and Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – Unforgivable by Mike Thomas *Guest Post and Review*

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas. I’m chuffed to bits to be a part of this and to be sharing my review AND I have a brilliant guest post from Mike on his three favourite supporting characters in his novels. I will hand you over to Mike and then check out the blurb and my review of Unforgivable…

The Three Favourite Supporting Characters in My Novels

It’s always enjoyable writing your protagonist’s story and pushing them around on the page – go here, you swine! – but what I often find more entertaining, certainly if my hero or heroine is having an off day, is writing supporting characters. They’re often great fun, because they’re not really as important (but they’re still very important), and therefore the pressure’s off and there’s more freedom to do things with them that you couldn’t do with your main character. They also act as a counterpoint to your protagonist, and a means to demonstrate your main character’s personality or behaviour without doing the old ‘telling’.

Just look at Saul Goodman in ‘Breaking Bad’, or Bunk in ‘The Wire’, or The Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And what about Ron and Hermione in the Potter books? All of them, fully-formed and interesting supporting characters that add further depth and shade to the protagonist and the story itself.

So who are the three favourite supporting characters in my novels? Which of them were the most interesting and gratifying to write? Let’s take a look…

1. DC Warren Harrison – rotund, perpetually eating and wrapped in a fug of smoke, ‘Wazza’ is the ‘senior man’ – in age, not rank – on the team of CID officers who feature in the MacReady novels, ‘Ash and Bones’ and ‘Unforgivable’. An old sweat who has seen it all, he’s world-weary but has a mischievous sense of humour, not least in his choice of footwear: he refuses to wear shoes and turns out for duty every day in socks and sandals. The inspiration for Warren was an ex-colleague who could regularly be found wandering the corridors of the police station looking like a lost German tourist who’d raided the nearest vending machine. Lots of older real cops end up like Wazza: nothing fazes them, they couldn’t care less about anything other than their approaching pension, and they think all new officers are utterly useless. Often they’re not wrong.

2. FLUB – real name David Murphy, FLUB is the elder PC on the elite public order team in my 2014 novel ‘Ugly Bus’. His nickname, gifted to him by his colleagues on the van, is an acronym for Fat Lazy Useless Bastard. Given that FLUB likes food and moving slowly – his favourite line is ‘I may not look like I’m busy most of the time but on a molecular level I’m a hundred fuckin’ miles an hour’ – he was happy enough to shrug and accept the moniker. Like Warren Harrison above, FLUB is the old sweat, but while Wazza is a spiky individual, David Murphy is an anything-to-keep-the-peace sort – which backfires spectacularly for all concerned at the climax of the novel. I love old FLUB, he’s a lot like I used to be towards the end of my career – especially his penchant for disgracefully unhealthy takeaway food on night shifts.

3. PC Frank MacReady – or ‘Frankie’ or ‘The Frankster’ as ‘Pocket Notebook’s protagonist (I hesitate to call him a hero) Jacob Smith calls his best buddy. Frank is a specialist firearms officer, working alongside Jake, and is Jake’s only true friend – he’s patient, wise, loyal, and long-suffering – but Jacob even manages to lose him, in the most despicable manner possible, during a house party where far, far too much alcohol is consumed. Without Frank anchoring him our protagonist is finally doomed, and we see it happen in real time during the latter part of the book. I always think of Frank and Jake as mirroring my wife and I during this period in our lives: she was the strong sensible, caring one who had to support me while I lost my marbles writing this crazed debut novel…

Brilliant post, thank you so much Mike. I love Wazza too!

The Blurb

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

My Thoughts

The second DC Will MacReady novel is totally explosive … and that’s not just because of the bombs that go off in the book! Unforgivable totally lived up to all of my expectations with Thomas proving that this is one hell of a crime series!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Ash and Bones, don’t worry as Unforgivable works as a standalone. Thomas perfectly gives enough information in order for you to be able to follow how MacReady and his colleagues got to where they currently are without deflecting from the new plot. However, trust me when I say you will want to read Ash and Bones!

I was expecting from the blurb a fairly straightforward story about the police investigating a terrorist attack. Unforgivable delivers more than this, however, with Thomas turning the theme of terrorism on its head. Thomas taps into the rise of Islamophobia and far-right groups across the country resulting in Unforgivable being incredibly current.

You are dragged into the story from the start. Unforgivable starts with a bang (literally!) and the pace is unrelenting from there on. The vivid descriptions within the first few chapters place you directly in the middle of the action, experiencing everything that is going on, and all its horrors. This is a book that you struggle to put down as its pace and plot beg for it to be read quickly and it becomes all absorbing.

I was pleased to spend time with MacReady et al again and Unforgivable takes up where we last left off a few months down the line. While MacReady is no longer the new boy within his team, he is still treated as such especially following events that occurred during Ash and Bones. He has a new partner in the completely unlikable Paul Echols who isn’t making his life any easier! MacReady’s personal life remains complicated which adds another layer to the book. I really like MacReady; he is intelligent, plucky and on the ball.

Thomas’s first-hand experience of police work shines through and his writing remains authentic. He doesn’t shy away from describing the less than glamorous side of police work and in Unforgivable the impact of austerity cuts enforced by the current government are starkly visible. While as a civvy you are aware that the cuts have an impact, Thomas brings the actual realities straight into your consciousness as resources to investigate the murder of a young woman are scant following the terrorist attacks. This true-to-life approach is one of the things that really appeals to me about Thomas’s books.

Unforgivable is a fantastic, high-adrenaline, close-to-the-bone read and the DC MacReady books are now firmly placed on my list of favourite and highly recommended detective series’.

Published on 27 July 2017 by Zaffre Publishing.

A huge thank you to Mike Thomas and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

You can read my review of Ash and Bones HERE and Mike’s Author Influences HERE!

Be sure to catch the rest of the tour for more reviews and brilliant guest posts by Mike … they really are worth reading!

Blog Tour – Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee *Review and Author Influences*

I am really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for M. Jonathan Lee’s Broken Branches today, sharing my review AND Jonathan’s Author Influences. I adored this beautiful book which is published Hideaway Fall … judging by the quality of their first publication, Hideaway Fall have an exciting future ahead of them!

The Blurb

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, where to start with this review? An inheritance, a marriage on the rocks and a curse all combined with gorgeous writing make Broken Branches a beautiful and emotional read.

I was completely swept along by the first chapter in which we first meet the main character, Ian Perkins, and his property Cobweb Cottage. We learn of a family tragedy that has resulted in Ian and his family moving into the cottage and also a possible inherited curse. With gorgeous descriptions of the cottage and the imposing Sycamore tree that stands outside the front of the house Broken Branches promises an intriguing, somewhat gothic, tale and it continues to deliver.

Ian is an interesting character who is trying to prove that the curse his family have talked about through the generations exists. We meet him in the midst of his failing marriage to Rachel and, for a reason of which we are unaware, Ian believes that establishing there really is a curse on the Perkins family will save his relationship. Broken Branches is told largely from Ian’s perspective; switching between the present day in which he is completing his genealogical research and his childhood growing up in the cottage he is again inhabiting. I was really touched by his teenage experiences – his sense of loneliness, the difference in the way he is treated compared to his older brother and the difficulties in his relationship with his family members – and his love of reading resonated with me, bringing back memories of my own worn and underlined copies of Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Ian’s desperation in his search for the truth about his family grows and becomes more apparent as Broken Branches unfurls. I was with Ian throughout his journey and felt his emotions and sense of urgency.

Punctuated with brief glimpses of Rachel’s point of view later in the book, the reader begins to question Ian’s version of events adding to the captivation of the novel. This really enhanced my interest in the story that was unfolding.

Broken Branches has a quietly disconcerting feel to it which stays with the reader throughout the course of the book. There are a few seemingly supernatural elements that send delicate shivers down your spine. Lee’s prose is stunning and he uses nature to maximum effect to create atmosphere. The ominous Sycamore tree plays a large part and that, along with the other references to nature, gives it that gothic feel I spoke about at the beginning of the review. The imagery Lee presents gives Broken Branches a thoughtful perspective and an added layer that is compelling and irresistible.

Part mystery, part gothic novel Broken Branches is a gorgeous book about grief and guilt that will stay with me for a long time. Simply wonderful!

Published on 27 July 2017 by Hideaway Fall Publishing.

A huge thank you to M.Jonathan Lee and Hideaway Fall for my advance copy in exchange for my review and to Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

I will now hand you over to Jonathan to tell you about his author influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Roald Dahl was and always has been my favourite. I love everything that he has written. I read the short stories and Unexpected Tales over and over again.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
It was by far my best subject. As a ten year old I was sent to the headmaster for writing a story where the lead protagonist met his end half way through the story and a second character became the main character. I was told that type of writing was inappropriate.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read a lot of true crime. I am an obsessed with what makes somebody do something horrific to another human being, though I don’t like reading any of the actual grisly details. I read anything that interests me though, and usually switch between fact and fiction. I do think that it has an impact on my novels. I actually think that everything around me in life has a tiny input into what I read.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I hate sci-fi. Anything that ‘couldn’t happen’ in real life is not my thing. However, I do have this crazy sci-fi idea about a company that trades in death which comes to the forefront of my mind from time to time. Maybe I’ll write it one day.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think Mark Haddon and Joseph Connolly had the biggest impact. A Spot of Bother and Summer Things respectively.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Not really. I’m the same with music. I am obsessed and there are numerous bands I adore, but I tend to buy books and music when the mood takes me as opposed to waiting for something to come out. I’m a massive Stephen King fan, and haven’t read anything by him for about five years. Last week, I suddenly thought “I fancy some Stephen King,” and went online and bought four recent novels. I’ve read three.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Ha. So many times. Misery sticks in my mind as one.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes absolutely. I observe everything around me and I am always taking note of little snippets of conversations or mannerisms that I hear. So in that sense all my books have a bit of reality in them. A Tiny Feeling of Fear (my third novel) is very personal to me, and there is more in there which reflects reality than people may think. I’d recommend people watching my documentary short, Hidden (on YouTube) for more information.

Thank you Jonathan for taking part!

About M. Jonathan Lee

M. Jonathan Lee is based in Yorkshire and is the author of several award-nominated novels. He began writing seriously in 2006 shortly after the suicide of his brother, Simon, who had been struggling with depression. Jonathan is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness. He has written for Mind and Rethink charities and has a regular blog on the Huffington Post. He is divorced and now remarried, between them they have five children, two cats and a dog.

Twitter: @MJonathanLee

Follow the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – Contrary To Popular Belief by Neil Anthes *Author Guest Post*

I’m taking part in the Contrary To Popular Belief blog tour with a guest post by author Neil Anthes. Before I hand you over to Neil, here is what the book is about…

The Blurb

Did early Christianity evolve from Roman culture and customs? Was it based on truth?
Were the social issues of the early Roman Empire a driving force to adapt old customs to a new philosophy?

A young Hebrew man seeks answers beyond his religious traditions by spending fifteen years travelling and studying spiritual principles in India and Alexandria, Egypt. Upon returning to his homeland his message of self-awareness is feared by the elders and Temple priests.

At the same time the ruling elite in Rome are determined to use this controversy to their advantage. Keen to find a solution to the social and economic issues that have developed after their relentless conquests of foreign lands, they find that the young man’s spiritual message can be altered to suit their needs.

Contrary to Popular Belief is a thought-provoking novel inspired by Christian faith, and the quest for truth.

The Geography of Contrary To Popular Belief by Neil Anthes

The main story is told around the Eastern Mediterranean. It starts with the assassination of Julius Caesar in Rome, 44 BCE. It follows the chase of the two leaders of the murder to Greece.

The Roman side of the story is situated around the buildings of the Roman Forum about 5 AD. The Temples to Saturn, Jupiter, Cybele and Vesta are prominent. The temple to Julius Caesar is also used as the location of the Chief Magistrate’s court. The ruins of some of these temples can be seen today in Rome.

Ancient Alexandria Egypt is described in the book. It was a center of commerce and culture and was built about 2300 years ago. It was a magnificent city where the famous Cleopatra lived. We visit this city around 27 AD.

The geography of the Nile river region is described. The myths that came out of the natural cycles of nature and how life evolved in the region are examined.

Northern India around 18 AD and Judea from 30 AD to 51 AD is the setting for the travels of our Teacher.

Purchase Link: Amazon UK

About the Author

Neil Anthes is a retired small business owner and international business manager. He graduated from the University of Waterloo in Canada with a bachelor of science degree. He is a semi-professional photographer and currently lives in the Southern Interior of British Columbia Canada. This is his second book. The first, Moments in Time, Reflections on Personal Mystical Experiences, was published in 2014.

Website: http://www.neilanthes.com/

Thanks to Rachel at Authoright for inviting me to be part of the tour and to Neil for the guest post. Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – Dying to Live by Michael Stanley *Review*

Delighted to be taking part in the Dying to Live blog tour today with Sam over at Clues and Reviews

The Blurb

The body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case becomes… A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane detectives.

My Thoughts

Typically, I am once again coming into a series late! Dying to Live is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series, however it worked brilliantly as a standalone and I had absolutely no difficulties in picking up the story and getting involved with the characters.

When a Bushman is found dead outside the Kalahari Game Reserve his death appears to be an accident. The autopsy on his body, however, reveals some unusual findings – while he is outwardly old his internal organs are those of a much younger man. When his body is stolen from the morgue and a Witch Doctor is reported missing it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to this than meets the eye. Detective Kubu and his colleague Detective Kahma find themselves embroiled in a case of murder, smuggling and, ultimately, greed.

I adored the characters in Dying to Live. Detective Kubu is instantly loveable – a big bear of a man who clearly thinks the world of his family, loves his food and uses nana naps to help him think through his cases. Stanley brings him completely to life through the pages of the book and you are left with a real sense of affection for him. He is definitely a character I want to meet again in the rest of the books.

The setting in Dying to Live uplifted me – which is probably a bit strange for a crime novel that involves murder and corruption – with the sunshine and the African setting bringing light into what is otherwise a book touching on dark issues. The setting also ensures that when reading this book from a UK perspective it is highly unlikely that you will have read anything else quite like it. The cultural aspects of the book are one of the things I enjoyed the most. The Witch Doctors, Muti and storyline involving Kubu’s adopted daughter give Dying to Live a uniqueness, making it a thrilling crime novel that completely transports you to a different world while making you think of subjects you probably haven’t considered before. The juxtaposition between the modern and traditional aspects of life in Botswana are wonderfully portrayed in Dying to Live.

As the plot unfolds the reader is left wondering how the threads all fit together. Dying to Live reminded of the classic crime novels in both its pace and construction. It took me down routes I wasn’t expecting to go while throwing red herrings onto my path along the way. A thoroughly enjoyable read, Detective Kubu definitely has a new fan!

About Michael Stanley

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

Dying to Live is published on 12 July 2017 by Orenda Books

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

 

Blog Tour – His Frozen Fingertips by Charlotte Bowyer *Author Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be on the His Frozen Fingertips blog tour today with a guest post by author Charlotte Bowyer on getting her book published at the age of seventeen. I don’t generally feature YA books on Bloomin’ Brilliant Books as it’s not a genre I read, however I was intrigued and impressed by the fact that Charlotte has published her first novel at such a young age, so agreed to help out.

Firstly, let’s find out what the book is about.

The Blurb

When he is diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition at the age of seventeen, Asa is certain that his adventures have come to an end. He is alone, having been abandoned by parents who never wanted him and a village that couldn’t raise him. However, as the bells start to ring, those are the least of his problems. The evil sorcerer Erebus has the land of Eodem under his control. Thrust into a world of distrust and aggression, Asa can rely on just one person: his friend Averett. The wall that divides Eodem seems to be an unobtainable goal, and danger is always one step ahead.

I will now hand you over to Charlotte…

How I got my book published at the age of seventeen

I was fifteen years old when I finished the first draft of my novel ‘His Frozen Fingertips’. It was 15th September 2015, and this seemed to be the greatest thing that I would ever achieve in my entire life. For a teenager to sit down and stick to a writing schedule for over six months was a herculean task, especially since I wrote it during Year 10 when I should have been working on my GCSE’s. My novel was at that moment the best piece of work that I had ever done, the exhilaration and pride that I felt on completing it has not been paralleled before or since. At that moment I thought that I had written the next ‘Harry Potter’, which was my favourite book series I had ever read at that time.

My novel was awful. It took me a few weeks to comprehend how convoluted the plot and characterisation was but when I did I was crushed. My expectations of my talent had far exceeded the skills that I had at the time; I had managed to write ninety-eight thousand words of rubbish without realising this. I put the matter out of my mind for a month in favour of doing homework, sports, and social activities but it bothered me that my magnum opus was languishing in some remote file of my computer. I still had a soft spot for the work that had shattered my pride, and I decided that I wanted to edit it until it was good enough to post on Wattpad and show to my friends. After all, they had pretended to read the vampire novella that I wrote when I was thirteen, it did not seem like it would be too much work to push this up to a suitable standard.

How wrong I was. Editing, in this case, was more of a total rewrite than tinkering with grammar and syntax. I went through my novel chapter by chapter, deleting situations and characters that obstructed the story’s flow. In a moment of bittersweet success, I had to all but get rid of my favourite character, a sword-maiden whose plot arc was intense but wholly unrelated to the message that I wanted to get across. It improved the plot but my relationship with the book deteriorated, it became less of a pastime and more of an obsession. I wrote religiously every night with a discipline that I would later only apply to my a-levels. My teachers were expressing concern for the lack of school work I was doing; I did terribly in my GCSE mock exams and stopped putting effort into my homework. School seemed to be a chore, something that was stopping me from having time to spend on writing.

Why was this so important to me? As an avid reader of Young Adult fiction, I was aware that LGBT+ representation was improving in the genre but it seemed as if the B in the acronym was silent, there were few positive bisexual characters who did not fall back into the stereotype of bisexuality being for white, middle-class girls. It was important to me to write a character who broke out this mould so I created Avery Hardy, who is by far my favourite literary invention of all time. He is a bisexual miner from the North who also happens to be the undisputed hero of the novel. The recognition and excellence that I wanted to be associated with a bisexual protagonist was of utmost importance to me whilst writing as many books either erased the identities of those with that sexuality or made them into one-dimensional caricatures. This is what inspired me to refine and recraft my book with such precision and care.

Eventually, I got over this frenzy of writing. No one can sustain that sort of habit as well as schoolwork. It was now April 2016, I had more important things to worry about, such as the imminent exams that loomed over the breadth of the summer. However, I decided that my finished product was good enough to consider for publication. I was sixteen now, after all, the height of maturity. In a fit of misguided enthusiasm, I typed ‘publishers’ into Google and sent a few of them copies of my manuscript and a cover letter.

Needless to say, they did not even dignify me with a response. Confused, I sent a few more out, receiving mixed reactions that ranged from mild interest to vehement disgust. It was at this moment I knew that my book was more controversial than I had previously thought. The combination of my age and the subject matter made me interesting, but it soon became apparent that this also made me a risk. I was unknown, I had not thought to get an agent, and was utterly lost in the difficult world of publishing. Moreover, a couple of publishing companies were impolite in ways that I had never imagined, one of them telling me that I had ‘a lot more growing up to do before [I] could write something worth reading’. I made further edits to my novel and decided that I would try one last time, having researched an American publisher that I had seen on the cover of a book I had been reading. They said that they would accept unsolicited submissions, so I submitted my manuscript to them and promptly forgot all about it. They were publisher number fifteen.

Having received fourteen rejections, to say I was not confident that my novel be accepted would be an understatement. A few weeks passed and I returned to my studies. My GCSE’s started and I decided that I had to work harder, bearing in mind that my writing career was obviously not the massive success that I had assumed it would be. I then received an email saying that Koehler Books wanted to have a Skype call with me to discuss my work. I had a Skype call with them and a few days later I was offered a traditional contract. It was the day of my Physics GCSE.

So, how did I get my book published when I was seventeen? That is a complex question. A lot of it has been down to luck. I was incredibly lucky to find the right people who wanted my book, to have had the right people working with me on publicity and other aspects of the process. Another important factor is work. I gave up any chance of a regular social life when I decided that I wanted to be an author, and now I am doing my a-levels my life has become even more orientated around my schoolwork and writing. It does not really matter to me, because this is what I want to do and I am an introvert but I can imagine that some people would find this difficult. When I felt sad or lacking in inspiration during the process I would look at the works of my favourite authors: William Nicholson, Madeline Miller, and J.K. Rowling. To know that every other author has been through something similar is a relief and will always help to keep me writing.

‘His Frozen Fingertips’ came out on June 26th 2017 and I am still as proud of it as I was when I completed the first draft all the way back in 2015. Over these past few years, I have come to terms with the fact that it is not perfect, though I still have to remind myself of this when I feel myself growing too critical. It is a complete coincidence, but it seems fitting that it was published on the 20th anniversary of the publication of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. ‘Harry Potter’ has been a major part of my life ever since I read it in early childhood and to hear that it has reached twenty years old now is almost unbelievable. Now that I have achieved my first step in becoming a proper author, it feels like I have grown up, too.

Wow! What an amazing story! A huge thank you Charlotte for the great guest post and thank you to Bookollective for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

Blog Tour – The Other Twin by L V Hay *Review*

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for L V Hay’s The Other Twin today and to be sharing my thoughts on Hay’s debut psychological thriller.

The Blurb

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana?
Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her?
Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as the truth…

My Thoughts

This is going to be a very difficult review to write as there is so much I want to say but I’m fearful of giving away the plot. With The Other Twin Hay has written a topical thriller that is written with great skill and understanding.

When Poppy Wade’s half-sister India falls to her death from a railway bridge, Poppy returns to her home town of Brighton to be with her family. Poppy questions the initial verdict of suicide and sets out to find out the truth behind her sister’s death. Poppy has that underlying feeling that something isn’t right regarding the death and the more she looks into it the more she discovers that she barely knows those she grew up with.

The Other Twin uses social media to great effect. Hay plays on all my likes and dislikes of social media – the way in which you never really know who is behind the keyboard, the way in which grudges and arguments can be played out in public, but also the support it can give to people who would otherwise feel alone. This is a book ultimately about identity and the use of social media works perfectly with this. As Poppy discovers things about her sister she didn’t know via her laptop, the reader is constantly left guessing as to what the truth is.

This is also a book about the secrets that hide within families and the lengths they will go to to keep them concealed. The question is raised as to how much we ever really know anyone. I always enjoy secrets and lies within a book and I adored this aspect of The Other Twin. I was gripped from the start and raced through the book to the ending.

The tone sits perfectly with the subject matter and the sense of grief that is displayed by the protagonist. It has a subtle grittiness to it that leaves you feeling unnerved throughout. Hay’s writing makes you feel unsettled as you take the journey with Poppy to discover the truth about India.

Hay weaves a twisting, turning tale in which the sense of unease never leaves you. The ending pretty much blew me away with events that I didn’t see coming at all! It will probably be the book of 2017 that delivers the ultimate shock factor, and any books that come after are going to be hard pushed to surprise me as much as The Other Twin did. A cracking debut novel! 

About L V Hay

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write
consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin
(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’
Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus
its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six
cats and five African Land Snails.

A huge thank you to L V Hay, 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…

Blog Tour – The Orphan Of India by Sharon Maas *Excerpt*

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Sharon Maas’s The Orphan Of India and doubly delighted to be able to share an extract from this gorgeous book. I reviewed the book earlier this month and loved it. You can read my review HERE.

Here is the excerpt you have been wanting to read…

Prologue
A village in Maharashtra, India, 1977

Jyothi’s slight form wavered a little as Ma placed the small bundle on her head, but she held her head up high and gripped it tightly with both hands, and soon found the point of perfect balance. It was bulky rather than heavy, and far easier to carry than water. A single full bucket dragged from the well was back-breaking, down-pulling, stop-and-start work for a girl of almost five, but she could carry laundry with ease, using her arms as props, following Ma with swinging steps and a straight but pliant back, all the way up to the Great House at the top of the hill.

Ma carried a much larger bundle on her head without the help of hands, and she walked briskly, for they were late. Jyothi quickened her pace to keep up. Every now and then she stumbled on the hem of her too-long skirt, stopped to push a fold of fabric into her sagging waistband and hurried forward to catch up, for Ma would not wait. They reached the top of the hill, turned into the driveway, entered the front courtyard and walked up the three stairs to the great wooden door at the top.

Ma knocked twice with the brass elephant-head knocker. The door swung open silently and Devi Ma let them in, frowning slightly because the sun was already rising above the turrets to the east, and work was waiting.

Jyothi followed Ma, who followed Devi Ma; single file they walked along the coloured tiles of a short passageway of fretwork walls into the inner court. Ma lifted the bundle of laundry from her own head, and then Jyothi’s bundle, and set both side by side on the marble floor of the inner court.

Devi Ma squatted down beside Jyothi’s ma and together the women began the sorting and the counting: saris in one heap, dhotis in another, blouses and underwear in other, smaller heaps; counting and adding up the prices.

Jyothi’s ma could not follow the counting and the calculations but nodded at all of Devi Ma’s sums, trusting her. Only occasionally they squabbled over the price of an item, like the big yellow woven bedspread, which Jyothi’s ma said was so heavy and hard to wash her husband had needed her eldest son’s help in wringing it out, and it was worth fifteen rupees, whereas Devi Ma said it was only worth twelve. But the squabbling was amiable and soon put to rest, and Jyothi’s mother got fourteen rupees for the bedspread. After the clean laundry was checked against Devi Ma’s list and paid for, the pile of dirty laundry in the corner would have to be sorted, counted and listed. It was a good hour’s work, interspersed with good-natured stories of village gossip volunteered by Jyothi’s ma in exchange for Great House gossip.

While they did their business Jyothi sat at the edge of the pool in the middle of the courtyard and played with the water-spitting fish. It was an oval pool of turquoise tiles and shallow water that caught the early morning sunlight and played with it in golden concentric circles rippling backwards from the fish.

Jyothi wore a red ankle-length cotton skirt and a flowered blouse; her hair was neatly plaited and hung down her back in a thick black rope. She swivelled her body around, lifted her skirt to her knees and put her feet in the pool. She leaned forward and lifted cups of water out of the pool and let the water fall back through her fingers into itself with a delicious splash. The gurgle of bubbling water was music.

All of a sudden she stopped playing and cocked her head. She had heard a sound, a sweet sound, sweeter even than the water’s voice; barely perceptible yet strong, insistent, reminding her of something but she knew not what, calling her somewhere but she knew not where.

If you could turn the glow and delight of the first glimpse of the sun rising over the trees at the edge of the village into sound, it would be this. If you could turn the perfume of a rose or the taste of a ripe mango into sound, or the feel of cool water running through your fingers, it would be this.

If you could turn a soul welling with wonder into sound, it would surely be this too…

Jyothi stood up.

The fretwork passageway led back to the front door in one direction. She had never been in the other direction, had never continued up to its end; always they had left the passage at the arch leading into the inner court.

A last glance at her mother told Jyothi the business of sorting, counting and adding was only halfway through. Her mother had forgotten her presence.

She found herself in a wide room with a wooden herringbone floor, polished to such a shine she could see a faint reflection of herself in the deep brown gloss. A series of arched windows set into one wall let in the early sunlight, casting it in long slanting pools of round-topped light. The room was bare except for a few straight-backed chairs against the walls and, near the entrance to the passageway, a hatstand with an oval mirror built into it. Jyothi crossed the room and followed the sound to an open doorway at the far side. She hesitated just one second before passing the doorway.

She found herself in a large hallway, dark, for there were no windows, only several heavy doors of wood, all closed. There was no need to open any of the doors for there was also a staircase, and the sound came from above, from the top of that staircase. Jyothi walked up, her left hand on the banister, looking upwards as if expecting that, any moment now, the glorious sound would take on form and appear as a vision of light before her, a goddess beckoning her on.

Along the upstairs landing there was a wall broken by several more doors, again all closed. As in a trance, Jyothi walked along the landing, arms held out before her as if to feel her way forward, although the landing was not dark like the hallway below, but light, and the light was coming from the far end, as well as the sound. Light and sound merged into a single entity pulling her forward, erasing the memory of Ma and the bundle of clothes downstairs, and even the memory of herself and who she was, wrapping itself around her mind and drawing her into itself.

She felt light-headed, like clear water sparkling with sunlight.

Jyothi arrived at the end of the landing and stood on the threshold of a room that was all light: smooth shining white floor, white bare walls and, at the far end, opposite to where she stood, an open balustrade broken by a row of slender columns joined by scalloped arches. Beyond the balustrade Jyothi’s glance took in the green hills rolling away to the east, and the sun, now well above the hills, brilliant white at its glowing centre, and the entire eastern sky shining white, everywhere a blinding whiteness.

White, too, were the clothes of the two people in the room. It was these two who claimed Jyothi’s attention. One of them, she saw at first glance, was the source of the sound. It was a man, sitting cross-legged on a small red carpet that provided the only spot of colour in the entire room. Across his legs rested a sitar; his fingers caressed the strings, and it was the music thus produced that had drawn Jyothi.

Music! This was music! Nothing she had ever heard before was worthy of the name. Sometimes musicians came to the village and there was singing and dancing in the main street, and of course at every festival there was music. She had seen a sitar before; she had even heard one played.

But never before like this. She stood in the doorway, transfixed, staring.

The Blurb

A lost child. A childless couple. Can they save each other?

Living on the streets of Bombay, Jyothi has no-one to turn to after her mother is involved in a tragic accident.
Monika and Jack Kingsley are desperate for a child of their own. On a trip to India, they fall in love with Jyothi and decide to adopt the orphan child.
The new family return to England, but Jyothi finds it difficult to adapt. As Monika and Jack’s relationship fractures, Jyothi is more alone than ever and music becomes her solace. But even when her extraordinary musical talent transforms into a promising career, Jyothi still doesn’t feel like she belongs.
Then a turbulent love affair causes her to question everything. And Jyothi realises that before she can embrace her future, she must confront her past…
The Orphan of India is an utterly evocative and heart-wrenching novel that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies, Santa Montefiore and Diane Chamberlain.

Sounds gorgeous right? You can purchase your copy in the UK HERE and in the US HERE.

A huge thank you to Sharon Maas and Kim Nash at Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for allowing me to share this excerpt. Follow the rest of the tour…

 

 

Blog Tour – Each Little Lie by Tom Bale *Review*

Regular readers of Bloomin’ Brilliant Books will know that I’m a big fan of Tom Bale’s books and I’m de-bloody-lighted to be kicking off the blog tour for his latest novel Each Little Lie with the lovely Chelle at Chelle’s Book Reviews.  It is publication day today so a huge happy book birthday to Tom and the Bookouture team!

Firstly what is Each Little Lie about?

The Blurb

One split second can destroy your life forever.

Single mother Jen Cornish is just trying to hold things together for the sake of her seven-year-old son Charlie. Until the day when she does an impulsive good deed to help a neighbour, setting off a terrifying chain of events that quickly spirals out of control…

When she is arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, Jen quickly starts to wonder if someone is playing a cruel game with her – or is she losing her mind?

Desperate to clear her name with the police, she must first untangle a chilling web of lies. But someone is watching her every move – and it isn’t just Jen who is in danger.

They’re watching her child as well.

An unputdownable psychological thriller with plenty of twists that will keep you hooked until the very last page…

Sounds good right? So what did I think?

My Thoughts

When Jen Cornish takes action to help out a neighbour who has lost her keys, little does she know that this split-second decision will change her life beyond recognition. Bale has the ability to make an everyday, mundane event into a terrifying experience, twisting the ordinary into the extraordinary in a way that makes you look again at those little decisions you make in your life. In Each Little Lie Bale uses this to its full advantage.

Bale’s protagonist in Each Little Lie is Jen; recently separated and going through a divorce, and single mum to seven-year-old Charlie. Credit to Bale for creating a likeable and believable character and effectively making her voice, thoughts and feelings female in tone. I completely forgot that the author was male! I warmed to her immediately, could empathise with her completely and was on her side throughout the whole journey. When she is arrested for a crime she did not commit, Bale gets to the very heart of a fear that all of us, at some point, have probably thought ‘what if?’ about, especially in the wake of television programmes such as ‘Making a Murderer’.

You are pulled into the story immediately and the plot and pace doesn’t let you go until you have reached the shocking climax. It has been a while since I last really devoured a book, but I read Each Little Lie within a couple of days as I just had to know what would happen. Just as you think the story is wrapping up, Bale takes it up another notch with unexpected twists that you don’t see coming.

Within the storyline there is the premise that money can pretty much buy you anything, including manipulation of the justice system. Full of particularly odious characters, Bale had my teeth set on edge and my skin crawling at some of their actions. He does not hold back when creating that cringe factor, letting it rip for maximum effect. This makes for creepy reading that gets right under your skin!

Each Little Lie has you perched on the edge of your seat throughout, and by the end of the book your nails are bitten down to the quick. Bale is a real master of the thriller, twisting everyday life into the horrifying with a plot that hurtles along at an unprecedented rate. Brilliant!

A huge thank you to Tom Bale and Kim Nash at Bookouture for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on 29 June 2017 by Bookouture. You can purchase your copy here:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2qUMvVj
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2qU9ORi

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – That One May Smile by Valerie Keogh *Author Q&A*

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Valerie Keogh’s That One May Smile today and have a fab Q&A with the lady herself.  Before I hand over to Valerie let me tell you about her new book…

When Kelly Johnson’s husband disappears, her perfect world in the Foxrock suburb of Dublin falls apart. Then she stumbles on a dead body in the graveyard behind her house.
A coincidence? Garda Sergeant Mike West thinks so until he finds a link between the dead body and Kelly’s missing husband.
And then to add to the problem, Kelly disappears.
The investigation takes West first to Cornwall and then to Cork, on the trail of a tangled case involving identity theft, blackmail and illegal drugs. And as if the complications of the case weren’t enough there is the constant, irritating – and definitely unsuitable – attraction, to the beautiful Kelly, who will keep disappearing!

You can purchase a copy HERE.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Valerie Keogh, I’m the author of eight novels published on Amazon. I’m also a registered nurse. Since one of my characters is a serial killer and a nurse, I decided to write under a pen name – I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea!

How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
I always had my head in a book as a child and when not reading I was making up stories of my own. I wrote some on pieces of paper and tied them together with string. Unfortunately, none survived. It would be fun to see them now.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration can come from anything, something you hear, see or experience. I’m a terrible insomniac so sometimes come up with ideas while I’m trying to sleep. I often come back from holidays with an idea for a new story. On a recent visit to Cape Town, we went up Table Mountain and there was a bomb scare on the cable car so we had to stay up there for hours. That incident has given me an idea, not just for another story, but for another series.

How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your books?
That One May Smile is the first in my Garda West series. It’s based in Ireland and is a fairly typical mystery series with a hint of romance. There is no gratuitous violence or sex, I like to concentrate on the puzzle of it all, and love to keep the reader guessing.

Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?
Absolutely. As an Indie writer I depend on it to get my work out there and use a variety of promotional groups to help me do so.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
That fantastic feeling when you press the Publish button and it’s out there waiting to be read. Feedback from readers is wonderful and I get a great thrill when I get readers asking when the next novel is due. The writing community is very supportive and encouraging and I’ve made a number of friends.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
The least favourite, I suppose, is the continuous need for marketing.

Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?
I’d like to be a Hybrid author – continue the series I have independently published but also have a series traditionally published. Getting the both of both worlds, I suppose. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll keep going as I am and continue to self-publish.

What’s next for you?
I’m writing the next in the Garda West series, that’ll be the fourth. I’m planning to follow on immediately with the fifth and then start my new series which will incorporate that experience I had in Cape Town.

I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?
I love crime novels but I’m wary now of reading while I am writing as I find myself adopting the style of the writer I’m reading! To be honest, I’ve very little time for reading anymore, if I’m not working as a nurse, I’m writing or researching.

Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?
One of my all time favourite’s is Jane Eyre, but a more recent one is Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. And I love all John Connolly’s novels.

Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?
Any of the above!

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m still working as a nurse so that takes up a lot of my time. I enjoy gardening, walking and having great holidays. My idea of heaven, is a glass of wine in a sunny place.

Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?
Gardening, walking, wine-drinking.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Current favourite, Cape Town. Stunningly beautiful. Previously it would have been Cinque Terre or Venice.

Favourite food?
An easy one – pizza!

Favourite drink?
Wine. Good coffee.

Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?
There are so many stories in my head waiting to get down on paper, just when I think I have them under control, more pop in demanding to be released. So it’s always going to be writing.

About the author:

Valerie Keogh is from Dublin but currently lives with her husband and two cats ten miles from Bath, U.K. She works two to three days a week as a nurse and spends the other days writing. That One May Smile is the first of her crime series, the Garda West series, based in Ireland. She also writes a series based in the UK, the Hudson and Connolly series, about a female serial killer who works with the police. There is also a stand-alone psychological thriller, Exit Five from Charing Cross. When not working or writing she likes to walk along the Kennet and Avon canal, daydreaming and working out plots. She also loves to travel and usually comes home with a new story to write. She is partial to lemon drizzle cake, crusty bread with hummus, and wine.

Links

Facebook: @valeriekeoghnovels

Twitter: @ValerieKeogh1

Thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Publicity for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Follow the tour…