Category Archives: Blog Tours

Blog tours Bloomin’ Brilliant Books has participated in.

Blog Tour – Exquisite by Sarah Stovell *Review*

I am delighted and excited to be on the Exquisite by Sarah Stovell blog tour today and finally able to share my review of this wonderful book alongside the brilliant The Book Trail.

The Blurb

A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…
Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.
Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.
When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts

I could not wait to get my hands on Sarah Stovell’s debut psychological thriller Exquisite as I was drawn in by the title and the stunning cover. I adore a book with complex characters and unreliable narrators and in Exquisite Stovell has provided me with these in abundance.

Exquisite takes you into the lives of forty-year-old, successful author, married, mother of two Bo Luxton and mid-twenties, stumbling-through-life, aspirational writer Alice Dark. What the women have in common is their love and talent for the written word and a difficult and traumatic childhood. When the two women meet at a writer’s course in Northumberland there is an immediate spark and the chain of events that are set in motion are cataclysmic.

Stovell has, in my mind, created the perfect psychological thriller. It draws you in immediately and the narrative structure of the book works in such a way that you never quite know who to believe. Doubt prevails as you follow each character through the course of their relationship, getting deep into their thoughts and feelings. But whose thoughts and feelings are genuine and which version of events should you believe? Stovell has cleverly created characters who simultaneously made my heart ache and sent chills down my spine.

Exquisite’s ending is left to the reader’s interpretation and yet is satisfying. It ensures that the book stays with you long after you have read the final page. This, for me, fit perfectly with the tone, feel and the doubt that endures through the course of the book.

One of the joys of Exquisite is the literary quality that combines so perfectly with the twists and turns Stovell creates. Her prose throughout the book is outstanding and she is a formidable talent. Exquisite is sublime in that it is both breathtaking and unsettling. Stovell has you basking in its beauty while shivering in its darkness.

Exquisite is a delicately woven tale of passion, obsessive love and the impact of not being mothered. I haven’t read a book about a relationship that has affected me in this way since Jeanette Winterson’s Written On The Body. There is a dark beauty within its pages and Exquisite is set to be one of the books of the year.

Published on 15 June 2017 by Orenda Books.

A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. 

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Blog Tour – Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen *Review*

I’m delighted to be taking part in Gunnar Staalesen’s Wolves in the Dark blog tour today with Dee at It’s All About The Books and sharing my review.

The Blurb

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material… and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.
When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet.
Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My Thoughts

Wolves in the Dark is the 21st book in Staalesen’s Varg Veum series and yet this is the first Veum novel I have read. I was a little concerned about jumping into a book so late in a very established series, however, Wolves in the Dark works perfectly as a standalone.

Varg Veum is a private investigator working in Bergen, Norway and when we first meet him in Wolves in the Dark he is being arrested by police officers for suspicions of being part of a paedophile ring. As child pornography is found on his computer, Veum has to find out who put it there and why in order to clear his name and prove his innocence. What follows is a hard-hitting story that takes you into Norway’s dark and shocking underbelly.

Veum is a complex character who, it becomes apparent, has gone through his share of difficulties over the past few years. Losing his partner has left him bereft and turning to alcohol to help him cope with his loss. Staalesen’s characterisation is fantastic and he is incredibly skilled at bringing Veum out from the pages and into real life. As Veum struggles to sift through his precarious memories of the past few years to unearth who may have bode him ill, his humanity shines through via his sardonic outlook and self-depreciating humour.

Wolves in the Dark has a complex plot with a large cast of characters which demonstrates Staalesen’s story-telling skills as he intricately weaves each thread together. It does take an amount of concentration to keep track, but it is worth the added effort as he pulls it all together in the highly climatic and shocking ending. As each revelation and connection was unveiled I found myself wondering if there really is any such thing as coincidences. Each chapter is short yet perfectly formed and this serves to add to the pace and plot.

This is a gritty and socially-aware novel with Staalesen being unafraid to raise uncomfortable issues that are, sadly, a part of today’s society. While this may make Wolves in the Dark uncomfortable reading at times Staalesen, in my opinion, approaches the difficult subject of child sexual abuse in a non-gratuitous way that serves to highlight the organisation behind these crimes.

Compelling, dark and perfectly plotted with a protagonist that shines, Wolves in the Dark is a great read that will appeal to those who yearn for a more complex storyline than their usual crime thriller.

Published on 15 June 2017 by Orenda Books.

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of Wolves in the Dark and for inviting me to part of the blog tour.

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Blog Tour – The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards *Review and Author Influences*

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be taking part in Mark Edwards’ blog tour for his latest novel The Lucky Ones. I’m thrilled to be sharing my review AND I have the man himself taking part in Author Influences, so you can find out about Mark’s favourite books and authors. But first find out more about The Lucky Ones

The Blurb

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
Happiness…and death.
The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 Kindle bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Devil’s Work.

My Thoughts

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Mark Edwards’s books and so I was incredibly excited to receive an advance copy of The Lucky Ones. So what did I think? Is it as good as his other books? ‘As good as’ is an understatement … I think it’s his best yet and I absolutely loved it!

Set in a small village in Shropshire, this normally peaceful village has been rocked by a series of killings by who the media have dubbed ‘The Shropshire Viper’. DI Imogen Evans, a detective recently transferred from the Met, is the lead on the case and has her work cut out finding the killer. Ben, with his son Ollie, has recently moved back to the Shropshire village where he grew up following the separation from his wife. Little does he know he is going to be the Viper’s next target.

The prologue of The Lucky Ones drags you into the story and from there on it just doesn’t let you go! Perfectly paced, Edwards ruined many a planned early night as once I started this book I just could not put it down. It is utterly gripping!

The characters are great, and Edwards makes full use of telling the story from three perspectives. We follow DI Imogen Evans in third person narrative as she investigates the spate of killings. Imogen is struggling to adjust to life in a rural area after being part of The Met. Imogen is likeable and while she certainly has issues from her past she is not the cliched detective that we so often see in crime novels. Ben is immediately likeable as the single father who is adjusting to his new life after a recent run of bad luck, and we see things directly from his perspective through first person narrative. Then we have the chilling voice of the killer. I always love to get into the mind of the killer and Edwards provides this as parts of the story are told directly by The Viper. This is a killer with a very skewed view of life and death and this makes him intriguing and interesting.

The premise of The Lucky Ones is great and totally different as the killer focuses on making his victims, bizarrely, happy! If something is too good to be true, it probably is could be the lesson learned from The Lucky Ones. Edwards had me constantly thinking I had it all figured out as to who the antagonist was to then prove me totally wrong and clueless. He led me up so many garden paths I was beginning to feel like a horticulturalist! This book totally kept me enthralled and on my toes!

If you have to read only one thriller this year make it The Lucky Ones … You will not be disappointed. Utter perfection!

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards is published by Thomas & Mercer on 15 June 2017 as an £8.99 paperback original.

A huge thank you to Mark Edwards, Lisa Shakespeare at Midas PR and Thomas and Mercer for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

And now I hand you over to Mark to tell you about his author influences…

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
When I was at primary school I mainly read comics – everything from 2000AD to Whizzer and Chips! – but my first favourite author was John Wyndham. I was desperate to read Day of the Triffids after watching the BBC adaptation. My dad took me to our local book shop to get a copy and the bookseller told him it wasn’t suitable for children. Luckily, he ignored her attempt at censorship.

A few years later, after I’d devoured Wyndham’s back catalogue, I read and loved the first two Adrian Mole books. I still quote them to this day and spent half my life looking for a girl, like Sharon Botts, who will do anything for 50p and a pound of grapes.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
It was the only subject I was good at. I loved writing stories, many of which were pretty dark and gruesome. I wrote a story about a house with walls that oozed blood when I was nine or ten. Later, when I was at secondary school, I was awarded the English Prize two years in a row. It remains the only literary prize I’ve ever won.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I mostly read crime novels and psychological thrillers. Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner was the first of the current wave of psych thrillers that I read and it made me realise that was the kind of book I wanted to write. I was fortunate to start publishing psych thrillers – and domestic noir – just as it took off and became the most popular genre.

Having said that, I think the market is so saturated now that it’s getting harder to be original and fresh. There seem to be a lot of identikit domestic thrillers around at the moment, which is one reason my new book, The Lucky Ones, subverts the usual psychological thriller plot line by turning everything on its head…

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I love a good ‘end of the world’ novel and have always wanted to write one. I would love to pen something like Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy – something really epic and dark.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
It’s not a very original answer but it was initially Stephen King and James Herbert, plus Clive Barker to a lesser extent. I was a huge horror reader as a teenager and that was when I first started to dream about being a writer.

Then, in my early twenties, I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which remains my favourite book. It’s perfect in every way, and I yearn to make readers feel as I felt when I first experienced that book.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Yes, quite a few. The aforementioned Donna Tartt, along with Bret Easton Ellis, Mo Hayder (my favourite crime writer), Elizabeth Haynes, Paula Daly, CL Taylor…I could go on and on.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
This happens nearly every week! One that stands out is I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. That twist is so good – I think Clare really raised the bar with that and I’ve been obsessed ever since with coming up with a twist that good. To mention one more, I loved The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer because it was so funny. Every line is read-aloud brilliant.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Most of my psychological thrillers have been influenced by things that happened to me. The Magpies was based on my own experience of neighbours from hell; Follow You Home was inspired by a real-life disaster on a train in Europe. I don’t really base books on real crimes, although I had to research Harold Shipman for The Lucky Ones as my killer uses the same method to murder his victims. It’s terrifying that Britain’s most prolific serial killer was not a prowling Hannibal Lecter type but a seemingly trustworthy, mild-mannered medic. Although, come to think of it, both Shipman and Lecter were doctors…

A massive thanks to Mark Edwards for taking the time to answer my questions brilliantly. You have made my month!

About Mark Edwards

After a career that has taken in everything from answering complaint calls for a rail company to teaching English in Japan and being a marketing director, Mark now writes full-time.

He live in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, three children, a ginger cat and a golden retriever.

Connect with Mark


Twitter: @mredwards

Facebook: @markedwardsbooks

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Continue reading Blog Tour – The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards *Review and Author Influences*

Blog Tour – I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland *Review*

I’m delighted to be today’s host on the blog tour for Barbara Bourland’s debut novel I’ll Eat When I’m Dead.

The Blurb

RAGE Fashion Book is the world’s most dynamic, ambitious magazine.
Its editors ­- like Cat Ono – have the power to change minds and the market.
They’re savvy, sisterly and polished to perfection. Even the one found dead in her office.
Everyone thinks Hillary starved to death – but Cat knows her friend’s dieting wasn’t a capital P problem. If beauty kills, it’d take more than that. Hot-headed and fiercely feminist, Cat’s sure she can match the investigating skills of Detective Mark Hutton, solve the case, and achieve sartorial fulfillment.
But going undercover, Cat’s in over her head, and soon becomes snared in a very stylish web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that will change her look – and outlook – forever.
Cat’s about to find out what it really means to be a fashion victim.

My Thoughts

Beauty can be deadly … quite literally in Hillary Whitney’s case. When the editor is found dead in one of the work rooms at Rage Fashion Book, the magazine she works for, a heart attack caused by near starvation is found to be the cause. However, friend and colleague Cat Ono suspects otherwise.

I have mixed feelings about this book, as somebody who doesn’t read magazines and has no interest in fashion and beauty, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead wasn’t an obvious choice of book for me. I was drawn in by the promise of biting humour and the investigation of a death. I did find some of the book amusing with its sardonic look at the fashion and publishing industry but I would have preferred more emphasis on the suspicious death of Hillary.

Cat Ono, the main character, is well constructed and likeable. A feminist at heart, she dislikes the way in which women are used as commodities but sadly finds herself pulled into this position. I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour with the names given to Rage’s photo shoots making me giggle. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’s underlying theme is that of the murky side of the fashion industry and consumerism and Bourland highlights the impact of globalisation and how we, women particularly, are perceived to be worthy by the products they own, the clothes they wear and the way they look. The issues of bulimia are raised along with cocaine use and fad diets, all issues you would expect to see within the world of fashion.

Bourland has cleverly created a sardonic look at the world of fashion, however I would have liked more focus on the death of Hillary. While she captures the world of fashion and the pressures of working within a magazine environment really well, I did struggle to get into I’ll Eat When I’m Dead. I don’t think this is a reflection on the book or Bourland’s writing, but more about me and my tastes.

If you are interested in fashion and enjoy sardonic humour then give I’ll Eat When I’m Dead a read. The novel has a lot to say about some pertinent issues which I liked and parts of it made me laugh, however I was expecting more about the death and the investigation and the focus being on the fashion industry, sadly, meant it didn’t hold my attention.

Published on 18 May 2017 by Riverrun.

A huge thank you to Barbara Bourland and Alainna at Quercus for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Catch the rest of the tour…


Blog Tour – Reconciliation For The Dead by Paul E. Hardisty

I am delighted to be one of today’s blogs hosting on the Reconciliation For The Dead blog tour with Lorraine at The Book Review Cafe. Let me tell you this was not an easy review to write and it is an incredibly hard-hitting book but I am so glad I have read it!

The Blurb

Sequel to the critically acclaimed The Abrupt Physics of Dying and The Evolution of Fear.

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

My Thoughts

‘…this neighbourhood so like the one he grew up in, the presumption of superiority as much a part of the place as the large, fenced gardens and the pools and the little backyard shacks for the black help.’

How on earth do you even begin to review a book like Hardisty’s Reconciliation For The Dead? It is a nerve-jangling thriller that is intelligently written with political acuity but it is a difficult read due to its subject matter. It is intensely emotional and hard-hitting. I have always had a mild interest in South Africa as my grandmother was from Cape Town and my mum lived in Rhodesia for a short time as a child. Africa has always struck me as a beautiful country that has sadly been used and raped for it’s resources. Reconciliation For The Dead sadly confirmed my view and made me aware of atrocities I had no idea had happened … and happened so recently.

It has taken me some time to gather my thoughts after finishing this book, so much was its affect on me. So how to start? Reconciliation For The Dead crosses two timelines. We follow Claymore Straker during his time as a young soldier in South Africa in 1981, and in 1996 as a witness in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His time as a witness is told via the transcripts which punctuates throughout the story and it is perfectly constructed. I was completely transported to Africa as Hardisty superbly creates the sense of place. From the descriptions of the landscape to the Africaans colloquialisms, Hardisty ensures that you are fully immersed in the surroundings and, therefore, the novel. And this is not the only thing that stands out about his writing, which I will come on to later.

Claymore Straker is a fantastic protagonist. He is tough and gutsy, yet intelligent and able to consider what is going on around him with an open mind. I really felt for him and the positions he found himself in. This is the third book in the Claymore Straker series but it works incredibly well as a standalone, which is how I read it. If you read this as your first in the series I have no doubt that, like me, you will be buying the first two.

Reconciliation For The Dead is more than a thriller … so much more. Hardisty draws on historical facts and writes about them in such a way that the book becomes all engrossing … you cannot get it out of your head and it consumes you. It is clear that Hardisty has carefully researched his subject matter and every page brims with authenticity. As I said, this is more than a thriller, it is a devastating reminder of the potential barbarity of human beings. Unflinchingly raw in its depictions of genocide, Hardisty captures the brutality and horror of war and the indelible mark it leaves on those who partake in it. This is one of the things that makes Straker such a brilliant and, ultimately, real character.

Nothing is left out of Reconciliation For The Dead, from the propaganda used by those in their ivory towers to get others to do their bidding, to the motivations behind war (which is sadly far removed from the sense of keeping people safe as in WW2), and the prejudices which sadly still come down to something as rudimentary as the colour of your skin. Throughout Hardisty writes with emotional acuity and his use of language is beautiful despite the subject matter. It has its moments where it is philosophical in tone and it will make you question everything you ever thought or felt about humanity. Yes, it is bleak and distressing, but Hardisty later reminds us that there is still goodness out there and those who are being treated badly continue to have a great capacity for empathy, concern and care.

Although it is undoubtedly gripping, I had to take regular breaks from the book due to the emotional impact it had on me. This is a book to be read slowly in order to be able to gather your thoughts during various points and, quite frankly, pull yourself together again.

Shocking, raw, and devastating; much like Schindler’s List is a film that must be watched, Reconciliation For The Dead is a book that MUST be read to serve as a reminder that, at the end of the day, we are all made the same.

Published on eBook on 22 March 2017 and paperback on 30 May 2017 by Orenda Books.

I am still recovering from this book! A huge thank you to Paul E. Hardisty, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of Reconciliation For The Dead and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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Blog Tour – Murder at Mystery Bay Hotel by Marcia Spillers *Guest Post*

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Marcia Spillars’ Murder at Mystery Bay Hotel with a brilliant guest post by Marcia on Five Pieces Of Useful Advice For New Writers, but first a little bit about the book…

Genre: Cozy/Amateur Sleuth Mystery
Series: Mystery Bay Series #1
Release Date: January 18, 2017

Can Delphie Beauchamp, a Texas born research librarian fresh from a break-up with her two-timing boyfriend, help best friend and newly elected Chief of Police Em Landry, solve a double homicide in the old Mystery Bay Cemetery? Chief Landry needs Delphie’s help in solving the murders, along with determining why specific graves from the early eighteen-hundreds have been vandalized. Her canine best friend in tow, a twenty-two-pound dachshund named Huckleberry, Delphie heads for the tropical island of Mystery Bay, Florida where she begins a journey that includes a pinch of gold, a touch or romance, and a wallop of ghosts, in a race to solve the mystery, of the Mystery Bay Hotel.

The smell of the ocean, crisp and briny like a jar of pickles, held just a hint of murder in the air. I picked up my luggage from the small carousel inside the terminal and opened the glass door of the Mystery Bay International Airport. The sultry, mid-October sunshine hit me all at once, along with the sweet fragrance of the red, frangipani trees that bordered the edges of the sidewalk. Amazing how paradise was just a plane ride away.
“God, what a beautiful day.” I dropped my suitcase on the pink-hued coral sidewalk and pulled out my sunglasses. Before I could slip them on, Huckleberry, my twenty-two pound, red Dachshund whined for me to take off his winter sweater. Poor little guy. The outfit worked great for the chilly October weather in central Texas but not the south Florida humidity.
“Sorry, Huck.” I unhooked his leash and pulled off the sweater. Stretching out his long body, Huckleberry trotted over to the nearest hibiscus bush and hunched over. Seconds later he sighed in relief.
I coughed and fanned the air. Guess he wasn’t that hot in his sweater after all.

Five Pieces of Useful Advice for New Writers

Each time I begin a new book, an essay, a blog, I feel like a novice writer still learning the craft. At first I’m full of self-confidence, new ideas, creativity; certain this will be the project that makes a difference in the world. Then I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the screen, wondering what in the world made me think I could ever be a writer.

After several minutes of self-examination, I shrug it off and force myself to write a few sentences. Nothing fancy, nothing earth-shattering- just something to get my fingers moving on the keyboard. And then the magic happens. I get into the groove and begin to write. As I write, I grow interested in what I’m writing, and sentence after sentence shows up on the page.

I said this to introduce you to my first piece of writing advice, which is, above all, be interested in what you write. Maybe it sounds simplistic, but it rings true with every project you begin. And to be interested in what you write, means selecting the correct genre or project. Let’s face it-you’ll be spending many long hours with your manuscript so you better make sure you enjoy each other’s company. My first book, “Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel”, took me three years. I rewrote the manuscript five times before it was published. The saving grace was that I enjoy humor, which is evident in the book, and of course, South Florida where the book is set. The fact that I’m in love with the mystery genre didn’t hurt either. Those three key elements allowed me to read the manuscript over and over until my eyes burned, to edit each word, each line for all those elements that turn an idea into a book.

The second thing, and I don’t say this lightly, is to learn the craft of writing. Go to workshops and conferences, take classes, chat up other writers to see how they go about this business of writing. Not only will you learn how to write, but you’ll form a network of people for support and encouragement. As weeks turn into months, this encouragement will be crucial to keep you focused on your project.

The third piece of advice, one that I wish I’d known about before I began writing, is to learn the guidelines of your genre if you’re writing fiction.

Genres have specific guidelines that you might want to become familiar with before you begin your project. “Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel” is marketed as a cozy mystery, but it contains elements of romance, paranormal, and suspense, so it crosses genres. It’s considered to be an “out of the box” type of cozy mystery. My reader’s either love it completely, or don’t like it because it doesn’t follow the traditional lines of what they’re used to reading. One of the main complaints I received concerned a ghostly Sea Captain who is pivotal to the story line. As a general rule, ghosts don’t normally appear in cozy mysteries. Fortunately I’ve had many more positive reviews then negative, and if I had to do it again, I’d still write it the same way. However, for future books I plan to stay a little closer to standard guidelines.

Something I learned along this journey, just recently in fact, was to prepare for the unexpected while writing. I began this post in anticipation, researching a few facts, stretching my fingers as I settled down with the keyboard, prepared to share my thoughts. Around the second day of this journey I noticed a slight headache coming on. I shrugged it off, and continued to pound the keyboard. By that evening, however, the slight headache had morphed into a hand clutching my forehead accompanied by a sore throat and sniffles. Long story short, after the doctor’s visit, I was now the proud owner of a healthy case of the flu and the writing had to take a back seat while I recovered.
The moral of the story is this. The best intentions can be sidelined by the unexpected. If it occurs, take the time you need to deal with whatever is happening, and then begin afresh with your writing. Writing reflects your state of health, mind, personal life, and other factors, so, try to be at your best when you sit down to write. And please, no regrets, no beating yourself up because your writing has taken a temporary back seat. We’re all human-problems come and go. You will write again. Just be sure to stock up on the tissue of your choice in case you get the flu.

My final piece of writing advice is something I’m still working on myself, which is, learn from your mistakes, stay balanced, and move on when the book is finished.

After my first book, “Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel” was published, I rejoiced in all the good reviews, and sort of squirmed at the couple of not so good reviews. I pondered what I could have done differently, and should I have done anything differently. What I came to realize, is that no matter what mistakes I’d made, the book was completed and I’d accomplished a lifelong dream. I was now a published author and no one could take that from me. It was time to celebrate, to give the book a chance to find a life on its own, and began the second in the series. In other words, plan carefully, keep the highs and lows you’ll experience throughout this journey on an even keel, and turn your focus, your passion, onto your next project. Life will continue as it always does, and you want to make sure you’re moving with it and not standing at the sidelines.

Happy writing and until next time!

About Marcia Spillars

Marcia Spillers has been a Librarian/Archivist for more than twenty years. Currently a school librarian, she lives in Austin, Texas with her two chows, Bella and Susie Bear. Marcia spent seventeen years in south Florida perfecting her writing skills, along with completing the Writer’s Program at UCLA.
Website: www.Marcia


A huge thank you to Marcia for the fab guest post (how cute are her Chows?) and Brook Cottage Blog Tours for the invite to take part in this tour.

Blog Tour – Obsession by Amanda Robson *Review and Guest Post*

I am so excited to be part of Amanda Robson’s Obsession blog tour today, and I will be sharing with you my thoughts on her debut novel and an article about one of the four characters. I have to admit to finding it hard to write my review for Obsession (I always seem to find it difficult to write reviews of books I love) so hope I have managed to do this great debut some justice. 

My Thoughts

Obsession is the debut novel by Amanda Robson and it certainly got under my skin. It revolves around four friends, two couples, who find their lives in a turbulent spiral of deceit and fixation when Rob, the husband of Carly answers her ‘Who else would you go for, if you could?’ question honestly. I don’t want to talk about the plot in any way as you need to experience Obsession for yourself and come to your own conclusions without outside influence.

The events that unfold are told in first person narrative by Carly, Rob, Jenni and Craig, giving the reader, what should be, unprecedented access to their thoughts and feelings. Throughout, I didn’t know whose version of events to believe and who to trust. I adore an unreliable narrator and Obsession has them in abundance. Robson cleverly pulls this off, with each chapter being perfectly crafted, leaving you doubting your own thoughts as you turn each page. Maximum impact is further created with short, punchy chapters and a rhythm that is wonderfully dark in tone. As the book progresses you can’t shift the unease and sense of foreboding that sits with you and increases with each chapter.

This is a novel that lends itself perfectly to discussion. It twists and turns, raising issues you weren’t expecting to come across. Mental health, adultery, religious beliefs, honesty and maternal instincts are all in there along with, as the title suggests, compulsive infatuation. Every time you put the book down, part of it is scorched into your mind and you can’t help but mull over what you have read. The big questions that arose for me were: are we too quick to judge someone who has suffered with mental health difficulties as paranoid if they raise what seem to be outlandish concerns? And how far can someone hide who they really are? I adore a book that entertains me whilst also getting the old cerebral juices going, and Obsession hit the mark perfectly.

A novel that explores the darker side of human nature within ordinary people, Obsession will have you infatuated from the first chapter. The need to know and understand the thoughts and behaviour of the characters becomes like an itch you can’t scratch. A fantastic debut novel that is well-written and simultaneously dark and heart-breaking, Robson is an author to keep an eye on in the future.

Obsession  centres around four characters. Rob is the husband of Carly, he is a well-respected, much loved local GP and father of three. Amanda tells us more about Rob…

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Rob

1. When he was in the sixth form he was intending to apply to study law not medicine. He changed his mind at the last minute and decided to read medicine, almost on a whim, after watching a TV documentary about GP’s. Sometimes he regrets it, especially when his patients are being difficult.

2. When he was a teenager he was an atheist for a while. Looking back he thinks he was just rebelling against the inevitable before he accepted the truth. It is quite common for religious people to have had a period of atheism, apparently. Or at least that is what a lay-preacher once told him. At that stage of his life he felt angry about lots of things, including God. He didn’t want to think about an omnipotent being having control over his life. But one day he saw an old film of Billy Graham preaching in America and all of a sudden Jesus’s story made sense. A new world fell into place. A rational world of kindness, hope and forgiveness. He felt a lightness in his heart. He still feels that sense of release whenever he prays to the Lord.

3. Rob does fifty sit ups every night before he goes to bed, and fifty bench presses when he gets up in the morning, listening to Two Pac or Notorious BIG. He listens to rap to get himself riled up. When he is riled he works harder.

4. Rob smoked cigarettes all the way through his medical course. By the time he took his finals he was on two packs of B & H a day. He always kept the second pack carefully hidden from Carly, and swapped it around at an appropriate moment so that she thought he only got through about twenty, not forty. He used to smoke cigars as well. When Pippa was born he finally managed to give up because passive smoking would damage his daughter’s health. Perhaps if he lives until ninety he will go back to it.

A huge thank you to Amanda Robson and Helena Sheffield for the advance copy of Obsession and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Obsession was published by Avon on eBook on 1 May 2017 and  paperback on 1 June 2017.

Follow the rest of the tour…






Blog Tour – Watching The Bodies by Graham Smith *Review*

Absolutely thrilled to bits to be taking part in the Watching The Bodies by Graham Smith blog tour today and finally sharing my review.

The Blurb

WATCHING THE BODIES: An utterly gripping new crime thriller.
When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.
As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive. But who will it be?

My Thoughts

Watching The Bodies is the start of Graham Smith’s new series featuring Jake Boulder. Along with introducing us to new characters, Smith takes us to the USA as it is set in Casperton, Utah. I have really enjoyed the books I have read in Smith’s Major Crime Team series and was eager to get my hands on a copy of Watching The Bodies.

Jake Boulder is a Glaswegian living in Utah, working as a doorman in a local rock bar and occasional private investigator to help out his friend, Alfonse. When the body of a local girl and friend, Kira, is discovered with multiple stab wounds, Alfonse is hired by her family to find her killer. Jake agrees to help his friend as the local police force are, quite frankly, pretty useless. As more bodies are found, Jake and Alfonse find themselves in a frantic race against time to work out who the killer is before the body count becomes even higher.

It’s always exciting to be introduced to the new characters in a series and Jake Boulder is brilliant! I loved the fact that he is Scottish (especially Glaswegian) and that he feels a connection to his Scottish roots despite having lived in America for a number of years. It makes a change when the main character is not a detective as it gives you a different perspective and they are not governed by the procedures and red tape that police personnel are. It gives them scope to be a bit naughty within their investigation, bypassing the need for court orders. I’m looking forward to seeing how Jake’s character develops throughout the series.

I love a well-developed, intriguing baddie in a crime novel and Smith has created his wonderfully. Smith tells the story through Jake in first and the Watcher in third person narrative, the switch between the two works really well in giving you both perspectives. Smith tantalisingly drip feeds information about the Watcher throughout the novel leaving you wanting to understand him. I was dying to find out the motivation for his crimes and the reasons for who he is choosing to kill. Smith has created a clever, fascinating antagonist. Smith’s prose in describing how the Watcher chooses his murder weapons really stood out for me, and the Watcher is both compelling and abhorrent.

As Jake makes the connections needed to solve the crimes, and the book reaches its staggering crescendo, the reader is left on the edge of their seat. Watching the Bodies is a fast-paced, riveting page-turner that is incredibly difficult to put down. A fantastic and promising start to a new crime series.

Published on 18 April 2017 by Bloodhound Books.

About Graham Smith

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team.

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


Blog Tour – Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre *Review*

Very, very excited to be on the Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre blog tour today and sharing my thoughts on his latest book. I LOVED his last book Black Widow and could not wait to get my mitts on this book. Anyway, on to what Want You Gone is about and my thoughts on it…

The Blurb

What if all your secrets were put online?
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Who would you turn to?
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.

What would you be capable of?
Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

My Thoughts

After absolutely loving the last book in the Jack Parlabane series, Black Widow, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I have to admit to being new to Chris Brookmyre and the series, however, I intend to rectify this (when I find the time!) and read the rest of the books. Want You Gone did not disappoint and I loved this book. If you haven’t read the rest of the books in the series, don’t worry you can easily pick this book up and read it as a standalone.

I was gripped immediately. The prologue is dark, brooding and leaves you with so many questions you want answering you cannot help but read on. The compelling voice that kick starts the main body of the book after the prologue drags you in further, and what follows is a fast-paced, suspenseful, relevant thriller with another great main character alongside Parlabane.

I don’t want to talk about the plot too much as you need to discover this book for yourself, but I will say that Brookmyre has crafted a current novel which deals with cybercrime, hackers and corporate greed. As someone who is wary of social media, Want You Gone had me checking my PC security! Brookmyre has clearly researched the issues of internet security and hacker groups meticulously as it comes across as authentic. The plot is complex but expertly put together and full of jaw-dropping twists and turns.

Brookmyre has a knack of creating complex characters who leave you with a combination of feelings towards them, and Sam Morpeth in Want You Gone is no exception. She is a well-rounded character with a depth that makes her believable, and this is one of the joys of the two books in this series that I have read. He manages to incorporate these layers without slowing down the pace. You can’t help but like Jack Parlabane, he has had his fair share of troubles and just as he seems to be getting back on his feet, he is thrust back into a complex situation that threatens his well-being.

Want You Gone is an absolute cracker and this has put Brookmyre firmly on my list of favourite authors. A nail-biting, tense and twisty book that needs to be on your TBR pile!

Published on 20 April 2017 by Little, Brown.

A huge thank you to Chris Brookmyre, Little, Brown and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my review. Thank you to Grace at Little, Brown for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Make sure to catch the rest of the bloggers on the tour.

Blog Tour – Watching You by J A Schneider *Guest Post*

Whoop whoop it’s my turn on the Watching You blog tour along with Whispering Stories. Sadly my current TBR pile is verging on unmanageable so I haven’t had time to read and review Joyce’s latest novel. I am pleased though to be able to bring you a brilliant guest post by Joyce . Enjoy!

Procrastinate Much? By J.A. Schneider

Do you procrastinate? Who doesn’t? But do you kick yourself and feel guilty when you do? Everyone does that too. And shouldn’t. It’s normal.

Your wheels are really turning, all the time, even in your sleep. That thing that’s so important to you is busy 24/7, down there in the subconscious sweatshop where they never stop. In fact, downtime might be not only good but part of the process. Take a walk, play with the dog, re-watch your favorite movie or TV series. Lying fallow re-charges the batteries. You’ll come back to your work refreshed, able to look at it anew and take it to the next level.

I see authors who say, “Eight a.m., I’m outta bed, coffee beside me and hitting those keys.” Wish I could do that. I’ve tried, but I want to see the news, what’s happening in the world, who’s arguing & bitching on Twitter, ha. Maybe I need that bigger worldview – for whatever reasons, I just do. Simultaneously, I absolutely must go through the email or it will bother me, like a nagging to-do list that will continue to nag as I try to get into that fragile place of deeper concentration.

If you have routine ways of procrastinating, that’s good! A sure sign that what you’re doing is really part of the process. Don’t fight it. The guys down in the sweatshop need those stolen minutes or hours to catch up, re-fire the engine.

Picasso said that he did his best work thinking, just staring out the window. Looking out, he saw what he was trying to do better than when he stared at the taunting canvas. Too much pressure, that canvas, like authors glaring at the bleeping blank page. Did Picasso consider his staring out the window or spending hours at the local café as procrastinating? Unlikely. He was doing the work in his head, and knew it. He also spent tons of time on amorous misadventures. Mistresses would complain that talking to him was like “he was on another planet.” He was. His mind was more on his work than the current love throwing the empty Merlot bottle at him.

To each his own. Me, I’ve just looked out and spotted a Baltimore Oriole (not the baseball team) sitting on the fence. It’s October, getting chilly here in Connecticut, too cold for him. Why hasn’t he migrated south yet? Fly away, birdie, tonight’s gonna be cold!

I watch until he departs, then I go back to work. Where was I? Oh right, Detective Kerri Blasco has just pulled her gun on the guy who’s already aiming his gun at her – what happens next?

OMG, one of them shoots, my adrenalin pricks, and I’m back in the story…

Thank you Joyce for taking the time to write this fantastic post. Now I know you are all wanting to know more about Watching You so here goes…

The Blurb

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.

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

Sounds great, right? Watching You is out now and can be purchased via the following links –



For reviews and more guest posts catch the other fab bloggers on the Watching You blog tour…