The First One To Die by Victoria Jenkins @vicwritescrime @bookouture

** advanced copy received via publisher **

I’m so pleased to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The First One To Die by Victoria Jenkins today! Many thanks to Noelle Holten and Bookouture for the opportunity!

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Author : Victoria Jenkins
Title : The First One To Die
Series : Detectives King and Lane #2
Pages : 346
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 15, 2017

aboutthebook

Keira North falls to her death at a party. It initially seems like an accident, but Detectives Alex King and Chloe Lane suspect foul play: they are convinced they are dealing with a murder.

When the detectives start to investigate, they soon find that all of Keira’s closest friends have secrets that someone might kill to keep.

And as Alex and Chloe are fighting their own demons and struggling to stay on top of the case, Keira’s killer is circling the group of friends, who one by one find that their lives are in danger…

mythoughts

Well, now! Where to start?! I was blown away by the first instalment in this series “The Girls in the Water” a few months ago, which was incredible, but this one is even better! I have no idea how Victoria Jenkins managed that but she did.

Keira North falls to her death at a party. The general consensus seems to be it was an unfortunate accident but Detective Alex King isn’t convinced. Keira’s housemates all seem to be hiding secrets and it doesn’t look like any of them can be trusted. Meanwhile Detective Chloe Lane is investigating the case of a girl who ends up in a coma after taking drugs at another party.

It is just such a humongous pleasure to see this team of fabulous, yet flawed, ladies again. A lot has changed for Chloe over the past six months, which you’ll have to discover for yourself. Alex is struggling with personal issues that for me hit a bit close too home and almost made me reach for the tissues. I absolutely love the way Victoria Jenkins is able to maintain this balance between the professional and personal lives of these detectives. It adds such a layer of realism because you do sometimes take your work home with you but you also sometimes takes your personal problems to work with you.

As for the investigation, cor! Utterly gripping with twists and turns galore, it had me glued to the pages. After one too many times of trying to figure out what was going on and failing horrendously, I gave up and let Victoria Jenkins take me on this wild ride and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Nothing is what it seems!

This is an absolutely fantastic series and The First One To Die is such a thrilling read. With a masterfully crafted plot, fabulous characters and a multi-layered, intricate investigation, I dare you not to get hooked! I can’t wait for book three!

The First One To Die is available for purchase now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Victoria Jenkins lives with her husband in South Wales, where she writes crime fiction and teaches English. The Girls in the Water is her debut novel, the first featuring Detective Inspector Alex King and Detective Constable Chloe Lane. The second book in the series will be published in late 2017.

Twitter | Facebook

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The First One to Die - Blog Tour

The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne @Abigail_Author @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #guestpost

It is my absolute pleasure to host a stop on the blog blitz for the Puppet Master today and to welcome author Abigail Osborne, who wrote a wonderful post about things she wishes she could tell her younger self. But first, here’s some information about her book!

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Author : Abigail Osborne
Title : The Puppet Master
Pages : 301
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : November 13, 2017

aboutthebook

Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise is that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?

Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives she ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him but as unwanted attraction and feelings blossom between them, Adam is forced to realise that all is not as it seems.

Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master. He has influenced and shaped them for years, meticulously weaving a web of lies and control around them. Can Billie and Adam survive the betrayals in store and cut the strings that bind them?

One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

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Things I wish I could tell my younger self.

I believe in fate. In my heart, I know that everything I have been through and experienced has led me to where I am today. From that perspective, I wouldn’t want to change a thing about my life. But there is no doubt that with the benefit of hindsight I could have got to where I am today a little quicker and easier if I could go back and do it again.

With this in mind the thing I would most like to tell my younger self is that you do have a voice and you should use it. I’m not exactly sure as to the reason but I always struggled standing up for myself when I was younger. I still do at times but it is getting easier. I always remember sitting in a classroom and one of the ‘cool’ lads came over and stole my homework diary. I sat there and meekly asked for it back but he started throwing it around the room to his other friends. I couldn’t move or speak. I was impotent. I just didn’t know what to say that would stop them from teasing me. I was useless and I remember tears of frustration welling up in my eyes. I was shouting at them in my head but something stopped me from saying anything. Lack of confidence most likely but I feel looking back on it that I just didn’t have any faith in my own voice.

Writing my book allowed me to find my voice. Since then, myself and those close to me have noticed the change in me. I’ve found myself and I no longer feel that frustration of not speaking. It is this feeling that has convinced me that writing is my path. I may not be a great orator or good at communicating with people face to face but through my writing I can express everything I feel. I know now that if I was faced with that situation again, there would be no tears. I would have stood up for myself and got my homework diary back. But then if I had found my voice early in life, I might not have become a writer, or met my husband. So, although I wish I could save myself years of lows and feeling suffocated from not speaking up, I’m happy with the way my life has turned out.

So actually, I’ve just this minute changed my mind. What I wish I could tell my younger self is not to worry, this is just a step on the path to the great life ahead of you. I might also add in a warning about all those chocolate bars I will eat throughout school and university. They are definitely spending a lifetime on the hips!

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Ah, yes, the evils of chocolate. They shouldn’t have it made it so yummy!

Thanks so much to Abigail Osborne for joining me today! And thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me on the tour!

The Puppet Master is available for purchase now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

I was born in the Lake District and have moved all around the UK since then. I currently live with my husband in the West Midlands and our two cats who think swinging of the curtains like Tarzan is normal. I studied English Literature at University but it took four years after I finished University to realise how much I loved writing. I started a book reviewing blog last year and the encouraging responses I got to my reviews encouraged me to try writing this book. The Puppet Master is my first novel but it won’t be my last.

You can follow me on Twitter

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BLOG BLITZ (3)

Gone Missing by T.J. Brearton @bookouture

** advanced copy received via publisher **

Welcome to the blog blitz bonanza for Gone Missing by T.J. Brearton! Many thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for the opportunity to join. Make sure you check out all the other awesome bloggers who are participating!

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Author : T.J. Brearton
Title : Gone Missing
Pages : 386
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 16, 2017

aboutthebook

Katie Calumet is on an early-morning run when she hears a baby crying. The park is deserted, and there’s no one in the street. She follows the cries, but then everything goes black. When Katie wakes up, she’s blindfolded and her hands and feet are bound.

Detective Justin Cross takes on the case, but with the trail leading into endless dense forest, and a failing marriage weighing on his mind, finding Katie is his most challenging case yet – not least because the Calumet family are keeping secrets of their own.

Justin and Katie face a race against time that will push them both to their very limits. As Justin works day and night to discover who took her and why, Katie fights desperately to escape from her kidnappers and the forest that surrounds her…

Can Justin find her before it’s too late?

mythoughts

One morning, out on a jog, Katie Calumet thinks she can hear a baby crying. She sets out to investigate but things go horribly wrong when she finds herself trapped in a van with two men who obviously don’t have the best intentions.

When Katie’s husband reports her missing, Detective Cross takes up the case. Initially, there are few clues to help the investigation along but they do all point to premeditation. Was Katie taken because she comes from a wealthy family? Will there be a ransom demand? Will Katie be found alive?

The chapters in this story alternate between Detective Cross and Katie. Personally, I found Katie’s chapters the more gripping as she struggled to survive her ordeal. Surrounded by dense forests with a limited supply of food and water and the threat of coyotes at every turn, I found that whole experience quite frightening and thought-provoking. I kept asking myself what I would do. Try to make a run for it or stay put?

That doesn’t mean the investigation into her disappearance left me cold. There’s plenty here to keep you reading as Detective Cross hits multiple dead ends and is pushed to his limits, all the while trying to deal with his failed marriage. But for me, it was Katie’s experience that made me flip the pages just that little bit faster.

T.J. Brearton delivers another well-paced story with an interesting plot and a few twists and turns and even managed to make me like one of the bad guys. With a healthy dose of tension and suspense, this crime thriller will most surely keep you hooked.

Gone Missing is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

T. J. Brearton’s books have been on the top 100 list for Amazon Kindle. He is the author of thirteen novels, including HABIT, SURVIVORS, DAYBREAK, and BLACK SOUL (the Titan series), BURIED SECRETS, GONE MISSING, and coming soon – NEXT TO DIE.

DEAD GONE is the first book in a southwest Florida crime series featuring Special Agent Tom Lange, THE PROTECTOR (working title) is second. Other works include the gritty crime thrillers GONE, DARK WEB and DARK KILLS.

The books are published by Joffe Books and Bookouture – a division of Hachette Livre.

He lives in the Adirondacks with his wife and three children where he writes full time, takes out the trash, and competes with his kids for his wife’s attention. If you’d like to see what he’s up to, visit tjbrearton.com

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This Week in Books (November 15)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading :

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A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.

The book I’m currently reading :

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Christopher would never hurt anyone. Not intentionally. Even after everything that’s happened I still believe that…

Christopher Harris is a lonely boy. A boy who has never fitted in to his family. Who has always felt something was missing from his life.

Until one day, when he discovers a suitcase in his family’s attic. And a secret about his mother that changes everything.

What price would you pay for the perfect family?

Christopher finally has a chance at happiness. A happiness that he will do anything to protect…

What I’m reading next :

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Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is … elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?

Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs – not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in – the woman Hendrik has always longed for – he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.

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The odds of sticking to the “what I’m reading next” are low. In case you were getting your hopes up or something. 😄

What are you reading this week? Whatever it is, I wish you lots of happy reading! xx

Snow Light by Danielle Zinn @DanielleZinn4 @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #guestpost

It is a pleasure to be hosting a stop on the blog blitz for Snow Light today! Thanks to Sarah Hardy for inviting me! Author Danielle Zinn joins me on publication day to talk about where the idea for the book came from. But first, here’s what Snow Light is all about.

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Author : Danielle Zinn
Title : Snow Light
Pages : 352
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : November 15, 2017

aboutthebook

When Detective Inspector Nathaniel Thomas encounters a man attacking a young woman in a local park, the DI is unable to save her. Out of guilt, Thomas quits his job at Homicide Headquarters and relocates to the tiny village of Turtleville, where he regains control of himself and begins to enjoy life again.

However, a year later, all the guilt and shame of the park murder re-emerges when a local hermit, Ethan Wright, is murdered with an unusual weapon and left on display in the centre of the village.

For Thomas, the situation gets worse when DS Ann Collins, a colleague from his past, appears to help with the case. But things become complicated when the victim’s identity is put into question.

Who is the victim? And why was he murdered?

Thomas and Collins will find themselves trying to solve a highly unusual case and both may have more in common than they could have ever imagined.

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Where the idea for the book came from …

When I told my family and friends that I had written a detective thriller which will be published by a real book publisher, I was met with excitement and a thrill of anticipation. Unfortunately some of those happy faces turned sour when realizing that the book was actually written in English. I was born in Germany to German parents and raised with the German language only. So how come the book turned out to be in English?

This is actually my mother’s fault. She is an English teacher at our local grammar school and at the tender age of six I got my very first Oxford children’s dictionary. So instead of reading bedtime stories about pirates and witches, my mum and I danced through the seasons and the months of the year. I travelled a lot with my parents across Canada and the USA and later was allowed to go on language trips to Devon, studied in Durham and worked in Wales; always bringing as many English books back home as the airline’s luggage restriction would allow. The English language and books, mainly mystery thrillers, were an ever present constant throughout my life so to me there was never the question of which language a book should be written in. This might sound weird but I’m not able to write a book in German, I simply don’t have a feeling for writing in my native language.

Three years ago I came back from a stunning holiday in Australia – of course with a couple of books I had gathered along the way. Immediately I fell in love with the writing style of one of them and with Christmas approaching surprisingly fast, as it does every year, I decided to write a crime novel as a Christmas present for my parents (okay, admittedly rather for my mother as my father is still practicing his English language skills). He’ll get a bottle of good Whiskey as a reward.

I grew up in a small village in the Ore Mountains/Germany on the border to the Czech Republic where winters are long, cold, dark and harsh with lots of snow and low mountain ranges offering alpine and cross country skiing. At the weekends and during school holidays I worked as a skiing instructor for kids at the local ski school. However, our winters are far from depressing and dreary. The area of the Ore Mountains is extremely rich in Christmas traditions, so deeply rooted in the hearts and souls of its inhabitants that they have been passed on through the generations for centuries. There are light arches glowing in every window of every house illuminating the villages like little beacons in the night. There are figurines burning frankincense with the smell reminding me of my childhood days and Christmas time at my grandparent’s house. There are turning Christmas pyramids with wood carved figures standing on it. These pyramids come in different sizes. At the centre of each village and town there is a multi-storey turning Christmas pyramid mounted with wood carved animals, angels, figures from the nativity play or miners, lumberjacks and shepherds. In the living room of every home you can find a much smaller version, often built by great-grandfathers many decades ago.

For all the above mentioned reasons, the pre-Christmas season is and has always been my favourite time of the year which is why my book “Snow Light” is based in my home area in December. Most of the places described are real and as I am very attached to my native soil, its mountains, forests, cold and harsh winters, and the unique traditions that are connected with the area, I hope to pass some of this special atmosphere and feelings on to my readers. It’s a bit rougher and tougher here than in other parts of the country which makes this sanctuary even cosier. Additionally, I realised that no crime novels based in this area have been written yet which makes “Snow Light” unique.

Finally, I will let you in on a little secret about where the idea for the murder came from. The victim is found dead early in the morning after a stormy and snowy night hunched on a Christmas pyramid in the centre of a little village. When I was a kid I had to catch the school bus at six a.m. every morning. In all weathers and seasons. I would walk to the end of our little alley, turn left at the corner of a house, cross a small bridge over an even smaller stream and wait all by myself for the bus at the side of the road opposite the market square. Most of the time I was fine with that. Except in winter. When it was dark and the only light came from a flickering street lamp, the wind was howling noisily in my ears and the snow pelting down so hard you could barely look up. I was usually the only kid waiting at this bus stop. I was up to my ankles in fluffy snow and every time I turned around the corner, I wondered what I would do if instead of a wood carved figure a dead human figure sat silently on the Christmas pyramid. Thankfully this never happened in reality. I guess I was just watching and reading too many thrillers.

This year my mother will get her Christmas present. Finally. Three years later.

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Thanks so much Danielle for taking the time to share this with us! I’m sure your mum will be very pleased with her present! Happy publication day!

Snow Light is available for purchase now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Danielle holds a BA (Hons) degree in Business and Management from New College Durham and after gaining some work experience in Wales and the USA, she settled down in Frankfurt am Main where she works as a Financial Controller at an IT Consultancy.

Born and raised in a small village in the Ore Mountains/Germany, Danielle was introduced to the world of English literature and writing from an early age on through her mother – an English teacher.

Her passion for sports, especially skiing and fencing, stems from her father’s side. Danielle draws her inspiration for writing from long walks in the country as well as circumnavigating the globe and visiting her friends scattered all over the world.

Mix everything together and you get “Snow Light”, her debut detective thriller combining a stunning wintry setting in the Ore Mountains with unique traditions, some sporty action and lots of suspense.

You can contact Danielle via Twitter

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BLOG BLITZ (2)

Hell To Pay by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett @emmamitchellfpr #blogtour

** advanced copy received **

It’s such a pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Hell To Pay by Rachel Amphlett today! Many thanks to Rachel and Emma Mitchell for inviting me!

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Author : Rachel Amphlett
Title : Hell To Pay
Series : Detective Kay Hunter #4
Pages : 322
Publisher : Saxon Publishing
Publication date : November 16, 2017

aboutthebook

When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter’s investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?

mythoughts

When Kay Hunter gets a call in the middle of the night to attend a traffic accident, she has no idea of what lies ahead. Not only does she find something in the boot of the car that really shouldn’t be there, it will also lead to an investigation that will ultimately force her to face one of her biggest nightmares.

If you’ve been following the Kay Hunter series, then you know Kay has been struggling professionally as well as personally due to someone trying to destroy her career. In Hell To Pay, the pieces of the puzzle will be falling into place but will Kay’s desire for revenge put her in danger?

This series is one of those that just keeps getting better with each instalment. The tension and the pace are quite high as the team race against the clock to catch the ultimate prize before they disappear again. But the man they’re chasing has plans of his own, none of which sound good and he always seems to be one step ahead.

I’ve always loved how Rachel Amphlett is able to effortlessly combine Kay’s personal life with her career in the police force and having these two aspects collide was quite the thrilling ride. If I want to be slightly nitpicky, I could say that maybe something was a wee bit predictable but in the grand scheme of things, I really didn’t care. Ultimately, some questions are answered but there are new ones to deal with now, which is a great way to keep a reader wanting more.

I’m not sure if could possibly be any more vague. But I’m trying really hard not to give anything away here. You just have to read it and see for yourself what’s going on. This is a quick read, one of those “I’ll just read one more chapter” books and before you know it, your afternoon is gone and you’re late starting dinner. Oops.

I can’t believe this is already book four in the series and it doesn’t look like the author or Kay, for that matter, have any intention of letting up. I’ve enjoyed this series from the start and I very much look forward to the next one, although that one will hopefully have more Adam in it. 😉

Hell To Pay will be published on November 16th!

Rachel Amphlett store [affiliate link] | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017.

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NEW Banner Week One

Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison @thrillerchick @HQDigitalUK

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Author : J.T. Ellison
Title : Lie To Me
Pages : 416
Publisher : HQ Digital
Publication date : September 5, 2017

aboutthebook

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself?

mythoughts

As a fan of the Taylor Jackson series, I was incredibly excited to learn that J.T. Ellison had written a stand-alone psychological thriller. Now it’s no secret that that genre and I have somewhat of a rocky relationship. But I had faith in this author as she’s never let me down before and I’m glad to say I wasn’t at all disappointed.

Sutton Montclair disappears, leaving a note for her husband, Ethan, telling him not to look for her. But friends get involved and start pointing the finger so Ethan informs the police. It soon becomes clear Sutton and Ethan’s life wasn’t as perfect as they made it out to be. Did Sutton leave out of her own free will? Was she murdered? If so, did her husband do it or is he being set up? So many questions, very little answers.

Prepare yourself for lots of twists and turns right up until the very end, a healthy dose of intrigue and suspense and characters you’d love to hate. The first half of the story is told by Ethan, the second by Sutton. This is where you start to try and piece together the pieces of the puzzle, or their marriage. I say “try” because Ethan and Sutton are both writers and while their jobs give a great insight into the industry, you’re also left with this niggling feeling of not quite knowing who to trust. After all, they make their living by making things up and I had no idea who, if anyone, was telling the truth.

I’m not going to talk about the plot as there’s really no way to without spoiling things. Suffice to say it’s utterly absorbing, compelling and unputdownable. Even though I had an inkling as to what may be going on, I was still glued to the pages desperate to get to the truth and wondering why all of these things were happening.

This truly is domestic noir at its finest and I highly recommend it! I very much look forward to more from J.T. Ellison.

Lie To Me is available for purchase now.

Amazon US  | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Weekly Wrap-Up (November 12)

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This week has been the perfect reminder of why I read. It is and always will be an escape and keeping my head down gave me the opportunity to catch up with all that blog tour reading I still had to do. Win! 😄

Books I read this week :

This week I read 7 books. Technically, 7 and a half but that half sadly ended up being a DNF. It happens.

 

Books I bought this week :

One. I checked twice to make sure. I’m totally slacking. What the heck?!

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ARC’s received via Netgalley :

Two for blog tours, one I didn’t think I’d get. The shelf is growing but my approval rating is still in the 90’s so I’m okay with that.

This week’s book post :

Have a wee story. In case you didn’t know, I live in Belgium. My dear friend Dom lives near Atlanta, where Karin Slaughter is from. And yet somehow, I was the one who introduced her to Karin’s work. Years later, Dom has the opportunity to meet Karin Slaughter at a signing, tells her the story and then sends me my most treasured possession on my bookshelf. 😍 If you’re reading this, Dom, thank you! 😘

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On the blog this past week :

Monday : Shared my review for Murder in Little Shendon

Tuesday : I welcomed Larry Enmon, author of Wormwood, to the blog.

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Joined the blog tour for The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland

Friday : Pankaj Giri, author of The Fragile Thread of Hope, visited the blog.

Saturday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for the CWA Anthology of Short Stories

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Next week on Novel Deelights :

Next week will be utterly insane on the blog. I have no idea how that happened, other than I can’t seem to stop myself from saying “sure, I’ll help!” but there you go. It is what it is and as long as I actually remember to post all the things I should be posting, it’ll be great! I think. 😄

Question of the week : What is your most treasured possession on your bookshelf?

Wishing you all a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! xx

CWA Anthology of Short Stories @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour

** advanced copy received via publisher **

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the CWA Anthology of Short Stories, a collection of short mystery/crime stories edited by Martin Edwards and published by Orenda Books.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the tour and for the advanced copy of the book.

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Author : Various
Title : CWA Anthology of Short Stories : Mystery Tour
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : November 15, 2017 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

mythoughts

Oh, the dilemmas I was presented with when the opportunity to read this book came up. First of all, I’m not always interested in short sorties, unless they’re by my favourite authors but that’s more because I’m always worried I’ll miss out on something fabulous. For the most part though, I always feel short stories are … well, too short and just when I finally sink my teeth into them, they’re over and done with. But, this is Orenda and we love Orenda, we do! So, decision made and yes, I was going to read this book.

Which led me to dilemma two. How on earth do you tackle a collection like this? Do you pick out your favourite authors first? Do you dip in and out? Do you just start at the beginning like you would with a regular book and go from there? All of these would work perfectly well and it’s really up to your personal preference. I started from the beginning and worked my way to the end. That was just the easiest option for me or I would still be sitting here trying to decide which story to read first.

Edited by Martin Edwards, this anthology of short series takes us all over the world. From the UK to French Polynesia, from Iceland to Morocco, on trains and cruises and hikes. All have one theme in common. You guessed it, crime/mystery of course. This is such an incredible way to catch up with some of your favourite authors but also, a splendid way to be introduced to some you may not be familiar with.

Some of the stories are a tad longer than others but they’re all quite compelling and oozing atmosphere. It’s honestly incredibly impressive to see how much information the authors manage to squeeze into a short story. Remember my dilemma? Short they may be but they had plenty of meat on their bones for me to sink my teeth into.

There wasn’t one story in this collection that I didn’t enjoy. All are quite different in writing style and it’s a little bit like comparing apples with oranges but if you force me to pick one, I’d vote for the one written by Ragnar Jonasson. Days later, it’s still the one that pops into my head first. When you read it, you’ll see why. It carries quite the impact!

The CWA Anthology of Short Stories will be available in ebook format on November 15th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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With contributions from Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Caith Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jonasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick.

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The Pain of Loss by Pankaj Giri, author of The Fragile Thread of Hope @_PankajGiri #guestpost

I’m delighted to welcome Pankaj Giri, author of The Fragile Thread of Hope, to the blog today! Pankaj has a wonderful piece to share with you all but first, here’s some information on his book.

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Author : Pankaj Giri
Title : The Fragile Thread of Hope
Pages : 408
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : October 29, 2017

aboutthebook

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of familial relationships.

guestpost

The pain of loss.

Have you ever in life encountered an event, an event that pulls the rug from under your feet, threatens to destroy the very foundation of your existence?

I have.

The date was 2nd January 2013. It was a calm, sunny day in Bangalore. After having breakfast, I was relaxing on my bed when I received a call. It was from Vikas Daju (Daju means elder brother in Nepali, my mother tongue), my father’s office staff. He accompanied Baba, my father, at home in Gangtok during every winter vacation while Aama, my mother, visited me in Bangalore.

In a trembling voice, he informed me that Baba had turned seriously ill and was admitted to Manipal hospital. I felt as if I had fallen off a cliff of astonishment. According to Daju, Baba had taken longer than usual to come out of the Puja room, and when he went to check, he found Baba lying on the floor, unconscious. They had tried to revive him, but when he failed to respond, they had rushed him to the hospital. The call got disconnected. I tried to call back, but I couldn’t reach Daju. Minutes later as I was writhing in a swamp of anxiety, he called. Sobbing he told me what I had dreaded. Baba had passed away after suffering a massive heart attack.

Imagine that you are travelling in a car, enjoying the scenery when suddenly the wheels of the car fall off. I got a similar feeling then. I still couldn’t believe it, for Baba never had any history of heart problems. Why did it happen? How could it happen…? He was just fifty-six years old… How could life be so unfair? Had he really gone, or was this some kind of a nightmare from which I would escape soon? But the painful reality kept nudging me, urging me to accept it. Slowly, relatives and friends started calling, confirming the devastating news, offering support and courage, which seemed as futile as the definition of colours to a blind man. I tried to imagine the pain Baba must have felt in his last few moments, how he would have craved to catch a glimpse of Aama, my sister, and me, how he would have begged for his life before God snatched it away. My heart bled with sorrow, and the tears came like rain as I succumbed to the assault of pain.

However, I had to force myself back to reality. I was told to tell Aama only a partial truth—that Baba was seriously ill and admitted to the hospital—as she would not be able to handle the vicious truth. Then, I had to arrange to return to Gangtok as soon as possible.

Somehow, I managed to lie to Aama (escaping to the confines of my room or the bathroom whenever grief overpowered me), and on the very evening, we headed to Gangtok. Throughout the journey, she kept muttering the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, the death-defeating chant, praying for my father’s survival. I wanted to tell her that there was no hope, that Baba had already gone, but I stayed quiet, stifling the violent pain in my heart, summoning the last ounce of my receding strength.

When we crossed Manipal Hospital on the way home, Aama lashed out at me, demanding why we weren’t going to the hospital. As discussed with other relatives, I lied by saying that Baba had been taken home as he had recovered slightly.

When we reached home and Aama saw Baba’s body for the first time, she fainted. For moments after her fall, I couldn’t breathe. Surely, God wouldn’t be so cruel! Surely, He wouldn’t snatch both of them from me. I hadn’t hurt anyone in life. Surely, He wouldn’t give me this unjust punishment.

However, by God’s grace and instant help from relatives, Aama soon regained consciousness. Caressing my father’s lifeless body, she made one-sided conversations with him, asking him to wake up, tell everyone that this was a joke just like the practical jokes he used to crack often. But Baba didn’t respond, didn’t throw his head back in laughter like he used to, didn’t smile his trademark, lopsided grin.

Soon, inevitably, Aama broke down, surrendering to her emotions, her wails wrenching my already fragile heart, rivulets of tears streaming down her face. However, I refrained from crying, battling my emotions, as my relatives and friends had told me not to display my emotions in public, me being the eldest male member of the family now. Later, however, when one of my aunts saw my emotionless, shell-shocked face, she asked me to sit next to her. She reminded me of the humongous loss that I had just experienced, that from the next day, Baba wouldn’t be there with me, that he was gone forever. She told me to let out my pain, break free from the shackles of blankness I had built around myself. Her brutal yet well-meaning words worked. My resistance tore like a flimsy cloth, and I cried as I had never before.

My sister also arrived after a few hours from Pune—she was undergoing training in a software company there—and drowning in an ocean of pain, we, along with other relatives and other acquaintances, proceeded to perform the final rites of my father.

When a pillar of a family falls, the incident not only leaves behind the painful memories of the deceased but also disrupts the balance of the living family’s lives. My sister and I could not leave our mother alone in our relatively big house. We had to relocate to Gangtok. However, for that, we needed to sacrifice our lucrative jobs in Bangalore and Pune. Days passed as we found ourselves lost in the hazy lanes of indecision.

Meanwhile, the three of us lived like zombies, Baba’s memories reflecting off everything in our home, pushing us repeatedly into a marsh of pain. Aama used to sob almost throughout the day, and we had to accompany her and try to divert her mind away from the all-consuming loss. But who were we, as children, to judge her? Only a wife knows how it feels when her husband is snatched away without warning, leaving her alone in this world for the rest of her life. We had mostly stayed away from home, but she had lived every moment with Baba. Whenever I tried to imagine her pain, I felt like falling into a bottomless pool.

I remembered his oval face, his bushy moustache spilling over his upper lip, his thin yet sturdy frame. His melodious voice, especially his rendition of old Bollywood classics, rang in my ears. A particular image used to haunt me often—Baba waving at me as he boarded the airport cab a week before the tragedy, when he was returning to Gangtok. Little did I know that it would be his last farewell, the last time I would ever see his face. Now there was no one to call Baba any longer. Now on every Dasain—Durga Puja, a popular Indian festival—I wouldn’t be able to touch his feet. Now every morning he would not nag me when I woke up late. Now there was no one who would beam in uninhibited pride when I announced any achievement in my career.

On top of that, a painful regret took birth in me. Baba having left us so suddenly, I never got a chance to bid him a final goodbye, to say how much I loved him. Throughout my life, I kept revolving in my own selfish world. I never remembered his birthdays, never did anything special for him, never expressed my affection to him. How I wished I could turn back the hands of time and sprinkle all my moments with Baba with the love that he truly deserved and which I never offered.

My younger sister being much smarter than I am, she took over the major responsibilities of the house. My mother was still unstable, stuck in the marsh of Baba’s memories. I concentrated on getting a job in Gangtok, while I worked online for my software company in Bangalore. The project was extremely hectic, and I had to work fifteen to eighteen hours a day. The poor internet connectivity in Gangtok didn’t help at all. It was one of the worst phases of my life—unable to decide what to do next, the sudden death of Baba tormenting my soul, and encountering work pressure of the highest order. The problem was that I couldn’t leave my Bangalore job until I got a job in Gangtok. My sister, however, stayed in Gangtok, requesting her company for some time until things settled down.

Finally, after a tough few months, we both found decent jobs and thus decided to return to Gangtok permanently. We also sold our flat in Bangalore, as there was no use keeping it unoccupied.

One day, I was sitting with Aama, browsing her mobile to delete unwanted files. I accidentally clicked on a video as the preview was blurred. It turned out to be a video that I had recorded during our recent visit to the South Indian city, Cochin. On the deck of the ship, Baba sat smiling as I recorded the video. It seemed as if Baba was alive, as if the mobile screen were merely a physical barrier and that we could dive into the scene and touch him. Every second of the video was like sweet torture—although every instant was killing me, I didn’t want the torment to cease. Every expression on his face, every word that he spoke, wrenched my heart by turns. Teary-eyed, I looked at Aama. She had already started crying. I followed suit, dissolving into an ocean of tears.

Months passed as we grappled with the pain enveloping our lives. The huge void left by Baba’s absence kept haunting us, but life kept moving on. I went out with friends, travelled, immersed myself in different hobbies and pastimes, meditated, but they were just like layers of thin cloth over the eternal wound of Baba’s absence, and a mere memory of him would seep through the layers and hit the wound, causing unbearable agony.

However, after about a year, slowly but surely, the wound began healing. The memories faded, and gradually, I started to move on. Even Aama came back to normalcy and began taking over some of the responsibilities of the house as she used to before. However, I still couldn’t focus on my job as I used to get reminded of my flourishing career in the software industry that I had to leave. Frustration would wash over me, and despite the receding pain of Baba’s loss, I would find myself teetering on the brink of depression.

To divert my mind towards positivity, some of my friends—including my good friend, Apoorv—urged me to read. I followed their advice, and it worked like magic. Soon, I developed a fondness for books and even began writing. I started with book reviews, wrote a couple of short stories, and then I managed to co-author a short novel with my friend, Apoorv. However, due to lack of experience, some glaring blunders, and my underdeveloped writing skills, it ended up getting a lukewarm response. Nevertheless, this new hobby of reading and writing diluted my pain and helped me move on. I even began liking my current job as it used to give me sufficient time to read and write. Strangely, my passion was changing from technology to literature. I began reading better books, and slowly my writing style improved. Learning from the criticism that I got for my first book and the knowledge I was gaining from the high-quality books I was reading, I got enough confidence to start my first solo novel.

And here I am now, my solo novel published, and writing a guest post for this wonderful blog. Even now, four years after the tragedy, I still can’t look at my father’s pictures without my heart twisting and a lump forming in my throat. Certain events and memories still bring tears to my mother’s, my sister’s, and my eyes. But we have moved on.

This entire episode has taught me something really important.

Sometimes destiny invades our lives like an enemy, snatching the light of happiness from it. It is easy to lose our way in the dark maze of despair and give up, but we must hang on. Life always suspends an elusive thread of hope for us in the darkest of times. We must try to find it and hold on to it until the clouds of darkness disappear and give way to light.

Keep fighting. Keep living.

Cheers,

Pankaj

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Thank you so very much to Pankaj Giri for taking the time to write this wonderfully moving post and sharing it with us all.

If you’d like to read The Fragile Thread of Hope, it is available for purchase now.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon India | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career with a book review blog, and now, after several years of honing his writing skills, he has written a novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a literary inspirational fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

You can get in touch with Pankaj via Twitter