Finders Keepers by K.T. Finch @bookouture #blogblitz

Good morning! I’m kicking off the week with a stop on the blog blitz for Finders Keepers by K.T. Finch. My thanks to Team Bookouture for the review copy!

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Author : K.T. Finch
Title : Finders Keepers
Pages : 273
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : April 30, 2018

aboutthebook

Noah Kendall loves his family, but hates his teaching job. Mortgage, bills and mouths to be fed: he’s stuck in a rut. And with more debts piling up each day, he knows that something has to change.

As he opens yet another red letter, he has to get out and clear his head, despite the heavy Alaskan snow outside. His legs ache as he runs deeper into the forest, until he notices something in the distance – a crashed car, sitting dead still. Inside, a girl sits slumped in the driver’s seat, eyes closed, mouth open, skin grey beneath the winter frost.

And then beside her he sees it: a bag of money. And lots of it. Enough to pay off his debt and start a whole new life. And it’s just sitting there, waiting for him to take it…

What would you do?

mythoughts

What would you do indeed? The premise of this storyline really makes you think. When you’re not happy with your job, when your partner works ridiculous hours, when the unpaid bills keep piling up and final notices hit you left, right and centre … when life is basically a big flamin’ pile of poo and you can’t see a way to fix things. But then suddenly, you stumble upon a fortune.

This is what happens to Noah. He works as a teacher but hates his job and is now on a sabbatical so he can write a novel. His wife is a nurse who’s spending more time at the hospital than at home because they need the money. Yet, they still fall behind on payments. One morning, Noah goes for a run and finds a car with a dead girl on the driver’s seat. Next to her is a very alluring bag full of money. Lots of money! Where did it come from? Is anyone missing it? And who’s the girl?

The story is told through two characters : Noah and his neighbour Charlie. I must say I didn’t particularly like Noah. He’s a bit of creep, as it goes, and he doesn’t exactly come up smelling like roses when we are first introduced to him. It also bothered me that he seemed perfectly okay with letting his wife work those long hours, while he pretty much sat around doing very little, staring at a blank screen or just being a perv. Charlie, on the other hand, was much more likeable and I felt for her at times, dealing with her job as a 911 operator.

Set in the unforgiving landscape of Alaska, Finders Keepers puts ordinary, normal people in not-so-normal and rather extraordinary circumstances. There are some dubious decisions, sometimes even insanely dumb ones but these are amateurs, not professionals. It’s easy to sit here and judge their actions but of course it’s completely different when you’re living it. The plot does require you to suspend belief a little bit as some things felt rather far-fetched to me but this is nonetheless an entertaining story and it had me wondering what the outcome would be.

So, what would you do? Personally, I’d take the money and run with the speed of light. Just in case, at some point in the future you don’t hear from me, toodles and it was nice knowing you all. 😉

Finders Keepers is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

KT Finch writes psychological thrillers filled with murder, mystery and shocking twists.

KT Finch was raised in Pennsylvania and she spent her adult life in Southern California. She’s a bestselling fiction author and novelist, writing in the mysteries and thrillers genre. She writes thrillers, mysteries and suspense novels about ordinary people put in extraordinary circumstances. In a previous life, KT Finch has worked as a mathematics professor, content marketer, and resume writer.

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Weekly Wrap-Up (April 29)

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Spring has decided to go AWOL so it’s been a miserable week of rain, hail, thunderstorms and dark, grey clouds. I was planning on re-arranging my books and taking advantage of my brand-new bookshelf. Which is when my horribly annoying ball and chain decided that this was the perfect time to patch up our ceiling. Cue pretty new bookshelf being covered in a plastic sheet and my books remain hidden away in a safe place. Bloody typical. 🙄

I managed to read six books this past week. I feel like I read more. Quite frankly, if you could see my schedule, I should read more but it is what it is and there are only so many hours in the day and the household chores don’t do themselves. Believe me, I’ve tried to see what would happen if I ignored them. Nothing, in case you wondered. Rude.

Books I’ve read this week

A bit hit and miss this past week. Some I really enjoyed, some were okay I guess. My first foray into non-fiction true crime with my (non) buddy Janel 😉 didn’t quite go so well but it hasn’t put me off trying again in the future. Ended the week on a high though. Can’t complain.

Books I’ve bought this week

Four isn’t too bad, is it? Even if I have no idea when I’ll get around to reading these.
[Note to self : quit signing up for blog tours and you’d have all the time in the world 🙄]

ARC’s received via Netgalley

Finders Keepers was for a blog tour. The other two, I mean really, come on! How could I possibly resist Perfect Silence?! (Thank you, Nicola, for the heads-up!) And I really enjoyed Emma Curtis’ debut so I’m excited to find out what she comes up with in this new one.

Bookpost that landed on my doorstep this week

With thanks to Avon UK and Orenda Books! Yes, for blog tours. Blah blah.

On the blog this past week

Monday : Joined the blog tour for the brilliant The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Tuesday : Joined the blog blitz for the uplifting The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald

Wednesday : Shared an extract on the blog tour for Body & Soul by John Harvey

Thursday : Author Kerena Swan joined me on the blog blitz for Dying To See You

Friday : Reviewed the fantastic Hangman by Daniel Cole

Saturday : Joined the blog blitz for The Family at No. 13 by S.D. Monaghan

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Next week on Novel Deelights

Madness. Sheer madness. It’s not going to get any better in the next few weeks either. 😳

I’ll be joining the blog tours for Finders Keepers by K.T. Finch, Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry and Pressure by Betsy Reavley. In between, I’ll be sharing my reviews for Our Kind of Cruelty and David Jackson’s Don’t Make A Sound. That’s the plan anyway.

Question of the week : Is there a specific era or setting you find yourself gravitating towards when picking up a book? For instance, I rather enjoy stories set in WWII. But this past week, I was also reminded of how much I love a Victorian era setting. (Any recommendations would be much appreciated, by the way.) Or how about small town living versus big city life? Is there maybe something you avoid like the plague? Curious minds and all that so let me know in the comments!

That’s it for another week. I know have the pleasure (note the sarcasm, people) of spending my afternoon with my mother-in-law. Thankfully, the wine is chilling. 😊

Have a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! xx

Dead Man’s Badge by Robert E. Dunn @WritingDead @annecater #blogtour #guestpost #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dead Man’s Badge by Robert E. Dunn. Today, I’m joined by the author who talks about “drilling down”, the labelling and categorising of novels by marketing departments which may just make you miss out on a really great book.

My thanks to Robert E. Dunn and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours.

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Author : Robert E. Dunn
Title : Dead Man’s Badge
Pages : 298
Publisher : Brash Books
Publication date : February 1, 2018

aboutthebook

Career criminal Longview Moody, on the run from killers, assumes his dead, twin brother’s identity as the new Chief of Police of a Texas town that’s being terrorized by a Mexican drug cartel. To pull off the deadly deception, Longview desperately works to become the kind of cop and man that his brother was. But when the two lives he’s living converge, he’s forced to embrace the violence within him to get justice…and vengeance.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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Drilling Down by Robert E. Dunn

Did you know I’m part of a literary movement? I didn’t either. Mostly because I don’t pay enough attention to the business side of writing novels. I was interviewed by a Kansas City Star reporter writing a story about the rise of Ozarks noir. My name came up in his research. That is because of my Katrina “Hurricane” Williams series of books. They are set in the Missouri Ozarks and feature a female sheriff’s detective in a fictionalized Taney County.

It turns out that Ozarks Noir and I are small parts of a greater shift. Within the mystery/thriller world there is a growth of regional, rural, dark fiction. For my part I’m loving it and working to keep it alive and expanding.

You see there is a funny thing about literary genre. It serves to narrow focus to help the reader. I’ve written about it before calling it a shelving issue. Mysteries are grouped. Romances are grouped. Science fiction, etc. The problems came when someone, usually a marketing person who has never read the book, had to decide if a romantic suspense book was romance or suspense. Put it on the wrong shelf and readers will feel fooled. Sometimes it’s not really the wrong shelf. It’s just that there are not enough shelves. Brick and mortar stores have only so much space. Then came online retailing. You can drill down the category to find exactly the modern western, hard-boiled crime thriller, mystery/thriller fiction book you want.

To tell the truth I’m not so sure how much of the growth of particular genres is based on writing and how much is based on the specifics of marketing.

As a reader it doesn’t matter to me. I’ve always been a fan of books that use their environment as a character to shape and define the actions of the people who live within it. My take on the broader movement, Rural or Country Noir, was inspired by other rural mysteries that have shaped the fictional American landscape over the last few years. I’m proud to say that my books have been compared favorably to those of a master. James Lee Burke has stamped his mark on several locales and made them almost the personal possession of this characters. He practically holds the title to Louisiana and New Iberia Parish in the pages of his Dave Robicheaux novels.

Ace Atkins has staked out rural Mississippi as the home for The Ranger, Quinn Colson. Location can serve as more than a character too. The Longmire books by Craig Johnson and the Joe Pickett novels by C.J. Box are filled with the living, breathing, west. At the same time they define and create a whole modern western genre. Appalachia smolders under the heat of David Joy and Ron Rash.

I was comfortable in the Ozarks and writing about them. Then I did something foolish. I decided to write a Texas border noir. The foolish thing was trying to insert myself into a literary environment that was already richly mined. The region is a staple in both traditional historical westerns and modern westers. The books that define the border area are not just in fiction either. There are so many wonderful histories, both academic and narrative. This happens at borders I think. They are like cultural tectonic plates, colliding and grinding groups of people to make something new. All that conflict draws writers like road kill draws green flies.

So like a crazy man I tossed my Stetson into that dirt.

When you do that drill down thing with my novel, DEAD MAN’S BADGE, it can be found as hard-boiled crime or as a modern western. Reviews have said, fans of Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns would love it. One called it a knuckle-buster. The cool thing is that a book can be many things to different people. The hard thing is communicating to an increasingly fractured marketing environment how your book fits for each person.

All of that marketing stuff is nothing compared to facing other writers who have already left indelible boot prints in that dust.

But writing is not about staying in comfort zones. Not for characters and not for writers. And, I’m looking at you, not for readers. So I set out to write a modern western/crime novel about corrupt cops, a cartel that is almost a cult to violence, a hero with family issues, and a PRINCE AND THE PAUPER plot line that goes bad. What could go wrong?

Well for one thing, as I was writing, J. Todd Scott released his novel, THE FAR EMPTY. If you haven’t read it—do. After reading mine, of course. It is a violent, border noir that deals with family issues and secrets that go wrong. And it’s so darn good.

So all of this has been my rambling way of saying that literary waves can drown as well as carry a book. It is good to be a part, up to the point that you can’t stand apart. Don’t let the specifics of what you like define your reading too narrowly. Be a fan of good books not just that one kind of good book.

[Thank you so much for stopping by the blog with this insightful post, Robert.]

abouttheauthor

I wasn’t born in a log cabin but the station wagon did have wood on the side. It was broken down on the approach road into Ft. Rucker, Alabama in the kind of rain that would have made a Biblical author jealous. You never saw a tornado in the Old Testament did you? As omens of a coming life go, mine was full of portent if not exactly glad tidings.

From there things got interesting. Life on a series of Army bases encouraged my retreat into a fantasy world. Life in a series of public school environments provided ample nourishment to my developing love of violence. Often heard in my home was the singular phrase, “I blame the schools.” We all blamed the schools.

Both my fantasy and my academic worlds left marks and the amalgam proved useful the three times in my life I had guns pointed in my face. Despite those loving encounters the only real scars left on my body were inflicted by a six foot, seven inch tall drag queen. She didn’t like the way I was admiring the play of three a.m. Waffle House fluorescent light over the high spandex sheen of her stockings.

After a series of low paying jobs that took me places no one dreams of going. I learned one thing. Nothing vomits quite so brutally as jail food. That’s not the one thing I learned; it’s an important thing to know, though. The one thing I learned is a secret. My secret. A terrible and dark thing I nurture in my nightmares. You learn your own lessons.

Eventually I began writing stories. Mostly I was just spilling out the, basically, true narratives of the creatures that lounge about my brain, laughing and whispering sweet, sweet things to say to women. Women see through me but enjoy the monsters in my head. They say, sometimes, that the things I say and write are lies or, “damn, filthy lies, slander of the worst kind, and the demented, perverted, wishful stories of a wasted mind.” To which I always answer, I tell only the truth. I just tell a livelier truth than most people. [Goodreads]

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The Family at No. 13 by S.D. Monaghan @bookouture #blogblitz

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for The Family At No. 13 by S.D. Monaghan! Read on for my review, right after the all-important bookish information. My thanks to Noelle at Bookouture!

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Author : S.D. Monaghan
Title : The Family at No. 13
Pages : 310
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : April 27, 2018

aboutthebook

The most perfect lives can hide the darkest secrets…

Mary has everything. Beautiful and rich, she lives on an exclusive street in the heart of the city, in a house with gorgeous views and an immaculately maintained garden. Her life looks perfect.

But behind closed doors the truth is very different. Her husband Andrew barely speaks to her, spending his days down in the basement alone. Her teenage nephew is full of rage, lashing out with no warning. Her carefully constructed life is beginning to fall apart.

And then someone starts sending Mary anonymous notes, threatening her and her family…

Everyone has secrets. But is someone at number 13 hiding something that could put the whole family in danger?

mythoughts

When Connor moves house, he finds himself living next door to the family at number 13.  Soon, he will regret this rash decision and find himself caught up in a sticky web of family secrets. Because his neighbours may look like they have it all but behind closed doors things are very different. Somehow, Connor finds himself right in the middle of something he wishes he’d never been a part of.

The first part of the story admittedly left me a little confused along the way. There seemed to be a lot of sort of cryptic information being thrown my way that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. But there is something immensely compelling about the author’s writing that urged me to keep on reading. Luckily for me, it all did begin to make sense at some point. I’d like to assume that was the author’s intention and not that I’m just slow on the uptake. 😉

This isn’t your typical psychological thriller. In fact, I rather struggle with calling it that at all. Suspenseful, yes. Maybe more drama than thriller? I don’t know. It’s quite deep and incredibly character driven. As such, the pace is rather on the slow side. Sure, there are some twists but they feel like natural events and aren’t intended to dazzle you. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.

For the most part, we find ourselves digging deep into the complicated dynamics of Mary’s family at number 13. Something amongst the many skeletons in the cupboards causes a major event which the book starts off with, but the who or the why remains a mystery. (Looks like I’m doing the cryptic thing myself now. Sorry.) One I was utterly unable to figure out at all and almost made my jaw hit the floor when it was finally revealed. There are a ton of heartbreaking secrets and certain characters’ attitudes have affected people over the years and the resentment runs deep. The past can have a huge effect on someone and if not dealt with properly, will always come back to haunt you.

Pretty much all the characters are unlikeable, flawed and damaged. I found myself unable to connect to any of them. However, once you get to know them better, it’s obvious why they act the way they do. Minor exception : Finn. Obviously a troubled seventeen year old with some issues but also someone who has no filter whatsoever and made me chuckle with his often immensely inappropriate remarks.

Normally, I prefer stories to be faster paced and with a bit more “oomph” to them. Nevertheless, this is a cleverly written and gripping plot and I enjoyed figuring out the pieces of this damaged family puzzle.

The Family At No. 13 is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

S. D. Monaghan grew up in Dublin before travelling extensively in Asia, Europe and America. After teaching English in Thailand for two years, he moved back to Ireland and gained an honours degree in psychology.

While living in Canada for four years, he studied screenwriting in Toronto. S. D. Monaghan completed the Masters in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin with the editorial guidance of the Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford and Orange Prize nominee, Deirdre Madden. On the strength of his work there, he was chosen to represent both the university and the Oscar Wilde Writers’ Centre to read excerpts at the Dublin Publishers Festival and on Dublin Culture Night.

He lives in Dublin with his wife, where he is currently working on his new novel. He is represented by Zoe Ross at United Agents.

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Hangman by Daniel Cole @Daniel_P_Cole @TrapezeBooks

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Author : Daniel Cole
Title : Hangman
Series : Detective William Fawkes #2
Pages : 304
Publisher : Trapeze / Orion Publishing
Publication date : February 8, 2018

aboutthebook

How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

mythoughts

Hangman is the second book in the Detective William Fawkes series, although that’s slightly misleading as it’s not exactly been a well-kept secret that *gaps*, he’s not actually in it. Shock, horror! Still, don’t let that put you off as Hangman is brilliant and you really don’t want to miss out, do you? No, you don’t.

It’s been eighteen months since events in the previous book, Ragdoll. Which I’m sure you’ve all read by now. If not, for crying out loud get your act together! Personally, I don’t feel you should treat Hangman as a stand-alone. Especially not as it’s obvious from notes at the back of the book, that this was meant to be a trilogy and you want all the information available, right? Yes? Good.

In that time, there’s been a spate of copycat killers. The latest one has happened on the other side of the Atlantic and DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting involving US Special Agents Curtis of the FBI and Rouche of the CIA. There are two victims. Both have words carved into their chest. One has “bait”, the other “puppet”. As the bodies start to pile up, the race is on to figure out who’s pulling the strings.

There’s something I quite like about investigations taking place on two different continents, involving various different law enforcement agencies. Things aren’t always done the same way and often there’s that level of competition even though everyone is working towards the same goals. On top of that, Emily Baxter doesn’t exactly play well with others.

I really liked Emily in this story, though. More so than in the previous book. She still has the scars, physically and mentally, from the Ragdoll case and has some serious trust issues. Obviously she carries quite a lot of baggage around with her but she’s fierce, determined and makes some fantastic retorts. The stand-out character for me though was most definitely Damien Rouche. I absolutely loved him. He’s a bit odd, quirky if you like, but incredibly relaxed. Despite a heartbreaking background story, he made me laugh on numerous occasions.

Set in two major cities, London and New York, this dark and disturbing tale was a thrill a minute. Stuffed full of action, it had me utterly absorbed and glued to the pages. Sometimes a tad gruesome, sometimes even pulling at my heartstrings and yet somehow infused with humour. It doesn’t seem like it would work but it actually does and I wholeheartedly approve of funny banter or one-liners bringing some relief.

Hangman is an incredibly gripping and compelling book that I just couldn’t put down. Second books are always so tricky but I must say that I enjoyed this one even more than Ragdoll and I can’t wait for the third instalment in this series and see where Daniel Cole takes the team, and the reader, next. Exciting times are ahead, I’m sure!

Hangman is available for purchase!

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

Dying To See You by Kerena Swan @KerenaSwan @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #guestpost

It’s a pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the blog blitz for Dying To See You by Kerena Swan. The author visits the blog with a fabulous post on how well you really know someone. But first, here is what Kerena Swan’s debut novel is all about.

My thanks to Kerena Swan and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books!

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Author : Kerena Swan
Title : Dying To See You
Pages : 328
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : April 25, 2018

aboutthebook

He’s Watching. He’s Waiting. She’s next.

When Sophie is told to organize care for elderly Ivy, she is unaware that by meeting Max, Ivy’s grandson, her life will be turned upside down.

As Sophie’s involvement with Max and Ivy increases, she becomes more distracted by her own problems. Because Sophie is certain she is being watched.

For a while, Ivy relishes Sophie’s attention but soon grows concerned about the budding relationship between Sophie and Max. Torn between Sophie and his grandmother, Max cuts ties with the care agency, leaving Sophie hurt and confused.

Meanwhile, there is a murderer killing women in the area. Is there a link between Sophie’s stalker and the killings? Soon Sophie will learn that appearances can be deceiving.

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

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Dying to See You – or am I?

When people ask what inspired my book, Dying to See You, I tell them a piece of paper. The usual response is, ‘Eh?’ but then I explain.

Picture the scene. I’m in my office looking down at that piece of paper which is the sort of certificate commonly known as a police check relating to a potential employee for  my social care agency. In the section headed, ‘Police Records of Convictions, Caution, reprimands and Warnings’ I’m pleased to see the words, ‘None recorded’.

Great, I think, smiling. I can employ this person. All is right with the world.

But is it?

It’s an interesting term, ‘None Recorded.’ All sorts of possibilities surround it:

  • The person has committed many a crime but got away with it. The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, killed thirteen women before the law caught up with him. Fred and Rose West went undetected for years too as the bodies stacked up in and around their house in Gloucester.
  • The person hasn’t committed a crime yet but who knows what darkness is festering away inside them ready to burst or creep out at some point in the future?
  • The person has stolen someone else’s identity.
  • The person has a criminal past elsewhere in the world.

It’s scary stuff.

Looking back on my own life, there have been times when I’ve learned things about people that surprised me. One was abused by her husband. Another was stealing stuff from work. Others had aspirations to be an Elvis impressionist or sit in a bath of baked beans. Whatever the issue, the fact is that I fell for the appearance of smiling contentment. I didn’t scratch the surface. I didn’t dig deep.  I don’t think I’ve met anyone who harbours secret serial killing tendencies but do I actually know that I haven’t?

I’ve taken chances on people and none more so than my husband who I met in a music bar. My sister-in-law had persuaded me to go out for the evening as I was becoming a bit of a recluse. I was a single parent at the time with a teenage daughter and a nine month old baby.

I never feel comfortable in busy places so I clutched my drink and prayed she wouldn’t suggest we dance. As a distraction I asked her to spot the best looking bloke and she pointed to a tall, dark-haired man standing alone. She’d chosen well because he was stunning. When he walked past me later in the evening, still on his own – Eek! I drew him into a conversation and by the end of the night we had arranged to call each other. I was flattered that such an engaging and well-mannered guy would be interested in boring old me.

A severe bout of flu meant it was two weeks before I was able to meet him again and before he arrived at my front door I struggled to remember what he was like. I wasn’t disappointed. I allowed him into my home and introduced him to my children. We went for meals and really enjoyed each other’s company.

One niggling worry I had at the time was I hadn’t met anyone who knew him so I had no way of verifying he was who he said he was. He could have been a maniacal knife wielder for all I knew. In fact, it was six whole months before I met his work colleagues at a Christmas party and then his parents who confirmed he was telling the truth. In the early 1990’s we didn’t have the internet to search for people to check their identities and levels of honesty.

I trusted my gut instincts (well, he loved his cat so he must be OK) and like most people those days, and even today, I took a risk. Clearly, you will have gathered from what I’ve already said that my instinct was sound and he has proven to be a wonderful husband, father to my children and business partner. We also have a son between us.

I was lucky though. Not everyone is so how can we find out if the person we’re allowing into our lives and giving access to our children is harmless? In my story Sophie meets a man who she thinks is the perfect gentleman. He makes her feel valued, interesting and beautiful but most of all he makes her feel safe.

Sophie’s daughter is less impressed and not so easily won over so Sophie does her best to check out Max’s credentials. In a world of social media and public knowledge of people’s lives there are still individuals out there who step back into the shadows and avoid Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Max was one of them.

I, personally, have only started a Facebook account in the past four months and my husband says he’d rather ‘hack a leg off with a rusty saw’ than open one. Having teenage children and grandchildren has widened my eyes to what is out there and I’m beginning to realise the benefits but I can fully understand the middle and older generation’s mistrust of hanging out personal details on the public washing line. My father-in-law still doesn’t trust the internet enough to make purchases online and pales at the thought of internet banking.

So how does someone like Sophie find out about a man with no social media presence? When I started writing this blog I thought there were agencies around that offered a checking service but despite surfing the net for an hour I’m struggling to find one that isn’t a private investigative agency offering tracking devices and call monitoring. I found some that offer to check out prospective employees or tenants but not boyfriends or lovers. And besides, isn’t seeking out the background of a potential lover the ultimate passion killer?

What if the person finds out you’ve been checking up on them? How will that help build a foundation of trust in the relationship? With the growth of online dating sites and the lessening of mutual friends, we lose the personal endorsement of meeting shared acquaintances and this is a big worry as my earlier experiences demonstrated. In my story Sophie is asked to arrange support for Ivy, Max’s frail grandmother, and Sophie can at least see first-hand what a loving, caring man he is. Or is he?

But did you know one in five new relationships begins online?

So, if there are no agencies that check people out for you, (or maybe you know of one or you’re now rushing out to start one – I’d call it CheckMate by the way), how about some simple rules for yourself? I’ve been asking around for tips on how to stay safe and how to stay aware so I’ll share them with you in the hope that you’ll find them useful… (I’ve put ‘he’ for ease of reading but it could be ‘she’)

  1. Speak to him on the phone. Don’t just text. Ask for his full name and what he does for a living.
  2. Google his name and see if you have any mutual friends.
  3. Meet in a public place.
  4. Pre-plan your journey home so you can decline a lift.
  5. Have a friend on SOS standby.
  6. Make sure your phone is fully charged.
  7. Trust your instincts. If he says stuff like ‘I’m between jobs’ and ‘You can trust me’ or his stories are inconsistent you should listen to those ringing alarm bells.
  8. Leave early if you are not happy.
  9. Don’t leave your drink unattended. Finish it before you go to the bathroom.
  10. Don’t drink too much.

Okay, so you’ve swiped right on a date matching app and so has he, you’ve exchanged contact details, you’ve arranged to meet somewhere busy and you’ve had a friend on SOS standby. The date goes well and you’ve got on like a hay barn and a pyromaniac but you still don’t know if he is who he says he is. What can you do next?

Well, you could check out his birth records by going on one of the ancestry websites or find out if he’s married by visiting www.myheritage.com. You could check his work’s website and try to meet up with his friends.

What you don’t want to do is become an obsessive, stalking bunny boiler. It’s good to take precautions to keep yourself safe but stay rational and respect their privacy. Step back from time to time and look at the relationship like your friends might. It’s easy to lose sight of the wallpaper pattern when your nose is pressed to the wall.

And lastly, please don’t worry if you’re exploring care options for your nearest and dearest. A police check is just one thing in a wide range of security measures we take.

[Boy, am I glad I’m not on the dating scene! I forgot how much of a minefield it can be😄. Great and handy tips though. Be safe out there, ladies and gents! Thank you so much for stopping by, Kerena, and I wish you the best of luck with your debut!]

abouttheauthor

Kerena lives on the Bedfordshire/Buckingham border with her husband, son and two cats. She also has two daughters and two granddaughters.

12 years ago, following a life-time career in social work and management, Kerena set up a company providing support for children with disabilities.  Highly successful, the company is rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, which Kerena considers her greatest achievement thus far. However, following serious illnesses last year she decided to attempt to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a novel and getting it published. She has yet to tick off other achievements from her bucket list such as playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano all the way through and being stopped for speeding in a red Ferrari at the age of 80 but can tick off building a brick wall.

After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer.  Her husband (worried about his dinners being cooked) has threatened divorce if she writes another book so she’s told him she will write a trilogy.

‘Dying to See You’ is Kerena’s first novel and she has already started work on her second book ‘I Let You In’.  Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience in the problematic world of social work, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir genre.

Twitter

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This Week in Books (April 25)

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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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In 1994, nine year old Effie and her twelve year old brother Ajan, endure the horrors of life in the besieged city of Sarajevo after the loss of their parents. Desperate to help preserve their city, Ajan becomes involved with a criminal gang among the makeshift defenders. When Effie is forced to flee alone, she must survive long enough to reach those outside of the city who have come to help. But the influence of those pursuing her is such that not even the soldiers of the UN might be able to save her. Any hope of a future for Effie eventually lies with only one man, Captain Nathan Lane.

It is 2017, and an attempt is made on the life of Foreign Secretary, Caroline Hardy. As the Security Services hunt for her attacker, the reality she is only a bit part player in the affair doesn’t occur to anyone. Not until her daughter, Mia goes missing and is implicated in the disappearance of a well-connected lawyer. As the focus switches to Mia, a secret that Caroline has kept hidden for a long time threatens them both, until there becomes only one place she can turn, to the man who shares her secret.

The book I’m currently reading

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Detective Sergeant Michael Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police has no time for tales of ghosts and the afterlife, or of the dead contacting the living.

So, when he finds himself investigating the case of a recently widowed young woman, Alice Goodway, who has suddenly developed ‘the Gift’ of mediumship and has received a threatening letter, he embarks on the inquiry with no small degree of scepticism.

But just as Brennan and his burly colleague, Constable Jaggery, consider how to proceed with the case, something much more sinister takes place… a murder, in Alice’s own home.

Who would commit such a crime?

Could it be one of the seven ‘visitors’ who had been to sittings with Alice and not liked what they had heard?

Or the interfering and sanctimonious Inspector of Nuisances who strongly disapproved of the séances?

There are a lot of old wounds opened and painful memories shared with Brennan and Jaggery as they meticulously gather the information they need to solve the case. The challenge will be narrowing down the suspects, using clues from both the living and the dead…

What I’m (probably) reading next

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A split-second decision throws ordinary family man Noah’s life into chaos in this utterly gripping thriller that will have you hooked from the first page to the last. If you love James Patterson, Harlan Coben and Gregg Hurwitz, you’ll love Finders Keepers.

What if you could change your life with one little lie?

Noah Kendall loves his family, but hates his teaching job. Mortgage, bills and mouths to be fed: he’s stuck in a rut. And with more debts piling up each day, he knows that something has to change.

As he opens yet another red letter, he has to get out and clear his head, despite the heavy Alaskan snow outside. His legs ache as he runs deeper into the forest, until he notices something in the distance – a crashed car, sitting dead still. Inside, a girl sits slumped in the driver’s seat, eyes closed, mouth open, skin grey beneath the winter frost.

And then beside her he sees it: a bag of money. And lots of it. Enough to pay off his debt and start a whole new life. And it’s just sitting there, waiting for him to take it…

What would you do?

[previously published as The Dead Girl]

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What are you reading this week? Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy your choices!
Happy reading! xx

Body and Soul by John Harvey @John_BHarvey @annecater #RandomThingsTours #blogtour #extract

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the final stop of the blog tour for Body & Soul by John Harvey! I have an extract to share with you from this final instalment in the Frank Elder series but first, here’s what this book is all about. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours!

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Author : John Harvey
Title : Body & Soul
Series : Frank Elder #4
Pages : 294
Publisher : Cornerstone Digital
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

When his estranged daughter Katherine appears on his doorstep, ex-Detective Frank Elder knows that something is wrong.

Katherine has long been troubled, and Elder has always felt powerless to help her.

But now Katherine has begun to self-destruct.

The breakdown of her affair with a controversial artist has sent her into a tailspin which culminates in murder.

And as Elder struggles to protect his daughter and prove her innocence, the terrors of the past threaten them both once more.

extract

The next day broke fair. When Elder got back from his morning run, Katherine was making coffee, readying toast.

‘How far d’you go?’ she asked. ‘Ten K, give or take.’
‘Every day?’
‘Bar Sundays.’
‘Day of rest.’
‘Something like that.’
‘Still, not bad considering.’
‘Considering my age, you mean.’
Katherine laughed. ‘Something like that.’
‘Maybe tomorrow you can come with me?’
‘Maybe.’
‘I thought later, if the weather holds, we might go for a walk.’
‘I’d like that.’
‘Okay. Just let me get a quick shower before you put on that toast.’

They drove out on the Morvah to Penzance road, parked, and made the slow, winding climb up past the Seven Maidens to the derelict engine house at the centre of the old Ding Dong mine. Down below, the distant curve of Mounts Bay stretched out towards Lizard Point; above them, a patchwork sky and a buzzard hovering on a current of air.

Elder took the thermos of coffee from his backpack and they sat on a remnant of stone wall, backs to the wind. When Katherine reached out to take the cup from his hand, the words were out of his mouth before he could swallow them back.

‘Kate, your wrists . . .’
‘Dad . . .’
‘I just . . .’
‘Dad, I told you, no questions, right?’
‘I just want to know what happened, that’s all.’
Spilling the coffee across her fingers, Katherine rose sharply and walked away.

Fifteen metres on, she stopped, head bowed. ‘Kate . . .’ He rested his hand gently on her arm and she shrugged it off.
‘No questions, that’s what I said. What you agreed.’
‘I know, but . . .’
‘But what?’ Facing him now.
‘That was before . . . You can’t expect me not to ask.’
‘Can’t I?’
Elder shook his head and sighed.
‘I cut my wrists, okay? It was an accident.’
‘An accident?’
‘Yes.’
‘How on earth . . . ?’
‘It doesn’t matter.’
She stared back at him, daring him to say another word.

The same stubborn face he remembered from the playground when she was four or five and he’d say it was time to leave, time to put your things away, stop reading, stop writing, get ready for bed.
‘I don’t want to go to bed.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because I have dreams. Bad dreams.’

Worse now, he was sure. He went back and sat down and after a few minutes she came and sat beside him. Somewhere in the middle distance a tractor started up and came gradually into view, ploughing its way up and back along one of the fields north towards St Just, a small squall of gulls following in its wake.

‘I thought things were a little better now.’
‘Better?’
‘You know what I mean.’
‘Do I?’
‘I thought, after the therapy and everything . . .’
She laughed. ‘The therapy?’
‘Yes. I thought it was going well. Thought you’d found a way of coming to terms . . .’
‘What? As in forgetting? You think that’s possible? A few sessions with some shrink and it all goes away?’
‘No, just . . .’
‘Just what?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘No, you don’t, do you? Don’t know a fucking thing. About me or anything. Hide yourself away down here and you don’t fucking care!’

Swivelling on her heels, she stomped off through the heather the way they’d come, and Elder slowly levered himself up and set out after her, careful to keep his distance.

That evening, peace restored, they went to the cinema, the Filmhouse in Newlyn, ate fish and chips leaning over the harbour wall. Katherine had changed the bandages on her arms, while the questions continued to reverberate, unabated, unasked. Accidental? Both arms? The result of self-harming or something more potentially serious, final? If she wants to tell me, Elder persuaded himself with difficulty, she will.

On the way back across the peninsula, relaxed, Katherine chatted about the movie they’d just seen; about friends, flatmates – Abike, who was a teaching assistant in a local primary school; Stelina, who worked as a ward clerk in Mile End Hospital and was studying for a degree part-time; Chrissy, who juggled working behind a bar with being an artists’ model. When Elder got out a bottle of Scotch back at the cottage, Katherine shook her head and made tea instead. It was quite late by the time tiredness took over and they were away to their beds.

Elder slept fitfully, riven by familiar dreams. A sherman’s makeshift hut fashioned from timber and tarpaulin and held together with nails and rope. The lapping of water. Seaweed. Ash. The remains of a fire further back along the beach. The carcass of a seabird plucked clean. When he pressed his weight against the door, the rotting wood gave way and he stumbled into darkness.

A scream shrilled through him and he was instantly awake. A scream from the next-door room. Katherine was sitting bolt upright in bed, eyes wide open, staring towards the open window, her body shaking. When he touched her gently, she whimpered and pulled her knees closer to her chest. Her eyes flickered, dilated, then closed.

‘It’s all right, Kate,’ he said, easing her back down. ‘It’s just a dream.’

Her dreams, his dreams: one of the things they shared.

When she was just sixteen Katherine had been kidnapped by a man named Adam Keach, forced into a van and driven to an isolated location on the North Yorks coast, a ramshackle hut where she had been held prisoner, tortured and raped. It had been Elder who had found her, naked, blood blisters on her arms and legs, bruises discolouring her shoulders and her back.

Stooping, he kissed her hair now, as he had then. Squeezed her hand and left her sleeping.

Next morning she was gone.

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If this extract has you desperately wanting more, then you’re in luck as Body & Soul is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

John Harvey was born in London, where he now lives, while considering Nottingham his spiritual home.

Initially a teacher of English & Drama, he has been a full-time writer for more than forty years. The first of his 12 volume Charlie Resnick series, Lonely Hearts was selected by The Times as one of the ‘100 Best Crime Novels of the Century’ and the first Frank Elder novel, Flesh and Blood, won the CWA Silver Dagger in 2004. He was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in the crime genre in 2007, and his story, ‘Fedora’ won the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2014.

In addition to writing fiction, he has written and published poetry, running Slow Dancer Press for over twenty years; his Out of Silence: New & Selected Poems was published in 2014. He has adapted the work of Arnold Bennett, A. S. Byatt, Graham Greene and others for radio and television, and in 2017, his dramatisation of the final Resnick novel, Darkness, Darkness, was produced at Nottingham Playhouse.

He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Hertfordshire and Nottingham.

Twitter

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The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald @DMacDonaldAuth @bookouture #blogblitz #TheRunawayWife

It’s publication day for The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald and I’m absolutely delighted to kick off the blog blitz.

My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the invitation and the review copy!

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Author : Dee MacDonald
Title : The Runaway Wife
Pages : 299
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : April 24, 2018

aboutthebook

Connie McColl is tired of solving one family crisis after another – usually involving her unruly grandchildren – while her husband Roger spends all day at his beloved golf course. Surely it must be time for her to shake off her apron and start living again?

So Connie packs a bag, gets in her little green car and drives off…

On her journey from England to Scotland, Connie stops in on long-lost friends and makes all sorts of colourful new companions along the way. As Connie has the time of her life, sleeping under the stars and skinny dipping in the sea, she finally begins to rediscover herself. And she starts to wonder, will she ever be ready to return home?

Or will this summer change her life forever?

mythoughts

Now, I’m sure by now most of you know this isn’t my usual type of genre but there was something about the book description that just spoke to me. So when I was offered the opportunity to read this one early, I didn’t hesitate at all. Yes, that is my quote on the cover there. *proud moment* (Thank you, Kim!)

The Runaway Wife is a blooming’ marvellous novel that will either make you want to leave your family far behind or count your lucky stars and want to hug them all that little bit tighter because they’re brilliant and you wouldn’t want to change them for the world. Either way, Connie’s story is sure to put a smile on your face.

At a time in her life when she should be enjoying her retirement, demands from her family just seem to keep piling up on top of one another. Her husband is no help at all as he spends most of his time on the golf course and Connie increasingly feels like she’s being taken for granted. Many of us can without a doubt relate to Connie’s circumstances, no matter our ages, as we desperately try to find some “me” time.

One day, she has had more than enough and decides to live a little. Jumping into her car, Connie sets off on a road trip from England to Scotland. Catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones along the way, she has the opportunity to rediscover herself and figure out what she wants.

Connie captured my heart right from the start. She is such a delightful woman, who feels that even though she may be 66 years old, she’s still young enough to have an adventure or two. Along the way she will meet people who validate her, who will make her feel there is still more to her than just being a wife, a mother and a grandmother. She will be seen for who she is and isn’t that something we all want?

There are a few sad moments along the way, showcasing the comforting and caring personality of Connie. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and following her around the country, not just rooting for her but also for her wee car, hoping it would be reliable and get her through the journey safely. But equally entertaining are the glimpses into the daily life of her family members who now have to fend for themselves without the ever-present maid, cook and babysitter.

With a truly hilarious laugh-out-loud event near the end, this is a funny, uplifting and inspiring story that goes to show you’re never too old to make a change. Second chances are there if you’re willing to jump up and grab them. An absolutely delightful and fabulously heartwarming read perfect for those sunny days!

The Runaway Wife is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Aged 18, Dee arrived in London from Scotland and typed her way round the West End for a couple of years before joining BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) in Passenger Service for 2 years and then as a stewardess for 8 years.

She has worked in Market Research, Sales and at the Thames TV Studios when they had the franchise.

Dee has since relocated to Cornwall, where she spent 10 years running B&B’s, and only began writing when she was over 70!

Married twice, she has one son and two grandsons.

Facebook | Twitter

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The Fear by C.L. Taylor @callytaylor @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK #blogtour #TheFear

Delighted to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Fear by C.L. Taylor! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this fabulous book right after I tell you what it’s all about.

My thanks to Sabah at Avon UK for the opportunity and the gorgeous review copy!

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Author : C.L. Taylor
Title : The Fear
Pages : 394
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : March 22, 2018

aboutthebook

Lou Wandsworth is used to being headline news as, aged fourteen, she ran away with her 37-year-old teacher, Mike, during a short-lived affair.

Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is now grooming a young 13-year-old girl called Chloe.

Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey.

mythoughts

Hoo boy! Is this a humdinger or what?!

When Lou Wandsworth was fourteen years old, she found herself involved with her much older karate teacher, Mike. On what was supposed to be a romantic trip to France, she is rescued and Mike is sent to prison. Lou and her mother left the village they lived in for London and never came back. But now Lou’s father has passed away and Lou needs to clear out his house so it can be sold. With her life in pieces, she decides maybe the time has come to confront Mike, whom she blames for all the disastrous relationships she’s had. But then she discovers, Mike hasn’t changed at all and firmly has his sights set on yet another young teenager, Chloe.

The story is told through the eyes of Chloe, the now thirty-two year old Lou and a woman called Wendy Harrison, whose part in the story isn’t immediately clear though, I felt, rather easy to guess at. The Fear is very much a character-driven psychological suspense story. These three characters are all incredibly flawed and damaged in their own way and while not necessary likeable, they do evoke a level of sympathy. While this may not be a fast-paced plot, I found watching the characters develop and change throughout the story extremely compelling and fascinating.

At almost 400 pages, this isn’t exactly a quickie read and yet I devoured it in one sitting, flipping the pages faster and faster as I got closer to the staggering conclusion. There’s a constant threatening vibe and some parts make for some incredibly uncomfortable reading, especially where Lou’s past is concerned. But wow, could it possibly have been any more riveting?! I think not. The Fear held my attention throughout, had me completely captivated and I just couldn’t put it down.

I’ve arrived rather late, though still fashionably I’m sure, to the C.L. Taylor party and this is only the third book I’ve read by her but it’s most definitely my favourite so far. Some day, I will hopefully have the time to catch up on her older work but for now, I will eagerly await her next offering while you and you and yes, you as well, grab yourself a copy of this one!

The Fear is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

C.L. Taylor lives  in Bristol with her partner and young son. She is a three times Sunday Times bestseller and her books have hit the number one spots on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play. Cally has a degree in Psychology, with particular interest in abnormal and criminal Psychology. She also loves knitting, Dr Who, Sherlock, Great British Bake Off and Margaret Atwood and blames Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected for her love of a dark tale.

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