The Third Breath by Malcolm Hollingdrake @MHollingdrake @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz

Such a pleasure to host a stop on the blog blitz for The Third Breath by Malcolm Hollingdrake today! My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation to join and for the review copy!

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Author : Malcolm Hollingdrake
Title : The Third Breath
Series : DCI Bennett #7
Pages : 275
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : August 28, 2018

aboutthebook

DCI Bennett is away on compassionate leave. After much soul-searching, he has decided to attend his father’s funeral.

DS Owen is left at the helm when the discovery of a body in a car in the multi-storey car park is reported. Initially, the Coroner rules out suspicious circumstances but when a second body is found with similar symptoms, Bennett is back in the fold. He suspects that the coincidences must be of some significance.

Soon Bennett’s team are hunting for a callous and devious killer who has covered his tracks effectively.

Will Bennett’s perseverance and attention to detail eventually crack this perplexing case?

mythoughts

It’s quite hard to believe that The Third Breath is already the seventh instalment in the DCI Bennett series but author Malcolm Hollingdrake shows no signs of slowing down and has come up with yet another belter.

I’ve come to expect some rather brilliant and original ways for the killers in this series to murder their victims but this one has to be right up there with the most ingenious and chilling ones I’ve ever read. A dead body is discovered in a car in a multi-storey car park. Bennett and his team are left scratching their heads as there is no evidence whatsoever to find at the crime scene. At first, it looks like the victim may have died from natural causes. But then a second body is discovered and Cyril Bennett does not believe in coincidences.

This killer is playing quite the twisted game, seemingly without a specific motive, which makes them incredibly hard to track down. And what on earth is up with the potatoes? Yeah, that will make no sense to you whatsoever until you read this book. Suffice to say, the killer’s brain isn’t one you’d want to spend too much time with. And all the twists and turns combine into the most wonderfully complex investigation.

Meanwhile Cyril is also dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death and his feelings towards his stepmother, Wendy. Comic relief, as always, is provided by the inimitable Owen. Here’s a character I didn’t think I could possibly adore more than I did already but whenever his name pops up on the page, I just know he’s going to steal the show and make me chuckle.

This isn’t a particularly gruesome read so if you lean a bit more towards to the cosy mystery genre, I have no doubt you will enjoy this one. Just like its predecessors, The Third Breath is well plotted, brilliantly executed and another solid addition to an already extremely solid series. Bring on book eight, I say!

The Third Breath is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

You could say that the writing was clearly on the wall for anyone born in a library, that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.

Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.

Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has ten books now available. Completing ‘The Third Breath’ fulfils the seven book publishing contract with Bloodhound Books but there are exciting plans for the future, not only with DCI Bennett and his team but also with another series. More information will follow soon.

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all his novels.

This year, Malcolm self-published a beautiful and poignant short story titled ‘The Penultimate Man’ to commemorate the centenary of the conclusion of WW1. It has also been released as an audiobook.
Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel, ‘The Third Breath’.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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The Darkness Around Her by Neil White @neilwhite1965 @BonnierZaffre #TheDarknessAroundHer #NetGalley

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Author : Neil White
Title : The Darkness Around Her
Series : Dan Grant #2
Pages : 448
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : August 9, 2018 (ebook) | August 23, 2018 (paperback)

aboutthebook

See no evil . . .

When Lizzie Barnsley is murdered along a canal after escaping the clutches of her abusive boyfriend, Dan Grant is called in to represent her alleged killer. Peter Box has confessed to Lizzie’s murder, but did he actually do it, or is there some other, darker, force at play?

Hear no evil . . .

When Dan and his investigator, Jayne Brett, begin to look into the case, they discover a number of canalside murders and disappearances, including the brutal killing of fourteen-year-old Rosie Smith ten years earlier. Rosie’s stepfather Sean had been accused, but they discover that somebody else tried to confess – Peter Box.

Speak no evil . . .

With a client who has a habit of confessing to murder, Dan and Jayne have their work cut out for them, but when it becomes clear that Peter Box can’t have been involved with every murder and disappearance along the canal, the two realise that they may have stumbled on to something far more sinister.

But the clock is ticking and time is running out for the next victim . . .

mythoughts

Move over, John Grisham! I’ve found myself a new favourite legal crime thriller author and his name is Neil White. After thoroughly enjoying the first book in the Dan Grant series, From the Shadows, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into its follow-up.

In The Darkness Around Her, Dan Grant is facing the difficult task of defending an alleged killer, Peter Box, in a murder trial. Peter has been accused of the murder of Lizzie Barnsley, who was found along a canal path. But Peter is making things increasingly tough by refusing to talk to the police and to his lawyer. Did he really kill Lizzie or is someone else responsible? After all, Lizzie wasn’t the first victim along this stretch of the canal.

Jayne and Dan have to dig deep to get to the truth, uncovering a whole trail of missing and murdered women along the way. Is Peter Box responsible for all of them? Meanwhile, Dan is also forced to face a future without his boss, Pat, who is considering retirement. As if being solely in charge of a murder defence wasn’t enough to deal with.

One of the things I really enjoy about this series is that it combines the best of two worlds for me. I love legal thrillers and the drama that is played out in a court setting, which is obviously where Dan comes in. But I also get the investigation into a crime with Detective Murdoch but even more so, with private investigator Jayne. I really enjoy the dynamics between Dan and Jayne, even though that will-they/won’t-they thing continues. But just like the characters, I’m struggling to decide if it would be a good thing or not for them to become involved.

The Darkness Around Her is intensely gripping, with intriguing and complex characters. The pace and the action builds up to almost unbearable levels. Neil White kept me guessing for ages as to what was really going on and I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough to see what the outcome would be. This is a cleverly plotted, brilliantly executed, enthralling and insanely addictive thriller. An incredibly tense ride with a few surprises along the way that I found hard to put down and absolutely fantastic addition to the series! I can’t wait to see what’s next.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKobo | Goodreads

Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan @JackJordanBooks @CorvusBooks @theotherkirsty #blogtour #BeforeHerEyes

Delighted to join the blog tour for Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan today! My thanks to Kirsty Doole at Corvus for the invitation to join and for my review copy!

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Author : Jack Jordan
Title : Before Her Eyes
Pages : 352
Publisher : Corvus / Atlantic
Publication date : August 16, 2018

aboutthebook

She can’t see the killer
But the killer can see her…

Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in the small, claustrophobic town of Balkerne Heights, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But before she can, Naomi stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene – watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer’s face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.
For Naomi, this frightening truth changes everything: she realises that she wants to live, at the very point at which her life is in greatest peril.

As the police begin hunting the person responsible and the bodies pile up, Naomi must lie in wait and answer the question that hangs her fate in the balance: why did the killer let her live?

In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes…

mythoughts

Well hello, Jack Jordan! So, we finally meet. So to speak. I’ve heard a lot about you (all good, I promise) and I figured it was about time I introduced myself to your books. But I had no idea that that cutsie smile you so often display hides such an incredibly devilish brain!

Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. One day, while walking down a dark and icky alley, she stumbles upon the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. Naomi can sense she’s not alone and while she may not be able to see the killer, she could very well be the only person able to identify them. But why did the killer let her live? And is there a connection to the disappearance of another young woman years ago?

The prologue alone already sent shivers up and down my spine. There’s a delightful creepy sort of vibe throughout the story, helped enormously by the fantastic writing as Jack Jordan really brings home what it’s like to be blind. It felt almost claustrophobic. It definitely felt incredibly scary and that’s without thinking there’s a psychopath after you.

Now, I must admit that Naomi often made me feel like I was watching one of those old slasher type movies. You know, the ones where you find yourself yelling “don’t open the bloody door!!!!!”. Some of the decisions she made seemed a bit dubious to me but hey, I’m not blind (thank goodness) so what do I know.

I couldn’t at all guess at the outcome. Although I had a wee nugget of an idea in my head and I felt rather smug when it looked like I might be right. But then …. those final pages turned the whole thing onto its head and I actually gasped out loud. Talk about being blindsided and sucker punched. Fabulous!

Before Her Eyes is chilling, disturbing, dark and brilliantly addictive. A delicious page-turner that will have you flipping/swiping the pages faster as you go, biting your nails before ending up utterly floored and exhausted.

I suppose you could say my first outing with Jack Jordan went rather well and I quite look forward to hanging out with him again. And by hanging out, I obviously mean read his other books as I’m not entirely sure I’d want to get too close to that devious mind. 😉

Before Her Eyes is available to buy!

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

abouttheauthor

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), and Before Her Eyes (2018).

To find out more about Jack, enter numerous annual giveaways to win signed copies of his books, and be one of the first to hear of new book releases and news, follow him here:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

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The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood @MichaelHWood @KillerReads @HarperCollins

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Author : Michael Wood
Title : The Hangman’s Hold
Series : DCI Matilda Darke #4
Pages : 416
Publisher : Killer Reads / Harper Collins
Publication date : August 24, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Your life is in his hands.

The gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, in which Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness of your living room. As soon as you get home, he will kill you – hang you by the neck – and make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

He knows your darkest secrets.
The police are running out of time. DCI Matilda Darke is facing her worst nightmare: a serial killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice, whose campaign of violence is spreading fear throughout the city.

And he is closer than you think.
As the body count rises, Matilda is personally targeted and even her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?

mythoughts

You’re all reading this series, right? If not, you should be! It’s one of the best ones out there and it deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting!

The Hangman’s Hold is the fourth instalment in the DCI Matilda Darke series, a series which is going from strength to strength and I have no qualms whatsoever in saying this is the best one yet. Quite frankly, I didn’t expect that because the previous book, Room Full of Killers was so utterly mind-blowing that I didn’t think Michael Wood could top that. I apologise for underestimating you, sir.

So, we meet the Hangman. He’s a vigilante serial killer with an ax to grind and the race is on to catch him from selecting another victim. The victims have been chosen for a reason and are hanged by the neck to pay for crimes they’ve committed in the past. This is where I found myself in the very strange position of almost sympathising with the killer’s reasoning. Because really, does the punishment always fit the crime? I think not.

Busy as the killer may be, they do also find the time to taunt Matilda along the way. This causes Matilda to think they’re quite close and just like her, I couldn’t at all figure out who to trust anymore on this team I’ve grown so fond of. A team that’s struggling to sink their teeth into the investigation due to a fierce case of victim apathy and yet, again, I could sympathise with that as well as it’s all too easy to imagine. I also thoroughly enjoyed how the focus shifted away from the case and delved into the impact the crimes have on family members who are left to deal with the aftermath.

It took me a while to figure out who the hangman was as Michael Wood deftly led me in the wrong direction. This is one gripping and tense story and I was hooked from the first page to the last. On top of that, this fantastic addition to the series ends on a massive cliffhanger that is sure to have readers coming back for more! I know I am!

The Hangman’s Hold is available in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in September.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKobo | WorderyGoodreads

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Book 20 from my 20 Books of Summer list. Nailed it! And with time to spare too. *smug*

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Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers @MarilynCohendeV @annecater #blogtour #extract #excerpt #SilvermanSaga #RandomThingsTours

Today, it is my pleasure to close down the blog tour for Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers. My thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and for the extract I’ll be sharing with you, right after I tell you more about this third instalment in the Silverman Saga series.

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Author : Marilyn Cohen de Villiers
Title : Deceive and Defend
Series : Silverman Saga #3
Pages : 338
Publisher : Mapolaje Publishers
Publication date : June 13, 2018

aboutthebook

Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the effects of two deaths—one in the Johannesburg home of the wealthy Silverman family; the second, hundreds of kilometres away on a Free State farm—ripple across South Africa and the world, irrevocably changing the lives of four people:

Tracy Jacobs who desperately wants journalism’s highest laurels… and also yearns for love. Now she must choose between saving her career or defending her chance of happiness;

Aviva Silverman who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after with her adored new family. Now she must place it all at risk to defend the family she left behind;

Carol Aronowitz, dedicated social worker who prides herself on her professionalism . Now she must find a way to defend herself against clear evidence of incompetence that has had disasterous consequences; and

Yair Silverman, Aviva’s twin brother, who stands to lose everything as he takes a drastic decision to deceive everyone.

Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s post-Mandela decline, Deceive and Defend is as current and thought provoking as today’s headlines.

extract

Tracy ignored her mother’s barrage and hurtled into the bathroom. She tore off her pyjamas, turned the shower on full blast, and stepped into the still icy torrent. The water would warm up eventually but her heart, her body would remain frozen. She just knew it. She had died inside. She stood motionless as her tears washed down the drain.

It was all too much. First Yair. Then this. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fucking fair. She had worked so damn hard on that story. Lepalake had promised her… he had promised that he would phone her the next time he was in Johannesburg and… and he had! That phone call that Duduzile had so kindly offered to take just as she was leaving the office yesterday – that had to have been Peter Lepalake. And instead of Duduzile calling her back, the bitch had kept the story for herself – and Mafuta had obviously helped her, filling in some of the blanks from the things Tracy had told him over the weeks she had spent working on the story. Damn him. At least she hadn’t filed her story about Yair and Tiffany. It would have seemed so petty, such a nothing story, in comparison to Peter Lepalake. Mafuta and Duduzile would have made her life a misery—more of a misery—if she had given in to her spiteful temptation. They’d be saying she was only capable of stupid gossip, not real news.

Hammering on the bathroom door startled her.

‘Your news editor’s on the phone. Can you speak to him or will you call him back?’ Maxine shouted.

‘Tell him I’ll phone him,’ Tracy said and poured some shampoo into her hand to lather into her hair. Mafuta could wait. He probably just wanted to explain why he had given her story to his mistress. Maybe. Mafuta never explained anything to anyone. Ever. Too bad. He’d just have to wait until she was ready to speak to him about whatever he wanted. She wasn’t supposed to be on duty until 9am… he could fucking wait. 

Tracy rinsed her hair, massaged in a liberal amount of conditioner, shaved her legs, rinsed off the conditioner, switched off the water, stepped out of the shower, wrapped herself in her threadbare towel and padded down the passage to her bedroom.

Her cellphone was ringing as she stepped through the door. She picked it up. Mafuta. 

Her finger hovered over the red icon – but she couldn’t bring herself to cut her news editor off.

‘Hello Prince.’

‘TT, what the fuck has taken you so long. I told your mother to tell you to call me back urgently. And when I say urgently, I mean immediately. Not a fucking half hour later.’

‘Sorry. I was washing my hair. I supposed you wanted to tell me about Peter Lepalake. Don’t worry. I’ve read Duduzile’s story. It’s full of mistakes. Why didn’t you call me when he phoned? I was still in the building.’

‘And let you screw it up again? You couldn’t get the story, Duduzile did – end of story. Anyway, I’m giving you a new story and I hope you don’t fuck this up too. Mpho’s police contacts called him this morning, early. Something has happened at Alan Silverman’s house. Police and ambulances are on their way. Or are probably there already, as you should have been if you hadn’t been fucking washing your fucking hair.’

Tracy sat down heavily on the bed, her hand shaking.

‘What’s happened?’

‘It may be nothing more serious than a house robbery or a hijacking. But Mpho says there could be some fatalities so it may be something worthwhile – more death in the cursed Silverman mansion type of thing. Just get over there. I’d send Mpho but you know the family so, for once in your useless little life, get me a fucking story I can use.’ 

Tracy stared at her phone, willing it to ring, willing it to be Yair telling her that he was okay, that everything was okay. But the phone stayed stubbornly, ominously silent. 

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Has this wee teaser left you wanting more? Then why not grab yourself a copy as Deceive and Defend is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | KoboGoodreads

abouttheauthor

I was born and raised in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the SRC, competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours (first class), also at Rhodes.

With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.

I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers and, despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.

After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability.  My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. But after more than 20 years, I decided the time had come to go it alone. I now work as a freelance wordsmith which (theoretically) gives me more time to focus on what I love best – writing fiction.

So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction? The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved.  A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014.  The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015. Now, the third and final novel in the Silverman Saga Trilogy, Deceive and Defend, is launching in June 2018… and novel number 4 is percolating in my head.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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The Edge of Sanity by Chris Thomas @cthomasauthor1 @Bloodhoundbook #blogtour #TheEdgeofSanity #guestpost

Good morning, fellow bookworms! I’m kicking off the week with a stop on the blog tour for The Edge of Sanity by Chris Thomas. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity! Author Chris Thomas visits the blog today about what he’s learned since writing a book. But first, here is what The Edge of Sanity is all about.

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Author : Chris Thomas
Title : The Edge of Sanity
Pages : 361
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : August 20, 2018

aboutthebook

In a derelict squat, the Smart Man watches as the new narcotic developed by his shadowy organisation wreaks havoc on its unsuspecting victims. The drug is now ready for sale on their exclusive darknet market place.

Elsewhere, DCI Robert Smith, the retired head of the Cyber Crimes Unit, seeks out crime boss Curtis Slater at his remote farm. He offers to provide Slater with information in exchange for money. But what information is he offering?

Meanwhile, former detective Pete Harris had started a new life, away from the Cyber Crimes Unit, with his daughter and begins to rekindle his relationship with old colleague Grace Brooks.

With his life seemingly complete, Pete’s world comes crashing down as he is drawn into Slater’s game with fatal consequences. He must join forces with his old enemies in a race against time. But can Pete save his daughter and Grace from the clutches of Slater, the Smart Man, and the sinister ring master, the Professor?

[The Edge of Sanity is out today!]

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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What I have learned since writing a book

From the minute I first typed ‘Chapter 1’ into my new Word document, it became quickly apparent that the actual writing of my first book The Red Room, later to become Enter The Dark, was the easy part. There was so much more to not only finishing a book and putting it out for people to read, but also in somehow making sure that people knew about it and wanted to read it. Amazon Kindle has made it exceptionally easy for anyone to have ‘a book on Amazon’. You write a story in Word, use their cover design tool, upload it to your Amazon Author account, et voila, you have a book on Amazon.

Some purists would argue that this is a terrible thing. That only traditionally published authors, whose work has been checked, verified and thus endorsed by the sages of the publishing world, should be allowed to grace the screens of the paying public’s e-readers. I whole-heartedly disagree and would say that anything which encourages people to get out there and do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do is a good thing. The paying public are smart enough to make their own mind up and the cream (whether that be writing talent or simply a story that grabs people) will naturally rise to the top.

But one thing that should be stressed is that, whilst it will be fun, on the whole, it’s not easy. Here are the main lessons I’ve learned since starting out on writing books.

  1. Making people read your work is hard.

The obvious way is through friends and family on Facebook. And generally, once they have got over the novelty that someone they knew had written a novel, bought it and shared the odd post, after a while you can no longer rely on them as your main source of publicity. And that’s when it gets really difficult. As a self-published author you don’t have access to the same people: bloggers, publicists, etc as those signed to even a small indie label. Before The Red Room was signed, we were at the point of my wife (i) approaching anyone in the book aisle in Tesco (ii) talking to whoever we happened to be sat next to in a theatre (iii) anyone showing the slightest interest in anything to do with books, and handing them some promotional business cards that I had printed. Which brings me neatly onto…

  1. Blog Tours!

Until I started joining book groups on Facebook and Twitter I never knew that blog tours were even a thing. Once I knew of their existence I figured that I would just send my book to the blog sites, they would read it and advertise it for me. But no. These people are inundated with submissions, and quite rightly so, because they offer a brilliant way of reaching way more readers than on one’s own. And that was probably the single biggest difference I noticed once I signed with Bloodhound; that I could now join this world. This world where people who read way more than me, whose love of books has led them to review online for fun, the sort of people who I would love to not only read my book but rave about it. My tour for Enter the Dark lasted seven days, with two bloggers a day posting reviews. And I loved it. Some of the reviews simply blew me away. But even the not-so-positive ones were of huge value. If everyone loves your work, you have no reason to try to be better.

  1. Not everyone will like your book.

Fact. Being an author really isn’t a job/pastime for anyone who is overly sensitive about what other people think. Overall, my Amazon reviews for Enter the Dark were wholly positive. But there were some real stinkers in there as well –the dreaded ‘One-Star Club’. Even worse is the ‘Would have given it no stars if I could’. No point getting upset about them, just accept it and move on.

  1. You will doubt you own quality.

My wife always moaned that I never believed that what I wrote was any good. During the first draft of The Red Room, I sent it periodically to a very good friend who is a proper book fiend (reads a novel in one sitting in the evening etc). Even when they came back saying it was good, you still assume they are being polite. When people come up to you who say they’ve read it and really enjoyed it, it’s difficult not to do the same. This must be better than the deluded belief that you have just written a Nobel Prize winning piece of literature, but it is important to take the praise as much as the criticism.

  1. You have to just start.

Everyone has a book in them, apparently. And lots of people say they want to write a book. But the only way to do it is simply to start. I read some sort of profound quote about water not flowing until you turn the tap on and you won’t write anything unless you sit down and just do it. Which is true, but writing a novel isn’t like putting up a shelf, it’s a much bigger emotional and physical investment of energy. My personal prompt was taking an evening course called “Kickstart Your Creativity” which mainly taught me that I could string words together and was pleasantly surprised when the people hearing them didn’t choke on their own vomit at how dreadful it was. Put simply, it won’t write itself and you’ll soon work out whether it’s for you.

  1. Don’t stop submitting it to publishers and agents.

Why stop? Just because some have rejected it is not a reason to give up. We’ve all heard stories of huge authors / novels being rejected by countless agents or publishers before eventually being taken on. It doesn’t take long to make a submission, so keep at it. 

There’s almost certainly a whole bunch of others lessons that I have learned but don’t know I’ve learned, and a few lessons that I am still to learn. A bit like Donald Rumsfeld and his ‘known-knowns’ and ‘known-unknowns’. 

What I do know is that having a published book, regardless of how it was received is something that no-one can ever take away. I have an actual job, so do not need to rely on making an income from writing to make a living. But I have huge admiration for those that do as it is not easy. And if you do chose to write a book, whether as a hobby or as a full-time occupation, the only thing you can do is to just go for it.

abouttheauthor

Chris Thomas was born near London in 1978 before moving to Buckinghamshire a few months later. He attended the University of Bristol, graduating with a degree in psychology in 1999. It was here that he developed his interest in criminal psychology and serial killers.

After a brief stint working at an investment bank in London, he left the City to work for his wife’s family business, a position he still holds.

Chris is an avid film fan, especially horror, thrillers and dark comedy- something that he tries to blend in his writing. He self-published his debut novel The Red Room in February 2017 before joining the Bloodhound Books stable and re-releasing the book as Enter The Dark. The follow up, “The Edge of Sanity”, will be released by Bloodhound Books in August 2018.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys karate (holding a black belt) and spending time with his wife and two young daughters.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Close To Home by Cara Hunter #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Cara Hunter
Title : Close To Home
Series : DI Adam Fawley #1
Pages : 400
Publisher : Penguin Random House
Publication date : December 14, 2017

aboutthebook

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

mythoughts

Bloody hell! I’ve had this one on my Kindle for months and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner!

While her parents are throwing a party in their garden, eight year old Daisy Mason disappears without a trace. Nobody has seen anything, nobody knows anything. Or so they say. In charge of the investigation is DI Adam Fawley and he soon realises, someone must be lying.

Boy, oh boy, it’s so hard to review this one without giving anything away. Close To Home hooked me from the very first page and just wouldn’t let go. Never mind thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter before bed”. No, this quickly turned into “I don’t care how long I stay up but I’m finishing this book today!”

This is an incredibly tense, gripping and thrilling ride that throws you into the action right away. No slow build up here as it’s all systems go from the start. With a cast of quite dislikable and suspiciously acting characters, I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened to Daisy.

I love the way Cara Hunter constructed the plot with flashback chapters leading the reader further and further away from the actual day of the disappearance. It worked brilliantly and left me picking up tiny clues along the way, only to be utterly blindsided by the most mind-blowing conclusion. To say I was left reeling is quite the understatement!

Close to Home is an incredibly addictive page-turner, utterly compelling and engrossing and a fantastic start to a series. I can’t wait to read the next one, which I luckily already own and if my schedule would have allowed it, I’d be reading it already! I know I keep saying I really don’t have the time to get hooked on another series but I’ll gladly make space for this one. Highly recommended!

Close To Home is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Goodreads

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Book 13 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase @bookouture #blogtour

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation to join and for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Clare Chase
Title : Murder on the Marshes
Series : Tara Thorpe Mystery #1
Pages : 346
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : July 31, 2018

aboutthebook

As the sun rises, a young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.

It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.

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Welcome to Cambridge and its elite university colleges, whose foundations will be rocked by the murder of one of their own. Samantha Seabrook is found drowned in the fountain of a courtyard. The only clue is a silver chain. How did Samantha get access to this courtyard? Who would want to harm her and why?

The investigation into Samantha’s murder falls into the hands of DI Blake, but he isn’t the only one tracking a killer. Tara Thorpe is a journalist, whose boss wants her to write an article about the life and death of Samantha Seabrook. But when Tara receives a warning and realises this same warning was sent to Samantha before she was killed, things become personal. Can DI Blake and Tara Thorpe find the culprit before it’s too late?

The gorgeous Cambridge setting is in stark contrast with the backstabbing, rivalry and competitiveness of the professors at the college. Bar maybe one or two, nobody comes across as especially likeable and everyone seems to have something to hide. Throughout, there is the fascinating angle of the privileged versus the ones who come from nothing and had to work extraordinary hard to get where they are now.

The prologue sets the tone for things to come but its relevance isn’t revealed until the end. I do so enjoy that as I keep going over things like that in my head, trying to figure out how that little teaser fits into the story. For the record, I didn’t have a clue. Nor did I have the tiniest inkling about who the murderer was.

One investigation but two different ways of tackling it and both really held my interest. As a journalist, Tara has other resources available to her than DI Blake has, and vice versa. In their own ways they do the same thing with the same goal in mind. Talk to people, find the clues, put together the pieces of the puzzle and ultimately find the truth. And in Tara’s case, stay alive, as that first warning won’t be the last.

This first instalment in the Tara Thorpe Mystery series does exactly what it needs to. It’s gripping and compelling, has a wonderful setting and introduces us to fantastic characters both professionally and personally. There are plenty more things to discover about both DI Blake and Tara Thorpe and the conclusion of this first book sets things up perfectly for the follow-up. A brilliant start that will leave you wanting more!

Murder on the Marshes is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries and recently signed a three-book deal with Bookouture for a new crime series set in Cambridge. The opening book, Murder on the Marshes, is available for pre-order and will publish in July 2018. The mystery follows investigative journalist Tara Thorpe as she teams up with Detective Garstin Blake to solve the murder of a young female professor at Cambridge University. The case takes them through the dark underbelly of Cambridge and in to the murky fens that surround the centuries-old city. The second and third books in the series are scheduled for publication in late 2018/early 2019.

After graduating from London University with a degree in English Literature, Clare moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies, with her husband and teenage children, presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

Clare’s debut novel, You Think You Know Me, was shortlisted for the Novelicious Undiscovered Award 2012, and an EPIC award in 2015. It was also chosen as a debut of the month by Lovereading.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena @sharilapena @ThomasssHill @TransworldBooks #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Shari Lapena
Title : An Unwanted Guest
Pages : 304
Publisher : Bantam Press / Transworld
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

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Bless the insane heatwave and a nice bout of insomnia which allowed me to read this one in one sitting until the wee hours of the morning. I found myself so incredibly captivated from the first page that I didn’t even notice how late/early it was.

This Agatha Christie-esque scenario of a bunch of strangers trapped in a remote location will never get old, if you ask me. While the Inn sounds absolutely delightful when the guests arrive, things soon become a bit more creepy when the power goes out and you realise how many nooks and crannies this place has. Most of the time, I felt like was stumbling around in the dark just as much as the characters were.

After being introduced to the visitors to the Inn, I almost felt like a witness myself. Lounging on a sofa near the fireplace, checking out the people sitting around me, trying to figure them out and wondering what they were about. I had the urge to make a little spreadsheet, filling in what little information I was offered, adding tiny clues along the way. This is one of those stories, where I take a breather after each chapter, letting the new information I’ve gained sink in and try to figure things out before they are revealed to me.

I had a suspect in mind from the start, for reasons I obviously can’t divulge. There was a point where I briefly changed my mind but ultimately I went back to my original idea. To my surprise, it turned out I was right and I felt rather smug. Although, I couldn’t quite guess as to the motive behind it all.

An Unwanted Guest had me utterly engrossed from the very first page. With intriguing characters and no idea if there’d be another victim and who that would be, the nail-biting tension had me in its clutches until the end. Brilliantly written and intensely absorbing, I can see this murder mystery being in my list of top books of the year come December. And now I should really go check out some of Shari Lapena’s other books!

My thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld for my review copy!

An Unwanted Guest is available to buy!

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

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Book 9 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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Death Rope by Leigh Russell @LeighRussell @noexitpress @KatherineSunde3 #blogtour #guestpost #DeathRope #GS11

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Death Rope by Leigh Russell. My thanks to Katherine at No Exit Press for the invitation to join. Author Leigh Russell stops by the blog today to talk about the appeal of evil. But first, here is what the eleventh instalment in the DI Geraldine Steel series is all about.

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Author : Leigh Russell
Title : Death Rope
Series : DI Geraldine Steel #11
Pages : 386
Publisher : No Exit Press
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

THEY SAY SUICIDE. SHE SAYS MURDER.

Mark Abbott is dead. His sister refuses to believe it was suicide, but only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel will listen.

When other members of Mark’s family disappear, Geraldine’s suspicions are confirmed.

Taking a risk, Geraldine finds herself confronted by an adversary deadlier than any she has faced before… Her boss Ian is close, but will he arrive in time to save her, or is this the end for Geraldine Steel?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKobo | Goodreads

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The Appeal of Evil 

My detective, Geraldine Steel, is the protagonist in eleven of my books so far, with a cameo role in three more crime thrillers. Had I been more forward thinking, Geraldine might have arrived in the first book of her series as a fully formed character, with a back story in place and a future planned out. But it was the story of the killer which interested me in my debut novel, and that fascination has continued to drive my writing, as I explore what might motivate someone to kill.

A fictional killer’s behaviour has to be sufficiently complex to take time to unravel, but his motive has to be clear and follow some kind of logic, however demented. In a crime novel it is really not satisfactory to explain away the villain’s behaviour by simply writing him off as crazy. There has to be more to it than that, or the detective’s job would become quite random, and the reader would have no chance of solving the mystery.

Some of my books are ‘whodunnits’ in the traditional sense of the word. In other books my readers discover the identity of the killer early on, and in these books the suspense is built through dramatic irony as the reader watches my detective trying to solve the case.

But all of my books have one key element in common: Geraldine Steel. When I introduced my detective in my debut novel, I had no inkling of how popular she would become, or how many books she was going to feature in. Now it seems my original pipe dream of writing twenty books in the series might actually come true.

I’ve always found my villains at least as interesting to write about as my detectives. In some ways, writing about people operating outside the parameters of normal behaviour is quite liberating – although I’m not sure I would go quite as far as William Blake when he said, nearly two hundred and fifty years ago: “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” I like to think that good people can write about the evil aspects of human nature!

Each of my books works as a stand alone, so anyone can read Death Rope without having looked at the books in the series, but Geraldine remains a constant throughout, and I’m still enjoying exploring her story. And now, I’d better get back to work as I’ve left her in the middle of complex case…

abouttheauthor

Leigh Russell is the author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel series: Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop DeadFatal ActKiller Plan, Murder Ring, Deadly Alibi and Class Murder. The series has sold over a million copies worldwide. Cut Short was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association (CWA) John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award, and Leigh has been longlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award. Her books have been #1 on Amazon Kindle and iTunes with Stop Dead and Murder Ring selected as finalists for The People’s Book Prize. Leigh is chair of the CWA’s Debut Dagger Award judging panel and is a Royal Literary Fellow. Leigh studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English and American Literature. She is married with two daughters and a granddaughter, and lives in London.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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