Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen (trs Don Bartlett) @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #VargVeum

I’m absolutely delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen today, alongside my awesome fellow blog tour buddy Jen!

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour!

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Author : Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett)
Title : Big Sister
Series : Varg Veum
Pages : 259
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : June 20, 2018 (UK Paperback)

aboutthebook

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her apartment in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers on the hunt for a group of people whose dark deeds are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal.

mythoughts

Varg Veum is back and hoo boy, what a return it is!

Varg Veum is surprised when a half-sister he’s never met shows up in his office. She needs his help in finding her goddaughter, Emma, who disappeared without a trace. Since Emma is nineteen and took personal belongings with her, the police don’t take her case seriously and aren’t looking for her. Varg Veum promises to investigate but he has no idea what he’s getting himself in to.

The investigation leads him to uncover a horrific crime, while also making the acquaintance of a gang of bikers. Now, I watched Sons of Anarchy. I know all about these types of bikers, the things they get up to and none of it is good. Soon things get personal and Varg may have just bitten off more than he can chew.

There are various threads to sink your teeth into in Big Sister and Varg Veum is kept incredibly busy. Not only is there his investigation into the missing teenager, but he might find himself inclined to dig a little deeper into his own family.

Once again, Gunnar Staalesen delivers with his crisp writing and a scenario that is current and feels incredibly realistic. There’s a delicious depth to his characters and it feels as if you’re there with them in the moment, as you become invested in them and their emotions. This is only the second book I’ve read by Staalesen but I already expect nothing less than an intricately plotted story. There are a few magnificent twists I didn’t see coming at all and it kept me utterly hooked from start to finish.

When I reviewed Wolves in the Dark last year, I mentioned I felt a little lost as I hadn’t read any of the previous books in this long-running series but I’m happy to say that this time around I had no problems whatsoever getting behind Varg Veum and I feel Big Sister reads perfectly well as a stand-alone. It is intriguing, full of suspense and another fantastic example of Scandi-Noir at its best!

Finally, shout-out to Don Bartlett for another seamless translation!

Big Sister is available to buy in ebook. The UK paperback will be published on June 20th.

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

abouttheauthor

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott @EdinburghAuthor @annecater #blogtour #guestpost #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join!

Author Paul Elliott joins me to talk about ten things we don’t know about him. But first, here’s what Kid to Killer is all about.

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Author : Paul Elliot
Title : Kid to Killer
Series : Paul McGraw #1
Pages : 236
Publisher : Independently published
Publication date : May 20, 2017

aboutthebook

A fifteen year old boy sees it as his duty to rid Edinburgh of the scum that prey on the innocent people of the city. He finds that to punish the guilty he must first face fear,loss and betrayal.

He will soon discover things aren’t always as they seem, and there are other people who have uses for a young killer as well as bigger forces at play.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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Ten things you didn’t know about me.

1, Before writing Kid to Killer I had actually never read a book since reading Mr Men books as a child.

2, Kid to Killer started off as a supernatural thriller about a young boy (Paul) and his imaginary friend (John) but after twelve and a half thousand words when he reached high school age the book took on a life of its own and dramatically changed direction.

3, I’m a huge superhero fan, a lot of my inspiration came from watching Marvel movies.

4, I suffer from anxiety and at its worst point I never left my house for nearly two years.

5, My day job involves helping a young man with autism and learning difficulties lead as normal a life as possible.

6, Along with writing I have a massive passion for cars, currently I own eight cars which I drive as much as I can.

7, I have now written three Paul McGraw books and as much as I enjoyed them I have now moved onto a much lighter book about a happy-go-lucky author.

8, My daughter who is an avid reader did the editing and provided lots of support as I wrote Kid to Killer.

9, I literally woke up one morning and decided I was going to write a book and twenty-one days later Kid to Killer was released, a task I would never undergo again as most days I spent upwards of fourteen hours of constant writing.

10, I love animals and have always had two cats.

abouttheauthor

Paul Elliott, born in Edinburgh in 1974 is the creator and writer of the book Paul McGraw: Kid To Killer which is available now on the kindle store

Having grown up in some of the roughest areas of Edinburgh and leaving Wester Hailes Education Centre after year one with no qualifications, he joined the army as a junior officer at 15 years old but very quickly realised it wasn’t for him.
Paul then moved onto being a nightclub bouncer, debt collector, personal security provider and car dealer before trying his hand at writing a novel.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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The TV Detective by Simon Hall @SimonHallNews @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #blogblitz #guestpost #TheTVDetective

Welcome to the final day of the blog tour for The TV Detective by Simon Hall. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles for the invitation to join.

Sadly, because there’s still no fix for the “not enough hours in the day” problem I’m suffering from, I didn’t have time to read this one. However, author Simon Hall visits the blog to talk about what lead him to start writing a book. But first, here is what The TV Detective is all about.

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Author : Simon Hall
Title : The TV Detective
Pages : 314
Publisher : Fahrenheit Press
Publication date : March 22, 2018 (first published in 2010)

aboutthebook

Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

Buy direct from the  Fahrenheit Press shopGoodreads

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Life has a way of playing strange tricks on you. The kind that seem awful, but turn out to be wonderful. And one of those led to my career as a writer.

I was already a kind of writer. Kind of meaning I was a journalist, a BBC TV News Correspondent, specialising in the environment.

It was a great job. Wandering across cliff tops, wading through crystal moorland rivers, searching out rare species of bird, all in the name of work.

But I say kind of writing because my reports were only a couple of minutes long. Maybe 150 words. Not a lot of room for creativity, for setting scenes, casting characters, telling deep and intriguing stories.

Still, I was happy enough. Until the day of the summons to my editor’s office.

The old Crime Correspondent had retired. Cost cutting meant he hadn’t been replaced. We were missing good stories. The viewers were noticing.

Would you like to take up the crime beat? he asked.

No thanks, I replied. I’m very happy with the environment.

You don’t understand, the grizzled old hack said, leaning forwards so he slipped into the shadows, the smell of cigarettes tainting the area around me, a yellowed finger tapping on a stack of P45 notice of termination of employment forms.

Would you like to take up the crime beat?

I slipped into a dark well that night. I was very happy covering the environment. I knew all the stories, the key players. About crime I knew precisely nothing. Except that it sounded nasty, something to be avoided, not wallowed in.

The first couple of stories were a straightforward disaster. All the other crime reporters knew their stuff and picked up on angles I missed. I visited my editor’s office again, and it was even less fun that the last time.

So I came up with a solution. To shadow the police on a murder inquiry. To get a fast track, insider’s experience of detective work.

Luckily for me, the cops saw the potential of having a hack to indoctrinate and manipulate. They went for it.

And it was absolutely, five star, trumpet fanfare fascinating.

The way detectives go about their work, the tricks they pull, the games they play, I had no idea. And I was even useful myself. With a story I put out, and what it lead one of the suspects to do.

I can’t go into any more details on this one. It’s a kind of told you too much already, now I’ll have to kill you thing. 

But I was so intrigued by this dark and devious, seedy and shady new world that I didn’t just want to write news about it. I began to write a book.

And that’s where The TV Detective was born.

A television reporter who doesn’t just cover crimes but gets so involved in the cases that he helps the police to solve them. Often using the power of the media to do so.

Just don’t ask me how much of my books are autobiographical.

[So, Simon, how much of your books is …. Just kidding. Thank you so much for stopping by!]

abouttheauthor

Simon Hall is an author and journalist. He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime. Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets and studying pop lyrics.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry @JLPerryAuthor @millieseaward @LittleBrownUK #blogtour

It’s my pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry today! My thanks to Millie Seaward at Little Brown UK for the invitation and the beautiful review copy!

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Author : Jodi Perry
Title : Nineteen Letters
Pages : 381
Publisher : Sphere | Little Brown UK
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

What would you do if the love of your life had no memory of you?

The 19th of January, 1996 . . . I’ll never forget it. It was the day we met. I was seven and she was six. It was the day she moved in next door, and the same day I developed my first crush on a girl.

Then tragedy struck. Nineteen days after our wedding day, Jemma was in an accident that would change our lives forever. When she woke from her coma, she had no memory of me, of us, of the love we shared.

That’s when I started writing her letters. The stories of our life. Of when we met. About the happier times, and everything we’d experienced together.

mythoughts

Lately I’ve been very much about broadening my horizons where my reading is
concerned. Of course, I love my crime fiction but sometimes it’s quite nice to try something different and cleanse the palette, so to speak. Hence why I gladly accepted the invitation to read Nineteen Letters.

Admittedly, there were a few moments at the beginning where I wondered what I’d gotten myself in to. I’m not really the romantic type, I’m married to an even less romantic guy. Surprise bouquet of pretty flowers, what’s that? And surely when you book a weekend away, that’s just an excuse to bring a suitcase of books?

So when I started this story and realised there was quite a lot of that “sappy stuff” going on that almost made me cringe, I thought I’d made a huge mistake. However, I actually soon found myself completely immersed into the lives of Baxter, Jemma and their families.

Retrograde amnesia sounds positively scary. Imagine waking up and not remembering the person next to you, your parents, the life you’ve led so far or even yourself. Do you like wine or ice cream, for instance? What’s your favourite colour, your favourite song? When was your first kiss? What do you do when the essence of “you” might be gone forever?

This is what happens to Jemma after she’s involved in a car accident. Luckily for her, she has Baxter and he is determined to make sure Jemma will one day remember their lives and the intense love they shared. He does this by writing her letters. Nineteen to be exact, a number that holds special meaning to them. Through those letters, he hopes to rekindle the magic he and Jemma had and we, the reader, get to know both of them as Braxton takes us all down memory lane.

“What we had is far too beautiful to be forgotten”

While I found some things a little predictable, I was rooting for the entire cast of characters all the way. Because not only does Baxter have the situation with Jemma to deal with. There is a lot going on in all of their lives. Jemma’s parents have split up but clearly still love each other. Baxter’s father is in a care home and what on earth is going on with Lucas and Rachel?

Nineteen Letters is a moving, sometimes heartbreaking and yet heartwarming story about love, loss, grief and second chances. I smiled. I chuckled, I even had a massive lump in my throat and the overwhelming urge to hug someone tightly. It brings home how short and fragile life is and how quickly things you take for granted can change. There’s a vital lesson here, to take life as it comes and make the best of every day. If you do have that romantic bone in your body, I’m sure you will enjoy meeting Baxter and Jemma.

Nineteen Letters is available for purchase!

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

abouttheauthor

Jodi Perry is a wife and mother, and was born in Sydney, Australia. She has lived there her whole life. Under the name J. L. Perry, her previous four novels have all been #1 bestsellers in ebook.

Jodi travels annually to the UK and US to promote her books at romance events and to meet her readers.

Author link : Twitter

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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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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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In For The Kill by Ed James @EdJamesAuthor @EmmaFinnigan @AmazonPub @annecater #blogtour #ThomasandMercer #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for In For The Kill by Ed James, the fourth book in the DI Fenchurch series. Ed James visits the blog today to talk about how he came up with his main character but first, here is what the book is all about.

My thanks to Ed James and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours!

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Author : Ed James
Title : In For The Kill
Series : DI Fenchurch #4
Pages : 329
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer / Amazon Publishing
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

A university student is found strangled to death in her bedroom, but when the embattled DI Simon Fenchurch is called in to investigate, the case strikes dangerously close to home.

On the surface, the victim was a popular, high-performing student. But as secret grudges against her emerge, so too does evidence that she was living a double life, working on explicit webcam sites for a seedy London ganglord. Everyone Fenchurch talks to knows a lot more than they’re willing to tell, and before long he’s making new enemies of his own—threatening to push him and his family past breaking point.

With too many suspects and not enough facts, Fenchurch knows his new superiors are just waiting for him to fail—they want him off the case, and off the force for good. His family is in more danger than ever before. So how deep is he willing to dig in order to unearth the truth?

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How I came up with DI Simon Fenchurch

A few years ago, I wrote a book set in the Scottish Highlands about vampires escaping the Highland Clearances. Something like that. For some reason, it didn’t do very well. I had an idea for a sequel set in London and Kent, where a group of vampires breed people for their blood. The first thing I did as a full-time writer was an outline for that book, which went in a very odd direction.

I had a lead detective, Simon Fenchurch, a broken Met DI, who I’d become quite attached to. The name came from Simon Fench, a vampire in China Mieville’s THE SCAR, but coupled with Fenchurch Street in the City, somewhere I walked past every so often when I worked there, which rooted him to the location he investigates crimes in. When it became clear how badly the first vampire book did, I gave up on it.

But I just couldn’t get him out of my head. So I cut the supernatural nonsense from the book, and the central crime became more evil — people breeding humans for use in the sex trade.

And I needed to know who Fenchurch was. What makes him tick. What broke him?

My first police procedural series, featuring Scott Cullen, deliberately avoided the usual detective tropes, with Cullen the opposite of everything you usually read or saw. He’s a Detective Constable, not a DI or, even more egregiously, a DCI investigating low-level crimes instead of managing people and stats. He’s young and single, not divorced with kids that don’t speak to him, and he lives in a shared flat instead of a former marital home. And he drives a crap car, not a classic.

With Fenchurch, I decided to tackle the clichés head on. He’s a DI, so he delegates rather than doing all the tedious stuff. Made it much easier to write, I can assure you. I’d been reading a lot of film theory, which meant giving him a back story that gave a personal involvement in the case. It’s hard to do for a series police procedural, as it’s someone doing a job. So I made him separated from his wife after the tragedy of their daughter being kidnapped. Fenchurch became obsessed with it, causing their emotional distance and break up.

And Fenchurch spends his nights hunting for his daughter, but he doesn’t know what he’ll do if he finds her. In the first novel, THE HOPE THAT KILLS, the victim could easily be his daughter. Even though she isn’t, he can empathise with her family, which drives him on to make a horrific discovery. It doesn’t close any doors for him — that would happen later — but it let me and my readers get to know him and what makes him tick.

And it didn’t have any vampires.

[Thank you for stopping by the blog, Ed! And I must say that I for one am thrilled about the lack of vampires!]

abouttheauthor

Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the SCOTT CULLEN series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians – the first four are available now, starting with GHOST IN THE MACHINE which has been downloaded over 280,000 times and is currently free. BOTTLENECK (Cullen 5) is out on 17-Mar-14. He is currently developing two new series – DI SIMON FENCHURCH and DS VICKY DODDS, set in London and Dundee respectively. He also writes the SUPERNATURE series, featuring vampires and other folkloric creatures, of which the first book SHOT THROUGH THE HEART is out now and free.

Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and rescue ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don’t lay eggs). While working in IT for a living, Ed wrote mainly on public transport but now writes full time.

Twitter | Website

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The Body in the Boat by A.J. MacKenzie @AJMacKnovels @BonnierZaffre #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Body in the Boat by A.J. MacKenzie! I was unfortunately unable to read this one (I need more hours in the day! Someone make that happen!) but I do have a great extract to share with you all today.

My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for the invitation!

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Author : A.J. Mackenzie
Title : The Body in the Boat
Series : Hardcastle & Chaytor Mysteries #3
Pages : 400
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : April 5, 2018

aboutthebook

Across the still, dark English Channel come the smugglers. But tonight they carry an unusual cargo: a coffin. Several miles inland, a respected banker holds a birthday party for his wife. Within days, one of the guests is found shot dead.

What links this apparently senseless killing to the smugglers lurking in the mists? Why has the local bank been buying and hoarding gold? And who was in the mysterious coffin?

Reverend Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor find themselves drawn into the worlds of high finance and organised crime in this dramatic and dark Georgian mystery.

extract

Dawn broke, glowing red and pink and gold over the heaving sea, the wind still hard from the west. She was so exhausted she could hardly think. The world around her seemed to stutter. The relentless crash of the waves, the creaking of the hull, the moaning of the rigging tore at her nerves.

‘A mile and a half’, said Captain Haddock. ‘Sloterdyke is no lubber. He must know we’re overhauling him.’

‘Think he might turn and fight, sir?’

‘Wouldn’t you? Pipe the hands to breakfast.’

Breakfast was a form of porridge. She forced a few spoonsful down, shuddering with a nausea that had nothing to do with seasickness. Another cup of coffee laced with rum calmed her stomach.

Blue sky overhead, enormous columns of white cloud marching over the sea round them, trailing grey sheets of rain. The wind was down a little, but still the waves rolled on, streaked with white foam. The deck of the ship heaved and swayed beneath her feet.

‘Sail ho!’

‘Where away?’

‘Port bow, captain. It’s another lugger.’

White sails, rising and falling on the horizon. The sea, rolling and rolling, without end.

‘She’s one of ours, captain! I think it’s Black Joke!’

‘Make the recognition signal.’

Silence, waiting.

‘Weather’s coming up, captain.’ One of the great storm clouds was rolling towards them from the west.

Black Joke’s answering, captain. She’s spotted the Dutchman.’

The squall was drawing nearer. A few raindrops pattered on the already wet deck.

Black Joke is turning, sir! She’s running to cut the Dutchman off.’

‘Watch the Dutchman, lads, watch her’, said Haddock. ‘She’ll wait until the squall hits and then try to run back past us. Watch her sails; sing out the moment you see her turn.’

Rain was falling heavily now. Her cloak was saturated, she realised, and she was wet through to her small clothes. Her body shivered from head to foot, but she could not turn away.

‘Ma’am’, said Captain Haddock, ‘I am about to send the crew to quarters. You should go below.’

She did not know what that meant. She shook her head.

A whistle blew. A drum beat. Men ran across the rolling deck. The ropes securing the black guns were removed. Charges of powder were rammed down the muzzles, roundshot forced home after them.

The rain hit them in earnest, pouring out of the sky, streaming across the deck. The men around her were soaked through in an instant. The horizon vanished behind the curtain of rain.

‘She’s turning!’ Several voices shouting at once. They had seen the Dutch lugger’s sails turn just before the heavy rain blotted her from sight.

‘Hard a-starboard. Now, midships. Meet her.’

‘Steady as she goes, captain.’

‘Gun’s crews closed up and ready for action, sir.’

The rain hammered at them. A powerful gust of wind followed, kicking up the waves so that Stag corkscrewed across them, diving into the troughs. Mrs Chaytor grabbed for a rope and clung on as a big wave broke across the deck, green water up to her waist for a moment, then pouring away over the side.

Waiting, watching the rain for any sign of movement.

There she is!

Great red sails stretched taut, black hull shiny with wet driving over the heaving grey seas, white foam at her bow, perhaps three hundred yards away.

Hard a-starboard!

Flashes of flame, puffs of white smoke from the Dutch lugger’s deck; thuds of shot against the wooden hull, something tearing a hole in the sail overhead. Hardcastle was there beside her, white faced. ‘Amelia, what are you doing? Go below!’

She could not move; she could only shake her head.

‘It’s that God-damned Puckle gun! Look out, they’re firing again!’ Flash. Flash. Flash from the enemy deck, more thumps against the hull. Another puff of smoke and a cannonball tore a white leaping fountain from the face of an incoming wave.

‘Midships. Meet her.’

The Dutch ship was turning too, away to port. She could see the long barrel of the Puckle gun now, and the men around the other guns, reloading. At this distance their faces were white featureless blobs. Another cannon fired from the Dutchman’s deck, gushing smoke; this time, she heard the sharp crack of the explosion over the roar of wind and water.

Rain drumming on the deck, running down her face and into her eyes. The crash of waves under the bow, spray flying up in hissing sheets. Flash. Flash. Flash; the Puckle gun, firing again. Shouts from the men around her as the ship was hit.

‘Stand by the guns. Fire.’

White billowing smoke, a hammering in her ears that made her want to scream, the smoke twisting away quickly on the wind. ‘Did we hit her?’

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😲. Well, I don’t know! Did they? Or not? If you want to find out, The Body in the Boat is available for purchase!

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abouttheauthor

A J MacKenzie is the pseudonym of Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, an Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife team of writers and historians.

They write non-fiction history and management books under their own names, but ‘become’ A J MacKenzie when writing fiction.

Twitter | Website

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Code Runner & Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton @rosieclaverton @CrimeSceneBooks @annecater #blogtour #AmyLaneMysteries #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Code Runner and Binary Witness. These are the first two books in the Amy Lane Mysteries and author Rosie Claverton visits the blog to talk about how to make an old book new again. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity.

Author : Rosie Claverton
Title : Code Runner & Binary Witness
Series : The Amy Lane Mysteries 1 & 2
Pages : 100 pages
Publisher : Crime Scene Books
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

Binary Witness : A young woman trapped by her fear, a young man pursued by his past, a murderer hunting the Cardiff streets by night. Agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane employs ex-con Jason Carr as a cleaner. When the police `borrow’ Amy’s skills to help track down the killer, Amy and Jason become a crime-fighting team, Amy on her computer, Jason on the streets.

Code Runner : Agoraphobic grey-hat hacker Amy Lane and her sidekick ex-con Jason Carr make a formidable crime-fighting team, but when Jason investigates a body washed up on a beach, the duo find themselves in over their heads in a world of drug-smuggling, conspiracy and cyber crime. Can Amy rescue Jason? At what cost?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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An old book made new again by Rosie Claverton

I’m in an unusual position with my crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries – I have the pleasure of launching the first two books twice!

I wrote Binary Witness during the National Novel Writing Month of 2011. After several rounds of revisions, I submitted to an ebook-only publisher and landed a two-book deal! Binary Witness set sail in May 2014, with Code Runner following in the September.

And I never read those books again.

Unfortunately, my publisher wasn’t interested in a third Amy Lane mystery, but Crime Scene Books were excited about continuing the series. I wrote the third novel Captcha Thief, which was published in 2016, and the fourth novel Terror 404 came out in 2017.

I worked on other projects. I grew and learned as a writer. I now know that I always struggle with the first third of the book, gather momentum around the midpoint, and then draw everything together for a heart-stopping finale. I am a much better novelist than I was in 2011.

That’s when my editor at Crime Scene Books told me that they had acquired the rights to Binary Witness and Code Runner. The two books would be relaunched as new editions in paperback, with a Binary Witness audiobook and a short story extra in Code Runner.

Which meant I was going back to revise my first published novels.

I was filled with dread at what I might find. I hadn’t picked either of them up for three years! What if they weren’t actually any good? What if I discovered the characters were completely different people? What if the material there couldn’t be salvaged? Would I need to hide away in shame at what I had first drafted before I was a wife, mother and psychiatrist, six long years in the past?

The first thing I did was correct the glaring error in the first chapter that I had inadvertently introduced during copy edits and which had haunted me since publication. That felt good. Then, I read on. It wasn’t bad! It was good, even. I fell in love with my characters again and I remembered how they were at the beginning of their stories, how they’ve changed and grown into how I’m writing them in the fifth novel of the series.

Would I write the same books now? Probably not. Yet the later books flow from the first ones, a river whose source must retain the same purity of water. I can respect the work of my past and, apart from shifting around a chapter or two and trimming a lot of adverbs, I didn’t radically change the books before sending them out into the world again.

Amy and Jason begin their story in largely the same way they did in 2014, and I hope to continue telling their stories for many years to come.

[Thanks so much for stopping by, Rosie! Wishing you the best of luck with the Amy Lane Mysteries!)

abouttheauthor

Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home.

Her Cardiff-based crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries debuted in 2014, with the latest novel Terror 404 released in June 2017.

Between writing and medicine, she blogs about psychiatry and psychology for writers in her Freudian Script series, advocating for accurate and sensitive portrayals of people with mental health problems in fiction.

Rosie lives with her journalist husband and her brand new daughter.

Twitter | Website

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