A Posy of Promises by Sharon Dempsey @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #extract

Welcome to the final day of the blog blitz for A Posy of Promises by Sharon Dempsey! I have an extract to share with you all today. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation to join!

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Author : Sharon Dempsey
Title : A Posy of Promises
Pages : 196
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : June 13, 2018

aboutthebook

Ava Connors is comfortable with her life just as it is, still living in the tiny terrace house where she was brought up by her grandmother, Maggie, seeing her long-term boyfriend, Finlay, and working in a florists.

But Maggie’s health is declining and Finlay is fed up waiting for Ava to make a commitment.

Ava has never really known her mother, Scarlett, and when she inherits an old and dilapidated house it ignites an interest in the mother who had abandoned her as a child.

Why did Scarlett leave her to be brought up by her grandmother?
Soon Ava begins to ask this question and in turn sets off a series of events that will change her life forever.

extract

Chapter 1

Dating back to 1898, this handsome and individually designed house retains much of the original character, including decorative plasterwork to the ceilings, ornate mahogany staircase and sliding sash windows, and is set amidst mature gardens extending to circa half an acre.

The accommodation is of generous proportions and covers three floors, making it an excellent home for a growing family. On entrance, the wide hallway boasts the original wood block flooring, oak wood panelling, a cloakroom with high wall-mounted flush WC, pedestal wash hand basin, tiled floor, part-tiled walls and a built-in cupboard with ample space for storage.

The main drawing room offers an original marble fireplace with tiled hearth, inset and surround, picture rail, cornicing, and solid block wood floor. This room leads to a small bookcase-lined study with French patio doors to the side courtyard style garden.

The sitting room provides a view over the extensive rear gardens, with a window seating area, ceiling cornicing, fireplace with marble hearth, wood block flooring and door through to dining room.

Bedroom accommodation set out over two floors.

Master bedroom suite with period fireplace, separate dressing room and large en suite bathroom. Guest bedroom suite with separate sitting area and en suite shower room.

Two additional bedrooms on first floor and two further bedrooms are found on the second floor.

Outside there are exceptional gardens as well as a garage and ample parking. The property provides spacious family accommodation which retains many original characteristics and features, and is perfectly complemented by the generous and private site with delightful level gardens to the rear along with a sheltered patio area with southerly aspect.

Mount Pleasant Square is a mature leafy park off the popular Stranmillis Road and is recognised as one of the area’s most sought after residential locations. It is situated in a conservation area, and undoubtedly Belfast’s most desirable residential address. While this property enjoys considerable privacy and seclusion, the location could not be more convenient for access to Belfast City Centre, the vibrant Lisburn Road, main arterial routes, leading schools and academic institutions, parks and golf clubs.

Please note extensive modernisation required.

Ninety-seven Mount Pleasant Square. The address created a certain sense of contentment, as if to live there was to have reached a plateau of happiness and well-being.

Until that morning, when Ava received the estate agent particulars, she had it all sorted out in her head. She would sell up, pocket a mighty fortune and start her own business, or even go travelling, though she doubted she would go too far when she had her gran to consider. Realistically, Ava couldn’t go backpacking around the south of Ireland let alone New Zealand, knowing her gran was languishing in the Sisters of Mercy nursing home.

The point was, that for the first time in her life, Ava had possibilities, choices which only a significant sum of money could provide. She felt like a Jane Austen heroine, thinking of how money could turn one’s life around, except she didn’t have to hunt down a man of good standing to secure her financial future. Financial security had sought her out, and might as well have fallen straight out of the sky onto her lap for all she knew of how it had come about.

The paperwork had stated that she was now the sole beneficiary of the estate which comprised of number ninety-seven. She had no way of establishing the reason why she had been left the house. She certainly didn’t know of any rich relatives who would have left it to her and knew no reason why it should have remained a secret. It was unlikely her gran had known about the house, for surely, she would have told her that she had this inheritance to look forward to. Why had whoever owned the house chosen to neglect it and allow it to fall into such a poor sorry state? It was all a bit of a curiosity.

When she had received the initial letter requesting that she meet with Ms Boston of Hawkings Solicitors, Ava had assumed it was to do with her gran’s affairs and her move to the nursing home. She had even prepared for the meeting by digging out the deeds of her gran’s house along with social security numbers, her pension book and other such details.

The solicitor, a blonde elegant woman named Amanda, had expressed her delight at having tracked Ava down so easily. She had few details to go on, she explained. If Ava had moved, then the solicitor would have been stuck like a duck in a mudflat. She had extended her manicured hand to congratulate Ava on her good fortune, a diamond engagement ring winking in the sunlight as it cast prisms of light around the airless Ormeau Road office.

Ava sat there on the wine-coloured leather chair, dumbfounded, clutching the irrelevant paperwork, trying to process the information. A house? Left to her? Her initial reaction had been to assume that she had inherited the house from her mother. But firstly, as far as Ava knew, she hadn’t died, and secondly, she hadn’t visited Northern Ireland for many years, let alone owned a house here.

‘Yeah, I can see it’s a shock, but aren’t you the lucky one?’ Amanda had said, obviously happy to pocket the fee for tracking Ava down and finalising the details. It was clear to Ava that it wasn’t every day that Amanda got to play the fairy godmother role. She was probably more used to dealing with Disability Living Allowance fraud cases and chasing up legal aid paperwork on behalf of good-for-nothing joyriders and recreational summer time rioters, hell-bent on throwing petrol bombs at the emergency services, fire brigade and ambulances included.

‘This blue cardboard file has sat gathering dust for years. It must have been instructed well before my time,’ Amanda said. ‘Mr Hawking senior would have dealt with the original client way back in the seventies or eighties when the practice was in its heyday. We have a few leftover documents and cases to be tallied up from the days when Samuel Hawking ran the practice and this bequest file was one of them.’

Ava sat there, not really taking it all in, thinking that at some stage the solicitor would realise she had been mistaken and that she had the wrong Ava Connors. Ava could feel her skin prickle with the beginning of a heat rash – she always got over heated and itchy when she was nervous.

‘But why now? And who left it to me?’

‘All I can tell you is that the benefactor has requested that the house be signed over without disclosure of identity. Believe it or not, it isn’t all that uncommon. Sometimes people don’t wish for the whole world to know their business. You just got lucky.’

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I don’t know about you but I’d be totally okay with a house falling into my lap like that!

Will Ava ever find out who the mysterious benefactor is? Want to read more? Then you’re in luck as A Posy of Promises is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

A Posy of Promises is Sharon Dempsey’s first contemporary women’s fiction novel.

Sharon is a Belfast based writer of fiction and non-fiction books, with four health books published. He crime debut Little Bird was released July 2017 with Bloodhound Books.

She facilitates therapeutic creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges, and runs a creative writing group for young people, called Young Scribblers, at the Crescent Arts Centre. She is a creative writing tutor at Queen’s University and Stranmillis College. Sharon studied Politics and English at Queen’s University, and undertook a newspaper journalism post grad at City University, London.  She has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times.

Sharon is working on the follow up to Little Bird and a collection of dark short stories.

A Posy of Promises is the first in a trilogy.

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Carpenter Road by N.M. Brown @normthewriter @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz

It’s a real pleasure to be hosting one of the stops on the blog blitz for Carpenter Road by N.M. Brown today! My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation and the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : N.M. Brown
Title : Carpenter Road
Pages : n/a
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : June 7, 2018

aboutthebook

When a young woman swaps coats with a prostitute then vanishes, it marks the start of a mystifying case for Leighton Jones.

After traffic officer Leighton is called to an altercation in a used car lot he is confronted by a prostitute rambling on about a girl who stole her coat. He thinks nothing off it. That is until the body of a Jane Doe shows up, matching the prostitute’s description.

What is the link between the fight in the car lot and the dead woman?

Leighton proceeds to gather evidence, which he attempts to pass onto the lead Homicide detective, Slater. However, Slater tells Leighton to back off, and that a suspect has been arrested.

Fearing there is more to the case than he first thought, Leighton is driven to keep digging and soon ends up on the trail of a serial killer.

But Leighton might be out of his depth this time..

mythoughts

If you read N.M. Brown’s previous book, The Girl on the Bus, then you will no doubt remember Leighton Jones. In this story, the reader is taken ten years back into the past so it really doesn’t matter if you’ve not read the previous book. Leighton is working in the Traffic department, a job which quite frankly sounds incredibly boring to me.

Leighton is called out to a used car lot where he is confronted by a prostitute who’s making a big deal about her coat being stolen by a girl outside a diner. Leighton doesn’t make much of it until a girl, who matches the description of the “thief” perfectly, is found dead. Is there a connection?

Technically, it’s not at all up to Leighton to figure this out but his colleagues in the murder division don’t seem to take many things seriously. The investigation moves at a snail’s place. These are “only” working girls after all.  The captain is far more interested in giving Leighton a hard time.

But Leighton just can’t help himself. This says so much about him. It’s not about taking the credit, getting his face in the papers for solving a big case. Leighton genuinely cares about people, wants to help them in any way he can, even if it means putting himself in danger. He is just such a wonderful and likeable character with a heart of gold.

Meanwhile he’s also dealing with an increasingly declining relationship with his seventeen year old daughter. Again, if you read the previous book, you’ll know more about this but to be able to have a look back and be witness to how things developed is really intriguing.

Carpenter Road is a gripping and compelling serial killer mystery. It has a well-executed plot with great characters to root for and sympathise with. At times, the story even pulled at my heartstrings when the author delved into the background of some of the working girls. There was a surprise or two for me, which is always a bonus and the investigation into the murder spree was captivating,

There was a bit of a wait between the previous book and this one but it was well worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Leighton Jones and I hope there’s more to come from him and N.M. Brown.

Carpenter Road is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Norman has enjoyed writing for more than two decades. He has always believed a combination of decent fiction and good coffee provides the best way to unwind and slip out of ordinary life for a while.

Having grown up Central Scotland, he studied English at Stirling University, where he began penning poetry, drama scripts and short stories. However, his real commitment to writing resulted from spending a snowy winter attending a series of fireside writing workshops in Perth.

More recently, Norman’s love of crime fiction led him to create the weary detective Leighton Jones. Having based his debut novel – The Girl on the Bus -around this character, Norman felt so intrigued by him that he decided to give Jonesy at least two more outings. Carpenter Road is the second novel to feature this protagonist.

Aside from his family, and travelling, Norman’s other passion is cooking, which may explain why many culinary elements always seem to creep out of his kitchen and into his fiction.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Faceless by Rob Ashman @RobAshmanAuthor @BloodhoundBook #blogblitz #Faceless

Thrilled to join the blog blitz for Faceless by Rob Ashman today! My thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invitation and Bloodhound Books for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley!

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Author : Rob Ashman
Title : Faceless
Pages : 296
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : May 31, 2018

aboutthebook

After surviving a vicious knife attack, which left her husband dead, DI Rosalind Kray returns to work and is handed a serial killer investigation.

This killer is different, he doesn’t just want to take the lives of his victims, he wants to obliterate their very existence. The murders appear random but the killer selects his quarry with meticulous care.

While fighting her superiors Kray must conquer her own demons, which are tearing her apart.

Kray has the ability to think like a killer and her skills lead to a series of horrifying revelations that turn the case on its head. She believes she is getting close, then her world comes crashing down with devastating consequences.

Will Kray find the murderer and escape with her own life in tact?

The truth is closer than she could have ever imagined.

mythoughts

Despite seeing Rob Ashman’s name floating around various blogs and hearing quite a lot of buzz about his Mechanic Trilogy (and actually owning those), this is my first introduction to his work and what an introduction it was! Bloody hell!

I started reading Faceless minutes after finishing dinner and pretty much regretted that instantly as the description of the murder scene burnt itself onto my eyelids and shot right up my nose. I may have uttered the word “eeww” and pulled faces. A lot. And I loved it because that’s just the type of grossness I like in my crime thrillers. No, it doesn’t say weirdo across my forehead, thank you.

DI Rosalind Kray returns to work after surviving an attack, which left her husband dead. This background story is revealed along the way and already kept me intrigued without even digging into the murder investigation. Unsurprisingly, Roz has quite a few demons to deal with but I took to her pretty quickly and I especially enjoyed her “inner voice” when dealing with the stupidity of those around her.

As for the killer, well, they are quite unlike any other killer I’ve had the “pleasure” of meeting. A meticulous planner with a master plan to rid the world of evil, they are somehow able to remain under the radar, invisible and unnoticeable. While the victims seem to be chosen at random, this serial killer knows perfectly well who is next and why. It took me a while to figure out who was responsible. Actually, it took me until Rob Ashman gave the game away. Up until that point, I was pointing my finger at pretty much everyone.

It’s quite obvious that Rob Ashman knows perfectly well how to spin a story and keep the reader gripped throughout. There was always a sense of time running out and even though I felt one instance was a tad on the predictable side, that didn’t matter to me as I was desperate to see how things would be wrapped up. And boy, what a zinger to end with! Faceless is a gritty, compelling and thrilling serial killer thriller that kept me utterly engrossed and I look forward to seeing what Rob Ashman comes up with next!

Faceless is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Rob is married to Karen with two grown up daughters. He is originally from South Wales and after moving around with work settled in North Lincolnshire where he’s spent the last twenty-two years.

Like all good welsh valley boys Rob worked for the National Coal Board after leaving school at sixteen and went to University at the tender age of twenty-three when the pit closures began to bite. Since then he’s worked in a variety of manufacturing and consulting roles both in the UK and abroad.

It took Rob twenty-four years to write his first book. He only became serious about writing it when his dad got cancer. It was an aggressive illness and Rob gave up work for three months to look after him and his mum. Writing Those That Remain became his coping mechanism. After he wrote the book his family encouraged him to continue, so not being one for half measures, Rob got himself made redundant, went self-employed so he could devote more time to writing and four years later the Mechanic Trilogy is the result.

When he is not writing, Rob is a frustrated chef with a liking for beer and prosecco, and is known for occasional outbreaks of dancing.

Rob published the Mechanic Trilogy with Bloodhound Books in 2017 and will be releasing three new books during 2018. These are titled: Faceless, This Little Piggy and Suspended Retribution.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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If Fear Wins by Tony J. Forder @TonyJForder @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz

Its such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for If Fear Wins by Tony J. Forder. My thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invitation and Bloodhound Books for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Tony J. Forder
Title : If Fear Wins
Series : DI Bliss #3
Pages : 360
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : May 29, 2018

aboutthebook

When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…

mythoughts

When a torched body is found, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate. Consulting their list of recent missing persons, DI Bliss quickly thinks he knows who the victim is. The evidence points to a terrorism attack. Or is that what investigators are merely meant to believe?

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’ past makes a rather surprising appearance. This friend’s husband recently apparently committed suicide by jumping off a bridge but Bliss’ friend is convinced her husband would never do such a thing. Throw in some MI5, MI6 and a Counter-Terrorist Unit and Bliss sure has his work cut out!

Here’s a wee warning. Don’t be eating anything when you start this book. I promise you, your appetite will be gone in a flash. This is one of the most disturbing murder scenes I’ve ever read about. It made for some seriously uncomfortable reading and it’s definitely one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. The setting is quite obviously meant to point a certain way but DI Bliss is suspicious about some rather convenient factors. Can he convince his superiors though?

True to form, Tony J. Forder once again delivers an incredibly multi-layered crime fiction story with various threads you feel should somehow be connected but there’s no way in high heaven you’ll figure out how. Or that’s what happened to me anyway. I was left guessing until the end as the author took me on a gripping journey through the criminal world in Peterborough. DI Bliss remains as determined as ever and I love how sometimes all that’s needed is that copper’s instinct, that gut feeling that something isn’t quite as it seems no matter what the evidence says.

This is the third instalment in the DI Bliss series. I think you can safely get away with treating this as a stand-alone but for the full experience, start at the beginning. You’ll notice, I’m sure, that this series is only getting better. The author has a firm grip on things that make a good crime story compelling. From well-developed characters to an intelligently plotted storyline and intriguing investigations, there’s a great deal to keep you hooked here.

If Fear Wins is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first two books, Bad to the Bone and The Scent of Guilt, will be joined in the series on 29 May 2018 by If Fear Wins.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.

One book that will definitely see a sequel is Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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This Week in Books (May 30)

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


Last book I finished reading

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After surviving a vicious knife attack, which left her husband dead, DI Rosalind Kray returns to work and is handed a serial killer investigation.

This killer is different, he doesn’t just want to take the lives of his victims, he wants to obliterate their very existence. The murders appear random but the killer selects his quarry with meticulous care.

While fighting her superiors Kray must conquer her own demons, which are tearing her apart.

Kray has the ability to think like a killer and her skills lead to a series of horrifying revelations that turn the case on its head. She believes she is getting close, then her world comes crashing down with devastating consequences.

Will Kray find the murderer and escape with her own life in tact?

The truth is closer than she could have ever imagined.


The book I’m currently reading

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When a young woman swaps coats with a prostitute then vanishes, it marks the start of a mystifying case for Leighton Jones.

After traffic officer Leighton is called to an altercation in a used car lot he is confronted by a prostitute rambling on about a girl who stole her coat. He thinks nothing off it. That is until the body of a Jane Doe shows up, matching the prostitute’s description.

What is the link between the fight in the car lot and the dead woman?

Leighton proceeds to gather evidence, which he attempts to pass onto the lead Homicide detective, Slater. However, Slater tells Leighton to back off, and that a suspect has been arrested.

Fearing there is more to the case than he first thought, Leighton is driven to keep digging and soon ends up on the trail of a serial killer.

But Leighton might be out of his depth this time.


What I’m (definitely) reading next

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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.

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What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

 

Pressure by Betsy Reavley @BetsyReavley @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz

Happy weekend and welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Pressure by Betsy Reavley. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation and my review copy!

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Author : Betsy Reavley
Title : Pressure
Pages : 220
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : May 4, 2018

aboutthebook

When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…

With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past and the secrets they are hiding.

But who is who? And which of them will be next to die?

mythoughts

Not sure I’ve ever mentioned this before, but little old me and water do not mix. I hate drinking it, I don’t particularly enjoy flying over it, I don’t like being in it or on it and I most certainly wouldn’t want to be under it. So obviously reading about a submarine stuck at the bottom of the ocean is a perfect choice of book for me. 😄

Pressure has all the hallmarks of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Throw a bunch of people together in a closed environment with no means of escape and put a murderer amongst them. Except this isn’t a fancy manor in the countryside or a remote island but a submarine. Quite frankly, for me it’s the stuff of nightmares.

Due to a technical error, the submarine loses power and ends up at the bottom of the ocean. With limited supply in food and oxygen and no means of escape, tempers start to rise and then someone is found dead. The remaining crew members begin to turn on one another and the pressure builds up in more ways than one.

There are ten people on board. Bit by bit, they are introduced to us. They explain where they came from, their secrets and dreams and how they came to be on the submarine in the first place. None of these characters are particularly likeable and being stuck together like this sure brings out the worst in them. There are also flashback chapters from one of the people on board, describing their absolutely horrid, heartbreaking and harrowing childhood.

I quite early on figured out who the killer was but that didn’t ruin my reading experience at all. Pressure is a gripping and compelling story that held my attention throughout. It’s tense with a dark, threatening and claustrophobic feel to it. While I was worried that the outcome would be completely predictable, I was surprised and glad to see it wasn’t at all. I think this would make an excellent movie, to be honest. You know, if you like water and all. 😉

Pressure is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Author of  The Quiet OnesThe Optician’s Wife,  Frailty, CarrionBeneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle.

Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London. As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire. She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

You can follow her on Twitter @BetsyReavley

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

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

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

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

aboutthebook

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

guestpost

Dying to See You – or am I?

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

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

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

But is it?

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

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

It’s scary stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

abouttheauthor

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

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

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

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

Twitter

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The Key to Death’s Door by Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #blogtour

Thrilled to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Key to Death’s Door and to wish Mark Tilbury a very happy publication day! My thanks to Mark Tilbury and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation and my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Mark Tilbury
Title : The Key to Death’s Door
Pages : 361
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : April 16, 2018

aboutthebook

If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

mythoughts

Flippin’ heck! What even?! I have no idea how to review this sheer awesomeness at all!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, probably also in a review for the same author, that I don’t normally read paranormal or supernatural stories but for Mark Tilbury, I gladly make an exception and I don’t regret a single second of it. This is the third book in this genre that I’ve read by him and once again, it completely blew me away!

So, see that book description at the top of the page? Yes, that’s all you’re going to get from me where the plot is concerned. Why though, I hear you ask? Because I actually tried to explain it to the OH and the poor man got horribly confused. What you really need to know is that most of the story is set in the present day, while some of it regards events from thirty years earlier. These two periods are linked by one character and what a character it is!

As I’ve come to expect from this author, that particular character is one of the most despicable, vile and evil men ever to roam the planet! Very few people come up with someone so incredibly disturbing but Mark Tilbury manages it in every single book of his I’ve read so far. The only relief from all the heinous acts comes in the form of the friendship between Lee and Charlie in the present, and two other characters in the past. Everyone should have a friend like them and in the midst of the horror, I regularly found myself smiling at their banter.

The Key to Death’s door doesn’t exactly make for comfortable reading. It is an incredibly dark and harrowing tale of abuse, of not always being able to protect your family no matter how hard you try and of seeking justice. It’s a hard-hitting, well-written, compelling, gritty and thought-provoking story that, days later, still has me utterly reeling.

If you’re a fan of Mark Tilbury’s books, I have no doubt you will love this one as much as I did. If you haven’t yet discovered this author, I highly recommend you take the time to get caught up. In the meantime I’m off to firmly add him to my list of go-to authors and (im)patiently await his next offering, which I’m sure will rock my socks off just as much as this one did. No pressure, sir.

The Key to Death’s Door is available now!

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his fifth novel, The Key to Death’s Door published along with The Liar’s Promise, The Abattoir of Dreams, and The Ben Whittle Investigations relaunched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

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This Week in Books (April 11)

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

Last book I finished reading

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Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.

The book I’m currently reading

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When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder. With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort.

What I’m probably reading next

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If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

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What are you reading this week? Anything good? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

 

Midday by David B. Lyons @MrDBLyons @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #Midday

Such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for Midday by David B. Lyons today! My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity and my review copy.

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Author : David B. Lyons
Title : Midday
Pages : 291
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : March 22, 2018

aboutthebook

When his alarm goes off at 7 am, bank manager Vincent assumes he is waking up to a regular working day. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Minutes later, one of the most ambitious heists in Dublin’s history is underway — and Vincent finds himself at the centre of it.

While his boyfriend Ryan is held at gunpoint by two aspiring gangsters, Vincent is tasked with entering the vaults of the four branches he manages to steal two million euros from each one. If he doesn’t return by midday with all of the money, Ryan will receive a bullet to the head.

As each minute ticks by, it becomes clear all is not as it seems. But just who is calling the shots? And can Vincent make it back in time to save his boyfriend’s life?

The clock is ticking.

mythoughts

Well, now. What a fabulous and unexpected surprise this was!

Vincent wakes up every morning, knowing fully well what his day is going to look like. But on this particular morning, things take a nasty turn when he and his boyfriend are the victims of a tiger kidnapping. Vincent works as a bank manager and has until midday to collect 8 million euros from four different branches around Dublin, while his boyfriend is being held at gun point.

The clock is ticking. Tick-tock.

It becomes apparent quite early on that things aren’t all what they seem. But apart from one part of the storyline I thought I had figured out reasonably quickly, the rest of the story had me guessing until the end and holy cow, I so did not see that one coming at all! Well played, sir!

This gritty and gripping tale is told through the eyes of four different people : Vincent, his boyfriend Ryan and each of the two gangsters. Little by little, things are revealed that pulled this story into a completely different direction than I was expecting and I loved every minute of it. Midday has a fantastically crafted plot and a great pace, helped enormously by the characters often checking the time which ultimately had me on the edge of my seat as well. I could almost hear the clocks ticking away the precious minutes.

Did I mention nothing is what it seems? You think you know where your loyalties lie but I promise you, they will shift and switch. What an utterly clever book this is. There are some uncomfortable topics in this one, as well as a few instances that almost made me gag and made me want to wash my eyes out with bleach. But above all, this is an intelligent and original crime thriller with a difference and I found it immensely compelling, engrossing and entertaining!

Midday is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Dublin-born author David B. Lyons has a new twist on the psychological thriller. His debut, Midday, will be released on March 22nd and promises readers a thrilling ride. It’s the story of the same extraordinary morning, told from the perspective of four different characters.

David comes from a journalistic background. He worked, mainly, in the areas of football and music reporting for over 12-years, notching a few awards along the way. He tried to write creatively in his spare time, but found the formulaic writing nature of his day job a hindrance. He met with producers about both a play and a TV pilot he had written, but both fell short of being green lit, much to his disappointed. However, it gave him the opportunity to fulfil a life-log dream of finally penning a novel. He completed a BA Hons Degree in Creative Writing and soon after, completed Midday. Three months later, that debut was picked up by Bloodhound Books and early buzz suggests a promising writing career lies ahead for the thirty-nine-year-old.

He now lives in Birmingham, UK with his wife Kerry and daughter Lola. He has read fiction all of his life and notes Dean Koontz as a real inspiration. He is also a big fan of Gillian Flynn as well as rising star Liz Nugent.

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