The Cold Years by Joel Hames | @joel_hames @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour #bookreview

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Cold Years by Joel Hames today! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to join!

Author : Joel Hames
Title : The Cold Years
Series : Sam Williams #3
Pages : 314
Publisher : Mainsail Books
Publication date : November 26, 2018

Everyone needs to be heard: if there’s one thing Sam Williams has learned it’s that. Which is why he finds himself defending Richard Fothergill against accusations that date back decades.

But Sam’s real problems are closer to home. His nemesis, Trawden, is finally dead, but so are those he once called friends. The people he used to count on, the ones who aren’t in the ground, aren’t what they once were, either. DI Martins is on his back again, and she’s got company. And Sam’s girlfriend Claire might be recovering from her breakdown, but she’s not telling him everything.

Life would be so much easier if Sam knew the answers. Instead, all he’s got are questions.

Who is following him, and what do they want?

What did Fothergill really do to the children he taught?

And where was Claire the day Edward Trawden was killed? 

Everyone has a secret to hide, but some secrets are too close to home.

The Cold Years is the third instalment in the Sam Williams series but there’s no need to worry as this can be read quite well as a stand-alone. If you have read the previous books but need some help, the author has very kindly added a link at the beginning of the book to refresh your memory. 

For those who don’t know, Sam Williams is a lawyer but not a really successful one. While events in this instalment do connect to those from the previous books, there is enough background story for a new reader not to feel like they’re missing out on too much. However, for me personally, I’m glad I did read the previous ones though as it’s been incredibly fun to watch Joel Hames manage to keep a truckload of balls juggling in the air. So if you have the time, I’d definitely recommend reading all three books in order to give you a better understanding of the characters and their various relationships.

Surprisingly, Sam does actually manage to get hold of a case, defending Richard Fothergill against decades old accusations. But his real problems are a lot closer to home. His girlfriend, Claire, is acting weird. She may very well be recovering from a breakdown but it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that she’s keeping secrets. Friends have died and others aren’t what they used to be, leaving Sam with lots of questions and very little answers.

Sam’s world remains as complicated as ever and there are quite a few players to keep track of but I never found myself at a loss or utterly confused. Although there are various threads to sink your teeth into, the one that stood out for me and really held my attention was the one involving Claire. Just like Sam, I became increasingly suspicious of her behaviour but I couldn’t at all figure out whether or not it was justified, and if she was up to something, what that could possibly be.

The Cold Years is another thrilling addition to the Sam Williams series. It’s intricately plotted, with some delightful twists and will keep you guessing until the end. Sam remains a remarkably likeable character, someone to get behind and root for and solving mysteries alongside a lawyer makes a nice change from all the detective stories out there. I’m not sure if there will be more from Sam in the future. If there is, that’d be wonderful, but if not, it’s been a fabulous adventure!

The Cold Years is out now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.

After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).

Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Joel’s website can be found at http://www.joelhamesauthor.com/, where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter. If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/joelhamesauthor or Twitter at @joel_hames.

Joel has never seen the word “Joel” appear as frequently as it does right here, and wholeheartedly approves.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver | @will_carver @OrendaBooks @annecater | #blogtour #GoodSamaritans #SixBottlesofBleach #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to join the blog tour for Good Samaritans by Will Carver today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for my fab review copy!

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Author : Will Carver
Title : Good Samaritans
Pages : 320
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 27, 2018 (ebook) | November 15, 2018 (paperback)

aboutthebook

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs.

A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups.

And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

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Have you ever finished the last page of a book and thought to yourself “what the heck did I just read?”.

Meet the weirdly wonderful brain of author Will Carver and his book Good Samaritans. Boy, oh boy, this one will mess with your head like no other.

It’s also quite a hard one to review without giving anything away. The story is mainly told via four different characters. All flawed, all carrying tons of baggage, all lonely in their own little ways and all trying to find ways to cope.

Ant works for the Samaritans hotline. Maeve drinks. (I approve 😂) Seth struggles with insomnia and has the oddest hobby ever as every night, he picks up the phone and randomly calls a stranger asking them if they’d like to talk. Most don’t. Some do. Note to self : never answer the phone again. But Hadley does. Uh oh.

The short chapters urge you to keep on reading, making Good Samaritans incredibly hard to put down. There’s a tense vibe throughout, a threat of something dark and disturbing that oozes from the pages. It’s edgy, original, bit dirty (think the kind of thing that would have made you blush fiercely if your parents had walked in on you reading this) and brings the word “dysfunctional” to a whole other level.

Good Samaritans is a belter of a crime thriller / serial killer / domestic noir kind of combination and the characterisation is immensely engrossing. It’s one of those stories I can’t stop thinking about, going over things in my head, wondering what I missed and I’m obviously struggling to put it into words as well. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read and you just really need to experience this one for yourselves.

This is my first time reading a book by Will Carver, whose brain must quite frankly be the most scary place ever, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time.

Good Samaritans is available to buy!

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

abouttheauthor

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.
He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Author links :  Twitter

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The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday | @SJIHolliday @orendabooks @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #TheLingering #RandomThingsTours #recommended

I’m absolutely delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for The Lingering by SJI Holliday today! Huge thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the fabulous review copy!

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Author : SJI Holliday
Title : The Lingering
Pages : 300
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 15, 2018 (ebook) | November 15, 2018 (paperback)

aboutthebook

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

mythoughts

I don’t normally read scary stories because I’m a big fat wuss and I was slightly worried, that just like with scary movies, I’d be hiding behind my sofa or have my face buried in a pillow which would make reading rather difficult. Luckily though, I wouldn’t quite label this one as a scary read. Creepy? Absolutely! Chilling? Right to the bone!

The Lingering oozes atmosphere from the very first page, almost like a movie scene. Driving a car down a driveway, seeing a house loom up in front of you for the first time. Not just any house though for this place used to be a mental asylum and if there’s any setting more exciting than that one, I haven’t discovered it yet. Who knows what secrets are hidden in the walls and the shadows?

Married couple Jack and Ali leave behind everything they’ve ever known to move into Rosalind House and be part of a commune. It’s relatively obvious from the start that all is not well with these two. Their arrival at Rosalind House sets in motion a series of unexplained events. But who or what is responsible? Obviously I can’t tell you that but I will say this is one tense, suspenseful and thrilling ride. I wasn’t at all sure of the outcome, couldn’t see how things would end up but found the conclusion absolutely satisfying.

Part domestic thriller, past ghost story The Lingering had me absolutely hooked. Talk about a gripping read, hoo boy! I couldn’t get a feel for any of the characters at all which just added to this sense of unease that I found quite hard to let go of, even hours after finishing the book. On top of that, we are treated to diary chapters written by a doctor who used to work at the psychiatric institution and in an odd sort of way, those frightened me more than anything because they felt incredibly realistic and believable in showing what human beings are capable of.

The Lingering is one dark and disturbing read. With a brilliantly executed plot and complex characters, this haunting tale will linger (see what I did there?) in your mind for days. I have no doubt you’ll see this one pop up near the end of the year on my list of books of 2018.

PS : Do not read in the bathtub. You’ll thank me later.

The Lingering is available to buy!

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

abouttheauthor

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk andThe Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December.

Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls and has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’

She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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Die Cold by Graham Smith | @GrahamSmith1972 @Bloodhoundbook | #DieCold #JakeBoulder #TeamBoulder #blogtour

Thrilled to bits to join the blog tour for Die Cold by Graham Smith today! My thanks to Emma Welton at Bloodhound Books for the invitation to join and for my review copy!

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Author : Graham Smith
Title : Die Cold
Series : Jake Boulder #4
Pages :
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : November 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Boulder is back.

Jake Boulder is working as a bartender, at an exclusive Vermont ski resort on New Year’s Eve, when armed terrorists hold up the lodge and take the guests hostage.

Trapped with the other hostages, Boulder watches in horror as the female terrorist leader disfigures a singer to make her point. He wants to fight back, but is unarmed and being held at gunpoint.

When Boulder finds a way to escape from the terrorists he searches for a way to raise the alarm. After he discovers the terrorists plan to leave no witnesses to their crime, he knows has a race against time to save as many innocent people as he can…

But will Boulder be the reluctant hero and save the day?

mythoughts

Boulder is back! BOULDER IS BACK!!! I may be a wee excited.

Die Cold is the fourth instalment in the Jake Boulder series and really, if you’re not reading these, you need to go sit in a corner and think about your life’s choices!

First things first, do yourselves a favour and do not treat this as a stand-alone! Jake’s struggle is real and I feel it’s important that you know him as well as you possibly can to understand him and his actions better. Our reluctant hero has been through a lot and events from the previous book especially have made a massive impact on him.

So much so, that he’s left behind family, friends and his hometown. Jake is now working as a bartender at an exclusive ski resort in Vermont. It’s New Year’s Eve but before the champagne even has the opportunity to start flowing, terrorists hold up the lodge and take everyone hostage. Their female leader is a cold and vile woman who has no qualms whatsoever in getting her point across. But what is it these terrorists want? Stuck up on a mountain in the middle of a fierce snow blizzard, what are the odds that help is coming? Does anyone even realise the people at the resort need any help? Or will it be left to Jake to save the hostages and the day?

Die Cold should have come with a warning to hook up an oxygen tank before you start reading because hoo boy, I found myself thrown right into the action from the very first page and it just didn’t let up! I was holding my breath numerous times (not literally, obviously, or I probably wouldn’t be here right now), could almost feel the adrenaline pumping inside my veins and was quite frankly left utterly exhausted. This would make an incredible action movie!

Now, I must admit, I missed Alphonse. But a character called Daniel made up for so much of that and I’m kind of hoping (possibly against all hope) that he might somehow make an appearance in other Boulder books. I’d quite like that. Through Daniel’s eyes and a few other hostages, we constantly get a glimpse into what’s going on, which really added to the tension. I found myself desperately trying to figure out what the terrorists had in mind, while all the time hoping I’d never find myself in that position.

What an immensely thrilling journey this was. Action-packed from the word “go”, tense, totally addictive and a fantastic addition to this series, Die Cold may just leave you gasping for air. I absolutely can’t wait to see where Graham Smith takes Jake Boulder next. Although, I do hope it’s somewhere warmer.

Die Cold is published TODAY!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and four novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Her Last Move by John Marrs | @johnmarrs1 @AmazonPub @EmmaFinnigan | #HerLastMove #damppebblesblogtours #guestpost

Delighted to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Her Last Move by John Marrs. My thanks to Emma Welton for the invitation to join. John Marrs visits my blog today to talk about ten things you don’t know about himself and his books. But first, here is what Her Last Move is all about!

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Author : John Marrs
Title : Her Last Move
Pages : 352
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Publication date : November 8, 2018

aboutthebook

She’s chasing a killer. He’s watching her every move.

He hides in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment. Each kill is calculated, planned and executed like clockwork.

Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, young DS Becca Vincent has landed the biggest case of her career—and she knows that it will make or break her. But she can’t catch the culprit alone. Together with facial recognition expert Joe Russell, she strives to get a lead on the elusive murderer, who is always one step ahead of them.

Time is not on their side. The body count is rising, and the attacks are striking closer and closer to home. Can Becca and Joe uncover the connection between the murders before the killer strikes the last name from his list?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Wordery | Goodreads

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Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me and My Books

  1. I’ve written six books since 2012 and am currently on draft one of my seventh. One character appears in each of my novels – my dog Oscar. In real life he’s a nine-year-old border terrier who has been with me since he was ten weeks old. In my stories, I’ve twice killed him off, changed his breed, his age and even his sex! 
  1. None of my books are sequels, but there is a little character hopping that happens. For example, the rock star son of Catherine in When You Disappeared appears as a music judge in Welcome To Wherever You Are. The house in When You Disappeared crops up in The Good Samaritan. The psychopath in my latest novel, Her Last Move, was in foster care with Laura, my sociopath from The Good Samaritan. Match Your DNA, the common theme in The One, will make an occurrence in my sixth novel, as yet untitled, which comes out early next year.
  1. My first five books were written on trains. I live in Northamptonshire but until ten months ago, I worked in London so I commuted each day. With round trips and lunch breaks, I had a good four hours a day to write. I’d slip on my headphones, find a moody playlist of music and ignore the world to create my own. Book six is the first one I’ve written completely at home.
  1. The original ending of The Good Samaritan was completely different to the version that appeared in the book. In the first few drafts, it was Laura’s friend Mary who was blackmailing her. My editor wasn’t convinced that was the right way to finish the book, so after much sulking from me, eventually I agreed with her and the ending that’s in the book is so much better.
  1. The first person who reads each of my books is my partner, confusingly, also called John. I also sound out the plots of my stories with him when we take the dog for long walks around the park. For book seven, we plotted the entire thing out while hiking in America’s Yosemite national park. The next reader is my mum, then fellow author Louise Beech before it goes to my editor.
  1. I don’t read half as much as I would like to. I just don’t have the time. I download a lot of audiobooks now which I listen to when I’m at the gym or taking Oscar for a walk. I’ll listen to my own books too when they first arrive. It’s always interesting to hear an actor or actress interpret your words. Some of them I’ve loved, others, well… I’m not so convinced by!
  1. My first novel, The Wronged Sons, was turned down by eighty different publishers and agents in the UK. It became a self-published word of mouth hit before it was taken on by publisher Thomas & Mercer, rewritten, republished and renamed When You Disappeared. In just over a year, it has now sold 250,000 copies. To all you unpublished writers out there – NEVER. GIVE. UP.
  1. My second novel, Welcome To Wherever You Are, is set in a backpacking hostel in Los Angeles and is loosely based on the characters I met there when I was a 21-year-old travelling around America for a year. This summer, I went back to LA and visited it for the first time in 26 years. It was quite a special moment.
  1. The One contains five main characters and their stories when they discover they each have a soul mate somewhere out there in the world. However, there was originally a sixth character. I’d written about 20,000 words of her story when I decided the book was going to be too long so I had to cull someone. She was axed as her story became too violent and I felt with one psychopath in the book, there wasn’t any more room for bloodshed.
  1.  My latest book, Her Last Move, is my first foray into police procedural. I wanted to write a police thriller just to see if I could manage it. I don’t see the point in writing the same kind of book over and over again even if they are hits. I needed to set myself a challenge and push myself and boy, did this push me. Hats off to every writer out there who works in this genre on a regular basis. Thankfully I had some expert assistants to help with the accuracy. And judging by early reviews on Goodreads and NetGalley, people seem to be liking it so far. Phew!

[I hope to get around to reading Her Last Move myself some time soon! Thank you so much for stopping by, John!]

abouttheauthor

John Marrs is the author of The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are.

A freelance journalist based in London, England, he has spent the past twenty years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.

He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine and Company.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond @GaryRaymond_ #blogtour #guestpost #TheGoldenOrphans #damppebblestours

It’s an absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond today! My thanks to Emma Walton for the invitation to join the tour!

Gary Raymond joins me today to talk about what he thinks makes a good literary thriller. But first, here is all you need to know about The Golden Orphans.

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Author : Gary Raymond
Title : The Golden Orphans
Pages : 155
Publisher : Parthian Books
Publication date : June 30, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

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Gary Raymond’s new novel, THE GOLDEN ORPHANS, a dark, twisting thriller set on the island of Cyprus, has been getting great reviews so far. Here he writes about what he thinks makes a good “literary thriller”?

For a start, let’s not get bogged down too much in the terms of reference. We all know, in a roundabout sort of way, that “literary” means you’re getting something more than just a simple thrill ride, more than a series of set-pieces designed to make your head spin and your heart pound. (Nothing wrong with either of those things, by the way). And “thriller” doesn’t just mean “to thrill”, but that there are certain genre-defined expectations. That’s what those two terms mean to me, anyway. So from a writer’s point of view, I went into THE GOLDEN ORPHANS wanting to hit those two marks. THE GOLDEN ORPHANS is about ideas that preoccupy me as a writer, and, away from writing (if that is possible) things that just preoccupy me as a person (same thing, really). Genre tropes might mean structural conservatism, but it can also mean you have a stable framework within which you can really shake things up. And so THE GOLDEN ORPHANS both follows certain lines familiar to thriller readers, but also then throws in some serious twists and turns. 

The premise – that a down-on-his-luck painter goes to Cyprus for the funeral of a friend and gets mixed up with the Russian mafia – is part of a tradition in British writing of “the Englishman abroad”. Graham Greene was a big influence on this book, and he used that idea time and time again as he used his own experiences of being that Englishman abroad to craft fictional stories. (I have done the same thing, really – I lived in Cyprus for six months in 2006, and this was the basis for my book). 

There are also other tropes in the book – red herrings, femme fatales, clandestine operations going in etc. (there are many more) – and I really enjoyed employing them. Graham Greene’s masterpiece of this type, THE POWER AND THE GLORY (1940), is a snappy little novel about faith and betrayal and what it means to have a relationship with God, all wrapped up in the garments of a chase story. And it is just that. A corrupt and obsessive police chief chases the last catholic priest in a mid-purge Mexico across the country. But inside that tension, that rawness, is a book about human frailty, and human strength.

In THE GOLDEN ORPHANS, I wanted to do what Greene had done, and find a way to excite the reader, to be cinematically urgent, while at the same time not letting up on the fact literature is the greatest space in which to explore ideas. And so my narrator is caught up in intrigue, and there are a few gunfights, and there are villains, and building moments of peril leading to a (hopefully) big pay off at the end – but he is also discovering things about himself and the world around him, about his relationship to others, about what it’s like to live in a society that operates under a shadow (in this case the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974), and what such a shadow can do to a country. 

That’s what a “literary thriller” does – it excites, but it also attempts to contribute to ideas, to thinking, and to debates. I hope THE GOLDEN ORPHANS has managed to hit those two marks.

[I’d say the many good reviews you’ve been receiving so far, Gary, must mean you’re doing something right! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and I wish you the best of luck with The Golden Orphans and whatever project is next for you!]

The Golden Orphans is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Nook | Waterstones | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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This Week in Books (October 17)

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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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Ireland, 1901: For as long as six-year-old Cissy Ryan can remember, she has been a workhouse girl. Living amongst the other orphan boys and girls, dreaming of a family that might come and choose her for their own.

But the day her real mammy finally comes to claim her is not how Cissy imagined. An unfamiliar woman takes her to a tumbledown cottage in the rural Irish countryside to meet her gruff granddaddy. Settling into the isolated and poverty-stricken village is tough. But Cissy’s blossoming friendship with Colm Doyle and his horse Blue show Cissy the kindness and laughter is possible, even in the hardest of times.

As Cissy grows up, she finds that the world around her is ever changing. When she goes to work at prestigious Bretton Hall, she begins to realise that not everyone has an honest heart…

The book I’m currently reading

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Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

What I’m (probably) reading next

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It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey’s tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun – and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night – a night that will prove to be the longest of his life.

Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point – and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true.

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I may be a tad excited about my week. What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

Without Rules by Andrew Field @AFwithoutrules @damppebbles #blogtour #extract #damppebblesblogtours #WithoutRules

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Without Rules by Andrew Field! My thanks to Emma at damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you today but first, here is what you need to know about Without Rules.

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Author : Andrew Field
Title : Without Rules
Pages : 288
Publisher : Boomslang
Publication date : October 15, 2018

aboutthebook

When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.

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1: China

China ran and she ran and she ran, a lung-busting pace quelled the anxiety inside her. She pushed herself, punished her body and distracted her mind before her guests arrived at Candy’s World. They were already waiting, two wet and cold men huddled outside her front door. China had been running since Karl and Jenny Grant took Rose to room 203 at the Paradise Hills resort. 

“I am coming,” she shouted. 

She removed the chain, undid the door’s deadlocks, dried herself with a towel. Her two unwanted guests bypassed her as if she was invisible. Normally goat boys barely disguised their urge to download on her software. She noticed the stench of excrement overpowered large pans of chilli and bolognese simmering on her Aga. Switchblade Eddie in badly stained jeans was the culprit. He grabbed a bottle of Lynchburg, Tennessee’s finest sour mash, filled a lead crystal tumbler and swigged from the bottle. 

“You want a slug, catch,” said Eddie. 

He chucked the Jack Daniels towards the stranger, who made no attempt to catch. As it smashed the stranger looked at her. She noticed ice cold clear blue eyes. China was big on eyes, the windows to the soul if you looked deep and hard enough.

“Drink is the first and last refuge of the gutless. I’ll take that as an offer of a friendly drink rather than an unwise act of aggression,” said the stranger. “Think you need to go home.” 

“Wanker,” said Eddie. He hurled the tumbler at the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the resort golf course. The tumbler shattered, the window stayed intact. 

China stepped back. She didn’t want to get hurt in the crossfire. She had seen Switchblade Eddie kick the unconscious further into unconsciousness out of sheer spite too many times. 

“When you’ve finished your tantrum close the door behind you,” said the stranger as he switched on a twenty-four hour news channel. 

All three watched the scrolling newsflash: city centre shooting incident, unconfirmed police reports say four people dead.  

“Four,” the stranger said to himself. “Four, the fourth?”

“Jak, we need to call Chip,” said Eddie, his voice timid after his outburst. 

“You still here?” asked Jak.

“Got to keep him in the picture.”  

“Can’t he watch TV like the rest of us?” 

China glanced at the huge two-way mirrors that dominated the massive open plan ground floor. Unseen CCTV cameras recorded every movement, every word.  

A mobile rang. 

“China, I believe our friends have finally arrived. Entertain them until darkness falls,” said Chip.  

“Shall I fuck them?” 

Jak noticed her when the ‘fuck’ word was aired. He turned from the TV screen, gave her the once over, like she was a second hand motor on its last legs. He wasn’t the first to view her as white trash and would not be the last. She eyed him up too, although she did not want a fuck buddy. China lusted after a white stallion man to ride to her and Rose’s rescue, a hero not intimidated by Chip and his cronies. 

“No need to be so crude, I was thinking of a cup of tea, a slice of cake, maybe brunch,” said Chip. “Ask Eddie and Jak if their Christian DeVeres’ mission was successful?”

“Yes, your man is toast.”

“A total fuck up, Jimmy’s bloody dead. Saw it with my own eyes. Jesus, Chip. A fucking nightmare,” said Switchblade Eddie as he opened a second bottle of Jack D.

“The man lost his head.”  

She heard a snort from Chip. He didn’t give a toss about Jimmy Doyle’s death. Or Christian DeVeres who habitually hung around her kitchen for the last six months as he cooked the books and cleaned dirty money while Rose played, danced and skipped. 

What unpredictable madness had taken place? Chip had lost the plot. He ranted at her. “No more cock ups. Stay put until collection. No calls. No contacts with anyone. Understand China? You’re responsible for them two. Tell them and get their approval.”

She did as she was told on automatic pilot. They nodded imperceptibly.

“I’ve got to go China, fucking them might be a good idea. Stop them killing each other. Better still, let them fight. Save us a lot of bother,” said Chip before he cut the call.  

“You two better behave or I’ll give you both a spanking.” 

They ignored her, the two of them less than a dozen paces apart. Eddie produced a blade, eight inches of Sheffield cold steel, clasped in his right hand. 

Jak looked nonplussed. “You as good at maths as your brother was at riding a motorcycle? What happened to the shooter?” He took off his jacket and black t-shirt, pulled off black boots, unbuttoned 501 black jeans, stood there almost naked in CK boxers. “These will need washing and drying. Did you count? How many bullets left? How fast are you Eddie? Faster than a Black Talon bullet?” 

Eddie backed off towards the door, away from Jak. 

“Chip said stay put.” 

“Open the door,” said Jak. He watched Switchblade Eddie pull on the JD. “Put the knife down, unless your mum wants a two-for-one funeral deal.”

A single loud sob from Eddie broke the tension. 

Bizarrely, China felt sorry for him, if sorrow and hatred were complementary emotions, like anxiety and fear. She didn’t know. She was an emotional cripple herself. Only Rose kept her sane. 

“You’re not having my blade you cunt,” cried Eddie. Jak’s intensity had reduced him to tears. 

She opened the door. He glided out into the cold and the wet. She slammed the door shut. China looked over at Jak to see what happened next. She searched for the words to make the right impression. He took the decision away from her, pointed to his dirty laundry, pulled out a pistol from his jacket. 

“One bullet left. We only had five. He made the right choice. Put my clothes in the wash. Now about this fuck?”

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If this extract has you wanting more, then Without Rules will be available to buy on Monday, October 15th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Andrew Field’s Online BookstoreGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Trap by Lilja Sigurðardóttir (trs Quentin Bates) @lilja1972 @graskeggur @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #Trap #extract #excerpt

It’s a pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Trap by Lilja Sigurðardóttir today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join. I’ll be sharing an extract with you today but first, here is what Trap is all about.

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Author : Lilja Sigurðardóttir (translated by Quentin Bates)
Title : Trap
Pages : 250
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : October 18, 2018 (UK Paperback)

aboutthebook

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…

extract

April 2011

1

Sonja was wrenched, shivering, from a deep sleep. She sat up in bed and looked at the thermometer on the air-conditioning unit; it was thirty degrees in the trailer. She had closed her eyes for an afternoon nap and fallen fast asleep while Tómas had gone to play with Duncan – a boy of a similar age who was staying in the next trailer. While she’d been snoozing, the sun had raised the temperature in their little space to thirty degrees, at which point the air-con had rumbled into action, blasting out ice-cold air.

Her dreams had been of pack ice drifting up to the shore alongside the trailer park, and however ridiculous the idea of sea ice off the coast of Florida might be, the dream had been so vivid that it took Sonja a few moments to shake off the image of grinding icebergs approaching the beach. While she knew the dream had been a fantasy and that the chill of the ice had in fact been the air-conditioning, it still left her uneasy. A dream of sea ice wasn’t something that could bode well.

Sonja got off the bed, and as soon as she stepped on the floor, she stubbed a big toe on the loose board. This trailer was really starting to get on her nerves. But it didn’t matter, because it was really time to move on. They had been here for three weeks, and that was already a dangerously long time. Tomorrow she would discreetly pack everything up and in the evening, without saying goodbye to any of the neighbours, and under cover of darkness, they would drive away in the old rattletrap she had paid for in cash. She had coughed up a month’s rent in advance, so the trailer’s owner wouldn’t lose out.

This time, she and Tómas would travel northwards to Georgia and find a place there to rent for a week or two; and then they’d move on again – to some other location, where they would stay, but then depart before they’d put down any roots. They would leave before they could be noticed, before Adam could track them down. Adam who was Tómas’s father; Adam who was her former husband; Adam the drug dealer. Adam the slave driver.

One day, once they had travelled far enough and hidden their tracks well enough for Sonja finally to feel secure, they would settle down. It would be in a quiet spot, maybe in the US, or maybe somewhere else. In fact, it didn’t particularly matter where the place was, as long as it was somewhere they could disappear into the crowd, where she wouldn’t constantly have to glance over her shoulder.

Sonja peered into the microwave – something that had become a habit. Inside, giving her a sense of security by being where it should be, was the sandwich box full of cash. It was a white box with a blue lid, and was stuffed with the dollars and euros she had scraped together during the year that she had been caught in Adam’s trap. This bundle of cash was her lifeline, in this new existence where she dared trust nobody. She had got herself a prepaid Walmart MoneyCard and had loaded it with enough to keep them afloat for a few months, but she had not dared apply for a normal credit card; she didn’t want to risk Agla, with her access to the banking system, using it to track her movements.

Her heart lurched at the thought of Agla. The memory of the scent of her hair and the warmth of her skin under the bedclothes brought a lump to Sonja’s throat that refused to be swallowed. The more time that passed since their parting, the harder she had to work to stop herself from calling her. Iceland was behind her, and that was the way it was. This was her and Tómas’s new life, and she was fully aware that to begin with it would be a lonely one. But loneliness wasn’t her biggest problem; a much weightier concern was their safety –Tómas’s in particular. If she allowed herself the luxury of contacting Agla, there was every chance that Adam would sniff out their communication and use it to track her down.

Sonja opened the trailer door and sat down on the step. The air outside was hotter than inside the trailer and the afternoon sun cast long shadows from the trees across the bare earth at the centre of the cluster of trailers. Sonja took a deep breath of the outdoor air and tried to throw off the discomfort the dream had left her with.The old, toothless guy opposite stood over his barbecue, which sent up plumes of smoke as the fire took; Duncan’s mother sat in a camp chair outside the trailer next door, listening to the radio. There was a peace to the place, but it would soon come to an end, broken by the noise of traffic and horns on the freeway as people began the commute home from work.

Duncan came out of his trailer at a run, along with the basketball that he dribbled everywhere. He half crouched over the ball, and Sonja smiled to herself. She and Tómas had seen that his weird dribbling technique didn’t affect his accuracy when he shot for the basket. His skill at basketball was unbelievable, and after a few days playing together, his interest had infected Tómas as well.

Tómas…

‘Duncan! Where’s Tómas?’ she called, and the boy twisted in the air, dropped the ball through the basket fixed to the trunk of a palm tree and, when his feet were back on the ground, shrugged.

‘Where is Tómas?’ she repeated.

‘I don’t know,’ Duncan said, still dribbling the ball. ‘He went down to the beach just now, but then some guys came looking for him.’ ‘Guys? What guys?’ In one bound Sonja was at Duncan’s side.

He finally let the ball drop from his hands. ‘Just guys,’ Duncan said. ‘Just some guys.’

‘Tell me, Duncan. Where did they go?’

Duncan pointed towards the woods that lay between the trailer park and the beach.

‘What’s up?’ Duncan’s mother called from her camp chair, but Sonja didn’t give herself time to reply.

She sprinted towards the beach, her mind racing. The vision of ice on the shore, the groaning of the floes as the waves grounded them on the beach and the chill that the white layer brought with it clouded her thoughts as if the dream were becoming a reality. She cursed herself for not having bought the gun she had seen in the flea market at the weekend.

It’s never good for an Icelander to dream of sea ice, she thought. That means a hard spring to come, and ice brings bears.

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Eek! If this little teaser has left you wanting more, then Trap is available to buy in ebook format! The UK paperback will be published on October 18th!

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

abouttheauthor

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Author links : Twitter

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Trap First BT Poster

The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm @KateWritesBooks @BonnierZaffre @Francesca_PR #blogtour #bookreview #guestpost #TheSecretsYouHide #NetGalley

Thrilled to host a stop on the blog tour for The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm today! My thanks to Francesca at Bonnier Zaffre for the invitation to join and my review copy. The lovely Kate Helm visits my blog today to talk about Brighton as a location for her novel and I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on this fabulous thriller. But first, here is what The Secrets You Hide is all about.

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Author : Kate Helm
Title : The Secrets You Hide
Pages : 330
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : October 4, 2018 (ebook) | February 7, 2019 (paperback)

aboutthebook

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career – but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying . . .

mythoughts

How often do we look at someone and immediately decide whether we like them or not? How often are we wrong and does our initial idea of someone change? What if you’re a court artist, like Georgia Sage? She thinks she has a firm grasp on people’s faces and can spot evil in a flash. After all, she’s been drawing them for years and she knows what to look out for. With a few simple brush strokes, she can get her opinion of a suspect at a trial across to a tv audience as well. But what if she’s wrong?

Drawn back to one of the first court cases Georgia attended, she may need to face up to the fact she possibly helped the guilty party go free. While searching for the truth and hopefully seeing justice served, Georgia finds herself confronted with her own dark past. A chilling event from her childhood has haunted her ever since but the truth is even more devastating. As Georgia will soon discover for herself.

This compelling story has a lot to offer. Not only is there the wonderful setting in Brighton but there’s a murder to solve and for once, there’s not a detective in sight. There’s just Georgia, a normal young woman, albeit it a tad damaged. While the pace was maybe somewhat on the slow side at the beginning, I found myself utterly engrossed, wondering what was going on. But then!

I’m not a fan of this whole “twist you won’t see coming” thing but guess what?! There was a twist I didn’t see coming! It changed the entire storyline, tilting it right onto its head, making me sit up just that little bit straighter. All of a sudden, an “average” crime thriller turned into something highly original and unusual and I absolutely loved it!

With a unique premise and an exciting first chapter, this had me utterly gripped. A slow burner, yes, but packed full of emotion and intriguing characters. The Secrets You Hide is well-plotted, brilliantly written, addictive and hugely satisfying. If you enjoy your crime thrillers and you’re looking for something that’s a little bit different, look no more! I’m incredibly excited to find out what Kate Helm comes up with next.

The Secrets You Hide is available in e-book format now. The UK paperback will be published on February 7 and can be pre-ordered.

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

guestpost

Brighton by the book: thriller author Kate Helm examines why sunny Brighton is the perfect setting for murder

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside… especially when I am writing about murder.

Because there’s something about coastal towns that makes them brilliant places to live – but also the ideal setting for truly terrifying events.

Brighton has been my home town for the last seven years and I love the city. So when I decided to write my first thriller, I wanted to pay my own tribute to its beauty – and its seediness. I’m not the first. Graham Greene portrayed its underworld in Brighton Rock – and Peter James’ bestsellers feature the challenges and mysteries of policing the place.

My Brighton is very different – well, it’d be madness to take on Peter James on his home turf – as it’s seen from the point of view of an ‘ordinary’ person. Though my heroine, courtroom sketch artist Georgia, is not everyone’s idea of normal.

She fled to the city to escape terrible memories and a broken relationship. As an artist, the light was one attraction for her. It’s one of my biggest pleasures too. Living on the coast means you really can experience four seasons in one day. And the fact that I can walk for less than sixty seconds and see the sea and the horizon, means it’s easy to regain your sense of perspective.

Brighton sunset 2

Georgia lives in a flat in Brunswick Square – if you’ve ever seen a photograph of the city’s buttermilk-coloured terraced crescents, chances are it’s Brunswick. I describe them as ‘wedding cake houses’ – I’ve been inside a couple of these flats, with their huge bay windows and heart-stopping sea views. Georgia’s difficult past means she can afford to buy a flat and live there alone – though the price of her ’wealth’ is one most of us would never want to pay.

Brunswick Brighton

As she tries to solve the central mystery in the book – whether a person she helped convict really did murder his stepmother in a devastating fire on Christmas Eve – she walks by the seafront to clear her head. The pebble beach here is well-known, but what I didn’t know till I moved here is how at very low tide, another beach is revealed, a wet sandy shoreline that I can never resist paddling in.

Brighton low tide

The irritations of living in a tourist hot spot are part of Georgia’s life – the bottlenecks caused by delightful but chattering foreign language students, the noise of the stag and hen parties, the damp buildings caused by year-round salty breezes.

As Georgia’s job is sketching people involved in criminal trials, she spends a lot of time in court. And that’s where I’ve taken the biggest liberty – by inventing a new crown court for Brighton. The real crown court here is in Hove – the posher end of the city – and it’s an ugly box of a building with very little charm. So I let my imagination summon up a Victorian court house in the same place as the current Brighton Magistrates’.  It has turrets and wood panelling and giant institutional radiators that make it baking hot all year round. It’s based on courts I’ve visited, but if you look for it on Eastern Road, all you’ll find is the police station and the American Express building.

Georgia loves the city as much as I do, and she hangs out in the same shabby pubs I visit when the seafront haunts are packed with tourists. She came here – as many people do – looking for answers, but also finds acceptance, because the city really is one of the most tolerant places in the world.

And my final connection to this place? My pseudonym. Because my past books have been very different, we decided to create a new identity for me. I keep my first name but needed a second one to replace Harrison. Brighthelmstone is the name for the original settlement here – so Kate Helm it is. My new name is my own tribute to the city I love.

[Photography by Kate Helm]

abouttheauthor

Kate Helm was born in Lancashire, and worked as a journalist covering courts and crime, before becoming a BBC reporter and producer in news and current affairs. She also wrote documentary and drama scripts, including the BBC1 programme: Angel of Death: The Story of Beverly Allitt.

Kate Helm is a pseudonym for author Kate Harrison whose non-fiction and novels have been sold in 20 territories and sold over 800,000 copies. Kate lives in Brighton, this is her first book under the name Kate Helm and her debut adult crime novel.

Beach hut wide

Join Kate’s free book club for exclusive previews and competitions to win signed books by your favourite thriller authors, via Kate’s website www.kate-harrison.com or follow her on Twitter@katewritesbooks

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