#BlogTour | #BookReview: After She’s Gone by Maggie James (@mjamesfiction) @TAsTPublicity

WebsiteAfter She's Gone BLOG.jpg“Lori Golden’s family have had more than their fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.

Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family start to fall apart. And, as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.

Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn on the After She’s Gone blog tour.  I have been wanting to read a Maggie James novel for quite some time now, so I was over the moon when I was asked to feature on the After She’s Gone blog tour.

So I guess the most important question is, did I enjoy my first experience of a Maggie James novel?  I most certainly did.  I found Maggie’s writing style very easy to read which meant that I breezed through After She’s Gone in two short days (that’s quick for me).  I found her characters interesting, particularly Lori Golden who I instantly warmed to.  Saying that, at times I did find Lori a little too naive which was frustrating, but then I’m a die-hard crime fan and tend to read the very worst of people which makes me overly suspicious of everyone!  I went through different emotions when it came to Dana Golden, Lori’s mother.  At times I really liked her, felt for her with her ongoing treatment for kidney failure.  At other times I’m afraid I despised the woman.

I found the sections about becoming a living donor very interesting and found this particular sub-plot really held my attention.  So much so that I was able to have a conversation with a lady at my son’s preschool who is considering becoming a living donor for her sister.  The investigation into Jessie’s death was also very compelling reading, but I’m afraid I worked out who the killer was quite early on. This tends to happen to me sometimes but it rarely spoils the story.  It just proves what an ace detective I’m becoming after all this time (ha!).  It certainly didn’t spoil the story for me on this occasion.  The author does a stellar job of trying to wrong foot you and made me question my decision at several turns along the way.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I found After She’s Gone a compelling read and I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by Maggie James.  In fact, I have added Blackwater Lake to my #terrifyingTBR and I’m looking forward to it.  Interesting plot, strong characters and tons of suspense.

Three and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of After She’s Gone. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

After She’s Gone by Maggie James was published in the UK by Lake Union Publishing on 16th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Boundary by Andrée A Michaud @noexitpress #BoundaryBook

boundary.jpg“It’s the Summer of 1967.

The sun shines brightly over Boundary lake, a holiday haven on the US-Canadian border. Families relax in the heat, happy and carefree. Hours tick away to the sound of radios playing ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’.  Children run along the beach as the heady smell of barbecues fills the air.

Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan, with their long, tanned legs and silky hair, relish their growing reputation as the red and blond Lolitas. Life seems idyllic.

But then Zaza disappears, and the skies begin to cloud over..”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Boundary blog tour.  And it’s UK publication day for author Andrée A. Michaud and the lovely folk at No Exit Press.  You lucky people can purchase a copy of Boundary in either hardcover or eBook format today!

To celebrate Boundary’s release in the UK I have a fantastic guest post from Andrée A. Michaud to share with you.  So without further ado, I’ll hand to Andrée…

What’s Boundary about

 People often ask me, ‘what’s Boundary about?’. It’s never easy to answer what a fictional book is about without betraying its secrets. Novels are complete by themselves and if you try to summarise them, to rend their color in just a few words, you run the risk of missing the essential; that is to say, the atmosphere.

Having said which, I will play the part and try my best to do just that, and maybe, just maybe, I will pick up some new readers along the way:

Boundary, as its title suggests, is first and foremost a book about barriers, all kinds of barriers, between men and women, childhood and adulthood, countries, cultures, languages and, finally, between good and evil.

Boundary is also a book about the loss of paradise, of all paradises in fact, when men, who stupidly want to make those paradises better, slowly transform them into hell. It’s what happens in Boundary. The place is an Eden from which men are finally and inevitably expelled, because men are not able to survive in such a wild place, the violence of which mirrors their own, and because Nature always, in the end, chases away those who are spoiling or destroying her very essence.

In this sense, Boundary is a book about wilderness – its strength, its beauty, its self-reliance – and about wildness – of men, of war, of men when war destroy them and drives them mad. But I want to be clear here: there is no war in Boundary, except the war raging between a man and himself and his memories.

Boundary is also book about the Sixties, about the culture of those years, about the wind of liberty which was then blowing, about the evolution of mentalities, the timid apparition of feminism in the daily life of the middle class, etc. In a way this novel is, for me, full of nostalgia, because the Sixties were the years of my childhood, the most beautiful years of my life, before the death of my father, when I was ten. Andrée, one of the narrators, witnesses this period, and for her the summer of ‘67 is a time of transition, the moment at which she will have to say goodbye to her innocence. In a way, you could say that Boundary is a coming-of-age novel, in which the little Andrée learns the meaning of the words death, absence, forever.

Finally, Boundary is a book about solidarity, and about the frailty of solidarity when drama touches a little community in which everyone knows everyone, and when the person at the origin of that drama could be anyone: your father, your brother, your son or your neighbour.

***

I am so excited to read Boundary.  Even more so after reading this fabulous guest post from the author.  There are so many interesting themes running through the story that make it sound just my sort of read.  I’m excited, are you?

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(c) Marianne Deschenes

 

Andrée A Michaud is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction (Le Ravissement in 2001 and Bondrée in 2014) and the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Prix Saint-Pacôme for best crime novel for Bondrée, as well as the 2006 Prix Ringuet for Mirror Lake (adapted for the big screen in 2013). As she has done since her very first novel, Michaud fashions an eminently personal work that never ceases to garner praise from critics and avid mystery readers alike. In 2010, her thriller Lazy Bird, set to the rhythms of jazz, was published by Les Éditions du Seuil in France, as part of the Point Noir Collection.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney (@trisha460) @bookouture

the missing ones cover.jpg“The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror. 

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how? 

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal. 

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger? 

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice. 

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Missing Ones blog tour.  The Missing Ones is the debut novel from Patricia Gibney and features kick-ass Detective Inspector Lottie Parker.  The lovely Susan over at Books From Dusk till Dawn is also featuring on the blog tour today, so make sure you pop over and give her a follow (if you don’t already that is!).

DI Lottie Parker is thrown into the middle of an investigation and begins to flounder from the very start.  Her two victims are very obviously connected somehow, but what that connection is is beyond Lottie and her team.  Lottie is struggling with her own life having recently lost her husband and being the sole carer to her three teenage children.  Regular disagreements with her interfering, overbearing mother don’t help the situation.  But Lottie knows she needs to find justice for the victims and throws herself head first into the investigation.  Before long her attention is drawn to St Angela’s children’s home where, in the 70’s and 80’s evil roamed the corridors.  Run by the Catholic Church, St Angela’s holds terrifying secrets that someone doesn’t want shared.  How far are they, and most importantly, how far is Lottie prepared to go?  Far enough to put her own children into mortal danger…?

This is a chilling read.  The subject matter is hard going at times but handled incredibly well by the author.  The sections where you’re reading about the children of St Angela’s are pretty intense but well written, creating an air of unease and uncomfortable expectation.

I loved the setting.  I have read a number of outstanding Irish crime thrillers this year and this one stands strong alongside them.  It’s an incredibly atmospheric read and you feel as though you are there, traipsing through the snow with Lottie and her team.

DI Lottie Parker is in an intriguing character and one I would like to read more of.  I felt I could sympathise with her situation but her parenting skills really irked me at times. She’s doing the best she can with the situation she’s in but I felt she neglected her children a lot of the time in favour of the job.  Now, I don’t claim to be super-mum but c’mon Lottie…they’re your kids!  Saying that, the story-line would have faltered quite early on without her questionable parenting, so I can understand why it was necessary for her to be so work focused.

Lottie’s relationship with DS Boyd is an interesting one.  They’re colleagues and sparring partners, yes.  But there’s something else there too.  They do have a brief personal past together and I wonder if this is something we will see built upon in future books.  There’s definitely friction there along with a rather large dollop of chemistry.

I found the plot compelling and whenever I had to put the book down, I wanted to get straight back to the story.  There is a lot of action (which can only be a good thing), with twists and turns along the way to wrong foot you.  I’m afraid I was able to tell ‘whodunit’ quite early on in the story but this didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you’re a fan of dark crime fiction or have a penchant (like me!) for Irish crime.  It’s a good solid start to what promises to be a cracking new series and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Missing Ones.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney was published in the UK by Bookouture on 16th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Patricia yearned to be a writer after reading Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene and even wanted to be Nancy Drew when grew up. She has now grown up (she thinks) but the closest she’s come to Nancy Drew is writing crime!

In 2009, after her husband died, she retired from her job and started writing seriously. Fascinated by people and their quirky characteristics, she always carries a notebook to scribble down observations.

Patricia also loves to paint in watercolour and lives in the Irish midlands with her children.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Deadly Game by Matt Johnson (@Matt_Johnson_UK) @OrendaBooks

Deadly Game cover.jpeg“Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.”

‘Utterly compelling and dripping with authenticity. This summer’s must-read thriller’ J S Law, author of Tenacity • ‘Nothing is clear-cut in a gripping labyrinthine plot, which – despite thrills and spills aplenty – never falls short of believable’ David Young, author of Stasi Child • ‘Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers’ Peter James

FOR FANS OF Lee Child, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Brad Thor and Vince Flynn

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Deadly Game blog tour which I share with the very lovely Karen over at My Reading Corner.  Karen’s blog is one of my very favourites so please give her a follow, if you don’t already.

Deadly Game is the second book in the Robert Finlay series, is written by author Matt Johnson and published by the lovely folk at Orenda Books.  To celebrate it’s publication on 15th March 2017 I have a fabulous guest post from Matt Johnson to share with you (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Matt…

Matt Johnson – a day in the life

As I looked forward to my retirement, I anticipated easy going days in front of the fire reading a book, time to pursue hobbies and catching up on those little jobs that I never seem to find the time to complete. I didn’t anticipate that I might start a new career.

When I sat down to have a go at writing a book, I really did think ‘How hard can it be?’ That shows how little I knew. With the book complete and, to my satisfaction, self-published, I sat back to enjoy the pocket money that appeared each month in my bank account. Then, everything changed. A published author read the book, his agent got in touch. I went up to London for ‘a chat’.

And now, two years later I have two books published by Orenda and a third in creation. I’ve been to festivals, events and book signings. I’ve given talks and have now been signed up – by the same agency representing Idris Elba – to do more public speaking. This is no longer the retirement I foresaw.

That said, I’m not complaining. Although I feel a little like a novice surfer riding a perfect wave that might crash down at any moment in an explosion of froth, I’m enjoying the ride. But my routine, well that has certainly changed.

Being a cop, I was used to being self-motivated and disciplined. Just as well, as it’s something you have to be when you spend your writing life on your own with only the dogs and your ‘imaginary friends’ for company. I never have been particularly good in the mornings – 6am starts in the Met were always a struggle – so I tend to start my day at about 8.

Almost without exception I start with a brew. It’s a habit that started in the military and continued in the police. Forty years later, it’s not going to change. Then, after a shower it’s out with the dogs, whatever the weather. I really enjoy walking, it clears the mind and sets you up for the day. If I have a plot idea to mull over or an idea comes to me I use the digital recorder that I normally carry. If I forget it, I fret until I can write as soon as I return home.

Working days start with email and social media. I like to clear this first so that once I start to write, I can continue without interruption. Writing can take many forms, sometimes it’s a talk, or an article. Other times it may be something such as a media campaign. It’s not always what I should be focusing on – the next book.

If I’m not in a frame of mind to write, I read. Not just books, I research on the net, read social media and read magazines.

Once writing, I hope to get into the groove. By that I mean the state of mind I believe all authors experience where you are away in this fictional world of your own creation, struggling to get the words down as fast as your imagination is forming them. When this happens, I lose track of time and woe betide anyone who telephones or calls at the house – I hate breaking off.

I tend to do my best creative work into the evenings, which means I don’t watch a great deal of television. I might break off for the news, or Match of the Day, but little else. Food? Well, that can be something of a luxury. I enjoy cooking, and a love eating. But managing the time to think about cooking? Now, that’s a much harder proposition. And, as the evening wears on, if I realise there won’t be enough time to explore the story thread I am working on, I write notes, an aide memoire to picking the story up the next day.

To write, I use an old pc. I sit at an oak desk – also old – on my favourite chair, also old. A bit like me, really. I swear if typewriters were capable of saving your work I would still be using one. I two-finger type, so not very fast and not terribly accurate. As a result, I have to do a lot of re-reading. But, that’s one thing I have learned – first drafts don’t need to be perfect, they just have to be written.

***

Brilliant post, thank you Matt.  Always interesting to see how an author organises their time and motivates themselves to write.

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Matt2016.jpegMatt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour #BookReview: Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French (@KFrenchBooks) @bookouture


cover maplemead.jpg“Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Mystery at Maplemead Castle blog tour.  This is the second book in the Chapelwick Mysteries series written by author, Kitty French.  Now, I’m a self confessed crime fan.  I like my crime gritty, with lots of blood spilt and the occasional character’s guts too (if I’m lucky!).  The gorier, the better for damppebbles.  But I have a secret (not really secret) addiction.  And that’s the Chapelwick Mysteries series of cozy crime.  I absolutely adored the first book in the series (you can read my review by clicking here but please note, the cover and title of the first book have changed since I wrote my review and it’s now called Skeletons of Scarborough House.  AND it’s only 99p at the moment, so what are you waiting for?!).

Oh my gosh, Kitty French has done it again with the second book in the series!

Starting this book felt like meeting old friends again.  I absolutely love every single character in this novel.  From the converse and jeans wearing, unlucky in love, bad-ass businesswoman Melody to the pimply, awkward young Artie to the slightly psychotic, fan-twins Nikki and Vikki.  Melody and the gang are back on the case and that dear reader, makes me feel good!

Melody and her team of unusual suspects are called to assist in the removal of ghosts from Maplemead Castle.  Maplemead Castle has recently acquired new owners in the form of Lady Lolo and husband Barty.  They purchased the castle over the internet without seeing it, as only eccentric Americans (or the insane) can do!  What they didn’t bargain for is the resident spooks who are driving away business.  And potential clients, aka Hollywood bigwigs, are refusing to step foot in Maplemead until an exorcism as has taken place.  Well, no.  That’s not how Melody goes about her ghost-busting.  Nor does it involve large ghost hoovers only to then deposit Timothy Claypole in the bank of eternal ghoul, a la Ghostbusters™ (mixing my ghost based programmes there AND showing my age in one fell swoop.  If you don’t know who Timothy Claypole is, I suggest you google ‘Rentaghost’).

Melody Bittersweet sees dead people and she uses her unique ability to find out why the ghosts she is investigating are still tethered to the mortal world.  Unfortunately Melody’s ex-boyfriend, Leo Dark, has the same gift but he uses it to promote his television career leaving Melody in his dust.  The competition between Leo and Melody isn’t so strong in this book and I did miss that constant sparring a little.  But Leo has his own problems this time around and it was good to see Melody step up and take charge of the situation.

I should mention Fletcher Gunn.  Ace, investigative reporter, naysayer of anything he can’t physically see and the one man who makes our heroine go weak at the knees.  Talk of a man’s nether regions would normally make me give up on a book.  Normally, that is.  Not this time.  It’s a pretty recurrent theme as the chemistry between Melody and Fletch is through the roof.  I was chuckling away to myself, hoping the husband wasn’t going to ask what I was finding so funny!

Would I recommend this book? I thoroughly enjoyed Mystery at Maplemead Castle.  It was so much fun and a complete joy to read.  My heart ached at times, the next moment I was laughing out loud.  A perfect mix of great storytelling, the very best characters and the perfect setting.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Mystery at Maplemead Castle.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French was published in the UK by Bookouture on 17th March 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Kitty French lives in the Black Country with her husband, two young sons and two crazy cats. She’s a lover of all things romantic – songs, music, and most of all, books. Her USA Today best-selling Lucien Knight series topped the erotic chart on both sides of the pond, and she also writes romantic comedy as Kat French for Avon, HarperCollins.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Place That Never Existed by @Jim_Ody_Author | @emmamitchellfpr

The Place That Never Existed.jpg“For Paul and Debbie it was meant to be the happiest time of their lives. A small village wedding in front of their family and friends, followed by a quiet honeymoon in Devon.
Not everyone had been happy to see them together. A woman from their past refused to accept it. Her actions over the previous year had ended in tragedy, and had almost broken the happy couple apart.
Now, away from it all in a picturesque log cabin, Paul and Debbie look forward to time spent alone together… But she has found out where they are, and she will stop at nothing to make sure that the marriage is over… forever.

But Huntswood Cove isn’t just a beautiful Devonshire fishing town, it has its own secret. Recently, people have begun to disappear, only to turn up dead in suspicious circumstances. The locals begin to question what is going on.

Soon everything strange points to the abandoned house in the woods. The house that nobody wants to talk about. To them, it is the place that never existed.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Place That Never Existed blog tour. Towards the end of last year I took part in the Dark Minds blog tour.  Dark Minds is a charity collection of short stories from the very best crime writers, and one of those who contributed was author Jim Ody.  After reading Jim Ody’s short story I knew I wanted to read more by this author so was thrilled when the opportunity arose to read and review The Place That Never Existed.

This book and I got off to a rather shaky start.  It took me a little while to warm to the author’s style but before long I was enjoying Debbie and Paul’s adventures in deepest, darkest Devon.  Over time I found I warmed to the couple and wanted to know about the strange things which were happening to them.  Particularly with regards to Paul’s ex-lover.  The characters found in the small village also interested me, with their well-kept secrets and strange ways.

I was happily enjoying the book but then, I’m afraid, the ending happened.  The ending of this book is like nothing I have read before (and I’m not 100% sure I would want to read again).  I felt there were several unanswered questions which were left hanging.  I like my crime novels to have a certain realism to them but I’m afraid I found it impossible to believe the conclusion of this book.

Saying that, I think I am in the minority because I’ve read so many fantastic reviews of this novel.  Many of which highlight and praise the different ending.  Jim Ody’s writing is good, his characters are believable but I’m afraid this book and I just didn’t gel.  I also found one particular story-line quite predicable, which doesn’t normally tend to spoil a book for me and isn’t part of the reason this book and I didn’t click.

With the assurance that it doesn’t feature a similar conclusion, I would read another book written by Jim Ody as I think he’s a good storyteller and I liked the humour included in the novel.  Would I recommend this book?  If you’re looking for a crime thriller with something quite different then yes, I would.  If however you like a certain amount of realism in your reads then maybe look elsewhere.  Or if you’re an Oxford United fan….don’t read this book if you’re a U’s fan!

Three out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Place That Never Existed.  The above review is my own honest, unbiased opinion.

The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody was published in the UK by Hambrook Press on 1st December 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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As a child Jim wanted to be a truck driver – more specifically Kris Kristofferson in the movie ‘Convoy’, however somehow this never happened, nor did he ever smuggle moonshine in Hazzard County, find treasure with his buddies in the Goondocks, or hunt sharks on Amity Island. He did win ‘The Spirit Of Judo’ award as a seven-year-old, and have published his design of a ‘Dog-Walking Machine’ in an English text book at the age of ten; so every cloud and all of that…

Jim has had poems and articles published on a number of websites, and for eight years, was a weekly music reviewer for a popular music website where he got to meet bands and see free gigs.

Jim has published two books ‘Lost Connections’ and ‘The Place That Never Existed’, and had his short story, ‘The Moth In The Jar’ selected and published in the charity anthology ‘Dark Minds’.

Jim lives with his wife and three children in Swindon, Wiltshire, and is currently writing his next novel ‘A Cold Retreat’ (due out in summer 2017); and more than likely eating chocolate. And watching football.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia (@MejiaWrites) @QuercusBooks

9781784295769.jpg“Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives, Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the Hattie behind the masks, and what happened in that final year of her life. . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity; about the line between innocence and culpability; about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman blog tour.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is written by new author Mindy Mejia and published in the UK by Quercus Books.  My thanks to Olivia Mead at Quercus for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

When I read the blurb of this book, I just had to read it.  Then I saw the cover design and heard the title and it was a foregone conclusion.  Interestingly, this book is being released in other parts of the world with the title ‘Everything You Want Me To Be’.  Having read the book I can see why it’s been called that but I much prefer the UK title.  I think it works on so many different levels.

Anyway…regular readers will know that I have a penchant for Japanese and German crime fiction.  What trumps both of those settings is my love of crime fiction set in small town America.  I just LOVE IT! No, I mean REALLY LOVE IT!!  I like to read books that feature a Sheriff, I like to see how the Sheriff copes with a major investigation with next-to-no high-tech resources at hand, I like to read about a small town crumbling under the suspicion of it’s neighbours.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman was a great read for me and one I devoured in the space of two short days (I’m a slow reader, that’s quick!).

Hattie is 17 going on 27.  She’s very different to her peers.  She’s an actress and a good one at that.  So good that her acting ability seeps into her everyday life and relationships.  Each chapter is told from a different perspective; you have Hattie before her imminent demise. Sheriff Del Goodman who is a family friend of Hattie’s parents and is working flat out to solve the murder.  And Peter Lund who has recently moved to the sleepy farming town of Pine Valley with his wife, Mary.

I really enjoyed the way that the story is built up.  Each chapter provides you with that little extra piece of information that wasn’t known before.  I found Hattie a very difficult character to like and I’m still not 100% sure about my feelings for her.  At times I became quite fond of her and at other times she seemed to be the most unlikable character in the story.  My favourite of all the characters was Peter Lund who may not be the popular choice among other reviewers.  I felt Peter had ended up in a life that was not his and one he would not have chosen for himself, and I sympathised with him.  His emotion felt very real to me.  I also liked Del Goodman for his good, honest attitude and his battle with his emotions whilst trying to find the killer of his friend’s daughter.

This story is primarily a love story but it’s also very much about manipulation and those we choose to show our true selves to.  Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  I finished reading The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman several days ago and it’s still very much with me.  It’s a haunting tale and heartbreaking in places too.  Very much recommended.

Four out of five stars.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 9th March 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University and published her first novel, The Dragon Keepers with Ashland Creek Press. She lives and writes in Minnesota.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is her first book to be published in the UK.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski (@ConcreteKraken) @OrendaBooks

SIX STORIES BF AW.jpg“1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Six Stories blog tour which I share with the lovely Inge over at The Belgian Reviewer.  I am absolutely delighted because I CANNOT wait to talk to you about this book!  To say I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement. Now, Matt Wesolowski is a new author to me but I heard about this book towards the end of last year and instantly knew that I had to read it.  Matt’s background is predominantly in the horror genre so I knew this was going to be something special and by golly, it certainly was!

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that chilled me to the core.  I couldn’t, but I can now.  Six Stories took me to the edge and I absolutely flipping loved it.  I even felt the need to tweet about this book and see how others were finding it:

Ah, that need to discuss a book you’re loving.  I don’t think I’ve done that before.  I was thrilled to see a good number of replies from fellow bloggers and reviewers all saying how utterly absorbing and chilling they found this book.

I can’t begin to explain what it is about Six Stories that makes it such a sublime read (but I’m going to give it a go anyway!).  First off Matt Wesolowski is a master of unease.  He creates it and shapes it beautifully.  Normal, everyday people going about normal, everyday things…only for something completely unexpected to be added to the mix, something shocking.  You never know whether it’s safe to start breathing normally again or whether you should be bracing yourself for the next unexpected twist.  It’s almost impossible to know what to believe.  The evidence is all laid out before you, so that should be it right? Believe what you want to believe, I can’t tell you what’s right and what’s….well, read Six Stories for yourself and experience the book.  You won’t regret it.

I absolutely loved the format of this book which is completely different to anything else I have read of late.  The ‘witness’ podcasts are fascinating and incredibly easy to read which meant I stormed through this book, despite wanting to make each minute count.  I loved the conversational style of the podcasts and was looking for new clues in each statement.  I’m not sure I found any but I was certainly looking.  In between the podcast chapters are chapters relating to the experience and emotions of Harry Saint Clement-Ramsay who found the decaying corpse of Tom Jeffries one year after his disappearance.  Some chapters are in the past and explain why he and his upper class pals were out roaming Scarclaw Fell in the dead of night with dogs and lamps.  Others are in the present and detail Harry’s thoughts and feelings since the initial broadcast of the first podcast.  I felt these chapters really added to the story and were necessary – giving that extra vital background information.

I felt truly scared at points and heartily commend Matt Wesolowski for his use of tension.  The plot doesn’t really slow at any point and keeps you teetering on the edge.  I couldn’t get enough of this book and I can guarantee that I will read it again in the future (one of those rare books that gets a second read!).  Well, that’s if I can forget about Nanna Wrack in the meantime.  Creepiness at it’s very best!

Would I recommend this book?  Six Stories is my current favourite read of the year so far and it’s going to take an awful lot to knock it from it’s top spot.  It’s so different, so utterly unique that it deserves to be read by all crime thriller fans (and horror fans too!).  You’ll be missing out if you don’t pre-order this book today.  Go on, you know you want to.  Otherwise Nanna Wrack may pay you a visit….

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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image001 (1).pngMatt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Author Links:Orenda Books | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury (@MTilburyAuthor) @BloodhoundBook

the abattoir of dreams.jpg“The past is never far away. Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home. Now an adult, Michael wakes up in hospital from a coma suffering from amnesia and paralysis. Confused and terrified, he is charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life. Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison. With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand. But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him. Can Michael ever escape the past? Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder? And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer? The Abattoir of Dreams is a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Abattoir of Dreams blog tour.  Author Mark Tilbury is one of those writers whose work I have been incredibly keen to read since I started blogging over a year ago.  A number of fellow bloggers whose opinions I trust are huge Mark Tilbury fans which I think says an awful lot, don’t you?  And I plan to start with The Abattoir of Dreams as it’s receiving absolutely brilliant, rave reviews.

To celebrate it’s recent release I have an extract to share with you today.  So without further ado, make yourself comfy and read on…

Chapter One
Nurse Emily Dixon fussed with my bedsheet and fixed me with a smile that seemed more professional than friendly. ‘There’s someone here to see you, Michael.’
‘Who?’
‘Detective Inspector Carver. Thames Valley police.’
‘Has he found my memory?’
‘I think it’s more serious than that.’ She left, replaced by a tall, slim man in a charcoal suit.
‘Hello, Mr. Tate.’
There was something about his lopsided grin I didn’t like. Half-sincere, perhaps? ‘Hello.’
‘I see they’ve given you your own room.’
Wasn’t I the lucky one.
He sat on a chair next to the bed. ‘Do you know why I’m here?’
‘No.’ I wiped sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. There was a fan on top of a five-drawer unit by the window; its blades didn’t so much as spin but lurch, like a buckled wheel.
Next to the unit, a wheelchair, my only mode of transport in this brave, new, paralysed world. If anyone ever bothered to hoist me out of the bed, that was.
‘Look at me when I’m speaking to you, Michael. Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?’
This sudden change of tone sent a shiver through my body. I didn’t have a clue whether my mother had taught me anything; I didn’t even remember her. I looked into his pale blue eyes; they seemed to glisten in the afternoon sunlight pouring through a small window behind the bed.
‘That’s better,’ he crooned. ‘You can tell a lot from a man’s eyes.’
The room didn’t seem to have enough air. I wanted to run to the window. Dive through it. Put an end to this eternal nightmare of paralysis and amnesia.
‘You look better than the last time I last saw you.’
‘Last time?’
‘I’ve been to see you three times, Michael. First time, you had tubes sticking out of everywhere.  Second time, you were still in a coma. Not very chatty.’ He grinned, seemingly pleased with his own lame joke. ‘But, today, hey presto, the wanderer returns.’
‘Why are you here?’
He ignored my question. ‘Funny things, comas; neither dead nor alive. Strange sort of limbo.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Have you remembered anything yet? Doctor claims you’re suffering from amnesia.’
‘I don’t remember a thing.’ The truth.
‘If I was to be cynical, Michael, I might think your memory loss was a tad convenient. But, just for the record, let me help you with the events of Monday, June twenty-first; the night you walked to the top of Evenlode flats and tried your hand at flying. A witness said you came home from work at nine-fifteen. She remembered you because you always dragged your work bag up the metal handrail and pissed her off.’
‘Work?’
‘The George Hotel in Feelham. You were a washer-upper. A dish-jockey. But, that’s not relevant, Michael. Suffice to say, you left work at eight forty-five, and clunked your way upstairs at nine-fifteen. Our witness says she heard a lot of banging and thudding coming from your flat, but she just assumed you were having sex. Then, at ten thirty-five, according to two eye witnesses, you jumped off the roof. So, that just leaves the missing hour and twenty minutes when you stabbed your girlfriend to death with a kitchen knife.’
My heart stopped. ‘What?’
‘Murdered her in cold blood, Michael.’ He spoke the way some adults speak to old people as if they’re all deaf and daft. ‘Stabbed her twenty-one times.’
‘My girlfriend?’
‘Becky Marie Coombs. Name ring a bell?’
It didn’t. How was I supposed to react to the news I’d killed my girlfriend if I didn’t even remember her? It felt as if Carver was describing a nightmare which had happened to someone else.
‘Did you let yourself into your flat, or did Becky let you in?’
‘I don’t remember.’
‘Course. I forgot. All Dumbo’s memories fell out of his ears when he hit that builder’s van. Let me help you. Tell you what I think happened. You got home after working your bollocks off in that hotel kitchen. Only thing you’re bothered about is a drink to unwind and hitting the sack, right?’
‘If you say so.’
‘You like a drink, don’t you, Michael?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You do. Becky’s mum called you a piss-head, but that’s neither here nor there. So, you let yourself in, and then you realise your worst nightmare. Becky’s in bed with another man.’
‘I don’t—’
‘I’ll tell you this for nothing, son: I would have been bloody furious as well. How dare some dirty dog get into your bed and soil your sheets?’
The room was stifling. Suffocating. There was an oxygen cylinder by the door. I almost called out for a nurse to come and connect me up to it.
‘Let’s face it, Michael, you’ve not got much going for you, have you? A shitty job in a shitty hotel. Crap pay. Crap hours. A drink problem. A face like a smacked arse. If life was a pair of underpants, you’d be a skid mark, right?’
‘Could you open the window?’
He didn’t seem to hear me. ‘Do you know how I do my job, Michael?’
‘No.’
‘I imagine myself in the same situation as the criminal. Ask myself what would I do if I came home knackered from work and found my bird in bed with a stranger. A fucking freeloader. And here’s the truth: I’d want blood, too. Not the man’s. No way. Uh-uh. That slimy twat has no contract with me. No promises to stay faithful. No declarations of undying love. Just a dirty little opportunist. But, Mrs. Carver, bless her, well, she swore to be mine and mine alone. Not get in the sack with someone else as soon as my back’s turned. Open her legs to the first dirty bastard who paid her a compliment. Are we thinking the same thoughts, Michael?’
‘I—’
‘Of course we are. It’s a universal truth no man is willing to share. What’s his is his. So, I’d throw out the imposter. Naked if need be. Then I’d do the same as you Michael. I’d stab the bitch to death in a jealous rage.’
I focussed my attention on the knackered fan. It looked the way I felt.
‘Twenty-one stab wounds, Michael. And you expect me to believe you don’t remember a single one of them?’
‘I don’t.’
‘What about the one in her neck?’
‘I need water.’
‘Or the ten in her left breast?’
‘Please. I don’t—’
‘Was the breast significant, Michael? Maybe the bloke was sucking her tit when you caught them at it?’
My chest felt as if a boa constrictor had coiled itself around me and was squeezing for all it was worth.
‘You stabbed her in the eye, Michael. Was that symbolic?’
I shook my head. What did he want me to say? Oh, yes, come to think of it, I did mutilate her.
It must have slipped my mind.
Carver took a picture from the breast pocket of his suit. He handed it to me. ‘This is what you did, Michael. Take a good look. See if it jogs your memory.’

***

Woah!  If I wasn’t already lining this one up for the TBR I would be now.  Has that piqued your interest?  Let me know in the comments.

The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 28th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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

Mark served in the Royal Navy, and was left to raise his two daughters alone after being widowed. He 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 third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, published 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.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Dead Embers by Matt Brolly (@MatthewBrolly) @canelo_co

“An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start

When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.

Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.

But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…

Trust no one.”

I am delighted to be one of two blogs hosting the Dead Embers blog tour today.  Dead Embers is written by author Matt Brolly and is the third book in the DCI Michael Lambert series.  I haven’t had the chance to read Matt’s books yet but I do have book one in the DCI Lambert series, Dead Eyed on my #terrifyingTBR.  So watch this space for a review!

To celebrate the release of Dead Embers I have a rather brilliant guest post from Matt to share with you today.  Over to Matt..

How to Write to a Deadline.

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ Douglas Adams.

First of all, a big thank you to Emma from the wonderful damppebbles book blog for hosting me today on day two of the Dead Embers tour. With every release I’m continually amazed and humbled by the terrific response from bloggers and readers and it is hugely appreciated. Now to the matter at end, how to write to a deadline. First a cup of coffee….

Okay, I’m back! Some writers are rather good at procrastination. I’m seventy-eight words into this article already and I’m yet to address the question. How to write to a deadline? Hmmm. Tricky. More coffee, I think.

The simple answer would be to plan months ahead. To make mini deadlines for the first draft, second draft, twentieth draft, structural edits, line edits, proofread etc… but unfortunately a writer’s life is not so simple. It’s easy to say I’m going to write 2,000 words a day over a fifty-day period – I know it is because I say it to myself every time I start a new novel, yet fifty days later I’m rarely more than a quarter way through a first draft. Try as I might, life gets in the way. As does the complications of writing a novel.  Plan as I might, a novel has a way of taking its own direction. I find I have to rewrite the draft plan every two or three chapters, and the finished book is never as I initially envisaged.

And did I mention the procrastination? It is so easy to do anything but write. Make coffee, surf the internet (for research, obviously), tidy the house (though my wife would argue there is not much evidence for this), sleep. Working alone means there is no boss watching you’re every move. You have to be disciplined, manage your time, make sure you hit those word count deadlines every day… but there is a big television downstairs with a film you recorded last night waiting for you…

Good film.

I’m not complaining, you understand. It is a privilege to be a writer. It’s hard work, but then all jobs are. Citing procrastination is cop-out, obviously. It’s a hurdle you have to overcome. My advice: if Facebook or Twitter keeps calling, switch off the internet. If the television, or your bed, is too much of a lure, work in a library or coffee shop. If you’re deadline is fast approaching – work harder!

As I write the last words of this article (which needs to be sent over to Emma by yesterday) I have to admit there is no hard or fast rules for writing to a deadline. All I can say is that after writing for nearly twenty years with no deadline in sight, having a deadline is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in my writing life. And if my publishers (past or present) or agent is reading this, then I apologise for every time (only a handful, I’m sure) I’ve asked for a tiny extension!

***

Absolutely love it, thank you Matt.  And it’s true, it was a close call with the delivery of this post.  No harm done though.  It’s up and on the blog at exactly the right time.  All deadlines met!

Dead Embers by Matt Brolly was published in the UK by Canelo on 6th March 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres, and is currently working on the third in his Michael Lambert thriller series. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |