Day of the Girl….

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It is really very exciting news that Lisbeth Salander will be back in a new book written by David Lagercrantz, giving Stieg Larsson’s legacy another boost. The original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy is definitely one of the best series out there – I still remember reading it for the first time and indeed am embarking on a re-read very soon in preparation for the brand new story.

When I started “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” I nearly gave up on it. Thankfully, other readers who had gone before me insisted that I stick with it. Stieg Larsson put an awful lot of background into one of his characters which did seem interminable at one point – one of my huge memories of that first read is plowing through that lot with the promise of something special to come and boy were those other readers right. The story kicked in big time and became one of the most addictive novels I had ever and have ever read.

Lisbeth Salander really is a marvel of a character. Truly compelling, a heroine for modern times and although much attempt has been made to create similar characters, she still stands out head and shoulders above the rest.  One of those literary creations that really does stay with you forever once you have met her, I am severely impatient to see what is next. The legacy seems to be in safe hands – so hold onto your hats folks. Lisbeth is back!

 

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#dayofthegirl

 

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Liz Currently Loves….Mr Einstein and Me by Adam Bethlehem

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Publication Date: Available now from Triple Point Press

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Ben seeks refuge from intrusive memories in the world of his imagination. Life changes when he meets Holly at a party in London – the invasion of his thoughts is complete when she appears beside him in a favourite dream. He introduces her to Albert Einstein who seems to approve of his ambitions.
The silver lining of new-found happiness is threatened by the great cloud of his past. But assistance is at hand. From Mr Freud’s famous couch, Ben must overcome the prejudice of privilege if he is to reclaim Holly …

This was actually a very different kind of read for me and one that I found unexpected in many ways – initially I was not sure that I would like it but it kind of draws you into the tale so that suddenly you are at the end.

Ben Adams is an outsider – he struggles with reality and has an active and some might say disturbing imaginary life that runs alongside his actual one. These two strands are cleverly interwoven and give Ben as a character a rather strange yet intriguing depth to him – you get caught up in his world and his relationships and go along with him on a journey to discover himself.

I liked the Einsten and Freud threads running through the narrative – often ironically humerous, adding layers to the life story, this is highly imaginative, intelligently done and unique to me in that I have never read anything quite like it before. Admittedly I struggled somewhat with the start, hence why I was not sure that I would like it, but Adam Bethlehem has a distinct writing style that soon engaged me to the point that I did not want to put it down..by the end I was deeply immersed in the storytelling and the atmosphere of it.

I’m not sure how I would describe it – one of those novels that kind of defies genre, a book to be read just because normally you would not perhaps – within the pages you will ultimately find a tale of hope and the search for a perfection that it may not be possible to achieve – an often witty and deeply compelling journey into one mans psyche.

Recommended.

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Einstein-Me-Adam-Bethlehem/dp/099297240X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430201997&sr=1-1&keywords=mr+einstein+and+me

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

The Crooked House – Blog Tour.

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Very pleased to be on the tour for The Crooked House with Christobel Kent. A terrific haunting read this one – here is an extract for you followed by my review.

 

Thirteen Years Ago

When it starts again she is face down on her bed with her hands over her ears and she feels it more than hears it. A vibration through the mattress, through the flowered duvet, through the damp pillow she’s buried her face in. It comes up from below, through the house’s lower three storeys. BOOM. She feels it in her throat.

Wait, listen: one, two, three. BOOM.

Is this how it begins?

Leaning on the shelf over the desk, wooden letters spelling her name jitter against the wall. They were a present on her seventh birthday, jigsawn by Dad, E.S.M.E. The family’d just moved in, unloading their stuff outside this house they called the crooked house, she and Joe, as the sun went down over the dark marsh inland. Creek House to Crooked House, after the tilt to its roofline, its foundations unsteady in the mud, out on its own in the dusk. Mum was gigantic with the twins, a Zeppelin staggering inside with bags in each hand. We need more space now, is how they told her and Joe they were moving. It was seven years ago, seven plus seven. Now she’s fourteen, nearly. Fourteen next week.

Ah, go on, Gina had said. Just down it. Then, changing tack, You can give it me back, then.

Esme’s been back an hour. She isn’t even sure Joe saw her pass the sitting-room door, jammed back on the sofa and frowning under his headphones: since he hit sixteen he’s stopped looking anyone in the eye. The girls, a two-headed caterpillar in an old sleeping bag on the floor, wriggled back from in front of the TV, twisting to see her. Letty’s lolling head, the pirate gap between Mads’s front teeth as she grins up at her, knowing. She mouths something. Boyfriend. Esme turns her face away and stomps past.

Mum opening the kitchen door a crack, leaning back from the counter to see who it is. Frowning like she can’t place her, she gets like that a lot these days. What are you doing back? Esme doesn’t answer: she is taking the stairs three at a time, raging.

Outside the dark presses on the window, the squat power station stands on the horizon, the church out on the spit that looks no bigger than a shed from here, the village lights distant. Make all the noise you like out here, Dad’s always saying, no one can hear.

Hands over your ears and never tell.

On the bed she lies very still, willing it to go, to leave the house. Whatever it is.

Her hands were already over her ears, before it started. Why? The boom expands in her head and she can’t even remember now. All she knows is, she was standing at the window, now she’s on the bed.

She grapples with detail. She heard a car. There were voices below in the yard and, after, noises downstairs. Something scraping across the floor, a low voice muttering and she didn’t want to deal with it, with his questions; she flung herself down on the bed and the tears began to leak into the pillow. She would have put on her music but she didn’t want him to know she was back.

Now. A sound, a human sound, just barely: a wounded shout, a gasp, trying to climb to a scream that just stops, vanishes. And in the silence after it she hears breathing, heavy and ragged; up through three storeys and a closed door, it is as if the house is breathing. And Esme is off the bed, scrabbling for a place to hide.
BOOM.

On the marsh behind the house there are the remains of an old hut with a little rotted jetty. The tide is beginning to come up, gurgling in its channels, trickling across the mud that stretches inland, flooding the clumps of samphire and marsh grass and the buried timbers. Behind her the house stands crooked in the wind freshening off the estuary.

The lights of the police cars come slowly, bumping down the long track, an ambulance, the cab lit. It is three in the morning but the inky dark is already leaching to grey behind the church on the spit. One of the coldest June nights on record, and it takes them a while to find her. She doesn’t make a sound.

Review:

Source: Netgalley

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She’s a nobody; she has no-one and that’s how she wants it. 
But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.

This was an extremely atmospheric haunting tale, very addictive and beautifully written. A definite page turner for sure and one that will stay with you.

Alison used to be Esme – until a terrible tragedy found her with a name change and new location, she has worked hard to leave the past behind her and she keeps it hidden from those around her. When her boyfriend Paul persuades her to acccompany him to a wedding, she is reluctantly drawn back to her childhood home and finds herself haunted by memories of that terrible time and its aftermath. But memory is a strange and wonderful thing and as she reconnects with people from back then, she realises that the truth she has believed for so long may be a false one.

Intelligently plotted to keep you right in the story, this is a psychological mystery with a really likeable and sympathetic heroine at its heart – Alison/Esme is damaged yet braver than she thinks she is and you will be right there with her as she works her way through some difficult memories and tries to untangle the web of deceit, half truths and childhood innocence. The theme of child memory versus adult memory is extremely fascinating, as Alison puts a grown up spin on her flashbacks, especially relating to her parents and siblings. It is endlessy captivating and compelling throughout.

Surrounding Alison are various eclectic and intriguing supporting characters, some of which may be friend, some foe, all eminently enthralling and elegantly drawn. The relationship between Paul and Alison is definitely gripping and as it developed over the course of the novel I was jumping between wanting Alison to tell him everything and wanting her to tell him nothing. Some more peripheral characters, such as Kay and Aunt Polly I would have liked to know more about – of the rest they are all wonderfully puzzling – little conundrums that solve themselves over the course of the reading experience.

The sense of place is magnificently captured – the small community closing ranks around its own, the estuary at times both creepy and beautiful – and of course at the heart of it the little “Crooked House” of the title – the place where Esme morphed into Alison and this story has its soul. Brilliantly achieved.

Overall then a great read – one of the ones to look out for in January, a top notch tale that makes you very eager to see what the author comes up with next and also revisit her previous novels.

Find out more here: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/k/christobel-kent/

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crooked-House-Christobel-Kent/dp/0751556998/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429729854&sr=1-1&keywords=the+crooked+house+christobel+kent

 

Follow the tour!

 

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves….Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

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Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer

Source: Author review copy

FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is closing in on a bust of a major criminal organization in San Francisco when he witnesses an undercover member of his team killed right in front of him on a busy street, an accident Roarke can’t believe is coincidental. His suspicions put him on the trail of a mysterious young woman who appears to have been present at each scene of a years-long string of “accidents” and murders, and who may well be that most rare of killers: a female serial.

So Huntress Moon has gone straight into the running to be in my top 10 of the year – a completely involving and utterly brilliant crime novel that takes the “Serial Killer Thriller” and redefines it  – a heart stopping and emotional reading ride that will keep you up into the early hours.

The main hook into this story is the two main characters who are superbly well drawn and utterly engaging. Matthew Roarke is an FBI agent who has left the world of profiling behind. Now working on Major Crime, a series of events throws him back into the murky world of killers and their motivations. Enter our killer, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who has been completely off the radar until a chance encounter puts her in the path of Matthew. So begins a cat and mouse chase which will have you avidly turning pages, desperate to know who she is and what she is up to.

This is so beautifully constructed, showing us first one then the other of our two protagonists, slowly drip feeding information and background to both, all the while keeping the action going and often really tugging on the heartstrings. There is a great depth to the writing that pushes this above the level of a standard thriller, a real sense of authenticity and some truly heart stopping moments, all wrapped up in an intelligent storyline that just grabs you right by the throat.

Some really intriguing strands run through it as well, haunting themes and thoughts on the true nature of evil – it just gives the whole novel an added layer that will make you shiver – frightening and atmospheric throughout this was a truly addictive novel from first page to last.

Overall then an intense and vivid crime mystery with an interesting twist and basically just a darned good yarn. It’ll get you!

Find out more here: http://alexandrasokoloff.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AlexSokoloff

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Huntress-Moon-FBI-Thrillers-Book-ebook/dp/B00NKTTDH4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429944012&sr=1-1&keywords=huntress+moon

(At time of writing – 25th April – this is only £1.00 for Kindle. It will be the best £1.00 you have ever spent!)

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….The Liar by Nora Roberts.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Piatkus

Source: Publisher Review Copy

When her husband Richard dies in a freak accident, Shelby Pomeroy is devastated. But his death reveals a horrible truth – Richard was a liar and a cheat. Now Shelby is left with the consequences – huge, terrifying debts and mounting proof that her late husband betrayed her in every conceivable way.

Very much enjoyed this tale, I’m a bit of a closet fan of Nora Roberts – not my usual reading genre but I have dipped in and out of her novels and have always liked them, great storytelling and great characters, mostly with a very emotive edge.

The mystery element in “The Liar” is actually very low key in that I pretty much worked it out very early on which I did not mind at all, I was hooked into Shelby’s story – and the theme that you can never really know a person. When she loses her Husband in tragic circumstances, Shelby discovers he was not all he seemed. In fact he was not a nice man at all. Nora Roberts does a brilliant job of portraying the devastation upon top of devastation Shelby experiences before finally putting her on the path to happiness once more.

Admittedly it dipped a bit in the middle, but what you will get is an immensely well written family drama, the “romantic lead” Griffin was not your standard super good looking hero type and I really rather adored him.  Add to that a really terrifically drawn snapshot of small town life as Shelby returns to her roots and enough of a suspense element to keep you intrigued, overall a really great read. One for a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine when you fancy a bit of romance, a dash of intrigue and a darned good yarn.

Find out more here: http://www.noraroberts.com/

Follow the author on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/noraroberts

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-liar/nora-roberts/9780349403755

Happy Reading Folks!

What She Left with T R Richmond.

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So today you can get your hands on “What She Left” by T R Richmond which is a superbly compelling mystery and a very interesting premise. I was lucky enough to ask the author a few questions so here we go….

 

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story?
The original kernel of the idea came to me when I read a tweet by someone about what piece of music they’d like played at their funeral. It struck me that if they did go under a bus that day, how bizarre/intimate that would be to read. That got me thinking, what else could I learn about this person on Twitter? That eventually took me to the idea of reassembling, jigsaw puzzle-like, a suspense story from a young woman’s digital and paper trail. More than at any point in history, each of us leaves such a ‘footprint’ nowadays, after all. If you’re wondering what the song was, incidentally – it was Angels by Robbie Williams.

Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?
No. Some writers start with their characters and have them fully formed before they have a story to put them in, but for me the starting point was structure.
I aimed for a contemporary epistolary style because I wanted readers to feel as if they are following an unfolding real-life, real-time news story, allowing them to ‘be detective’ themselves.
Now What She Left is written I do, of course, have a clear picture in my mind of what the characters look like. As for what they sound like, I’ve been incredibly lucky that Emilia Clarke and Charles Dance are playing Alice Salmon and Professor Cooke in the audio version, so their voices are very resonant to me now.
I did have a weird experience when I was about half way into the book when I saw someone and thought: That’s Alice. She was sitting on the table next to me in a restaurant and I didn’t have a clue who she was, but the way she looked, the way she spoke, the way she held her glass, everything, just shouted “Alice” to me. After that evening, it was her who I saw when I thought of Alice. So thanks, whoever you are!

How much impact do you believe social media has and is it mostly a good or a bad thing?
It’s had a massive influence on the way we communicate and relate to each other. It’s also influencing the media hugely because nowadays everyone potentially has a ‘voice’. An individual with 10,000 Twitter followers is, arguably, in as powerful and responsible a position as a media outlet with the same number of followers.
Social media is like the internet generally – it can be a force for good and bad, depending on how it’s used.
I enjoy using it, although it can be a dangerous distraction for a writer – and the last thing a writer needs is an extra excuse not to write!

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

 
It’s a work in progress, so I might have to get back to you on this one…

One book you wish you had written?

 
Anything by Carol Shields. She was a wonderful – and sometimes underrated – writer.

Any writing habits?
I like early mornings. 5am to 8am is my most productive time.

7) Fictional character you would most like to meet in real life?
Holden Caulfield. I want to tell him to hang in there, that he will work it out eventually, and that life does get better…

 

Review:

When Alice Salmon died last year, the ripples were felt in the news, on the internet, and in the hearts of those who knew her best.

But the person who knows her most intimately isn’t family or a friend. Dr Jeremy Cook is an academic whose life has become about piecing together Alice’s existence in all its flawed and truthful reality.

For Cooke, faithfully recreating Alice’s life – through her diaries, emails and anything using her voice – is all-consuming. He does not know how deep his search will take him, or the shocking nature of what he will uncover . .

An absolutely brilliantly constructed story, compelling and actually really quite scary when you can see, all in one go, how much of our lives are just out there in the ether for people to see. The little things and the big, the people who know you and who do not but will speak as if they do, even the smallest of details that you would not think twice about. When Alice Salmon dies, Jeremy Cook starts putting together her life and death through a series of interviews, online information and personal knowledge. Shocking and insightful this is a book you will NOT want to miss!

There is some wonderful writing, wrapped up in an almost matter of fact documentary style story, with surprises and emotional upset along the way,, exploring some extremely intriguing themes beyond that of the digital footprint and I was entirely wrapped up in the story of Alice from start to finish. A truly great read.

Even though we only see Alice through “What She Left” her character comes to life – it truly gives you pause for thought on how much information might inadvertently be out there about you and is an intelligent look at the onslaught of social media and what that means for privacy. How easily we give ourselves away. The author has wrapped this up in a truly compelling mystery that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happened to Alice – and indeed to the man who is writing about her life.

A very intriguing tale indeed.

Very Highly Recommended.

 

You can follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/TRRichmondbooks

Purchase Information:

Special Signed Edition: https://www.goldsborobooks.com/product/left/

Standard edition: https://www.waterstones.com/book/what-she-left/t-r-richmond/9780718179366

Happy Reading Folks!

No Other Darkness with Sarah Hilary.

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So from tomorrow (23rd April 2015)  you can get your hands on the next fantastic Marnie Rome book – No Other Darkness. I’ve repeated my review below for you but firstly I tracked Sarah down and asked her a few questions about this new instalment. Here is what she had to tell me.

 

No Other Darkness is a very emotional case for Marnie AND for the reader. Tell us a little about the inspiration behind this particular instalment.

 

It began when I read a real life first person account by someone caught up in the sort of chaos and tragedy that the book is about. I couldn’t begin to imagine the horror that this person went through — and I knew I had to try and write about it, because it’d had such an impact on me.

I’m fascinated by families, especially dysfunctional ones (possibly because I grew up in a healthy, happy family) and I wanted to explore the idea of the legacy of trauma and loss. I’d explored a little of this territory in Someone Else’s Skin and it’s at the heart of Marnie’s ongoing story, so I doubt I’m done with it as a theme just yet.

 

That said, No Other Darkness is a very different book to Someone Else’s Skin, darker and sadder. I hope readers will like the way in which it takes Marnie and Noah into new territory.

 

Did you find it difficult to write? It was certainly difficult reading in places, especially as a parent.

 

Oh hugely difficult, yes. I’m a parent too, and I wept when I wrote the opening chapter, and many more chapters after that. There’s a certain kind of story about children that I could never write, but this one felt too important not to tell. I think writing should be difficult, should be emotional. And that’s the kind of book I like to read, too. One that challenges what I thought I knew, and which tugs at my heart strings and fires me up.

 

Can you tell us anything about what might be next for Marnie?

 

I’ve just finished the first draft of Tastes like Fear, which is Marnie’s next adventure. It starts with a car crash caused by a girl who disappears. As Marnie and Noah look for her and other missing girls, they start to realise that something is very wrong. The girls have all been found by the same man, and given shelter. Of a kind. It’s a very disturbing story, exactly the kind I love to read.

 

When it comes to your own reading, do you stick mostly with Crime or do you prefer something different?

 

Everything! I read a lot of non-fiction—psychology, social politics, books about the underside of London… And I love short stories, and novels of every description. The only thing I don’t read regularly is poetry, although I’ve just picked up a book of WWI poetry that I last read at school, so I’m rediscovering that.

 

Favourite fictional character (from any novel)?

 

Only one? So unfair! All right, I’m going to say Psmith from the PG Wodehouse stories. He’s funny and sweet and very, very smart.

 

Best book you have read this year so far?

 

My reading’s been limited due to getting book three done before No Other Darkness comes out. But I’ve really enjoyed spending time back with Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis in Jonathan Kellerman’s latest, Motive.

 

Thanks Sarah!

 

My Original Review:

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Publication Date: April 2015 from Headline.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Two young boys.Trapped underground in a bunker.Unable to understand why they are there.Desperate for someone to find them.Slowly realising that no-one will…

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…

So what seems like years ago now (I read it VERY early) I first encountered Marnie Rome in Sarah Hilary’s haunting debut “Someone Elses Skin”. It has felt like a long wait for the follow up novel but it was worth every minute.

In this instalment, a horrific discovery sets off a highly disturbing case for Marnie and co that hits closer to home than anyone is comfortable with – as things twist and turn their way towards a breathtaking conclusion, it becomes obvious that nothing is as it appears and the story is at turns completely compelling, extremely frightening and often very emotional.

This time I was utterly hooked from the first page. I read it in a day, there simply was no stopping once I started – the beauty of the writing, especially for Crime Fiction is beyond compare and it sucks you into the vortex of Marnie’s world, holding you there barely breathing until the case is solved and the story is done.

Once again the author takes on the mantle of another hugely emotional issue that should be talked about more but is not – in “Someone Elses Skin” that was domestic abuse, in this story, well, I obviously can’t tell you because that would spoil it, but suffice to say Marnie is facing the darkness head on and is determined to give these children a name and a voice – in order to do so she may have to face some harsh truths of her own.

I absolutely love how Sarah Hilary writes her characters with plenty of moral ambiguity – no “good guys” or “bad guys” but just people – living life day to day and sometimes heading into dangerous territory, doing the wrong thing for seemingly right reasons and vice versa, as far as psychological depth goes you won’t find better than this. Scary in its authenticity, with a heroine at its heart that will steal yours, this was truly an amazing and evocative read.

You would say there was nothing new in Crime Fiction these days, difficult to find something fresh – as I remarked on Facebook during the reading of this, I have no idea how Ms Hilary manages to write in this genre as if she was the first person who ever did, but that is what she does. Expressive and resonant, I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

Find out more here: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/sarah_hilary

Pre-Order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/sarah+hilary/no+other+darkness/10849545/

 

Available Now: Read First:

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http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/sarah+hilary/someone+else27s+skin/10146923/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…..Marked by Sue Tingey

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Publication Date: 7th May 2015 from Jo Fletcher Books.

Source: Publisher advanced review copy.

With no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.
But Kayla is not all that she appears.
And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.

This is one of those books where you get to the end and think to yourself “BOY that was fun” a beautifully written well flowing Urban fantasy/fantasy with a terrific story and some really really great characters.

The premise starts off fairly simply – Lucky is a true psychic which does isolate her but she has always had her constant companion, ghost Kayla – then one day Lucky, after a series of unfortunate events, finds out that Kayla is not quite what she has always believed.  So begins a rollicking adventure set both in our world and another – where Lucky goes on a journey of discovery about her own heritage and abilities.

The world building is very clever and again a whole lot of fun, the sights and sounds of the Underlands coming to glorious life – a gorgeously lively otherworld that will absolutely capture your imagination. Likewise the characters are stunning – realistic really for a fictional bunch, their interaction and dialogue is sharp, ironically humerous at times with a touch of angst that genuinely makes for some stand out moments.

Lucky is a terrific main protagonist to anchor the tale – she is confused a lot of the time (well you would be wouldnt you!), amusingly over awed, but very intelligent and often ingenious. Kayla was my favourite though, she is so well drawn and intriguing – add into the mix the obnoxiously dazzling Jinx, the enigmatic Jamie and oh boy bodyguards Mr Kerfuffle and Mr Shenanigans (ha ha brilliant) are simply the best duo I’ve seen in fantasy fiction for a while.

Suffice to say this was a marvel and I thoroughly enjoyed it – I’m sad to leave them all behind and cannot wait for the next instalment which promises to be a corker.

Highly Recommended

Find out more here:  http://www.suetingey.co.uk/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SueTingey

Pre-Order information:  https://www.waterstones.com/book/marked/sue-tingey/9781848668942

Happy Reading Folks!
 

Normal by Graeme Cameron – Blog Tour. Author Interview.

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Normal by Graeme Cameron is by far one of the best books I have read this year and I was lucky enough to ask the author a few questions for this blog tour – here is what he had to tell me.

 

Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this character?

 

A radio interview with a criminal profiler, back when I was young and thought I wanted to write pulp detective novels. It set me off reading everything I could find about serial killers, and I knew for years I wanted to write about one, but I was also aware I didn’t really want to write a whodunnit or a forensic procedural or a slasher story. In the end, Normal happened entirely by accident, as a result of an exercise in writing a gruesomely gleeful first-hand account of a terrible crime in an effort at eliminating ideas that couldn’t possibly work!

 

Do you   base your characters on people you have met in real life, and did you in this case (minus the killing aspect I assume!) ?

 

It’s hard not to pick up on people’s character traits and ways of presenting themselves and store them for future use, but there’s no one character that’s directly based on a real person. Although there might be one or two names in there that didn’t get changed to protect the innocent (no, I won’t tell you which ones)!

 

How much of the plot was planned as opposed to how it changed when the character came to life?

 

I hate to say it, but the book was a quarter done before there even was a plan! The only thing that really changed from that point on was the ending, which I originally conceived as a big overblown set-piece that didn’t fit the characters or the tone of the story as a whole and therefore fell by the wayside.

 

The relationship between Erica and our unnamed protagonist is one of the highlights. Was it fun to write?

 

Their relationship is the core of the story for me, and in a way yes, it was fun to write as the dynamic between the two of them changed and things became increasingly charged. But it also proved a valuable learning experience, because beneath the literal reading of that story are a number of truths about relationships in general that I’d never examined before, and that a good number of people who read Normal are living with every day. So in that respect, I’d say it was more illuminating than fun.

 

Do you have any writing habits /superstitions?

 

My biggest and worst writing habit is stopping to check my Twitter. 

 

One book you recommend to everyone.

 

Jar Baby by Hayley Webster.

 

3 People living or dead you would like to invite to a Dinner party?

 

Burt Reynolds, Bob Monkhouse, and my dad. Just to be absolutely sure.

Thank you Graeme!

Review

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Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mira (Harlequin UK)

Source: Netgalley

He is the man who lives on your street. The one you see in the supermarket and nod hello to. He’s also a serial killer. Killing is what he’s good at. And you’ll want him to get away with MURDER….

Right. So where to start. First of all for me, this was one of those books that grips you so utterly that you practically live in it. In fact I probably have lived in it for the last couple of days even whilst doing the usual life type things like picking up the kids from school…hang on, wait, where are my kids? I’ll be back….

Seriously though, this was a marvel of a twisted tale, so addictive that a warning sticker on the front of the book would not go amiss, most horrifically fascinating and with at least two characters I will never ever forget. And I don’t even know the name of one of them.

Told from the point of view of the killer, a man who has few if any boundaries and yet is strangely in tune with his own lack of normality, you never know his name, hardly find out anything about his background and have no clue what he looks like. Yet you will get to know him well and quite possibly hope that he gets away with murder.

When I started this story I was wondering how he had managed to evade capture for so long, wanting the police to nab him and giving due consideration to how they might do that. By halfway through I was totally committed to every evil act he was involved with and by the time I was heading towards the end I was sitting on the edge of the seat PRAYING that he would get away with all of it. Yes I’m aware that this is wrong on SO many levels but Graeme Cameron has created an anti-hero so beautifully drawn and cleverly constructed that I  simply could not help myself.

You can’t even really justify it by his choice of victims – I mean we all love Dexter because he may be a serial killer but the people he kills are hardly worth the effort it takes to feel sorry for them. Mr Cameron’s serial killer is almost the anti-Dexter, his victims are innocents for the most part, certainly not deserving of their fate. And yet…somehow through sheer force of  a personality that creeps up on you, you gloss over all that and become complicit in his life.

Then we have Erica. Who I’m not really going to talk about beyond saying that I adored her with a fiery passion that only comes once in a while, you’ll have to meet her for yourself. Added to that there are a plethora of other people crossing the path of our unnamed unknoweable everyman, all seen through his eyes they take on a life all of their own. I had a soft spot for one or two of them, would not have been sorry to see at least one served up to our killer’s appetites, but every one adds to the whole and makes it a simple yet brilliant twist on an often done genre.

I am aware that this  will probably divide opinion and not everyone will react the same way – certainly if this was on television you would more than likely see the odd “glorifying violence” attitude towards it that happened with “The Fall”. Whilst both The Fall and Dexter are useful tools to try and explain whether or not you may like this book, do not think for one moment that “Normal” is anything at all like them. It is entirely its own thing, unique and terribly intelligent whilst also being a stonking good read. For me this has immediately gone onto my list of favourite books ever, simply because of my ongoing reactions and emotions to the events within the pages. And that ending. Boy oh boy! Loved it. Start to finish.

Eminently readable, more delicious than chocolate, elegantly imagined and utterly utterly captivating –  I dare you to read this and hold the moral high ground.

Highly Recommended!

Find out more here: http://www.graeme-cameron.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/GNCameron

Order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/graeme+cameron/normal/11458741/

 

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Criminal Minds with Neil White – Interview.

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http://www.neilwhite.net/

So kicking off the new “Criminal Minds” feature which will run occasionally on the blog and involve many great Crime and Thriller authors, is Neil White – one of my favourite crime writers and recently I threw a few questions at him. Seriously, the man practically interviews himself. Here is what he had to say..

 

First of all, new book coming out soon – tell us a little bit about it and the inspiration behind the Parker brothers and for this particular instalment.

My next paperback, The Death Collector, is out in July, and it tells the story of a young man who protests his innocence from behind bars and a man who preys on married women so that he can control them, but won’t ever let them leave.

 

The inspiration for the Parker Brothers really goes back to the first five books I had published, because in those I had two lead characters, a crime reporter called Jack Garrett and a detective called Laura McGanity, and what I felt worked about them was the conflict. They were romantically-involved, but Jack the reporter wanted to know about Laura’s cases, and Laura wanted to keep Jack out of them. I liked the push and the pull between them.

 

It was a pure fluke. My initial intention was to write a book about a reporter, but as I wrote it, Laura McGanity came into it more, and I realised that I liked the way they rubbed against each other, if you can excuse the potential double entendre.

 

When I decided to write a new series, as a criminal lawyer of twenty years, I wanted to give it more of a legal background. Not courtroom dramas but thrillers with a legal theme.

 

I had avoided legal thrillers when I started writing because I found myself becoming more obsessed with accurate detail rather than the story, trying to explain the reality of working in the legal system. I found that my desire to explain the detail, so that a lawyer would recognise the scene, got in the way of the story, so I wrote from a reporter’s perspective instead. All the fun of the crime but less of the procedural hang-ups. Now I’m more experienced as a writer, I feel more equipped for spotting where detail is obscuring the plot.

 

Having decided to write thrillers with more of a legal background, I wanted to keep the conflict between the two main characters, and I hit upon the idea of having two brothers, with one a defence lawyer and one a police officer. That creates natural conflict, and I wanted to use that in the books.

 

The inspiration for the Death Collector was actually a song by The Jam, the b-side to Strange Town called The Butterfly Collector, with some lines I loved, like:

“And I don’t care about morals

‘Cause the world’s insane

And we’re all to blame anyway”

 

The song is actually about a well-known punk figure, not a musician, who tried to tag onto The Jam entourage when the Sex Pistols packed in, and is about how some people try to live off others, but I liked the notion of collecting people, albeit not in a murderous way. After many meandering thoughts, the plot ended up as being a man who wants to collect women by making them emotionally dependent on him. When they wanted to leave him, however, well, you can guess how that goes from the title.

 

My initial thought for the title was No One Leaves, which is a bigger give away, but my editor and I decided that it had a dual meaning, sort of, because of the visual image of leaves. But the working title No One Leaves is a hint as to the plot.

 

 

In the real world you work as a lawyer- something I’ve always wanted to know, those dramatic type scenes you see on the television and in films (I won’t ask you about Broadchurch!) – is it ever like that or mostly calm and collected?

The honest answer is that it can occasionally be very dramatic, but often routine. It is not unrealistic to have a dramatic legal thriller, because of course those would be the stories worth telling. The argument for a character like Rumpole would be that his cases aren’t always dramatic but he only ever tells you about the dramatic ones.

 

Some cases can become dramatic because they take an unusual turn, or things happen behind the scenes that changes things. There can be problems getting some cases to court because of the nature of the defendants, with people scared to give evidence, or sometimes the stakes can be high.

 

I can remember doing once an overnight remand court in Blackburn, where a group of students were trouped into court to watch. They stayed there for around an hour or so. The hour preceding their arrival had been dull, mainly low level crimes and procedural issues. They arrived and suddenly the good cases came up. I can’t remember what they were now, but I do recall there was a long bail fight over something serious, and there might even have been a murder or something (which in the Magistrates Court is a very quick procedural hearing to send to the Crown Court with no bail hearing, but the court is usually packed with relatives and emotion). Once they left, we got back to the humdrum. It was a pure fluke, but they must have thought I had the most exciting job in the world!

 

Despite being involved in criminal law, I’ve never lost my enjoyment of it. I’m still as horrified and amazed by the things people do, as well as being occasionally amused by their sheer stupidity.

 

I do have a thing about accuracy though. I don’t have a problem if something “could” happen like how it’s portrayed, even if it probably wouldn’t. All too often, however, things are shown that are legal impossibilities, or just plain wrong. Why? Because it’s good drama? Legal proceedings have the capacity to be dramatic and there is no need to add elements to them to make them more so; just find a different way of telling the story.

 

You have two careers. Do you see yourself as a lawyer with a sideline, or a writer with a dayjob?

It does feel strange sometimes. My lawyer job is down to just three days a week now, and certainly writing provides the major part of my income and consumes the most part of my time. Despite this, if we met at a party and you asked me what I did, I would probably say I’m a lawyer.

The reason for that, I suppose, is that I went to college to be a lawyer and trained to be a lawyer. Writing was just some pipedream I had, some dream that I’d be able to pull it off, and to describe it as a job demeans it, because it is something that I love doing. I enjoy being a lawyer, but it is very much a job, about paying the bills, something that I walk away from at five o’clock and that I won’t think about when I retire. Writing, however, is something I do because I want to, and want to carry on doing.

So yes, I’m a lawyer by profession, but I have a side to my life that provides me with immense satisfaction that isn’t just about paying the bills.

 

When it comes to your own reading, do you stick mostly with Crime or do you prefer something different?

 

I do tend to stick to crime, although I enjoy true crime as well. I’ll sometimes read a travel book, or a biography, but my default is crime fiction.

 

I’m a bit of a lazy reader. I read in the same way I watch films.

 

If I watch a film, I like the lights off, headphones on, and for the film to draw me into the story. I’m the same with books. I don’t want to have to work at it, to plough through some heavy literary tome. No, just give me a book that just turns the pages on its own, where I look up and a few hours have gone by and I’m on page 200.

 

Favourite fictional character (from any novel)?

There are so many to choose from, but I’m going to go with Lisbeth Salander, because what I recall from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is that I wanted more of the girl with the dragon tattoo, which is a good sign that I’ve engaged with the character. Also, Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, because he’s the lawyer I wish I was.

 

On the whole, I don’t tend to follow characters. I’ll buy books by authors I like or because I like the sound of the book. I wouldn’t, for example, be counting the days to the next Rebus book, but I would buy one if I saw one because I like Ian Rankin, if that makes any sense. Similarly, I would buy a James Lee Burke regardless of whether or not it was a Dave Robicheux book. For me, it’s about enjoying the author’s ability to tell a story rather than following a particular character.

 

Best book you have read this year so far?

Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m going to say The Girl on the Train, because I thought it lived up to the hype.

 

 

Thanks Neil. The Domino Killer – the latest Parker Brothers instalment is out later this year:

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When a series of shocking and seemingly random murders shocks Manchester, criminal lawyer Joe Parker and his police detective brother, Sam, must work together to solve the case. And before they know it, they’re in way over their heads…

The first book in the series is available now:

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Die-Neil-White/dp/0751549460/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429161651&sr=1-3

Find out more here:

http://www.neilwhite.net/

Follow Neil on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/neilwhite1965

Neil will be back on the blog alongside Nick Quantrill for another Criminal Minds feature soon – don’t miss that one!

Happy Reading Folks!