Murder in Malmo – Blog Tour. Review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from McNidder and Grace

Source: Review Copy

A gunman is loose in Malmö and he’s targeting immigrants. The charismatic head of an advertising agency is found dead in his shower. Inspector Anita Sundström wants to be involved in the murder investigations, but she is being sidelined by her antagonistic boss. She is assigned to find a stolen painting by a once-fashionable artist, as well as being lumbered with a new trainee assistant. She also has to do to restore her professional reputation after a deadly mix-up in a previous high-profile case. Then another prominent Malmö businessman is found murdered and Sundström finds herself back in the action and facing new dangers in the second Anita Sundström Malmö mystery.

Highly intriguing second read in this series  – I very much enjoyed the first one and this follows on perfectly, solidifying the main protagonist Anita and giving us another compelling and eminently readable mystery.

There are many things going on here and Torquil Macleod juggles all the layers perfectly, a beautifully flowing read that grips from the outset and never loses focus.

I’m growing very fond of Anita, her personality shines and she has a very different kind of back story that is fascinating and gives the story a great edge. Moving on from Meet me in Malmo and continuing the thread started there, I am very keen to see where she goes next.

On the mystery side a really well constructed complex plot with some very current themes and issues – whilst this is set in Sweden it is easy to draw parallels with the UK and some of the attitudes and outlooks you see here. As for the setting, it  comes to life beautifully within the narrative and the sense of place is evocative and fascinating.

Overall another great novel from Torquil Macleod – I’m looking forward to continuing Anita’s journey with the next in the series very soon.

Recommended.

Join the conversation on Twitter  #MurderInMalmo

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BFEOEP2/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Find out more on Malmo – Follow the tour!

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

Wye Review. And a little thank you from me

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Publication Date: Available Now

Source: Review copy. And purchased copy. I read it twice too.

Wye is losing hope. Sixteen and travelling through a rich wilderness with three other teenagers, she should be having the time of her life. And she might be if it weren’t for the thing hunting her; the tireless creature desperate to tear her and her friends limb from limb.
Through the remembered lessons of her favourite writers, Wye has been trying to make sense of the cruel world she’s found herself inhabiting. But it’s not working. Wherever she turns there are monsters and memories, both of them poised to devour her if she can’t find a way to live with herself. What follows is Wye’s last chance at salvation, what follows is her journal.

I loved Wye. Expanding on an idea first seen in short story “X” we meet Wye – trying to survive in a world gone mad, along with her few companions she wanders the countryside, learning life lessons in looking out for herself and trying to make sense of things. With the help of some book memories and real memories she starts to come to terms with her situation…but it will be a difficult path.

I’m quite fond of the other novels Jack has written, but I have to say with Wye he has really come into his own, the particular style that marks all his stories is there but with an added something – Wye herself is a beautifully imagined and constructed character who just draws you right into the narrative.

Descriptively speaking the sense of place is amazing – the countryside our gang are travelling through comes to life as you go and there are dark undertones both to the tale itself and the setting that make it a very enthralling and addictive read.

Wye’s voice as a character is emotive and engaging, pulling you into her world and making you see her ups and downs, her pain and her hopes for redemption. Add to that some lovely little twists and turns and what you have is a character piece with added oomph.

Very much recommended.

Buy the book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wye-Jack-Croxall-ebook/dp/B00YSJORNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439011901&sr=8-1&keywords=Wye

 

A Little thank you from me.

While I’m on Jack’s blog tour I thought I’d take the opportunity to say thanks Jack! A few years ago when I was going through a rather rotten time and the books were saving me, I met both Jack and another lovely author who you may know, Sharon Sant, via Twitter. Both of them were extraordinarily encouraging about the possiblity of the blog – in fact both Jack and Sharon at separate times were the ones who suggested to me that perhaps I SHOULD set up a book review site.  They were endlessly patient with all my questions, helped me with several technical issues, gave an awful lot of hints and tips about how to handle reviewing material, in fact without them Liz Loves Books would not exist today. If I try and think about my life now without it, I can’t even imagine such a thing, so whilst over time they are not the only ones who have been so wonderfully supportive (the community as a whole is truly amazing) they were the first and the two people who have been there from the start and continue to be there now. So thank you Jack! (And Sharon)

Book folk are the best folk.

Follow Jack on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackCroxall

Visit the website: http://jackcroxall.co.uk/

Read the original short story X and some others:

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Six-Short-Stories-Jack-Croxall-ebook/dp/B00PHM2YUA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Also Available

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

Wye by Jack Croxall. Guest Post.

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So kicking off the Wye blog tour (and I’ll be back tomorrow with a review and a little piece of my own before handing off to others on Monday) I’m pleased to welcome Jack to the blog to tell us the answer to the one easy question I asked. REALLY easy. Favourite fictional character.

My Favourite Literary Character – Jack Croxall

I tried so hard not make this post about Lyra Silvertounge. After all, I’ve written plenty of blogs and features about His Dark Materials already – people are probably sick to death of me blabbering on about it! But, alas, unless I pretend otherwise, Lyra is my top pick, probably always will be!

So, why do I love Lyra so much? Well, there are lots of reasons! Firstly, I love how we find Lyra at the start of The Northern Lights. She’s essentially running free around Oxford, half-feral and getting into all sorts of trouble on a daily basis. The scholars of Jordan College are doing their best to educate her, but she’s proving impossible to contain. When I first read the book I was a few years into secondary school, and I was so desperate to have a life like Lyra’s; free from all the rules and exams and routines and monotony of being a teenager in the noughties.

Then there is Lyra’s dæmon, Pantalaimon. If you haven’t read His Dark Materials (what are you playing at?!) then I should probably just explain that every person in Lyra’s universe has a dæmon, a kind of animal embodiment of their soul. A person’s dæmon accompanies its human everywhere and, after initially being able to transform into any animal it chooses, it ‘settles’ into a specific animal sometime around adolescence. Lyra’s Pan is a shy sort, always terrified of what his human is about to do. They’re a great double act, so often funny, but never too far from a touching moment either.

The settling thing is genius. The animal a person’s dæmon settles into says something about that person; it represents a certain aspect of their personality. That means it’s great fun to think about what your own dæmon would be, or try to guess other people’s. Unsurprisingly I’ve put a lot of thought into this and I’ve decided that my dæmon would be a heron because I’m patient, persistent, and I love water. I have a weirdly long neck too!

Obviously Lyra doesn’t remain the same throughout the three novels which make up the series. She goes on a huge journey, both geographical and personal, and watching her develop as a person, experience fantasy versions of the things we all experience was something that enthralled me. It still does now.

Thanks Jack!

Find out more here: http://jackcroxall.co.uk/

Follow Jack on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JackCroxall

About the book:

Wye Cover Small

Wye is losing hope. Sixteen and travelling through a rich wilderness with three other teenagers, she should be having the time of her life. And she might be if it weren’t for the thing hunting her; the tireless creature desperate to tear her and her friends limb from limb.

Through the remembered lessons of her favourite writers, Wye has been trying to make sense of the cruel world she’s found herself inhabiting. But it’s not working. Wherever she turns there are monsters and memories, both of them poised to devour her if she can’t find a way to live with herself. What follows is Wye’s last chance at salvation, what follows is her journal.

Buy the book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wye-Jack-Croxall-ebook/dp/B00YSJORNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439011901&sr=8-1&keywords=Wye

Join me again tomorrow to find out Why I loved Wye.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Jump by Doug Johnstone – Review/Blog Tour

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Review copy

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, IF YOU HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE

Struggling to come to terms with the suicide of her teenage son, Ellie lives in the shadows of the Forth Road Bridge, lingering on its footpaths and swimming in the waters below. One day she talks down another suicidal teenager, Sam, and sees for herself a shot at redemption, the chance to atone for her son’s death.

But even with the best intentions, she can’t foresee the situation she’s falling headlong into – a troubled family, with some very dark secrets of their own.

This is my first novel from this author, I read it in one big gulp it was that good and so obviously it won’t be my last.

The Jump is a heady blend of family drama, emotional trauma and spot on thrill a minute crime writing that is completely gripping from the very first few pages. Starting at a point of grief, a mother’s loss, then giving that mother a reason for being, we meet Ellie as she saves another teenager from her son’s fate – but getting involved with Sam’s family leads her down a dark path.

There are many twists and turns along the way, Doug Johnstone managing to walk the line between emotive and exciting really brilliantly – there are some deep seated issues eating at the heart of the family dynamics –  and as things progress you will be utterly enthralled, likely to bite your nails if you are prone to that sort of thing and madly turning the pages to see how things resolve.

It would be difficult to say much else on plot without completely spoiling it – so I won’t. The writing is clever, the narrative style is addictive and the character building is superb – as well as that the setting is vivid and the whole thing has a completely authentic feel to it even in the occasional unlikely moments. I loved it.

Highly Recommended for fans of all things Crime.

Find out more here: https://dougjohnstone.wordpress.com/

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0571321577/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Find out more on the rest of the tour:

Jump_blog

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The New Woman by Charity Norman. Author Interview.

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Today I’m VERY happy to welcome Charity Norman to the blog to talk about her emotionally resonant and wonderful novel “The New Woman”. I loved this book and was very pleased to be able to delve deeper..

 

What inspired you originally to write a novel with Gender Dysphoria as a theme?

While volunteering for a telephone helpline rather like the Samaritans, I often spoke to callers who were struggling with their gender. They’d faced rejection and loneliness, sometimes extreme violence. I was struck by how devastating, and how common, this is, and began to research because I wanted to understand better. It made me think about what makes us who we are. At the same time I became good friends with another telephone listener, a transgender woman who transitioned later in life, and she gave me wonderful insights into how it feels to be trapped in the wrong body. That was when I decided to write this book.

How much research was involved to get the emotional aspects of it right when it came to writing the characters – Luke of course, but also those in his life who also had to come to terms with things.

SO much research! I spoke to trans people and their families, and of course I kept checking in with my friend. I read every book I could find on the subject, every article, every blog, and I visited forums. There are some wonderful trans bloggers out there. But also there were times when I just had to use my imagination and think about how I would feel. I used to baffle dinner guests by suddenly asking them what conversations they’d have if their husband or wife came out as transgender. It didn’t always go down too well!

Your novels always have a deep seated real world theme at their core, which inevitably puts your characters through the wringer. Do you get very emotionally involved during the writing? I’m thinking of Luke here but also of Martha from “After the Fall” , Joseph from “The Son in Law” – all incredibly realistic.

Ask my family – I think they’ll tell you I am a nightmare to live with when a book is at its darkest. I do get involved. I try to listen to my characters as though they were real people. I try to walk in their shoes. I try to feel exactly what they’re feeling. It can be pretty rough. It’s a really good idea for me to go away for a few days sometimes, so that I don’t have to keep surfacing and finding people’s school socks, or having conversations about whether the car needs a new head gasket.

I also love how there is always an element of redemption in your stories – yes things are difficult and traumatic but ultimately there are rewarding elements – is this something you decide before writing or is it just where the stories end up taking you?

Hmm, good question. I’ve never thought about that consciously before. The last three books were written after I’d submitted a synopsis, so the basic story was planned although the details were not. In fact, After the Fall evolved a different ending from the one I had planned and it was a more hopeful one. I think I have a streak of optimism about life. I like the metaphor about a Persian rug: look at the back, and it’s all tangled threads and knots. Turn it over, and there is a glorious pattern. I tend to try and turn the rug over in my stories.

Who were your writing heroes growing up and what kind of novels do you tend to enjoy these days?

The Bronte sisters, PG Wodehouse, Daphne Du Maurier, Richard Adams, Dick Francis, Jane Austen, Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael) and others. Now? Well, I’m a sadly slow reader; I just can’t skim over other writers’ hard work. I read a lot of non-fiction and Bill Bryson is a hero of mine. In fiction, I don’t really stick to one genre. I’ll try anything that’s well written especially if I can learn something new from it. I’ve got a massive pile by my bed but it grows faster than I can read it! Right now I’m reading a fascinating book – The Bees, by Laline Paull. Sometimes I still curl up with a Jeeves and Wooster or a Brother Cadfael, because they make me feel happy.

Thank you!

You are very, very welcome. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog.

Review:

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Publication Date: Available Now from Allen and Unwin

Source: Review Copy

Luke Livingstone is a lucky man. He’s a respected solicitor, a father and grandfather, a pillar of the community. He has a loving wife and an idyllic home in the Oxfordshire countryside. Yet Luke is struggling with an unbearable secret, and it’s threatening to destroy him. All his life, Luke has hidden the truth about himself and his identity. It’s a truth so fundamental that it will shatter his family, rock his community and leave him outcast. But Luke has nowhere left to run, and to continue living, he must become the person – the woman – he knows himself to be, whatever the cost.

The New Woman is perhaps Charity Norman’s best book to date for sheer emotional impact and a beautifully written life story – some really wonderful characters and set in my part of the world which made it even better from my point of view.

Luke has been living a lie for all of his adult life. When we meet him at the beginning of the novel, he is seriously considering ending it all – then a chance encounter on a train makes him rethink that choice but in order to carry on living he must necessarily cause pain to those he loves…

I really felt this one – there is a beauty in the narrative that just brings the characters to vivid life, a hidden turmoil that finally surfaces changing everyone it touches in different ways. Taking as it’s theme a subject I will be honest and say I know little to nothing about, the story has huge impact and a learning curve for all concerned – not just the characters but the reader as well.

The strength of this novel lies in the interactions of the dramatic players – from the moment Luke says the words that will change everyone’s life to the point of resolution you will be enthralled, often slightly weepy (that might possibly just be me) and rooting desperately for a happy outcome for all.

An absolute must read.

You can follow Charity on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/CharityNorman1

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Woman-Charity-Norman/dp/1743318758/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438843798&sr=1-1&keywords=the+new+woman+charity+norman

Find out more: Follow the Tour.

New Woman_Charity Norman Blog Tour (1)

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Bloody Scotland blog tour – Author Interview: Helen Giltrow.

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As part of the Bloody Scotland blog tour I was very happy to get to ask Helen Giltrow a few questions about writing, reading and find out a little bit more about what she will be doing at this year’s festival.

 

First of all, tell us a little about what inspired you to start writing in the first place. ?

I started writing aged five or six, producing little books. I’ve no idea why. By my teens I’d progressed to full-length novels. Writing’s just something I’ve always done.

Is there one childhood read that you always remember?

Hah. Has to be ‘Black Beauty’. I remember my dad reading it to me and my twin sister – he had one of us on each knee so we must have been quite small. All three of us were in tears.

When reading now, what types of novels appeal to you most?

Good writing always grabs me. I like a smartly executed, clever crime novel, but books that feel controlled or calculated leave me cold. I want to feel that underneath it all – under any amount of skilful characterisation, swiss-watch plot construction and telling turns of phrase – the author gives a damn about his or her subject matter. That this isn’t just puzzle-solving. I like books that have an anger running through them, whether it’s explicitly expressed or not. And a desire to take a risk – to push beyond the comfort zones of the subgenres. I’d rather read a book that courts audacious failure. So many of the books I love are flawed … and sometimes the flaw, the thing that throws a book out of whack, is also the element that keeps drawing you back to it, and has you turning it over in your head for days after you’ve read it.

Where did the idea specifically for “The Distance” start forming for you. ?

When I started writing, I thought my lead was going to be a hitman, tasked with breaking into a prison to kill an inmate in a revenge hit. But in an early chapter of an early draft, he had to pay a visit to a woman who ran a successful business selling information to criminals. She was very smart, and self-possessed, and focused. She was also hiding something, and I couldn’t work out what it was. I kept coming back to her. Still, it took me months to realise that she had to be my lead.

I tend to start with characters, rather than with an idea I want to explore. The idea comes later. Even the experimental prison within the book developed out of my male lead’s psychology: I wanted to find an environment that would challenge him, and force him to define his own moral limits. The concrete details grew from there.

The great thing with writing about criminals is that it instantly brings you nose-to-nose with issues of morality. We tend to assume that even the most flawed of cops will end up on the side of the angels. With criminals, we can’t.

One of the great things about The Distance is that it is something a little bit different to standard thrillers – how hard is it in the burgeoning market of Crime Fiction to bring something unique. ?

The issue of uniqueness is an interesting one. I think most writers love the subgenres we’re working in. Their conventions provide our anchor points; they form the walls we bounce our ideas off. But at the same time we want to surprise our readers and ourselves. Go somewhere new. At very least, take a conventional scenario – one we may have read a dozen times before – and spin it on its axis.

Yet self-conscious, gimmicky reinvention just won’t cut the mustard. It’s got to be more than that.

And some readers want ‘the standard item’. I’m sure publicists would tell you it’s easier to sell a crime novel if it fits into a neat subgenre package, complete with soundbite – which The Distance doesn’t. Though I did like one reviewer’s TV-literate subgenre-crossing tagline, ‘It’s Spooks meets Prison Break.’

You’re appearing at Bloody Scotland this year. What can people expect if they attend the festival?

This will be my first Bloody Scotland but it’s a big event in the crime calendar, with a reputation to match. I know crime writers who’ve rearranged their diaries to be there. And the line-up this year is phenomenal.

Events like Bloody Scotland tick so many boxes. You get to see, hear, even meet your idols. You get to discover writers you might otherwise have missed completely. And you get to hang out in the bar with like-minded souls. There will be impassioned debate. There will be jokes. At least three things will happen (in a panel or in a bar) that will pass into crime festival legend. You will talk too much and return home with more books than you can safely carry, no voice, and a significant sleep deficit. You will be buzzing and you will immediately want to rebook for next year.

What will you be doing at Bloody Scotland?

I’ll be on a panel with Mel (MJ) McGrath and Louise Millar – the founders of the Killer Women collective, of which I’m a member. We’ll be talking about women, violence, crime and fiction, and tackling the question, ‘Do men and women write and read crime differently?’

Killer Women started as a salon – or to put it another way, a chance to get together with other crime writers, usually over a pizza and a glass of wine, to talk about the genre. The idea of doing events together grew from that. There are currently 16 of us, writing across a range of subgenres and all with different areas of expertise and interest, so put us together and we tend to strike sparks off each other. I’m really looking forward to it.

Over the coming months we’re also organizing giveaways and workshops – anyone who’s interested can find us at http://www.killerwomen.org.

Finally, can you tell us a little about your next novel?

It will be the sequel to The Distance. That’s all I can say. Right now everything else is under wraps!

Thanks Helen!

Helen Giltrow and the Killer Women will be at Bloody Scotland on Saturday 12 September – please see here for more details: https://www.bloodyscotland.com/event/killer-women-deadlier-than-the-male/

About The Distance:

They don’t call her Karla anymore. She’s Charlotte Alton: she doesn’t trade in secrets, she doesn’t erase dark pasts, and she doesn’t break hit-men into prison.

Except that is exactly what she’s been asked to do.

The job is impossible: get the assassin into an experimental new prison so that he can take out a target who isn’t officially there.

It’s a suicide mission, and quite probably a set-up.

So why can’t she say no?

Buy the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Distance-Charlotte-Alton-1/dp/1409127346/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438727648&sr=1-1&keywords=9781409127345

To find out more about the event’s and authors you don’t want to miss at this year’s festival follow the tour:

 

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Happy Reading Folks!

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary- Review and Giveaway

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To celebrate the release of “No Other Darkness” in paperback I have one copy to giveaway (Uk Only) – The second outing for DI Marnie Rome this is a corker of a read, if rather emotional. The paperback cover is fabulous too, a great addition to any shelf. So if you fancy one of your own simply comment on this post or tweet me @Lizzy11268 and wave a bit and at the end of the day one winner will be picked at random.

Need more? Here is my original review.

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1472207734/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Also Available: The first Marnie Rome novel. Winner of the Theakston’s 2015 Crime Novel of the Year, and a 2014 Richard and Judy Book Club pick.

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Called to a woman’s refuge to take a routine witness statement, DI Marnie Rome instead walks in on an attempted murder.
Trying to uncover the truth from layers of secrets, Marnie finds herself confronting her own demons.
Because she, of all people, knows that it can be those closest to us we should fear the most . . .

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Someone-Elses-Skin-Marnie-Rome/dp/1472207696/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_y

 

Follow the #NoOtherDarkness Tour:

Blog Tour

Happy Reading Folks!

The Milliner’s Secret blog tour – Extract and Giveaway.

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Today I am very happy to bring you an extract from The Milliner’s Secret by Natalie Meg Evans as part of the official blog tour – if you think you might fancy reading this I have one copy of the novel to giveaway (UK Only) – simply comment on this post or tweet me @Lizzy11268 telling me why you would love to read it. One winner will be randomly selected at 5pm today (29th July)

London,1937. A talented young woman travels to Paris with a stranger. The promise of an exciting career as a milliner beckons, but she is about to fall in love with the enemy…

Londoner Cora Masson has reinvented herself as Coralie de Lirac, fabricating an aristocratic background to launch herself as a fashionable milliner. When the Nazis invade, the influence of a high-ranking lover, Dietrich, saves her business. But while Coralie retains her position as designer to a style-hungry elite, Paris is approaching its darkest hour.

Faced with the cruel reality of war and love, Coralie must make a difficult choice—protect herself or find the courage to fight for her friends, her freedom and everything she believes in.

Read on for an extract….

Paris: Saturday, 13 July 1940

They would have been a spectacular sight in any city at any time. Bare shoulders, impish hats and upswept hair. One, a blonde in her mid-thirties, crossed the dance floor on a zephyr of sex appeal. A younger blonde walked as if she suspected the room was infested with snakes. The third, a redhead, followed like a sleepwalker.

A band pumped out a hot jazz version of ‘La Marseillaise’ – so loud, bottles on the bar shimmered. ‘They know it’s illegal to play that, don’t they?’ The younger blonde, whose name was Coralie de Lirac, glanced uneasily at the stage. ‘Nobody’s dancing.’

‘It’s too damn early,’ said the older one. ‘I can’t get used to being in a nightclub at teatime.’

A month before, hours after they had marched into Paris, the Germans had moved the clocks to Berlin time and imposed a curfew that effectively sealed people into their homes. Then, realising Paris would grind to a halt, they’d relaxed the curfew to midnight. If you stayed later, you were stuck wherever you happened to be until five the next morning. But, then, Coralie reminded herself, the Nazis hadn’t invaded France for the convenience of its inhabitants. ‘Let’s get a table,’ she said. ‘Don’t make eye contact with anything male under ninety. Una? Keep your mind on the job.’

‘Of course. Though we may have to kiss a toad or two before we find what we’re looking for. Oh, don’t take fright, Tilly dear.’ Una McBride threw an arm round their redheaded companion, who had stopped dead at the word ‘toad’. ‘Coralie and I will take care of such niceties. Or “un-pleasantries”, which will be closer to the truth.’ Una’s drawl marked her out as American.

Coralie indicated a table. ‘Over there. Come on, or we’ll be mistaken for the floor show.’ Before they got much further, though, the club’s proprietor spotted them and ushered them to a table of his choosing, closer to the music and the bar. A young man with a boxer’s physique, he wore a white tuxedo and a rose in his buttonhole. ‘Mesdames, enchanted. Welcome to the Rose Noire.’ He kissed their hands in turn, lingering over Coralie’s. ‘Mademoiselle de Lirac, you have been away too long.’

‘I’m flattered you noticed.’ As she sat down in the chair he pulled out for her, Coralie undid and refastened her bracelet, to avoid meeting his smile. When she’d first started coming here in the summer of ’37, Serge Martel had been a glamorous figure, oozing charm, taking care of customers’ every whim. She’d been poleaxed when she’d heard he’d later been arrested for violently assaulting one of his female singers and sent to prison for seven years. Eighteen months he’d served. Nobody knew how he’d got out so early – who had greased the prison doors – but there was something new and unnerving in his manner. Coralie tried to catch Una’s eye, but her friend was busy sizing up the clientele.

Martel, meanwhile, clicked his fingers at an elderly waiter shuffling towards them with a tray of champagne. ‘Quickly, quickly, man. We have thirsty ladies here.’

The waiter called back, ‘If I was younger and faster, Monsieur, I’d be in the army!’ but he hurried forward nonetheless.

Félix Peyron poured vintage Lanson into three glasses, and Coralie noticed how his hands shook. An institution on boulevard de Clichy, he’d aged as though the shock of defeat and invasion had knocked the life out of him. It looked as if he’d taken to rubbing talcum powder into his cuffs to whiten them, but tonight his collar looked distinctly yellow next to Martel’s tuxedo. How did Martel keep his tux so white, she wondered? It was easier to get to Heaven than to find washing soda these days, and laundries gave priority to German linen. Paris had not been bombed, like Warsaw or Rotterdam, but everything was running low: food, fuel . . . hope. For ordinary citizens, anyway. Counting the field-grey uniforms in the club, the caps with their silver eagles laid down on the best tables, Coralie formed her own conclusions about Serge Martel’s recent good fortune.

 

 

Having placed the bottle in its ice bucket, Félix stepped back and bowed. ‘You are welcome at the Rose Noire, Mesdames, as beauty is always welcome.’

‘Why, Félix, you wicked seducer.’ Una picked up her glass. ‘We’ll have to keep an eye on you, I can see that.’

Here we go, Coralie thought. If it wore trousers, Una fluttered her eyelashes at it, though tonight her attention was really focused on the stage. Specifically on the Romany violinist, whose sweaty curls obscured half his face and whose shirt hung off one shoulder.

‘The Vagabonds are on good form tonight.’ Coralie spoke lightly, watching Una’s reaction.

‘Aren’t they just? But I wish they’d stick to jazz standards. Changing the time signature of “La Marseillaise” doesn’t fool anyone.’ Una blew tumbleweed kisses towards the stage, and the violinist broke off long enough to return one. Gentle applause spread around the room. People were looking their way, women in particular. Coralie saw one pull a silk flower from her evening bag and pin it into her hair, as if she felt underdressed in comparison.

Félix, lighting their table candle, chuckled. ‘People see a love affair flowering and it makes them happy, though we are at war.’

‘No, sir, it’s our hats that are stealing the show.’ Una tapped the miniature Gainsborough confection pinned over her ear, ruffling its cascade of flowers and dyed feathers. She said to Coralie, ‘I promised you these bijou babies would be a sensation.’

‘I said they would be. I wish you’d stop pinching my ideas.’

‘Oops.’ Una took an indulgent gulp of champagne. ‘I forget I’m only the muse and not the milliner. By next week, they’ll be the rage. There’ll be a queue from your shop to the river.’

Coralie waited for Félix to leave. ‘Assuming we’re still here next week. Tilly?’ Their friend was staring into her glass as if she suspected prussic acid among the bubbles. ‘Drink it or put it down. People will think you’ve got something to be scared of.’

‘Have I not?’ came the whisper.

‘Well . . . try not to show it.’ Then Coralie said, out of the side of her mouth, ‘I don’t think she can do this, Una.’

‘What choice does she have? We can’t risk taking her home because all our houses will be under surveillance. Her only chance is “over the line into the free zone and keep moving”. And before you talk of putting her on a train to the border, imagine her negotiating timetables, not to mention police checks.’

Una was right. Ottilia had to escape Paris and a car ride was her only hope. They now had to acquire by charm what they couldn’t get by queuing at a police station – her name on a roadtravel permit. An Ausweis, to give it its official, German, title.

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

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1848669119/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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Cold Moon Blog Tour – The Huntress/FBI Thrillers Alexandra Sokoloff

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As part of the Cold Moon Blog Tour I am really happy to review all 3 books in the series so far – a series that I would HIGHLY recommend – a great depth of plot and character makes them must reads for any crime fiction fan.

Book One

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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!

Book Two

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Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.
The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.

This series has, so far, been totally brilliant. Huntress Moon, pitch perfect part one, set us up for Blood Moon which is simply superb – a rollicking roller coaster ride of a novel with some hugely compelling characters and a story arc that will leave you breathless.

Redefining the serial killer thriller is no easy task believe me, I’ve seen it all over the years, but with the Huntress/FBI Thrillers Alexandra Sokoloff has done just that – creating in Cara Lindstrom a killer like no other – she is intensely fascinating, completely believable and absolutely sympathetic.

Her “relationship” with Roarke, our man at the FBI is gorgeously complex, beautifully captivating and a huge strength of the series – it draws you in, makes you pause for thought and is so riveting that you will barely glance up from the page.

Add to that a fast paced and highly intriguing mystery element in the cases surrounding these two and you really do have a unique addition to the crime genre, one that I would highly recommend.

Book Three

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The hunt for mass murderer Cara Lindstrom is over. FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke has been working for this moment: the capture of a killer who savagely hunts the worst of humanity. But Roarke remains traumatized by his own near-death at the hands of the serial killer who slaughtered Cara’s family…and haunted by the enigmatic woman who saved his life.

Words really can’t express how much I’m enjoying this series – seriously addictive, most terrific storytelling and a real dark side that appeals.

So this is the third novel to feature the serial killer who isn’t, Cara Lindstrom and her befuddled would be captor Agent Roarke. In this instalment Cara is in jail but of course this is Cara we are talking about so how long she is likely to be there remains to be seen. Roarke meanwhile still fights his inner demons and considers crossing some more lines as he heads into another emotive case.

Cold Moon delves yet deeper into the underbelly of society, dealing as it does with the world of pimps, child prostitution and kidnapping – Alexandra Sokoloff has a real feel for her subject matter, a depth of perception that comes across so well in the thoughts and actions of her characters and the consequences that follow. As I said in my review of book 2, redefining the serial killer genre is no easy task, to do it as well as sending a strong moral message is even harder and yet that is exactly what happens within the narrative of all the huntress/FBI Thrillers.

There is also a beautifully constructed mythology developing here just below the surface of obvious – most especially within Cara’s view of the world and her redefining of evil. What it is, what it means. She is the very definition of a strong female lead – yet she is not the heroine. Or is she? Therein lies the real addictive quality of this series – almost every character walks a very fine line.

I honestly think these are superb. Getting better if anything with each new story, I am utterly entranced by this world and the people in it – authentic and downright scary if you think too deeply about it,I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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

Follow Alex on Twitter herehttps://twitter.com/AlexSokoloff

Purchase Informationhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Sokoloff/e/B001IXTUR2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1438066258&sr=1-2-ent

 

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Happy Reading Folks!

Life or Death – Interview with Michael Robotham.

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Today am VERY happy to have Michael Robotham on the blog as I was lucky enough to get to ask him a few little questions about the brilliant “Life or Death” – available now in Paperback from Sphere.

 

Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story and characters in “Life or Death”.

The idea for the story was triggered by a real-life escape 20 years ago in Australia when a twice-convicted killer called Tony Lanigan escaped from prison on the eve of his release on parole. Lanigan has never been seen since and many people suspect he was murdered, but I’ve always been intrigued by his escape. I spent years tossing the idea around, loving ‘the hook’ but unable to come up with a reason. Finally I settled upon the idea of a robbery and missing millions. I also knew there had to be a love story at the heart of LIFE OR DEATH – otherwise it wouldn’t explain why Audie Palmer endured so much misery and hardship in prison, only to escape the day before his expected release.

The novel has both some brilliant characters and an intensely authentic sense of place – how difficult is it as a writer to balance the two?

It’s a daunting prospect to set a novel in a strange place (and strange is a word I use advisedly when I talk of Texas). I have lived and worked in America before, but always on the east or west coasts.

There’s a slogan that says Texas is ‘like a whole other country’ and it’s not wrong. It’s not just the size, or the cultural diversity – it’s the food, the pride, the people and the history. I remember seeing a number plate that said, ‘Don’t mess with Texas’. I still don’t know whether that was an anti-littering message or a threat.

I spent seven weeks in the Lone Star State, scouting locations, sitting in bars, chatting to locals and driving enough miles to get white line fever. During that time I met prison warders, bondsmen, bounty hunters, strippers, deputy sheriffs and a district attorney.

On top of this, I spent months listening to audio books by writers like Cormac McCarthy, James Lee Burke and Phillip Meyer, trying to get the rhythm of the language and immerse myself in the place.

Creating believable characters is a different process, but they have to live and breathe in my imagination before I am confident the reader will believe them. My motto, my mantra, my abiding objective as a writer comes down to three words: MAKE THEM CARE.

Audie was a brilliant character, full of shades of grey. Did his story change much in the writing or did it all go to plan?

I never plot my books in advance. Initially I thought I would set much of LIFE OR DEATH with Audie Palmer in prison, but decided to open with the prison escape. Apart from that I knew the story would involve a robbery, missing millions and a love story. I had no idea how it would end or if Audie would survive, but I did want to create a story with the heart and soul of something like The Shawshank Redemption.

When it comes to the crime and thriller genre, which is very popular, how do you find ways to keep it fresh, give the readers something different each time? (Which you do!)

I think a lot of writers in the crime and thriller genre establish particular characters and move them around like pieces on a chessboard. They can be great stories, but often each new book is much like the previous one. I am determined to never write the same book twice, which is why I regularly change perspectives, tenses, locations and narrators. This keeps me ‘fresh’ as a writer because I don’t get bored. Similarly, I think my readers have accepted now that I won’t give them the same old stuff. Hopefully, they trust me enough as a storyteller to let me take them to new locations and introduce new characters.

When not writing, what kind of novels do you enjoy reading yourself?

I have very eclectic tastes as a reader but choose very carefully. I will always try to read the latest water-cooler or barbecue-stopper book. Similarly, I read books that pick up literary awards or garner brilliant reviews. Oddly I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, unless it is very high quality.

Which writers inspired you growing up?

One name stands out among many – the brilliant Ray Bradbury. I discovered him when I was about twelve years old, devouring his brilliant short story collections such as The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles. You couldn’t get all of his books in Australia, so I wrote him a letter addressed simply: Mr Ray Bradbury, Random House New York. I don’t even remember putting a stamp on the envelope. Three months later I came home from school to find a package on the kitchen table. Inside were the three or four Bradbury titles that weren’t available in Australia, along with a letter from the great man himself saying how thrilled he was to have a young fan on the far side of the world. Ray Bradbury is the reason I wanted to be a writer.

Thank you so much!

My Review:

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Why would a man escape from prison the day before he’s due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of his gang. Five million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by fellow inmates and prison guards, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he’s due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he’s not running. Instead he’s trying to save a life . . . and not just his own.

I’ve long been a fan of Michael Robotham’s crime novels, this one is a brilliant and addictive standalone story that had me madly reading in great big chunks as I was absolutely determined to find out what on earth was going on.

One day before he is due to be released, Audie Palmer makes his escape from Jail and appears to go on the run – but why? Another 24 hours would have seen him free. What follows is a heart stopping race against time as Audie attempts to evade his would be captors and right a wrong – there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and it is truly compelling stuff. At turns very emotional and then extremely thrilling, it twists and turns its way to an extremely electrifying finale.

I’ve always loved the depth that this author brings to his characters – there was a definite touch of the “Shawshank” about this one as we learn about Audie, his time in Jail and eventually what it is that is driving him. Surrounded by a beautifully drawn cast of eclectic characters, the whole thing is ingeniously constructed, completely hooks you in right from the start and has such a wonderful flow to it that you won’t want to put it down. Indeed as I headed into the final part of this, I couldnt put it down – I completed it bleary eyed yet satisfied at 3am one morning.

Michael Robotham never fails to deliver on great writing, intelligent plotting and people you will fall for and this was no exception to the rule. I have absolutely no hesitation in giving this, and all the other books from this author, a highly recommended tag.

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

Follow Michael on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/michaelrobotham

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Death-Michael-Robotham/dp/0751552917/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437599113&sr=1-1&keywords=life+or+death+michael+robotham

Happy Reading Folks!