Snowblind Blog Tour with OMG that Book!

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Today as part of the blog tour I welcome David to the blog with his review for Snowblind (Come back and see me again on the 30th when I will be giving my thoughts!

 

Follow David on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/OMGthatBook

 

Ragnar Jonasson’s debut Snowblind is a brilliant new thriller with storytelling that is clear and crisp. The setting is northwest Iceland amongst the dazzling white snow and artic chill of winter. Siglufjordur is a remote fishing village lying between the sea and the mountains with the only access by road through a small tunnel in the rocks. But suddenly the village is shaken when there’s a killer on the loose and young rookie policeman Ari Thor is on the case. This is a friendly close-knit community ‘where nothing ever happens’ and so traditionally doors are left unlocked…but not anymore!

This is the first novel in Ragnar Jonasson Dark Iceland series and after reading it I can’t wait for the second book Nightblind due out next year again from Orenda Books.

Our story begins with Ari Thor leaving behind his home and girlfriend in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. He’s jumped at the chance of his first police role in Siglufjordur much to the dismay of his lover. Soon he’s missing his girlfriend and questioning his decision. The claustrophobic scenic village and the sense of being an outsider begins to leave Ari Thor feeling isolated, lonely and full of doubt.

But a seemingly accidental death of a well-known author and a bloody attack on a local woman changes everything. The quiet village becomes rife with gossip and everyone is on edge. The weather worsens and the village is cut off by snow. The police investigation becomes more compelling as old secrets come to light. Ari Thor and his girlfriend back home seem to be drifting apart and when he becomes attracted to a local girl his love life also becomes confused adding to the intrigue. The plot twists and turns as the tension and intensity builds and we are treated to an excellent ending to the book.

Ragnar Jonasson makes this murder mystery complex and hard to fathom who the guilty party is for both Ari Thor and also the reader. It keeps us all guessing providing an entertaining read and challenging our ‘whodunit’ skills right to the last few pages. Overall this is a damn good thriller and I am more than happy to recommend it to you.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/39964946-david-atomgthatbook

Thank you so much David 🙂

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark – Blog Tour

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I am SO happy to be part of the blog tour for this simply beautiful and poignant novel. I was even more happy to be able to ask the author some questions about it – I found the answers absolutely fascinating. Here is  what she had to tell me about Sophie Stark – and following that are my thoughts on the novel. Enjoy!

Even though we only see her through the eyes of other characters, tell us a little about the inspiration behind the Sophie Stark character.

At first I wanted to write about a female character who was a sort of political documentarian — someone who made movies about a Latin American socialist leader. I knew her name would be Sophie Stark and I wrote a tiny bit about her, but I put it away for years while I worked on my first book. When I came back to Sophie I realized the political angle wasn’t what I was most interested in. I was interested in Sophie — I wanted to explore this brilliant, sometimes cruel character and how she was remembered by those around her, how her art and life went down in history.

Was it interesting to explore the impact that a single life can have on so many others?

Definitely. At first I was most interested in Sophie — how did all the different characters see her, and what did their perceptions reveal about her? But as I wrote from their points of view, I got really invested in their lives too — I got interested in Jacob’s mother, George’s ex-wife, Allison’s husband. By the time I finished the book, it wasn’t just about how the main character influenced the others; it was about a group of people, all of them bound together to some degree by Sophie, but all of them with joys and sorrows of their own that are just as important as hers (even if she doesn’t always recognize that).

Through their interactions with Sophie we also learn a lot about the characters telling the story – Did you feel that any one of them (or more than one) might have been better if she had not crossed their path?

I definitely think the characters vary in how much Sophie helps or harms them. Allison explicitly says she’s better off for having met Sophie (but that Sophie might not be better off for having met her). I think Daniel’s clearly better off too — I think Sophie helps him understand himself in a fundamental way. Sophie helps Ben Martin form his aesthetic as a critic, and she helps George decide he wants to direct. With Jacob, I’m not so sure — she seems like she’s helping him at first, but I don’t know if he’d ultimately say she did. And poor Robbie — it’s possible he’d be better off without the influence of Sophie in his life, but then again, he wouldn’t be who he is.

Do you think “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” would translate well to screen (I am in no doubt that it would and would love to see it done) considering that it has creativity through film right at the heart of the story?

I’d love to see a film adaptation, but I think it would actually look pretty different from the novel. The different points of view would be difficult to capture on screen; the directors might have to collapse some of them. I also think it would be interesting to see Sophie’s movies on screen, though I think they’d probably look very different than they do in my imagination. A work of fiction about a film is going to be really different from the film itself; it’s almost hard for me to imagine how the films would look if they were really made, even though I saw them in my head dozens of times.

Sophie is really an enigma start to finish. Did you ever really get a handle on her?

I did and I didn’t. On the one hand, I think I learned certain key things about Sophie as I was writing. She does care what other people think, in some ways — at least, she cares how people remember her. And she sort of feeds her own personal myth — in some ways, she encourages people to feel they can’t truly understand her. On the other hand, I don’t think she truly understands herself — I don’t think she knows why she is the way she is, why she can’t (or won’t) be more connected to people. And I think it was important that there was a part of her that remained enigmatic, even to me.

 

When you are not writing yourself, what type of novels do you love to lose yourself in?

I think I tend to like books about characters’ inner lives, especially female characters and especially characters who are on the brink of big life changes or decisions. Recently, I’ve loved Samantha Harvey’s “Dear Thief,” Rachel Cusk’s “Outline,” Helen Oyeyemi’s “White Is For Witching,” and Elisa Albert’s “After Birth.” All of these are about girls and women at pivotal times in their lives, wrestling with scary questions of love and family and identity.

Thank you SO much Anna – completely fascinating!

Review:

“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, and her husband—to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim. But as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.

Told in a chorus of voices belonging to those who knew her best, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is an intimate portrait of an elusive woman whose monumental talent and relentless pursuit of truth reveal the cost of producing great art, both for the artist and for the people around her.

Firstly I would like to say about “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” that not only is it one of my favourite books that I have read this year, but it has also gone immediately onto my favourite books of all time list. So there is that.

I was not sure about it originally – but the thing with this novel is that it sucks you in with some poignant and gorgeous writing and every single character is full of depth, realism and an often ironic edge that is just simply brilliantly done.

Sophie Stark is a film maker. We never hear from her directly in the story but we do hear from an ensemble cast of characters who have been deeply effected by their interactions with her. She is an enigma, we meet her only through the eyes of others, still a profound picture starts to emerge of a troubled creative soul. Even so is this the real Sophie? Well that is the unique twist to this novel, we may guess but can never know…

The author uses her characters to give both a public and private view of Sophie – from her lovers to her family and beyond. Sometimes only peripherally touching a life, Sophie still seems to have formed some part of it and for me she felt like a whirlwind of a human being, touching down briefly then drifting away, tempestuous and suddenly changing lives without warning.

Imaginatively speaking this is alluring, I melted into the descriptions of Sophie’s films, I wanted to watch every single one and indeed felt like I had. Then of course, through the telling we learn so much about the characters who are talking, their hopes dreams and fears, their lives both with and without her. As a character piece this is a truly impressive and magnificently constructed story – Anna North knows how to weave words around the reader and bring them into the world that she has created.

I was quite simply heartbroken at the end of this. Even now it is bittersweet. A book I shall return to again and again I’m sure, I really cannot recommend this highly enough.

This is what storytelling is all about.

Purchase Information: 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Death-Sophie-Stark-ebook/dp/B00URSDCLO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432226482&sr=1-1&keywords=the+life+and+death+of+sophie+stark

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The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter – Blog Tour

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Falling in love is never simple. Especially when you’re dead.

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world’s worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she’s actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she’s still here.

Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many other secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is as innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love . . .

In this hilarious, life-affirming and romantic journey through Rosie Potter’s afterlife, she shares the ghostly tale of how she lived, she died, and she loved (in that order).

Ok so the very first thing I want to say about “Rosie Potter” is that it is hilarious. So funny – I spent an awful lot of the time either smiling or giggling as Rosie wakes up one morning to discover she is dead, sets off to discover why and finds out all sorts of things about her life and those in it that she never even suspected.

Not usually being a fan of this type of book (the whole “Dead girl” aspect having drawn me in to read it) I was genuinely surprised and delighted at how much I enjoyed it. That is down to the gorgeous flow of the writing and Rosie herself – a beautifully drawn character who just pops off the page and makes you fall in love with her. There is a bittersweet poignancy as well to the knowledge that she is gone, still she is vibrantly beautifully alive while you are reading her story.

Very intriguing as well – it had me considering what it would be like to suddenly be a “Fly on the wall” and see what people were really like – Rosie’s journey of discovery leads her to all kinds of secrets and it is truly addictive as you wait to find out what happened on that night and, indeed, what may happen next. In between the fits of laughter there is an alluring emotional undercurrent running throughout the story which gives it a great depth even through the fluffier lighter moments.

Kudos to Kate Winter for turning a story about a girl struck down in the prime of her life and making it into a witty, insightful and truly life affirming tale – considering the subject matter there is simply nothing at all depressing about this book – you will come out the other side of it feeling great. Ok yes as I said, bittersweet perhaps but still, this novel is definitely one you should read if you need a bit of a lift, want to be genuinely entertained and feel the need to leave the duller aspects of life behind you for a while and spend a few hours with a smile on your face.

Loved it.

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

Follow Kate on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KatiCut

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Happy-Ever-Afterlife-Rosie-Potter-ebook/dp/B00LT8OBKW/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431670096&sr=1-1&keywords=the+happy+ever+afterlife+of+rosie+potter+rip

(Paperback available from 21st May)

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Happy Reading Folks!

The Killing of Bobbi Lomax by Cal Moriarty. Blog Tour.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Advanced Reading Copy

CANYON COUNTY, HALLOWEEN 1983 .Bobbi Lomax was the first to die, the bomb killed the prom queen on her own front lawn. Just moments later one of the nails from the city’s second bomb forced its way into the brain of property investor Peter Gudsen, killing him almost instantly. The third bomb didn’t quite kill Clark Houseman. Hovering on the brink, the rare books dealer turns out to be Detectives Sinclair and Alvarez’s best hope of finding out what linked these unlikely victims, and who wanted them dead and why. But can they find the bomber before he kills again?

The Killing of Bobbi Lomax is a superb crime debut – multi layered, with absolutely fascinating characters, terrific descriptive prose and a really really intriguing tale. Set in “God” country in the 80’s Cal Moriarty manages to bring that time and place to vivid stunning life giving this novel a terrific atmosphere and telling a beautifully managed and addictive mystery story.

This is old school storytelling set in an old school world – the detectives having to go about things the old fashioned way, the age of super electronics and internet still years away – this gives such an added depth to the mystery element, an almost Christie-esque feel to it that is both wonderful and nostalgic.

Add to that some remarkably authentic and well drawn characters – I adored Clark Houseman, such an engaging and sometimes hilarious protagonist, I think his parts of the book were my favourite – also, rare book dealer – what else needs to be said? Our detectives are a superb duo – so beautifully normal and casting a wry eye over events as they try to unravel the various elements and track down a bomber before he can strike again.

Overall then a rich, diverse and gorgeously written page turner with some interesting themes set in a captivating time period with a riveting and highly stimulating story.

Highly Recommended

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Bobbi-Lomax-Cal-Moriarty/dp/0571305385/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431330837&sr=1-1&keywords=the+killing+of+bobbi+lomax

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Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson. Blog Tour/Giveaway

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So tomorrow, 7th May 2015, the second book in the Silver Blackthorn series – Renegade – is released. I am so happy to be part of the blog tour today and to welcome Kerry telling us a little more about Silver. I have a copy of the book to give away – simply comment on this post or tweet me @Lizzy11268 and tell me why you would like to read it for a chance to get your very own copy.

Silver in the real world

One of the great things about writing books is that, if you’re really lucky, your books can be read by people all around the world. It’s always lovely to receive emails from readers who want to ask or talk about the books – but it gives a special sort of buzz when you get one from some far-flung place to which you’ve never been.

What many people might not realise, even UK readers, is that Silver’s universe very much fits around the real world.

The place from which she comes – Martindale – is real. It’s about 10 miles from Penrith in the Lake District, carved onto a beautiful set of hills with crumbling roads that are better for cycling than they are cars. It’s not really a village, more a collection of farms, but it’s there. I’ve beefed it up in the books, making the hamlet a proper village to where refugees were re-homed during my fictional civil war.

The Gully is a real place, too. Just north of Martindale is Ullswater lake (http://www.ullswater.co.uk/). It’s long and thin – about nine miles from end to end but less than a mile across – and home to all sorts of water sports and fabulous views. I figured what better way to describe its beauty than to drain the water and fill it full of the nation’s rubbish to the extent that it is a giant landfill in the series!

Windsor is, of course, real – as is the castle. I always wanted the King to rule from a castle and there’s not really a more famous one in the country.

At the end of Reckoning and the beginning of Renegade, Silver and her friends are holed up in a village on the other side of “what was once a wide six-lane road” – which is meant to be the M42. That puts them in somewhere like Beaconsfield, Bucks, with the early part of Renegade taking part in the Chilterns.

There are lots of other places, too – but to mention them here would mean having to spoil things to come, so I’ll leave it there.

You can always email me to ask, though … especially if you live in some far-flung place!

Thank you!

Review

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Silver Blackthorn is a fugitive from the law.
Silver Blackthorn has committed treason.
She is dangerous. Do NOT approach her.
A large reward is on offer. Report any sightings to your nearest Kingsman.
Long live the King.

Silver Blackthorn is on the run. She fled Windsor Castle with eleven other teenagers, taking with her something far more valuable than even she realises: knowledge.

With the entire country searching for the missing Offerings, Silver must keep them all from the vicious clutches of King Victor and the Minister Prime. Until now, no one has escaped the king and lived to tell the tale.

Or have they?

With expectations weighing heavily on the girl with the silver streak in her hair, will she ever find her way home?

I was a HUGE fan of the first novel in this series, so to say I was happy to get to read the next one a little early is putting it mildly. And for me it was worth every second of the wait.

Silver and friends have escaped the immediate clutches of the King and are on the run. Decisions have to be made and everyone is looking to Silver to make them, she however is not sure she is the right person for the job.

Renegade is very addictive – whilst Kerry Wilkinson expands and deepens the mythology he has also written a bit of a thriller, a bit of  road trip drama and given our characters a lot of emotional upset to deal with. He keeps things rocking along at a heck of a pace, introducing new places and people, giving Silver a lot to handle and solidifying and intensifying the relationships between our core group. It is engaging and compelling throughout.

I am entirely in love with this series, one of those times I can’t really tell you why – although it probably is mostly to do with Silver as a character who is a gorgeous mix of strong independent woman and ditzy teenager. You just want to follow along with her, a bit like her fellow runaways – one of those brilliantly written characters that just pop off the page and become very real.

I’m being careful not to say too much about the story itself just in case you have not started this series yet – but I will say it is excellent – great writing, great characters, terrific world building, at least several bags of maltesers worth of reading joy.

The end drove me nuts – yep thanks for that Mr Wilkinson – now the wait begins for the finale. I’m going to be first in the queue. Everyone had better stay out of my way!

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

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

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/renegade/kerry-wilkinson/9781447235316

Also Available: Read First:

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In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society – Elite, Member, Inter or Trog – but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.

But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?

Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out . .

https://www.waterstones.com/book/reckoning/kerry-wilkinson/9781447235309

Don’t forget you have a chance to win a copy of “Renegade” by following the instructions in the introduction.

Happy Reading Folks!

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. Blog Tour.

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Today I am pleased to welcome Clare Mackintosh, author of the brilliant “I Let You Go”  to the blog telling us about writing a first draft…

Writing the first draft

Most discussions within the writing community about first drafts seems to divide authors into two categories: ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers’. The first term is self-explanatory: writers who plot out their stories in advance, often knowing exactly what will happen in each chapter, scene, even paragraph. The second category refers to those writers who fly by the seats of their pants, letting the words tumble out with little more than a vague idea of what the end result is and how they plan to get there.

When I wrote I Let You Go I was a plotter. Spread sheets and complex tables told me exactly what happened when, with special colours for ‘reveals’, ‘plot twists’, and ‘secrets’. Writing that way meant I never suffered from writer’s block because there was never a blank page to fear: I knew exactly what I had to write every day. When it was finished, I had a book.

But it wasn’t the right book. My obsessive plan had been so rigid that it hadn’t allowed my characters to make their own choices. The result was a plot-driven story that didn’t ring true with the individuals who inhabited it. ‘When Patrick finds out about Jenna’s past,’ my editor said, ‘do you think that’s how he would react?’ I thought for a moment; picturing him in my head, remembering where he’d grown up, thinking about his relationship with his parents, with his previous girlfriends. ‘No,’ I concluded, with a small sigh. ‘He really wouldn’t.’ I had to go back to basics, working through the story as my characters saw it, not in the way I saw it. At each crossroads I let them make the choices that felt right for them, and coped with the plot fall-out as it happened. The end result was a much more authentic story than that first draft.

As a result of this experience I have moved away from being a ‘pure’ plotter. I could never be a ‘pantser’ – far too terrifying – but I have adopted a hybrid approach that seems to be working much better for me. When I started working on book two I developed the backbone of the story and shaped it just enough to know what major events were going to happen, but I didn’t spend time sketching out the entire anatomy before I started writing. As I wrote the story evolved, and I didn’t think too closely about whether that chapter was too long, or that scene needed to be in a different place.

I also stopped editing as I went: endlessly going back over what I’d written the previous day, changing a comma for a semi-colon and then changing it back again on the next

read. Going through the editing process with I Let You Go made me realise just how many changes I would make to a book before it hit the shelves: what was the point in fiddling with sections of prose I might not even keep? If I couldn’t think of exactly what I wanted to say I simply wrote notes in capitals and carried on going, avoiding getting lost in internet searches, or trawling through the manuscript for someone’s last name.

When I wrote the first draft of I Let You Go I was trying to make it perfect, without realising that until the structure is right, perfection is impossible. Now I write very differently, and my first drafts are about getting the story down in as complete a way as possible, ready to be shaken up and put back down again. Only when that structure is right, will I start fiddling with commas…

 

Review

I Let You Go

 

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.

First of all I have no problem saying that this is the best psychological thriller I have read this year, no prevarication. For sheer addictive reading and utterly compelling character arcs, a very emotional storyline and some exquisite twists and turns throughout I loved this one very much.

Jenna has retreated from life after a tragic accident left her bereft – but in the small Welsh community she ends up in there is hope of a new start and a brighter future. However some things are difficult to let go of and as Jenna attempts to move forwards there are things pulling her back into her past, things she must face if she is ever to find happiness again.

This is a totally haunting read -Jenna is a brilliantly drawn character who you will feel for every step of the way. To suffer as she has is unimaginable, and putting the rest aside this is a very emotional and heart wrenching look at how unexpected tragedy can torment us and affect our very soul. The heart of the novel is right there in Jenna as she struggles with the mundane day to day and attempts to move on, her attitudes and expectations of the new people in her life are very well described and utterly authentic.

Added to that very human story is a terrific mystery element that keeps you avidly turning the pages to find out the truth of the matter – Jenna aside there is a terrific range of characters to follow along with as things become untangled and slowly but surely we are lead towards a brilliantly poignant and touching conclusion.

Overall then a truly magnificent tale and one that I have no trouble at all recommending to everyone – If you love reading you will love this. Simple.

 

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

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/claremackint0sh

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/i-let-you-go/clare-mackintosh/9780751554151

Happy Reading Folks!

The Corpse Role by Keith Nixon – Blog Tour

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Publication Date : Available Now

Source: Author review copy

Not everything that gets buried stays buried… sometimes things have a nasty habit of resurfacing…

When the body of a security van driver implicated in an unsolved £1.2 million heist turns up in a shallow grave two years later it’s just the beginning for Detective Inspector Charlotte Granger.

She embarks on an investigation that takes her into dangerous territory – a world of dirty cops, dodgy private investigators, local villains and nosy journalists. Meanwhile events from Granger’s own past are threatening to come back and haunt her..

Really terrific crime fiction from Keith Nixon – I basically read it in a day, bit of a page turner, some great characters and an authentic and hard hitting storyline.

Told in two timelines, brilliantly constructed and ever engaging, there is a beautiful flow to the prose that keeps you hooked right in, some twisty turny goodness and a jaw dropping ending.

Some really excellent plotting adds extra depth to both characters and storytelling, the past element being really most addictive – this is a crime thriller with heart, a mix of police procedural and thriller with intelligent storytelling and a sometimes almost noir feel.

You’ll note I havent said too much on the tale itself. For very good reason. Go find out!

Find out more here: http://keithnixonauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corpse-Role-Keith-Nixon/dp/1508933502/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430639799&sr=1-1&keywords=the+corpse+role+keith+nixon

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!

 

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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Hidden by Emma Kavanagh – Blog Tour.

HiddenHidden Blog TourEmma Kavanagh 2014 © Matthew Jones

I’m VERY happy to be part of the blog tour for Emma Kavanagh’s “Hidden” – review to follow – a brilliant psychological thriller that will keep you hooked until the end. Firstly, Emma tells us about characters in crime…

 

Crime From The Inside Out – Characters in crime

 

When I read, what interests me is the characters on the page. I want to see them come alive before me, watch them move through their world as whole, coherent individuals. When I write, I want the same thing. Whilst I write crime, it is rarely the crimes themselves that interest me, but rather the people involved in them.

 

Hidden tells the story of events leading towards a mass shooting, and one of the narrative threads comes from the shooter himself. Because what interests me is what pushes an individual to commit such an atrocious act, to inflict so much harm onto those that surround him.

 

Often what we concentrate on is the headlines – Maniac kills eight; psychotic killer slays ten. That’s not surprising because our ability to digest information is finite and, particularly in a story in which there is a great deal of trauma, our capacity to process can be diminished. So we take what we read at its face value. The man was a monster. He was insane.

 

But behind that insanity, underneath the nightmare of what they have done, is a real person, someone who talked with friends, was held by parents, someone whose existence extends beyond the atrocity. People make decisions. Often people make shockingly bad decisions. But uniformly they have made decisions for a reason. They chose the courses they chose because in some way it made sense to them. What fascinates me is in digging beneath the skin and understanding what it was about these people that made them choose to kill.

 

Hidden

Publication Date: 23rd April from Century

Source: Netgalley

A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman—before it’s too late.

So anyway, some people may remember what a huge fan of “Falling” I was, so it was with some trepidation I started reading “Hidden”. It is the usual thing of course, will you love it as much, what if the first one was a fluke, oh what can I say if I hate it? So I count myself lucky for more than one reason that within about 5% of this novel I was hook, line and sinkered.

A lot of that had to do with the haunting and rather exciting starting point – we see an aftermath. Horrific and heart pounding, it will draw you straight into the story and that will be that.

Going back then to prior events, we start to meet some of the people involved, find out more about them and about what has led up to this awful outcome. In true Emma Kavanagh style (once more and I’ll call it trademark) the characters become the skeleton key. Beautifully drawn and intriguing, from various walks of life but all with that line between them, a story starts to unfold, connections are made and slowly but surely that day is approaching when it all comes to a head.

It is all so addictive, so elegantly constructed and once again I found myself deep deep into the emotion of it – especially with Charlie who I related to on a very basic level. She wants to do the right thing yet often ends up doing the exact opposite, I can definitely stand by that one, so for me she was my favourite. All of them are brilliant and it really gives a wonderful emotive edge especially as you know at least some of what is coming.

I was especially fascinated by the portions of the story relating to armed officers – it felt terribly authentic, unsurprising really – not only on points of procedure but also on the feelings and issues that can arise. Aden is a really excellent protagonist here, torn sometimes but with a good heart and a determination to protect.

Overall then what was I worried about? Turns out if anything this was better than Falling – certainly if you love a psychological crime thriller that is mostly character driven, you’ll love this. The ending was pitch perfect and may surprise you. Don’t miss it whatever you do. Oh and maybe put a pot of coffee on before you start….

You can follow Emma on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EmmaLK

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/hidden/emma-kavanagh/9781780892047

You can read an extract from Chapter One here: http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/extract-hidden-emma-kavanagh/

Happy Reading Folks!