Monday, 22 January 2018

REVIEW ~ In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

Meet Bella who is married to David and when we meet them they are travelling back to Bella's childhood home for her mother, Elaine's funeral.  Her father Henry Campbell is now lost without his wife and seems to be a little disengaged from his daughter. He needs to talk to her about something important but can't seem to find the right time to talk to her. Then when a tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence that she thought was the truth but in fact is a lie. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life that she's led for so long.

It is a few weeks since I finished listening to this on audio and to say it was brilliant is an understatement, I absolutely LOVED it.  In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller which is both chilling and extremely moving that questions the nature of family and can remind us that sometimes the most shocking and complex crimes are committed closest to home, which is very true. I didn't really know much about the book when I borrowed it from the library and I think that sometimes it's the best way to go into reading/listening to a book, go in open minded. I'm really looking forward to reading more from Amanda Jennings real soon.


In Her Wake is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle and is currently £0.99 at the time of publication if this review.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Cover Up by Marnie Riches

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Cover Up by Marnie Riches where I welcome Marnie to my blog once again where she has kindly provided an extract. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the extract so without further ado, here it is:

It had started with a scuffle. A little pushing and a testosterone-fuelled hokey-cokey where neither had conceded ground to the other.

‘No guns,’ Frank had prayed quietly to a God that never seemed to listen. ‘Please don’t let them have sodding guns.’

The transition from minor altercation to full-on fisticuffs had taken less than a minute. Otis, his burliest bouncer, had taken a right hook from one of the guys with dreads that had sent him flying backwards into a podium like an ungainly clown. 

Now, Degsy had pulled a gun to best the Asian lad’s knife in an underworld rendition of rock, paper, scissors. Shit, shit, shit. The lying, lanky arsehole was armed to the teeth. Should he stop the music? Should he call Conks, after all?

Frank withdrew a baggie of coke from the pocket of his jeans. Took a hefty pinch of the white powder and deposited it on the back of his sinewy hand. Snorted what he could. Rubbed the rest around his gums. The effect was instant. Pharmaceutical Columbian courage followed soon after.

‘Right, you bastards,’ he said to himself, pulling the sleeves of his old James T up in some deluded act of strong-arm bravado. ‘Nobody messes with an O’Brien.’

Ignoring his racing pulse and the feeling that his legs were liquefying, he crossed the club, heading towards the scrum. No need for that big Northern Irish bollocks. Not tonight. Remember Jack. Don’t make this all for nowt. He approached one of the white rogue dealers from behind.

‘Get out my sodding club!’ he screamed in the man’s ear, grabbing him tightly by the scruff of his neck. Turning his collar into a garrotte. Kneeing him in the sweet spot on the backs of his legs so that they buckled.

Frank was a warrior, now, posthumously defending his son’s honour. Heard his own voice, hoarse and venomous above the music.

‘Who’s your boss? Tell me or I’ll rip your bleeding head off.’ Fingers in the man’s kidneys.
‘Fuck you!’ the dealer shouted, elbowing Frank in the stomach.

There was a flash of metal as the Asian lad stabbed one of the bouncers. Fists flew. It was carnage.
‘Back off, or I’m gonna blow you all into next Wednesday!’ Degsy yelled, waving his piece at the interlopers.

But the guy with the dreads and bad acne scarring was suddenly upon Degsy, waving a semi-automatic. ‘Drop the gun, Manc twat, or I’ll put a bullet in your ugly head!’ His death threats were levelled in a sing-song accent like some nightmarish nursery rhyme. 

Degsy and Dreads both clicked their safeties off. A stand-off. Not good.

Frank was dimly aware of the shrieking of the clubbers on the fringes of his ill-fated dance floor and of the speed-daters who were clattering up the iron staircase from Jack’s Bar below, fleeing the scene. Gloria Bell’s face in among them, somewhere. An overwhelming sense of déjà vu and fear that his club-owning days were finished bore down on him. But his melancholy musings were interrupted by the unmistakeable growl of Conky McFadden, striding through the phalanx of onlookers.

‘Hands in the air, you scabby wee turds or I’ll take the lot of yous out!’ 

Who the hell had called the Loss Adjuster? The bouncers, almost certainly.

Upon them now and casting a long shadow over the interlopers like an avenging dark angel, Conky held a SIG Sauer before him. The music had stopped, as if to pay respectful tribute to the fabled Loss Adjuster’s appearance on the charged scene. 

‘Do you remember me?’ he bellowed, bearing down on dreads-with-a-gun. Striding right up to him, as though his opponent clutched a child’s toy weapon. Pressing the nose of his gun right into the dealer’s jaw. With his free leather-gloved hand, he removed his shades with a flourish. His bulging eyes shone with obvious professional glee. ‘Do you know who I am?’

Dreads dropped his pistol. Held his hands up. Swallowed visibly. ‘Yeah.’ 

‘Get out of this club and get on a train back to Birmingham, like the yokels you are,’ Conky said, encasing Dreads’ throat in a large hand. ‘Tell your eejit boss Nigel Bancroft that if any of you set foot in South Manchester again, you’ll be going home in Tupperware stacking boxes. And you make sure he understands fully that if I see his ponce’s bake in O’Brien territory again, I’ll shoot some fucking wrinkles in him that Botox will never remove.’

Realising that he had been holding his breath all the while that Conky had been speaking, Frank straightened himself up. Inhaled. Exhaled. He acknowledged with some bitterness that he’d been unable to control what went on in his own environment. He felt the humiliation neutralise the bravado in his body. But his pulse thundered on apace and for a moment, as pain travelled up his left arm and encased his tired heart in pure, uncut agony, he wondered if he too would be going home in a wooden overcoat.

‘Frank. Are you okay?’ Conky’s voice, close by.

Clutching his arm, Frank dropped to his knees. I’m coming, Jack. I’m coming.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

REVIEW ~ Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead with a knife in his back in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case.

But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls. Surrounded by round-the-clock traffic noise, Harry wanders the streets of Bangkok lined with go-go bars, temples, opium dens, and tourist traps, trying to piece together the story of the ambassador’s death even though no one asked him to, and no one wants him to, not even Harry himself.

I enjoyed Cockraoches a little better than The Bat but it becomes more apparent in this book that Harry Hole is in disarray, he's very fond of the drink and women (like all men) and his life is a total mess and has a lot of personal history which we learn about in this book. Although I enjoyed this book, I still haven't felt what everyone else is saying in their reviews about Jo Nesbo and his books.  I think I'll skip right to reading The Snowman next and see if I can see what all the fuss is about and then come back to The Redbreast and follow the series.

Cockroaches is available from all good bookshops, libraries and is on Kindle and is currently £4.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

REVIEW ~ The Bat by Jo Nesbo

Harry Hole is sent to Sydney to investigate the murder of Inger Holter, a young Norwegian girl, who was working in a bar. Initially sidelined as an outsider, Harry becomes central to the Australian police investigation when they start to notice a number of unsolved rape and murder cases around the country. The victims were usually young blondes. Inger had a number of admirers, each with his own share of secrets, but there is no obvious suspect, and the pattern of the other crimes seems impossible to crack. Then a circus performer is brutally murdered followed by yet another young woman. Harry is in a race against time to stop highly intelligent killer, who is bent on total destruction.

This is the first Harry Hole novel in the series and seeing as The Snowman was to be released in the cinema in October, I decided to start right from the start of the series to get acquainted with Harry Hole. The blurb sounded great and I was really excited that I picked it up in my local library but unfortunately I couldn't and didn't get on with it, I just felt it was too long winded and dragged out and boring in parts.  The only thing that I got from the book was a background to Harry Hole's character. I guess I just expected more from this seeing as EVERYONE raves about Jo Nesbo but I will definitely read the next installment in the series and I really hope that it will be better than The Bat as it saddened me that I have to say this about the book.  Just because I didn't get on with it doesn't mean that someone else won't so give it a go and see.

The Bat is available from all good bookstores, libraries & is available on Kindle which is currently £3.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Monday, 15 January 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ That Girl by Kate Kerrigan

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for That Girl by Kate Kerrigan where I welcome Kate to my blog once again where she has kindly taken part in a Q&A session. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the extract so without further ado, here is the Q&A:

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I was always searching out creativity from when I was a small child. In this order  I wanted to be a ballet dancer, musician, actress and artist – but failed at them all. Like all teenagers I wrote bad poetry (although I think my teenage son writes beautiful poetry!) then in my late teens I began writing stories simply to amuse myself. Having flunked out of school at fifteen – I never thought writing was a possible profession. But I got a break on a teenage magazine at the age of 19 and have been earning my living now as a  professional writer for over 30 years.  It's my lif and I can't imagine doing anything else.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I used to simply write when I felt like it – which was random and most of the time. Since I started my family, 16 years ago, I now try to write to office hours. 9-5 my working day as much as possible. Not all of that time is taken up with pure writing, but I try to keep those hours free for work if I can.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The thing that people find most unusual is the fact that I write at my best in an accountant's office. No distractions. Nothing happening of any interest around me. I have a beautiful office at home with a view of the sea, and I use that for my admin day-to-day work. But when it comes to being creative I find a beautiful view distracting. Grey carpets and blank wall gives me inspiration.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Writing is life and life is writing. Everything around me all the time. Everything people say. Newspapers. Family. History. When you're a writer everything in life goes through that filter and comes back in your work at one or another. The writer is alert to life 24/7.

How do you develop your plots and characters?
Meticulously with charts and notebooks. I spend as much time developing a book as I do writing it. Sometimes more. I know I can write – I've been doing it for a long time. The difficult thing is coming up with a great story and sustaining it for 300 pages.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Honestly? What did we do in the days before social media! Facebook means I hear from my readers every day. They always say they love me. Of course. If readers hate my books – they are kind enough to stay silent! Recipes for a Perfect Marriage seems to have been my most affecting book . Many readers have told me it changes their attitude to love.  It changed my attitude to love while I was writing it so – mission accomplished!

Friday, 29 December 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana where I welcome Jenny to my blog where she has kindly provided a very interesting extract. I was thrilled to be asked by Annabelle Wright from ED Public Relations to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the extract so without further ado, here it is:

The train halted a hundred yards from the station. A voice announced a short delay. People around me were muttering, craning their necks at the window, wondering how long we’d be stuck there. Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply, distracting myself, flexing my fingers and blowing on my palms. They were sore and I realised I’d been balling my fists all the way from Paddington and the nails had made indentations in my skin.
Outside were familiar landmarks: Victorian houses with chaotic extensions; a narrow piece of wasteland that swept alongside. Boys had played chicken there once; vandals had set fire to the banks. Now the line was fenced off. Plastic bags clung to hedges and empty bottles littered the grass. It was autumn, yet there were none of the signs: no trees, no copper leaves, no pale golds. The place was stark. Depressing and still.
A few days before I’d been in Athens, drinking coffee in the October sun. My mobile had rung, a voice had spoken and I’d recognised Rita – my mother’s best friend. It was the way she’d said my name, Anna Flores; the way she’d rolled the ‘r’; the way she’d lowered her voice and explained how my mother had died. A stroke. When could I come home?
Rita had discussed the funeral, asking for my opinion: egg and cress versus salmon and cucumber; ‘Lord of All Hopefulness’ or ‘Abide With Me’. Her talk had jarred with the smell of souvlaki drifting from a restaurant and the sound of a lone voice singing in a bar. Afterwards I’d sat for ages weeping and feeling as if the music was the most sorrowful in the world.
The train lurched, crawling forwards. Passengers shifted with mumbles of relief. I pulled on my denim jacket, fiddled with my bag, checked that everything was where it should be: purse, phone, lipstick, bottle of Givenchy, photo of my mother. Photo of Gabriella. A man in a raincoat reached for his suitcase. I followed his lead and retrieved mine.
A few people got off with me. I watched them rushing up the steps and across the bridge, scrabbling with their tickets and their bags. Dropping my case, I pulled out the handle and paused to look around me. Nothing much had changed. The empty waiting room. The broken bench. The CCTV. How long had those cameras been there? Too late to spot Gabriella leaving, or to confirm the difference between sightings and lies.
Three years. That was how long it had been. A pitstop visit before I’d left for Greece, although I’d seen my mother since, when she’d made the journey to London, the day before I’d actually flown. Now, when I thought of that last meeting, in a cafe in Harrods, with my mother picking at her scone, my stomach wrenched with guilt. Three years. Only phone calls in between. Why had I assumed she’d go on forever? I should have known better than anyone how abruptly things changed.

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana is out now, published by Mantle in hardback and priced at £14.99.  

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ Know Me Now by CJ Carver ~ Q&A

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for CJ Carver Blog Tour where I welcome CJ to my blog where she has kindly taken part in a Q&A session with me. I was thrilled to be asked by Emily Burns from Bonnier Zaffre Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the guest post so without further ado, here is the Q&A:

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

When I was ten, on holiday in Scotland, I announced to my parents that I was going upstairs to write a book.  Neither looked up from their Agatha Christies, but I remember my father saying, ‘That sounds like a good idea.’  I started my “book” but after the first page realised I didn’t have much of a story and how difficult it was going to be!  I gave up.  When I toddled downstairs after about an hour, Mum and Dad never mentioned it, which meant I didn’t have to get defensive over it! 

I eventually fell into writing, but only because I followed my dream: to drive from London to Saigon.  On my return from the 14,500-mile journey, I was asked to write an article for Car Magazine, so I trotted to my local Waterstones and bought a book How to Write and Sell Travel Articles.  It was probably the worst article I ever wrote, but it got published and, amazingly, I got paid.  I’d enjoyed writing it so much I approached other outlets with my story and ended up becoming a travel writer which eventually led me to writing my first novel.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I find I settle into a routine that works pretty well for me, which doesn’t exhaust me and allows for some creative space.  My morning walk is the most important time, when I find ideas really start to flow (I always take a notebook with me).  Back home, I clear my desk of admin (or I start thinking about tedious things like paying bills instead of writing) and get stuck in.  I write for 5-6 hours and by then evening’s drawing in and I’m pretty tired.  I always finish mid-sentence, or in the middle of a scene, so I can get back into it quickly the next day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have a quirk, but I don’t think it’s particularly interesting!  After I’ve re-read and had a swift editor of what I’ve written the day before, I am about to start writing … just about to start that first sentence of the day … and I have to go and make a cup of tea. I have no idea why I do this!  (Maybe it’s a creative pause?  Or am I just thirsty?!)

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I glean things from newspapers, real-life adventure stories, and also use things from my own experience.  For example, I found myself on the horns of a dilemma one day when a friend of mine turned up on my doorstep wanting to hide from the police.  It turned out they were an addict – which I’d had no idea about – and had broken into an office to steal money.

My friend was a mess.  I brought them in, made them a cuppa, and talked.  Boy, did we talk.  I was fortunate that I didn’t have to call the police because my friend turned themselves in. But if they hadn’t… what would I have done?  How would I have felt if I’d called the police, or if I’d continued to harbour a criminal?

These questions inspired the friendships in Know Me Now, where I explore the dynamics of long-life friendship especially how loyal people can be and what they might do when the chips are down.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

It’s a bit like cooking without a recipe.  I start with the main ingredient, say someone is arrested, or there’s a murder, then I start to add the other ingredients like how they were arrested (did they run and were captured?) or how they were murdered (was it particularly brutal?).  I like to know who the main villain is at the outset, so I know their motivations and how far they’ll go to protect themselves.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

The best mail I got was from a lady in Bristol who asked if I minded her calling her new-born daughter after my character, news reporter, India Kane.  She said if her baby girl grew up with half of India’s attributes, she’d be a happy mum.  Amazingly, twelve years later I met her daughter -  the real India! – and she wants to be a reporter!