Friday, 21 August 2015

Untouchable by Ava Marsh Q+A's & Review

Today, it's my turn on the final day of The Untouchable Blog Tour and I'm delighted that I was asked to participate with some great Book Bloggers.  I'd like to say thank you so much to Ava for taking the time to answer the questions that I put to her.  You can read my review of Untouchable at the end of these Q+A's.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I suppose I always wanted to be a writer, but it took me years to screw up the courage to properly try. I was terrified of failing at the thing I most wanted to do, so it was easier to channel my creative energy into things like journalism, where the stakes weren’t as high.

Eventually, however, the nagging sense that I was letting time slip away brought me to the point where I made a proper commitment to fiction. Once I got my head around the fact that writing was something you could learn, and that initial rejection was normal, I never looked back. I regret those wasted years though. I wish I’d had more confidence in myself.

What books have most influenced your life?

I’ll pick three. ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mixhail Bulgakov is my favourite novel, essentially because it works on so many levels: satire, political commentary, social history, a love story, even a ‘historical’ insight into the encounter between Jesus and Pontius Pilate. It opened my eyes to how much you could do with a novel – though of course it helps to be a Russian genius.

‘The White Hotel’ by D M Thomas has had the most impact on me of any book ever written. I cannot describe the emotional punch of this now somewhat neglected novel. I was devastated by it. I’m scared to ever go back and reread– I am not sure I could cope with going through that particular journey again.

‘American Psycho’ by Brett Easton Ellis. Love him or hate him, Easton Ellis is a prodigy. I adored this book, the way it played with reality, with satire, with character and notions of identity. I love books that toy with the reader. And it’s hugely funny, despite all the gory bits.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Hmmm… I think I’d have to say all those writers who are generous enough to share their journey, their struggles to learn the craft, to overcome rejection. They helped me get over the idea that writers are born rather than made, and that if you’re any good, you’ll be a literary genius from the first moment you set pen to paper. It’s not like that. You become good by increments, a never-ending process of improvement.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

I think the greatest challenge with Untouchable was structural. I like character-driven books which start slowly and build up, but so often in crime writing there’s a pressure to have a death right up in the early chapters. I wanted a balance where the reader gets to know Grace a little before the murder kicks off, whilst keeping the novel within the remit of a crime thriller.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  

Rewriting. Like most authors, I dread the editing process. There’s nothing worse than having to excise a chapter, a character, or prose you’ve spent hours crafting. It’s almost physically painful, but necessary; a good editor helps you see what needs to change or delete, for the greater good of the story as a whole.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Fab question! I am neck-deep in changing my latest book, Exposure, currently in the thick of structural edits – I’m at the stage where I feel lost in the woods with only my edit notes to guide me to safety.

In terms of Untouchable, I don’t think so. I had to get rid of a character I was extremely fond of – Lennox, Grace’s gay friend and personal trainer – but he’s been partially reincarnated as Nelson in Exposure, so I am grieving a little less now.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

I loved SJI Holliday’s debut, Black Wood and Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood. I’m about to read In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward, which I’ve been hearing so many good things about, and Tenacity by J S Law. I also enjoyed I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh, which is fast becoming a runaway bestseller.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Exposure is set in the world of porn, and is essentially the story of Leanne Jenkins - aka Kitty Sweet - now incarcerated in prison on a life sentence for double murder. It’s a very different story to Untouchable, and like many second novels, proving a pig to get right. Pray for me. I need all the help I can get.

Thanks to Sophie Christopher and Transworld, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..................

Attraction can be fatal..........

Grace is an escort in London, she is an expensive and high class one at that but is known as Stella by her clients and colleagues.  She also works as a telephonist in a rape crisis centre.  Stella has a "party piece" that makes her rather popular but you get the sense from the start that this life is her way of hiding from her past but what has happened to make her choose this life? When a fellow escort Amanda is found murdered and Grace realises that a party they attended together could be the key to her murder. Is it possible that she can work out why Amanda was killed without putting herself in more danger or before it's too late!??

This is the first book by Ava Marsh and what a debut it was, I didn't just like it, I LOVED it and it definitely didn't disappoint. This novel is like a rollercoaster ride and I was hooked from the beginning. I would state that due to mature content, I would recommend this for readers aged 18+. It is pretty gritty book in parts and there are alot of graphic scenes of prostitution and sex and it might not be to everyone's cup of tea but I thought that it was tastefully written. There were a few parts I did squirm through so it's definitely not for the fainthearted. I am really looking forward to reading more from Ava Marsh as she's definitely an author to watch and I would highly recommend this so don't say I never told you.

Untouchable is available on Kindle and in all good bookstores and is currently £1.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

Thanks to Headline and Elizabeth Masters I recieved a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..........

The story opens where we meet Emma Cartwright, 3 years ago she was Susan Webster, she murdered her twelve-week-old son Dylan and is now a child killer. Susan was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for her crime, and four weeks ago she was released early on parole with her new identity, address and a chance to rebuild her life that's been destroyed.

Apart from the authorities and her best friend Cassy who was a fellow inmate she befriended but has now also been released, nobody else was supposed to know where Susan was living. However, one morning whilst alone in her new home, an envelope is pushed through her door; it contains a photograph of a young boy and written on the back was “Dylan – January 2013”. Now Susan starts to question everything she has believed, she has no memory of the event, but Dylan is dead, she killed him, didn't she!?

Jenny Blackhurst has written a very clever debut thriller. Throughout the story there are separate chapters of the present and the past, going back in time to 1987 about a group of boys who meet at school and who are follow through to university. I did have my suspicions about certain people but I was completely wrong with the outcome. Family secrets and a web of lies kept me gripped and I couldn't get to the end quick enough. I LOVED it and it definitely didn't disappoint and would recommend it. I look forward to reading more work from Jenny Blackhurst and hopefully it won't be too long until I do.

How I Lost You is available on Kindle and in all good bookstores. It is only 99p on Kindle and the time of the publication of this review.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin

Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley I was given a copy of this in exchange for an honest review...........

Meet Milly Rose, a hopeless romantic who has had her fair share of heartbreak. Obsessed with all things Disney (who isn't?) but she refuses to give up on finding her Prince Charming  he has to be out there somewhere, isn’t he?

Milly is given a job to investigate the origins of an historical building in the village of Clovers Rest, she’s not sure what to expect. What she discovers takes her breath away - a beautiful real life Cinderella castle, complete with turrets, a magnificent drawbridge AND a very handsome owner, Cameron Heartstone.  As they both work together and begin to unearth family secrets and ghosts that haunt the Clover Castle, they can ignore the intense chemistry building between them, can't they!? Can they take a big leap of faith and find their own happily-ever-after?

I really enjoyed this book and I definitely needed this uplifting tale as I'd been having a tough few weeks and reading alot of heavy themed book so this book was very welcome.  This was a very bittersweet & heart-warming read, the story flows well throughout the book.  This is the first book I've read by Holly and I really enjoyed it. I read in a couple of days, it kept me turning the pages until the very end.  This story had it all with a little bit of humor, friendship and love - I found I had a little tear in my eye at the end along with shedding a few along the way, so grab this book, curl up on the couch and prepare to have a few lump in your throat moments too.  It definitely didn't disappoint.  Now excuse me while I go plan my Disney themed wedding.

Fairytale Beginnings is available on Kindle and from all good bookstores and is only 99p at publication of this review.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville

Thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and Netgalley, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.....

One Crime.  Two Brothers.  Seven Years of Secrets.

Ciaran and Thomas Devine are brothers, they'd been in and out of foster homes ever since their mother and father died.  Ciaran made Belfast headlines seven years ago as the “schoolboy killer,” is about to walk free.   At the age of twelve, he confessed to the brutal murder of his foster father, he tells the police that his brother Thomas had tried to stop him but he did it because the foster father was doing bad things to Thomas.  Ciaran's testimony reduced the sentence of his older brother, Thomas, who was also found at the crime scene, covered in blood.

The story  follows four key characters; Ciaran, Thomas, DCI Serena Flanagan and Probation Officer Paula Cunningham and  are perfectly written along two timeframes and is narrated in each character's point of view.  DCI Serena Flanagan has just returned to the department after recovering from breast cancer.  Probation Officer Paula Cunningham has been working with Ciaran to help him adjust to his release from prison.

This book is brilliant, it had me gripped from the first few pages right through to the end. I even had to slow down reading it as I didn't want it to end. The story does cover alot of subjects and situations which we're all too familiar with on a daily basis, from bullying, violence to paedophilia, whether it's on the news or in the papers, this story was near enough to real life. It is a pretty gritty book so it's definitely not for the fainthearted.  This is the first time that I've read a book by Stuart Neville, I didn't just like it, I LOVED it and it definitely didn't disappoint.  This is the first book in a new series I am hoping that it won't be too long until we meet DCI Serena Flanagan again and I am really looking forward to Stuart's next book already.  This is a 'must read' for all crime thriller fans.

Those We Left Behind is available on Kindle and in all good bookstores.