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!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ December Girl by Nicola Cassidy

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for December Girl by Nicola Cassidy where I have a review of Nicola's debut novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Nicola Cassidy & Sarah Hardy from Bombshell 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 is my review:

Molly Thomas is a feisty, independent soul, born on the Winter Solstice.  At every stage of her life she has faced troubles.  As a young woman her family are evicted from their home at Christmas. Molly swears vengeance on the jealous neighbour and land agent responsible, Flann Montgomery.  Then in 1896 her baby son is taken from his pram.  Molly searches the streets for Oliver.  The police are called but her baby is gone.  Why does trouble seem to follow Molly?  And will she ever find out what happened to her child?

Well, what can I say about December Girl only that I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it.  It was brilliant and I cannot believe that this is Nicola's debut novel, it was written so well and with such emotion. December Girl is a tale of family bonds, love, revenge and murder. It is a historical fiction novel set in Ireland in the 19th Century, mainly in Drogheda where I live so I had a good feel for the locations here that were used in the novel and part of it is also in London.  There are multiple back stories intertwined throughout December Girl which works so well and it all comes together to make this novel just perfect.  For me it was such an emotionally charged read as so much happens to Molly from almost the start of the novel and then when you think that everything's going to be ok, something else is thrown into the mix and you're plunged back to thinking, is she ever going to catch a break!? I don't want to say anymore about this as I don't want to give too much away other than go and pick up a copy of December Girl in your local bookshop or on Kindle and snuggle up on the couch with this and definitely some chocolate (as you're going to need it). I HIGHLY recommend December Girl and I'd even go as far as to say it'd definitely be in my top reads of 2017. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Nicola's next novel will have in store but no pressure at all.

December Girl is available in all good bookstores and is currently £1.99 on Kindle at the time of publication of this review so go and get it, you won't regret it.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ Shadows by Paul Finch

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Shadows by Paul Finch where I welcome Paul to my blog where he has kindly provided a very interesting 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:

‘Who are you?’ Lazenby asked, instinctively closing his laptop to protect the information it contained.

‘Me? Oh, I’m no one important enough to have a cool nickname.’

‘You a cop?’

The man smiled to himself. ‘I’m guessing they call you Ordinary Joe because you look and act like an everyday Charlie. Perhaps we should call you that, instead: “Everyday Charlie”.’

‘I could ring my solicitor right now,’ Lazenby said, talking tough, though in truth his hair was prickling because he didn’t know if he could; he had no clue how much the law might have on him. ‘This is harassment.’

‘Be my guest,’ the guy said. ‘Ring him.’

‘I’ll see you around, officer.’ Lazenby did his best to look relaxed as he lifted his briefcase, slid his laptop into it, and clicked it closed. ‘Come back when you’ve actually got something.’

He stood up.

‘You know harassment’s hard to prove,’ the man said. ‘I should know . . . me and my associates have made that call a few times. Never got anywhere with it.’

Lazenby was about to leave the table, when these words sank in. 

He turned back, regarding the newcomer with careful deliberation, before sitting down again.
‘You’re the Crew, aren’t you?’ he ventured.

The man looked nonplussed as he sipped more gin. ‘The Crew? Never heard of them.’

One second ago, Lazenby had been stiff and numb; his spine had gone cold – internally he’d been reeling with shock that the law had so unexpectedly caught up with him. He’d tried to brazen it out, praying that whoever this interloper was he was merely on a fishing trip. Now he felt only relief, though there was no guarantee he was on safe ground yet.

‘Look . . .’ he said warily, ‘we don’t need to have a problem here. I’m more than willing to do a deal.’

Saturday, 23 September 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan where I welcome Phoebe to my blog where she has kindly provided a very interesting blog piece on 'How working in publishing changed your perception/motivated you to write'.  I was thrilled to be asked by Helena Sheffield from Harper Collins 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:

I did write before getting into publishing, but since being in the industry I do have quite a new perspective on it all. As a fiction editor, part of my job is to work out which books will sell and which won’t, and I spend the majority of my time reading and analysing manuscripts with the aim of making them stronger, tighter and ultimately more readable. As an editor, I put myself in the role of the reader, but when writing my own books this is harder. It’s so important to try to imagine how someone else, someone totally unconnected to you, would feel when reading your book for the first time. Would they want to read more than a page? Would they be confused by your characters? Would they be satisfied by the ending? 

I really believe that we all need that outside perspective on our work, because when you’ve worked on something for so long, you do lose sight of it and it’s impossible to see it with fresh eyes. I’m very lucky to have had excellent editorial feedback from the team at HQ on my book, and the points they made were all things I agreed with but which I just hadn’t seen because I’d been staring at the page for so long. So it’s always worth having someone else read your work, whether that’s a professional editor, an agent or just a trusted friend who will give it to you straight.

Working in publishing has also given me a good insight into the amount of competition which is out there. There are many, many brilliant books in the world but I don’t think it ought to be a competition – there’s room for everyone, and what one reader might like, another might hate. Some of the books I’ve published have received rave reviews, but amongst those reviews there’s nearly always the one-star brigade, and that’s fine – no book can please everyone, because writing and reading are ultimately subjective things. However, being aware of the competition is a good thing because it’s motivating; I see other books with stand-out hooks and feel excited to read them. I look at the covers of other novels and wonder how mine sits against those, and I read as much as I can to try to understand what makes some books work and others not. 

In a publishing house, I also get to see the inside process of how books are made, which I now take into account when writing. I hear sales people explain how important the cover is, and digital experts emphasise the key factors of pricing and promotion. I understand how publicity and marketing work, and above all I appreciate how much hard work goes in to bringing a novel to the market. It’s so much more than just the author, and that is something I try to think of when I’m struggling with a plot point. We all work hard at our jobs, and if this is going to be mine too, I need to have another coffee and keep going as anyone else in publishing would.

Friday, 22 September 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ The Angel by Katerina Diamond

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Angel by Katerina Diamond where I welcome Katerina to my blog where he has kindly provided an extract to me for her upcoming release. 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:

The doorbell rang and Martina answered it, her heart beating fast. It was still glowing outside even though the sun had gone down, the snow reflecting the street lamps. Satisfaction crept over Martina as she saw a flicker in Charlie’s eye, a recognition that she was a beautiful woman. She hadn’t seen that look for a while, least of all from her husband. He handed her the baby formula. She looked at the tin in her hand, confused for a moment, almost forgetting why she had invited him over. Smiling, she walked inside, leaving the door open and without even asking the question. She put the formula next to the sink and turned to see Charlie standing behind her, a little too close. She could see him concentrating on making sure his eyes stayed fixed on her face; no glancing down.

‘Would you like some wine?’

‘Yes please, that sounds perfect. Can I put the baby down somewhere? He’s just nodded off.’

‘Sure, put him in the cot with Jamie.’

Charlie disappeared upstairs and Martina adjusted her breasts, undoing one more button on her dress. She took the roasted chicken she had made in the afternoon out of the oven and placed it on the table, then set the table for two and took a bottle of white wine out of the fridge.

Charlie appeared again and smoothed down trousers nervously before sitting at the table. Martina served him some salad and a leg of chicken while he poured the wine for them both. She cleared her throat. This felt like a date, which hadn’t really been her intention. Or had it?

She tried to think about Sophie laid up in bed, or her husband stuck at work, kept away by the snow. The smaller villages outside the city were never really a priority for the salt that the council sometimes provided to keep the roads clear.

They ate together, making small talk while the babies remained asleep. Martina opened a second bottle of wine, aware that she was feeling tipsy, a welcome warmth in her belly that only came when she was drunk. It had been so long since she had relaxed, it hadn’t even occurred to her before how tense she felt usually. Being in a conversation with a different man awakened her to how bad the conversations she had with her husband were, with him always making her feel stupid or shutting her down before she had even started.



When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

Miles and Grey are back in the thrilling new novel from bestselling author Katerina Diamond, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and M.J. Arlidge, Orange Is The New Black and Locked Up.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ The Mother by Jaime Raven

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Mother by Jaime Raven where I welcome Jaime to my blog where he has kindly done a Q&A session with me. 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 Q&A so without further ado, here it is:

  • What inspired you to write your first book? 

The first Jaime Raven book was THE MADAM. The story is about a prostitute named Lizzie Wells who goes to prison for a crime she didn’t commit. While she’s inside her young son dies so when she gets out she seeks revenge against those responsible. 

I live in Southampton on the South coast and one day I discovered that the city has a dark side. It’s home to a large number of prostitutes, or ‘escorts’ as many like to be called. Anyway, it was this that inspired me to come up with the storyline for THE MADAM.

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

I’m busy at present helping to promote THE MOTHER while at the same time finishing off my next book for Avon/Harper Collins. This book is out early next year and I’ve just completed the first draft. It’s provisionally called THE THREAT and is set in London. I don’t want to give anything away at this stage because the team at Avon haven’t seen it yet. Fingers crossed they like it. 

The promotional work for THE MOTHER takes up a fair amount of time because I have to write magazine features and blog posts, and do interviews. But I actually enjoy it and I know how important it is to get your book noticed in what is such a competitive environment.

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It usually takes me six months to write a book of about 85,000 words. The book I’m now working on is over 100,000 words so it’s taken a little longer. Of course, that doesn’t include the editing process which begins after I submit the manuscript, first to my agent and then to Avon.

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

The biggest challenge for me is having to push myself to write between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day even when I don’t feel like it. The pressure becomes more intense if I have to work to a deadline. 
I also find it hard to deal with my fiercest critic - ME! I agonise over the smallest thing and this leads to many, many sleepless nights. 

The research I find easy and fun thanks to the internet and the Google search engine.

  • What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Trying to switch off. It’s always a problem for me because I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Once I start a book I can’t stop thinking about how it’s going and what I’ll put in the next chapter. It’s true to say that it takes over my life and there’s very little room for anything else. Thankfully my family members and friends are very understanding.

  • What books have most influenced your life? 

These would be books written by two of the greatest crime writers – Agatha Christie and Mickey Spillane. My mother was a huge fan of both and she encouraged me to read their books in my early teens. That was how I became hooked on crime novels. The pair are very different writers but they both knew how to put together riveting stories. 

  • Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

I’ve been following with interest fellow Avon author C L Taylor. I’ve read all her books – The Lie, The Accident, The Missing and The Escape. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them all and look forward to her next book, The Treatment, which is due out in October. 

  • Have you ever gotten writer’s block?

No I haven’t. Whenever I get stuck I force myself to write down anything as long as it’s legible. It doesn’t have to be any good or make any sense. The point is to get something down on paper, which means you’re continuing to move forward with the book. I can knock it into shape later and this works for me every time. 

  • What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

It’s a book called The Mark, which was the first in a series of thrillers by American author Jason Pinter. It features a journalist named Henry Parker and was a bestseller in the US. But as far as I know it didn’t do so well here. And that’s a shame because it’s fast-paced and action-packed. A prime example of what makes a good thriller.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

I have a list of names that I’ve pulled together from newspaper stories and TV programme credits. When I start developing a story I refer to the list and this helps me decide on names for characters. But I also sometimes use the names of friends and relatives. The ruthless villain in my new book is named after a boy I used to know who was a horrible bully!


I’ve taken your daughter, as punishment for what you did…

Prepare to be gripped by the heart-stopping new thriller from the author of The Madam, the read that taps into every mother’s worst fear. 

South London detective Sarah Mason is a single mother. It’s a tough life, but Sarah gets by. She and her ex-husband, fellow detective Adam Boyd, adore their 15-month-old daughter Molly.

Until Sarah’s world falls apart when she receives a devastating threat: Her daughter has been taken, and the abductor plans to raise Molly as their own, as punishment for something Sarah did.

Sarah is forced to stand back while her team try to track down the kidnapper. But her colleagues aren’t working fast enough to find Molly. To save her daughter, Sarah must take matters into her own hands, in a desperate hunt that will take her to the very depths of London’s underworld.

A gripping new voice in crime fiction, this book is perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Jessie Keane.

About The Author: Jaime Raven is an award-winning journalist who has worked for newspapers including the Sun and the Daily Mail, as well as a former script writer and TV producer. She is the author of The Madam, and lives in Southampton.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

BLOG TOUR ~ 99 Red Balloons by Elizabeth Carpenter

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for 99 Red Balloons by Elizabeth Carpenter where I welcome Elizabeth to my blog where she has kindly provided an extract from his latest novel. 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’s been forty-two hours. It feels like it’s getting darker in the mornings since she’s been gone, but I must be imagining it; the clocks don’t go back for another month. Grace will be back before then. She has to be. 
The only person who’s slept longer than a few hours is Jamie and that’s because I made him. Even then he woke up upset, asking if Grace was back. The last helicopter patrol was last night. The sound of the propellers reminded us that Grace is out there somewhere. The police have searched the newsagent’s, playgrounds, car parks, her friends’ houses, neighbours’ houses, and places I didn’t know existed in town. It’s like she’s just vanished.
Between us, Mum and I have managed to straighten the house and get it looking as though it hasn’t been pulled apart. Unlike the initial search of the house, the police were more thorough yesterday. They tried, but didn’t put everything back as it was. We ran Emma a bath so she didn’t have to watch as we put things away.
People have been bringing round dishes of lasagne, sausage casseroles, pies, which cover almost every kitchen surface. We’ve only eaten the ones from the next-door neighbours. Mum said we shouldn’t trust any of the others as we don’t know where they’ve come from. I thought she was being picky, but when the Family Liaison Officer, Nadia, didn’t touch them either, they went in the bin.
There’s a knock at the door.
‘I’ll get it.’ Nadia gets up from her place in the kitchen. She sits near the doorway. We can’t see her, but she’s close enough to hear what’s being said in the sitting room. Perhaps she’s been told to listen to what we say in case one of us knows where Grace is. Whatever the reason for her being here is, at least we don’t have to answer the door any more.
‘Those bloody reporters,’ says Matt. ‘Can’t they leave us alone? If they’ve got nothing useful to tell us, they should just keep the hell away.’
He still won’t look at me for more than a few seconds. Should I have replied to his message the other night? What would I have said? Text messages are terrible when discussing something important, but we can’t talk properly here. There are too many people around us all the time.
‘It’s Detective Hines,’ says Nadia. She stands with her back to the fireplace and folds her arms.
‘Morning,’ he says. He looks as though he’s been wearing the same suit for days. His tie is about three inches from the top of his collar. There are bags under his eyes and stubble is beginning to shadow his face. ‘I want to make a television appeal.’ 
Emma’s sitting in the chair by the window, her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them. It takes her a few seconds to acknowledge that someone has spoken.
‘Pardon?’ Her voice is cracked; she hasn’t spoken for hours.
‘An appeal,’ says Matt. ‘They want us to go on television.’
‘You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to,’ says Hines, ‘but it might help jog people’s memories if they’ve seen anything out of the ordinary.’
‘Of course,’ she says. She looks away from the detective and resumes gazing through the window. She’s waiting for Grace. Any minute now she might walk back home. Emma wants to be ready for her, to open the door. ‘If we do it,’ she says, ‘I want Stephanie to be with me.’
Hines writes in his notepad again. ‘And you’re Grace’s aunt?’
Why does he keep asking me that? I thought detectives remembered everything.

‘Yes,’ I say.