Friday 25 March 2016

Cut: The serial killer that took Europe by storm - Marc Raabe

As soon as I read the synopsis for Cut I knew it was a book I wanted to read, the reality however was slightly disappointing.

Gabriel spent twenty years of his life in an institution after the death of both of his parents, but now he's out, working as a security guard and trying to move on with his life. When the alarm is triggered at a derelict house and he receives a frantic call from his pregnant girlfirend Liz, his life is once again turned upside down and he's forced to revisit the past horrors of his childhood.

Someone from Gabriel's past has kidnapped Liz, he's out for revenge and nothing is going to stop him.

I found the authors writing style quite difficult to connect with but I don't know if it's the writing or the translation itself. The story was unbelievable in places (one example is people being shot several times but still able to get around and no mention of going to hospital or receiving any kind of treatment) and there were far too many coincidences for my liking. On a more positive note though Marc Raabe knows how to build tension as in the last quarter of the book the pace was severely ramped up as it raced to it's conclusion.

Overall I thought this was an average thriller and not one that I think can genuinely be called a psychological thriller.

With kind thanks to Bonnier publishing and NetGalley for the review copy.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Chosen Child - Linda Huber

I've never read any novels by Linda Huber before but I fell in love with this cover and I was delighted when the author offered me a copy for review.

Chosen Child is a cleverly woven psychological suspense novel and I was soon caught up in the story.

Ella and Rick are hoping to adopt a child but despite agreeing that they would look for a baby boy, Ella finds herself falling for a six year old girl called Soraya at an adoption party.

The other key character is Amanda, mother to eighteen month old Jaden. Unhappily married to Gareth she embarks on an affair with James but when she finds out she's pregnant and Gareth goes missing she doesn't know where to turn.

It's not long before we discover a connection between the characters and during a moment of madness tragedy strikes and it has destructive ramifications. What follows is a tale of deceit and blackmail which highlights one man's cowardice and turns two innocent women into victims and threatens a young girl's chances of her forever home.

Linda Huber has written a fabulous book with characters that are always believable and it's very easy to feel sympathy for both Amanda and Ella at different points in the book. It's a clever novel full of twists and turns that kept me captivated right up to the last page. If you enjoy a good thriller then I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of this book. As I said at the beginning of this review, I had never read anything by this author before but this is about to change as I've just found myself another favourite author and I'll be adding her previous books to my TBR pile very soon.

With kind thanks to author Linda Huber for the review copy.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Heavenfield - LJ Ross

Heavenfield is the third novel in the DI Ryan series by LJ Ross and one that I couldn't wait to start reading.

When a familiar face is found dead in a church, Ryan is the prime suspect and he has to clear his name. Could it be that his old nemesis The Circle is rearing it's ugly head again?

When more bodies are discovered Ryan suspects that each victim is somehow involved with the group but the pressure is on as someone is systematically picking off the people he wants to interrogate. It's not only members of The Circle that need to watch their backs though, as someone isn't happy about Ryan digging around in things that they don't think concern him and they want him stopped.

This was an absolute rollercoaster of a novel and the pace was relentless as you got nearer to the end. The tension was almost unbearable at one point. Who would live? Who would die? Would Ryan be able to make contact with the persons of interest before it was too late and just how many people are involved in The Circle no matter how tentatively?

LJ Ross is, in my opinion, becoming more and more accomplished with each novel that she writes. The characters and plot are believable and the descriptions of the locations always manage to transport me there even though I've never been to any of these places. I would suggest that you read Holy Island and Sycamore Gap before this one though as they will give you a much better understanding of the characters.

I can't recommend this book highly enough and I'm looking forward to catching up with DCI Ryan again later in the year.

With kind thanks to author LJ Ross for the review copy.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Alone: The Complete Trilogy review and author Q&A - Bob Summer

Alone: The Complete Trilogy is the bookworm equivalent to a DVD box-set, comprising of Alone But Not Lost, The Edge and Found. It's a tense, dark and disturbing psychological thriller following the lives of Sin, a reclusive, paranoid young woman and PC Sara Jones.

In Alone, we are introduced to Sin who lives in part of an asylum which she inherited from her abusive mother. She trusts no-one and lives with a constant fear of intruders and outside threats including her step-father who she finds out has just been released from prison. Her only contact with the outside world is via her handyman Hawk and an internet support group where she has recreated herself as "Judy"

Sin's story is uncomfortable reading at times but it's necessary to help you understand her mental state and paranoia. PC Sara Jones makes a few appearances in this novel as she is one of the police officers who visits Sin to follow up on a letter concerning her step-fathers release.

The Edge is book two and this time Sara is the main protagonist. As a police officer Sara believes that the law is to be obeyed and that no-one is above it, so when she suspects a male colleague of raping a teenage girl she begins questioning her own sanity. When someone close to Sin is found dead Sara once again finds herself having to contact Sin, but no-one knows where she is and as a result of Sara's investigation with her temporary colleague Alan, she has unwittingly put her son and his pregnant girlfriend in grave danger. Who can Sara trust and even if she can find Sin, will she be in any fit state to help her?

Found is the culmination of the trilogy. With her son Rhys and his girlfriend Anna still missing, Sara needs Sin's help now more than ever but she is still unsure who she can trust. Will Sara find Rhys and Anna before it's too late and will Sin finally find the freedom she so desperately craves.

This is a captivating trilogy full of unexpected twists with a cast of complex and flawed characters. It's a suspenseful story that moves at a brisk pace and will leave you second guessing yourself. Bob's writing style is accomplished and she does a fabulous job in ensuring that the story flows seamlessly while at the same time introducing more characters that become pivotal to the intricate plot. The Alone trilogy is brilliantly conceived and will draw you in from the first chapter.

I'm delighted that Bob Summer is joining me for a Q&A today.

Hello Bob and welcome to my blog. Thank you for taking the time to stop by today.
Thank you for having me.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Okay. I was born in Cardiff, grew up in Pembrokeshire, moved around a bit doing various jobs, moved back to Pembrokeshire and currently work for an oil inspection company while my imagination runs riot.

When did you first realise that you wanted to write a book?
I thought everybody wanted to write a book. Much in the same way everybody wants to find their ideal home or their soulmate. It feels odd that people don’t write. Even odder that they don’t read, it’s like finding somebody who hates puppies. They’re perfectly entitled to of course, but still I find it baffling.
That’s not to say I always wanted to be published. I wrote to keep myself out of mischief and my mind busy. I’m not good at doing nothing. I joined some online communities where we read and commented on each other’s stories, and it was great fun. The feedback became more and more positive until one day the wonderful Lindy Moone (of writer, editor and cover-creating fame) invited me to write a story for the antrollogy – a collection of stories called ‘For Whom the Bell Trolls’.  Available soon! All net profits will go to charity and it’s worth buying for the illustrations alone.
That invitation was a massive confidence boost and got me thinking that maybe I could find an audience of my own.

How did you choose your genre?
I didn’t, not really. While ‘Alone’ sits firmly inside psychological fiction, some of the feedback suggests it has a toe in literary as well as mystery, suspense, crime... maybe it is all those things. I didn’t have a genre in mind when I wrote it, like I say, I didn’t think about publishing—I simply wrote the story as it needed to be told.

How would you describe your novels to someone who has never read your work before?
This is such a tough question.  I’d like to think the stories are unique and the characters memorable; the books are sometimes light but often dark; occasionally violent but also a touch heart-warming… they are so many things. But I genuinely believe each reader approaches a book with a fresh eye and takes away fresh opinions. That, after all, is why books are so fabulous. A reader picks up a book and no matter how many times that story has been read before it becomes something unique. Incredible, isn’t it?
I’ve only told a select few non-writing people that the books are published, and that’s only because they’re people I didn’t want to keep secrets from. My husband for example, and no, he hasn’t read them—he doesn’t read fiction, yes I know he’s strange.
And I don’t want people to read my books in my voice, because the story wouldn’t work. And I only want people to read them through choice not obligation. That sounds precious, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to sound that way, but it’s like asking somebody, ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ or ‘Is my child clever?’ And if people know me, they’re going to be biased one way or the other, so everything gets murky and uncomfortable and well, no. I don’t talk about writing to people in my real life.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?
‘Alone But Not Lost’ was a last-minute shout. Right up until the final hour I knew it by a title which skirted too close to a song lyric. Only three words, but still, that title had to go. ‘The Edge’ and ‘Found’ were easier to select, because they fell into place very early in the first draft and stuck.

Can you describe how your novels take shape?
I understand that the literary term for my chosen approach to writing is ‘pantsing’.
My books tend to evolve. I write the story, I re-write, once, twice… a zillion times. And then I get a ‘better’ idea and so rewrite it again. The tales you hear about writers waking in the middle of the night to scribble fresh ideas on the pillow case are true.
I spend the majority of my time, if not all of my time, with my characters in mind. I might look like I’m cooking dinner or concentrating in work, but I’m not. I’m figuring out how I can get the gun back under the bed, or how many people I’m going to kill today. A writer’s mind is a wonderful place to be. We have great fun. I’m never bored.

What was the inspiration behind the trilogy?
I wanted to write about the dangers of isolation and loneliness, and how such conditions might affect a person’s ability to deal with difficult situations. We might think people make weird or foolish choices, but they’re making them within the constraints of their past experiences and knowledge. We rarely know what those limitations are unless we get their full story, secrets and all. ‘Alone’ is Sin’s story.

In Alone the protagonist Sin is a very dark character who suffers from paranoia, how easy is it to write a character of this nature?
I loved writing Sin’s scenes. Well-balanced and well-behaved characters are boring to write in comparison to the Sins. So the simple answer is, Sin was very easy and a lot of fun to write.

I enjoyed the way that Alone But Not Lost is Sin’s story, The Edge is Sara’s story and Found is a combination of the two. Was it always your intention to tell their stories in a trilogy or was it something that developed with the books?
Something that developed as I went along, because I thought the readers might need a break from being in Sin’s mind even if they wanted more of her story. She could be exhausting to read. Sara has her own problems to contend with which adds depth and broadens the story, and hopefully keeps tight hold of the readers’ interest. 

I see that you also wrote a book called Breaking East about a young girl called Atty James but it’s no longer available, Can you tell us more about that.
I loved writing Atty’s story. ‘Breaking East’ is a teen/YA book set in the not so distant future—very different from ‘Alone’. I took some well-meaning editorial advice and slotted a little romance in to add appeal before publishing, but some months later I re-read it and decided romance is not my thing. I’ve withdrawn it for now, but will put it back (minus the romantic bits) when the next two books in the trilogy are complete. I’ve got swanky new covers for them already, so they’re definitely coming.

Which do you enjoy more, writing novels or short stories?
The short stories are borne from perhaps a snippet in the news, or a line overheard in the checkout queue—sparks of a story which won’t fit in my current WIP but I don’t want to waste.
The characters in ‘Genie’ are similar to those in ‘Alone’ in that they are all characters under pressure, reacting in the only way they know how. Somebody suggested I should consider developing each story from the shorts collection into a novel. We’ll see. I’d like to write a few cheerful stories first. Whilst I stand by my belief that we’re all hiding bits of ourselves for fear of being thought odd, not all our oddities invite trouble. Lots are funny. So I might write a few of those next.

Is there a book that you’d like to have written?
Again, there are so many. If I HAD to choose one I’d opt for ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver, which is pure genius as far as I’m concerned. I’ve read it at least three times. And more recently I discovered Shirley Jackson and loved ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’. An incredible read—I wish I’d written that.

I believe that you’re currently working on a book about a man called Blue, are you able to tell us anything about it?
Blue is a fantastic character to write, I’m really enjoying myself. He’s a little bit weird and a little bit wonderful—as we all are.
His story is in three parts. The first is about Blue’s parents and how the family became locked onto this spiral of destruction and eventually trapped into a corner with no way out. The second is how Blue inherits and copes with this situation, which is no fault of his own, and the third is how he escapes and finds his own way in life. I’m still on the first draft and I’m hoping it’ll be ready for release in October, but it might be nearer the end of the year before it’s available. I make no promises—that’s one of the joys of working for myself.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers?
Thank you.
And please, if you enjoy a book please, pretty please, consider leaving a review. Not just for my book—all writers appreciate feedback.
I’m always happy to hear from readers via email or twitter. I’m learning how to ‘do’ Facebook now too. I came very late to social media—I know, tragic—but I’m beginning to love it a little more each day. Sort of.

Thanks again for having me here.

It's been a pleasure Bob, thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Alone: The Complete Trilogy is available to buy here and you can follow her on Twitter @BobSummer5
Also visit her website and check out two of her short stories by clicking on Bob's Shorts

With kind thanks to author Bob Summer for the review copy.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Catching The Light - Mary Grand

Catching The Light: Four women, four compelling short stories is a delightful book of four short stories about the power of friendship.

I stumbled upon this little treasure purely by accident one day whilst on Twitter and I'm so glad that I did.

Each story is written in a seemingly simple style but they are all thoroughly engaging and the characters are very easy to relate to.

The New Arrival and Belonging were my favourites. The first is an enchanting story about Rachel who has moved to a new area to escape her past and is trying to remain unnoticed, but when she takes in Lottie, her elderly neighbours spaniel, she finds a whole new world opening up to her.

Belonging  is a thought provoking read which tells the story of Megan who is deaf. When she meets John who is hearing they start a relationship and each of them struggle to understand the other's world. I learned a lot about what it means to be deaf and the struggles that people with this condition have to deal with on a day to day basis.

Mary Grand's stories are wonderfully descriptive and it's very clear that she has a fondness for both Wales and the Isle of Wight.

If you enjoy a good short story then I can highly recommend this book and it's currrently free on Amazon at the time of writing this review.

Saturday 5 March 2016

A day in the life of author Jane Isaac

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an author? How long do they spend infront of a screen writing and researching? Do they secretly spend their time procastinating on social media or are they looking out of the window watching the birds in their garden, drinking endless cups of tea as the hours tick by or do they fit their writing in around their 9 -5 routines?
Well wonder no more as I'm delighted to welcome Jane Isaac, author of recently re-published An Unfamiliar Murder to my blog today with her guest post titled a day in the life of an author.

I still feel the bounce in my stomach when I receive an email offering me a contract for a new book. I still pinch myself to believe that it is all true. I’d dreamed of the day I would get published, the day I would see my book on the shelf in Waterstones, receive feedback, reviews, do book signings...

Book promotion is an ongoing basis and something I’ve had to fit into my already hectic daily schedule. Once I’ve bundled my daughter off to school in the mornings I spend half an hour on the computer dealing with emails, answering messages, tweets etc. Then it’s off to the day job for me. (Like many writers I squeeze my writing into my marginal time.) I usually return around three and run around the field with my incredibly naughty, but wonderfully lovable Labrador, Bollo. Then, back onto the PC to catch up again with social media, whilst welcoming my daughter in from school and cooking the dinner, occasionally to disastrous results (luckily my guys are very easy going)!

The evening time is when I start to think about the real love of my life: my fiction. A few evenings a week, around 8pm, I sit at the PC for an hour or two, gather my thoughts, and spend some time either researching, editing, or writing a new stretch. I don’t give myself a daily word count – if I manage 1000 words it’s a bonus – but prefer to write in scenes. Depending on their complexity I can research for hours, days, sometimes weeks before I am ready to get the words on the page. 

For me, one of the most interesting elements of novel writing is research and it’s incredible what direction that can take. Some days I’m meeting interesting people like a former homicide detective to discuss police procedure, others I’m listening to some rare music or sitting outside a cafĂ© filtering my thoughts and people watching. For my second novel, The Truth Will Out, I spent hours watching episodes of Top Gear and listening to rap music on YouTube, all in pursuit of my goal.

It may seem that I don’t have much time to write, but my characters are never far from my mind and often in the supermarket queue, or by the pool during my daughter’s swim class, I’m jotting down notes that will later form some prose in my next novel. 

One of the wonderful things about becoming an author and sharing your work are the lovely people that you meet and messages you receive from readers. They still both surprise and thrill me, and I’m so touched that people take the time to get in touch. 

The day my books landed in my local bookshop was a very exciting moment for me. Seeing one of my books sit on the shelf above one of my favourite crime authors, Peter James, is still an exhilarating moment, every time I visit the store. 


Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder inquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim…

Leading her first murder investigation, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

Jane's book An Unfamiliar Murder is available now on Amazon here

Jane Isaac  writes detective novels with a psychological edge. She lives with her husband and daughter in rural Northamptonshire, UK where she can often be found trudging over the fields with her Labrador, Bollo. On 1st March 2016 she re-released her first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, originally published in the US in 2012, which was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.' Later in the year her fourth book, Beneath the Ashes, will be published by Legend Press.

I'd like to thank Jane for taking time out of her busy schedule to stop by today and if, like me, crime books are your thing then I highly recommend that you add this to your TBR.