Friday 28 July 2017

#Blog Tour - Deadly Friendship - Tara Lyons

I'm delighted to be one of today's stops on the blog tour for Deadly Friendship by Tara Lyons. This is the third book in the DI Hamilton Series and it's a series that just gets better and better!

DI Hamilton and his wife are enjoying a short break visiting her mother in the Lake District. While on a leisurely boat trip a body is discovered tied to the boat house. Despite being out of his jurisdiction, being at the scene of the discovery he's keen to be involved and even more eager when he realises how lackadaisical the local force are. When a note bearing a woman's name is found inside the cadaver's mouth he discovers a tentative link to a missing person case on his own patch so he pushes to take over the case. What he discovers is a close knit group of friends with a very dark secret that none of them want to talk about.

This is an author who certainly knows how to hook her readers in with a prologue, so if you're planning to start reading this when you go to bed like I did, be warned, you won't be reading just a few chapters, you'll still be clicking the pages several hours later! In Deadly Friendship we get to know DI Hamilton on a more personal level as well as the professional side and this to me makes him a more real and believable character. It was also interesting to see how the more recent additions to the team were fitting in with the existing team dynamics. Full of twists and turns that will leave you not knowing who to trust and excellently written, this is another cracking read from Tara Lyons and one that deserves to be on every crime lovers bookshelf!

If you haven't read any of the books in this excellent series then you're in luck as for a limited time you can download all three books in the DI Hamilton series for just £2.97 here.

                                                     About the author

Photo courtesy of Tara Lyons

Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. In the Shadows is Tara's debut solo novel published in March 2016. She co-wrote The Caller and Web of Deceit: A DI Sally Parker novella with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley.

In August 2016 Tara signed a two-book contract with Bloodhound Books. The second book in the DI Hamilton series, No Safe Home, was published in January 2017.

When she's not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son.

Sign up to Tara's monthly newsletter for exclusive news, previews and giveaways.

Find out more about the author and follow her writing journey:

Authors Electric Website

You can follow the rest of the tour on these brilliant blogs:

With kind thanks to publishers Bloodhound Books for the review copy.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Broken Branches - M. Jonathan Lee

Broken Branches is predominantly a story about Ian Perkins, a man who finds himself living back in his childhood home with his wife and young son, but living constantly with the fear of the family curse.

Cobweb Cottage has been in the Perkins family for years and being back there Ian is determined to discover the origins of the curse and in doing so save his son Harry from its clutches. The only thing is, while Ian is busy researching his family tree, he's neglecting everything in his real life.

Broken Branches is a dark, psychological thriller which borders on the supernatural at times. Told as a dual time frame, following Ian both in the present day and as a young boy growing up at Cobweb Cottage with his brother, which creates an unsettling, atmospheric, and at times claustrophobic read.

M. Jonathan Lee has written a thought-provoking book which tackles some very difficult topics including mental illness and suicide but he's done it in an extremely deft and sensitive manner. I loved the way that the mystery of the story was slowly revealed and as a reader I was intrigued as to where the story was going and what was real and what was in Ian's head. I also loved the clever title, Broken Branches, relating to not only the menacing tree in the garden which could almost be considered another character in the book, but to the splintering of the family over the generations.

Broken Branches is a compelling read and one that I would highly recommend.

With kind thanks to publishers Hideaway Fall for the review copy.

Monday 24 July 2017

#Blog Tour: Long Shot - Jack Steele

I'm so excited and hugely honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for Long Shot, the amazing new book from Jack Steele.

This time last year I read Jack's debut novel, Loose Cannon (you can read my review here) and I was completely blown away by how good it was. After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting I got the email I'd been patiently waiting for, the sequel was ready and my review copy of Long Shot arrived in my inbox and I got stuck straight in.

Long Shot is the second book in the Detective Joe Stone series and picks up with Joe and his team two weeks after Loose Cannon. While they're in the process of tying up the loose ends of the previous case they suddenly have to drop everything to deal with a terrorist attack at St Paul's Cathedral. As if this wasn't enough for them to deal with, Joe's called in by his boss Stern, who informs him that following media criticism, the Government have brought forward a scheduled visit to the Strategic Investigation Unit . . . and the Prime Minister, Defence Secretary, the Mayor along with representatives of the Tower Hamlets community and the church will be arriving in an hour. Everyone has endless questions and Joe is relieved when it's all over, that is until the Prime Minster makes an announcement to the press waiting outside, telling them that the SIU have been granted additional funding and they will now be covering the whole of London.

Knowing that this announcement will put them all under more scrutiny, Joe is even more determined to catch the people involved with the latest attack on the city. After visiting St Paul's and planning their next move, his colleague Stella receives a phone call from her best friend, Jessica, informing her that she has one of the terrorists in her house.

I'll be totally honest and tell you that I was a little nervous when I received my ARC copy, having loved Loose Cannon as much as I did, was I setting myself up for a fall? Would Jack Steele be able to live up to my high expectations? My answer lovely reader is not only did he live up to them. . . . he exceeded them with a hard hitting thriller that will leave you breathless! Long Shot has everything I look for in a thriller, short, punchy chapters combined with a great cast of believable characters. Following Detective Joe Stone as the investigation ramped up I kept having to remind myself to breathe on more than one occasion. Although you could easily read this as a stand-alone novel, I would recommend that you read Loose Cannon first so that you get to know Joe's background and there's no better time to get yourself a copy as it's currently available to download for just 99p / 99c from today until 31st July. As for me, I'm now going to wait patiently for the next book in the series, so I seriously hope that you've already made a start on it Mr Steele! 😄

Long Shot is available to pre-order now for delivery to your Kindle on 29th July.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

                                                  About Jack Steele

Photo courtesy of Jack Steele

I live in Nottinghamshire but was born in Hackney, London and grew up on the Bannister House Housing Estate in Hommerton. I work full-time in the printing industry but with the help of a very understanding wife I manage to find time to indulge in my favourite passions of reading and writing. It can be a balancing act trying to fit it all in but as I enjoy writing so much it doesn’t seem like too much of a trial.

I spent five years researching books, magazines, documentaries, movies and internet articles on various subjects as well as completing a creative writing course and attending workshops run by the Nottingham Writers Studio.

It was a great achievement in 2016 when I published my first Crime Thriller novel 'Loose Cannon' with great reviews. It was the first in the Detective Joe Stone series and I was encouraged to write the sequel ‘Long Shot’ which is due for publication on July 29th 2017.

                                    A few words from Jack 

My writing style is a fast-paced page turner with cliff hangers, moral dilemmas and believable characters.
I would like to thank all my readers, editors, bloggers and Crime book club friends who have been so supportive throughout this process. Their encouragement drives me on to write the next book in the series.

You can find out more and connect with Jack using the links below:


You can follow the rest of the blog tour on these fantastic blogs:

With kind thanks to author Jack Steele for the review copy.

Sunday 23 July 2017

#Blog Tour Her Deadly Secret - Chris Curran

I'm thrilled to be today's stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Secret, the latest release from Chris Curran. I handed my blog over to Chris last year, where she divulged ten things you didn't know about her, and I remember thinking at the time that I really should read one of her books, so I was delighted when she asked me to be a part of her blog tour.

Joe and Hannah Marsden are struggling to cope after their fourteen-year-old daughter Lily doesn't come home from school one day. Joe appears to be dealing with the situation slightly better than Hannah though, which leads their family liaison officer to think that Hannah is hiding something.

Meanwhile, Rosie Weatherall is following the Marsdens story on the news and it's stirring up old memories. Her sister, Alice, was murdered, so she can completely understand what the family is going through.

The two stories are connected but which character is going to be the one to reveal Her Deadly Secret?

I never know quite what to expect when I read a new (to me) author but I'm pleased to say I loved this book. To begin with I was confused with Rosie's character and couldn't see where she fitted in with the Marsdens but this is a story about secrets so I kept reading, confident that I'd find out soon enough. Joe's character was heart-breaking at times, desperate to do everything he could to help find his missing daughter, whilst knowing that he's being closely scrutinised by the family liaison officer and constantly being rejected by his wife. You could feel the strain and pressure that the relationship was under and my heart went out to him.

Her Deadly Secret is a complex novel, cleverly told from separate view points within each chapter.
Once I realised how the two seemingly unconnected families were linked I was quickly forming a list of potential suspects and conclusions in my head, only to have the rug pulled from under my feet as I read the next chapter. When I reached the end I was genuinely shocked as it wasn't the ending I was expecting, but I mean that in a good way. Chris Curran has written an absorbing and at times poignant story and I won't be leaving it too long before I pick up another one of her books.

If you love your books dark and twisty then this is a perfect book for you.

                                                   About the author

Photo courtesy of Chris Curran

Chris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers. She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award. Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is available as an ebook now for just 99p (at the time of posting) and will be published as a paperback in August.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour on these fabulous blogs.

With kind thanks to author Chris Curran for the review copy.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

The Art of Hiding - Amanda Prowse

The Art of Hiding is another first-class novel from Amanda Prowse and as always one that will pull at your heartstrings.

Nina has a wonderful life, a gorgeous house, two wonderful boys and a husband, Finn, who spoils them all. When Finn is killed in a car accident Nina is naturally devastated, she's lost the man she loves and just when she thinks things can't get any worse she finds out that Finn has been hiding a terrible secret and one that will change Nina's and her boys lives.

Struggling with the knowledge that Finn has left her with nothing, Nina reaches out to her sister Tiggy, and she finds herself back in her old neighbourhood, on a run-down estate, a place she never thought she'd return to and certainly not living there.

The new life that Nina finds herself living isn't an easy one by any means, but with the help of family and friends she starts to turn things around and realises that money isn't everything. It's the things that money can't by that are the most valuable.

This is a novel that will leave you thinking about your own life as well as questioning how you would cope if you were unfortunate enough to find yourself in a similar situation. The Art of Hiding is an uplifting book concentrating on the importance of family and being surrounded by people who care about and support you when life is rough. Showing that if you have this you can start to put the pieces back together and get through anything. Packed full of wonderful, real characters and filled with emotions this is another enthralling book from Amanda Prowse and of course one that I would highly recommend!

With kind thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing as well as Amanda and Simeon Prowse for the review copy.

Saturday 15 July 2017

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Gina Kirkham

I'm so excited today as I'm handing over to the very lovely Gina Kirkham, who  recently published her debut novel, Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong, with Urbane Publications.


Meet Mavis Upton.

As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It's time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?

Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum's much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.

Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham's humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

                                            *    *    *    *

So that's the book, what about the lovely (and gorgeous) lady behind the words? Allow me to introduce you all to Gina Kirkham.

Photo courtesy of Gina Kirkham

Gina was born during the not-so-swinging 50's to a mum who frequently abandoned her in a pram outside Woolworths and a dad who, after two pints of beer, could play a mean Boogie Woogie on the piano in the front room of their 3-bed semi on the Wirral.

Being the less adventurous of three children, she remains there to this day - apart from a long weekend in Bognor Regis in 1982. Her teenage years were filled with angst, a CSE in Arithmetic, pimples, PLJ juice, Barry White and rather large knickers.  Marriage and motherhood ensued, quickly followed by divorce in her early thirties and a desperate need for a career and some form of financial support for herself and her daughter. Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany of fond memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries. And thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police.

On reaching an age most women lie about, she quickly adapted to retirement by utilising her policing skills to chase after two granddaughters, two dogs and one previously used, but still in excellent condition, husband. Having said goodbye to what had been a huge part of her life, she suddenly had another wonderful epiphany. This time it was to put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer.

Lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling and contemplating life as she knew it, Gina's alter-ego, Mavis Upton was born, ready to star in a humorous and sometimes poignant look at the life, loves and career of an everyday girl who followed a dream and embarked upon a search for the missing piece of her childhood.

                                                 *    *    *    * 


            Oh my goodness, I’ve written a book, I’ve really written a book…  

I stared at the bedroom ceiling watching the amber light from the lamppost outside sneak through a gap in the blinds, marking a pattern across the wall.  Yep, I’ve written a book and I am just beginning to find out that writing it was actually the easy bit!

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning.  The start of a brand-new day; another day of excitement, expectations, another round of frantically refreshing Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles, W. H Smith -  in fact any site that happens to be selling my book whilst simultaneously providing the horrors and joys of Reader Reviews.  The section, that as an author you dread looking at just in case, but are compelled to do so as it is somehow a measure of the acceptance of your words and your passion to write.

I hadn’t really thought further ahead than achieving my dream of having my first book Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong, published.  I hadn’t thought about sales, interviews, magazine pieces or personal appearances.  I hadn’t even thought about being expected to talk to an audience without glowing with so much perspiration and fear that my strapless, stick-on bra, the one I’d accidentally bought when I fell asleep with my finger adhered to my iPad whilst logged on to one-click ordering on Amazon, suddenly decided to part company with my skin, appear from the hem of my dress and settle gently at my feet amid sniggers from the first two rows of the audience.  I carried on expounding the virtues of policing in the 21st century whilst trying to kick it under a nearby table, but failed miserably as although the adhesive was not good for skin, it fared pretty well on leather and remained glued to the toe of my shoe until the end of my talk.

I was only just starting to realise that I had in effect popped my head above the parapet of anonymity.  

I sometimes think I’m a bit of an anomaly.  I am both optimistic and cheerful, always trying to see the best in people and life in general; but I am also a born worrier who is desperate to please, I lack confidence in my abilities and if anyone is likely to tear me down, it’s me!

My mum used to call it endearing, my hubby calls it attractive, my friends call it cute; I call it ‘hell in a handbag’; my naughty little voice.

My naughty little voice puts paid to most lovely things in my life.  It can, when not controlled, change everything to a worry or a negative.  

Since becoming part of the wonderful world of books, I have got to know and meet some pretty fantastic people, Authors, Bloggers Reviewers and Readers.  It truly is a big supportive family who love to see others succeed.  Their reviews of my book have been amazing, nothing to drag the naughty little voice out of hiding, apart from my worry when told that etiquette meant I couldn’t thank them or even ‘like’ the review they had left.  Not thanking someone for being so kind always feels alien; but I understood why and my confidence was happily beginning to grow.

And then it had happened.

The dreaded poor review on Goodreads.  It stung.  In fact, it stung a lot.  It didn’t quite send me weeping and wailing into the downstairs loo dragging off sheets of Aldi 2-ply (we’re cheap in this family) to blow my nose on, or bring me to the point of despair where I would contemplate applying to the local Carmelite Monastery in Birkenhead, which, as much as being hidden from the world appealed at the time, with my track record, they probably wouldn’t have me anyway - but it was a review that did hurt, nonetheless.

I thought I had been prepared for this, I’d read the hopes and expectations of established authors, the highs and the lows, poured over the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2016 and believed I could handle it.

Clearly not.  That’s why I’m lying here, wide awake, my naughty little voice on over-time, thinking of that one poor review and wondering what I could have done better; castigating my desire to please whilst contemplating thrashing myself with a branch from my neighbours Weeping Willow for a poor performance and then just as quickly being annoyed with myself for allowing one review to overshadow all the lovely ones that readers, reviewers and bloggers had so kindly taken the time to leave.

To comfort myself, I started browsing Amazon and Goodreads for my favourite authors to see if they had any 2* reviews, and was surprised to see they did, which then made me wonder how they coped, how did they deal with it?  

After much soul searching, I decided that low rating reviews should be taken as a learning curve, a sort of positive critique to benefit my writing.  Mentally punching my naughty little voice on the nose, I set about confronting critique head-on.  I accepted an invitation by a local Reading Group to be present when they reviewed my book, which they had read the previous month.

I mentioned my decision to friends, fellow authors and family.

“You need your head reading…”

“Don’t do it, just don’t….”

“Authors don’t do that, it’s just…. well, plain daft!”

“Are you mad?”

“Always knew there was something masochistic about you.” 

Well, that told me, didn’t it?  But could I really afford to be so precious about my ‘baby’ that I wasn’t willing to accept or listen to views and critique from those who had bought and read my book, the very same people I am trying to please.

So, here I am, perched on a bar stool, which being seriously vertically challenged took me a very ungainly five-minutes to get on to, slugging a double Gin in front of forty plus women with a huge backdrop screen showing my face and my book, whilst I wait for their good and bad reviews of Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong. 
I smile nicely, probably more with a ‘please don’t eat me alive’ look as the whites of my eyes shine in the sun-lit room, my heart is pounding, perspiration is beginning to trickle down my back as my naughty little voice screams loudly in my mind……
‘I hope your not wearing that ruddy stick-on bra from Amazon again...!
….. as I quickly tuck my chiffon top between my upper thighs and squeeze my knees together tightly.

                                                     *    *    *    *

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is the next book on my list so watch out for my review coming soon.

You can find out more about Gina and connect with her using the links below:
Twitter (Gina Kirkham
Twitter (Mavis Upton)

 I'd like to thank Gina for taking the time to write her wonderful guest post and for stopping by today, it's been an absolute pleasure having you here. 😉