Sunday 18 July 2021

Blog Tour - Let Sleeping Murder Lie - Carmen Radtke


I loved Carmen Radtke's historical fiction novels so I was excited to hear that she was writing a contemporary cozy mystery and couldn't wait to dive in. 

In Let Sleeping Murder Lie we meet Eve Holdsworth, a translator, who grew up in Seattle but has spent several years in England. Her latest rental property is Ivy Cottage, in a quaint countryside village, which is perfect for her requirements and when she runs into local man Ben things look even better.

What she doesn't know is that five years previous, Ben was accused of brutally murdering his wife Donna in their home and is somewhat of an outcast to the community. Having met and chatted to Ben she is reluctant to believe that he's capable of such an horrific crime she sets out to prove his innocence with the help of her new friend Hayley.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book with it's wonderful cast of characters, it was an absolute joy to read. The depiction of village life was exactly as I've always imagined it to be, with it's close knit community, local pub along with it's fair share of gossips who aren't afraid to voice their opinions! I was instantly drawn in and wanted to have a drink in The Green Dragon and be friends with Eve to help her solve the mystery.

Carmen Radtke has perfectly balanced mystery and romance without being too heavy handed with either, making Let Sleeping Murder Lie an absorbing read. It reminded me a little of M. C. Beaton's novels, Agatha Raisin, and I think that this would be a perfect beginning for a whole series of books. I, for one, would definitely read them!



                                           About the author

Photo courtesy of Carmen Radtke

Carmen Radtke has spent most of her life with ink on her fingers and a dangerously high pile of books and newspapers by her side.

She has worked as a newspaper reporter on two continents and always dreamt of becoming a novelist and screenwriter.

When she found herself crouched under her dining table, typing away on a novel between two earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, she realised she was hooked for life.

When Carmen is not writing cozy mysteries, reading or dreaming of travel, she is busy acting as resident cat servant or tap-dancing (badly, but enthusiastic).

She is currently working on her next Jack and Frances mystery.

You can find out more about Carmen, her books and connect with her using the links below:

With kind thanks to Zoe at Zooloo's Book Tours for my stop on the tour and Carmen Radtke for my review copy.

Saturday 10 July 2021

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Juliane Weber


I'm absolutely thrilled to be hanging out with Juliane Weber today here on The Hippo. Juliane's debut historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky, is the first in The Irish Fortune Series and it's getting great reviews. You might also like to know that it's free to downoad today!

As always let's start by introducing you to the lovely lady behind the words.


Photo courtesy of Juliane Weber

Juliane is actually a scientist. She holds degrees in physiology and zoology, including a PhD in physiology. During her studies she realised, however, that her passion lay not in conducting scientific research herself, but in writing about it. Thus began her career as a medical writer, where she took on all manner of writing and editing tasks, in the process honing her writing skills, until she finally plucked up the courage to write her first historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky. The book is the first in The Irish Fortune Series, which is set in 19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine.

Juliane is inspired by Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander Series of books, who also happens to be a scientist turned novelist.

Juliane lives with her husband and two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.

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Welcome to The HIppo Juliane! Grab a chair, make yourself at home and let's chat.

Hi Neats. Thank you for letting me hang out with you today!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes, and in fact I do write under a pseudonym, at least sort of… Weber is actually my maiden name. I studied science and later became a medical writer, and during that time I published numerous articles using my maiden name. I therefore thought I would continue using this name for my fiction writing, making it my “professional” name or a pseudonym of sorts. Plus, I figured that Weber would be easier to pronounce than my married name, which is Popović, thanks to my Serbian husband 😊


Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
My love of books and reading started very early on, with bedtime stories that were always part of my bedtime routine when I was growing up. Both my parents are also avid readers and as soon as I could read myself, I too started devouring all sorts of books and never stopped. As for my love of writing, that only developed during my studies, when I was writing research papers and other scientific articles and found that I really enjoyed it. But it was only after I had worked as a medical writer for several years that I started writing my first novel and found that I loved storytelling too!    


What did you edit out of your last book?
I edited out a few of the later chapters of Under the Emerald Sky after somebody told me in a very rude way that my book was too long to be considered for publication. I found this quite annoying, as to me, a book is simply as long as it needs to be in order to tell the story. There are any number of fantastic books that are longer than mine and, in my opinion, wordcount as such has no bearing on the quality of a book. But I suppose I should thank the person who said that to me, because I did actually look at my book critically for the thousandth time, and the story did in fact end up being better with the deletions, which are now in the second book of The Irish Fortune Series, which is tentatively called Beneath the Darkening Clouds. The overall wordcount of Under the Emerald Sky wasn’t reduced all that much, though, but none of my readers have yet complained that the book is too long, and most are eagerly awaiting the sequel!   

I love losing myself in an epic book. I have one on my TBR that has 600 pages and I can't wait to dive in! 😉

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
I think it’s particularly important for a book to have well-developed, three-dimensional characters that come alive on the page and that the reader can relate to. Without that, even a good plot can fall somewhat flat. Having said that, even the most life-like characters are unlikely to convince the reader if the plot is not plausible or has obvious holes. Optimally, you want both well-developed characters and a good plot.     


If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
I think I would like to spend some time with Herbert Andrews, one of the characters in The Irish Fortune Series. He’s a wealthy Anglo-Irishman who tends to put himself above all others and in the first book, has plans of marrying the story’s heroine, Alannah O’Neill (despite the fact that she has no interest in him). Andrews is quite a complex character and even though I invented him, I’m not always sure what he’s up to. In fact, in Under the Emerald Sky, he takes over a courtroom scene, making all sorts of revelations that I had no idea about. I guess he keeps me on my toes! But I would like to sit down with him and try to figure him out to understand why he does what he does.  


What character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?
That would definitely be Martin Doyle! He’s a vile character who hates the English for the centuries-long occupation of Ireland and their oppression of the Irish people and is plotting a rebellion against the English Crown. While that may be an understandable attitude for an Irishman of the times to take, he’s unafraid to use any methods to achieve his aims—intimidation, violence and murder are part of his repertoire in his quest to free Ireland. Given these qualities, we wouldn’t get on at all!

I'm making a mental note to keep a beady eye on Martin when I read your book.  🤔

If a genie granted you three wishes what would they be?
Fun question! My first wish would be to be able to eat as much chocolate as I want without having to worry about any health or weight detriments (I’m a chocoholic!). The second wish would be for the housework to do itself, so that I can spend more time doing other things, including writing. As for the third wish, like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, I feel obligated to say World Peace—although, just like Sandra’s character, I really do want that too!


They're great wishes Juliane. I'm also a chocoholic (bars, biscuits or cake I'm not fussy as long as it's chocolatey!)

Do you have any bad habits?
I do, probably several! One is that I eat too much chocolate, as mentioned. Another is that I am extremely self-critical. I have the incredible ability to discover hidden criticisms even in compliments…yes, I know, that takes some doing! It is something I am working on, however, which is a good thing too, since publishing a book does come with a fair bit of critique. I am learning to accept the fact that I can’t make everybody happy and to take the positives out of people’s comments and discard the rest. But it’s a work in progress! 


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As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Under the Emerald Sky is free to download today only so let me tell you a little bit more about it.


He’s come to Ireland to escape his past. She’s trying to run from her future.

It's 1843 and the English nobleman Quinton Williams has come to Ireland to oversee the running of his father’s ailing estate and escape his painful past. Here he meets the alluring Alannah O’Neill, whose Irish family is one of few to have retained ownership of their land, the rest having been supplanted by the English over the course of the country's bloody history. Finding herself drawn to the handsome Englishman, Alannah offers to help Quin communicate with the estate’s Gaelic-speaking tenants, as much to assist him as to counter her own ennui. Aware of her controlling brother’s hostility towards the English, she keeps her growing relationship with Quin a secret – a secret that cannot, however, be kept for long from those who dream of ridding Ireland of her English oppressors.

Among the stark contrasts that separate the rich few from the plentiful poor, Under the Emerald Sky is a tale of love and betrayal in a land teetering on the brink of disaster – the Great Famine that would forever change the course of Ireland's history.

I'm a big fan of historical novels so I've already downloaded my copy and I can't wait to read it, even if I am already a little wary of Martin Doyle - thanks for the heads up Juliane! 😉

You can find out more about Juliane, her book and connect with her using the links below:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

I'd like to say a big thank you to Juliane for taking the time to stop by today. It's been great fun getting to know you and I wish you lots of success with Under the Emerald Sky!  😘