Blog-Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Snare is a fresh, gritty walk through life and crime as we know it in the 21st century.

About the Author 

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Schweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykavik with her partner.

Follow @lilja1972  Visit liljawriter.com

Buy Snare

About the book

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling tp provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Review

It’s kind of ironic that Sonja makes such an excellent drug smuggler. Her planning is meticulous and she seems to be able to out-think the border control by ten steps every time. If left to her own devices she could probably run the whole set-up herself.

There is no doubt that Snare is a well executed crime story, however it is so much more. Sigurdardóttir has created a layered literary cake with a variety of topics, which will appeal to a multitude of readers. The divorce and the custody battle, the complexity of the snare itself and the topic of homosexuality.

Like many women Sonja finds herself in a position of vulnerability after her husband catches her in flagrante with her lover and demands a divorce. He, and society, believes she is at fault and is an unfit mother because her lover is a female. It begs the question whether she allows herself to be treated like a sub-human because she believes the same thing or just because of her guilty conscience.

Either way she finds herself in financial difficulty, which then makes her a target and she ends up trying to make enough money to get her young son back where he belongs. She is willing to go to any length to get custody, a part of the story many readers will identify with. You never know what you’re capable of until you’re pushed to your limits.

One of the really captivating elements of Snare is the relationship between Alga and Sonja, especially Alga and the rejection of her own emotions and sexuality. She is curious about the inner sanctum and secrets, and yet rejects it all with an equal level of passion. Her entire existence is a balancing act of what she believes she should want and what she really needs.

I really enjoyed the realism. This could happen to anyone, and the snare is explained really well. Being caught between a rock and a hard place. You either do it, commit a crime to achieve your hearts desire or you remain a law-abiding citizen and lose what you love the most. A lose-lose situation, so the reader can’t help but feel empathy for the criminal.

The other aspect, which I believe Sigurdardóttir has purposely written in a way that creates a dialogue, is how same gender sexual attraction is still a point of contention for some of those still discovering their sexuality and people who view it as something to feel guilty about.

Snare certainly has a noirish quality to it, however I think it is a strong and vivid Kodak moment of our modern times. It often makes for uncomfortable reading because it is easy to relate to the desperation of the main character, because when it comes down to it, Sonja could be any one of us.

Buy Snare at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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Blog-Tour: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

Today I am thrilled to welcome an author from my local area, and to be taking part in the Blog-Tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech. It is a remarkable read you don’t want to miss.

About the Author

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines.

Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.

Follow @LouiseWriter @Orendabooks #MariaintheMoon

Visit louisebeech.co.uk

Buy Maria in the Moon

About the book

‘Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’

Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Review

Maria in the Moon has echoes of Eleanor Oliphant, especially when it comes to the anti-heroine type of main character. Another common denominator is the fact I enjoyed both stories, because the authors travel far off the well beaten path of literary clichés.

Catherine-Maria has this strange need to help others, she does this by volunteering at crisis helplines, which brings her into contact with people at their most vulnerable moments and often their last moments. Regardless of her own issues, and there are plenty of those, she always manages to wrangle herself into a position where she is confronted with the worst case scenarios in society. Her new pet project is a helpline set up to help the victims of the 2007 floods of Hull and East Yorkshire.

Part and parcel of the volunteering is being known under an alias. This is to keep both the volunteers and the callers safe. In Catherine’s case the pseudonym is also an important part of her identity crisis. How can she be Catherine-Maria when she doesn’t really know where Catherine-Maria went.

She knows Catherine, the promiscuous danger loving girl with a prickly attitude and a sharp-edged tongue. She knows all the personalities and names she pretends to be. She is a walking, talking example of coping mechanisms. The question is what is she trying to cope with, because at this point she doesn’t have a clue. The only thing she knows is she can’t remember entire years from her past, and someone is haunting her both at night and during the day.

She meets Christopher there, yet another man she connects with via her volunteer work. At this point one could start to question whether her romantic relationships are just an involuntary reaction to the emotional distress caused by the phone conversations she has to navigate and digest.

Another major part of her story, and the person who steers the majority of her reactions, is her mother. Their relationship is complex and most certainly the cause of many of her problems. Their problems go beyond the normal mother and daughter conflicts.

Maria in the Moon is a cold realistic ‘look in through the window’ approach to a highly sensitive subject. Beech pulls it off like a million dollar art heist. Although Catherine isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, which is completely on par with a real situation of this kind, she does build a tenuous rapport with her audience, the readers. Kudos to Beech for being able to convey the confusion, pain, anger and desperation of the emotional turmoil and most importantly the complexity of the situation.

A commendable and memorable read.

Buy Maria in the Moon at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

I am thrilled to be able to kick off the Blog-Tour for this incredible read by Mel McGrath. Give Me the Child is a spiderweb of paranoia, intrigue and betrayal. Nothing is quite as it seems in this captivating thriller.

About the Author

Melanie McGrath is an Essex girl, the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling family memoir Silvertown. She won the John LlewellynRhys Mail on Sunday award for ‘Best Writer under 3’5 for her first book, Motel Nirvana. She has published three Arctic mysteries featuring the Inuit detective Edie Kiglatuk under the name MJ McGrath, the first of which, The Boy in the Snow, was shortlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.

She is one of the founders of the writing collective, Killer Women, which has rapidly established itself as one of the key forums for crime writing in the UK. Give Me the Child marks a change in direction for her writing and is her first thriller published by HarperCollins.

Follow @mcgrathmj @HQStories @killerwomenorg

Visit melaniemcgrath.com

Buy Give Me the Child

About the book

Dr Cat Lupo, expert in child personality disorders, aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. When her husband’s eleven-year-old-love-child turns up in the middle of the night on her doorstep, she must decide whether to give her a home. But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother has been found dead in their South London flat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own.

Depicting a city and a family in meltdown, Give Me the Child is a dark psychological thriller that draws upon the latest research in adult and child mental health to ask uncomfortable but pressing questions about how much we know about our partners, our children and ourselves.

Extract of Give Me the Child

Chapter One

My first thought when the doorbell woke me was that someone had died. Most likely Michael Walsh. I turned onto my side, pulled at the outer corners of my eyes to rid them of the residue of sleep and blinked myself awake. It was impossible to tell if it was late or early, though the bedroom was as hot and muggy as it had been when Tom and I had gone to bed. Tom was no longer beside me. Now I was alone.

We’d started drinking not long after Freya had gone upstairs. The remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio for me, a glass or two of red for Tom. (He always said white wine was for women.) Just before nine I called The Mandarin Hut. When the crispy duck arrived I laid out two trays in the living room, opened another bottle and called Tom in from the study. I hadn’t pulled the curtains and through the pink light of the London night sky a cat’s claw of moon appeared. The two of us ate, mostly in silence, in front of the TV. A ballroom dance show came on. Maybe it was just the booze but something about the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women made me feel a little sad. The cosmic dance. The grand romantic gesture. At some point even the tight-muscled men and the frou-frou’d women would find themselves slumped together on a sofa with the remains of a takeaway and wine enough to sink their sorrows, wondering how they’d got there, wouldn’t they?

Not that Tom and I really had anything to complain about except, maybe, a little malaise, a kind of falling away. After all, weren’t we still able to laugh about stuff most of the time or, if we couldn’t laugh, at least have sex and change the mood?

‘Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my cha-cha,’ I said, rising and holding out a hand.Tom chuckled and pretended I was joking, then, wiping his palms along his thighs as if he were ridding them of something unpleasant, he said, ‘It’s just if I don’t crack this bloody coding thing…’

I looked out at the moon for a moment. OK, so I knew how much making a success of Labyrinth meant to Tom, and I’d got used to him shutting himself away in the two or three hours either side of midnight. But this one time, with the men and women still twirling in our minds? Just this one time?

Stupidly, I said, ‘Won’t it wait till tomorrow?’ and in an instant

I saw Tom stiffen. He paused for a beat and, slapping his hands on his thighs in a gesture of busyness, he slugged down the last of his wine, rose from the sofa and went to the door. And so we left it there with the question still hanging.

I spent the rest of the evening flipping through the case notes of patients I was due to see that week. When I turned in for the night, the light was still burning in Tom’s study. I murmured ‘goodnight’ and went upstairs to check on Freya. Our daughter was suspended somewhere between dreaming and deep sleep. All children look miraculous when they’re asleep, even the frighten- ing, otherworldly ones I encounter every day. Their bodies soften, their small fists unfurl and dreams play behind their eyelids. But Freya looked miraculous all the time to me. Because she was. A miracle made at the boundary where human desire meets science. I stood and watched her for a while, then, retrieving her beloved Pippi Longstocking book from the floor and straightening her duvet, I crept from the room and went to bed.

Sometime later I felt Tom’s chest pressing against me and his breath on the nape of my neck. He was already aroused and for a minute I wondered what else he’d been doing on screen besides coding, then shrugged off the thought. A drowsy, half-hearted bout of lovemaking followed before we drifted into our respective oblivions. Next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and I was alone.

Under the bathroom door a beam of light blazed. I threw off the sheet and swung from the bed.

‘Tom?’

No response. My mind was scrambled with sleep and an anxious pulse was rising to the surface. I called out again.

There was a crumpling sound followed by some noisy vomiting but it was identifiably my husband. The knot in my throat loosened. I went over to the bathroom door, knocked and let myself in. Tom was hunched over the toilet and there was a violent smell in the room.

‘Someone’s at the door.’ Tom’s head swung round.

I said, ‘You think it might be about Michael?’

Tom’s father, Michael Walsh, was a coronary waiting to happen, a lifelong bon vivant in the post-sixty-five-year-old death zone, who’d taken the recent demise of his appalling wife pretty badly.

Tom stood up, wiped his hand across his mouth and moved over to the sink. ‘Nah, probably just some pisshead.’ He turned on the tap and sucked at the water in his hand and, in an oddly casual tone, he added, ‘Ignore it.’

As I retreated into the bedroom, the bell rang again. Whoever it was, they weren’t about to go away. I went over to the window and eased open the curtain. The street was still and empty of people, and the first blank glimmer was in the sky. Directly below the house a patrol car was double parked, hazard lights still on but otherwise dark. For a second my mind filled with the terrible possibility that something had happened to Sally. Then I checked myself. More likely someone had reported a burglary or a prowler in the neighbourhood. Worst case it was Michael.

‘It’s the police,’ I said.

Tom appeared and, lifting the sash, craned out of the window. ‘I’ll go, you stay here.’

I watched him throw on his robe over his boxers and noticed his hands were trembling. Was that from having been sick or was he, too, thinking about Michael now? I listened to his footsteps disappearing down the stairs and took my summer cover-up from its hook. A moment later, the front door swung open and there came the low murmur of three voices, Tom’s and those of two women. I froze on the threshold of the landing and held my breath, waiting for Tom to call me down, and when, after a few minutes, he still hadn’t, I felt myself relax a little. My parents were dead. If this was about Sally, Tom would have fetched me by now. It was bound to be Michael. Poor Michael.

I went out onto the landing and tiptoed over to Freya’s room. Tom often said I was overprotective, and maybe I was, but I’d seen enough mayhem and weirdness at work to give me pause. I pushed open the door and peered in. A breeze stirred from the open window. The hamster Freya had brought back from school for the holidays was making the rounds on his wheel but in the aura cast by the Frozen-themed nightlight I could see my tender little girl’s face closed in sleep. Freya had been too young to remember my parents and Michael had always been sweet to her in a way that his wife, who called her ‘my little brown granddaughter’, never was, but it was better this happened now, in the summer holidays, so she’d have time to recover before the pressures of school started up again. We’d tell her in the morning once we’d had time to formulate the right words.

At the top of the landing I paused, leaning over the bannister. A woman in police uniform stood in the glare of the security light. Thirties, with fierce glasses and a military bearing. Beside her was another woman in jeans and a shapeless sweater, her features hidden from me. The policewoman’s face was brisk but unsmiling; the other woman was dishevelled, as though she had been called from her bed. Between them I glimpsed the auburn top of what I presumed was a child’s head – a girl, judging from the amount of hair. I held back, unsure what to do, hoping they’d realise they were at the wrong door and go away. I could see the police officer’s mouth moving without being able to hear what was being said. The conversation went on and after a few moments Tom stood to one side and the two women and the child stepped out of the shadows of the porch and into the light of the hallway.

The girl was about the same age as Freya, taller but small-boned, legs as spindly as a deer’s and with skin so white it gave her the look of some deep sea creature. She was wearing a grey trackie too big for her frame which bagged at the knees from wear and made her seem malnourished and unkempt. From the way she held herself, stiffly and at a distance from the dishevelled woman, it was obvious they didn’t know one another. A few ideas flipped through my mind. Had something happened in the street, a house fire perhaps, or a medical emergency, and a neighbour needed us to look after her for a few hours? Or was she a school friend of Freya’s who had run away and for some reason given our address to the police? Either way, the situation obviously didn’t have anything much to do with us.

My heart went out to the kid but I can’t say I wasn’t relieved. Michael was safe, Sally was safe.

I moved down the stairs and into the hallway. The adults remained engrossed in their conversation but the girl looked up and stared. I tried to place the sharp features and the searching, amber eyes from among our neighbours or the children at Freya’s school but nothing came. She showed no sign of recognising me. I could see she was tired – though not so much from too little sleep as from a lifetime of watchfulness. It was an expression familiar to me from the kids I worked with at the clinic. I’d probably had it too, at her age. An angry, cornered look. She was clasping what looked like a white rabbit’s foot in her right hand. The cut end emerged from her fist, bound crudely with electrical wire which was attached to a key. It looked home-made and this lent it – and her – an air that was both outdated and macabre, as if she’d been beamed in from some other time and had found herself stranded here, in south London, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, in the middle of the night, with nothing but a rabbit’s foot and a key to remind her of her origins. ‘What’s up?’ I said, more out of curiosity than alarm. I smiled and waited for an answer.

The two women glanced awkwardly at Tom and from the way he was standing, stiffly with one hand slung on his hip in an attempt at relaxed cool, I understood they were waiting for him to respond and I instinctively knew that everything I’d been thinking was wrong. A dark firework burst inside my chest. The girl in the doorway was neither a neighbour’s kid nor a friend of our daughter.

She was trouble.

I took a step back. ‘Will someone tell me what’s going on?’ When no one spoke I crouched to the girl’s level and, summon-

ing as much friendliness as I could, said, ‘What’s your name? Why are you here?’

The girl’s eyes flickered to Tom, then, giving a tiny, contemptu- ous shake of the head, as if by her presence all my questions had already been answered and I was being obstructive or just plain dumb, she said, ‘I’m Ruby Winter.’

I felt Tom’s hands on my shoulder. They were no longer trem- bling so much as hot and spasmic.

‘Cat, please go and make some tea. I’ll come in a second.’

There was turmoil in his eyes. ‘Please,’ he repeated. And so, not knowing what else to do, I turned on my heels and made for the kitchen.

While the kettle wheezed into life, I sat at the table in a kind

of stupor; too shocked to gather my thoughts, I stared at the clock as the red second hand stuttered towards the upright. Tock, tock, tock. There were voices in the hallway, then I heard the living room door shut. Time trudged on. I began to feel agitated. What was taking all this time? Why hadn’t Tom come? Part of me felt I had left the room already but here I was still. Eventually, footsteps echoed in the hallway. The door moved and Tom appeared. I stood up and went over to the counter where, what now seemed like an age ago, I had laid out a tray with the teapot and some mugs.

‘Sit down, darling, we need to talk.’ Darling. When was the last time he’d called me that?

I heard myself saying, idiotically, ‘But I made tea!’ ‘It’ll wait.’ He pulled up a chair directly opposite me.

When he spoke, his voice came to me like the distant crackle of a broken radio in another room. ‘I’m so sorry, Cat, but however I say this it’s going to come as a terrible shock, so I’m just going to say what needs to be said, then we can talk. There’s no way round this. The girl, Ruby Winter, she’s my daughter.’

Review

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally a character will make me want to bash them around the head with a baseball bat for the duration of the story. Yeh, I’m looking straight at you Tom.  To be fair I might share some of the whacks with slippery Sal and downtrodden Cat.

McGrath slips in some interesting points without deviating from the plot. Once someone has been tarred with the mental health brush, you never really lose the stigma of it. I use the word tar intentionally, because unfortunately people still regard mental health issues as a taboo topic. There is a general ignorance surrounding the whole issue, the treatment and how it affects people.

Then there is the aspect of children with severe behavioural and mental health issues. The author paints a gloomy picture of parents looking for solutions, but being let down by the system and society. These children are often not given the support they need, and the consequences are dire.

Cat knows that every misstep, every over the top reaction and anything her friends and family find slightly out of the ordinary, is a possible cause for alarm. Is Cat just having a bad day or is Cat slipping into another psychosis? All the doubt and suspicion weighs heavily on her. It also tends to steer her decisions and make her less likely to stand up for herself. This element of the story infuriated me the most, well admittedly not as much as Tom did, the way this intelligent and educated woman kowtowed to those around her.

McGrath melds fiction with fact in this riveting psychological thriller. She lures the reader in with her ready made solution, only to let it implode further down the line. I would say trust your gut instincts with this read. If it looks like a killer and acts like a killer then chances are it probably is one.

Buy Give Me the Child at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @mcgrathmj

Blog-Tour: Sleeper by J.D. Fennell

Today it is my turn on the Blog-Tour for Sleeper by J.D. Fennell. Along with the About the Author and About the book features, I am also delighted to feature a fantastic Q&A with J.D. Fennell, and hey of course last but not least, my review of Sleeper.

About the Author

J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës.

He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry. These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.

Visit sleeperbook.com  or you can follow @jd_fennell or @DomePress on Twitter or on facebook.com/JDFennellAuthor/

Buy Sleeper

About the book

Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it. As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

Q&A

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’ (readers love to get to know all about their favourite and new authors)

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) I love reading and always have a book to hand. Here are my recent three: Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet; I Let You Go, by Claire Mackintosh and right now I am reading Spellslinger, by Sebastian De Castell. Three wonderful books, all quite different.

Books or authors which have inspired you to put pen to paper? John Irving is amazing. Stephen King. Sarah Waters. Ken Follett. Authors that make me want to be a better writer are Thomas Harris, Ian McGuire and Hanya Yanagihara.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it) I really enjoyed Allied with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. It is set during the same time as Sleeper and gave it a resonance for me. It is also gripping with a great twist.

Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of guy? (Combinations are possible) Definitely a series-binger, because there is a greater scope to tell a story and develop characters. Game of Thrones is a good example here.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet? I’d like to meet Thomas Harris for lunch or dinner and learn as much as I could from him.

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Sleeper!

Sleeper is a YA adventure set in the Second World War with flair of fantasy and an essence of a dystopian setting.

What made you pick the WW2 time period for your setting? I’m fascinated by London during the Blitz, a city collapsing under the nightly air attacks. Also, I really wanted to set an action/adventure with fantastical elements during a familiar time in our history. Second World War London just seemed the perfect setting for a thriller. I had to write it.

During the story I think readers may often find the borders between good and bad guy skewed when it comes to VIPER and The Fellowship. Do you agree with that assessment, and if so was this intentional on your part? Yes and No. Yes, the Fellowship are good, however, they turn a blind eye to the Pastor’s methods because they understand what is at stake for the world. VIPER will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. They may employ regular people, who do not share their ambitions, or are unaware of who they are working for, to help achieve their goals.

Will has been defined, trained and lived as a member of VIPER for many years. Isn’t there some part of him which is subconsciously loyal to VIPER? I’m afraid you will have to wait until the next instalment to find that out. *smiles*

So, you have this incredible weapon with as yet not completely explored powers, doesn’t even a teeny weeny piece of Will think about taking control of the weapon himself? Ha! That would be telling. For now I will refer you to the previous answer.

Sleeper. Liberator. Executioner. Does Will secretly enjoy being each one of these identities? Will is driven by revenge. I would say he does not enjoy being that type of person, however, it does change him and give him purpose.

Will we be seeing more of Will in the near future, and will his sidekick be returning? Will and Anna shall return next year with velocity.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones! Thank you Cheryl. I really enjoyed answering them.

Review

Fennell has chosen an interesting setting for his dystopian young adult series. It takes place in the early 1940s during WW2. So you not only get the general gist and flavour of life during the Blitz, you also feel the intensity of the devastation the war leaves in its wake.

I have to say that although this is pegged as young adult it is also a book I would buy for a younger reader. Readers will be able to identify with the characters, the historical context and also the why of what makes Will tick.

What makes him push forward is the strong desire to fulfil his mission, which is even the case when he suffers from a bout of amnesia. He somehow always manages to find the right way even when the deck is stacked against him.

Will is nothing if not determined, despite all the obstacles and extremely dangerous situations he stumbles in and out of. He has been a part of VIPER since his pre-teens and is well versed in the megalomaniacal manipulations of this organisation. They will do anything to control the world and more importantly to get their hands on the powerful Stones.

What can I say it’s a story with a lot of potential. The author ends the book with the kind of hook that will keep the readers trailing along behind that fishing rod with the wriggly wee plot enticing them to follow along right behind him.

Fennell has created a fast-paced adventure with plenty of scope for future books. Sleeper is a captivating combination of history infused with futuristic and dystopian elements, and let’s not forgot the mystery surrounding Will. Ancient artefacts and puzzles worthy of a young Indiana Jones adventure will keep readers both young and old wanting the next instalment of this series sooner rather than later.

Buy Sleeper at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

To buy Sleeper (hardback)

To buy Sleeper (paperback)

Goldsboro Books are also selling limited edition hardback signed and numbered editions

Publisher website: www.thedomepress.com

Publisher Twitter: https://twitter.com/DomePress

Publisher Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thedomepress/

Blog-Tour: Vixenhead by Eve Seymour

No, this is not an April Fool’s Joke, instead the Blog-Tour for Vixenhead by Eve Seymour is a fabulous pre-Easter treat featuring a fantastic guest post by Eve Seymour!

About the Author

Eve Seymour was born in West Bromwich in the West Midlands and spent much of her early years in the surrounding area. Through an unhappy chain of events, she was sent away to school in Malvern then Cheltenham, later fleeing institutional life for the bright lights of the Edinburgh Festival. Captivated by the city, she decided to stay – home being a grotty bed-sit next to a football ground – and paid the rent by selling stationery supplies.

After a move to London, she began an arts degree, which she dropped out of to join a public relations consultancy – home moving up several gears to a flat in Kensington, shared with a couple of old school-friends. During her P.R. career, she was involved in a number of accounts, mainly medical and nutritional, and included the Woman’s Own Children of Courage awards, which she ran for two years. After another move to a P.R. consultancy in Birmingham, she married and moved to South Devon. Five children later, she began writing in her spare time. Previous writing credits include a number of short stories broadcast on BBC Radio Devon, and articles in Devon Today magazine. She has since bent the ears of a number of police officers in Devon, West Mercia and West Midlands, including Scenes of Crime and firearms, in a ruthless bid to make her writing career more enduring than previous attempts.

Follow @EveSeymour  and @HarperImpulse. Connect with Eve Seymour on Facebook or visit evseymour.co.uk

Buy Vixenhead

About the book

Somewhere in Vixenhead, I’m certain the truth lies…

A sudden disappearance…When Roz Outlaw’s partner Tom mysteriously vanishes, she knows his life is in danger. Tom has been distracted lately, afraid, as though he is being hunted…

A desperate search…With the police showing little interest Roz knows it falls to her to find Tom. But as Tom’s secrets are uncovered nothing can prepare Roz for the dark lies and twisted truths she finds. She thought she loved Tom, but quickly realises she has been living with a stranger – a man with murder in his past.

A house of evil… The key to unlocking Tom’s past lies in his childhood home – Vixenhead. A house of wickedness that keeps its secrets well hidden. Can Roz find Tom before it’s too late or will the evil within Vixenhead claim her too…

Guest Post

The Writing Process by Eve Seymour

My writing process has evolved over the years.  I used to be very technical and write pages of character profiles in long hand, followed by sixty page ‘treatments’ for plot purposes.  A ‘treatment’ would consist of spelling out the inciting incident (the event from which the story sparks) followed by Acts broken down into scenes, broken down into turning points (revelations).  In other words, ‘Plan, Plan and Plan!’  The ‘big finish’ (when main player comes up against main foe) was always quite detailed before I put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard.

When writing spy fiction I carried out an enormous amount of research on intelligence agencies and on chains of command within the intelligence cycle. This would also involve looking at the politics of countries as well as reading up and talking to people involved in organizations like the United Nations and The Refugee Council.  After assimilating every piece of information, I’d work out a storyline and then write.  I still work on detailed character profiles but the actual plotting is more relaxed.  The terrific thing about writing psychological thrillers with strong family dynamics is that little research is required.  Either it’s imagined, or drawn from direct personal experience.  I reckon most writers are amateur psychologists and it’s really important to understand how people tick.  It’s also something that deeply interests me.  Given another life, I would choose clinical psychology as a profession.

While a premise for a novel might spring to mind randomly and quite quickly, I may spend many months ‘noodling’.  For this, I use a new notebook and simply jot down ideas, interesting lines I might overhear in a restaurant – I’m a terrible eavesdropper – and character traits.  The longer I wait, the more ideas bed down.  Again, the ones that aren’t workable, no matter how I approach them, are jettisoned.  There comes a saturation point when I simply sit down and throw away most of what I compiled.  What’s left is then put into some kind of order that only makes sense to me, and then I write the first draft.  During that time, I might go ‘off piste’.  This often occurs when a character doesn’t quite behave in the way I first imagined.  However I’m quite structured so always find my way back to the main thrust of the storyline.

For Vixenhead, some of the above went out through the proverbial window.  I had the idea for the story many years ago, but couldn’t think of a way to make it work.   The ‘light bulb’ moment occurred when I hit on the idea of a dual narrative – something I’d never done before.  Only through writing and crafting the story did I discover that dual narratives come with an attached risk:  if you aren’t careful, the wrong character gets the equivalent of prime time viewing.  Initially, I found it hard to strike the right balance.  Several drafts later, it became obvious that Roz Outlaw should take precedence over her missing man, Tom Loxley.

In the early days, I’d schedule sixteen weeks or so of writing time to fashion a first draft.  It felt slightly like running a marathon and I’d be quite pedantic about jotting down a word count each day.  With ‘Vixenhead,’ I sprinted through the first draft in short bursts – no word counts.  This method would take the form of a week on, maybe a couple of weeks off, to fit it around my day job and family commitments.  The advantage:  it gave me a chance to think about the story when I wasn’t writing.  I then returned to it with fresh eyes and revised.  Personally, I think it also helped to increase pace and tension.  There wasn’t that awful temptation to slump into snooze time mid section.  After the first draft was buttoned down, I concentrated more fully on writing and revising over longer periods of time.

As with most stories, the editing process continues after a publisher decides to publish a book.  This is always the scary bit.  They’ve said ‘yes’ and yet there is always a ‘but’.  Seeing someone else’s take on the novel you’ve spent so much time crafting can be a tad daunting – even when your editor is spot-on with comments and suggestions.  Next, comes the ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ moment because most writers, and I’m no exception, can be quite blinded by the words they lovingly put on the page.  I usually deal with this by shouting a lot followed by doing absolutely nothing for a few days.  Once my editor’s suggestions have time to percolate, I usually (and often with a red-face) see a clear way forward and think how dim I was not to have seen it before.  It’s fair to say that, with ‘Vixenhead’, Charlotte Ledger’s insightful suggestions made my story so much better than I could have dreamed up on my own.

So, for me, ‘Vixenhead’ was a great adventure in terms of content, character and the way in which I crafted the story.  I hope some of that thrill shines through.

Read my review for Vixenhead here

Buy Vixenhead at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

I am especially excited to take part in the Blog-Tour for Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski today. It is an innovative read you won’t want to miss. Aside from my review, I also have a great guest post, My Writing Day by Matt Wesolowski, to share with you.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Follow @ConcreteKraken or @Orendabooks on Facebook or visit him at mjwesolowskiauthor.wordpress.com

Buy Six Stories here


About the book

One death. Six stories. Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Guest post by Matt Wesolowski

My Writing Day

To the disbelief (and jealousy of my writing peers) there was once a time in my life when my writing day looked like this:

Up at 7.30 – 5k run, listening to an audio book.

8.30 Breakfast, hang with the family.

9am -2pm  – uninterrupted, glorious writing, lunch interspersed with cups of green tea.

2pm – 5pm – sit in the conservatory with a mug of more green tea and disappear into a book.

Yes, this was genuinely my writing day, albeit for just under a year. And so much got done! Two novels, blog posts and a load of short fiction.

Then life got in the way. Change of family circumstance, job, move of house, move of job. The structure of the bygone era is now a glorious and ancient memory.

My day job’s hours are sporadic and are in a constant state of flux. I live alone now and have food to make, a cat and child to maintain as well as my own constant cleaning compulsions.

An idyll of a full writing and reading day is a luxury. Unless you are in the position to write full-time, then it’s mostly unrealistic. I sincerely believe that when you want to write, if you really want to write, you have to make time. I often wonder why so many people say they ‘don’t have time’ to read but can sit, staring at social media on a phone for hours.

Writing is like any job, if you want to be any good at it, you have to do lots of it and you have to do it even on the days you don’t want to. For me, some days are plain sailing on a sunny sea of fiction and some days (more often) are quite simply not.

I often liken writing to sawing through wood. There are easy bits where the teeth of the saw glide through and there are knots, great big tough twists of dead branch where the saw won’t catch, let alone cut.

Personally, I work to a realistic daily word count. If I have a significant part of the day without work then I aim for 2000 words. Sometimes it’s 2000 words of rubbish, but hey, we all have bad days at work. For me, the most important thing is to get something done, to keep my mind used to writing, at least something every day.

So now, a typical day looks like this:

7am – feed the cat, get my son ready for school, make breakfast, school run.

9am – A combination of: cleaning/cooking/writing/reading/working.

3pm – School run, hang out with the boy, eat tea together, do homework, play Lego.

8pm – Writing or kickboxing.

10pm – Reading.

11pm Sleep.

Of course there are variations, as a single parent, I only have my son for half the week so there is more time when he’s not here but a lot of that time is spent on the week’s cooking and cleaning, making sure when he is here, that I am available.

Then there’s that thing where you see your friends and loved ones and do social stuff. Yeah, that sometimes happens too!

Above all, the drive to write inside me never diminishes, I can’t even sit in front of the television without a notebook and a pen to hand; I listen to an audio book whilst cleaning and true crime podcasts while I’m cooking.

But that’s just me, I’m not any better or worse than anyone else and everyone does things their own way. I think if you have a dream, you cannot sit back and wait for it to land in your lap, you have to chase it until you feel your own blood squelching in your

Review

The story is set-up as a series of podcasts by someone who investigates cold cases. The reader experiences the podcasts via written transcripts of interviews with the suspects. The cold case in question is the disappearance of teenager Tom Jeffries, and the subsequent discovery of his body a year later. Nearly all the suspects were also teenagers at the time the crime took place.

It might sound a little cold or clinical for a fictional book setting, however that couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the aspects of the story is the way the podcast listeners are captivated by the intrigue, mystery and gruesome details of the cold case. The followers play an integral part in the story, despite being an anonymous and unseen entity.

It seems more than likely that the teens involved in the case, who were also the last ones to see and interact with Tom, are also the people with the answers to all the questions. Is one of them lying? Did one of them inadvertently see more than they think they saw?

During the interviews the reader hears about the secrets, the fights and all of those tiny details the police never uncovered. The kind of details that would have led them straight to the killer.

Twenty years after the murder none of the people involved want to muddy the waters, get anyone in trouble or possibly reveal themselves as a culprit.

Although I figured out the who and the twist I have to admit I didn’t see the why coming. It is a really well-thought out crime. The author explores the complexities of social interactions and hierarchy issues between teenagers, and the implications for individuals in group situations.

Six Stories is an innovative, captivating and creative read. Wesolowski channels new technology and important social issues of our time, whilst integrating a nefarious crime into the mix. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from this particular author in the years to come.

Buy Six Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: Just for the Rush by Jane Lark

Let’s kick off the Blog-Tour for this delectable piece of naughtiness Just for the Rush by Jane Lark. You are in for a passionate ride. 

About the Author

Jane likes to write intense relationships full of emotion. She is a chartered member of the United Kingdom’s Institute of Personnel and Development and holds the equivalent of a Masters Degree in People Management. She’s learnt a lot about how people think and feel and she uses this knowledge to create the personalities of her characters and expresses this through their feelings, thoughts and movements.

‘Basically I love history and I am a sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction.’

Connect with Jane at janelark.co.ukFacebookGoodreads or follow @JaneLnabooks and @HarperImpulse

About the book

No one wants Mr Nice Guy…

A surprise marriage proposal from her perfectly nice Rugby playing boyfriend, Rick, has Ivy Cooper heading for the hills. She isn’t looking for a comfortable future, she wants something more, something that will make her heart race.

And her heart only beats harder when she’s with Jack her playboy boss. While Rick’s comfort is cosy, Jack’s protection makes her feel like she’s in a fortress…and his style of sex…well, it’s like nothing she’s every experienced before…

Buy Just for the Rush

Review

What do you think of when you hear the words just for the rush? Extreme sports, drugs or perhaps even a dare. In this case it is more about having the strength and determination to grab what you want in life. Even if it happens to be a hot-blooded hunk.

I can imagine that quite a few readers will find Jack a wee bit controversial. I know I did, One one hand he is the hot bad boy who could charm the skin off a snake, on the other hand he can be selfish, insensitive and has some really bad habits.

He seems to be nearly incapable of having any kind of intimate interaction, to have fun or relax without some kind of external stimulation. His stimuli of choice is usually weed. I found that slightly irresponsible, especially after he found out about Daisy. Then there is the whole sexual experimentation, which again makes it seem as if he can’t feel at ease or happy unless he is making extreme choices.

So all of that makes for an interesting bad boy, which of course is what most people think girls look for. Is it a myth? Or is it just because there is a ‘bad girl’ in all of us or rather a girl looking for a rush just like Ivy.

I admire Ivy for having the guts to not accept what I would call normal and comfortable. For being bold enough to say no, despite all the opposition, and saying yes to the possibility of a rush. I think everyone should experience that type of breathless intensity at least once in their lives.

Lark knows how to get pulses racing and often infuriate, at the same time she manages to get readers hoping for the happy ending that will warm your cockles. Her characters are passionate, realistic and approachable. A jolly good read.

Buy Just for the Rush

Read I’m Keeping You by Jane Lark

Follow the Blog-Tour:

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