Blog Tour: Tag You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton #Q&A @DouglasSkelton1


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Release date: April 27, 2017

Publisher: Saraband Books

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 

Sam the butcher is missing, and maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the case. But it’s not because he misses Sam’s prize-winning steak pies… A dangerous man has arrived in Glasgow. He’s no small-town crook, and he’s leaving a trail of disturbing clues across the city, starting with the missing cousin of Queste’s new lover. Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers and a seemingly random burglary at the judge’s house, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block. 

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Tag You’re Dead. I have a Q & A with the author to share today. 


Q & A:  

 

Welcome Douglas. Before we start, could you tell me a little about yourself?

 

I’m a former shelf stacker, bank clerk, office paper pusher, ad salesman, civil servant, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), journalist and newspaper editor. Never got the hang of any of them. I began by writing non-fiction but made the leap into fiction in 2013. I now have six crime thrillers to my name.

 

Today we are talking about your new novel: Tag You’re Dead. Could you give us a quick summary and introduce us to Dominic Queste?

 

Dominic Queste calls himself an odd-job man. He’s not a private eye in the strictest sense but he walks the same mean streets. He’s quirky (I hope!) in that he can view the world through the perspective of movies and TV shows. He’s not a fantasist, he’s too hard-headed for that, but he does love his movies. He’s also quick-witted, fast-talking and, when forced, pretty tough. In TAG, a missing person case he undertakes for his girlfriend turns lethal when he finds himself being stalked by a serial killer.

 

When we meet Dominic, first in The Dead Don’t Boogie and now in Tag, you have made it clear that his past has not been the easiest of rides – a recovering addict who has had more than a few run-ins with the police. Does the rocky background give you more leeway to develop the character?

I like characters who struggle against their demons to do the right thing. For me it does, as you say, provide leeway to develop them. People who have something for which to atone. Dominic, as one character says, is Raymond Chandler’s slightly tarnished knight. There’s more scope in someone with an edge. I was never interested in squeaky clean heroes – as a child I much preferred Batman to Superman, for instance. I’m drawn to darkness. Must be my Celtic blood.

 

 

Dominic is a one-man “IMDB” and has a film reference for every occasion, how does this become a problem for him in Tag? Also, how much of the film trivia comes from your own fascination with cinema?

The serial killer discovers Dom is a buff and uses film references and quotes to taunt him, to keep him on the knife-edge. And ALL the film trivia comes from my own film geekiness. My head is cluttered with movie trivia.

 

Tag You’re Dead is primarily set in Glasgow but you take the action out of the city too. Could you tell us about the locations which feature in the story? Have you chosen to write about places you enjoy visiting?

The story takes Dom to the Highlands, specifically the area around Loch Rannoch in Perthshire, although the specific cottages I mention are fictional. It’s a part of Scotland I love. Everywhere you look is picture postcard beautiful and the air is so fresh and clear. I’ve set it in the autumn (or the Fall, as the Americans say) and the colours are breathtaking. I would encourage everyone to visit. Dom was certainly impressed!

 

Dominic Queste has a tendency to use humour and quip his way through conversations but Tag is quite a dark read. Was that a difficult balance to achieve when you were writing?

It happened naturally. As they say, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye (Note – no one actually loses an eye. Or do they?) Dom uses humour as a weapon, as a defence, as a barrier, as a way to leaven his own darkness and that which lies around him. However, it’s a tricky thing to write – too much and the book becomes a comedy, too little and it becomes TOO dark. I hope I’ve struck the correct balance. My problem is that I have to often resist the need to go for the quick, or cheap, laugh – in my writing and in my own life.

 

The phrase “Tartan Noir” is widely recognised but I get the impression quite a few Scottish authors are not overly fond of it. Is it a convenient marketing hook or a chain around your neck?

It’s both. I understand why it’s done but a large part of me doesn’t see the need. We’re writing crime thrillers. It shouldn’t matter where it’s set, as long as that background comes alive, as long as the reader believes it. I see no label for crime fiction set in England, or the US. However, I am very proud to be a part of the clan – and one of the best things to come from the trend is Bloody Scotland, our very own International crime writing festival, which takes place every September in Stirling.

 

Do you believe that a number of the crime stories set in Scotland have a distinctive “voice” that a reader could identify and associate with?

There’s a great deal of superb crime writing coming out of Scotland and there’s no doubt that much of it carries that distinctive voice that comes from the setting and the rhythms of Scottish speech, just as authors from other parts of the world can do with their backdrops. Scottish readers like to see actual locations but what about those who are unfortunate enough not be Scottish? They are drawn by character, plot and readability.

 

On a final note, I’d be keen to know which authors you enjoy reading. Which inspire you or have influenced the stories you want to write?

My earliest influence was the western ‘Shane’ by Jack Schaeffer. That generated my fascination with characters trying to shake off their murky past.

The 87th Precinct novels of Ed McBain were my next big influence. They were fast-moving and funny and occasionally shocking. His dialogue was sharp and sassy. The early books didn’t have an ounce of fat on them.

There are so many great authors out there but I’m drawn very much to Americans. I think Dennis Lehane is absolutely wonderful, as is Robert Crais. Both can have a strong thread of humour running through the darkness. Although Irish, John Connolly sets his books in the States and they are fabulous.

 Huge thanks to Douglas for joining me today! 

 

 

Blog Tour: Lie to Me by Jess Ryder @jessryderauthor @bookouture


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Release date: April 19, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Blurb: 

We’re going to tell our story and then it will all stop and Mummy will be safe. You want Mummy to be safe, don’t you? 


Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother she’s never known. 


Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera? 


The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman, Cara, over 30 years ago. What could possibly be the link between her mother and the victim? 


To find the truth Meredith must search through a past that is not her own. The problem is, she’s not the only one looking… 

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Lie to Me today! 


Review: 

This is the type of book that I would call a slow burner, one where there’s a sense of underlying tension that’s waiting to rise to the surface. When it begins, Meri has come across an old VHS tape with her mothers handwriting on the label. This is significant to her as her mom, Becca left when she was a toddler and she hasn’t heard from her since. When she asks her father about the tape she is stunned by his strong, angry reaction and knows that whatever is on the tape means something for her, but she’s unaware that this discovery will set off a chain of events with shocking outcomes. 

This is told in two timelines, the first is Meri in the present day, and then it jumps back to 1984 and is told from Cara’s perspective. There are also some chapters told from a man named Jay’s point of view in the present day as well. At first I was a bit confused about how a cold murder case (Cara) would link to Meri but it all became clear when it’s revealed that Becca is the one who found Cara’s body and Jay was in a relationship with Cara. That may seem like a slight spoiler, but if you pick this one up I don’t want you to get discouraged as Ryder links all the plot threads together in a very interesting way. 

This had a steady pace throughout that gradually intensified as it neared the conclusion and towards the last quarter of the book, there was a twist that knocked me off balance. It was a bit different than what I had anticipated as it didn’t focus so much on the murder case or any particular crimes but rather the characters and how they all had secrets hiding in the shadows and how these lies affected them personally. It still had a tricky plot and kept me gripped the whole time and the epilogue was really strong as was Ryder’s writing style. I’m looking forward to reading what she comes up with next! 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Jess Ryder is the pseudonym of Jan Page, author, screenwriter, playwright and award-winning television producer. After many years working in children’s media, she has recently embarked on a life of crime. Writing, that is. So she’s very excited about the publication of her debut thriller Lie to Me. Her other big love is making pots.

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Blog Tour: A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant @TillyTenWriter @bookouture


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Release date: April 14, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Chick Lit

Blurb: 

Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to looking for love, there’s no place like Rome – but once Kate’s found her man, can she keep him? 


Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo. 


All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material. 


With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale? 


Let Rome steal your heart this summer in this gorgeously romantic escapist read. Perfect for fans of Jo Thomas and Abby Clements. 

I’m so pleased to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for A Wedding in Italy today! 


Review: 

This is the second in a series, I read Rome Is Where The Heart Is last month and thought it was adorable and such a perfect read for this time of year. A Wedding in Italy is the same, it’s a fun holiday read that makes you feel as if you’ve just returned from a Roman vacation by the time you finish.

What I’ve come to love about Tennant’s writing is that while she conjures up delightful images and swoon worthy romances she still manages to keep things believably realistic. In the first book I was impressed by how Kate and Alessandro were hesitant about their new relationship even though they cared very deeply for one another. This time around she stuck with a basis in reality as Kate struggles after her move to Rome. She misses her family terribly, she’s having trouble finding a job, the language barrier is frustrating and often embarrassing, and though she loves Alessandro more than ever, his meddling family is putting a huge strain on their brand new relationship. It was a nice change to read a romance where things don’t just end with a perfect, happily ever after. This was like seeing behind the curtain when the HEA moment ends and real life begins, it was so refreshing! 

I really bonded with the characters the first time around and this time I was able to deepen my connection to them even more. Alessandro’s family all play a large part in the plot and I felt similar to Kate as one part of me loved them and the other part wished they would mind their own business. Their Italian dramatics, love of food and family, and loyalty ultimately won me over in the end. Kate and Alessandro are just as sweet as ever and their passion and chemistry was hot and spicy. 

This is a lovely addition to the series, I would recommend packing them in your bag for your own vacation, they are perfect beach reads. Tennant writes gorgeous, descriptions that make you feel as if you’re strolling along in the streets of Rome and she made me hungry again with the scrumptious food explanations and details. I just hope there will be a third book coming soon?! 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage. Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, like The Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel, Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.

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Blog Tour:  Last Breath by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @bookouture


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Release date: April 12, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 
He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.


When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case. 


While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery. 


Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist? 


Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.


Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Last Breath will have you on the edge of your seat, racing to the final dramatic page. 

I’m thrilled to be helping to close down the blog tour for Last Breath today!! Even better, I’m sharing the day with one of my blogging besties, Chelsea from The Suspense is Thrilling Me so make sure you check out her review as well. 


Well, Mr. Bryndza has outdone himself again, this is now my favorite book in this series, hands down. I know I say this every single time a new book in the Erika Foster series is released, but it’s the truth! They just keep getting better and going from strong suit to stronger and every time I finish one of these books I struggle  to catch my breath. 

Erika is out of sorts in the beginning of the book, she’s not working with the MIT and she’s restless and agitated. But fear not, she manages to bulldoze her way into a murder investigation anyway when she links the killing of a young woman found in a dumpster to a case from four months previously. The only thing the team can uncover is that the killer is using social media to stalk his victims. He knows every little thing about them from what they post online and then he uses this information to create fake dating profiles to lure them in. This is some next level stuff, it’s no Catfish, no Nev and Max there to bring things to a tidy resolution. This chilled me to the bone and had me gripped well and truly in its grasp from the first page to the very last.

Erika is my favorite female detective, hands down. Hell, she’s up there with my favorite detectives period. You get to see a softer side to her personality this time around, a vulnerability behind that tough exterior. The character development is flawless, you get to learn enough about her and the team to leave you satisfied, yet there is enough left hanging in the air to leave you wanting more. I’m most eager about seeing what happens to her personal life next, she’s at a bit of a crossroads and it could go in several exciting directions. 

The who behind the killings is revealed to the reader early on, but not to the police until the end. This was great as you see a deadly game of cat and mouse being played right in front of your eyes with the characters that you’ve grown to know and love. I love social media and use it constantly, both personally and for this blog, but it absolutely freaks me out when I think of my kids getting to an age where they’re on it. My eight year old already asks for a Facebook page! Umm, no try again when you’re 29 my love. It was such a clever plot line and so timely as the majority of us use social media daily and anyone could be watching us. Shivers. 

If you are a fan of crime fiction and you haven’t read this series, please do. It’s outstanding and you’re really missing out. Bryndza is a genius, his plot threads always come together in an impeccable manner, you won’t be able to put his books down and they’re such well written, exciting reads. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

Blog Tour: Game Point by Malcom Hollingdrake @MHollingdrake @Bloodhoundbook


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Release date: April 11, 2017

Publisher: Bloodhound Books 

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 

Game Point: an explosive new crime thriller from a critically acclaimed and best-selling author

DCI Bennett faces the most harrowing case of his career. A psychopath, who escaped capture, is hell bent on revenge and executes a series of events that will not only impact on Bennett physically, but will have emotional and professional consequences.         


A body is found with its fingers amputated, then an investigative journalist, embroiled in the pornography and drugs scene, is murdered.


Bennett’s team is faced with some baffling evidence. Hatpins and bicycle spokes become pivotal to the inquiry but the police struggle to connect the evidence.


It is only when a Detective Sergeant from the team is kidnapped that Bennett realises that he is the true target.


Can Bennett solve the case before it’s too late? How many people will he lose in the process?




Discover your new favourite crime series today. Also available:


Only The Dead


Hell’s Gate


Flesh Evidence



I’m so pleased to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Game Point today. 


Review: 

I’ve participated in two blog tours for this series in the past, but unfortunately I didn’t have time in my schedule to review them, I was only able to post extracts, but from the minute I read those teasers, I knew I was missing out and man was I right! I used to be against jumping into a series in the middle but as my TBR has grown sky high, I’ve learned to get over it and just do it. I’m so glad I did as I’ve read some fantastic books that I may have otherwise overlooked based solely on the fact that they were tenth in a series. All of that to say, you can read this as a standalone, I wasn’t bothered by starting with book four, BUT I do feel like I missed out on forming a deeper connection with the characters and I’m kicking myself for not making the time for the first three books. My point is that you should read this, but you should also start at the beginning so you’re not kicking yourself like I am. 

Cyril was a complex character, one that comes off as rather reserved but on the inside there’s a lot going on. He has some quirks, but those type of things always make me like a person more and it made him stand out in a sea of other detectives from crime novels. What really drew me into this book, and to him as a character especially was the emotional turmoil he was experiencing. The case he’s working is brutal and when a member of the team is kidnapped, all hell breaks loose. Things are obviously deeply personal for Cyril and the added pressure made me feel all the more profoundly for him and his team. 

While the characterization was complex the plot was equally intricate and had me struggling to fit all the puzzle pieces together myself. Hollingdrake’s writing was descriptive and very gritty, this is a grim, gruesome case and things are extremely graphically detailed, so beware if you’re faint hearted. I really liked this one and I’m excited to see where the author takes this series and Cyril next, the possibilities are endless and exciting. 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.



Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember. 


Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has four books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. 


Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.


Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.

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Blog Tour: Kill or Die by Ann Evans @annevansauthor @Bloodhoundbook


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Release date: April 13, 2017

Publisher: Bloodhound Books 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Blurb: 

A vicious burglary goes horribly wrong when an elderly victim is killed and one of the burglars is injured.

In the detached house next door, Julia is preparing to leave her husband. He has let her down for the last time and her bags are packed. Taking their eight-year-old daughter, Lucy, from her bed they set off in the fog.

But on this cold, dark night, fate steps in and these strangers collide.

When Vincent and Nash abduct the mother and daughter, and take them to a derelict house, the situation takes a grave turn.

Meanwhile, Julia’s husband, Ian, is distraught that his wife and daughter have left, and when the murder and burglary are discovered, suspicion falls on him.

For Ian, Julia and Lucy, life is about to become a nightmare.

Can Julia and Lucy escape from the twisted criminals?

What will Julia decide when the choice is – kill or die?

It’s my stop on the blog tour for Kill or Die today and I’m so excited to share my thoughts on this heart pounding thriller!


Review: 

This one wastes no time and jumps straight into the action. When it opens, two men are preparing to break into the home of an elderly man who is an antiques collector. At the same time, Julia is preparing to leave her husband, Ian. In a horrible twist of fate, the paths of these strangers cross and things take a sharp turn towards the scary and dangerous. The masked men take Julia and her daughter Lucy hostage and what follows is the stuff nightmares are made of. 

I felt so awful for Julia, she’s already in a bad place the night that she decides she has had enough of her husband’s scheming ways and the situation she finds herself in was completely terrifying. It reminded me a bit of An Impossible Dilemma in that it found a mother in an awful situation where she’s forced to do terrible things to keep her child safe. 

I read this is one single “holding my breath the entire time sitting.” It was relentlessly paced with tons of action and suspense. I was praying that Julia and Lucy would escape unscathed and was shocked by the way things turned out in the end. This is the authors first adult novel as she has previously written children’s books and it was a fantastic debut into the mystery/thriller genre. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


I’ve always loved writing. What started as a hobby has now become a way of life. My children’s and YA books have been published by Scholastic Children’s Books, Usborne Publishing, Penguin Australia, Hometown World, Badger Learning and Astraea Press (Clean Reads). Plus there are a number of adults books published under my pen name of Ann Carroll – and more in the pipeline. The Beast published by Usborne won the raring2read category in the Coventry Literary Book Festival 2013. 2017 sees three new books being published, another YA reluctant reader book for Badger Learning entitled Keeper. An historical romance called A Place to Belong, and a crime thriller – working title Kill or Die with Bloodhound Books. 

When I’m not writing I do school visits, run workshops and give talks.

My non-fiction career spans the last 30 years which includes 13 years at the Coventry Telegraph as a staff feature writer plus a great many freelance articles on a wide range of topics.

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Blog Tour: Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl @OrendaBooks


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Release date: April 15, 2017

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

I’m delighted to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Faithless today! 


Review: 

Within the past few months I’ve become such a huge fan of a new to me genre, Nordic Noir. There’s something about this genre that really sucks me in, so when I heard that Orenda was publishing another translation, I knew I HAD to read this book. Karen Sullivan has such a fantastic eye for talent and she’s never sent me a book that I haven’t enjoyed and I’m pleased to say Faithless is another winner in my book. 

 Kjell Ola Dahl has been referred to as the father of this genre and after reading his work, I can certainly see why. There are two things that really capture my attention that a good Nordic Noir novel has; a stunningly atmospheric setting and a slow burning pace that has an underlying sense of discomfort and tension. This book has both of these elements in wonderfully appropriate amounts, but it also had some additions that added so much substance to the book. This is a classic police procedural where the cops are chasing down suspects the old fashioned way, they hit the streets. 

Though I jumped into this series with this book, it easily read fine as a standalone. I was able to work out the characters and their group dynamic fairly easily and I never felt like I was missing out on anything important. Frank was a bit of an enigma, there’s a mysterious edge about him, he’s isolated, dark and brooding, but extremely well crafted. 

I don’t want to say much about the plot, but it’s very cleverly done and there were many twists and red herrings. The writing is sharp, crisp and precise and though it’s a slow burner, in the end things really heat up. Everything culminates in a shocking conclusion that left me reeling in the best possible way. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich.


In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.


Blog Tour: After the Affair by Jonathan Kaye @JonathanKaye000


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Release date: November 6, 2016

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb: 

“University Lecturer David Ryan is having an affair. And he thinks no-one knows. 




He’s wrong. Someone does know. And that someone is out to blackmail him. 




But when the blackmail attempt goes wrong, both Ryan and the blackmailer find themselves dragged into an underground (and decidedly seedy) world of secrets, lies and violence. A world where no-one can be trusted and everyone has something to hide. 




Set in modern-day Dublin, ‘After the Affair’ is the debut psychological thriller from author Jonathan Kaye.” 

I’m THRILLED to be kicking off the blog tour for After the Affair today! I read this awhile back, but when the opportunity arose to participate in the blog tour, I couldn’t pass it up. This is one of my favorite reads so far this year and I think it deserves more exposure. 


Review: 

 After the Affair is Kaye’s debut novel, but let me tell you, it doesn’t read like a debut at all. The writing style reads like that of a seasoned novelist; the pacing was spot on and the plot itself? Utterly absorbing. 


This starts with one of those prologues that immediately draws you in, then flips ahead almost a year later to a completely unrelated storyline. (Or is it?) David Ryan is a married man with a young son, and he’s having an affair. He thinks that it’s his dirty little secret, but someone knows exactly what he’s been up too, and they’re not happy about it, so they begin to blackmail him. That’s as far as I’m going to delve into the plot details, but the basis of this book is the serious ramifications that David faces because of his choice to have an affair. 


I really admired the way Kaye got inside his characters heads, you get a very real sense of how they think and who they really are, warts and all. It’s not always a pretty picture, and David isn’t the most likable guy, but it’s raw and brutally honest. Besides David, you also get to know Martin. I don’t want to say exactly how he fits in, but he’s quite the rascal. The dialogue between these two felt so genuine, it read like a real conversation, no awkwardness to be found. 
I know this is a totally overused phrase, but it really was a page turner. As David’s entire life begins to fall apart, the hits just kept on coming and left my head spinning. The whole thing is a tumultuous ride that takes you on a journey into a seedy underworld, mainly that of the dark corners of the web. There is some very dark and twisted stuff here, sordid affairs and hard hitting, worrisome situations. The big twist was a stunner, the shock value was high but it wasn’t unbelievable. I highly recommend this for fans of psychological thrillers looking for a fresh twist on the whole cheating spouse plot.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Jonathan Kaye is a stay-at-home dad who decided to write a thriller when his son started school. The house was tidy by ten every morning so what else was he gonna do till, like, three? Apart from drink coffee with moms – which he is very good at by the way. 


It took him a while to figure out the plot. He even had to use google to find out what policemen and judges and people like that did. Characters were easier. He just based one of them on himself and all the others on people he knew. Seriously it’s what all writers do. Why do you think Stephen King’s protagonist is invariably a novelist? 


Three years after starting out, he wrote the words ‘The End.’ It was quite the experience. Then he proofread and proofread and proofread again … but he knows there might still be one or two typos and he asks you to not be too upset by the fact. 


Finally, he’s sitting here now wondering why he’s writing about himself in the third person. It is making him feel important and aloof though!


Blog Tour: The Trophy Taker by Sarah Flint @SarahFlint19 @Aria_Fiction


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Release date: April 1, 2017

Publisher: Aria Fiction 

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 

He’s watching, waiting… and counting. The next gripping seriel killer read in the DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford series, from the Bestselling author of MUMMY’S FAVOURITE.


He keeps each floating in Formaldehyde to stop them from rotting. Each finger denotes a victim, tortured and butchered, their heart ripped out and discarded, replaced instead by symbols of their treachery. He sits alone admiring his trophies weekly; each and everyone of them guilty in his eyes. And now more must pay. 


But who or what links the victims?


DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is already investigating a series of escalating racist attacks and it now seems she has a vicious serial killer on her patch. With no leads and time running out, the team at Lambeth are at near breaking point. 


Something has to give… and all the while he’s watching, waiting… and counting. 

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Trophy Taker. I have my review and an extract to share with you today. 


Extract: 

DC Charlie Stafford eyed the custody screen with satisfaction. A charge of GBH and robbery was a great result, especially after the four solid months of hard work she’d put into this case. It was also particularly good to see that the Crown Prosecution Service had agreed to her application for the offence charged to be shown as having been racially aggravated. It was a difficult offence to prove but it carried a greater sentence and it was what her unit, the Community Support Unit, was tasked to investigate.

Led by Detective Inspector Geoffrey Hunter, or Hunter as he was better known, the CSU dealt with any cases involving domestic violence or offences targeting persons for their race, faith, sexual orientation or disability. The majority of their work related to domestic incidents, but in the last few years more and more victims of hate crimes were finding the strength to come forward. Taboos were being broken, victims becoming braver. Charlie’s unit was therefore becoming increasingly busy, their caseload greater and more varied and their diligence, persistence and hard work noticed by the local Senior Management Team at Lambeth. After their recent success in dealing with a particularly disturbing series of murders, the reputation of their team, and in particular Charlie, was heightened to such an extent that members of the unit, sometimes all of them, were seconded to assist the Murder Investigation Teams. It hadn’t been easy though.

The case in front of her now was as close to being a murder as was possible without the victim actually having died. For Charlie it had become almost a personal crusade to identify the perpetrator and get him incarcerated. She stood next to the suspect as the charge was read out.

‘On Friday 17th June 2016 at Estreham Road, SW16, you unlawfully and maliciously wounded Mr Moses Sinkler and the offence was racially aggravated within the terms of section 28 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention now, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’

Cornell Miller sniffed, wiped the back of his hand across his face and looked towards the clock, making it obvious he didn’t care as the caution was read out. He was thirty-eight years old, solidly built, with over six feet of rippling muscle, having spent his last term of imprisonment working out in the prison gym. He pulled his T-shirt up so that his stomach was exposed, rock hard and toned, and scratched languidly at the light smattering of fair hair that covered his skin, winking towards Charlie as he did so. She ignored him, instead concentrating on the words of the custody sergeant.

‘You are further charged that on Friday 17th June 2016 you did rob Mr Moses Sinkler in Estreham Road, SW16. That is contrary to section 8 Theft Act 1968.’

He had nothing to say, he never did, until the time came for his solicitor to ask for bail. This time though even his solicitor’s plea was lacklustre. There was no way Cornell Miller would be walking the streets for a good few years if Charlie had anything to do with it. He was scum. Pure unequivocal racist scum and the public, particularly those in the black and Asian communities needed to be protected from him.

The case had initially been assigned to her office because of the racist element to it. Her boss, Hunter, had given it to her to investigate and tonight was the culmination of all her work. She eyed Miller as he scratched his belly again, thinking about what he had done. She had thought of little else, since reading the details the first time.

It had been 5.15 a.m. when he had struck. 5.15 a.m., when there was hardly a soul on the streets to hear his victim’s screams; when there was no one to witness the excessive, unnecessary violence meted out on an unassuming, hard-working Jamaican man, nearing the end of an extended career spent coaching kids to play football. Moses Sinkler had been nipping to the local cashpoint to get twenty quid to give to the missus for some groceries when Cornell Miller had spotted him. Miller was coming down from a crack-cocaine high and needed some more cash to score some heroin before he went to bed, or else he’d never sleep – and he hadn’t slept for days.

He’d selected the venue well. It was the perfect place for a quick hit. A quiet backstreet with a remote cash machine, tucked into the rear approach to the local train station, still silent before the first train of the day at half five. He’d waited for the old Jamaican to withdraw his money; waited and watched and hoped that it would be a decent haul. Silently he’d taken a last draw of his cigarette, before grinding it into the ground and following Moses back across the road, stalking him like a predator, before he attacked.

But it was the manner of the assault that had really upset Charlie. A scare would have been all that was needed. Moses Sinkler was not a fighter. At seventy-two, he was too old to exchange blows; he would have done what he was told, handed over the cash, capitulated in the face of a much larger, stronger opponent. Cornell Miller barely said a word; his Stanley knife did all his talking, slicing across Moses’ face, neck, shoulders and back, time and time again as the old man screamed out in agony.

 Review: 

This is the second book in a series featuring Charlie Stafford but I jumped in with no problem at all. I warmed quickly to Charlie, she’s a good cop but she’s not jaded and disenchanted by her job, she’s still eager to find justice for victims of crime and she also has a fantastic sense of humor. The rest of the team she works with are also likable and there’s a genuine sense of family amongst them. Charlie is shuffling two cases at the same time, the first is a series of racially motivated attacks perpetrated by a real scumbag. When he manages to escape from prison, she’s bound and determined to ensure he gets back behind bars, and fast. The second is a series of murders where the killer removes the victims ring finger before brutally killing them. As Charlie struggles to find a connection between the victims, bodies keep popping up and she knows that it’s a race against the clock. 

Flint was a police officer for thirty five years and her knowledge is evident in her writing. It’s a standard police procedural and you can really tell it’s written by someone with firsthand experience. Sometimes in crime thrillers there are moments where things just don’t make sense and as an average citizen,even I can spot discrepancies. There was none of that here, everything seemed very genuine. It’s a dark, gritty, fast paced read and there were quite a few suspects to choose from making it all the more difficult for me to solve the puzzle, I definitely didn’t have things worked out. It was a solid read and one that would appeal to any crime fiction fans. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.


Blog Tour: The Second Chance Tea Shop by Fay Keenan @Aria_Fiction @faykeenan 


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Release date: March 10, 2017

Publisher: Aria Fiction 

Genre: Chick Lit

Blurb: 

Second chances, new loves and scrumptious cakes, in this heart-warming novel. Perfect for all fans of Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Cathy Bramley.
Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it’s time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.
But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.
This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Second Chance Tea Shop. I have my review and an extract to share today. 


Extract: 

1


‘Are we nearly there?’ A small voice came from the back seat of Anna Hemingway’s car.

We’re getting there, Anna thought. ‘Just a couple more minutes.’

As she drove, she kept half an eye on the scenes that presented themselves. Although she had been a regular visitor to Little Somerby, the Somerset village where she grew up, since she’d left eighteen years ago it had changed little from her last visit, yet as a soon-to-be resident once again she looked about her with fresh eyes.

‘Will there be a swing in the garden?’ Ellie asked.

‘I don’t know, darling. We can always get one if you want.’ Anna spotted the church on the corner, gravestones covered in a crisp shroud of frost, surrounded by yew trees. On the other side of the road was the village pub, The Stationmaster, site of countless drunken nights and teenage liaisons.

‘Tomorrow?’

‘Perhaps when we’ve settled in a bit.’

Continuing on she saw the Post Office and stores, now rather more organic and free range than she remembered. Next to that, the Village Hall, red-bricked and proudly declaiming its Temperance movement heritage. A little further on she passed the garage where she’d bought her first car, and then, the warm, inviting lights of The Little Orchard Tea Shop. She briefly glimpsed a couple of occupied tables through the bay window, and a shiver of anticipation went through her. Of all the decisions she’d made over the past few months, taking on a new job was the one that she’d agonised hardest about. But this move was intended to be a fresh start, a change to nearly every part of her life, and there was no doubt that managing a tea shop would provide plenty of change.

As she drove closer towards her new home, the sprawling land and buildings of the local cider farm – once a shed and a shop, now a thriving multinational business – loomed into view. Apart from the more dominant presence of the cider farm, so little in the village had changed; Anna found it difficult to believe that she had. But she was thirty-six years old, with a D-cup bra, a C-section scar and a three-year-old daughter. She was hardly the same hopeful girl who’d left the village to pursue education, a career, and later, love.

Love. Anna swallowed hard. They’d have been married ten years this spring. But she pushed that to the back of her mind; today was about taking the next step in her new life.

She felt a small stirring of excitement as she turned up Flowerdown Lane, which was a pleasant spot a little away from the main part of the village. Pippin Cottage was the last house on the right; one of only four houses. It was painted white with dark beams running from top to bottom. A curved oak door was set into the centre of the front of the cottage, protected from the elements by a slightly rickety porch. Three windows adorned the first floor and two further windows sat either side of the front door. The slate roof had been repaired extensively but still retained its aged charm. The front garden was enclosed by a stone wall with a rusty wrought-iron gate. At the end of the lane was an orchard of neatly ordered apple trees, their branches lying dormant now, but promising new life when the spring arrived.

Anna had chosen the cottage because it was close enough to the village to feel connected, but, being the last house on the lane, it also had a pleasantly secluded feel. She’d only viewed it once before putting in an offer, and she’d nearly been put off by the estate agent, who had been brusque to the point of rudeness while he showed her around, but she’d always wanted to own a cottage, and this one was practically the stuff of dreams. The fact that her absolute worst nightmare had come true, and allowed her the freedom to buy the place, was an agonising irony that tormented her, nearly two years on. The sharpness of loss pierced her heart once again and she had to draw in a calming, steadying breath.

‘Are you ready, darling?’ Opening her car door, she went to the back to get Ellie out. The little girl took approximately half a second to look around before she bounded through the garden gate and raced up the garden path.

‘Come on, Mummy!’ she called from the porch.

Anna pushed the car door shut and looked at her daughter hopping impatiently from foot to foot on the doorstep. It was time.

*


‘Well, as soon as you hear from them please can you get them to give me a ring?’ Anna pressed the end call button to the removal company and yet again cursed the fact she’d shoved her mobile phone charger in the last box that had been loaded onto the lorry. Only a few minutes behind her when they’d left, they still hadn’t turned up. Chucking the phone down on the lamentably empty kitchen worktop, Anna jumped as a deep bark rent the air, and, almost immediately, fuzzy black and white fur flying, a Border collie erupted from the hall into her kitchen. This was followed by an unmistakably outraged female voice. ‘Seffy! Come back here now!’

Despite the cold December day, Anna had left the dark oak door open to let in some light and a little fresh air, and as she made an abortive grab for the dog’s collar, she noticed its owner silhouetted in the door frame. Dark-haired, pale-skinned and slender, as she turned towards Anna and dropped her hand from the door, Anna saw a generous red-lipped mouth and the most startling blue eyes she’d ever seen. The girl was clad in dark jeans and an oversized striped jumper, combined with ballet pumps that were totally unsuitable for the December weather.

‘I’m so sorry,’ the girl’s voice was low, modulated and hinted at a public school education. ‘I tried to get him on the lead before we got to the gate, but he outsmarted me.’

Anna smiled. ‘No harm done.’ As soon as the collie saw his mistress he trotted obediently back to her.

Looping the dog’s lead through his collar, the girl smiled apologetically. ‘I’m Meredith. But most people call me Merry.’ She glanced back at the dog. ‘And this is Sefton.’

‘It’s nice to meet you,’ Anna said, reaching forward to pat the dog. ‘I’m Anna, and, somewhere in the house is my daughter Ellie.’

‘So you’re moving in today?’ Merry asked.

‘Yup, if the removal company ever get here. I’d offer you a cup of tea, but I don’t have my kettle!’ She glanced around the kitchen. The Rayburn – something else she’d always wanted in the kitchen of her dreams – squatted dull yellow and imposing against one wall of the kitchen, its top scrubbed clean. Anna was a keen baker and she was looking forward to learning how to cook on it, especially in light of the new job she was going to be taking on in a week or two. She hoped the previous owner had left the instruction manual, as she didn’t know where to start with it.

‘Thanks for the offer anyway, but I can’t stop. Seffy’s been bugging me for a walk all day and he needs all the exercise he can get. Whenever he sees an open door he takes it as an invitation! Sorry about that.’

‘It’s fine,’ Anna replied. ‘I’m sure he won’t be the last visitor!’

‘No, definitely not,’ Meredith rolled her eyes. ‘The local gossips will be on your doorstep in no time, so be careful. I’d install CCTV if I were you, or get a dog yourself to chase them off!’

‘Thanks for the warning. I’ll keep that in mind.’

‘Well, welcome to the village – hopefully catch up with you again soon,’ Meredith turned on her heel and wandered back out.

As she stood in the doorway, she saw the girl disappear up to the end of the lane, open the five-bar gate that marked the entrance to the orchard and walk through. If all the teenagers in the village looked like that, Anna reflected, then things really had changed over the time she’d lived away.

A buzz from her mobile interrupted her thoughts. Walking back to the kitchen, she found a message from the movers blaming a pile-up on the M5 for their non-appearance. Anna winced and locked her screen again, willing her thoughts not to wander. In the meantime, she figured she’d look in on her best friend Charlotte, who lived two doors down. Charlotte had texted that morning demanding to know exactly when Anna was arriving. The fact that she would be living so close to her oldest school friend was another reason she’d swiftly put an offer in on Pippin Cottage. Anna had the feeling she was going to need friends and family around her in the next few weeks and months. Guiltily, she realised she’d not texted Charlotte back. She really must get a grip and crack on with things. After all, she’d arranged to meet Ursula Rowbotham, the owner of the tea shop, at six o’clock and it was edging up to three o’clock now.

First, though, she decided to set up the Rayburn, which ran the central heating as well as providing the main source of cooking in the kitchen. There had been some wrangling between solicitors about the Rayburn before the exchange of contracts, but she’d been assured that it would be serviced and fuelled before completion. As she turned knobs and fiddled with switches, however, she quickly realised the huge iron beast wasn’t going to work. That’s all I need, she thought. No furniture, no broadband and now no bloody central heating! Biting back her irritation, she punched out the estate agent’s number on her mobile. After a brief exchange, one of the agents assured her they’d contact the previous owner and get someone round as soon as possible, so Anna decided to cut her losses.

‘Come on, Munchkin,’ she called to Ellie, who was spinning around in circles in the empty living room. ‘Let’s go and find Charlotte and Evan.’ Taking the slightly dizzy toddler’s hand, she closed the old front door behind her and went in search of her best friend.

Review: 

I have to start by gushing over this absolutely beautiful cover, doesn’t it just scream springtime?! I adore it and what’s inside is just as sweet and lovely. Anna is a widow and trying to start a new life for herself and her three year old daughter, Ellie. She moves to the quaintest little village to run a tea shop and though I know it’s not real, I would still really like to visit it myself!  There’s something about all these sweet shops, bakeries and tea shops that always pop up in books set in the U.K. that always appeals to me. 

Though Anna has no intention of dating anytime soon, she meets Matthew who runs a local cider farm and can’t fight their growing connection. I really liked that this wasn’t one of those books where two people meet, fall in love instantly and everything is utterly perfect, they experience a few bumps in the road. Anna is quite mature and guarded so she takes her time in her new relationship which was very refreshing and appreciated. It follows Anna’s life over the course of a year and is broken up into sections based on the season. I loved experiencing the village through Anna’s eyes and seeing how it looked and felt during all the months of the year. 

This was an uplifting read about getting a second chance at not only love, but at life in general. Ellie and Matthew’s teenaged daughter Merry really stole the show and were a great added bonus to the story. This was a light, easy read full of whimsy and hope, one that kept me flicking the pages rapidly as I was so hopeful that Anna would find true happiness. She grows and evolves so much over the course of the book and watching her relationship with Matthew blossom was so sweet and romantic. Is there anything more endearing than watching a love story unfold?! 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Aria Fiction for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling back in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

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