Guest Post: Inspiration for Fame and Fortune in the Gorbals by @Donnekate @LoveBooksGroup

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Robert James Muldoon. That’s me. Sixteen years auld, four feet three wi bright red hair an legs like a chicken...’

It’s 1969 and Bobby, as he is usually known, has spent the last year dealing with one crisis after another. He’s a Gorbals’ boy though so with sheer determination and a witty sense of humour he’s moving on. Thanks to some carefully considered action plans and the support of Jeannie, the love of his life, Bobby has so far overcome every obstacle in his path. Now he and Jeannie have a plan to create a good life for themselves. Will Bobby finally become a confident, successful young man? Or will he go one step further and find...

Fame and Fortune in The Gorbals?
Buy the Book: UK/IE | US 

Guest Post by Kate Donne

Three years at The Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow was the most inspirational experience of my life. I spent many hours studying character building and script writing and without that training I know I could never have written a novel. The course also taught me to ‘widen my focus’ and I became more aware of the characters around me. I began to think in pictures! I have never been a ‘practical’ person. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and when I write I can ‘see’ the situations playing out before my eyes! I was taught the art of bringing colourful characters to life. That inspired me and it seems to make sense that in the future I will adapt my trilogy into a full, three-act stage play. That is a very exciting prospect. Later this month I will be launching the complete trilogy and we have a half hour dramatisation rehearsed and ready to entertain our guests!

About the Author

Kate Donne lives in Dollar, Clackmannanshire with her Welsh husband Steve, her dog Brodie, two tractors and eight chickens! Kate runs her own personal development company, and spends her spare time writing.
She graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow with a BA Degree in Dramatic Studies and was awarded The Dorothy Innes Prize, The Arnold Fleming travelling scholarship and The Charles Brooke memorial prize. 
Kate has spent many years involved in the arts and has been a professional singer, a director of musical theatre and an actress in many plays and musicals. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies and she was shortlisted for The Tarbert Book Festival writing competition 2017 with her short story Frae a Haggis.

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Guest Post: The Inspiration for Spirits of the Dead by @StephenJWillis @LoveBooksGroup

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Throughout the series, Christopher and his friends must overcome various despicable foes as they battle with riddles, codes, creatures of the night, deathly spectres and secret orders, as they go in search of Christopher's missing brother and father.

Through the darkness of a starless night a tall shadowy figure rode silently along the long wet road. His black cloak flapped about him like the wings of a great vampire bat. Christopher Daring looked on from his bedroom window, both intrigue and suspicion forming the seed of a new adventure.

Once accompanied by his best friend Jason, they embark upon a ghostly trail into the unknown. They soon find themselves fighting for their lives as they become unexpectedly entwined with both the living and the dead.

Upon Jason becoming spiritually trapped and in danger of being lost to the clutches of death itself, Christopher takes up a quest to find a missing golden pocket watch, that should restore balance to the dark forces that surround them all. But, the twisted greed of the local ghostly priest and his demonic hound, Satan, have other ideas.


With an unusual mix of science, technology, cosmology, fantasy fiction and a dash of the spiritual self, the Christopher Daring Adventures is a thrilling ride into the impossible.

Guest Post by Stephen: Inspiration


My initial inspiration for this book came from a real ghostly building in my local town. 3am one foggy morning I was out walking the high street, trying to shift a rather nasty migraine. I remember stopping in my tracks as an unexpected pressure upon my chest caused me to take in a deep breath. I recall looking up at an old bicycle shop, where a big period bike sat gathering dust in the widow.

Everything about the shop display was grey and lost in the past. But the main pull was to the top second floor windows, where I felt the presence of someone looking down at me from behind the blackened windows. It was a very odd sensation. As I stared up I got the impression that the person was that of a young girl, that had been stuck up there for over a hundred years. I remember thinking how that poor girl had died up there so many moons ago. And questioned where on earth that feeling had come from. But being late, I pressed on with my walk, still determined to shift the migraine. 

The seed of a story idea, however, had been planted in my mind. But what really made it real for me was that over the next few weeks, I happen to walk past the same shop with two different friends. And on both occasions when I asked them what they thought of this practically invisible shop, they too raised a hand to their chest and mentioned that they suddenly felt an odd constriction there. They were both bowled over when I told them of my earlier experience, and agreed that the place gave off a dark sort of foreboding.

Buy the Book: UK/ IE | US

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Book Review: The Witch of Willow Hall by @HesterBFox

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The Witch of Willow Hall Book Review
Image from my Instagram

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…


Review:

I requested The Witch of Willow hall without knowing much about it. I went in blind and I can finally say...WOW.

What an incredible read. I devoured this book, mostly at night and I found it to be hauntingly addictive. 

Right from the start, the author sets up the mystery. Leaving you wondering why Lydia and her family were driven from their home in Boston. 

At their new home, we find Lydia struggling with powers and an ancestry that she doesn’t know how to process or handle. She wants to be normal, she wants to be beautiful like her two sisters- specifically Catherine- who seems to covet the attention of any man that visits the house.

The sense of foreboding comes from the characters, but also from the setting. I could feel the coldness from the walls of the old Willow mansion seeping through the pages. I could sense the eyes from the paintings as I turned the pages. Certain parts game me genuine chills as I read this at night in the dark.

Blog Tour: @RachelPudsey's Writing Journey #WatcheroftheNightSky @LoveBooksGroup

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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR 

Fifteen-year-old Abigail Crumble was never much for talking about love and marriage and other such nonsense – no matter how often her boy obsessed best friend pestered her to do so. Or so she so adamantly proclaimed. 

Yet on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Abigail makes the biggest, most contradictory mistake of her life. She wishes on the stars for love, or even the smallest amount of attention, without knowing the full impact of such a feat.

 Abigail soon finds her simple life in chaos as princes, men and mysterious creatures come to her door, each adamantly in love with her and refusing to leave her side.

Mixing fantasy, humour, and romance, The Watcher of the Night Sky begins the tale of one girl’s quest to rid herself of a curse that was definitely far more than she wished for.

Guest Post: Rachel Pudsey's Writing Journey


My earliest memory of writing is when I was in primary school, perhaps primary six or seven, and I wrote a “novel” titled something like Six Down and One to Go. At that time I was really into Goosebumps, so it’s not that surprising that my first attempt at writing would be inspired by that. As I moved into high school, my writing continued but became more focused on songs and scripts. I was really into pop at that time, groups like the Spice Girls, Take That, East 17, PJ and Duncan, Roxette, and All Saints were regulars on my CD player. My girlfriends and I spent our free time writing our own corny pop songs and pretending to be pop stars. Once I got into my later teens, I joined a theatre group, and my writing shifted to plays and musicals. I spent my free time in front of an old computer typing stories that were suspiciously akin to the plotlines of the 9 pm movies Channel 5 used to show. Stories of teenage gangs and action movies and kidnappings. Then at some point during high school, I was introduced to The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. That book had a huge influence on my creativity. I was obsessed with that story and the fact the author was published at seventeen years old. Later, I took up the guitar and wrote songs with my university friend in the style of the Barenaked Ladies. Gosh, did we love that group! Our songs were ridiculous and comical, written usually during or after a drinking session. I think my story writing started to get a bit more structured and serious during university. I took a bus to school every day, and to pass the time I started writing a fantasy novel. I can pinpoint some of the inspiration for the story to a poster I had on my bedroom wall of a gnome chilling by a mushroom puffing on a pipe. I started to write this story about a prince that had come to earth from an alternate land because he had wanted to explore before becoming a ruler. He brought his controversial, human-obsessed magician friend along with him, and a gnome snuck through the hole too. The plot centred on the prince’s relationship with a worker from the hotel he stayed at. I must have written and rewritten and edited and re-edited that story for YEARS. Maybe about eight in total. I made maps, drew all the flags and colours, and wrote notes about all the kingdoms of the land. I continued writing that into my twenties, but eventually, my work and social life got in the way. Not wanting to settle into a lifestyle I wasn’t satisfied with, I decided to pack up and leave the town I lived in. I moved to my parents’ town to take on a job with minimum responsibility, allowing me to focus more on my story. I shared extracts with a co-worker, and she loved the tales of Magi the gnome. I had my first fan.

Blog Tour: The Characters Within Death Dolls by @asfarrant #RandomThingsTours

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Benjamin McGuinness fulfils his dream of establishing successful businesses and gives jobs with a new home to some of life’s misfits, deep in the English countryside on a farm. Everything seems perfect and his workers are as close as family.

A fire strikes close to home, a disaster that changes his perception of life and one of his loyal workers takes the chance to propose a life-changing venture.

This new business drags Lisa, his sister, into the deadly web of deception.

When exiled Russian twins join the family a symbolic tattoo is created that drives Benjamin’s money into a new league.

Benjamin knows that his future is defined by ‘the family’.

Will greed cause everything to crumble before his eyes, or will there be brutal consequences to their actions?

The Characters Within  Death Dolls:


Hello, thank you for having me on your blog, Amanda. I am lucky and privileged to be able to write this guest post today.

Today I am talking about that essential element to a story… characters!

Before I started to write stories and books naming a character was a total mystery to me, and the only thing that seriously deterred me from writing.

A submission to an anthology was my first story. This story evolved and became Famously Ordinary. I told my friend who recruited me that naming characters was putting me off, and he laughed!

James Dean was a simple name to choose as it was a real life person that I had met in about 1999 that made me wonder what it was like to have a famous name. The other characters of his immediate family were not too difficult to name. His father, although I needed to be a not too pleasant person, I wanted to have a name that was almost comedic. Dean Dean it was. The story centres on the family, and the names are key to the upbringing for James and the resulting chaos.

There are other characters, whose names were far less important. Of course, they needed a unique name. After all, a book where everyone is called Smith or Jones would be fairly dull.

Blog Tour: Read an Extract from Leo's War by @_PatriciaMurphy

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It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy. After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them. But he is no ordinary priest. Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line. Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews. But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?


Read an Extract:


In this extract from chapter 26, 12 year-old Leo has cycled to the Roman Seminary by the city walls. He has smuggled false identity documents for the scores of Jews, partisans and Prisoners-of-War posing as seminarians in order to hide from the Nazis. Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty is also there at a meeting with other members of the Rome Escape Line.

But despite being considered as territory independent of Nazi jurisdiction, Koch, a notorious Fascist torturer launches an armed raid as curfew falls.


* * * * * *
A young priest dashed in, habit flying. “Quick, hide, everyone! There’s a raid! There are fifty of Koch’s men circling the building!
I flew up out of my seat, my first thought Hugh. But Father Palazzini grabbed me at the refectory door and told me there was another passage leading from the secret room that led out to the octagonal baptistry and Hugh would take that. It would be better if I headed across the bridge into the adjoining building. From there I could get to the shed where my bike was.
He shooed me towards the flight of stairs that led to the bridge and ran off. I darted back to pick up the slice of pangiallo, the dried fruit cake that the cook had left just for me.
Everywhere trainee priests flew around like a flock of disturbed starlings, black gowns flying behind them like wings. I panicked, forgetting which way Father Palazzini had pointed.
I could hear a priest arguing at the main entrance. “No, you have no right to come here!”
The bark of a gun almost stopped my heartbeat. Then someone shouted and swore in Italian. “The next bullet will be in your head if you don’t let me through!
Rough voices could be heard at the door. More shouting.
Father Palazzini came back and was surprised to see me still there. He pulled me by the scruff of the neck. “Quick, through here, there’s no time.”
We fell through a doorway, just ahead of the black-shirted Fascists. They were led by a man in a suit, his jet-black hair plastered into his head, a black moustache across his upper lip like an ugly slug. Koch, I guessed.

#LoveBooksGroupTours: Character Spotlight with @kaplanhow #TheSpysGamble

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"Kaplan is...without peer in his grasp of the delicate and explosive relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is a thriller in the best tradition of the genre." -Los Angeles Times

When the Israeli Prime Minister boards a new stealth submarine in Norfolk, Virginia intending a celebratory ride and the sub vanishes, it sets in motion a suspenseful story that intertwines the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a story of what could be.

Shai Shaham--an Israeli intelligence officer--contacts old friend and adversary Ramzy Awwad--a former PLO intelligence officer and one of the great writers of his people--for help in locating the missing prime minister. But can they trust each other? Can their friendship withstand the turbulent political landscape?

Eli Bardin--an agent who is feeling the strain of being away from his wife and children for so long in the field--is also tasked to contact Ramzy for the help in finding the missing sub. It seems the Russians have great interest in the technology, and he must locate the prime minister...because losing him is a national calamity that threatens to upset a delicate political balance in the most terrifying ways.

Starkly depicting the excesses of both sides and moving through actual events, THE SPY'S GAMBLE relies on in-depth research to weave a thrilling tale of suspense of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
BUY ON AMAZON

Character Spotlight:


Who is your protagonist?

Shai Shaham a longtime Mossad field agent now assistant director of operations a desk job in Jerusalem though he still likes to get out into the field even if he has to sneak out

 The inspiration for your protagonist

I have a close friend, an educator in Jerusalem, who is an out of the box thinker

 The creation of your protagonist
I wanted an agent who was staunchly Zionist but who saw and understood Palestinians as people, their struggle their lives. So Shai is a great humanist, the type of guy who extends himself and is incredibly nice unless the other side behaves badly.  Then he’s tough as nails.

 About your protagonist’s character

Shai is a man with huge appetites. He loves deeply but only in a committed relationship.  He’s overweight a former smoker and drinker who won’t touch either now. For a long time he carried an open pack of cigarettes in his pocket as a challenge to not smoke them

Does she have any similarities to someone ‘real’? If so, tell us more!

It’s fun to base a character on a real person.  My friend lectures to Israeli army groups as part of their educational training, so I had him wander into the Arab marketplace in Hebron after giving a lecture there in the West Bank.  He seems some rather inhumane behavior by the Israeli settlers there so I called him up and asked what would you say. What he told me was better than what I could have created as it was real. 


What do you like most of your protagonist?

Great humanism, the capacity for deep connections both with friends and with family.

What do you dislike about your protagonist?

Really nothing.  I dislike a lot of things about myself, maybe in particular some compulsive worrying and replaying problems in my head but I love Shai’s human frailties.

Would you and your protagonist be friends in ‘real’ life?

I’d be honored.

What’s next?

I have a new novel coming out later this year, maybe October called TO DESTOY JERUSALEM. Shai’s also the main character there but it’s a prequel when he’s still a field agent and working with another Palestinian agent, Ramzy Awwad trying to trust each other.



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Book Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher #100words

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Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

Review:

Hmm, I’m a little torn with this one. Did I like it? Yes. Love it? No.

The Handmaid-style premise was really interesting; a world where women are literally silenced by counters on their wrists limiting them to 100 words a day. The danger of comparing a book to a well-loved classic is that people are going to expect a lot, and if you under deliver readers will be incredibly critical. I think that's what happened here, it was too hyped for it's own good. 

I love the way the story mirrored society today and the way we seem to be split into two types. The first being the type who basically ignores activists and marches and anything political. The second being the type to march, and write letters and campaign to right wrongs. Vox is a cautionary tale that warns about what can happen if we ignore what's happening in the world around us. Especially in the overly controlling, conservative, Christian world.

At the same time, Vox did not really "grab" me. It's poorly plotted and mostly predictable. I picked it up every evening but I wasn't really excited to see what happened next. I felt like the book was slightly too long with everything wrapping up too neatly and too quickly towards the end. I felt like some aspects were under-explored while a lot of paragraphs were dedicated to, often mundane detail.

One example of this was her son. I loved the conflict present in their relationship and I would have loved to read more of it. Again, it was resolved too quickly for my liking. The same goes for her husband Patrick. I feel like his reaction to certain secrets that emerged within the story could have been used to create more tension and friction.

Saying all that, I wouldn't NOT recommend Vox. It's a fun, what if, dystopian read that I'm sure many people will enjoy. You just have to be able to suspend belief for a little while and enjoy it for what it is without asking too many questions.

Rating:

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


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Blog Tour: Read an extract from The Liar's Room by @Simon_Lelic @PenguinUKBooks

10:46



ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT...

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She's never met this young man before - so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong.
She doesn't know him
.
BUT HE KNOWS HER.
AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER...


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Read an Extract:




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Spotlight: Author Gregory Coley on his love of books @Ghreggori

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Howdy folks, 

Y’all don’t know me, but my name is Gregory Coley. I’m a self-published author and our fine host, Amanda, was nice enough to give me a post here. I got into writing when I was in my early teens. I began with writing lyrics for local bands in high school, lol. In college that morphed into poetry. After college I tried my hand at short stories. Now, at 31, I have over a dozen books to my name. Some are poetry books, some are short stories and some are novels. I’m most proud of my Corvus Chronicles series, of which I’m working on book 6! I’m getting ahead of myself though. 

My love of books was kindled initially by, like most people my age, the appearance of a boy wizard. He showed me how magical books could be. I also love the Vampire Chronicles, the Odd Thomas series, Hunger Games, the asylum series and anything by Neil Gaimen. He is a lovely man who has helped me in no small amount through our conversations. I’m currently reading the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. 

As you can see I draw my inspiration from many authors and many genre. My books tend to touch of urban fantasy and the supernatural. I also have a book that revolves around a handicap young man in today’s world. That I draw from experience. I am in a wheelchair and have battled kidney failure my whole life. I’ve been on dialysis treatments to live for the last 24 years. I am always looking for new things to write. My current project is a novel that follows the life of an author told side by side with that of her character.

The first book of my series, “In Death’s Wake”, came to me in a dream. I told my dad about the premise. It is about a young man that is drafted into the 2nd American Civil War. He is used as a science experiment that gives people the ability to see into the minds of the dead. After being discharged when the program goes wrong, he is forced to find a new way to use his abilities in civilian life. My dad’s response when I told him about it? He said, “If you don’t write it then I’ll find somebody else who will.” Now I’m five books deep into that series. Thanks for pushing me to write my first novel, dad. Lol. 

I met Amanda recently. We began talking, and upon hearing of my difficulties finding new readers she offered me this amazing opportunity. She is a wonderful person whom I already owe so much after knowing her for a week. I hope some of you will give my books a try! Book 1 of my series is currently 99 cents on kindle. 

I’m still learning to be a self-published author. I’ve written for a while, but I’m just now trying to network and be more active on Twitter and Facebook. You can feel free to follow me on twitter at @Ghreggori or Facebook at www.facebook.com/GCauthor . My new website is also live! It is gkcoley.wixsite.com/gregorycoleywriting . Thank you for your time. Thank you to Amanda for her time. I am open to any questions about my writing, or anything else. I’m a young writer who is hungry to grow his name.



Thank you, 

Gregory Coley


Thanks to Greg for this great spotlight post. If you'd like to be featured on my blog please feel free to contact me. 

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Cover Design Reveal: Death Dolls by @asfarrant

10:17

Author Simon Farrant recently contacted me about a cover design for his new book Death Dolls. As we spoke about the story I became really intrigued and began imagining all the possible ways that I could depict the story on the front cover. 
Death Dolls is certainly a multi-faceted story and there were many images I could have used to design his cover. Ultimately though, there was one disturbing element which really caught my eye when I read it. I won't reveal that element to you as I don't want to spoil the story, but let's just say, you 'll understand why there's so much blood on the cover when you read it! 

Death Dolls Blurb:


Benjamin McGuinness fulfils his dream of establishing successful businesses and gives jobs with a new home to some of life’s misfits, deep in the English countryside on a farm. Everything seems perfect and his workers are as close as family.


A fire strikes close to home, a disaster that changes his perception of life and one of his loyal workers takes the chance to propose a life-changing venture.

This new business drags Lisa, his sister, into the deadly web of deception.


When exiled Russian twins join the family a symbolic tattoo is created that drives Benjamin’s money into a new league.


Benjamin knows that his future is defined by ‘the family’.


Will greed cause everything to crumble before his eyes, or will there be brutal consequences to their actions?

Cover Design Reveal:

Here is the final front cover for Death Dolls. I hope you like it! If you'd like to talk to me about designing your cover please visit my author services website Let's Get Booked

To order Simon's book please CLICK HERE




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Book Review: In the Dark by @CaraHunterBooks @PenguinUKBooks

13:08



DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY'RE HIDING IN THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR?

From the author of the massive bestseller CLOSE TO HOME, comes the second pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive.

No one knows who they are - the woman can't speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem . . .

Review:


When I read Cara's first book Close to Home, I loved the way she interweaved the social media posts with the story. It was relatable in the trial by social media world we live in today. So I was delighted to see this format repeated in In the Dark.

Adam Fawley and his team return to solve a disturbing case where a woman and young child are found in a suburban basement while an not very likeable neighbour does work to his house. It's immediately clear from their emaciated conditions that they had been in said basement for some time. 

Cara knows how to grip the reader from the first few pages. Immediately drawing the reader in, forcing them to question and suspect almost every character that pops up. Possibilities are teased to the reader as they venture deeper and deeper into the story. Several times, I thought I had the plot sussed, only to be proven wrong time and time again. The number of twists and turns in this book made it a highly engaging read. Definitely a page-turner! 

I also love the way she seamlessly waves Adam's backstory into the narrative without it being distracting. It's not vital but I would really recommend reading Close to Home first. One, because it's an amazing two, because you'll gain a deeper understanding of Adam and all he has been through. The characters are so well developed that it would be a shame to miss out as In the Dark is definitely driven more by the investigation rather than the people. 

If you love a book that keeps you guessing then you must add In the Dark to your reading list. 

I have to say that Cara Hunter is fast becoming one of my favourite crime fiction authors. Watch out, Karin Slaughter!

Rating:

★★★★★ 

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Giveaway: Win a copy of Sticks and Stones by @JoJakemanWrites @DeadGoodBooks

09:58



'A revenge thriller to make you punch the air in solidarity’ 
Eva Dolan, author of This Is How It Ends

‘A gripping story, sensitively told’
Laura Marshall, author of Friend Request

‘Deliciously dark and gripping’ 
Emily Koch, author of If I Die Before I Wake

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

Sticks and Stones is a deliciously twisting psychological thriller from an unforgettable new voice.

'Revenge is a dish served with lashings of relish in this vivid, blackly comic suspense novel, as three women fight back against an abusive partner. I cheered them on to the bloody end'
Louise Candlish
‘Sensational – pacy, twisty and darkly funny with well-rounded characters'
 Roz Watkins, author of The Devil’s Dice

'A cracking book. Darkly funny, yet also touching and emotive. Plus, full of suspense and twists. Buy it!' 
CJ Tudor, author of The Chalk Man

‘A brilliant debut from an author with a sharp wit and a keen understanding of human nature. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough’
 Fiona Cummins, author of Rattle



About the author:

Jo is a writer based in Derbyshire. Her debut Psychological Thriller will be published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) on 12 July 2018, and as The Exes’ Revenge by Berkley in the USA on 11 September.





Giveaway:

For a chance to win a copy of Sticks and Stones, head to my Twitter, follow me and retweet the pinned tweet. Open to the UK and Ireland only. 

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Guest post: 10 Things you need to know about author @CarrieJoHowe @unbounders #RandomThingsTours @annecater #islandlifesentence

16:10

About Island Life Sentence:

Peg Savage has contractually agreed to move to Key West, Florida. The smudged signatures on the damp cocktail napkin are irrefutable proof.
“An adventure…” her husband Clark says.

Peg can’t swim; she’s afraid of bridges (there are 42 of them); and she doesn’t want to leave her friends. However, after a bottle of Cabernet, a move from Chicago to the southernmost city in the United States seems like the best decision ever.

But now Clark has taken a long term job in Cuba and she’s on her own.
Neither her dog Nipper, nor the ghosts in the attic, offer up any good advice. But how hard can it be living in paradise?

Peg dives into island life but the more effort she makes, the wider her wake of catastrophes. She is tortured by a paddle board, a giant poisonous toad, the local Conservation group, and the patron saint of hurricanes. Not to mention the persistent sweat rash under her left breast.

A tropical depression descends on the island – one that can’t be cured with medication. Peg must gather her strength if she has any hope of surviving the storm.

10 Things You Need to Know about Carrie Jo Howe:

  1. I’ve written 2 books:

Book Review: Days of Wonder by @keefstuart @LittleBrownUK

08:37




Magical, heartbreaking, beautiful - Days of Wonder reminds us that stories have the power to save lives.


Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah's diagnosis with a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen on the brink of adulthood, that time is coming.

With the theatre under threat of closure, Hannah and Tom have more than one fight on their hands to stop the stories ending. But maybe, just maybe, one final day of magic might just save them both.

A tale about growing up, the beauty of a special bond between father and daughter, and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you'll read all year.



Days of Wonder Book Review:

I really loved A Boy Made of Blocks. It was such a touching story so I was delighted when Little Brown asked me to take part in the blog tour for Days of Wonder.

I found A Boy Made of Blocks to be a slow burner. It was clear the author really wanted the reader to get to know his characters so I was not surprised to see that Days of Wonder followed the same path. Sometimes it's really nice to read a book that's about the characters rather than just the pace of the plot. 

The story is told from two viewpoints - Tom the father and Hannah the daughter who suffers from a heart condition. As someone with a chronic illness, I could really relate to Hannah and her being mature beyond her years. It's a common trait among people who are ill and it was a nice addition to her character. It shows the level of research the author did into children who suffer from illness from a young age. 

Blog Tour Guest Post: Ten Things You Need to Know About #AskMetoDance Author @SylviaColley @MuswellPress #RandomThingsTours

09:00


Sylvia Colley's extraordinary understanding of a woman's struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.


Guest Post:

Ten Things You Need to Know About Author Sylvia Colley


1. When I see the word ‘Blog’ I have to lie down. I panic. Then I curse myself for being so - well- stupid and wish I was part of the younger generation. But probably I’m just lazy.  

2. I keep chickens on my allotment at the bottom of the garden. Brown ones with names like Queenie and Jumper. I sit and watch the way they scrabble at the earth and continually peck up bits of this and that, their heads dipping and rising, their tails upwards. Busy Busy.  And it’s been really useful in the novel I’m writing at the moment because one of the characters is an artist who paints like a modern Stubbs and he does paint chickens sometimes.

3. Now I come to think of it, animals feature in all my books. In Lights on Dark Water the cat, Fido, the only reminder of Anna’s husband left in her life, is stolen and dumped by some roadside by a jealous work colleague  and in Ask Me to Dance (just published), an old, simple-minded monk who had been brought up cruelly in a Catholic boys home, is allowed to keep a wild rabbit - brought in to the kitchen by the monastery cat - much to the disapproval of some the brothers who make life very difficult for him  

Book Review: Dancing Over the Hill by @CathyHopkins1 @fictionpubteam

07:30

Image is from my Instagram

When a boxset of Broadchurch is more appealing than having sex with your husband, then perhaps it’s time to hide the remote…
Cait and Matt have been married for 30 years. They are rock solid; an inspiration to others; stuck together like glue – aren’t they?
But Cait can’t shake off the feeling that something is missing. They are fit and healthy, if a bit skint – but the whole world should be their oyster now that Matt has retired, giving them the time to do those things that really matter – and more importantly – together. So why is she left wondering if this is all there is? Has Matt always been this annoying and infuriating? And where have those ants-in-her-pants suddenly come from?
It’s not helped by the reappearance in her life of Tom Lewis, the love of her life who broke her heart at university and who, despite the fact she hasn’t she hasn't seen him for decades, is still exerting his magnetic pull.
Her friends are Lorna, who recently lost her husband, and Debs whose husband recently left her. The three women must all question what they want out of the rest of their lives – and how they are going to get it…

Review:


I discovered Dancing Over the Hill through a Netgalley email from Harper Collins. I was looking for a change from all the crime fiction and psychological thrillers I'd been reading. All I can say is I am so glad I didn't pass this gem up and I will be purchasing Cathy's previous book ASAP.

What immediately endeared me towards Dancing Over the Hill were the two main characters, Cait and Matt. They weren't young, success hungry go-getters as is typical of this genre. They both are in their 60's and facing retirement while wondering, "Is this all there is?" 

Matt has lost his job, the only thing he's ever felt good at. He find's it difficult to fill in his time and feels like a nuisance around the house. Cait, on the other hand, is used to her alone time, filling her days with choir practice, yoga, and lunches with friends. She finds it difficult to make time for her newly unemployed husband and is completely unimpressed with his lazing about the house in his dressing gown.

Blog Tour: Read an Extract from Saving the Word by @paoladiana_ @quartetbooks @midaspr

10:00


A passionate call for international gender equality by a leading entrepreneur; this smart, accessible and inspiring book makes the case for why all nations need more women at the top of politics and economics. `The status of women is a global challenge; it touches every human being without exception. How is it possible that countries where women have achieved political, economic and social rights after exhausting struggles remain seemingly indifferent to the egregiousness of other nations where the status of women is still tragic? The time has come to help those left behind.

Read an Extract from Saving the World:


It is important here to reflect briefly on the word ‘feminist’ and its implications. Very often, negative connotations are undeservedly attached to the term. In discussing the subject with a Member of the Italian Parliament of my acquaintance, I was confirmed in my belief that there is considerable confusion as to the actual meaning of the word. In commenting on yet another case of violence towards a woman, I said it would be nice if, after death, there was a feminist paradise where the souls of all women could find peace for themselves. He agreed that it would be nice for them, just as a ‘macho’ paradise would be nice for men. Looking at him in astonishment, I explained that there is a huge difference between the two terms: being a feminist doesn’t mean being against someone; it is rather about promoting respect for women’s rights. Being ‘macho’, on the other hand, means rejecting equality of rights between the genders.

‘Feminism’ is virtually a synonym for parity and equality. A man who believes in the values of freedom and fairness can himself be thought of as a ‘feminist’. Machismo, on the other hand, champions male primacy in support of a patriarchal society. If this simple distinction is not clear to a representative of the state, I thought, whatever must be the understanding of most of the population? Historically, feminists have been hostile and even violent towards men on occasions, but this was only when men had sought to perpetuate a culture of oppression and violence. We owe much to the women who fought against all odds for those rights, such as votes for women, that we now take for granted.

Blog Tour Guest Post: If you go Down to the Woods by @SethCAdams @KillerReads

18:32




SOMETHING IS HIDING IN THE SHADOWS…


We were so young when it all happened. Just 13-years-old, making the most of the long, hot, lazy days of summer, thinking we had the world at our feet. That was us – me, Fat Bobby, Jim and Tara – the four members of the Outsiders’ Club.

The day we found a burnt-out car in the woods was the day everything changed. Cold, hard cash in the front seat and a body in the trunk… it started out as a mystery we were desperate to solve.

Then, the Collector arrived. He knew we had found his secret. And suddenly, our summer of innocence turned into the stuff of nightmares.

Nothing would ever be the same again…

Guest Post by Seth C Adams:


On Being a Working Class Stiff, Dogs, and Other True Things

by

Seth C. Adams


'Writing what you know' happens to be one of those clichés that is good, sound advice that every writer should follow. I grew up in a working class family, learning traditional working class values of honesty, integrity, and pride in hard work done well. I grew up with dogs nearly ever present in my life, and have continued that trend into adulthood. And with a consistent circle of friends through my formative primary school years, I was blessed to discover the meaning of loyalty at an early age.

So that's what I sat down to write about when I wrote If You Go Down to the Woods. In the back of mind were the old dog-and-boy classics everyone reads in American grade school: the likes of Old Yeller, Big Red, and Where the Red Fern Grows. Also rattling around up there in my skull were the modern coming-of-age genre classics like Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, Stephen King's It and the short story "The Body", and Robert McCammon's Boy's Life. And of course there were my own memories of my childhood, and the friends and family I shared it with. 

Spotlight: Q&A with author Kelly Ann Gonzales @KellyRGonzales @xlibrispub

17:49




Sienna and Declan are young high-profile NYC executives with an opaque marriage. Neither closed nor open, their mutual arrangement has been left to a laissez-faire interpretation. The rules are simple: never bring a lover to their home, and never fall in love with their affairs. Sienna feels trapped by the own rules she agreed to with Declan when she realizes shes fallen in love with her best friend from college.

What follows is an affair of the heart and mind, their permitted sexual lifestyle against the unsanctioned emotional infidelity. Sienna must choose between emotional stability and marital security versus passion and excitement. Through an Opaque Window takes a solid view through the open windows of marital life, looking at what happens when we leave our lives ajar.


Buy the Book

Q&A with author Kelly Ann Gonzales:



1. What inspired you to write this book? 


The book is very loosely based on my life and served as an alternate reality asking the big, “What If?” I asked hard and uncomfortable questions to get to the root of the different kinds of loves driving the varied motivations of the three main characters. 



2. Summarize your book in one to three sentences as if you were speaking to someone unfamiliar with your book and its topic. 
     

Sienna and Declan are young, high profile NYC executives with an opaque marriage. Neither closed nor open, their mutual arrangement has been left to a laissez-faire interpretation until Sienna realizes she’s fallen in love with her best friend from college. What follows is an affair of the heart and mind, their permitted sexual lifestyle against the unsanctioned emotional infidelity. 


Blog Tour: Read an extract from The Duchess Deal by @TessaDare @MillsandBoon #DuchessDeal

19:20



When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar's daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, he decides on the spot that she'll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she's pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has secrets and some rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she's seen the man beneath the scars, he can't stop her from falling in love…

Read an Extract:

“Isn’t it silly of me?” Miss Palmer stood in a draped corner of Madame Bissette’s shop, holding
still as Emma measured her waistline. “More and more plump by the day. I suppose I’ve been
eating too many teacakes.”
Emma doubted it. This was the second time in a month Davina Palmer had visited the shop to have a dress let out, and Emma had been stitching her wardrobe since her first Season. She’d
never known the young woman to gain weight, and certainly not this rapidly.
Teacakes were not to blame.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t Emma’s place to say anything. But she’d taken a liking to Miss
Palmer. She was the only daughter of a shipping magnate, and heiress to his fortune. A bit spoiled
and sheltered, but she had a sparkle to her. She was a customer who always made Emma’s day
better rather than worse, and that said something. Most of the ladies who came into the shop
looked right through her.
Today, when she met Miss Palmer’s gaze, there was no sparkle. Only terror. The poor girl so
clearly needed a confidante.
“How many months along?” Emma asked softly. 
Miss Palmer dissolved into tears. “Almost four, I think.”
“Does the gentleman know?”
“I can’t tell him. He’s a painter. I met him when he came to paint the portrait of our dogs, and I . . . It doesn’t matter. He’s gone. Went to Albania in search of ‘romantic inspiration,’ whatever that means.”
It means he’s a scoundrel, Emma thought. “What of your family? Do they know?”
“No.” She shook her head with vigor. “There’s only Papa. He has such high expectations for
me. If he knew I’d been so careless, he . . . he’d never look at me the same.” She buried her
face in her hands and broke into quiet sobs. “I couldn’t bear it.”
Emma drew the girl into a hug, rubbing her back in a soothing rhythm. “Oh, you poor dear.
I’m so sorry.”
“I don’t know what to do. I’m so frightened.” She pulled away from the hug. “I can’t raise a
child on my own. I’ve been thinking, if only I could place the babe with a family in the country.
Then I could visit from time to time. I know it’s done.” Miss Palmer placed a hand on her belly and looked down at it. “But I’m growing larger every day. I won’t be able to hide it much longer.”
Emma offered the girl a handkerchief. “Is there anywhere you can go? A friend or cousin,
perhaps. In the country, or on the Continent … Anyone who might take you in until you give birth?”
“There’s no one. No one who would keep the secret, at any rate.” She clutched the handkerchief in her fist. “Oh, if only I hadn’t been so stupid. I knew it was wrong, but he was ever so romantic. He called me his muse. He made me feel . . .”
Treasured. Wanted. Loved.
Miss Palmer didn’t have to explain it. Emma knew exactly how the girl felt.
“You mustn’t be hard on yourself. You aren’t the first young woman to trust the wrong man,
and you won’t be the last.”
And yet somehow, the woman always paid the price.

Buy the Book:


About the Author: 


Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa writes Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her bestselling “Spindle Cove” and “Castles Ever After” series, she has had great fun creating heroines who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in “unladylike” pursuits that range from paleontology to beer-making—and dreaming up the strong-willed, sexy heroes who find their hearts ensnared by them.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties. 

Visit Tessa's Website | Follow Tessa on Twitter


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Giveaway: Win 3 copies of Dexter Boomstick @dexterboomstick (US)

14:46



When the world descends into a madman's twisted imagination, Dexter “Boomstick” Reynolds, a 30-year-old sporting goods store manager with legendary bat-swinging power, must find his way back to the beautiful Roxanne before she lands in the clutches of the self-proclaimed Pig Monster, Roy Hecht. Will the mysterious Golden Slugger baseball bat, business casual attire, and devilishly good looks be enough for Dexter to prevail?

I am delighted to show case Dexter Boomstick on the blog today. To celebrate the release the author has provided 3 copies to giveaway. 

Giveaway:


3 copies to giveaway
Open to US residents only


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