Monthly Archives: January 2017

Blog Tour – Devour by LA Larkin – **Author Guest Post on Creating a Character**

Devour LA Larkin - jacket image[2688]

I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting a stop on the Devour by L A Larkin today and have a brilliant guest post by her about creating a series character. Without further ado, I will hand you over to L A Larkin…

Creating a series central character by L.A. Larkin

Thank you for asking me to write a guest post on how to create a series central character.

Devour is the first book in the new Olivia Wolfe thriller series. It’s one thing to create an engaging central character for a one-off novel. It’s a whole different ball game when that character is to keep readers interested across a number of books.

While thrillers and crime fiction are generally regarded as very plot-focused, it is the characters that readers fall in love with. Take, for example, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus, or Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. When I prepare to write my next thriller, I spend a lot of time on my central characters, regardless of whether they are in a one-off novel, or, in a series. I create a whole back story, their childhood, their family, their relationships. I know their strengths and weaknesses, their fears, their quirks. I know more about them than I am ever likely to reveal in a story. This means that because I know them so well I can predict how they will react and what they will say without having to think too hard about it. As a result, I can keep the pen moving. Or, in my case, fingers tapping at the keyboard.

When creating Olivia Wolfe, I had to think ahead. If the series keeps going for a long time, how old will she be? Will she still be able to perform the role I want her to? How will she develop and grow over the series? Creating a book series means holding back on character revelations and history. In Devour I choose not to reveal too much about her relationship with father-figure, Jerry Butcher, or much about her parents, or why she is driven to expose the corrupt and the criminal. Wolfe must battle her demons over a number of books.

I also wanted to ensure that Wolfe’s skills allow me to keep creating exciting, high-stakes thrillers. For example, because I like to set my novels in different locations around the world, I needed it to be credible for Wolfe to travel with her job. So I made her an investigative journalist, who cut her teeth reporting from war zones. This experience has made her resilient and resourceful and, also, used to danger.

There is much, naturally, I cannot plan for in future books. I plot each book but I also believe it’s important to let characters write their own stories: to watch them fall and pick themselves up again and head off in unexpected directions. It’s a combined left and right brain dance: plot the chapter you are about to write and then give your characters the freedom to do something better.

I like my lead characters to learn something about themselves with each book, just as we do as we go through life. In Devour, Wolfe will lose everything she holds dear to stop a man who would use an Antarctic discovery to obliterate civilisation. But she will also discover something important about herself along the way.

The Blurb

Welcome to the high octane world of Olivia Wolfe.

As an investigative journalist, Wolfe lives her life in constant peril. Hunted by numerous enemies who are seldom what they first seem, she must unravel a complex web of lies to uncover an even more terrifying truth.

From the poppy palaces of Afghanistan and Antarctica’s forbidding wind-swept ice sheets, to a top-secret military base in the Nevada desert, Wolfe’s journey will ultimately lead her to a man who would obliterate civilisation. she must make an impossible choice: save a life  – or prevent the death of millions.

L.A. Larkin’s thriller, Devour, is published by Constable at the end of January 2017. Peter James says Devour ‘delivers action and intrigue in spades,’ and Culturefly says, ‘If you are only going to read one novel in 2017, I suggest you make it Devour.’

L.A. Larkin’s website:

Sounds like a cracking read! A huge thank you to LA Larkin for a great guest post and to Leanne at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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Blog Tour – The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell *Review,Excerpt and Promo*

I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to be taking part in The Day That Never Comes blog tour, the latest in The Dublin Trilogy by Caimh McDonnell. I’m able to share my thoughts on the book and excerpt. If you fancy a bit of humour with your crime thriller I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

The Day That Never Comes cover[2685]

The Blurb

Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off in their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heatwave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-Benton exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together for long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?

The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin Trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly acerbic Irish wit.


Chapter 10

“Have you got any books on how to follow somebody?”
The woman behind the counter pulled a face like Paul had just shat in her hand and asked her to clap. She had a couple of facial piercings, and her dyed red hair looked like three different hairdressers had fought it out to an unhappy stalemate on her head.
“Who wants to know?” she said.
“Ehm, I do,” said Paul. He would have thought that was obvious.
“Did Maureen send you? She accuses me of harassment and then she sends someone to my work? That is fucking typical!”
“No, no I—”
The girl leaned forward on her high stool, and jabbed at the wooden counter-top with her finger.
“You tell Maureen that I’ve as much right to go to an exhibition on the depiction of the female form in African culture as she does. It’s not my fault that her and that… thing, were there.”
“Right. I’ve not been sent by anybody, I promise. I just really need a book on how to follow somebody.”
“Really?” she eyed him suspiciously.
“This is a book shop, isn’t it?”
She looked around, as if confirming that his story was indeed correct. Paul looked around too, just to double-check that he really had walked into a three-storey building filled with books that were available for purchase. The assistant’s level of aggression would have been nearly justifiable if he’d mistakenly gone into a delicatessen. Perhaps she didn’t work there at all. Maybe she’d just wandered in and thought the stool behind the register was a good place to read her graphic novel.
“Is everything OK, Lianne?”
The question had come from a tall, bespectacled man that had been rearranging a stack of Dan Brown books in the large display window with the enthusiasm of a vegetarian working in an abattoir. His facial expression carried clearly legible overtones of ‘what now?’ Lianne waved back nervously. “Yeah, fine, Gerald. I’m just helping this gentleman with something.” She lowered her voice. “C’mon.”
She led Paul around the corner into the children’s section.
“And you’re sure you’re not here about Maureen?”
“I don’t know anything about your ex-girlfriend.”
“Woah, how did you know Maureen was my ex-girlfriend?”
“I’m a private detective,” said Paul, feeling slightly smug about it.
“And you don’t know how to follow somebody?”
“It’s my first day.”

My Thoughts

The Day That Never Comes is the second instalment of Caimh McDonnell’s The Dublin Trilogy and sees the very welcome return of Paul Mulchrone, Brigit Conroy and Bunny McGarry and a fantastic new character in the form of Maggie the German Shepherd. While really looking forward to reading this second book, I did wonder if it could live up to its predecessor A Man With One Of Those Faces. It not only lives up to it, in my opinion, it’s even better! If you haven’t read the first book, The Day That Never Comes does work as a standalone, however you’re missing out if you haven’t read the first.

A businessman is found dead and tortured in Dublin during a time in which the citizens have had enough of austerity measures and the corruption of MP’s and businesses. Amidst this Paul is trying to get the private investigation company he, Brigit and Bunny set up, there is, however, a problem…Brigit has fallen out with him, Bunny is missing and Paul is a hopeless private investigator! What follows is a rip-roaring read that combines gripping thriller with incredible wit.

McDonnell draws you in immediately with a prologue that sets the scene perfectly, leaving you intrigued and just having to read more. His writing is second to none and all of the chapters are perfectly paced with the right hooks at the end of each. There are a few threads and storylines running, however, it is easy to keep track and they all complement each other perfectly.

Full of fantastic characters that, while they have their flaws, are incredibly likeable. You find yourself really rooting for them and get totally involved in their antics. Maggie the dog is brilliant and her antics had me crying with laughter. I felt sad when I had finished the book and had to say goodbye to Paul and the rest of the gang!

There is an additional layer to The Day That Never Comes as it addresses some current and relevant political and societal issues, resulting in a novel that is also thought-provoking. McDonnell makes this subject accessible and interesting via the nature of his humour and writing.

I loved this book! It is rip-roaringly funny and yet at the same time totally gripping. McDonnell’s talent is such that he pulls this combination off flawlessly. I really enjoyed A Man With One Of Those Faces but in my humble opinion The Day That Never Comes is even better. I really can’t wait for the third instalment of The Dublin Trilogy and McDonnell is a force to be reckoned with. Absolutely fantastic!

The Day That Never Comes is published on 23 January 2017 by McFori Ink.
A huge thank you to Caimh McDonnell and Elaine Ofari for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

You can purchase a copy of The Day That Never Comes  HERE in the UK and HERE in the USA.


If you haven’t read A Man With One Of Those Faces what are you waiting for? A Man With One Of Those Faces is available for 99p/99c from 23 – 30 January!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the Author


Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League Of Their Own, Mock The week and Have I Got News For You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on


Be sure to follow the rest of the tour…

The Day That Never Comes Blog Tour[2684]



Review – Mary’s The Name by Ross Sayers


The Blurb

An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…

“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”

Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him – and their money.

Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s The Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.

Get ready to meet Mary…

Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle.

My Thoughts

There’s something about Mary…

It is always a thrill to discover a great debut author and I always love the anticipation of starting their book. Ross Sayers is one of those fantastic debut authors who blows you away.

Mary’s The Name is the story of eight-year-old Mary Sutherland and her grandpa who, after a robbery, move from Stirling to Portree on the Isle of Skye. Mary discovers that her Granpa was involved in the robbery and the robbers have followed them. A real coming-of-age story, we follow Mary as she begins to realise that not everything in the world is as it first appears.

The characterisation in Mary’s The Name is wonderful! I absolutely adored Mary and felt a great affection for her. As I was coming towards the end of the book I really did not want to let her go. How Sayers, an adult male, has captured the thoughts and feelings of an eight-year old girl is testament to his talent as a writer. Mary is incredibly lovable and her personality shines through. The affection Sayers has for his characters jumps off the pages. With wonderful prose that draws you deeply into the story, Mary’s The Name is told in first person narrative from Mary’s point of view and I went through a whole sea of emotions while reading this book.

Mary’s relationship with her Granpa is wonderfully portrayed and Mary has reached that age in which she realises there is more to him than just being ‘Granpa’ – that he has a whole history and backstory that goes beyond his role as her care-giver. Their love for each other is incredibly touching and, I admit, it made me cry.

Sayers mixes humour and poignancy with ease, really capturing the child’s view of the world which has you laughing out loud and also those tricky moments children (especially girls) go through in relation to their friendships. He really made me feel as though I were viewing things through a child’s mind and Mary’s observations on life and what goes on around her are funny and acutely written. The reader is engaged immediately and the pace of the book is pitched perfectly, with the right combination of dark humour and hold your breath moments. Portree really comes to life through the pages of the book and I was transported there every time I settled down to read.

Mary’s The Name was an absolute joy to read. Simultaneously humorous and heart-breaking, this bittersweet, tenderly written novel touches you deeply and I guarantee you will fall in love with Mary. An accomplished debut novel, I really look forward to reading more by Ross Sayers in the future.

A huge thank you to Ross Sayers and Cranachan for the advance copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Published on 30 January 2017 by Cranachan publishing.

Challenge Banner[2422]#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 2 – County: Highlands

Blog Tour – Watch Me by Angela Clarke *Review, Author Guest Video AND Giveaway*

I’m absolutely thrilled to be on the Watch Me blog tour today…and what a blog tour it is!!! I have for you not only my review of Angela Clarke’s brilliant new book but also a video post by the lady herself AND an amazing giveaway with not one but TWO books!!! So I will kick off with the blurb and my review, hand over to Angela and make sure to keep reading to find out details of the giveaway…

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The Blurb


The body of a 15-year old girl is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like a suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking…


My Thoughts

Watch Me is the thrilling second instalment of The Social Media Murders, if you haven’t read the first, Follow Me, don’t worry as this works well as a standalone novel.

Following the death of a fifteen-year old girl whose suicide note is sent via social media, a chilling snapchat message is sent to the officers in the Met’s Gremlin taskforce. An officer’s younger sister is missing and it looks as though the previous death was not a suicide at all. With only twenty-four hours to find and save the girl’s life, DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton find themselves in a game of cat and mouse in which time is of the essence.

Throughout Watch Me the reader is aware of the ever-present ticking of the clock, making this a fast-paced crime thriller that has you holding your breath and unable to put the book down.

Clarke has created a great range of characters. Nasreen is the hard-working, ‘follow the rules’ DS who has progressed rapidly in her career, however she also has her flaws making her well-rounded and likeable. The mix of characters within the Gremlin Taskforce complement each other and are realistic in that they do not all get on, as happens in workplaces. Freddie is the antidote to Nasreen’s ‘follow procedure’ approach to the law, highlighting the grey areas rather than seeing things in black and white.

I really liked the messages that come across throughout Watch Me which are incredibly current. Society tends to live their lives out on social media and this can make us incredibly vulnerable. With our whole lives displayed for the whole world to see our privacy has diminished. Personally, I tend to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media recognising that while it is a great asset in many respects, it can also cause problems for people. Revenge porn and attitudes towards it are explored in Watch Me, making it a compelling and frightening read and this book has certainly added to my concerns about social media! I love a crime thriller that has an added layer to it and Watch Me certainly delivered on this front.

A fast-paced, very current read, Watch Me causes late nights as you are compelled to keep reading to find out what will happen until you reach the ending that…well, you won’t be disappointed! All in all a great crime thriller!

A huge thank you to Angela Clarke and Helena at Avon Books for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on 12 January 2017 by Avon Books.

I will now hand you over to Angela for her to tell you about ‘How To Get Published: What Agents And Editors Look For’



Angela and the fab team at Avon Books are giving away not only a copy of Watch Me but also a copy of Don’t Look Behind You by the brilliant Mel Sherrat. Here is more about the book…

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‘The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet. The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes, but now he’s out and coming for her.’

So, how do you enter? It’s simple! Head over to my Twitter page and simply retweet the pinned tweet! Giveaway is open until midnight tonight! The winner will be picked randomly and announced on 26th January and the books will be sent directly from Avon Books.

Due to postage costs the giveaway is open to UK residents only.

Good Luck!!!

Be sure to catch the rest of the blog tour for more videos from Angela and more great giveaways!

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Author Influences with Louise Jensen

I’m very excited to welcome the lovely Louise Jensen to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today to talk about her author influences. Want to know which books and authors have had the biggest impact on her? Read on to find out…

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Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
As I child I was a huge fan of mysteries and an avid Enid Blyton reader. I’d read under my covers by torchlight long after I should have been asleep. The Famous Five were my absolute favourites and I spent hours trying to get our dog to bark out yes’s and no’s like Timmy could.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I adored English at school. I did quite well but I love learning, something I used to feel horribly embarrassed about as a teenager. Even now, as an adult I am usually booked in to one workshop or another, or have an on-line course on the go.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I like to read commercial fiction and some literary fiction, stories that make you really feel. Writing The Sister I was in blissful ignorance about the fact my novel would need to be slotted into a genre to be marketed. I thought I was just writing a story, and I was a little surprised to be classed as a crime writer. In essence The Sister is a story about friendship and grief, although it does get quite dark, the thought of it being a psychological thriller never crossed my mind. My book deal was for 3 psychological thrillers, with The Gift being the second, so my next book will be another thriller.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I have loved the two thrillers I have written and am endlessly fascinated by the psychology behind people’s actions but I would also love to write something epic and heart-breaking because ultimately, that’s what I enjoy reading.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
As a child I was obsessed with mysteries and although I wrote my own ‘books’ tacked together with sellotape and illustrated (badly) by me I never really seriously had the burning desire to become a writer until I read Little Women. I was of quite a young age when I found my mum’s old copy in our garage and I devoured it in a day. With Enid Blyton I was used to feeling suspense. Louisa M. Alcott made me feel a whole range of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I rooted for the March sisters and I remember feeling utterly enthralled. After I’d finished it I thought wouldn’t it be amazing to have the gift to make readers really feel the story rather than just reading it, and that’s what I try to do with my books. The Sister and The Gift are both a blend of love, hope, friendship, unease and fear.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
There are so many authors I love, and I buy a ridiculous amount of books but there is nothing quite like reading a debut for me. They are such heart and soul books and the joy of discovering a new author makes me feel all warm and happy inside.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The book that always springs to mind, although I haven’t read it for many years, is The Stand by Stephen King. It’s probably the heaviest, longest book I have ever read but I so desperately didn’t want the story to end.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people?
In The Gift Jenna is based, in part, on me. I drew upon my own experiences with my health. Although I have never come close to death I had an accident in my 30’s which left me with a disability and I know the bewilderment a change in health can bring, particularly at a young age, where you don’t quite know where you fit anymore. I have felt the guilt Jenna feels when she believes she is letting those around her down, by not being able to do the things she could before. It was quite a healing process for me, in a strange way, writing this story.

A huge thank you Louise for taking part!

The Gift

Louise’s novels The Sister (you can read my review and a Q&A about the book HERE) and The Gift (read my review HERE) are out now.

About Louise Jensen

Louise is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, mad-cap spaniel and a rather naughty cat.

Louise’s first two novels, The Sister and The Gift, were both No.1 Bestsellers, and have been sold for translation to ten countries. The Sister was nominated for The Goodreads Awards Debut for 2016. Louise is currently writing her third psychological thriller.

Connect With Louise




Book Review – The Lost Daughter Of India by Sharon Maas

The Lost Daughter of India

The Blurb

When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha.

Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind.

Ten years later…

Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have a chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years until now.

A heart-breaking and beautifully written story of loss, secrets and the strength of a mother’s love against all odds. If you enjoyed Diane Chamberlain and Lucinda Riley then this book will find its way into your heart and stay there.

My Thoughts

‘Bombay, or Mumbai, as it is now to be called, was the enemy. She arrived prepared to do battle, prepared to wrest from its bowels that precious jewel, her Asha.’

Sharon Maas has done it again with The Lost Daughter Of India, having created a heart-felt, intensely moving, beautifully written novel.

When American Caroline meets Indian Kamal, she believes her childhood dreams of India have come true. After marrying, giving birth to their daughter Asha and settling in a small village in India, she realises that this is not the life she wanted, compounded by her struggle to adjust to motherhood. Returning to America, leaving her daughter behind with the family they have resided with, things later go awry when Asha goes missing in India and Caroline, Kamal and Asha’s foster-sister Janiki try desperately to find her. What follows is a gripping story of secrets, regret and desperation in a country of contrasts.

The Lost Daughter Of India is not always a comfortable book to read as it addresses some of the horrifying aspects of India and the way it treats some of its women and children. It touches on topics that are not easy to come to terms with and that are, sadly, a reality for many Indian children, however it is done with sensitivity and understanding.

Told from the perspectives of Asha, Caroline, Kamal and Janiki, Asha’s foster-sister, with Asha’s parts told in first person narrative, Sharon has created well-rounded characters. The impact their different cultures have had on each of them come across perfectly. Asha’s parts really struck me as you feel as though you are actually sat with Asha as she tells her story. She becomes more than a character in a book due to Sharon’s way of having Asha address the reader directly. I really liked this as it ensured that I was fully invested emotionally in Asha’s story and plight. Caroline is at times unrealistic and I didn’t agree with some of her decisions, however I found myself questioning my own views and wondering if I was coming from a very western point of view as a result.

The Lost Daughter of India would make a great book for a reading group as it touches on various themes—attachment difficulties between mother and child, child trafficking, the impact of culture on behaviour and views—that are thought-provoking and ripe for discussion. The downside to reading advance copies of books is being unable to talk about it with someone else who has read it. This is one of those books you really want to get into a conversation about.

And then there is the writing. You are immediately drawn into the book from the prologue. Sharon’s enchanting and rich descriptions evoke all of the sights, sounds, colours and smells of India. As Caroline’s nanny reads to her and Caroline talks about how the book makes her feel, she could be describing how her own books make me feel. Sharon writes about India wonderfully, getting across the dual nature of this country of contrasts perfectly and it made me feel really emotional!

‘Two-faced India, gentle and brutal, gloriously beautiful, hideously ugly. The India that kissed you on one cheek and slapped you on the other. The India that soothed your soul one day and ripped it to shreds the next. The India that nourished your senses and starved your ego, kicking it into the ground.’

The difficulty of finding Asha is portrayed beautifully through the prose, with Sharon illustrating the importance of the setting in such a way that India takes on a life of its own and becomes omnipresent.

I loved The Lost Daughter Of India. It is poignant, evocative, beautiful yet shocking and intelligently and sensitively written. It is all-absorbing, gripping and emotionally charged – an absolute must read and I just hope I have done it justice in this review.

Thank you to Sharon Maas, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 20 January 2017 by Bookouture.

You can purchase a copy HERE.

Author Influences with Graham Smith

Chuffed to bits to be joined by the fabulous crime writer and creator of DI Harry Evans Graham Smith today to tell us about the authors and books that have influenced his life and writing!

Graham Smith Author Photo[413495]

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I read the Famous Five and Secret Seven books before moving on to the Hardy Boys. After that I progressed onto adult fiction.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was shockingly bad at it and failed my ‘O’ levels twice. The school appealed without my knowledge and I was granted a pass after I’d actually left the school. Because I struggled with it I didn’t enjoy it too much, but I remember having to read The Hobbit as one of the books we were given. I loved it so much I went out and bought the Lord of the Rings which I still love.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I only read crime or thrillers and as I write crime thrillers I can’t deny their influence.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I couldn’t write in any other genre than crime and thrillers. I have never read other genres so have no understanding of what should or shouldn’t be in romance or sci-fi etc.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
A number of authors convinced me I should try my hand at writing, but it was usually because I’d launched their books across the room muttering that I could write a better story myself. I will not name or shame any of them for without their un-liked efforts I may have never started writing myself.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
There are a huge number of people I could include in this list but I’m going for the potted version. Matt Hilton, Craig Russell, Eva Dolan and Tom Cain are all authors whose books I MUST have as soon as possible.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I’m going to choose The Guillotine Choice by Michael J. Malone. It’s based on a true story and despite knowing this (and the outcome) I was entranced by the story which was written with a charisma I could only aspire to.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I would hope that none of my plots have actually happened as I try to bring them from left field rather than current events. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility but so far as I’m aware, my plots haven’t actually happened. All my characters are made up from little snippets of friends, family, people I’ve met through work, life and general living.


A huge thank you for taking part.
You’re welcome, thanks so much for having me.

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All of Graham’s books are out now! You can read my review of Matching The Evidence HERE and I Know Your Secret HERE.


About Graham Smith

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009.
He is the author of four books featuring DI harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team.

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Blog Tour – Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent *Guest Post and Review*

Lying in Wait blog tour card[2387]

Many of you may have noticed that I absolutely LOVE Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent and I recently had it as one of my favourite books of 2016. I am, therefore, beyond excited to be a part of the paperback publication blog tour and am thrilled to have been able to ask the queen of the killer first line a few questions. So, today I have for you a Q&A session with Liz and am sharing my review again. Hope you enjoy!

Liz Nugent 2 (c) Beta Bajgartova[2386]

When did you first start writing and what/who encouraged you to put pen to paper and write your first novel?

The first complete piece I ever wrote was for a nostalgia series on Irish radio. It was a true story about a random act of kindness when a lady in a shop gave me an exquisite and very expensive pair of gloves. When it was accepted for broadcast, it gave me the confidence to write more. I subsequently wrote a radio play, a children’s animation series, a TV drama and some short stories. With each step, I enjoyed it more, but I always felt I wanted to write something more substantial. I began to develop one of the short stories into a novel and that evolved and became Unravelling Oliver. It all started with that kind lady.

How was your journey from writing your first novel to getting published? Did it happen quickly or did it take time?

At the time, it seemed to take FOREVER. I finished writing Unravelling Oliver on New Year’s Eve 2011, submitted it to agents in March 2012, got a book deal in July 2012 and was finally published in February 2014. I honestly thought I would die of old age before it ever got to print! I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. Some books can spend five years waiting for the right agent and the right publisher, and some books never get published at all.

How long did it take you to get Lying In Wait from initial idea to publication?

Two years in total.

What was the inspiration behind Lying In Wait?

A man once told me that he strongly suspected his father had murdered a prostitute in the 1960s. He had no evidence or no way of proving it. He never had the courage to challenge his father and went to his grave wondering. He told me this story about 25 years ago and he is long dead now. I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where you suspect your father is a murderer.
The first line in Lying In Wait is something a lot of people have talked about, it grabs you immediately. How long did it take you to come up with it and did it come to you at the start of writing the novel, in the middle or at the end?

It came right at the very end. Originally, the first line was ‘Technically, it was manslaughter’ but it didn’t grab the reader by the throat so I cut it and went with the second line ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ It was the very last thing I changed. I’m so glad I did.

The structure of Lying In Wait is complex with three different voices and three different time periods. How do you keep track and plot it in order for it all to make sense and fall into place?

I don’t tend to have story boards or charts or calendars or anything like that but I am blessed with a very good memory and it is very important to me know what each character knows about the other characters, so I try to think like them when I’m writing from their point of view, and that clarifies everything.

As said above there are three different perspectives throughout the novel and each character has their own unique voice. How did you go about creating the characters and ensuring their individuality comes through?

Writing Lydia was really interesting. Without giving anything away, an incident that happened on her ninth birthday has left her emotionally stunted, so even when she is nearly 50 years old, she still speaks like someone in 1940. Her language is formal, but she is an expert manipulator who must always find justifications for her actions.
Laurence, her only son, has quite a sophisticated vocabulary for a young man, but that is because he had no siblings and therefore grew up mollycoddled in the company of two middle-class educated adults. He does, however, have his teenage influences from tv shows and pop music so his language is more relaxed than that of his mother. He is not clinging to the past in the way that she is.
Karen comes from a working class background. Her father and sister both have dyslexia and can barely read. A lot of the time she speaks in a way that is grammatically incorrect, but she is smart and has no problem making herself understood. She speaks the vernacular that she grew up with. Her vocabulary is more limited than the other two narrators, but she is emotionally more advanced than either of them.
Lydia is an odious character who clearly has issues. Did you do any research into personality traits in order to create her?

I didn’t! I have no degree in psychology but I think we have all come across extremely manipulative people in our lives, and while I don’t like spending any time with them, I find them fascinating. I wonder what happened to them in childhood to make them so unbalanced. That is what I tried to explore with Lydia.

For me, Avalon plays a large part in the book symbolising a kind of prison for those who inhabit it due to the lies it conceals. Was this your intention and where did the inspiration for this come from?

I used to work as a theatre stage manager and I always loved plays set around big houses like Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard or Tenessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Brian Friel’s Aristocrats. In each of these plays, the house was almost a character and maybe one day, I’d like to adapt the book for the stage. I think it could work well.

The class differences between the two families are very apparent and have been turned on their head as it would generally be expected that those of a higher status would have the greater moral standing. Is this something that you wanted to be an important feature of Lying In Wait and if so why?

I don’t think class has any influence on moral behaviour at all. But the middle classes tend to get away with it a lot more because they have resources and contacts in high places and education, but they can be rotten to the core. I like writing about those characters and exposing the dark underbelly of the veneer of appearances.
A huge thank you for taking part.

Thank you so much and for all your support! x

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The Blurb

‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants…

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, where to start with this review! This is one hell of a creepy book: from the first chilling sentence, where Liz immediately draws you into the world of the dysfunctional family that are the Fitzsimmons, to the incredibly disturbing final chapter.

Told from the perspectives of Lydia, Laurence and Karen, during three time periods, it charts the impact of a murder. Lydia is one of the killers, Laurence is her son and Karen is the sister of the victim. The first person narrative throughout is flawless and gives each character their clearly distinguishable voice. The class differences between the Fitzsimmons (Lydia and Laurence) and Karen come through clearly. I loved the irony that it is the ordinary, working class family with a disreputable daughter that are far more trustworthy than the upper class, so-called pillars of society.

Through the gradual unfolding of the story we see how truly abhorrent Lydia is. She is jealous, obsessive, manipulative, controlling – basically totally screwed up! There were moments during reading when I would take an intake of breath and whisper “oh my God” to my kindle. The execution of Lydia is fantastic and I reckon that Liz has created one of the most despicable characters of the year. I felt a kind of weird sympathy for her at the beginning, but this slowly changed as the book progressed.

Laurence is unwittingly bound up in his family’s secrets and lies and I really felt for him.

And then there is Avalon…the Fitzsimmons’s family home looms like a spectre in the background becoming almost like a prison to those who inhabit it, such are the secrets that it holds.

This is a family wrapped in lies with a skewed view of what is acceptable. As the secrets unfold it becomes apparent that this family are a psychologist’s dream! I had no idea how this sordid story would end.

A truly dark, unsavoury tale that is utterly compelling, Liz has written a cracker of a thriller. The ending will haunt you for days to come. Absolutely fantastic and very highly recommended.

A huge thank you to Sara D’Arcey at Penguin and Liz Nugent for inviting me to take part in the Lying In Wait blog tour and my copy in exchange for my review. Be sure to catch the other stops on the blog tour for more guest posts by Liz and reviews!

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Blog Tour – Secret and Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox *Author Guest post*

Secrets and Fries Cover

I’m pleased to be hosting the final day of the Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner blog tour with a bloomin’ brilliant guest post by author Helen Cox.  Rather than waffling on I will tell you about the book and hand you over to Helen…

The Blurb

The smart second novel in the Starlight Diner series.

‘Fresh, original and addictive’ PHILLIPA ASHLEY

What brings Bonnie Brooks to the Starlight Diner? And why is she on the run?

As the front-woman in a band, Bonnie is used to being in the spotlight, but now she must hide in the shadows.

Bonnie only has one person she can turn to: her friend Esther Knight, who waitresses at the Fifties-themed diner.  There, retro songs play on the jukebox as fries and sundaes are served to satisfied customers.  But where has Esther gone?

Alone in New York City, Bonnie breaks down in front of arrogant news reporter, and diner regular, Jimmy Boyle.  Jimmy offers to help her.  Can she trust him?

When the kindly owner of the Starlight Diner offers Bonnie work, and she meets charming security officer Nick Molony, she dares to hope that her luck has changed.  Is there a blossoming romance on the cards? And can Bonnie rebuild her life with the help of her Starlight Diner friends?

Not Another Happy Ending!

Fellow author Helen Fields accused me of being an optimist after reading the Starlight Diner books, and I suppose I can’t deny it any longer. I do like to think the best in people and I do like to dish out realistic but happy endings to my characters.
Why? Well, I’ll confess, I’m not prone to writing about the most wholesome of people. Most of my characters haven’t made the best choices. One or two of them have an attitude problem that needs some ironing out. But to me, the slightly dubious nature of some of the guys and gals that populate the Starlight Diner series only makes it more important that the stories end with a door opening for them, rather than having yet another one slammed in their face.
Redemption is after all a powerful idea. We all trip. Fall. Make mistakes. Say the wrong thing. Most of us have done things we wish we could undo. It’s part of being human, learning to live with the things we get wrong and find a way forward once the dust has settled. The past might not be perfect and it can never be erased, but that doesn’t mean that the future has to be bleak.
I think hope is so very important to us all. That, and the ability to believe in goodness. That it is in us and that if we’ve temporarily lost touch with it as an ideal, we can find our way back to it.
Every author is on their own little mission of some nature. Many of us are on several missions at the same time. One of my personal writing aims is to write something that inspires the reader to believe that happiness is within reach, for all of us.
When things don’t go our way it can be difficult to hold onto faith in ourselves and the direction we’re heading. The characters in the Starlight Diner books encounter a number of twists and turns over the course of the book but ultimately every step they take is in a direction that will lead them to where they’re meant to be. Which, in fact, means they’re where they’re meant to be all along. Even if they don’t much like it (and, spoiler alert, they don’t).
I believe the above is true of all of us. In the long term, I choose to believe that even the most difficult of steps we take is a step closer to where we will be at our most content and if a trifling little conviction like that puts me squarely in the optimist bracket… well. So be it.
Guilty as charged.

A huge thank you to Helen for the fab guest post and to Helena at Avon Books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

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Book Review – Lies by TM Logan


The Blurb

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Tom Bale.

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is ok, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared. 

And that’s when Joe receives the first message…

My Thoughts

Joe Lynch is a desperate man in a desperate situation. His whole world is rocked when, by chance, he sees his wife while out and follows her into a hotel to surprise her. He observes her having an argument with a friend and gradually everything he thought he knew comes crashing down around him. Joe realises his life has been built on lies.

From the blurb I expected Lies to be a fairly run-of-the-mill, wife-having-an-affair story. I don’t want to say anything at all about the plot—you really need to read the book—but I will say that Joe finds himself in a situation I wasn’t prepared for, taking me on a journey I really wasn’t expecting.

Racing along at an unprecedented rate, Lies keeps you frantically turning the pages in the pursuit to find out what will happen next. With a well written and perfectly pitched prologue, Logan hooks you in straight away building immediate interest to find out just what this story is going to be about.

Logan’s writing continues in this vein throughout with chapters just the right length and those all-important cliff-hanger endings. Told in first person narrative by Joe, the reader is effectively drawn into his life, following him every step of the way in the nightmare he finds himself in.

Joe as a character is a ‘nice-guy’. A teacher and good husband and father who puts his family first, but maybe a little bit naïve. I couldn’t help but root for him throughout the book. A lot of his naivety is around social media—something most of us are probably guilty of—and the role of social media in our lives plays an important part in this book. My views on the other characters changed as the book progressed and truths are revealed, as Joe, whose opinion of them we rely on as we see them through his eyes, realises his thoughts on the people around him are not necessarily accurate.

Logan’s observations on social media throughout the book give Lies a further edge and depth. As well as a great thriller, Lies is a commentary on how we play out our lives in public and the vulnerabilities this exposes us to. It also made me think about fate, chance and how a split decision action can change the direction of our lives in the blink of an eye.

Logan has written a great debut thriller. Lies keeps you gripped, guessing and turning those pages! I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you to TM Logan, Bonnier Zaffre (Twenty7) and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on Ebook on 17 January 2017 and paperback on 4 May 2017 by Twenty7.

#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 1 – County: Greater London Challenge Banner[2422]