A Lover of Books

Leigh Russell’s ‘Fatal Act’ Blog Tour

Blog Tour Schedule


Leigh Russell’s brand new book ‘Fatal Act’, the sixth and latest DI Geraldine Steel Mystery is being published by No Exit Press on the 29th May 2014.  This is Leigh Russell’s very first UK blog tour which I am honoured to be involved in.




A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives – and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant’s life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.



All she wanted to do now was get home safely. She drove slowly, looking out for a side road she could turn into. With luck she could slip away before her pursuer realised what she was doing. She passed a turning on the right, displaying a no entry sign. She braked abruptly. Her phone flew off the passenger seat. The van slowed down behind her. Worn out and stressed, she couldn’t even remember why she had been so angry with Piers. It had been a stupid argument in the first place. She wished she was back at home, away from the road at night and its wildness. Leaning forward to retrieve her phone from the floor, she punched Piers’ speed dial key. His phone rang, but there was no answer. She glanced in her mirror and glimpsed the other driver, his face a black mask in the darkness.


As part of this tour I was interested in learning about Leigh’s writing space.

My Writing Space


My desk is by a window. I like to be able to look out at the sky when I’m writing. It gives me an inspiring sense of freedom. I sit here for hours and hours, when the mood takes me – and when I have that much time. If you spend a lot of time writing, as I do, you have to think about a comfortable seating position, in order to avoid back ache. To add to my physical comfort, my chair swivels, so when my anyone else is in the room, I can turn round and talk to them without standing up. (How lazy is that?!)

You would think just sitting down, typing, would be relaxing, but it can be mentally exhausting. So I usually have a cup of tea and a few snacks available… I even have a little thermos flask, to keep my drink hot. When I’m on a roll with my writing, I often forget to eat. If I lived alone, I would probably starve. Fortunately I’m well looked after, sharing a house with three people who love to cook.


Although I’m not normally a tidy person, I keep my desk clear of anything that is not essential to my current work. Everything else is packed away out of sight. Appropriately enough, the computer on which I wrote my debut, Cut Short, died soon after the book was finished. Since then I’ve gone through another PC and have finally abandoned desktops in favour of tablets. I now have an ipad at home and an ipad mini which goes everywhere with me. I never leave the house without it, just as I always used to keep a paper notepad and pen in my bag. You never know when you might have a few minutes free to write. When I work away from my desk, whatever I type on my ipad mini magically appears on the mother ship at home (my full size ipad). It saves having to worry about losing memory sticks…

Since I moved from PCs to iPads, my writing pattern has changed, because I can now write anywhere. The epilogue to Race to Death, which is available to download in May, was written in a cafe on a Greek hillside, overlooking the ocean. In fact, I could be sitting in a cafe right now, writing this post…

The truth is that it doesn’t matter where I am, because the real writing space exists inside my head.



Author Biography

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. For many years a secondary school English teacher, she is a creative writing tutor for adults. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in North West London. Her first novel, Cut Short, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award in 2010. This was followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead and Fatal Act, in the Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series. Cold Sacrifice is the first title in a spin off series featuring Geraldine Steel’s sergeant, Ian Peterson.


Below are some useful author links:-

For information about Leigh Russell and her books, click on this link – noexit.co.uk/leighrussell

Leigh Russell’s website can be found here – leighrussell.co.uk

Facebook Page – facebook.com/pages/Geraldine-Steel-British-detective/713349595357054

Twitter – @LeighRussell



Stop Dead by Leigh Russell has been nominated for The People’s Book Prize.

If you have read this book do please take a couple of moments to visit http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1070 and cast your vote in support.


The tour continues tomorrow at the From First Page to Last blog - fromfirstpagetolast.wordpress.com.

Interview with Vivienne Tuffnell + Competition


Vivienne Tuffnell kindly agreed to an interview for my blog.  Vivienne has written several books.


When did you first start writing?

I began creating stories before I could read or write. My father had a typewriter that I was sometimes allowed to use and I used to bash out strings of letters on that. I somehow believed that the story in my head would appear on the paper. I was about three or four years of age, and one of life’s optimists.

I wrote my first novel when I was ten. I burned it about three years later because my brother gave me such a hard time over it, telling me it was rubbish. I’d begun another one by then which I do still have somewhere, buried deep in a packing crate in the loft.


Where do you get your ideas from?

That’s the question most writers dread because there’s no simple easy answer. Story ideas can pop up from almost anywhere, from a conversation overheard in a station to a musical phrase without words that sets off a feeling. Many of mine come through a process of letting impressions and thoughts sink in, and then I incubate them using active dreaming. I write down vivid scenes from dreams, and some of those start to grow into new concepts, characters and even plots for novels. I also draw a lot of inspiration from poetry.


Can we expect more books from you soon?

I’m in the final stages of getting a new book ready to publish. It’s called Square Peg, and I’m waiting on final edits before the proofreader gets her hands on it. I’m also waiting on news about a cover. The hope is to have it on the market for Easter but as I have a major operation between now and then, I’m not convinced I’ll manage it all. Here’s the blurb so far:

“Chloe is a square peg in an increasingly uncomfortable round hole. Brought up by her wildly unconventional grandmother, she’s a true free spirit and has never learned to pull her punches. She’s just married trainee Church of England clergyman Clifford, and is living at the theological college and trying to figure out what’s going on around her. She’s had very little connection with formal religion, and has a talent for stepping on all sorts of emotional land-mines with the wives of the other ordinands. That would probably be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that her grandmother has inconsiderately died, and left her a house full of exotic souvenirs of her days as a travelling doctor, instructions to track down her father and sister, and what everyone else regards as a really bad attitude. She’s also lost her job, her temper, but not the will to live.

Chloe’s life begins to unravel in ways she could never have imagined as she tries to understand her own background by setting out to find out what became of her sister and father. But trying to integrate her uncompromising approach to life brings her into escalating conflict with the other women of the college, leaving her isolated and friendless. In Clifford’s final year of training, Chloe meets the arty, anarchic Isobel and together they concoct a plan whereby the irrepressible Isobel becomes the mole amid the college wives and they start to undermine and sabotage the status quo with a series of practical jokes and psychological warfare that has terrible consequences for Chloe when things go horribly wrong.”


Have you got any advice for people wishing to write their first novel?

Yes, start about twenty years ago! Seriously, most strong story-lines have been brewing in the unconscious for many years.

I’d also say to read more than you write, in every genre, including ones you don’t like. When you come to write, though, just write. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Get a draft down on paper, shove it in a drawer and forget about it for a good six months, preferably longer. Then you can take a long cold look at it and begin to work with it. Don’t slam it up onto Amazon three days after writing The End. Let it settle first, and then work with what you have. The more expertise you develop, the more likely it is you’ll be able to produce a decent enough first draft that doesn’t need a total rewrite. The figure often quoted is a million words and I suspect that’s not far off. The more you’ve absorbed unconsciously from reading books by respected authors, the more readily your own unconscious learns to shape your work. If a million words sounds daunting, remember a reasonable length of novel is perhaps one hundred thousand words. That means around ten novels is a fair apprenticeship. The ones you write before then will often be reworked much later; it’s probably only your execution of the ideas that’s been at fault, not the ideas themselves. Don’t expect perfection of yourself; that way lies madness. Also, don’t model yourself on a favourite author. Fan fiction is all very well but it’s self-defeating if you want to achieve something truly your own.


Describe a day in your life

I lead a very dull life at present. Most of the excitement and interest goes on in my head.


Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your work?

I did a degree in English and Latin so I have a lot of authors I’ve loved. I’m not sure if any one in particular has influenced me that much; it’s more a general thing. When I graduated, I’d told the careers’ advisor that I wanted to be a writer and she laughed at me. It was several years after I graduated that I read again for pleasure and it was the same for writing. I couldn’t write because my soul was still in such awe of the superb authors I’d spent three years studying. It seemed the height of hubris to start writing after that.


What do you like doing in your spare time?

Watching the fish in my pond. I’ve had some serious health issues so what I like doing and what I’m able to do are rather different things. I used to love long walks in the countryside away from the hurly-burly. I love museums and art galleries and I do enjoy drawing and painting too.


If you had to stay on a desert island and were only allowed to take one book, which would it be?

It’d be a nice big plain journal so I could write down my account of life on the island. Preferably a leather-bound one; I have a thing about lovely leather covered journals.

If I had to say an actual book, it’d be the S.A.S Survival Guide. I have the pocket version of it. I don’t think I’d need anything fictional; I’d stay sane by telling myself stories.


For more information about Vivienne, visit her blog – http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com

Vivienne’s Amazon pages:-

UK –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vivienne-Tuffnell/e/B00766135C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

USA – http://www.amazon.com/Vivienne-Tuffnell/e/B00766135C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook fan page – https://www.facebook.com/VivienneTuffnellAuthor

Twitter – @guineapig66


3 lucky people have the chance to win a paperback copy of Vivienne Tuffnell’s latest book ‘The Moth’s Kiss’, which is a collection of ten short spooky and creepy stories.

To enter just leave a comment telling me why you love reading.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 13th April 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Vivienne Tuffnell who will send out the prizes.


Good luck! :-)

Blog Tour – ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ by Paula Daly + Competition


Last year I reviewed Paula Daly’s debut novel, ‘Just What Kind of Mother Are You?’  You can read what I thought about it here:-


Since then I have been waiting patiently for Paula’s next book to come out and was thrilled when I found out it was being released soon.  As part of this blog tour I was asked to review ‘Keep Your Friends Close’.


‘Keep Your Friends Close’ was published by Bantam Press on the 13th March 2014.  I was sent an advance reading copy from Alison Barrow at Transworld Publishers.

Natty and Sean Wainwright have a good marriage, two lovely teenage daughters and a successful business running a hotel in Windermere.  Everyday life might be that little bit mundane at times but in general things are okay.

Felicity, the youngest of the two daughters has gone on a school trip to France.  Natty’s oldest friend, Eve who has been living in America for the past few years decides to come and visit.  Whilst they are sitting together catching up on things Natty receives a telephone call.  Felicity has been taken seriously ill and is in hospital.  Natty travels to France alone safe in the knowledge that Eve is there to help Sean out.

When Natty returns home with Felicity two weeks later she doesn’t expect the welcome back she receives.  Sean informs her that he has fallen in love with Eve and that their marriage is over.  Natty is naturally left feeling devastated and angry but she knows she has to put on a brave face for the children.

This novel asks a very important question: What would you do if your best friend stole your life?  I don’t think it’s one many of us would be able to answer somehow.  It’s just unthinkable!

From start to finish I found ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ very hard to put down.  It was just so gripping.  There were lots of twists and turns, plus some real shockers.  Paula Daly has proved once again that she can write a great psychological thriller.  She really does have a knack of getting right into her characters minds.

Beautifully written with lovely descriptions of the Lake District, for me ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ is another winner.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


I am giving away 2 copies of ‘Keep Your Friends Close’.  To enter leave a comment telling me why you want to win this book.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 6th April 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send out the prizes.

Good luck! :-)


Visit www.claremackintosh.com tomorrow for the next part of this blog tour.


Interview with H E Joyce

H E Joyce

H E Joyce is the bestselling author of ‘The Deadliest Game’ and ‘Miranda’s Fortune’.  He has had a passion for writing from an early age.  It has taken many years to finally pursue his dream of becoming a writer and publishing his work.  He was a firefighter for eighteen years, and also worked as a newspaper photographer and as a freelance artist; he still dabbles from time to time.  I was given the opportunity to interview him.

When did you first start writing?

I started writing seriously in 2010.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently fleshing out a sequel to The Deadliest Game.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Sometimes from small news items. More often than not though, I have no idea where they come from, they just come.

Can you describe a day in your life?

Most days are filled with writing. I start at around nine in the morning and work through until dinner in the evening. I try to relax in the evening, but my notepad is always nearby.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to write?

I would say, go for it. That is if it’s because you really want to write and not in the hope of getting rich.

Which types of books do you most enjoy reading?

My taste is varied, but mainly I enjoy reading the kind of books I write myself, thrillers.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

Apart from an astronaut? I always wanted to do something in the arts. I have always been a keen painter and I loved writing stories. However, my career took a different path for many years.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Relaxing in old traditional pubs and travel.


Below are some useful links:-

To find out more about H E Joyce visit his website - www.hejoyce.co.uk 

For details of all of H E Joyce’s books visit his Amazon page – http://viewauthor.at/HEJoyce

Follow H E Joyce on Twitter – @HEJoyce1

‘Volunteer’ by Gary McElkerney

VolunteerWrite Path NI Limited were looking for people to review ‘Volunteer’.  They are holding a fundraising night on the 15th March 2014 during which they will also be celebrating the publication of this novel.

Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Gary McElkerney has done voluntary first aid work in Nicaragua, Hungary and Ethiopia.  The experiences Gary had gave him the idea for this book.

It is summer and Chris Johnston, a 22 year old university student from Belfast, has signed up to lead a team of young volunteers travelling to Ethiopia where they are to help build houses for charity.  Whilst there, Chris has an argument with the leaders.  He doesn’t feel appreciated and when a seemingly better opportunity comes up he abandons the team and travels north to work for Medical Aid Africa in a clinic.  He then agrees to join their make-shift ambulance crew in a bid to find the excitement and adventure he’s been searching for on the frontline.  However, he finds that life is very different off the beaten track.

Consumed by fear, Chris is terrified especially when he experiences the true horrors of war.  His dreams of heroism and adventure turn into a nightmare and he feels as if he has failed.  Chris returns home with the mental scars of war which will take some time to heal.

When I first started reading this novel I didn’t know if I would really enjoy it, but I was soon hooked.  Although ‘Volunteer’ has been written as fiction, it is actually based on what Gary went through and you would be forgiven for mistaking this as a non-fiction book.  The writing throughout was so good and the descriptions were excellent.

‘Volunteer’ tells it how it really is.  Though there is some humour, this is a heartbreaking story which will shock you.  It paints a good picture of what life is really like in Ethiopia and the terror innocent people have to go through.  Even children get caught in the crossfire, something which really shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.  A powerful read, ‘Volunteer’ is a stark reminder of how fortunate we really are.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

‘Annabelle’ by Nancy Christie


Pixel Hall Press are based in the United States of America.  They are a relatively new, old-fashioned small publishing house whose focus is on discovering literary gems and great stories that might otherwise have been overlooked.  Pixel Hall Press got in touch with me last year with regards to reviewing some of their books.  I was most interested in reading ‘Annabelle’, a short story by Nancy Christie.

This story is about a young woman called Annabelle who after trying to commit suicide goes for professional help.  Throughout her sessions with her psychiatrist we learn all about her rather lonely childhood.  Her dad, an artist passionate about his work seemed only to live for his painting.  Her mum would spend hours posing for him, her sole aim to be there to please him.  All Annabelle ever wanted was to love and to be loved.  When she finally did get the chance for her dream to come true, something tragic happened changing her life for good.

‘Annabelle’ is a haunting and sad tale and one which I’m sure that a number of people can relate to.  Beautifully written, I enjoyed reading this story and found it to be thought provoking.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


To find out more about Pixel Hall Press visit their site:-


‘The Lemon Grove’ by Helen Walsh

The Lemon Grove

I was sent a proof copy of ‘The Lemon Grove’ to review by Georgina Moore from Headline Publishing Group.  This is Helen Walsh’s brand new novel and it is being published by Tinder Press tomorrow.  The title of this book is one thing which drew me to it.  It sounds really lovely.

Jenn and her husband Greg are on holiday in Deia, a village in the west coast of Mallorca.  It’s where they go every year for their break.  But this summer things are about to change.  Jenn’s stepdaughter Emma and her boyfriend Nathan are going to be joining them both in a week’s time and it feels as if they will be sharing their holiday with a stranger.

The first time Jenn sets eyes on Nathan is when he comes into the kitchen.  He seems to stir something unexpected in her right from the start and she finds herself becoming attracted to him.  As Jenn is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession starts to blur.  A highly-charged liaison takes place which puts both lives and relationships at risk.

One of the first things to impress me about this novel was the wonderful descriptions of Mallorca.  I almost felt as if I was there especially when it came to reading about the beach and the market.  Helen Walsh certainly has an eye for detail.

I enjoyed ‘The Lemon Grove’ right from the start.  This story is amongst other things about forbidden passion.  Shocking and deliciously erotic it kept me reading on.  The only thing I didn’t like was a particularly crude sexual reference.  I felt that it could have been replaced with another word.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

‘The Half-Life of Hannah’ by Nick Alexander

The Half-Life of Hannah

I got myself a copy of ‘The Half-Life of Hannah’ for my kindle when Black and White Publishing were doing an Amazon promotion.  This is the first of two novels, ‘Other Halves’ being the sequel.  Having heard a lot about this book I really wanted to read it for myself.

Hannah is thirty-eight years old, happily married to Cliff and is the proud mother of eleven year old Luke who means the world to her.  Its summer and they are on their way to the south of France for a two week holiday sharing a villa with Hannah’s younger sister Jill and her daughter, plus Jill’s good friend Tristan who is gay.

Hannah is really looking forward to relaxing with her family for a couple of weeks.  Little does she know that a ghost from the past is about to come back into her life.  Hannah makes some shocking discoveries about Cliff and realises that for years he has been deceiving her.  She ends up questioning everything.  Is it time for her to live the other half of her life?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Half-Life of Hannah’ and really didn’t want to put it down.  It’s one of those books that you just can’t wait to get back to.  This novel has been beautifully written and it has a good mixture of characters.  I really liked Hannah and felt bad for her.  Though her life wasn’t bad it could have been so different.

Tristan being a chef enjoyed cooking for the others throughout the holiday.  Some of the descriptions of the food he made were mouth-watering, even the salads.

Now that I’ve read this book I will most definitely be reading ‘Other Halves’ as I really want to know what happens next.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


For this and other great books from Black and White Publishing click on this link:-


To find out about Nick Alexander’s previous novels and what he’s up to now visit his site here:-


‘A Flash of Lightning’ by Tony Drury + Competition

A Flash of Lightning

‘A Flash of Lightning’ is Tony Drury’s fourth novel.  It was published last year by City Fiction and I was sent a copy by Cathy Wright to review.  Tony Drury is a corporate financier and is based in the City of London.  I haven’t read any of his previous books, so this was a new experience for me.

Jessica Lambert works for a bank.  At nearly 38 years old she agrees with her mother that it’s time to have a baby before it’s too late.  But it’s not that easy finding the right man.  Matthew Orlando Buckingham is a city financier.  He doesn’t know it yet but the £6 million pounds he is able to raise in order for a film to be made is about to go missing.  Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Rudd has learnt that terrorists are planning to murder at least 400 people.  But where and how are they planning to do this and can Sarah prevent this from happening?

I found ‘A Flash of Lightning’ to be a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting read.  Well written, this novel gave me a good idea about how the finance world works and I felt I was learning something.  The storyline was great with a couple of really good plots.

Split into two parts, the first part includes the very interesting story of The Great Train Robbery which took place on the 8th August 1963.  At first I wondered why it was included in this novel, but all become apparent to me later.  A gripping read especially towards the end it was very hard to put this book down.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

Look out for Tony Drury’s fifth novel ‘The Lady Who Turned’ which is due to be published this Summer.


Below are some useful links.

For more information about Tony Drury visit his website at tonydrury.com/

Tony’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/tony.drury.921

You can also follow him on Twitter – @mrtonydrury

If you are on Goodreads you can find Tony here – https://www.goodreads.com/TonyDrury

City Fiction have information about all of Tony’s novels on their website.  Visit them at http://www.cityfiction.co.uk/

Their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/City-Fiction-Publishing/1434318926804533

You can follow Cathy Wright on Twitter – @cathywright17


Five very lucky people have the chance to win a signed copy of ‘A Flash of Lightning’.   To enter this competition leave a comment telling me whether you like lightning or not.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 2nd March 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Cathy Wright at City Fiction who will send out the prizes.

Good Luck! :-)

‘Beyond the Valley of Sex and Shopping’ by E. P. Rose

Beyond the Valley

Panpathic Communications sent me a copy of this book for my kindle to read and review.  ‘Beyond the Valley of Sex and Shopping’, published by Table Thirteen Books is E. P. Rose’s debut novel and since then he has written a second book.

This is the story of the Perry Family, but mostly it’s about Suzie and her younger brother by two years, George who is known as “The Porge” Perry, a nickname he understandably doesn’t really like.  As children they are looked after by their lovely live-in nanny, Mary Poppins.  Mary, having lost a number of her family members including her husband was a bit lonely and so when she saw the job advertised she applied for it.

Over the years as Suzie and George grow up they have many experiences.  Poor George starts wetting his bed which affects his confidence badly.  Suzie meets Victor, a man who thinks he can write but who keeps being rejected by publishers.  They eventually get married and have a daughter.

‘Beyond the Valley of Sex and Shopping’ is a tale about family and the ups and downs of everyday life.  As the title suggests this story includes sex and shopping but there is a lot more to it as I soon discovered.  It deals with a number of other topics including jealousy, money, drugs, leaving home, illness and death.

I found this novel to be a very entertaining read with aptly named chapters.  It was both funny and tragic at the same time.  Out of all of the characters I liked George the best.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

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