A Lover of Books

Blog Tour – ‘Appleby Farm’ by Cathy Bramley

Blog Tour Poster

‘Appleby Farm’ was first released as a digital serial. It was published in paperback by Corgi on the 13th August 2015. Having truly enjoyed ‘Ivy Lane’, I was really looking forward to reading this book. So imagine my delight when I was not only sent a copy to review but also asked if I wanted to take part in this blog tour.

Freya Moorcroft is happy working at the café round the corner from the Ivy Lane allotments, though a part of her misses the beautiful rolling hills of her old Cumbrian childhood home, Appleby Farm. An unexpected phone call from her aunt and a desperate plea for help changes everything for Freya who finds herself going back home to the farm to lend a hand. Appleby Farm is in financial trouble and the stress is taking its toll on her aunt and uncle.

Freya has always believed that it is love that makes the world go round, not money. So will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price? You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out.

This was an absolutely delightful read, a real page-turner; simply magical. Once again Cathy Bramley didn’t fail to disappoint me. I think her writing style is wonderful and that her stories are great.

A number of the characters in this book were from ‘Ivy Lane’ and it really felt as if I was meeting up with old friends who I hadn’t seen for ages. I totally loved the storyline. Freya had a heart of gold and did so much for her family. I think the challenge she was presented with was what she really needed. I would love to know what happens next in Freya’s life.

I would recommend reading ‘Ivy Lane’ first in order to get to know the characters who appear in ‘Appleby Farm’.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Competition

I am giving away a copy of ‘Appleby Farm’ to one lucky person.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what the biggest challenge in your life has been.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 6th September 2015.

The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date and their prize sent out by me.

 

Good luck! :-)

 

Blog Tour – ‘Untouchable’ by Ava Marsh

Blog Tour Poster

Today it is my turn on this blog tour and I am very excited to be participating in it.   ‘Untouchable’ is Ava Marsh’s debut novel and it is one I am really enjoying.   I asked Ava a few questions.

 

How does it feel to have had your first novel published?

Exciting and scary. There’s nothing like holding your first book in your hands, but like all new parents, you worry about how your precious newborn will fare in the wider world. I’ve found the best way to deal with the fear is to get on with conceiving your second child.*

* Caution: this advice does not apply to actual new parents.

 

There has been loads of talk on Twitter about ‘Untouchable’.  Did you expect this level of attention?

I was always aware the book dealt with a fairly contentious subject; with the risqué content, I suspected it might raise a few eyebrows and comments. But seeing that people have genuinely enjoyed the book has been tremendous – and you never take that for granted.

 

I am reading your book at the moment and can tell it’s going to be really good.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thank you! Untouchable is the story of Grace, a high-class escort who uses her work as a refuge from her former life. But when a fellow call girl is found dead in a hotel room, Grace can’t accept the police explanation that her friend was murdered by a client. Pursuing the truth, however, leads Grace into physical and emotional danger, and threatens to unearth the disturbing events of her past.

 

How long did it take you to write?

About six months to the point where I was happy to start submitting to agents. Another six months or so to secure an agent, do some editing, and find a publisher. Then, of course, comes another long tranche of editing, which can take up to a year if you include all the copy and proof editing, especially when you’re doing a separate US edition as well. It’s a long haul to book on the shelf!

 

Where did you get your ideas from for ‘Untouchable’?

This is always a tough question for writers to answer, I think. Partly, from the environment around you. You assimilate all sorts of material from newspapers, TV and the internet, which you recycle into elements of your book. So Untouchable, for instance, reflects some of my ideas about politics, society and so on.

Then there’s your own psychology, and this is where characters tend to spring from. I think many authors put much of themselves into their lead characters – or rather aspects of themselves. So Grace, for instance, has a good dose of my inability to swallow down my reactions to certain people or situations, or my tendency to towards self-reproach.

And lastly, you just make things up. You draw on your understanding of how fiction works, and what makes a satisfying story, and then craft a plot that you hope will lead the reader on a fulfilling journey.

 

Is high-class escorting a topic you’re genuinely interested in?

Yes, very much. I suppose my interest began when I met a couple of women in the business. Very intelligent, well educated women, who largely enjoyed what they were doing – were proud of it, even. And hearing about some of their clients, I realised they inhabited a fascinating world. It seemed something of a no-brainer to make an escort the lead in a crime novel, given that women like Grace routinely see what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in the lives of rich and powerful men.

 

What did the research actually entail?

The usual stuff. Groping around on the internet, reading articles and escort blogs – of which there are plenty if you nose about. And yes, I spoke to real, live women in the business, who were happy to fill me in on the lifestyle.

 

I’ve seen on Amazon that you have another book planned for next year.  Is this also going to be a thriller?

Yes. It’s called Exposure, and the setting this time is the porn industry. Researching that has been a fascinating journey, and in many ways that world is much darker and more exploitative than escorting. As Grace says in Untouchable, escorting can be toxic in high doses, but even a relatively small dose of porn can be lethal to any kind of prospect of a happy or fulfilling life.

 

Were you given any good advice when you first started writing?

The best advice I received didn’t concern writing itself, but how to survive it, psychologically. Expect rejection, but don’t let it destroy you. Above all, persevere. For most writers, gaining anything approaching mastery of their craft takes an awful lot of learning and failing. It takes time, and persistence is everything.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I had rather a literary upbringing, so in my earlier years ploughed through the classics by the likes of Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Proust, Hardy, the Brontes, Austen – all the usual suspects. On the contemporary scene, Edward St Aubyn, Brett Easton Ellis,Victor Pelevin, Haruki Murakami, Anne Tyler, David Mitchell, Kate Atkinson, D M Thomas, Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn and probably dozens of others I can’t think of right now.

These days, I read and enjoy a lot of British crime and psychological thrillers, by authors like Elizabeth Haynes, Eva Dolan, S J I Holliday, Mark Edwards, Sarah Ward, Mel Sherratt, Clare Mackintosh, Ruth Ware and Steven Dunne. I’ve just finished a stunning debut called Tuesday Falling by S Williams, which impressed me hugely. One line left me green with envy, an arresting and simple image of a man called Loss walking through a crowd:

‘Loss stops; becomes a rock in the river of the street.’

Just brilliant. The kind of writing that makes you see everything afresh.

 

‘Untouchable’ is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk – http://amzn.to/1NDnwKz.

‘Eden Burning’ – Competition

Eden BurningBack in June I hosted a guest post written by Deirdre Quiery on my blog.  You can read it here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/guest-post-by-deirdre-quiery/

‘Eden Burning’ is Deirdre Quiery’s debut novel and it was published on the 10th August 2015.  As well as writing, Deirdre is also an established artist.

Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications Limited recently contacted me with regards to running a special competition on my blog.

 

Eve Print

This is the original print of Deirdre Quiery’s painting which is also called Eden Burning.  One very lucky person has the chance to win this print plus a copy of Deirdre’s novel.  4 x runners-up will each win a copy of Deirdre’s book.

To enter just leave a comment telling me what you wanted to be when you grew up.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 1st September 2015.

The winners will be randomly picked and notified of their win within 7 days of the closing date.  Details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck! :-)

 

Guest Post by Rose Edmunds

Book Cover

Rose Edmunds released her latest novel earlier this year.  She has very kindly written a guest post for my blog about how her background as a child of a hoarder led her to write ‘Concealment’.

~~~~~

My mother is a hoarder.

You’ve seen the TV shows, or read magazine articles. So you all know what that means, or at least you think you do.

That’s a good start.

In the beginning there were no words. As far as I can ascertain, the first major research paper on compulsive hoarding was published in 1987 and it was not until 1996 that the term was fully defined.

As a child of the 1970s, this work lay in the distant future. All I knew was that after my father’s sudden death, our home descended into squalor and filth. And not only were there no words, there was no internet or support groups – only secrecy and shame. I thought we were the only family in the world to live this way and felt sure the mess was my fault – that was what my mother told me after all. Any attempts to clear up were fruitless – my good works were quickly undone. In any case, there’s a limit to what you can achieve if you’re not allowed to throw anything away. It seemed like my whole teenage years were spent making excuses why friends couldn’t come over, and hiding the Big Secret from the rest of the world.

I left home as soon as I could and spent the next twenty odd years frenziedly trying to prove how little my upbringing had affected me. I was the classic workaholic overachiever – a paragon of corporate virtue.

But what you try to suppress has a habit of catching up with you…

The turning point came when my mother fell, broke her hip and her unconventional lifestyle was rather dramatically outed. Predictably, I sprang into action, hired a firm to clear the house and ‘persuaded’ her to move into a retirement apartment with a weekly cleaner. I marvelled at the progress I’d made – it had been so easy to accomplish all this with my mother out of the way and unable to obstruct me. Finally, all sorted!

Except it wasn’t. Her apartment was gradually filling up and I sank into depression. For the first time, I began to confront not only how much my mother’s mental illness had impacted all areas of my life, but also the damage I was doing to myself by pursuing a high-flying career in finance for which I was not entirely suited.

I joined a support group for Children of Hoarders and against all the conventional wisdom, I quit my job to write thrillers set in the business world. My first novel Never Say Sorry was about a BigPharma conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure, and I completed it in little over a year. But I knew there was another book that only I could write, and now I was ready to embark on this more ambitious project…

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the damage done by my dysfunctional childhood had cut deeper than I’d ever imagined. I had no wish to write a ‘misery memoir’ but began to ponder on what might happen if an outwardly successful child of a hoarder was pitched into a thriller plot, with murder, fraud, and a toxic boss. How would her insecurities hold her back – would her childhood adversity give her extra strength? Out of this germ of an idea my second novel CONCEALMENT was born.

On one level, it’s a corporate thriller, but Amy’s insecurities and the fear of her secret being exposed drive many of her actions and hasten her descent into psychological hell. Although the book is almost entirely fictional, it was extremely painful to lay bare Amy’s emotions, so much so that at one stage I put it aside for six months and began working on a new project. But I found myself inexorably drawn back to Amy and her dilemma. She is a strong character and she kept willing me to bring her adventure to a conclusion!

At this stage, I made some major structural changes, including introducing Amy’s fourteen year-old self as an additional character. Little Amy appears as a hallucination to grown-up Amy and gives the reader further insight into the damage that growing up in a hoarded environment has wreaked on her.

By the way, for those of you who think that growing up in a ‘messy house’ isn’t ‘a big deal’ – believe me, it is. Here is a picture (apologies for non-digital quality) of my mother’s living room taken in 2004. Do you think it’s reasonable for a child to grow up in that?

 

Picture 2

And for comparison purposes, here’s the same room after the intervention.

Picture 1

 

While I cannot blame my mother for an illness which she clearly could not control, I can hold her accountable for not seeking help. On the other hand, this was Britain in the 1970s, and there was little awareness of mental health issues… Perhaps it’s best to simply accept what happened, acknowledge how much it affected me, and to move forward on a neutral basis. In any case, my mother is now suffering from dementia and resides in the ‘Dunhoardin’ care home, where (in a final irony) newspapers are removed from the room daily. She has been the loser in all this, not me. Mental illness has wrecked her life.

It took me three years to write CONCEALMENT, but I don’t regret the time spent. This was the book that I was destined to write, the book that represents the coalescence of my professional, personal and secret lives. I am working on a sequel, which will be more of the thrills and less of the hoarding, and hence should be out about a year from now.

In the meantime, you can check out CONCEALMENT at http://ViewBook.at/Concealment

and find out more about me at my Amazon Author Page or

Website: www.roseedmunds.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoseEdmunds

Facebook: www.facebook.com/roseedmundsauthor

 

 

About Rose Edmunds

Author Picture

Rose Edmunds lives in Brighton with her husband David. She gained a degree in mathematics at the University of Sussex and a PhD from Cardiff University, before qualifying as a chartered accountant and embarking on a successful career advising entrepreneurial businesses together with their owners. She worked for Arthur Andersen and Grant Thornton, before being headhunted to join Deloitte as a partner.

In 2007, after more than 20 years in the business she jumped off the corporate hamster wheel and now writes financial thrillers with a strong ethical theme. Her writing draws heavily on her considerable insight into the business world and in particular the uncomfortable conflict between individual and corporate objectives. Concealment is Rose’s second novel. Her debut thriller, Never Say Sorry, about a Big Pharma cancer cure conspiracy,was published in 2012.

Rose is also a trustee of Brightside, a charity helping young people to access career and education opportunities they might not have believed were available to them.

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Fall of Poppies’ by Various Authors

Fall of Poppies Cover

I am very excited today to be taking part in this cover reveal.  Read on to find out more about ‘Fall of Poppies’.

 

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War

by Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

 

~~~~~

 

Excerpt from “Hour of the Bells”

A short story included in Fall of Poppies

Beatrix whisked around the showroom, feather duster in hand. Not a speck of dirt could remain or Joseph would be disappointed. The hour struck noon. A chorus of clocks whirred, their birds popping out from hiding to announce midday. Maidens twirled in their frocks with braids down their backs, woodcutters clacked their axes against pine, and the odd sawmill wheel spun in tune to the melody of a nursery rhyme. Two dozen cuckoos warbled and dinged, each crafted with loving detail by the same pair of hands—those with thick fingers and a steady grip.

Beatrix paused in her cleaning. One clock chimed to its own rhythm, apart from the others.

She could turn them off—the tinkling melodies, the incessant clatter of pendulums, wheels, and cogs, with the levers located near the weights—just as their creator had done before bed each evening, but she could not bring herself to do the same. To silence their music was to silence him, her husband, Joseph. The Great War had already done that; ravaged his gentle nature, stolen his final breath, and silenced him forever.

In a rush, Beatrix scurried from one clock to the next, assessing which needed oiling. With the final stroke of twelve, she found the offending clock. Its walnut face, less ornate than the others, had been her favorite, always. A winter scene displayed a cluster of snow-topped evergreens; rabbits and fawns danced in the drifts when the music began, and a scarlet cardinal dipped its head and opened its beak to the beauty of the music. The animals’ simplicity appealed to her now more than ever. With care, she removed the weights and pendulum, and unscrewed the back of the clock. She was grateful she had watched her husband tend to them so often. She could still see Joseph, blue eyes peering over his spectacles, focused on a figurine as he painted detailing on the linden wood. His patient hands had caressed the figures lovingly, as he had caressed her.

The memory of him sliced her open. She laid her head on the table as black pain stole over her body, pooling in every hidden pocket and filling her up until she could scarcely breathe.

“Give it time,” her friend Adelaide had said, as she set a basket of jam and dried sausages on the table; treasures in these times of rations, yet meager condolence for what Beatrix had lost.

“Time?” Beatrix had laughed, a hollow sound, and moved to the window overlooking the grassy patch of yard. The Vosges mountains rose in the distance, lording over the line between France and Germany along the battle front. Time’s passage never escaped her—not for a moment. The clocks made sure of it. There weren’t enough minutes, enough hours, to erase her loss.

As quickly as the grief came, it fled. Though always powerful, its timing perplexed her. Pain stole through the night, or erupted at unlikely moments, until she feared its onslaught the way others feared death. Death felt easier, somehow.

Beatrix raised her head and pushed herself up from the table to finish her task. Joseph would not want her to mourn, after two long years. He would want to see her strength, her resilience, especially for their son. She pretended Adrien was away at school, though he had enlisted, too. His enlistment had been her fault. A vision of her son cutting barbed wire, sleeping in trenches, and pointing a gun at another man reignited the pain and it began to pool again. She suppressed the horrid thoughts quickly, and locked them away in a corner of her mind.

With a light touch she cleaned the clock’s bellows and dials, and anointed its oil bath with a few glistening drops. Once satisfied with her work, she hung the clock in its rightful place above the phonograph, where a disk waited patiently on the spool. She spun the disk once and watched the printed words on its center blur. Adrien had played Quand Madelon over and over, belting out the patriotic lyrics in time with the music. To him, it was a show of his support for his country. To Beatrix it had been a siren, a warning her only son would soon join the fight. His father’s death was the final push he had needed. The lure of patrimoine, of country, throbbed inside of him as it did in other men. They talked of war as women spoke of tea sets and linens, yearned for it as women yearned for children. Now, the war had seduced her Adrien. She stopped the spinning disk and plucked it from its wheel, the urge to destroy it pulsing in her hands.

She must try to be more optimistic. Surely God would not take all she had left.

Reprinted Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

 

William Morrow Trade Paperback; March 1, 2016; $14.99; ISBN: 9780062418548

Barnes & Noble / Amazon / IndieBound / Books-a-Million

Cover Reveal – ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’ by Lynsey James

The Broken Hearts Book Club - Cover

Lynsey James has a new book coming out on the 1st September 2015, published by Carina UK.  I am very excited today to be taking part in this cover reveal.  Isn’t it gorgeous! :-)  Read on to find out more about ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’.

 

Book Blurb

Secrets never stay buried for long…

Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…

Luna Bay hasn’t changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!

Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’, Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can’t wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.

One way or another, Lucy must finally face the secrets she’s kept buried for so long – or spend the rest of her life on the run…

 

About Lynsey James

Author Picture

Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left her job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She hasn’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

 

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynsey1991

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lynseyjamesauthor?ref=ts&fref=ts

Blog: https://lynseyjames.wordpress.com

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1MWkC3a 

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1H6HS9y 

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1IudxHo

Virtual Voyager Event

Virtual Voyager Banner

I am one of a number of bloggers taking part in this event celebrating HarperVoyager’s digital authors.  Nancy K. Wallace has written a guest post for my blog.  I really hope you enjoy reading it.

 

 Literary Magic: Crafting the Perfect Concoction of Fact and Fantasy!

By Nancy K. Wallace

Fantasy lures us with rich detail, imagined realms, and unique creatures. It allows us to explore the depths of uniquely magical places we have never visited before. If the plot seems to lead down a familiar path, we are warned that its borders are not those we are acquainted with. What lurks within its hedgerows may grant our fondest dreams or send us racing from our worst nightmares.

What part could fact possibly play in this magical world of invention and imagination? More than you might think. Most fantasies contain some factual material threading through the sparkling, golden cords that bind the story together. They offer something that grounds it in the real world without disturbing our “suspension of disbelief” in a new magical one.

From the very beginning, fantasy writers have found inspiration in history and legend. Tolkien compared his novels to a sort of literary soup, complaining that the critics didn’t need to see the bones that had been simmered to make the broth. Oddly enough, it’s by identifying the bones of a story that we often catch a glimpse into the author’s mind, and the fledgling spark of a novel’s inception.

The Legend of the Beast of Gevaudan, a giant wolf that terrorized 18th century France by killing innocent women and children, anchors my novel, Among Wolves, in a place very much like pre-revolutionary France. The culture, people, and social issues are certainly comparable, but that’s where the similarity ends. Llisé isn’t France and my wolves are not Gevaudan’s wolves.

Stephen Moore’s forthcoming novel, Graynelore, which will be released Aug 13th 2015 by Harper Voyager, also had its beginnings in historical fact. Moore found its roots in his own familial tie to the 16th century Reivers on the border of Scotland and England. He used historical fact to trigger the plot of a totally unique fantasy.

Perhaps it is because fantasy is tied so closely to truth that it appeals to us so much. When we read fantasy, we become one with whatever magical world we have permitted ourselves to enter. It allows us to travel its roads, marvel at its sunsets, rejoice with its lovers, and weep at its heroes’ graves. We breathe its air, smell its exotic fragrances, and touch and feel treasures we have only dreamed of before. We grow to care deeply for the companions on our journey and are reluctant to leave them behind when the story ends. Ultimately, fantasy speaks to our hearts. It touches our souls, leaving us tearstained or joyful, tortured or terrified, but never quite the same. It leaves us wistful, wanting, and eager for more.

 

Among Wolves Book Cover

You can buy Nancy Wallace’s book, AMONG WOLVES here, and find the author on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour – ‘Dark Place to Hide’ by AJ Waines

Blog Tour Poster

AJ Waines contacted me recently with regards to taking part in a blog tour for her new novel, ‘Dark Place to Hide’, which was published on the 30th July 2015. Having earlier this year posted an extract from her previous book on my blog and liking the sound of her novels I was more than eager to take part. I was kindly sent a copy of ‘Dark Place to Hide’.  Read on for my review and look out for a competition at the end of this post.

Harper and Diane Penn live in Nettledon, Hampshire. Harper is an expert in criminology and is very good at solving puzzles. So when his wife who has recently had a miscarriage goes missing, he instinctively knows there is more to her disappearance than meets the eye. Harper having recently found out that he is infertile feels that he cannot possibly have made her pregnant. He contacts the police and tells them what has happened, but they treat her disappearance as a low priority case thinking it likely that she has gone away to be on her own and get over things or has run off with a secret lover.

Marion and her seven-year-old daughter also live in the same village. Clara reads a lot and likes her own company, often retreating into a fantasy world. An accident causes her to sink deeper into her own world and when she starts quoting sentences from fairy tales there is a lot of concern. One day Harper sees Marion and Clara in the village. Marion isn’t very well so he takes them back to their cottage. Soon after Clara goes missing too. Could there be a connection between both disappearances and is there more to what Clara has been saying than meets the eye?

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Dark Place to Hide’, although I have to say it did take me a bit of time to get into the story. Once I got to the chapter where Diane went missing I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to her. I couldn’t believe for one minute that she had left Harper. I really felt for Marion when Clara also disappeared and I could imagine what was going through her head.

I very much liked the layout of the book with the story being narrated by the characters. Most chapters were clearly marked with the date that events were taking place. I loved the suspense and mystery throughout this story and the fact that it was believable.

‘Dark Place to Hide’ is a psychological thriller that will get you thinking and wanting more. I now plan to read AJ Waines previous novels at some stage.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

 

About the author

Author Picture

AJ Waines was a Psychotherapist for fifteen years, during which time she worked with ex-offenders from high-security institutions, giving her a rare insight into abnormal psychology. She is now a full-time novelist with an Agent and has publishing deals in France and Germany (Random House). Both her debut novels, The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train have been Number One in ‘Murder’ and ‘Psychological Thrillers’ in the UK Kindle Charts. Girl on a Train has also been a Number One Bestseller in the entire Kindle Chart in Australia. In 2015, she was ranked in the Top 100 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Her new psychological thriller, Dark Place to Hide, was released July 30th 2015, and is available HERE.

Alison lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

‘Dark Place to Hide’ is available to buy on Amazon UK:-

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Place-Hide-J-Waines-ebook/dp/B010TRR1LO 

 

Competition

Like the sound of ‘Dark Place to Hide’ and really want to read it?  Well, one very lucky person has the chance to win a signed paperback copy of this book and to enter all you have to do to is leave a comment telling me why you want to read it.

 

Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59  p.m. on the 17th August 2015.

The winner will be notified of their win within 7 days of the closing date and their details passed on to AJ Waines who will send out the prize.

 

 

Good luck! :-)

Blog Tour – ‘The Hiding Place’ by John Burley

Blog Tour Banner

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour. ‘The Hiding Place’, published by Avon, is out today in eBook and on the 27th August will be released in paperback. I was kindly sent a proof copy of this book. Read on for my review.

Dr Lise Shields works for Menaker State Hospital, an institution which houses some of the most dangerous criminals in America. These patients have all been found guilty and there is little chance of any of them ever leaving.

Jason Edwards is admitted to the hospital without any paperwork, not even a transfer order. When Lise questions this she is immediately fobbed off, which makes her all the more suspicious. Is Jason really guilty of the crime he has supposedly been sentenced for or has he been set up? Lise is determined to find out the truth but soon finds herself caught up in something very sinister indeed.

I love a good psychological thriller so couldn’t wait to start reading this book. Hooked from the start, I was intrigued by Jason Edwards and wanted to know more about him and why there was so much secrecy. ‘The Hiding Place’ was really hard to put down. It was fast paced, exciting and just so addictive. I also really liked John Burley’s writing style. Split into five parts with the majority of chapters being fairly short it really was a case of just one more chapter. You are also given a good insight into both Lise’s and Jason’s past which helped to solve the mystery a bit. I could not wait to get back to the book.

I did find myself questioning a couple of things throughout the story but I was still totally unprepared for the ending. I have to admit that after the journey I was taken on I was a little bit disappointed. It was like coming back down to earth with a bump. This story was well thought out and very cleverly written and it is one that will say for me for a while.

If you want to read a book that keeps you up late, takes you on a rollercoaster of a ride and messes with your head then ‘The Hiding Place’ could well be what you are looking for. I will definitely be reading more of John Burley’s novels.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

 ~~~~~

 

Now for an extract from ‘The Hiding Place’…..

Menaker State Hospital is a curse, a refuge, a place of imprisonment, a necessity, a nightmare, a salvation. Originally funded by a philanthropic endowment, the regional psychiatric facility’s sprawling, oak- studded campus sits atop a bluff on the eastern bank of the Severn River. From the steps of the hospital’s main administration building, the outline of the U.S. Naval Academy can be seen where the river enters the Chesapeake Bay some two and a half miles to the south. There is but one entrance to the facility, and the campus perimeter is demarcated by a wrought- iron fence whose ten- foot spear pickets curve inward at the top. The hospital is not a large central structure as one might imagine, but rather an assortment of redbrick buildings erected at the end of the nineteenth century and disseminated in small clusters across the quiet grounds, as if reflecting the scattered, huddled psyches of the patients themselves. There is a mild senseof neglect to the property. The wooden door frames sag like the spine of an old mare that has been expected to carry too much weight for far too many years. The diligent work of the groundskeeper is no match for the irrepressible thistles that erupt from the earth during the warmer months and lay their barbed tendrils against the base of the edifices, attempting to claim them as their own. The metal railings along the outdoor walkways harbour minute, jagged irregularities on their surfaces that will cut you if you run your fingers along them too quickly.

Twenty- two miles to the north lies the city of Baltimore, its beautiful inner harbor and surrounding crime- ridden streets standing in stark contrast to each other— the ravages of poverty, violence, and drug addiction flowing like a river of human despair into some of the finest medical institutions in the world. Among them is The Johns Hopkins Hospital where I received my medical training. Ironic how, after all these years, the course of my career would take me here, so close to my starting point— as if the distance between those two places was all that was left to show for the totality of so much time, effort, and sacrifice. And why not? At the beginning of our lives the world stretches out before us with infinite possibility— and yet, what is it about the force of nature, or the proclivities within ourselves, that tend to anchor us so steadfastly to our origins? One can travel to the Far East, study particle physics, get married, raise a child, and still . . . in all that time we’re never too far from where we first started. We belong to our past, each of us serving it in our own way, and to break the tether between that time and the present is to risk shattering ourselves in the process.

Herein lies the crux of my profession as a psychiatrist. Life takes its toll on the mind as well as the body, and just as the body will react and sometimes succumb to forces acting upon it, so too will the mind. There are countless ways in which it can happen: from chemical imbalances to childhood trauma, from genetic predispositions to the ravages of guilt regarding actions past, from fractures of identity to a general dissociation from the outside world.

 

About the author

John Burley attended medical school in Chicago and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Centre’s Shock Trauma Centre in Baltimore. He currently serves as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their Great Dane and English bulldog.

 

 

‘The Hiding Place’ is available to buy on Amazon UK:-

http://amzn.to/1eC5VGr

Blog Tour – ‘Sugar and Snails’ by Anne Goodwin

Blog Tour - Sugar and Snails

I would like to start off by congratulating Anne Goodwin whose debut novel, ‘Sugar and Snails’ is out today, published by Inspired Quill.  As part of this blog tour I have interviewed Anne.

 

How does it feel to be having your debut novel published?

Wonderful – and a bit unreal. It’s taken me a long time to get here but it’s a good place to be. And I’m thrilled, humbled and moved by the volume of support I’ve received from friends and acquaintances both on and off-line.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Sugar and Snails’ please?

It’s a midlife coming-of-age story about a woman who has gone to great lengths to safeguard the secret of her past. But it’s entailed a lot of sacrifice: although Diana appears fairly together on the outside, with her own house and a good job, she’s highly anxious and defensive, keeping others at a distance and forgoing opportunities for promotion at work.

When, at fifteen, she made her life-changing decision, she was advised to put the past behind her. But, as she discovers, that’s easier said than done, especially after meeting Simon at a dinner party and being assigned a troubled student at work.

Sugar and Snails is about friendship, turbulent adolescence and the rocky road to self-acceptance. While Diana’s journey is an unusual one, I think many of us can identify with that struggle to bridge the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

 

Where did you get the idea from for your book?

The novel didn’t come out of one single thing but, looking back, I think there were three sources of influence that somehow came together to make the story. One was the exceedingly long time it took me to understand my own painful adolescence. Another was an interest in hidden vulnerabilities: knowing, from my experience as a clinical psychologist, how high levels of achievement can sit alongside deep levels of distress. A third factor was my curiosity about challenges to the rigidity of the gender divide.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I began my initial draft in October 2008, nearly seven years ago. Although I received some extremely encouraging feedback on the early chapters from a critique service, it took me at least another five drafts (how do you measure these things? when does tinkering turn into a new draft?) to get it anywhere near right. Several times I was ready to give up on it completely (which is how I wrote another novel and published several short stories during those six and a half years), but something about the story kept nagging me to have another go.

 

Did you have to do any research?

I did a fair amount of reading about the situation Diana faces, including identity issues, medical procedures and the legal framework. But as much as I could, I drew on what I knew already, setting the contemporary strand of the novel in a city where I’d lived for twenty years, and drawing on my knowledge of psychology. Even so, it required a lot of checking back, as well as compromises of the sake of the story.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

Absolutely! I’m an “it’s personal” as opposed to an “it’s autobiographical” kind of writer although I do, obviously, make a lot of things up. But the only way I could get inside Diana’s situation was to imagine it happening to me. Not that I gave her my own personal history, but hers does feel like a life that, in other circumstances, I might have led.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

Being published by a very small press no-one’s heard of (well you have now: it’s Inspired Quill), I’m conscious of the need for me to work extra hard to try to bring my novel to readers’ attention. So, thanks to the generosity of the blogging community, my main writing projects right now are guest posts and Q&A’s like this. But on the fiction side, in the next year or so I hope to see the publication of my other novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman imprisoned in a cellar and do a second draft of the novel I began for my non-NaNo project about the secrets uncovered in the course of a psychiatric hospital closure.

 

Where do you tend to do most of your writing?

I have a lovely study (ostensibly shared with my husband, although he’s rarely allowed through the door) with a view over our wild front garden. With repetitive strain injury, I dictate with voice-activated software, standing at my desk with my laptop raised to a comfortable height with two box files (very high-tech).

 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write their first book?

Know whether you’re writing for publication or your own pleasure. Of course they overlap, but the path to publication is strewn with disappointments. You’ve got to really want to do it to make that worthwhile.

 

Which do you prefer: eBooks or printed books?

As a reader, printed most definitely. As a writer, with a low-budget publisher, ebooks.

 

What is your favourite genre?

Accessible literary fiction with complex characters, high stakes emotionally and a story worth telling.

 

Have any authors influenced your work?

Of course! I’m an avid reader and I learn a lot from just about everything I read, even if it’s how not to do it, but sometimes it’s hard to detect exactly how that influence has shaped my work. One of the lovely things about being published is having others pull out the links with more established authors. One of my early reviewers said she was reminded of Claire Messud’s novel, The Woman Upstairs (which I haven’t yet read, but I know from reviews that I’d like to). And very early on in my writing journey I was told my style was like Kate Atkinson’s. I’m not complaining about that!

 

About Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin author photo

Anne Goodwin grew up in Cumbria and studied Mathematics and Psychology at Newcastle University around the same time as the narrator of Sugar and Snails.

She loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. During her 25-year career as an NHS clinical psychologist her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size.

Anne juggles her sentences while walking in the Peak District, only to lose them battling the slugs in her vegetable plot. As a break from finding her own words, she is an avid reader and barely-competent soprano in an all-comers choir.

Sugar and Snails is her first published novel.

Links

Sugar and Snails on the Inspired Quill website

http://www.inspired-quill.com/books/sugar-and-snails/

Sugar and Snails on my website

http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/sugar-and-snails.html

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