A Lover of Books

Blog Tour – ‘Last Days of the Condor’ by James Grady

Blog Poster

It has taken forty years but James Grady has finally written a sequel to ‘Six Days of the Condor’, the book that became the Hollywood blockbuster starring Robert Redford, ‘Three Days of the Condor’. ‘Last Days of the Condor’ was published by No Exit Press on the 28th August 2015. This blog tour has been organised to coincide with James Grady’s visit to the UK and I was thrilled to be invited to take part.

‘Last Days of the Condor’ is set in 2013 and is a break-neck, ticking clock saga about America on the edge of a starting spy-revolution set in Washington DC. When a Homeland Security agent is found murdered in Condor’s home the day after he visited him with his partner, things naturally don’t look very good for Condor. Realising he has been framed, Condor has no choice but to go on the run.

I really liked the sound of ‘Last Days of the Condor’ and was looking forward to reading it. I haven’t actually read a spy novel before so this was a new experience for me. I felt there was a nice build up to the story. You just knew something was bound to happen soon. This was a fast-paced and complex thriller which kept me reading. I have to say it took me a while to get used to James Grady’s style of writing though.

I asked if I needed to have read ‘Six Days of the Condor’ first but was told I didn’t have to. Personally though I felt that I might have learned more about Condor and understood things better if I had read the first book.

If you are a fan of spy novels then I do recommend reading ‘Last Days of the Condor’.

I give this book 3 out of 5.


Guest Post by Tess Rosa Ruiz

Book Cover

‘Freefall into Us’ by Tess Rosa Ruiz is a compelling collection of unique poetry and prose that provides an emotional mosaic of the path of relationships.  It was published by Urbane Publications Limited on the 11th September 2015.

Below is a guest post written by Tess Rosa Ruiz.



In the 80’s, I wrote the author, Stephen King, a letter. You see, he is one of my favorite writers ever and I was a bit obsessed with him, had even thought of going to Bangor, Maine just so I could possibly catch a glimpse of him walking down the road or drinking coffee in his favorite café. The letter wasn’t very nice. He had disappointed me. I didn’t feel his recent work was up to par with the standards I had held him to, with the greatness that he was and is. To my utter surprise, he wrote me back. He told me he was under contract to write three books in a small amount of time and he agreed that his work may not have been his best. He promised me if I would stay with him and not stray, he would be back to his old self. I fell even more in love with him because now to me he was a real person, with real feelings and not just a writing machine pumping out book after book with disregard to his readers. He cared.

He cared enough to not only take the time to respond to me but to respond to me in an apologetic way. In a human way, in a way that I could grasp and understand, with passion. He could have easily told me to go fuck myself. So moved was I by his response, I would sit down a few days later and attempt to write my first short story.

In the early 90’s I became obsessed with the writer Anne Rice. I consumed her Vampire Chronicles and the lives of the Mayfair Witches. But her work as A.N. Roquelaure, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, would have a huge impact on me. The beauty of the erotica and the grace and elegance with which she wrote it was not comparable to any work I had ever read. She was in a league all her own. I would be further moved by her bout with alcoholism, her weight, the death of her child. I realized then her writing probably helped heal her, mend her, fill that void. I would have an ah-ha moment over this.

There would be many writers I would fall for over the years. Henry Miller, Raymond Carver, Tom Robbins, Joan Didion, William Styron, Charles Bukowski, Anais Nin, to name a few. They have all inspired much in me.

When I was 16, I took a creative writing class simply because the instructor was a beautiful man. I wrote a lot of poetry and short pieces in that class. My teacher was the inspiration for most of the writing, unbeknownst to him. On the last day of class he pulled me aside after everyone was gone and told me I had a gift, a true gift and that my destiny would be to become a writer. Although it would be many, many years later before I would dig my feet in and plant myself, he had been right.

You have heard many writers say they didn’t choose their profession, it chose them. I don’t choose to spend most days alone, holed up in a café or the confines of my small apartment. I don’t choose to watch every penny, or cancel hair appointments because I didn’t make enough last night waiting tables. I don’t choose to have fits of sadness, anxiety, angst, self-doubt or extreme loneliness. Yes, I miss my daughters and lots of social time with friends. I thought after my marriage ended I would miss being in a relationship, having a partner. I couldn’t imagine going without sex for more than a week. I have been constantly in a relationship since I was 14. I have gone this entire year without a man and the truth is I have never been happier. The truth is, I feel a pull, a need to write, a want, a desire. I feel this is my time. This is my call and right now it prevails over everything else.

Hell, I even took Stephen King’s advice and got rid of my television yesterday. I am excited and I look forward to what 2016 holds in store for me.


October 6, 2015
Tess Rosa Ruiz


About Tess Rosa Ruiz

Tessa Rosa Ruiz

Tess Rosa Ruiz hails from a small town in Western Montana. She left for Seattle with two bags and a lot of passion at the age of 19. An established photographer, she met a group of writers from New York and through them, found her voice. Freefall into Us is her first published collection of prose and poetry. She currently resides in Seattle, and has been known to quote Kerouac and sling the finest of wine.




Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications Limited has offered 5 paperback copies of ‘Freefall into Us’ for a giveaway.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you think of the cover of this book.

Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 22nd October 2015.

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


Good Luck! :-)

Halloween 2015 Event

Halloween Pumpkins

You are all invited to my Halloween blog event taking place day and night on the 31st October 2015.

There will be plenty of activities; short stories, guest posts, giveaways and maybe even some reviews.

Waiters will be at the ready to serve non-stop drinks including High Spirits, Ghoulish Cocktails and Witchy Brews.  There will also be oodles of food; Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Stew and even Pumpkin Curry!  You will not go without.  So come and join me for a fun-packed day and night.


Cover Reveal – ‘The Years of Loving You’ by Ella Harper

Book Cover

I am thrilled to be revealing the cover of Ella Harper’s new book, ‘The Years of Loving You’.  Published by Avon, it is out in eBook on the 15th October 2015 and in paperback on the 19th November 2015.


Book Blurb

From the award-winning author of PIECES OF YOU comes this enthralling love story, guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and dream upon a star…

What if your first love was your only love?

When Molly is diagnosed with a life changing illness, it feels like her whole world has come crashing down. She hopes the news will make her marriage to Sam stronger. But why does Molly always call best friend Ed in a crisis?

Ed. The very same Ed that Molly fell in love with at a party when they were teenagers, underneath a star-filled sky. Then life took them in very different directions. They could only ever be friends.

Suddenly Molly starts to question every decision she’s ever made. What if they could turn back the clock? Back to the very beginning. When the only certainty they shared was each other …


About Ella Harper

As a shy teenager, Ella Harper found a way to escape by learning foreign languages, and imagined she might eventually get a glamorous job speaking French. After completing a BA in French and Russian Studies, she found herself following in her father’s footsteps into banking instead, seduced by the excitement and glamour of that world. But after climbing her way to Assistant Vice President, Ella started idly mapping out the beginnings of a novel on an old laptop. When she realised her characters were more real to her than dividends and corporate actions ever could be, she left her job to become a writer. Eight years later, and Ella has published four hugely popular novels under the name Sasha Wagstaff.

Blog Tour – ‘A Death in the Dales’ by Frances Brody

Blog Tour Poster

‘A Death in the Dales’ is Frances Brody’s seventh crime novel featuring Kate Shackleton.  Last year I read and reviewed her previous book, ‘Death of an Avid Reader’ which I really enjoyed.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour.


Book Blurb

A murder most foul

When the landlord of a Yorkshire tavern is killed in plain sight, Freda Simonson, the only witness to the crime, becomes plagued with guilt, believing the wrong man has been convicted. Following her death, it seems that the truth will never be uncovered in the peaceful village of Langcliffe . . .

A village of secrets

But it just so happens that Freda’s nephew is courting the renowned amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton, who decides to holiday in Langcliffe with her indomitable teenage niece, Harriet. When Harriet strikes up a friendship with a local girl whose young brother is missing, the search leads Kate to uncover another suspicious death, not to mention an illicit affair.

The case of a lifetime

As the present mysteries merge with the past’s mistakes, Kate is thrust into the secrets that Freda left behind and realises that this courageous woman has entrusted her with solving a murder from beyond the grave. It soon becomes clear to her that nothing in Langcliffe is quite as it appears, and with a murderer on the loose and an ever-growing roster of suspects, this isn’t the holiday Kate was expecting.




Like the sound of this book?  Well in that case I’m pleased to tell you that one very lucky person has the chance to win a copy of ‘A Death in the Dales’.  To enter all you have to do is tell me who your favourite fictional investigator/detective is.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th October 2015.

A winner will be randomly picked within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send out the prize.


Good Luck! :-)

Blog Tour – ‘Little Girl Gone’ by Alexandra Burt

Blog Tour Banner

‘Little Girl Gone’ is Alexandra Burt’s debut novel, published in both eBook and paperback by Avon on the 24th September 2015. To celebrate its release a number of book bloggers are taking part in a blog tour for which LightBrigade PR did some amazing publicity. Today it is my turn and as well as reviewing this book I also have an extract for you to hopefully whet your appetites.

When a baby goes missing things don’t look too good for the mother. Estelle Paradise wakes up one morning and discovers that her baby daughter has been taken from her crib. She searches the apartment but there is no sign of her anywhere and all her stuff has been taken.  Estelle doesn’t report the incident to the police though.

A few days later Estelle is discovered in a wrecked car miles from home, with a gunshot wound to her head and no memory of what happened. The only thing she can remember is blood, and lots of it. Will Estelle be able to recall what happened and did she have anything to do with her baby’s disappearance?

There has been a lot of hype about this book so I was looking forward to reading it.  I enjoyed this book and liked the author’s writing style. ‘Little Girl Gone’ is divided into four parts. For me the third part was when things really started to hot up and this was when I found the book the hardest to put down.

Estelle had a hard time of things and was judged rather unfairly I thought, just because she had trouble stopping her baby from crying. It was obvious that she needed to get some help and to make matters worse her husband didn’t really want to know. He thought she could snap out of it just like that. So when Mia went missing it was very easy to point the finger at Estelle.

‘Little Girl Gone’ is a psychological thriller which will really get you thinking. Although it was obvious to me who might be responsible for the kidnapping there was still a lot more to the story. I am looking forward to seeing what Alexandra Burt comes up with next.

I give this book 4 out of 5.



Extract from ‘Little Girl Gone’

‘Mrs Paradise?’ A voice sounds out of nowhere. My thoughts are sluggish, as if I’m running under water. I try and try but I’m not getting anywhere.

‘Not stable. Eighty over sixty. And falling.’

Oh God, I’m still alive.

I move my legs, they respond, barely, but they respond.

Light prowls its way into my eyes. I hear dogs barking, high pitched. They pant, their tags clatter.

‘You’ve been in a car accident.’

My face is numb, my thoughts vague, like dusty boxes in obscure and dark attic spaces. I know immediately something is amiss.

‘Oh my God, look at her head.’ A siren sounds, it stutters for a second, then turns into a steady torment.


I want to tell them . . . I open my mouth, my lips begin to form the words, but the burning sensation in my head becomes unbearable. My chest is on fire, and ringing in my left ear numbs the entire side of my face.

Let me die, I want to tell them. But the only sound I hear is of crude hands tearing fragile fabric.

‘Step back. Clear.’

My body explodes, jerks upward.

This isn’t part of the plan.


When I come to, my vision is blurred and hazy. I make out a woman in baby-blue scrubs, a nurse, slipping a plastic tube over my head and immediately two prongs hiss cold air into my nostrils.

She pumps a lever and the bed yanks upward, then another lever triggers a motor raising the headboard until my upper body is resting almost vertically.

My world becomes clearer. The nurse’s hair is in a ponytail and the pockets of her cardigan sag. I watch her dispose of tubing and wrappers and the closing of the trashcan’s metal lid sounds final, evoking a feeling I can’t quite place, a vague sense of loss, like a pickpocket making off with my loose change, disappearing into the crowd that is my strange memory.

A male voice sounds out of nowhere.

‘I need to place a central line.’

The overly gentle voice belongs to a man in a white coat. He talks to me as if I’m a child in need of comfort.

‘Just relax, you won’t feel a thing.’


Relax and I won’t feel a thing? Easy for him to say. I feel lost somehow, as if I’m in the middle of a blizzard, unable to decide which direction to turn. I lift my arms and pain shoots from my shoulder into my neck. I tell myself not to do that again anytime soon.

The white coat wipes the back of my hand with an alcohol wipe. It leaves an icy trail and pulls me further from my lulled state. I watch the doctor insert a long needle into my vein. A forgotten cotton wipe rests in the folds of the cotton waffle weave blanket, in its center a bright red bloody mark, like a scarlet letter.

There’s a spark of memory, it ignites but then fizzles, like a wet match. I refuse to be pulled away, I follow the crimson, attach myself to the memory that started out like a creak on the stairs, but then the monsters appear.

First I remember the darkness.

Then I remember the blood.

Cover Reveal – ‘Make a Christmas Wish’ by Julia Williams

Make a Christmas Wish

You might not want to hear it, but it will soon be Christmas.  This time of year is when the Christmas novels start coming out and today I am delighted to be sharing with you the cover for ‘Make a Christmas Wish’ by Julia Williams, which is being published by Avon as an eBook on the 1st October 2015 and in paperback on the 5th November 2015.


Book Blurb

Last Christmas, when Livvy was knocked down in the supermarket car park, she certainly wasn’t ready to actually be dead! For months now she’s floated on the edge of the afterlife, generally making a nuisance of herself.

And she’s not ready to go just yet! She’s furious about the new woman in her husband’s life and she’s worried about her beloved son who doesn’t seem to be adjusting to life without her at all.

This Christmas, Livvy is given one last magical chance to make everything right. Will she take it and give her family the perfect Christmas?



Author Bio

Julia has always made up stories in her head, and until recently she thought everyone else did too. She grew up in London, one of eight children, including a twin sister. She married Dave, a dentist, in 1989, and they have four daughters. After the birth of the second Julia decided to try her hand at writing. Since then she has written 8 hugely popular novels, selling over a quarter of a million copies in the UK alone, and hitting the Sunday Times bestseller list.


Blog Tour – ‘Rings of Smoke’ by Diane O’Toole

Rings of Smoke

‘Rings of Smoke’ is being published by Britain’s Next Bestseller on the 24th September 2015. I am one of a number of book bloggers taking part in this rather exciting blog tour.

Erin Fallon is the eldest of her siblings. Her father, an Irish immigrant, naturally wants to do the best by his family. So when he gets a promotion at work he agrees to his wife’s request to move to a bigger and better house. But Erin’s mother is never happy and always expects more, which leads to her father having to work really long hours.

Leonard Fitch spent his childhood being tormented and ridiculed. At school the girls would make fun of him and at home his mother made it clear that she never really wanted him around. The only person who ever showed him any love and kindness was his father, so when he died Leonard blamed his mother whose constant demands had him working all hours. This leads to Leonard swearing to exact revenge on women, in particular mothers.

When young girls start going missing never to be found alive again, police are left baffled. Will they ever be able to solve the case?

‘Rings of Smoke’ was a really good read and so very hard to put down. I really liked the author’s writing style. Exciting and fast-paced, it was also very shocking and graphic and at first I thought I was reading something out of a horror novel. It did make me shiver a bit.

I felt sorry for what Leonard went through in his childhood, but I couldn’t believe the lengths he would go to in his revenge against women. What he did was totally despicable. A successful surgeon, it just shows that appearances can be deceptive. I certainly wouldn’t want to be alone with him.

If you enjoy crime then you should probably read ‘Rings of Smoke’, but I warn you, it isn’t for the faint hearted.

I give this book 4 out of 5.



Now for an extract from ‘Rings of Smoke’.



Erin was still only half way along Bleaksedge Lane when the fog descended; a thick, freezing cold blanket of nothingness and it had all too quickly become difficult for Erin to see much further than a few feet in front of her. It was quiet, eerie in fact. She started thinking that perhaps she should have waited until a little later in the day when the weather might have improved. It’s a bit too late now; I’m halfway there.

She pulled her lime green scarf securely over her ears and buried her gloved hands deep inside her coat pockets. Lost in thoughts of how she would react and the first thing she would say to her mother if she found her, she was unaware of the car that was parked out of sight at the back of the derelict petrol station, engine purring quietly, ready to move.

Just as Erin was passing the petrol station, the car appeared out of the thick fog right along side her. She was stunned, rigid with fear, like a rabbit caught in headlights. The driver was leering and mouthing words at her that she couldn’t make out. He leaned over into the passenger seat, his hooknose almost touching the window as his dark bird-like eyes drank in every inch of her. He waved at her beckoning her to the car.

Erin tried to scream but the freezing cold air took her breath away, nothing came out. She set off running for her life and as she ran she could still hear the hum of the car’s engine but couldn’t tell whether or not he was coming after her; she was too terrified to look back and so she just kept running. The ice-cold air burned the back of her throat and her lungs as she gasped for breath.

From out of nowhere she was grabbed from behind and lifted off her feet, then a hand came across her face and she choked as the pungent smelling rag was pushed and held firmly against her mouth and nose. The Chloroform was fast; it took less than a minute to do the job. She was out cold – Fitch had his next victim; a little older than most of the others, it couldn’t be helped, he’d wanted this one badly and although he’d missed her birthday by a couple of days this time, he’d make sure that her birthday card reached it’s recipient on time next year.

He lifted her effortlessly over his shoulder and carried her to his car, the engine still running quietly, he opened the boot and dumped her inside. Not a single vehicle had passed down Bleaksedge Lane to witness the abduction – it was so much easier than he had anticipated – just perfect! He chuckled as he slammed the boot shut and climbed back inside his vehicle.

She’d be unconscious for a couple of hours or more, long enough for him to get her back to the lodge and settled in. He slowed as he drove past the girl’s house for one last time wondering what the girl’s mother was doing inside. Well, whatever you’re doing, your little girl won’t be coming home today, or ever again. The car sped up and disappeared into the fog.


About Diane O’Toole

Author Pic

Diane O’Toole  was born in Manchester into a large family of seven brothers and five sisters. As a child her playground was Belle Vue, one of the largest amusement parks in Europe. As a very young girl, I developed a voracious passion for books, and she read all of the classics: Dickens, Eliot, Trollope, and Hardy. During her teens it was Stephen King and James Herbert, and then Diane got a taste of the political thriller with Daniel Silva’s “Moscow Rules”. For “Rings of Smoke”, Diane drew on real life experiences, particularly in respect of the protagonist Erin Fallon. With stalkers, a runaway mother and abduction, she  had the bones of what she believed was a good story.



‘Remember to Breathe’ by Simon Pont

Remember to Breathe

I was sent an e-copy of ‘Remember to Breathe’ a while back by Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications. This is actually the first book by this publisher that I have read and I look forward to my ongoing journey.

‘Remember to Breathe’ is set in London and takes place over 3 months in 1999. It is the story of Samuel Grant, an ordinary man who hasn’t had much luck in love and who isn’t overly enamoured by his job.

Sam ponders life and tries to work out where it’s going. But will he get there? That’s for you to find out.

I started reading ‘Remember to Breathe’ without really knowing what to expect. At first it reminded me very slightly of Adrian Mole but I soon changed my mind. This is a story from a man’s point of view about the highs and lows of life and it’s one I think many people can relate to, male or female.

I found Samuel Grant to be quite an interesting character. He didn’t exactly do himself any favours in his love life but somehow that didn’t put me off him. In fact, I could really sympathise with Sam at times and I felt that he did talk a fair bit of sense. I enjoyed reading about the different pubs and restaurants that Sam went to and meeting his mates.

This is a book which made me smile. Some of the lines Sam came out with were just great, my favourite being, ‘Of all the curry houses in all the world…’. That tickled me for some reason.

‘Remember to Breathe’ is a story which will give you a lift if you’re feeling low. With its short sections its ideal when you only have time for a quick read. I would truly recommend giving this book a go. My only regret is that I didn’t read it earlier.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


Book Launch – ‘Thicker Than Water’ by Georgia Rose

Thicker Than Water - Cover

Congratulations to Georgia Rose whose new novel, ‘Thicker Than Water’ is out today.  This is the third book in The Grayson Trilogy.


Book Blurb

Vaguely aware of the tremor in my hand I ran my fingers up through the thick locks of his dark hair. Fear clutched at my heart as I sensed the icy tendrils of grief reaching for me once more.’

As the overseas action steps up a gear for Trent, Emma has her own challenges to face. Loyalties are tested and vengeance sought when she attracts interest from an unwelcome source.

Because someone is coming. Someone who has Emma in their sights.

Someone who will turn her life upside down… forever.


‘Thicker Than Water’ is available to buy on Amazon – getbook.at/ThickerThanWater


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