A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

Blog Tour – ‘The Silent Girls’ by Ann Troup

Blog Tour Banner

‘The Silent Girls’ was published by Carina on the 18th February 2016.  I really liked the sound of this book and was interested in taking part in the blog tour for it.  Today it is my turn and below is my review.

Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square in Winfield after a very long time, Edie is shocked to find that the place she remembers from her childhood reeks of mould and decay.  But she has a task to do, a big one at that.  Edie is there to clear out her recently deceased Aunt Dolly’s house.  It sounds simple enough but it isn’t.  Coronation Square, where five vicious murders took place many years ago has changed a lot and not for the best either.

At Number 17 there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden.  The truth has to come out at some stage.  Finding herself dragged into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what happened all those years ago.  But as she uncovers the history of her family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if perhaps it would have been best to leave things as they were.

I thought ‘The Silent Girls’ was a cracking read, absolutely fantastic.  The prologue had me totally intrigued and I couldn’t wait to get into the story.  There were some shocking revelations and secrets and it was just so hard to trust the majority of the characters.

I really liked Ann Troup’s style of writing.  There were so many twists and turns throughout this story and I found myself trying to piece everything together and work out what actually happened all those years ago.  I have to say I would never have guessed in a million years who was actually responsible for the murders.

One of the characters, Sophie is actually named after a book blogger I know.  In the story she was down on her luck, but Edie being the kind person she was took her in and looked out for her.  The real Sophie is lovely and I soon found myself warming to her as a fictional character as well.  I thought she was really gutsy and that she deserved a break.

‘The Silent Girls’ will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and it will leave you wanting more.  This isn’t a story you’ll forget in a hurry.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About Ann Troup

Author Picture

Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.

Her writing space is known as ‘the empty nest’, having formerly been her daughters bedroom. She shares this space with ten tons of junk and an elderly Westie, named Rooney, who is her constant companion whether she likes it or not. He likes to contribute to the creative process by going to sleep on top of her paperwork and running away with crucial post-it notes, which have inadvertently become stuck to his fur. She is thinking of renaming him Gremlin.

She lives by the sea in Devon with her husband and said dog. Two children have been known to remember the place that they call home, but mainly when they are in need of a decent roast dinner, it’s Christmas or when only Mum will do. She also has extremely decent stepchildren.

In a former incarnation she was psychiatric nurse, an experience which frequently informs her writing. She has also owned a cafe and an art/craft gallery. Now she only makes bacon sandwiches as a sideline, but does continue to dabble with clay, paint, paper, textiles, glue…you name it. Occasionally she may decide to give away some of these creations (you have been warned!).

 

Links

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B015QM8AP8/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28441057-the-silent-girls?ac=1&from_search=1

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TroupAnn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anntroupauthor/

Website: https://anntroup.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Guest Post by M. Jonathan Lee

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A couple of years ago I read M. Jonathan Lee’s debut novel, ‘The Radio’.  Since then the next two books in the trilogy have been published, both of which I am still looking forward to reading.

My review of ‘The Radio’ can be found here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/the-radio/

It’s an absolute pleasure to have Jonathan on my blog today with a very interesting guest post and one which I’m sure other writers can relate to.

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“It must be brilliant being a writer, Jonathan…”

or

The death of a writer through writer’s block.

The number of times I’ve heard this. I have no idea. It could be fifty, it could be a hundred. I don’t know. What I do know though is that I agree with this statement. Most of the time.

I’ve been fortunate, through a series of what may be called lucky breaks (coming second in the Novel Prize 2012; meeting and befriending Sunday Times best seller, Milly Johnson; somehow forcing my way into being a regular panellist on BBC comedy show, Live-ish) I have managed to get to a stage where I am a (near) full time writer.

I still need to spend half my week doing my ‘day job’ – accountancy – to feed my wife and five kids. And, at the end of last year, I took a brave step and quit my full time job where I have been working for near fifteen years. The other half of the week is for writing.

Or.

Is.

It?

You see “it must be brilliant being a writer”. If you actually write. And I haven’t now, for nearly six months. Nothing. Not a word. And it’s becoming scary. Really scary.

My last two novels were a doddle. In fact, my #5 best seller on Amazon, A Tiny Feeling of Fear, took no more than four months from start to finish. And that was writing late at night, looking after five kids and holding down a day job. But, the problem you see was that was in the first person.

Now though, I am in the midst of a real severe case of writer’s block. I have three stories that live in my head. They are all in the third person. I know how the stories work from start to finish. I know the characters, plot and exactly what happens. I like all three of them. But yet, I cannot begin any of them. I don’t know why. I simply can’t.

I have now got to the stage where I have persuaded myself that I no longer have the ability to write. I half-watch TV dramas and films and actually try to work out how I would explain what has happened on the screen. And guess what. I can’t do it. The words aren’t forming, third person is no longer working.

I know somehow I’ll pull it ‘round. I’m reading colossal amounts just to try and work out how sentences are formed again. It’s almost like I’ve awoken from some kind of coma.

And so, is it “brilliant being a writer?” Er, yeah. I suppose. When I am one.

I’d advise you look out for my fourth novel though, it’ll be either called: “George the Dog Hanger”; “Future. You. Now.” or “There’s more to life than life.”

I guarantee it’ll be good.

Because once I get through this stage I’ll write like I’ve never done before.

In the meantime, anybody who has any advice at all to get me through this current stage – please do write to me. I need all the help I can get!

(Note: Drugs/Coffee/ProPlus/Red Bull and frontal lobotomies have already been discounted).

M. Jonathan Lee

 

About M. Jonathan Lee

M Jonathan Lee is an award-winning British author. His debut novel, The Radio was nationally shortlisted in The Novel Prize 2012. He has had three novels published, and has signed a four book deal with SoloP Publishing. He is committed to raising awareness on mental health issues following the death of his brother and is a regular contributor to the BBC. He lives in a little mining town in the North of England with his little family of seven. He also has two cats and a dog.

 

Twitter – @j0n4th4n_lee

Cover Reveal – ‘Lost and Found’ by Maria Savva

Book Cover

This is the cover of Maria Savva’s new book and I have to say that I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.  ‘Lost and Found’, a collection of short stories, is being published as an eBook on the 18th March 2016.  It will also be available in paperback soon.

 

Book Blurb

Human nature is not neat and predictable.

What makes us betray a loved one?
Can isolation lead to irrational behaviour?
Why do other people’s lives always look more appealing?

Ordinary people living ordinary lives, torn apart by regret, remorse, and deceit. We’re all stumbling through life together. This collection of stories shows you the Lost and Found among us.

 

Links

‘Lost and Found’ is available for pre-order on Amazon:-

UK – http://amzn.to/1Qecjnm

US – http://amzn.to/1mVxKOk

 

Website: Maria Savva – Official Site

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Maria-Savva-171466979781/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Maria_Savva

 

Blog Tour – February Fiesta with Hannah Fielding

February Fiesta artwork

Today it is my turn on the February Fiesta blog tour.  Hannah Fielding is doing a big giveaway which includes a top prize of a £100/$150 Amazon gift card.  Now think how many books you could buy with that!  First though, a bit about Hannah Fielding and an extract from ‘The Echoes of Love’.

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Introducing… Hannah Fielding

Portrait of Hannah Fielding and photos of where she writes.

Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.

To date, Hannah has published four passionate, evocative novels: Burning Embers, a ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’, set in Italy; and books 1 and 2 of the Andalusian Nights trilogy, set in sultry Spain, entitled Indiscretion and Masquerade. She is currently working on her fifth book, Legacy, which will publish this spring.

 

A glimpse of The Echoes of Love

The Echoes of Love

Gradually, moment by moment, as Venetia watched entranced, the pale translucent green grew more lovely till at last it seemed as though all tender colours – shiny rose, wisteria, pale blue, the transparent purity of emerald – played on the shimmering fields of the sea, and touched the liquid curves which stretched away and away. Those softly changing colours altered dreamily, as if a divine artist were entertaining kindred spirits with a magnificent show before allowing the sun to bathe the world in molten gold. The array reached up to the horizon and overflowed, spreading over the sea, blotting out the entire colour with sheer light. Colour and light and space … never could one drink enough of such beauty, Venetia thought, as she bathed in that golden glow with her hair rippling gently across her shoulders in the early morning breeze.

As she prepared to go back into the house, her attention was suddenly riveted by a figure standing nearby, across from the cottage. Dressed in a navy-blue silk robe, Paolo was leaning against the trunk of a tree smoking, bathed in auroral light, looking positively unearthly, like a powerful Roman god in an ancient, timeless myth. What was he doing there at this hour? Was he restlessly finding a moment of beauty, as she was? How long had he been there? She hadn’t noticed him when she had first come onto the veranda. He seemed to be in a world of his own. Had he seen her?

And then he turned and looked up at where Venetia was standing and she caught her breath. His presence was so potent that it was as if a current passed directly from him to her. Sometimes one moment can cut off a whole period from another and so it was now; that breathtaking instant held an almost mad exhilaration as though the colours, the scent, the entirety of nature, were intensified for Venetia. And finally, as their eyes met, Venetia realised that a veil had been abruptly dropped: there was no mask, no barriers, nothing more between them but their fire, and their hunger for each other.

Visit Hannah Fielding’s website here – http://hannahfielding.net/

 

Win

Main Prize – A £100/$150 Amazon Gift Card
Runners-up Prizes – Each of Hannah Fielding’s novels in paperback (INT postage)

February Fiesta Rafflecopter Giveaway

Guest Post by Nigel May

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Nigel May’s gritty and glamorous new novel, Deadly Obsession, sees some explosive, sexy, murderous action taking placing at The Kitty Kat nightclub. To celebrate its launch, Nigel filled us in on the top 10 tunes that are guaranteed to see him hot-footing it to the nearest dance floor.

 

My Top 10 Dance Floor Fillers

  1. DEAD OR ALIVE
    You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
    An awesome tune that reminds me of being a teenager and listening to the Top 40 charts on the radio every week to see if your favourite song has reached No.1. When this did I was so pleased as I’d already bought about three different versions of it!
  2. BEE GEES
    Tragedy
    This seems kind of apt given what happens at The Kitty Kat nightclub in Deadly Obsession! Poor Amy, for her that night is a real tragedy! I love 70s disco and nobody did it better than the Bee Gees. Such a great tune, although trying to sing it gives me a sore throat as the pitch is so high. It’s how they wore those tight trousers!
  3. ABBA
    Dancing Queen
    The best band ever! Nobody tops Abba for poppy joy and Dancing Queen is a song that will live on forever. Laura and Amy in the book are the ultimate dancing queens, they love to throw a move or two.
  4. DAVID GUETTA AND KELLY ROWLAND
    When Love Takes Over
    Happy summer vibes. Makes you want to go to the nearest beach, throw off your flip flops and feel the sand between your toes while sipping on a huge fruit-covered cocktail.
  5. KIM WILDE
    You Came
    Another blast of 80s pop that I adore. Kim Wilde is such a great singer and she’s kind of been the soundtrack to my life. I have loved her ever since Kids In America back in the early 80s.
  6. DIANA ROSS AND THE SUPREMES
    The Happening
    Great Motown songs will always see me on the dance floor and even though Diana Ross and The Supremes have sung many awesome toe-tapping songs this will always be my favourite as it’s so upbeat and jolly.
  7. MARK RONSON
    Uptown Funk
    A modern classic. A huge slab of bass beat and a corking set of vocals. Is there anyone on earth who doesn’t like dancing to this?
  8. WHAM!
    Club Tropicana
    Another sunshine-dipped sound of summer. Chilled out on holiday around a swimming pool with this on the radio and a good book in my hand…bliss!
  9. CHER
    Believe
    A brilliant dance tune with those wobbly electric vocals that always seem fun to sing along with when you’ve had a drink or two. Every karaoke night out should include a bit of Cher.
  10. SIA
    Chandelier
    Wonderful vocals, a fabulous video and a song that I have to turn up full blast on the CD player in my car to try and sing along. Luckily Sia’s brilliant voice drowns out the nightmare that is my own! I gave it a mention in Deadly Obsession as it is one of the best tunes from the last few years. I adore it.

 

DEADLY OBSESSION by Nigel May

Book Cover

UK: http://amzn.to/1Np85tH

US: http://amzn.to/1Xb5Bnk

What would you do if you saw your husband killed right in front of you … identified his body … had him cremated … then six months later received a letter written by him two days ago?

Amy Barrowman grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. So when she falls in love with millionaire Riley Hart and he asks her to marry him she can’t believe her luck. She has found true love and her happy ever after.

Riley Hart is a Millionaire Man about Town. Men want to be him and women want to bed him. But to achieve Riley’s status, you have to tread on a lot of toes and make a lot of enemies.

When Riley is gunned down at the nightclub they own, Amy is determined to avenge his death. She receives a mysterious letter detailing a list of suspects including Riley’s sworn enemy, actor Grant Wilson. But with an obsessive passion brewing between her and Grant and a dangerous assassin trailing her every move it would seem Amy has opened a deadly and tempting Pandora’s Box. In settling the score for her husband has Amy put herself into terrible danger?

Website: www.nigelmay.net

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Nigel_May

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nigel.may

 

Guest Post by Nina Whyle

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I would like to introduce you to Nina Whyle, a writing duo whose new book ‘My DisOrganised Life’ has recently been published by So Vain Books.  Here is a guest post from them.

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WHEN TWO HEADS REALLY ARE BETTER THAN ONE!

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT NINA WHYLE?

Nina: We are a writing duo. We’ve been friends for 14 years and writing together for the last 4 years. I used to work in the film industry and left the industry to have a baby. I had this vision that I would finally get around to writing that novel – you know while the baby slept! LOL. There’s no other response to that naïve thought but LOL! I really didn’t have a clue.

One night I was talking to Clare on the phone, she was living in Denmark and I was probably, no definitely, complaining about lack of “me” time and at this rate I’d be finishing the novel five years from now when I had a light bulb moment – hey, we should write it together! I knew Clare (the Whyle) was frustrated in her current job and she too wanted to write something other than marketing materials for fine jewelry. As neither of us had much spare time it wouldn’t matter because together we would keep each other motivated and wouldn’t it be so much fun! That’s exactly what we did; we emailed the manuscript back and forth, writing in our evenings and weekends until we eventually had our finished manuscript. It wasn’t all plain sailing, we learnt that we should never EVER proof read our own work but we were utterly stunned when Moving Up On Manolos reached no.11 in the Amazon Charts. But sharing the profit on a £1.99 eBook was never going to line our pockets with gold or pay the phone bills, let alone our penchant for nice wine. So writing continues to fit around our day jobs (and yes, I consider motherhood a full-time job) egged on by kind reviews and our desire to write fun, romantic reads.

Clare: Over the last four years we’ve written and self-published three books but with our latest book, My DisOrganised Life we approached So Vain Books because we felt we had lost our way with self-publishing and didn’t’ really know how to reach new readers. We needed the expertise of a publishing house and so were delighted when So Vain Books wanted to publish our book.

 

CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WRITE TOGETHER?

Nina: We chat almost everyday and with the chat comes an idea and then we just start writing. We tend to leave each other notes on the manuscript where we think the story should go and sometimes leave a smattering of ‘xxx’ because the word is on the tip of our tongue but we can’t think of it. Then the other will come along and fill it in – it’s like a sixth sense of knowing what the other wants to say there.

Clare: I’m chuffed that we can say we’ve written four books and that we’re done it together. Having each other at the end of a phone is motivational, and to be honest a bit of a giggle too, which makes the whole process much more fun and surprisingly productive!  The idea that you weren’t sure at the beginning of a chapter suddenly becomes the best thing the other has ever heard. The support (i.e. the chatter times) creates it’s own impetus. Golden Rule though: when it sucks, say it sucks. There’s no room for being too precious, that’s how most partnerships really work.

 

WHAT’S TO COME FROM NINA WHYLE IN 2016?

Nina: Book number 5, hopefully. We’ve just started writing it. We’ve also finished writing a screenplay together and have started mapping out a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Trilogy.

 

WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE MY DISORGANISED LIFE?

BookCover

Clare: It started with two questions. The first question – What if you did something really embarrassing and it was caught on video and that video went viral?

Before the internet, if you did something embarrassing just a handful of people might have witnessed it. Nowadays, someone will pull out their mobiles and film it and suddenly its gone viral in a matter of seconds.

Nina: The second question – What do you want to do with your life?

Ok, that’s a really difficult question for most of us and it’s something our protagonist, Eve tries to figure out. This leads me nicely on to list, if in doubt, write a list. Write down all the things you want to do or try because goals motivate you into action and give you a sense of direction. It’s what motivates Eve and suddenly she’s got a vision for her future, a list called, Things to do while I’m still twenty something.

Clare and I are both incessant list-makers. We love nothing better than crossing something off, we’ve even been known to write something down on a list after we’ve completed it, just to feel a rush when we cross it off. Lists give you a sense of achievement, control and can make sense of the small and mundane things but also make sense of the most important things in life.

Clare:  In all our books we want to get women out of messes because let’s face it we all face obstacles in our lives, both professionally and personally. We all makes mistakes, wish we didn’t do something, wanting to change ourselves, picking the wrong guy, working for a tyrant boss… The trick is to surround yourself with a good set of girlfriends who can help you see the funny side and help you get through the tough times. It’s one of the reasons why we always have strong female friendships in all our books because we are both lucky enough to know what it means to have a small set of girlfriends who mean the world to us.

 

Links

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-DisOrganised-Life-Sometimes-things-ebook/dp/B01A7N3LQ4

https://www.facebook.com/Nina-Whyle-145327955556179/

http://ninawhyle.blogspot.co.uk

 

Blog Tour – ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ by Rebecca Mascull

Blog Tour Poster

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is Rebecca Mascull’s second novel.  It was published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton on the 11th February 2016.  I was asked if I would like to take part in the blog tour and as I really liked the sound of this book and I love historical fiction I was delighted to.

This story is set in the 18th century.  Dawnay Price has had a hard childhood so far.  Living on the streets of London, she is then taken to an orphanage where she stays for many years.  Dawnay is a very bright child and wants to learn as much as possible.  Luckily she gets the chance to be educated and this opens up many avenues for her. A woman of science, she is a natural philosopher.

Dawnay is determined not to let her background stand in the way of what she wants to achieve.  In an era where women very rarely travel alone, she sets sail aboard The Prospect to the beautiful Iberian Peninsula in Portugal to develop her theories.  Having fought hard against convention, Dawnay is determined to put her career above all else.  Yet as war approaches she finds herself divided by feelings she cannot control.

I have already read some great books so far this year but this was one absolutely amazing and fascinating story.  I loved ‘Song of the Sea Maid’.  Totally engrossed, it was difficult to put this book down.  You can tell that Rebecca Mascull has done a lot of research.  With wonderful descriptions throughout I could actually imagine what it must have been like on board The Prospect and picture the islets.  I also really like the cover of this book, it’s been so cleverly designed.

I thoroughly enjoyed following Dawnay Price’s journey.  I liked how the reader is given an insight into her life from the beginning.  That’s very important I think for a story like this.  Dawnay was a very determined and brave young lady.  It wasn’t always plain sailing for her and she witnessed lots of tragedy and destruction, but somehow Dawnay carried on.  She was a real trooper!  For me she will probably be one of my favourite fictional characters of all time.

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is not a story I’ll forget and it is definitely going on my list of my favourite ever books.  Well done on writing such a brilliant story, Rebecca.  I really can’t wait to read your next novel.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is available to buy on Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1473604370?keywords=song%20of%20the%20sea%20maid&qid=1455451771&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

 

Social Media Links for Rebecca Mascull

http://rebeccamascull.tumblr.com/

https://twitter.com/rebeccamascull

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull

https://www.facebook.com/becca.mascull

http://uk.pinterest.com/rebeccamascull/

https://instagram.com/rebeccamascull/

 

Blog Tour – ‘No Longer Safe’ by AJ Waines

NLSBlogTourPoster

‘No Longer Safe’ was published on the 4th February 2016.  Today it is my turn on this blog tour.  I have been given an extract but first here’s my review.

When Alice receives a totally unexpected invitation in the post from a friend who she hasn’t heard from in several years, she is keen to accept it.  Karen, who she was friendly with at University has invited her to come and stay with her in a remote cottage in Scotland.  Alice sees this as a chance to rekindle their lost friendship.  What she doesn’t expect though is two former students to also turn up, people she was never exactly friendly with.  This instantly changes everything.

As the snow keeps falling and the atmosphere in the cottage chills, Alice notices that Karen isn’t like how she used to be.  Then someone dies and she finds herself caught up in a tangled web with no way of escaping.  What happens next is for you to find out.

I really enjoyed reading ‘No Longer Safe’.  Well written, this was a very exciting story and one which was hard to put down especially later on.  I could feel the atmosphere and what it must have been like staying in the cottage with no way of getting away with all that snow.  I would have found it very claustrophobic I reckon.

To me it was obvious from the start that things weren’t what they seemed.  Things just didn’t add up.  Personally I think Alice jumped the gun a bit too quickly, but then I guess when you get an invitation out of the blue like that it is hard to resist.

I just knew there was something fishy about Karen and I didn’t trust her at all.  She wasn’t the nice person Alice thought she was.  I would never have guessed in a million years what she was planning though.  I wasn’t particularly keen on the other two people staying in the cottage.  I especially didn’t like Mark.

‘No Longer Safe’ will take you on a rollercoaster of a ride with a very unexpected and shocking end.  This is an ideal book for fans of psychological thrillers.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~

It’s time now for an extract from the book.

 

No Longer Safe by AJ Waines
Chapter 1 (part only)

15 November
You were the last person I expected to hear from. After all this time. After all the cards and letters that had come back marked ‘return to sender’.

I drifted from the hall into the sitting room, carrying the envelope on both outstretched palms, like a piece of newly discovered treasure. One slice from Dad’s paper knife and it was open. At first I thought it was an invitation to a wedding, but there was no card; instead it was a letter wrapped around a glossy brochure of a castle nestling amongst snow-capped mountains.

It was your handwriting for certain. I looked straight down to the bottom of the second sheet to confirm it. Karen Morley. That’s when I had to sit down. My head was suddenly too big for my body and I couldn’t trust myself to read without feeling giddy. Was it really you? I checked the address – Brixton – in London-terms that meant you were practically on my doorstep. No distance at all.

I made my brain slow down so I could trail my eyes across the curves of your fountain pen. That was a novelty in itself – the personal touch – when nearly everything that landed on our doormat these days was typed. But that was very much your way of doing things, Karen – making people feel special, making that extra effort to show you cared. Would be wonderful to see you again…remembered your birthday…love to invite you…important time for me…

I read the first part again. It was an invitation, but not to a wedding. You were inviting me to a cottage in the Highlands – on holiday.

I slid from the arm of the sofa into the seat. Nearly six years without a word and now this. I tried to reach you after we finished Uni, of course I did. You were the one who stood out, the friend I thought I’d found for life. Once Uni was over, other associations tailed off and calls were replaced with Facebook updates with the odd round-robin email. But ours was different.

To be honest, I hadn’t expected you to fall away like you did, Karen. We’d established a real bond – or so I thought. Afterwards, you moved to Bristol while I moved back to London, but I was certain we’d visit each other; I’d travel one weekend, you’d travel the next. I had my heart set not only on keeping in touch, but staying best friends.

I did go to stay with you at the start – just once, remember? You replied to my emails for a while, sent a cheery card that first Christmas, but then, like the rest, you drifted away from me and I never heard from you again. Until now.

I held the letter under my nose, stupid I know, just to see if there was a trace of you left on the paper. Then I held it to my chest and allowed your presence to sink into me again. You were my inspiration, the person I wanted to be. I’d never felt that kind of admiration about anyone before. You brought everything alive and coaxed me out of my shell.

With no siblings and a small disjointed family, my only proper relationships were with my parents and I’d always found them impossible to talk to. It had never occurred to me to bare my deepest feelings to them. You were different. I knew straight away the first time I spoke to you. All my doubts and failings came tumbling out, because you made me feel so safe, without any sting of judgement. No one had ever offered that to me before. No one else ever seemed to notice when something was wrong. I’d spent most of my life going it alone, because I was awkward and shy and people didn’t know what to do with me.

I brought my hand to my mouth. It must be a mistake. You must have mixed me up with someone else and posted the invitation to the wrong person. That would explain it. This was too much to expect after almost six years of silence; it was too big a deal. An invitation to spend fourteen days together out of the blue, without any preamble? But then that was you, Karen – always surprising people, keeping us all on our toes.

 

About AJ Waines

Author Picture

AJ Waines has sold over 100,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Penguin Random House) and USA (audiobooks).

In 2015, she was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and was ranked in the Top 20 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

‘No Longer Safe’ is available to buy on Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-No-Longer-Safe-J-Waines-ebook/dp/B018UAAAW4

 

Blog Tour – ‘Redemption Song’ by Laura Wilkinson

Blog Tour Poster

‘Redemption Song’ was published on the 28th January by Accent Press.  Having read and enjoyed Laura Wilkinson’s previous two novels I was honoured to be invited to take part in this blog tour.

Just imagine this.  You’re getting on with your life, studying hard so that you can hopefully have a good career.  Things are going reasonably well and then just like that everything changes.  Unthinkable isn’t it?  Sadly though that’s exactly what happened to Saffron.

Saffron wants to become a doctor and is studying medicine.  But a tragic accident changes her life forever.  Unable to cope anymore and needing a break she leaves London and moves to Coed Mawr, a small coastal town in Wales to stay with her mother.  Saffron starts feeling trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider and they soon realise that they have a lot in common.  But there is something about Joe which Saffron just can’t figure out.  He has a complicated past which is in danger of catching up with him.  Will Saffron and Joe be able to help each other?

Every now and then I see a book cover I really like and in this case it was love at first sight for me.  It is just absolutely gorgeous.

I so enjoyed reading ‘Redemption Song’.  This story has been beautifully told, but then to be honest I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Laura Wilkinson who is a wonderful writer.  I thought this book was so different from her last two though.  It was nice learning a bit about bats throughout the story.  For anyone who wants to know more about them there is a link to a website about bats in the acknowledgements.

I loved meeting all the characters.  Rain, Saffron’s mum, who had also been through a very hard time moved from London to Coed Mawr to try and make a life for herself there.  A female minister, Rain never lost her faith in God despite what she had been through, though I’m sure it was tested.

I spent ages trying to work out what the mystery surrounding Joe was.  It was obvious that something was up.  Even Saffron’s mum couldn’t quite put a finger on it.  I thought Joe was such a nice man.  He brought out the best in Saffron, and feeling that she could confide in him, she was able to talk about the night of the accident and all that was going through her head.

‘Redemption Song’ is a wonderful story that you really won’t want to put down.  Laura Wilkinson’s books just keep getting better and better.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Redemption Song’ is available to buy from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Redemption-Song-Laura-Wilkinson/dp/1783758694/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454910802&sr=1-1&keywords=redemption+song+laura+wilkinson

 

Guest Post by Chris Nickson

Author Picture

I would like to introduce you all to Chris Nickson, an author who has written several novels and a number of non-fiction books.  His latest novel, ‘The New Eastgate Swing’ has just been published by The History Press.

Chris Nickson has written a guest post for my blog.  If you’re anything like me, once you’ve read this post you’ll be wanting to get hold of all his books.

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Since I was 11 years old, I’ve written. The bug hit me and it’s never left. Poems, play, short stories, even (thankfully unpublished) novels. Music journalism and non-fiction. The whole range. But it wasn’t until 2004 that I tried my hand at historical crime.

I still lived in the US then. Born and raised in Leeds, by that time I’d spent almost 30 years in America. Yet I’d become a distant student of Leeds history, picking up whatever books I could on trips home and bidding for others on eBay. When I came across a reference to the post of Cloth Searcher (when the wool trade was making Leeds rich, the voluntary position belonged to one of the merchants. At the twice-weekly market he’d inspect the cloth the weavers offered for sale to make sure it was of high standard, rejecting work that didn’t make the grade) I was intrigued and saw the glimmer of a story in there.

There was no conscious decision to write historical crime. It was simply what fitted the idea. The book that resulted from that was never published, but it did give me Richard Nottingham, the Constable of Leeds and the main character in six novels I wrote set in the 1730s.

But from that experience I discovered that I’m more comfortable refracting the present through the past – today’s problems are really nothing new – and I can indulge my love of history, as well as explore places I’ve lived. So The Crooked Spire and The Saltergate Psalter are set in 14th century Chesterfield, a place I grew to love after moving back to the UK and living in a nearby village. Emerald City and West Seattle Blues both take place in Seattle, my home for 20 years, with a protagonist who’s a music journalist. The only different is that the character is a her.

But it’s Leeds I’ve come back to, time after time, in novels and in person. I moved back to my hometown a little over two years ago, no more than a mile from the street where I was raised. The Tom Harper novels, which are deliberately quite political, although still very much crime novels, gave me a chance to show a much-changed Leeds in the 1890s, heavily industrialised. The most recent, Skin Like Silver, also deals with the early suffragists.

Book Cover

Dark Briggate Blues and the latest book, The New Eastgate Swing, are 1950s English provincial noir. They grew, quite simply, out of me wondering what such a beast would be like. Leeds was (for me) the obvious setting, aided by the fact that the city really did have a jazz club, Studio 20. With that knowledge, it felt like Kismet. Post-war, Leeds has changed again, on its way to being the modern, sprawling giant, and Dan Markham, a young enquiry agent, was the perfect person to work there.

I love crime fiction, I always have. But I find that historical crime actually offers so much more, a chance to explore the psyche of the period, the attitudes and mores. But I’ve also discovered that using the same location in different periods, I have the freedom to explore the sense of place and the growth of a Northern city. A chance to indulge that love of history on a deeper level. It might be fiction, but I try to make the history very sound, and even bring in real people, characters like Tom Maguire and Isabella Ford in my Victorian novels, and Studio 20 owner Bob Barclay in the Markham novels.

I’m proud of Leeds. I feel I belong here in a way I never experienced when I was young. It has enough facets to keep me busy for the rest of my life. The next stop will be the 1920s in Modern Crimes, and the life of one of the city’s first policewomen.

And like my others characters, no matter when or where they live, she’ll be dealing with crimes. That moral framework imposed on history has become irresistible to me.

 

Links

Website – www.chrisnickson.co.uk

Publisher – www.severnhouse.com

Chris Nickson’s books – http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/search-here/?s=chris+nickson

Publisher’s of Chris Nickson’s two Seattle books – http://www.creativecontentdigital.com/

Twitter – @ChrisNickson2

 

 

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