A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “December, 2016”

My Top 10 Books of 2016

top-10This is the first time I have actually compiled a list.  2016 has seen some fantastic books being published and I felt they should be mentioned.  Here are my favourites:-


1.  ‘Nightblind’ by Ragnar Jónasson


This is the second book in the Dark Iceland series and one I recommend to all fans of crime.  You can read my review here:-



2.  ‘You And Me, Always’ by Jill Mansell


This was the very first book I had ever read by Jill Mansell and I’m so glad I did.  It was absolutely delightful.  Here is my review:-



3.  ‘Redemption Song’ by Laura Wilkinson


Having really enjoyed Laura Wilkinson’s previous two books I couldn’t wait to read ‘Redemption Song’.  I thought this to be a wonderful story.  Here is my review:-



4.  ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ by Rebecca Mascull


This was a truly amazing and fascinating story and one I found very hard to put down.  Here is my review:-




5.  ‘In Her Wake’ by Amanda Jennings


This book has been on one hell of a journey this year.  I loved this book and knew from the start that I was going to enjoy it.  Here is my review:-



6.  ‘The Butcher Bird’ by S D Sykes


Having thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Oswald de Lacy series I couldn’t wait to read this book.  I expected great things and I wasn’t let down.  Here is my review:-



7.  ‘The Optician’s Wife’ by Betsy Reavley


This book was fantastic.  It really grabbed me and played with my mind.  Here’s my review:-



8.  ‘The Constant Soldier’ by William Ryan


I loved this book.  From the very first chapter I was drawn into the story.  Here’s my review:-



9.  ‘Doorways’ by Robert Enright


I was totally hooked from the start and found this book very hard to put down.  I was taken on an exciting and unstoppable journey.  Here’s my review:-



10.  ‘Dancers in the Wind’ by Anne Coates


I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Dancers in the Wind’ and I loved the element of suspense throughout.  Here’s my review:-



Blog Tour – ‘Scared to Death’ by Rachel Amphlett


‘Scared to Death’, the first book of a series, was published by Saxon Publishing on the 6th December 2016. I was contacted a while back by Rachel Amphlett with regards to taking part in a blog tour. Having liked the sound of this book I was delighted to. Read on for my review.

The story is set in Kent. A schoolgirl is kidnapped, her body found in an abandoned biosciences building. It seems she shouldn’t have died and that the kidnapping went wrong. However, Detective Kay Hunter isn’t entirely convinced, especially when a man who has the ransom money in his possession is found dead. Then soon after a second schoolgirl is taken and Kay’s worse fears are confirmed. With her career in jeopardy the hunt for the killer becomes a race against time. Will Kay be able to solve this case before more people are killed?

I totally loved ‘Scared to Death’. It was such an exciting read and I felt like I was on a rollercoaster a lot of the time. There were just so many twists and turns as well as a few shockers throughout. I’m just so glad that this is the first of a series. I don’t think I could stand it if there weren’t any more books to come.

Kay Hunter is probably my most favourite female detective at the moment. I liked her from the very beginning. Time was against her and the other officers, especially after a second schoolgirl was kidnapped. I thought she tackled the case really well. Only a monster could do something like that to young girls. I enjoyed learning a bit about Kay’s personal life too.

‘Scared to Death’ is a gripping read which will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a must read for fans of crime. I for one can’t wait for the next book.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


About Rachel Amphlett


Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.



‘Scared to Death’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-


Twitter – @RachelAmphlett


Blog Blitz – ‘In The Wake of Death’ by Billy McLaughlin


I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog blitz.  ‘In The Wake of Death’ was published in paperback and as an eBook in August of this year.   Billy McLaughlin has written a guest post for my blog, but first here’s what his book is all about.



Book Blurb

Sometimes waking up is only the beginning…

He was left for dead on the side of the road. Now Marc Adams is awake and he can barely remember anything about his life before. All he knows is that his meddling sister has returned to his life, whilst his partner Joel is gone.

Marc is convinced that something has happened to Joel. Why won’t anybody believe him?

As he is pulled further into the pit of his subconscious, Marc begins to remember exactly what happened on the night of his accident.

Soon, he’ll be wishing he hadn’t woken up at all.


Guest Post

Publication Day

So, your book is being published!

Woo hoo!!

How do you spend publication day eve and the actual day?

•   What do you do the night before?
•   The morning?
•   Who are you with?
•   Where do you go?
•   What do you spend the day doing?
•   Is publication day 1 the same as publication day 2? And so on?
•   Do you have any rituals?

These questions are not set in stone; answer the ones you like and add in anything you think has been missed!

I haven’t enjoyed any of my publication dates so far. The first novelette was released when I was on my way to Birmingham on a coach. I hadn’t yet even told a single living soul that I was releasing it – not even my partner.

The publication date of my second book ‘Lost Girl’ happened to fall on a working day, so I didn’t do anything to celebrate it.

I think I will make a point of having some sort of celebration when I release the next book because it’s something I want to enjoy now that I feel more connected to it.

I have no rituals when I finish a book except to breathe. I get so engrossed in the writing that I thunder forward without really thinking about how I’ll feel when its finished. The new book is taking longer than any of the previous ones, but that’s because I haven’t given myself such a rigid deadline and because I want it to be perfect. Also, the story is brand new. It hasn’t been built on the carcass of anything that I had previously written. The only thing carried over in it is some of the characters who have now become mainstays of my books.



There is a chance to win an eBook copy of ‘In The Wake Of Death’.  To enter just click on the link below:-

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About Billy McLaughlin


Billy McLaughlin is a Glasgow born author whose first three books are based in and around the area of Glasgow. His first novelette “Invisible” was a precursor to his first mystery novel “Lost Girl” which was released in May 2016. He then followed up with “In The Wake Of Death” which saw its release date of August 2016. Both novels have received praise for their dark and pacey tone, and for their strong relatable characters. Work on the next novel has already begun, with a view to a late 2016 / early 2017 release.

‘In The Wake of Death’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



Interview with John A. Marley

I would like to introduce you all to John A. Marley.  I met him at Goldsboro Books Crime in the Court event back in September.  His debut novel, ‘Standstill’, was published by Avocado Books on the 14th September.  I asked John some questions.


Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Standstill’ please. 

Standstill revolves around an ambitious young thief called Danny Felix who finds himself dragged into an audacious plot to pull off the biggest robbery London has ever seen, He is co-erced into this by a corrupt, psychopathic policeman called Inspector Harkness, who is simultaneously being investigated by another Detective called Christine Chance.  The robbery is huge, the characters intense and London looms large as a character in it’s own right throughout.  Expect violence, a fast moving story and the odd bit of black humour along the way.


What made you decide to write it? 

I have always read and loved books particularly pulp crime fiction and so I just really wanted to have a crack myself.  It’s been tremendous fun and, most importantly for me, truly creative.


Where did you get your idea from for this book?

It was an amalgam of thoughts all born during endless commutes in and out of London by train and tube, and latterly when I met my wife and her family, some of whom are retired ex Flying Squad, the plot just gelled for me…and I was off and running…


I see it is the first of a series.  How many books in total will there be?

At the moment I have five books in my head…but who knows…Danny might lead us on more merry dances…


Did you have to do any research and if so, what did it entail?

I researched extensively.  Whilst I obviously wanted it to be entertaining, Standstill had to have an authentic core.  I met and spoke with many Flying Squad detectives, some retired some still serving.  I recce’ed most of the locations in the book, especially where the robbery takes place and I used pretty much every scrap of info, anecdote and observation that I gleaned from the many real cops (and the odd reformed villain too)… I was very lucky, lots of people were generous with their time and thoughts for me.


Would you like to see ‘Standstill’ made into a film? 

Ooh yes, and any crime fiction writer who says no to that is either lying or they’re lying…take your pick! Films play a huge part in Danny’s life, and indeed in mine (I started out as a film critic in Northern Ireland and I was one of Barry Norman’s producers at the BBC).


What do you hope people will get from your book?

Entertainment!  I want them to not notice their commute, or read just one more chapter before lights off, or enjoy it on a sun lounger somewhere hot and nice.  i want them to want to know more about Danny and I want them to laugh, cry and gasp along the way.  No pressure!!


Did you always want to write? 

Yes.  I love words, language, I always have, and when you have that mindset I think it becomes a compulsion, a need.  Playing, working and living through your words and use of them is to be celebrated at every turn.  My heroes (apart from Eric Cantona) are people who can take words and weave magic with them.  Funny magic like Groucho Marx or Elmore Leonard.  Thrilling magic like Michael Connelly or Denis Lehane and of course beautiful magic like James Lee Burke or Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  Words are to be played with and respected, they make our world a better place.


Apart from writing what else do you do? 

I love my football, travel is a great passion, I have two Cocker Spaniels, Bobby and Baxter, who really run the show and I enjoy cooking and real ale, but not necesarily in that order.


How has social media helped you as an author? 

I love how crime readers and writers have so much access to each other and the feeling of community that generates. Social Media helps make that happen. I love how you can discover new writers and encourage new readers especially with Twitter…I’m generally a fan of it and Facebook…


Have you got any advice for anyone wanting to write a book?  

Do it! Just do it.  You’d be surprised at how it happens once you have started.  It’s the old saying, a word becomes a phrase, a phrase a sentence, a sentence a paragraph and suddenly you’ve written a page.  Then you can roll from there.  Even if you never show it to anyone, just the act of committing a story or thoughts to paper or laptop screen is hugely beneficial and therapeutic.  It’s fun!  If you want to write a story in which the Queen’s pants fall down then guess what…they do!  Creativity is at its best when it is done out of sheer joy, writing a book or short story can be the release of that joy.


Who are your favourite authors? 

I’d need a toilet roll to get all the names on, but if pushed, James Lee Burke is my favourite.  His lyrical prose combined with hard boiled plots, just makes my heart swell.  I also like Westerns, if you have not read “St Agnes’ Stand” by Thomas Eidson, you’ve missed a gem.  Elmore Leonard…Denis Lehane, my fellow Irishman Brian McGilloway writes wonderfully, Craig Johnson’s Longmire books are fun…I could go on and on…oh, make your kids read the Asterix and Obelix books, they play with language beautifully and teach them how funny word play can be.


About John A. Marley

John A. Marley is a writer and TV producer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming and formats for both a UK and international audience. His eclectic portfolio of high-profile shows include Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAF; Britain’s Flying Past; Staraoke; Best of Friends; Skatoony; Noel’s House Party; Through the Keyhole; SMTV:Live/CD:UK; How Euro Are You? and live coverage of The Oscars. In 2008, John set up his own production company Archie Productions. Prior to this, he enjoyed a wide and varied career in television with creative roles at Talent Television, Planet 24, Carlton Television and Walt Disney UK.

John’s writing career started with a poem about two brothers who both liked sausages. Their names were Butch and Dutch, and his Primary School teacher Mr. Murray liked it so much it made the main noticeboard at the entrance to Holy Child Primary School in West Belfast. A little older but none the wiser, he ended up as a film journalist in his native Northern Ireland, contributing to local newspapers, BBC Radio Ulster and latterly writing as the main film critic for the glossy magazine, Northern Woman.

In the course of writing his first novel Standstill, John was determined to make it ring true to the work of the Met Police’s legendary Flying Squad. He was lucky enough to be able to call upon the experiences and stories of several officers from the squad, some serving and some retired, which he found invaluable.  Most importantly, the female serving officers he met were very generous with their time and anecdotes, helping him to create the character of DC Christine Chance and rounding her out with some of the realities of being a woman in a 21st century police force.

John’s love of good stories came from the Irish predilection for telling a good yarn and the fact that there was nothing quite like sneaking away his Dad’s battered paperbacks to read. And so pulp fiction such as The Edge Westerns by George G. Gilman, the adventure novels of Alistair MacLean and the thrillers of Jack Higgins all served to whet his appetite for a good story told at pace. These days, his reading tastes still focus on thrills, spills and good plot and he can’t walk by a James Lee Burke or an Elmore Leonard without pausing to read a few pages…even if it is in a busy bookshop. Standstill is his debut, and the first in a planned series.



‘Standstill’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Standstill-1-J-Marley/dp/0993565840/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481483684&sr=1-1&keywords=standstill

Kindle – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Standstill-J-Marley-ebook/dp/B01L5O5I74/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481483684&sr=1-2&keywords=standstill

Website – http://www.jamarley.com/

Twitter – @jamarleybooks


Blog Tour – ‘Late Whitsun’ by Jasper Kent


I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour. ‘Late Whitsun’ was published on the 13th October 2016 and it is the first book in the Charlie Woolf series. Read on for my review.

This story is set in Brighton, 1938. Charlie ‘Big Bad’ Woolf thought the errand he was being sent on would be simple enough, plus it would earn him some decent money. He’d also be doing his old partner, Alan O’Connor a favour. So off he goes to London to hand over the envelope he’s been given. But curiosity gets the better of Woolf and he can’t resist taking a look at the contents of the envelope. What he sees is quite shocking. It looks like a case of blackmail. Woolf can’t wait to get rid of the envelope.

When he arrives home he gets a very nasty surprise. O’Connor is dead and it seems that Woolf is the main suspect. Things are about to get very complicated indeed. Who really killed O’Connor?

I really like the way the story opened and I had the feeling that this would be a good read. In the first chapter the reader is introduced to Charlie Woolf, a private investigator who isn’t getting very much in the way of work. I enjoyed reading about his drawings. He certainly was artistic and his talent came in very useful during the investigation into O’Connor’s murder.

Charlie was very smart and I liked him from the start. It took me a bit of time to work out how his mind ticked. I would never have guessed who the murderer was and I was a bit shocked. Things really weren’t as simple as they seemed and that’s what made ‘Late Whitsun’ so good. There were a number of characters, some of them very unsavoury.

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to discover yet another author. I really like reading books set in the past, plus I like reading about places. I’ve never been to Brighton so learning a bit about it was interesting.

The next two books in the series sound just as good. I am looking forward to following Charlie and his future investigations.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


About Jasper Kent


Jasper Kent was born in Worcestershire in 1968, studied Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and now lives in Hove. TWELVE, the opening book of his historical horror series THE DANILOV QUINTET was one of the bestselling debuts of the year. As well as writing novels, Jasper works as a freelance software consultant. He has also written several plays and musicals.

In addition to other projects, Jasper is planning two more Charlie Woolf novels: THE STALACTITE MAN and TO MUDDY DEATH.

To find out more, visit www.jasperkent.com.


‘Late Whitsun’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



‘Someone Is Watching’ by Joy Fielding

‘Someone Is Watching’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Zaffre Publishing. I was very kindly sent a copy to review.

Bailey Carpenter is young, confident and a very savvy private investigator. Or at least she was. A violent attack leaves her living in fear and crippled with paranoia. Bailey is a prisoner in her own home, totally unable to leave her Miami high-rise apartment.

Everywhere Bailey looks she sees her attacker, including in the apartment directly opposite her where she is sure someone is watching. Is her mind playing tricks on her or is something more sinister at play?

I have never read a book by Joy Fielding before. I hadn’t even heard of her! One of the joys of blogging and reviewing is that you get to discover loads of new authors including ones who have written lots of books. I thought ‘Someone Is Watching’ to be a gripping and exciting read. I liked the writing style and I think the author has portrayed what Bailey Carpenter went through after being raped really well. There was much more to this story than I thought there would be which I was pleased about as at first I feared that it would drag on a bit. I have to say I was really quite surprised and shocked by the ending.

I liked Bailey and hoped that she would be able to get on with life eventually. She naturally wanted to find her attacker and took some risks which could have landed her in a lot of trouble. Though I understood why she did what she did, I could have given her a good shake at times. I took an instant liking to her niece, Jade. She was wise beyond her years and was really good for Bailey.

‘Someone Is Watching’ is a psychological thriller which will keep you in suspense.  It will have you turning the pages.

Will I read any more books by Joy Fielding? I certainly hope to.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


‘Someone Is Watching’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



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