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Blog Tour – ‘No Bodies’ by Robert Crouch

‘No Bodies’ is the second book in the Kent Fisher series. It was published yesterday the 19th October 2017 in paperback and as an eBook. I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Robert Crouch’s new book. I would like to thank both Caroline Vincent who has done a great job of organising this tour and Robert Crouch for my review copy of ‘No Bodies’.

Having recently solved a murder Kent Fisher has become something of a hero. So when Colonel Witherington seeks his help in finding his missing wife Kent isn’t too sure that he wants to get involved, especially as the police believe that she ran off with Colin Miller, a rather dubious caterer. Kent has also got problems of his own and it doesn’t look like things are about to get any easier for him.

When enquiries reveal that another woman has gone missing, Kent picks up a trail that went cold more than a year ago. However, he is struggling to find a connection between the two women and a third missing wife makes things even more confusing. Surely they can’t all of run away?

There could be a killer on the loose in Downland, but with no motive, connection or bodies, Kent may never uncover the truth.

I really enjoyed ‘No Accident’, so I couldn’t wait to read ‘No Bodies’. I love Robert Crouch’s style of writing and the humour. I was so looking forward to catching up with Kent Fisher and his beloved dog, Columbo.

Following on from the first book in the series Kent’s career is in jeopardy and he is awaiting the outcome. As well as working as an environmental health officer he also runs an animal sanctuary. With no salary coming in he wouldn’t be able to keep it open. You wouldn’t think that things could possibly get any worse for Kent would you, but they do. When a young girl ends up in hospital with an E. coli infection, fingers point at Kent. He could lose just about everything.

Although Kent didn’t really want to get involved in the search for the Colonel’s missing wife, he soon became intrigued and started investigating with the help of his colleague, Gemma. A few leads led to a shocking discovery for Kent and one that was a little too close to home. I personally thought that this was quite a complicated case. The author did a good job of keeping me guessing as to who the murderer was.

I loved reading about Colonel Witherington’s house and I almost felt as if I was being given a guided tour. It sounded very nice, though the stuffed animals put me off a bit. I also liked the various references to freezers throughout the story.

‘No Bodies’ is an exciting and fast-paced read with a number of twists and turns. I really hope there are more books in this series to come. Robert Crouch is fast becoming a favourite author.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

No Bodies’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – http://bit.ly/AmUKtoNBRC

Amazon US – http://bit.ly/AmUStoNBRC

 

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Blog Tour – ‘A Litany of Good Intentions’ by Andrew Harris

Congratulations to Andrew Harris whose new book ‘A Litany of Good Intentions’, the second of The Human Spirit Trilogy is out today, published by Faithful Hound Media.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which Andrew has written a guest post, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

A thrilling, powerful and important story of a discovery that could change the world, that some would stop at nothing to keep hidden… 

Leading oncologist Dr Hannah Siekierkowski and her partner Lawrence McGlynn are visiting New Delhi for a conference, and enjoying a well-earned break. By chance, they meet Lawrence’s old friend Toby and his passionate daughter Okki, a charity worker. She introduces them to the organisation Sanitation In Action, and its charismatic leader, the young Chinese philanthropist Jock Lim.

An end to world poverty is more than just a dream for Jock. Through his charity connections and his fiancée Nisha’s extraordinary scientific breakthrough, Jock has discovered a way to release 2.6 billion people from the imminent threat of death and disease. Caught up in their passion and energy, Hannah agrees to help present their project at a conference in Uppsala, Sweden.

But with the discovery of a dead body, they realise that someone will stop at nothing to prevent them from achieving Jock’s dream. As the clock ticks down to the conference, Hannah and Lawrence are drawn into a web of corporate greed, racial prejudice and a seething hatred of the new world order: a hatred that originates back in the Second World War, with even earlier links to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

An urgent fast-paced thriller, about right and wrong, people versus profits, and the best of intentions pitted against the failings and greed of humanity, which fans of Robert Harris, John le Carre and Michael Cordy will love.

 

Guest Post

A Reluctant Celebrity

For most people, finding a cure for cancer or saving the world from poverty, would be a momentous achievement. For Dr Hannah Siekierkowski, CEO of New York’s own Klinkenhammer Foundation for Medical Research, it’s what she gets paid to do: just another day in the office.  Matthew Cox wanted to know how she was coping with so much media attention.   

“Wealth is like sea water: the more we drink, the thirstier we become. The same is true of fame… for most people anyway. But for me? I’ve got other things to do.” She quotes Arthur Schopenhauer like he was her great uncle. Maybe he was – the European connections run deep in her family history, according to the official bio I’ve received.

The coffees arrive with a fanfare. She waits while the table is being laid out. Restless fingers continue to drum on her stylish black skirt. She checks her watch for the third time in as many minutes.

Is this making you nervous, I ask? I offer to turn off the recorder. She shakes her head briefly, flashing a tepid smile before her attention is caught by something going on behind me.

“I didn’t think this place really existed,” she continues, back with me, at least for now, “yet it’s only a few blocks from our office. Even the cab driver didn’t believe me.”

I’d chosen the location for our interview carefully. My boss said Number Sixty Nine was classy and discreet. There was no signage on the outside. Entrance was by keypad through an unmarked door in the back alley. My best friend said it was an upmarket knocking shop for the rich and famous when they were in town….well, Getting It Off Broadway’s what he actually said.

“How was Scandinavia? Good Conference?” I tried to get her talking about her recent trip. Her A-list status was pretty high before the live TV appearance from Sweden. What we all witnessed that day had shaken the world and rocketed her into the media stratosphere.

“Look, I know you’ve got magazines to sell. I have a copy in my apartment. And I know why people are interested in what I’ve been doing. But do they really want to know what razors I shave my legs with or how I take my coffee?” she smiles, warmer this time, sips another mouthful of espresso. “This is good by the way, thank you.”

“OK, try this.” Her bio said she’d been brought up in Brooklyn so I went for the more direct approach. “It isn’t about you. Our readers want to meet the person behind the job title. Someone they can relate to. Someone they can believe in. Someone they can trust with their hard-earned cash.”

She goes quiet. I’ve finally got her full attention. “This article will be syndicated into the business press and picked up by the pharmaceutical companies, the trust funds, the healthcare corporations, the investment bankers. They want to know if you can make a fast buck for them. If you can maximise the return on their investment, as they say. That’s what this is all about.”

She leans back into the sofa and pulls the cuff down over her watch. She looks me full in the face for the first time. I feel her warmth wrapping itself around me. Somehow I’ve crossed a threshold. What will come next will be from the heart. From the heart of a woman who has saved so many hearts from a lifetime of misery and suffering.

“Making money has become an obsession at the expense of really matters.” She holds up her hand before I have a chance to speak, “and before you jump in, I know, I’m just as much a part of a money-making machine. Our medical research could not continue without it.”

Her hands are running over the soft chintzy material. She’s starting to relax.

“Lawrence was right. There never was an economic argument against slavery.” Any pretence at playing the media game has now gone. This was the person I really wanted to meet.

“People used to be more religious, more connected to a spiritual world of right and wrong, of good and evil. It wasn’t economics that led to the abolition of slavery. It was the moral argument. Nowadays, the moral argument has been washed away in a world of accountancy, financial investment, banking….a world of purely making money.”

Lawrence was the new man in her life. Her Head of Diabetes Research at the Foundation: he was also her partner, her live-in lover. Her colleagues told me she had taken fierce criticism over his appointment. Lawrence was under-qualified for the job. He’d had no previous medical training. Accusations of favouritism were thrown at her. It had been a challenging year, she pointed out.

“We have lost touch with our own humanity. People have become resources again to be bought and sold. Even in my own world of medical research, we are developing more and more profitable drugs to treat disease rather than trying to find out what causes the disease in the first place or how to prevent it.

She tells me that Alexander Fleming never profited out of the discovery of penicillin. The most important medical breakthrough in our history was his gift to world, she explains. Such an act of human kindness today would be unthinkable. What’s changed, she continues, is our attitude. For Fleming, it was about how he could save lives. Today is about me and how I can benefit financially, often at the expense of others.

“I can’t change the world. But I can lead by example. I feel very privileged to be who I am.” She checks her watch again. Times up. The ordeal is over. Her media obligation is fulfilled. We shake hands.

And one last question. What about the future? Her work in finding a cure for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes is reaching a tipping point, so her PR agency reports. Would she like to comment?

The smile says it all. I’ll have to wait. We’ll all have to wait until she is ready to tell us. She may be a reluctant celebrity but I’m hooked – she is one fascinating, enigmatic woman.

 

About Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris moved from the United Kingdom to New Zealand in 2008. He was born in Liverpool, survived a grammar school education and graduated with a first class honours degree from the University of Leeds. He had a successful career in people management before running his own executive search consultancy. In this capacity, he travelled extensively and has been privileged to meet some remarkable and influential characters around the world.

One of his passions is crime fiction. Andrew strongly believes this genre provides the perfect vehicle for stimulating debate and challenging the status quo. He writes thrillers with a social conscience, putting fictional characters in real life situations.

A Litany of Good Intentions is the second book in Andrew’s The Human Spirit Trilogy, a series of thrillers with a social conscience based on exciting scientific discoveries in medicine, physics and biology. The second book follows The C Clef, published in April 2016 and available on Amazon.

In The Human Spirit Trilogy, Andrew combines the factual world of science with pacey, action-packed thrillers to explore urgent questions faced by humanity. Why isn’t there a cure for cancer? How do we end world poverty? What will eradicate addiction? How are we going to feed 9 billion people without destroying our precious planet?

Each book is a standalone novel and features the main characters of Dr Hannah Siekierkowski, leading American oncologist and Lawrence McGlynn, British project manager.

 

‘A Litany of Good Intentions’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Litany-Intentions-Human-Spirit-Trilogy/dp/1911195492/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507744547&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Fifty Years of Fear’ by Ross Greenwood

‘Fifty Years of Fear’ is Ross Greenwood’s third novel. It was published on the 1st October 2017 and is available both in paperback and as an eBook. I felt honoured when Ross Greenwood asked me if I would like to take part in his blog tour, especially as I haven’t read his previous books. My thanks go to Ross for providing me with an ARC of ‘Fifty Years of Fear’ and to Caroline Vincent for organising the tour. Read on to find out what I thought about this book.

After a childhood accident, Vincent loses his memory. This causes him to become sensitive and anxious around others. At school Vincent is bullied because of his differences and this is when his family come to his aid.

Soon after the devastating loss of his parents, Vincent meets a woman and a remarkable one at that. She teaches him to embrace life and bit by bit he begins to realise that the world is far more forgiving then he ever imagined. Maybe things aren’t so bad for him after all. Then Vincent starts getting flashbacks and he slowly begins to unravel his past.

Who was his mother? What kind of man was his brother, Frank? And why does death surround him?  As Vincent is about to discover, fate is cruel, the past is dark and things are not as they seem.

As mentioned above, this is the first book by Ross Greenwood that I have read and I’m so very glad that I did. ‘Fifty Years of Fear’ is quality at its very best. Beautifully written, this story takes a hold of you and keeps you reading.

The story is narrated by Vincent (known as Vinnie to many) and starts off from when he was fourteen years old, seven years after his accident. As a teenager Vincent seeked solace in books, reading practically everything he could lay his hands on and travelling many worlds. We get to learn about his life over the next thirty-six years and what he went through. I felt really sorry for Vincent as he did appear to be the victim. At one point he seemed to be getting his life together and then everything changed just like that. He did achieve quite a lot in a way though.

The majority of the characters in this story were flawed. As Vincent was later to discover, his mum wasn’t who he thought she was. She had done some shocking things. Frank, his brother, had reason to behave the way he did. He came across as a bully but was he really?

‘Fifty Years of Fear’ is an outstanding and thought-provoking read and it will stay with you long after you finish the last page. I look forward to reading more books by Ross Greenwood.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Giveaway

I hope my review has left you dying to read this book.  If so, you’re in luck as there is a chance to win a signed copy of ‘Fifty Years of Fear’.  Just click on this link Raflecopter Giveaway.

The closing date is 12:00 pm. on the 10th October 2017 (the last day of the blog tour).  It is open to UK residents only.

 

Links

‘Fifty Years of Fear’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/FIFTY-YEARS-FEAR-Ross-Greenwood-ebook/dp/B075FFQVK9/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Website – http://www.rossgreenwoodauthor.com

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/RossGreenwoodAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/greenwoodross

 

Blog Tour – ‘Fox Hunter’ by Zoë Sharp

‘Fox Hunter’ was released as an eBook last month and will be out in hardback on the 11th October 2017, published by W. W. Norton & Company.  This is the 12th book in the Charlie Fox series.

I was asked by the lovely Ayo Onatade if I would like to take part in this blog tour.   Although I have never read any of Zoë Sharp’s books I thought this series sounded interesting and so I was delighted to participate.  Zoë has written a guest post, but first here’s what ‘Fox Hunter’ is all about.

 

Book Blurb

‘The dead man had not gone quietly … There was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be the one responsible for that.’

Charlie Fox will never forget the men who put a brutal end to her military career, but she vowed a long time ago she would not go looking for them.

Now she doesn’t have a choice.

Her boss and former lover, Sean Meyer, is missing in Iraq where one of those men was working as a private security contractor. When the man’s butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf.

Sean’s partner in their exclusive New York close-protection agency needs this dealt with—fast and quiet—before everything they’ve worked for is in ruins. He sends Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions:

Find Sean Meyer and stop him. By whatever means necessary.

At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he’s turned into a violent stranger. As the trail grows more bloody, Charlie realises that unless she can get to Sean first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.

 

Guest Post

MY WRITING DAY

I’d love to be able to say I have an incredibly organised and unfailingly productive writing day, but sadly I’ve never quite been able to manage it. Some days the words just flow, and others every dot and comma has to be sweated out of the keyboard. It can be rather like trying to fight a lion in a phone box.

I still prefer to work from handwritten notes. Preferably written in pencil on an A4 pad rather than a small notebook. I call it using my neck-top computer, and claim I’m saving up for an iBrain. Somehow, crossing out and starting again in pencil seems less of a false start than it would in pen. Pen would be better, because I could read it in low light, but I’ve tried, and pencil just connects my mind better to the page.

Writing up my notes usually produces far more words on screen than there were to start with. The notes become a springboard, and I’ll often stop typing and go back to pad and pencil for the next section. As long as I’m making story, I’m happy.

I try to do chunks of about 500 words at a time, two or three of them a day, and editing the earlier work as a stepping stone into the next batch. I’ll often go and do other things during the day and go back to writing in the evening. I don’t have TV, so it seems natural to simply keep working.

I know other writers who are far more productive than this, but also those who take longer to complete a book. We all work at our own pace, and the only person you can compare yourself to, ultimately, is … yourself.

I’m planning a non-fiction book over the winter. For this I’m going to try using dictation software. I stayed with a friend recently, fellow crime thriller author JS Law, who uses it and reckons to produce thousands of words a day by this method. Considering the trouble I have getting the voice-activated function on my phone to dial numbers for me when I’m driving, I’m approaching this experiment with some trepidation.

Before I start on a book, I do tend to plan quite a bit. I’ve tried the seat-of-the-pants method and it just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I go for a slightly more halfway-house approach. I plan the main events of the storyline, but not the reactions of the characters to those events, preferring to leave that aspect as a more organic process.

However, I do keep a detailed summary as I go. Just a paragraph of each chapter, with Day 1, Day 2, etc, at the start of it, and whether there’s a time gap from the previous chapter, or if the chapter break came in the middle of a scene. My instinct always used to be to finish writing a scene and end the chapter there, but I’ve found that, more frequently, it’s better to break in the middle of a scene, both to keep the chapters short and to make it that bit harder for the reader to put the book aside.

I keep a note of the gist of conversations, of any action, and if any characters are carrying injuries I need to remember for forthcoming scenes. This not only helps me keep track of the story as I’m writing, but also makes edits easier afterwards. It’s less cumbersome to work out where a subplot needs to be threaded in to a story, or two characters amalgamated, if you’re working with a 20-page summary rather than a full typescript.

And I do try to end each day’s writing not quite at the end of a scene. Even if I only type the opening sentence of the next chapter, it’s better than opening up the computer the following day only to stare at that dreaded blank page!

 

About Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp was born in Nottinghamshire not too far from the site of Robin Hood’s famous oak tree, but ran away to sea when she was seven. (OK, her parents took her to live on a boat, but she does have an imagination, after all.) She hand-wrote her first novel at age 15, which her father kindly typed up. Publishers gave it ‘rave rejections’. She decided to write a crime novel partly because the police told her she was not allowed to beat up the two teenagers who stole her first motorcycle. She’s been creating havoc in print ever since. www.ZoeSharp.com

 

‘Fox Hunter’ is available to buy as an eBook from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/FOX-HUNTER-mystery-thriller-Charlie-ebook/dp/B0756FV4YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507055156&sr=1-1&keywords=fox+hunter+zoe+sharp

You can pre-order it in hardback from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fox-Hunter-Charlie-Thrillers/dp/1681774380/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507055156&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘No Way Back’ by Kelly Florentia

‘No Way Back’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 21st September 2017 by Urbane Publications.  I am currently reading this book and am enjoying it immensely.  For those of you who are planning to read ‘No Way Back’ I can tell you now that you are in for a real treat.

I am thrilled to be taking part in this wonderful blog tour for which Kelly Florentia has written a really interesting guest post.  First though here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

When two eligible and attractive men are vying for your heart, it should be the perfect dilemma…

Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she’s not sure she’s ready for. Audrey’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she discovers on her return to London that Nick has been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that’s left him in intensive care. Distraught yet determined to look to the future, Audrey must make a decision – follow her heart or listen to well-meaning advice from family and friends? Because sometimes, no matter what, it’s the people that we love who can hurt us the most…

 

Guest Post

Creating Characters

On the bus the other day, a pregnant lady sat opposite me with her little girl – about four-years-old, blonde hair tumbling over her narrow shoulders, blues eyes, incredibly cute. Her legs dangled over the seat, feet almost touching my legs.

“We used to go to that park,” she announced suddenly, pointing out of the window. “The one with the brown gate.”

“Yes,” Mum replied, smiling, “Highgate Woods, and we’ll go there again when the weather warms up.”

“Yes,” said the girl, “Highgate Woods.”

She gazed out of the window for a few moments, swinging her little legs over the seat, then took a sip of water, ate a few gummy bears that her mum handed. It wasn’t long before her pink canvas shoes collided with my knees. She looked at me, eyes wide, clinging to her mother. “I kicked that lady with my feet,” she said warily. Mum looked at me, apologised, and I smiled warmly, said it was okay.

“The lady knows. It’s okay,” she told her.

The little girl studied me for a while, chewing on a gummy bear, then said, “Mummy, I think you’ve got bigger feet than the lady.”

Of course, I glanced down at mum’s feet, I think we all did, and yes, mum’s feet were considerably larger than mine. But I’m not sure she wanted to share this information with the entire bus.

“Yes,” Mum said dryly, “I think I have.”

And I smiled again because in that instant I recognised that little girl. She’s Lily from my second novel No Way Back. I took snapshots of her with my eyes and brought her to the forefront of my mind whenever I wrote a scene about her. And that’s how I create some of my secondary characters.

 

About Kelly Florentia

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. No Way Back, released 21st September, is her second novel.

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut The Magic Touch (2016), she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell a Tale or Two… is a collection of her short tales.

Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on this subject. Smooth Operator (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, yoga, drinking coffee, and scoffing cakes. She is currently working on the sequel to NO WAY BACK.

 

Links

‘No Way Back’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2xGjZMe

Website – http://www.kellyflorentia.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KellyFlorentiaAuthor

Twitter – @kellyflorentia

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kellyflorentia/

‘No Way Back’ Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/user/11135145039/playlist/0IbxzB3L6ZPdbrFiUY5fAI

 

Blog Tour – ‘The One That Got Away’ by Annabel Kantaria

‘The One That Got Away’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 21st September 2017 by HQ Stories.  I am delighted to be closing this blog tour along with Creative Misfit and I have for you a guest post by Annabel Kantaria.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…

 

Guest Post

On the mixed emotions of school reunions

Hello Sonya, and thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour.

How do you feel about school reunions? Have you been to one? Avoided one?

‘The One That Got Away’ begins when a couple who used to date at school meet up at their fifteen-year school reunion. As the story begins, you see the protagonist, Stella, who’s now a successful businesswoman, taking a moment to gather her thoughts before she goes into the venue. She’s not sure if she wants to go: she knows that her ex-boyfriend George – who’s now a bit of a celebrity – will be there. They parted on bad terms when they were eighteen, and Stella hasn’t seen him since. In fact, as she sits in the taxi, she’s not sure why she clicked yes to the invitation in the first place. Her life’s sorted now… but then, there always was something special about him. He’s ‘the one that got away’, and a part of her wants to show him what a success she’s made of her life.

My own year group had a reunion a few years ago and I knew at once that I wanted to go: aside from hoping that no-one would remember the incident involving the music teacher and a scotch egg, I had no need to avoid anyone, and I’m very nosy, which is ultimately what it’s about, isn’t it? You want to see how everyone’s really turned out without the benefit of Instagram filters and Facetune. And, despite experiencing last-minute nerves just like Stella, I’m glad I went. It was fun to see everyone again. It was really good to meet them all as adults, and to realise that, no matter who was in the ‘in’ crowd and who was geeky back in the day, we’re all treading the same paths now: even the coolest kids are just pretty normal adults dealing with partners, families, jobs and aging parents.

But, more than that, it was wonderful to meet up with people with whom I have a shared past. I realised that night that, whether or not you liked them at school, you have a unique bond with your classmates. No matter where you all live and what you do now, there’s a pot of really special memories that you can share only with them. Memories of teachers, of catch-phrases and of silly things that happened in the classroom – that time you projectile-vomited on the biology teacher’s shoes / set fire to your pencil case with a bunsen burner / fell flat on your face collecting an award in assembly – no-one else remembers these things and it’s fun to reminisce.

So, yes, for me, the reunion was a good thing, but for my fictitious Stella, the reunion’s a catalyst that kicks off a chain of increasingly dark events. I’d go as far to say that, if you’ve got a reunion coming up – and especially if your ex will be there – you might want to save reading ‘The One That Got Away’ until after you’ve been!

 

About Annabel Kantaria

Annabel Kantaria is a British journalist and columnist who’s written prolifically for publications in the UK and the Middle East. She lives in Dubai with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, Coming Home, won the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the 2013 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Her second novel, The Disappearance, was published in Spring 2016.

 

Links

‘The One That Got Away’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-That-Got-Away-ebook/dp/B01NCMVD8U/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1506016748&sr=1-2

Website – http://annabelkantaria.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AnnabelKantariaAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bellakay

Instagram – http://instagram.com/dubaipix

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Dancing Girl and the Turtle’ by Karen Kao

It’s my turn on the blog tour for ‘The Dancing Girl and the Turtle’ (Shanghai Quartet 1) which was published by Linen Press in paperback and as an eBook on the 1st April 2017.  I have a guest post from the author for all of you, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

A​ ​rape.​ ​A​ ​war.​ ​A​ ​society​ ​where​ ​women​ ​are​ ​bought​ ​and​ ​sold​ ​but​ ​no​ ​one​ ​can​ ​speak​ ​of shame.​ ​Shanghai​ ​1937.​ ​Violence​ ​throbs​ ​at​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ ​The​ ​Dancing​ ​Girl​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Turtle.

Song​ ​Anyi​ ​is​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road​ ​to​ ​Shanghai​ ​and​ ​freedom​ ​when​ ​she​ ​is​ ​raped​ ​and​ ​left​ ​for​ ​dead. The​ ​silence​ ​and​ ​shame that​ ​mark​ ​her​ ​courageous​ ​survival​ ​drive​ ​her​ ​to​ ​escalating​ ​self-harm​ ​and​ ​prostitution. From​ ​opium​ ​dens​ ​to​ ​high-​ ​class​ ​brothels,​ ​Anyi​ ​dances​ ​on​ ​the​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​destruction​ ​while China​ ​prepares​ ​for​ ​war​ ​with​ ​Japan.​ ​Hers​ ​is​ ​the​ ​voice​ ​of​ ​every​ ​woman​ ​who​ ​fights​ ​for independence​ ​against​ ​overwhelming​ ​odds.

The​ ​Dancing​ ​Girl​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Turtle​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​four​ ​interlocking​ ​novels​ ​set​ ​in​ ​Shanghai​ ​from 1929​ ​to​ ​1954.​ ​Through​ ​the​ ​eyes​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dancer,​ ​Song​ ​Anyi,​ ​and​ ​her​ ​brother​ ​Kang,​ ​the Shanghai​ ​Quartet​ ​spans​ ​a​ ​tumultuous​ ​time​ ​in​ ​Chinese​ ​history:​ ​war​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Japanese, the​ ​influx​ ​of​ ​stateless​ ​Jews​ ​into​ ​Shanghai,​ ​civil​ ​war​ ​and​ ​revolution.​ ​How​ ​does​ ​the​ ​love​ ​of a​ ​sister​ ​destroy​ ​her​ ​brother​ ​and​ ​all​ ​those​ ​around​ ​him?

 

Guest Post

Ghost Month

Ghost Month ended a few days ago. Throughout Asia, this is the moment to commemorate the dead. Today happens to be my birthday. Two good reasons to think about ghosts and why they appear in my novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

ancestor worship

My novel takes place in Shanghai 1937. Think big band and the foxtrot, opium dens and ballroom dancing. All that jazz as China goes to war with Japan. It’s a dark look at Old Shanghai that I call Shanghai Noir.

My father grew up in Old Shanghai. When he was a kid, the family would visit the Old House where his grandparents lived. They would kowtow before the ancestor tablets that stood on a high table in a quiet niche. There were a half dozen of these wooden tablets, each of which displayed a pair of names. The family lit red candles and incense and left them to burn in heavy pewter holders.

On festive days, the rituals became ornate. The family brought food and wine and money to the ancestor niche. The money was burned but since it was fake, no one minded. The food and wine didn’t go to waste either. Apparently, the idea of food was enough for the dead.

grave-sweeping

There’s another holiday in China devoted to the dead. Qingming is the day to sweep family graves and show your filial piety. In China, it’s a three day national holiday and one of the busiest times of the year to travel within China.

My father’s ancestors were once buried in a hillside cemetery overlooking West Lake in Hangzhou. The family hired sedan chairs to bring them to the dozen grave sites scattered about the cemetery. In the 1950s, the Communists had the place bulldozed and made into a public park.

There’s a cemetery in Chongqing reserved exclusively for the veterans of the Cultural Revolution. The locals call the aging custodian “the corpse commander”. He personally lay more than 280 people to rest. The cemetery, normally locked and protected by barbed wire, opens only at Qingming.

hungry ghosts

A corpse left unburied, a grave untended, an ancestor no longer remembered: these are the hungry ghosts of Chinese legend. They roam the earth. They can be dangerous. It’s a matter of self-preservation to go sweep family graves.

But Song Anyi doesn’t believe in that nonsense. She’s not the traditional type. Her ambition is to become a modern girl in the big city. After her parents die, Anyi sets off for Shanghai. But before she can reach her destination, she’s raped by soldiers and left for dead.

Those soldiers come to haunt Anyi. They tell her she’s the one who’s committed a crime.

You deserted the graves of your parents. Who will sweep their headstones now?

parental consent

In 1930s China, a girl would be independent, rebellious even, and still show filial piety. A mother might bind her daughter’s feet to raise the girl’s value on the marriage market. A father might sell his child out of spite or to settle a gambling debt. The daughter shows piety through obedience.

After the rape, Anyi loses none of her ambition. She can still glimpse a bright future for herself. But she’s crushed by guilt and a longing to atone. In her time of need, she turns to the ghosts of her dead parents for guidance and approval. Are their ghosts real? To Anyi, they are.

ghostly visits

Here is a glimpse of Anyi and her ghosts.

Once upon a time, we too had a winter garden. It was my favourite place with its view of the flowers and the orchards beyond. When Mother was still well, we would sit there together to sew and talk. Later, when she grew too ill to leave her bed, I would go there to dance with my reflection in the glass, dreaming of the day when I would follow Kang to Shanghai.

I curtsy to a row of bamboo seedlings. Smile at the sunflower who leans his handsome head down to greet me. I sit at the wrought iron table and eat cakes with Baba and Mama. Their ghosts need no chairs though they do like food. Mama licks her fingers then disappears into the ferns. Baba soon follows.

When Mama died, I locked the door to our winter garden and let everything that was once green die too.

New ghosts crowd into the winter garden. Mama and Baba huddle behind the ferns. They don’t like to watch. The soldiers line up beside the kumquat tree. I get down on the floor, cold and stony, and let them come. It hardly hurts any more.

 

About Karen Kao

Karen Kao is the child of Chinese immigrants who settled in the US in the 1950s. Her debut novel has been praised by critics from London to Hong Kong for its sensitive portrayal of violence against women and the damage silence can do.

 

Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Goodreads | Instagram

 

Blog Tour – ‘Lost in the Lake’ by A.J. Waines

‘Lost in the Lake’ is the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series. It was published on the 7th September 2017, both in paperback and as an eBook. Having read and enjoyed one of A.J. Waines previous books I was delighted to be asked if I would like to take part in this blog tour. It’s a real pleasure to be the final stop on the tour and today I not only have my review, but there is also an extract from the book and a competition.

When a crash sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake, it seems that Rosie Chandler, an amateur viola player is the only survivor. It looks like it was just a tragic accident but Rosie isn’t convinced. However, she is unable to recall exactly what happened. Rosie decides that she needs help recovering her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

Sam finds herself drawn to Rosie and does her best to help her put the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. In the meantime the police find some disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? What happened to the violin which was lost in the crash and was worth a lot of money?

When Rosie insists that they return to the lake to relive the fatal accident, the truth finally creeps up on Sam.

Well, what can I say? I totally loved ‘Lost in the Lake’. I haven’t read the first book in the series but this didn’t spoil things for me. I love this author’s writing style. I thought the prologue was fantastic, it left me totally intrigued. A number of the chapters were very short which made things all the more exciting. I needed to know what was going to happen next and I didn’t really want to put the book down.

The story is narrated by Dr Sam Willerby and Rosie Chandler. I liked Sam from the very start and I admired how dedicated she was to her job. Rosie had had a tragic childhood which affected her for life. I felt bad for Rosie at first and could see why Sam wanted to do what she could to help her, but I really didn’t like her. Rosie seemed to be totally obsessed with Sam and struck me as a rather dangerous person.

When Sam agreed to go with Rosie to where the ‘accident’ took place I wanted to scream at her not to go there. Rosie was bad news and I didn’t want Sam to be put in danger. I raced through the last few chapters and was left totally shocked by what she was actually capable of. It made for scary reading.

If you like psychological thrillers then you’ll hopefully love ‘Lost in the Lake’. It’s fast-paced, gripping and makes for extremely addictive reading. I know I’ll be following the rest of this series.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Extract

Prologue

Did I make you jump? Turning up like that in your own kitchen? You have to admit, it must have been a nasty shock.

I bet you thought you’d been ever so smart at covering your tracks. But, be honest, you made a complete hash of things. You made out you were one step ahead of the game all along, but once you scooped the ultimate prize you couldn’t work out what to do next! Face facts, you were too ambitious for your own good and hadn’t thought things through properly.

You took great delight in explaining your cunning scheme to me, even though it was bound to leave you with egg on your face. I could see you thought you’d have the last laugh. I could tell your little brain was ticking over, thinking that once you’d told me the whole story, there was no way I’d be walking out of there. But that’s where you went wrong. You underestimated me. Most people do.

I could feel rage burning up my insides as you brandished that bottle of whisky like we were mates – in it together.

‘Let’s toast our windfall’, you suggested, trying to make me smile. By then, however, my fury with what you’d done had ignited from a niggling spark into a white-hot ball of fire. Every moment I was forced to endure with you, a growing, uncontainable frenzy was building inside me.

You reached over to the draining board to find two glasses and that’s when you made your fatal mistake.

You should never have turned your back.

 

Competition

Now that you’ve read my review and the extract you’ll hopefully be dying to read ‘Lost in the Lake’.  If so, you’re in luck because two very lucky people have the chance to win a paperback copy of this book.  To enter all you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you want to read ‘Lost in the Lake’.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 25th September 2017.

The winners will be chosen within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed to A.J. Waines who will arrange delivery of the books.

 

 

About A.J. Waines

AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts 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, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her website, blog, on Twitter, Facebook or sign up for her Newsletter.

 

‘Lost in the Lake’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Lake-Samantha-Willerby-Book-ebook/dp/B073W8X17W/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505673830&sr=1-1&keywords=lost+in+the+lake+by+a.j+waines

 

Blog Tour – ‘Death in Dulwich’ by Alice Castle

‘Death in Dulwich’ was published on the 6th September 2017 by Crooked Cat Books. It is the first book in the London Murder Mystery series. I was invited to take part in this blog tour by the lovely Emma Mitchell and I am delighted to be closing the tour along with two other bloggers. Read on for my review.

Beth Haldane has her hands full, what with a bouncy young son, her cat and making ends meet. She adores her home in plush London suburb Dulwich, but things there aren’t cheap. So when Beth gets a job as assistant archivist at top local school Wyatt’s she is thrilled, though she does fear that she won’t be up to it. Little does she know what is about to happen though.

Beth makes a hideous discovery on her very first day at work and finds that she is a prime suspect. She sets out to clear her name by doing some investigating herself and along the way encounters a number of characters. Even in the nicest of places the nastiest secrets can lurk.

When I was asked if I wanted to take part in this blog tour I jumped at the chance. I liked the sound of this book, plus I don’t live all that far from Dulwich so naturally I was interested.

I really enjoyed reading ‘Death in Dulwich’. I knew from the very first page that I would like it. The words flowed easily and I found that this was an easy story to follow. The author even mentioned a particular supermarket in two different places, both of which I know.

I liked Beth Haldane from the very start. She came across as such a lovely person who hadn’t had it very easy. In taking the job at Wyatt’s she would be gaining experience and bringing a little bit more money in. Naturally she wanted the very best for her son, Ben. It’s always hard when you start a new job, but the last thing you expect is for a colleague to be murdered on the first day you’re there. But that’s exactly what happened to Beth.

I admired Beth for carrying out her own investigation especially as she was risking her own safety. I had my suspicions of who the killer was but at the same time there did seem to be other people who had a motive.

If you like cosy crime then ‘Death in Dulwich’ is for you. It’s a classic whodunit. The second book in the series is being published next year and I am very much looking forward to it.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Alice Castle
Alice Castle had a long career as a feature writer on national newspapers including the Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph before becoming a novelist. After a day writing about her prime suspects, she loves nothing better than curling up with a murder mystery at night. Alice grew up in south London and, after a brief stint in Brussels (where her first novel, Hot Chocolate, is set) she is back where she belongs, dreaming up more adventures for her heroine, amateur detective and single mum Beth Haldane. She is married with two children, two stepchildren and two cats, and writes about parenting on her mummy blog, DD’s Diary www.dulwichdivorcee.com. Her latest book, Death in Dulwich, is being published in September 2017 by Crooked Cat Books.

 

Links

‘Death in Dulwich’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Dulwich-London-Murder-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B071WSGCQ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504018484&sr=8-1&keywords=death+in+dulwich

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Death-Dulwich-London-Murder-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B071WSGCQ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504018484&sr=8-1&keywords=death+in+dulwich

 

Blog Tour – ‘No Accident’ by Robert Crouch

Earlier this month I took part in the cover reveal for ‘No Accident’.  You can see it here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/cover-reveal-no-accident-by-robert-crouch/

I am delighted to be closing the blog tour celebrating the re-release of ‘No Accident’. This tour was arranged by the lovely Caroline Vincent of Bits About Books. Read on for my review.

‘No Accident’ is set in and around the beautiful South Downs of East Sussex and takes place over four days. Kent Fisher is an environmental health officer working for his local Council. He loves watching detective programmes on TV and he doesn’t believe that anything happens by accident. So when he is notified of a fatal work accident at Tombstone Adventure Park, Kent goes and investigates despite the fact that he has a restraining order against him. Whilst there he clashes with the owner, Miles Birchill who has his own reasons to stop the investigation.

Kent is determined to prove that this was no accident before anyone else is killed. Unfortunately, things aren’t made easy for him and he is in for some rather unpleasant surprises.

Having read the blurb for ‘No Accident’ this book really appealed to me. It just seemed so different. An environmental health officer investigating a suspicious death, how wonderful! I also really like the fact that the author has used some of his own experiences for this story. South Downs where this book is mostly set sounded lovely too.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘No Accident’. It was so good that I found myself standing at the bus stop after getting off the bus so that I could finish the end of a chapter before going home. It all got very exciting especially towards the end. I warmed to Kent Fisher straightaway. There was so much I liked about him including how he cared about animals, his ability to smell a rat a mile off and the way he went about solving the mystery. Oh, and I mustn’t forget his wonderful sense of humour and sarcasm. I loved reading about Kent’s little dog, Columbo, named after the TV detective. He sounded absolutely adorable and I really hope that he features in the rest of the series.

There were some real shockers throughout this story. In the space of just a few hours Kent’s world changed for good. I’m not sure I could have coped with what was thrown at him had I been in his situation, but Kent carried on regardless. He was determined to reveal the truth and he certainly wasn’t going to give up. Perhaps Kent could open his own Private Detective business one day?

‘No Bodies’, the second book in the Kent Fisher Mystery series is out this October. I am so glad that I have been introduced to this series and I will definitely be following it.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘No Accident’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Accident-Kent-Fisher-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B0747S2YMP/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504030357&sr=1-2&keywords=no+accident

 

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