Friday, 26 June 2015

*** BLOG TOUR: River of Souls by Kate Rhodes ***

This book was published 18th June 2015 by Mulholland Books. My thanks to them and bookbridgr for the review copy and to Becca Mundy for inviting me onto the blog tour.

 Jude Shelley, daughter of a prominent cabinet minister, had her whole life ahead of her until she was attacked and left to drown in the Thames. Miraculously, she survived. A year later, her family ask psychologist Alice Quentin to re-examine the case.

But then an elderly priest is attacked in Battersea, his body washed up at Westminster Pier. An ancient glass bead is tied to his wrist.

The river has always demanded sacrifices, and now it seems a killer believes it's calling out for more.
Alice is certain that Jude and her family are hiding something, but unless she can persuade them to share what they know, more victims will drown...

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I have read by this Author. I didn't however feel that I was missing some pieces whilst reading this one. It worked well as a standalone. I am however now intrigued enough to go back and read the others in the series. I can't believe that I have missed them until now.

I loved the pace of the story and the suspense that was driven throughout. I found the actual crime a bit different to the ones in books I usually read and I most certainly didn't guess the killer until the last page had turned.

I loved the fact that the book was set in London, it made it feel a bit more real to me as I could identify the places and imagine the events happening there.

Alice Quentin was a bit of a revelation to me. I really liked her character, she does a fantastic job whilst having problems of her own. I loved her independence and her enthusiasm for wanting to catch the killer.

Gruesome in places, and yet very real. This book is such a page turner, I couldn't wait to finish it so that all of the pieces came together. Now I am off to get the images of Jude in her hospital bed out of my head.


About the Author:

Kate was born in London and works full time as a Writer. River of Souls is the fourth book in the Alice Quentin Series. The others are, Crossbones Yard, A Killing of Angels and The Winter Foundlings.
Visit her website at http://katerhodes.org or follow her on Twitter @K_RhodesWriter.


Please also have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

***BLOG TOUR*** You, Me & Other People by Fionnuala Kearney


 Published 18th June 2015 by Harper. My thanks to them and Bookbridgr for the review copy, and to Jaime for inviting me on to the blog tour.

Synopsis

For Adam and Beth splitting up wasn't the end. It was just the beginning....

As Beth tries to move on with her life, she soon realises that Adam's affair was just the first lie in a very long trail.

As the secrets come tumbling out, can life ever be the same?

My Thoughts

This is essentially the story of a marriage, and the fall out the occurs when it all goes wrong. It is a story of secrets and lies and is a brilliant examination of the intricate webs that deceit can weave.

I loved the way the story was told from the alternating perspectives of Beth and Adam. I thought it really added to the understanding of each individuals feelings. I also felt really sorry for their daughter Meg and would have liked to have heard more from her.

I just need to get this off my chest - I loathed Adam, I could just not understand how someone could be so stupid more than once and actually not even be remorseful for it. Why couldn't he just keep it in his pants? I began to understand him better as events played out, I think events of his past has formulated the way he acted in his marriage. I still don't like him much, but I don't think that is a bad thing. On the other hand I really liked Beth, she seemed strong and vibrant and the kind of woman who knows just what to do in certain situations.

I can certainly understand the comparisons that have been drawn with David Nicholls, he is one of my favourite authors by the way. Fionnuala Kearney seems to write with the same wit and wisdom, about love with a touch of realism. It is not flowery and I loved it for that. It was a real and exciting portrayal of what happens when a marriage goes wrong.

It is about moving on and accepting that life doesn't always go as planned it is about reinvention of oneself and knowing that we have to hold on because things have a way of working themselves out in the end.

A highly recommended debut and author to watch out. I wish Fionnuala Kearney the best of luck with this book and will be watching to see what comes up with next.

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I am very excited to welcome Fionnuala to the blog today and she has answered some questions for us...



Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I welcome you to the blog and wish you every success with your book.

1)      Where is your favourite place to write and is there any particular time that works better for you?

I have a lovely study upstairs in my house, just across the landing from my bedroom – so not too far a commute to work! The desk is placed at the window and it looks out over trees and green and is pretty calming and peaceful. I try really hard to have a routine in my writing life, treating it as if I were getting up and going out to a full time job. After a quick walk, mornings are best for me for actual writing and then the afternoons are spent catching up with the business elements including social media and PR around the book.

2)      Where did the idea for You, Me and Other People come from?

With YM&OP, as with most of my work, the characters arrived in my head first. A lot of the time they tell me what situation/jeopardy they’ll find themselves in. Other times, I place them in situations and just see what happens. With Beth and Adam, I knew straight away that their marriage was in freefall and I also knew straight away that I wanted him to have a point of view - even though he was the ‘wrong doer’. We do live in a world where marital break ups are common and betrayal surrounds us but I really wanted to get under the skin of the pain it can cause with these characters.

3)      Are there any Characters that you would like to develop further in future, or a particular theme you would like to write about?

It does seem that I write naturally about love and loss. I think it’s a recurring theme in most of my work. Someday I’ll ask myself why! I do like writing from the male point of view and it’s something I’ll continue to experiment with in my writing. It’s not surprising really, since two of my favourite fictional characters are Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and Dexter (One Day).

4)      Are you currently writing anything else?

Yes, I’m working on my second novel which at the moment has a working title of “Who We Are”.  I won’t give away too much but dealing with and recovering from an enormous loss is a prevalent theme as is love in all its guises – marital, sibling, unconditional and unrequited. I’m enjoying writing it, telling Jess and Theo’s story. It’s another emotional one!

5)      Which Writers inspire you?

Gosh, that’s a hard one… Obviously, writers of some of my favourite books simply because they wrote them, such as, David Nicholls, Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty, Maggie O’Farrell, Khaled Hosseini and Marian Keyes. To be honest, though, anyone who writes and publishes a book successfully, be it via the more traditional or self-published route, I admire.

6)      Which book would you most likely give as a gift or recommend to other people?

Anything by any of the authors I mentioned in the last question. Also, I recently read “Elizabeth is Missing” by Emma Healey. It was, in my opinion, an amazing read – written by a very young woman from an octogenarian point of view. Not an easy feat, at all and kudos to her.

7)      You, Me and Other People contains secrets. Could you share with us something that other people don’t necessarily know about you?

Not a secret exactly, but it’s something most people won’t know - I’m a grandmother! Yes, I am! I’m the youngest Nana I know and love our granddaughter with all my heart. It’s a beautiful role, one where you can love completely but without the responsibility that having children brings…

8)      If you could have written any book from the past, which would it be?

I can’t choose one!!! If really pressed I’d probably choose “One Day” by David Nicholls. It’s just such a fabulous concept to write a novel from; the idea of where both character’s lives are depicted on the same day every year for twenty five years. I wish I’d thought of it…

9)      What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a foodie and love to spend time with my family over a great meal. I love to read and watch a good movie or quality television drama. I also love to travel but loathe airports. I’m hoping that I see the ability to teleport in my lifetime…

10)   Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

No, but thank you so much for having me!


       Thank you!


 Fionnuala Kearney lives in Ascot with her husband. They have two grown-up daughters (both with deliberately simple monosyllabic names). One of seven children, Fionnuala likes to write about the nuances and subtle layers of human relationships, peeling them away to see what’s really going on beneath. You, Me and Other People is her first novel. She can be found on Twitter @fionnualatweets.


Please be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour, starting with Anne tomorrow at:
http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.co.uk/


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Snatched From Home by Graham Smith

 
The Cumbria Major Crimes team is under immense pressure to
get results. DCI Harry Evans and his subordinates, DS Neil
Chisholm, DC Lauren Phillips and DC Amir Bhaki must juggle cases
while tragedy stalks them. Up in Glasgow, DI John Campbell is
preparing to replace Evans, whose renegade ways have brought
enforced retirement.
Together they must investigate a man killed in his own home, a
vigilante group chasing a suspected paedophile, a river dammed
for no obvious reason and a woman whose cries of ‘wolf’ turn to
‘rape’. Meanwhile DC Phillips goes undercover off the books.
 

Middle-class parents Victoria and Nicholas Foulkes are distraught when their children are kidnapped against Nicholas’ gambling debts. Penniless and desperate the couple turn to crime as a way to raise the ransom.

Hot on their heels is recently bereaved DI Harry Evans and his Major Crimes team. Evans is fighting against enforced retirement and his replacement – DI John Campbell – is foisted upon him along with other cases. If he must leave the police then he wants one last big case before he goes.

In a race against time Victoria and Nicholas must evade the police while continuing to add to the ransom fund. If they don’t pay up on time the kidnappers have threatened to amputate their children’s limbs with an oxy-acetylene torch.

Can they save their children before time runs out?

My Thoughts: 

Crime is one of my favourite genres of books, and Graham Smith does not fail to disappoint. From the outset there is something gritty and real about the plots and the characters he creates. It sent my imagination into overdrive because they leap of the page as they are so life-like. 

I must admit to really liking the character of DCI Harry Evans, he is a rogue and a renegade. He ruffles feathers and will not stop until the job is done. Come hell or high water, it is his way or the highway. Looking at some criminal type characters from television for example and for me he comes across as a hybrid of DI Frost and Dr Fitz from Cracker. He is entertaining and his heart is in the right place, even if some of actions are a bit questionable.

We meet DCI Harry Evans as he is about to retire after 30yrs on the police force and he has to team up with his replacement. My only disappointment about this is whether DCI Harry Evans has many more tales to tell. He is such a character of depth, it would be a shame not to here from him some more.

The plot of the story was great, with it all tying up nicely at the end. I also thought that the pace was excellent. 

I also recommend reading Lines of Enquiry, which is a short novella first. It does an excellent job of introducing the characters and getting the setting ready for Snatched From Home.


 Many thanks to the Author Graham Smith for writing the following piece for the blog.
 

Harry Evans. Not just from Cumbria.


 When I set out writing I was conscious of the fact that I wanted to create a series of novels based around or on the same character or characters. To do that I created a close-knit police team who were diverse in their skill sets and personalities.



They are

  • DI Harry Evans – An old school renegade facing enforced retirement
  • DI John Campbell – His straight-laced replacement
  • DS Neil Chisholm – An overweight computer nerd
  • DC Lauren Phillips – An expert interrogator with a penchant for exhibitionism
  • DC Amir Bhaki – A dogged up and coming detective who is new to the team



Once I had my ensemble cast in place and a rough idea of the crime they’d be investigating and the resolution that had to happen (I fly by the seat of my pants with only a few plot waypoints in mind rather than a detailed outline) I started writing the novel which would become Snatched from Home.



As I was writing, I was always mindful that if I wanted to create a series, I had to make the characters interesting enough to make readers want to return to their company. To this end I never forgot the maxim. “Put your characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them.”



Sadly for DI Evans I went a step further and set the tree alight, then approached it with a chainsaw. It wasn’t anything personal between the two of us, it’s just that the organic ebb and flow of our interactions made every nasty thing I did to him increase his interestingness. Did I mention the tree I put him up was growing on an old Indian burial ground?



Evans went on to grow his own personality from the tribulations and trauma I put him through. While I knew he was always going to be an ornery grump, I also knew he had to be the smartest man in the room. His DNA boasts traits from myself, my father and grandfather, the mercurial Gene Hunt, the socially inept Gregory House and the constantly entertaining DI Roberta Steel from Stuart MacBride’s Logan MacRae books.



With that potent mix of personalities vying for supremacy in his head, he was always going to be hard to control. We’ve currently negotiated a truce whereby I create situations to put him in and he does his best to solve the case.



Above all he’s a bundle of contradictions. While he pays no heed to correct procedures, he spends his free time reading crime fiction novels and frequently contacts the authors to tell them of their procedural mistakes. He verbally abuses his team, but inspires great loyalty from them and like all good coppers, he’ll not let anything prevent him from bringing criminals to justice, whether his own or that of the courts.



The team supporting him all have different parts to play and I try wherever possible to use them and their circumstances to show his character while making sure each of them is interesting in their own right. Harry Evans is the main man though. Something he never lets me forget!


Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last fourteen years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com for over six years.

Links
The Major Crimes Team Vol 1: Lines of Enquiry
UK
US

Snatched from Home
UK
US

 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

BLOG TOUR: The Amazing Journey by Grady Hicks with contributions by Austin Hicks


True story of a Father and Son's Odyssey Around the World


My thanks to Wisdom House books for sending me a review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour.



 






Synopsis

The Amazing Journey is a fast-paced, true story of Grady and Austin Hicks, a father and son who travel the world for twenty-eight days before Austin attends college. Austin is the first of three Hicks children who embark on this globetrotting tradition with their father.

In the spirit of adventure, their route and activities are kept secret even from family. They complete daily, self-imposed Journey Tasks that deliberately immerse them into cultural authenticity, and far outside their comfort zones. As the journey unfolds, it becomes clear that these travellers are in store for much more than unfamiliar landscapes. From foreign militaries to spiritual clairvoyance, from serious illness to unnerving dares, The Amazing Journey reminds us to connect with people—be it those closest to you or those across the world—to test your limits, and to trust the Journey.


My Thoughts


I love books about travel. The ability to experience places you never thought possible, without even leaving home. This however is so much more than a travel book. It is the true story of a Father and a Son and the once in a lifetime trip they took together around the World. In some senses it is also a coming of age story.

Of the places Grady and Austin visited, I have only been to Paris and obviously London. It was magical to get a very real glimpse of places such as China, India, Nepal, etc. I also found it interesting and educational to read about certain countries political issues. I must admit to being a little naive about that and also History has never been my strong point, so I feel as if I really engaged with this book and even learnt things along the way.

This story also made some interesting points about being accepting of others, and aware of how fortunate we are in the Western world. Things that we take for granted and indeed often moan about, would be considered such a privilege to people in other countries and cultures.

A very interesting and educational read, that was entertaining and exciting. It really was a non stop trip. I still don't know how they managed to fit such a packed schedule into 28days.







Grady Hicks







Grady is a native Texan whose family has lived and worked in North Texas since the 1850s. He is an avid traveller who has made his home base in Arlington, TX, where he returns to relax in the backyard with his family and to plan his next destination. He lives with his wife of 27 years, Belinda. Their three children now attend university, majoring in mechanical engineering, business communication, and elementary education. Grady is currently writing the second book in The Amazing Journey series and planning the global adventure that will become the third book.

My earliest dreams were of travelling; I wanted to see every country on the map. Throughout my years as a teenager, my grandmother took me on international excursions, which instilled in me a lasting hunger for intercultural experiences. My grandmother and other strong females in my family influenced me to act independently of the crowd, to attempt the improbable, and to be undaunted by the thought of being unsuccessful. These qualities have led me to many feats in my life, including starting my own business in 1999 and campaigning for the 2012 Olympics to be held in Dallas, TX. The Olympic campaign ran for five years and, while we fell short, the regional cooperation continues to be a success. My business, Hurricane Waste Systems, is a family-owned company that is now one of Texas’ largest independent waste and recycling transporters. I always set big goals and high expectations for myself, not only in my career but also in
my personal pursuits, including travel.


As a father, I have included my family in my dreams of travel. Our earliest vacations included diversions into daily life; simply visiting a local grocery unveiled truer perspectives of a country far beyond touristy markets most travellers pass through. We have also enjoyed cruises and resorts, but not as much as tasting a day in the life of someone outside of our own realm of experience. Then my wife Belinda and I began to discuss our eldest son Austin’s high school graduation gift taking the form of a journey, which seemed to be the best gift for a person who is making their debut in the real world: a gift of experience. Austin’s and my trip inspired the gift of a journey to my two other children upon their high school graduations. It has become inherently clear as they draw their own maps for college careers and life beyond that my independence and
freethinking have been passed on to them along the way.


The Amazing Journey books are the result of wanting to share the mental, physical, and spiritual experiences of travelling. Writing a book has always been on my bucket list, even though my life as a writer began recently. I had stories to tell that I wanted to share with people in my family, in my immediate community, and in all the communities across that world that I have been privileged to experience. So, I began to compile notes from before, during, and after the first journey. When the pages began to resemble a book, I continued to refine them until I had a completed manuscript. Writing The Amazing Journey has been a journey in itself. The process took much longer than I originally anticipated, but it was all for the best. I enlisted the help of several creative thinkers, mentors, and editors in order to polish the book. Then I found Wisdom House Books, an independent publisher, and self-published the first of three of The Amazing Journey books in the spring of 2015.


Although the first two journeys are father-son stories and the third a father-daughter journey, the messages within The Amazing Journey books transcend these relationships, reminding us to pause the convenient—if impersonal—texting and emailing and to spend quality time with people. The characters we met, whether visiting a nearby town or a faraway village, convey the importance of human connection no matter how temporary or geographically distant. The Amazing Journey books are fast-paced but insightful, escorting both seasoned travellers and arm-chair adventurers alike into exciting, off-the chart destinations that inspire and astound.