Harm by Hugh Fraser @urbanebooks @realhughfraser

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Book Description:

Acapulco 1974: Rina Walker is on assignment. Just another quick, clean kill.
She wakes to discover her employer’s severed head on her bedside table, and a man with an AK 47 coming through the door of her hotel room. She needs all her skills to neutralise her attacker and escape. After a car chase, she is captured by a Mexican drug boss who needs her radiant beauty and ruthless expertise to eliminate an inconvenient member of the government.

Notting Hill 1956: Fifteen-year-old Rina is scavenging and stealing to support her siblings and her alcoholic mother. When a local gangster attacks her younger sister, Rina wreaks revenge and kills him. Innocence betrayed, Rina faces the brutality of the post-war London underworld – a world that teaches her the skill to kill…

My Thoughts:

Harm flicks between past and present so that we get to see Rina as a young adult and how she has become the person she is in the present. You certainly don’t get many strong female protagonists in the line of work that Rina finds herself in so was good to get to know her better in the earlier years.

I have to admit my favourite chapters were the ones set in the 1950’s. Don’t get me wrong, present day, well the 1970’s, were full of action and highly entertaining but Rina’s past really drew me in and helped me understand her so much better. Her home life is dismal to say the least and she has to be carer for her alcoholic mother as well as bringing up her younger brother and sister. They have no money and you wouldn’t think that things could get any worse than what they already were but sadly they do.

With the alternating chapters between past and present, it felt like you were getting two stories for the price of one. All I can say is it felt a bit like Martina Cole meets Rob Sinclair as we have the rawness and grittiness of organised crime in the 1950’s and then in the present day we have the thrills and action of an assassin. Pretty much the best of both worlds.

Harm is a great start to a new series with a stellar female protagonist. The author really drew me into the story with Rina’s past ensuring that I kept turning those pages as I was well and truly invested in her story. A gripping and thrilling read that will have you go through an abundance of emotions.

Harm is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link).

Beautiful Liars by Isabel Ashdown #BlogTour @TrapezeBooks @IsabelAshdown #GuestPost #Extract

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Book Description:

Eighteen years ago Martha said goodbye to best friend Juliet on a moonlit London towpath.
The next morning Juliet’s bike was found abandoned at the waterside.
She was never seen again.

Nearly two decades later Martha is a TV celebrity, preparing to host a new crime show… and the first case will be that of missing student Juliet Sherman. After all these years Martha must reach out to old friends and try to piece together the final moments of Juliet’s life.

But what happens when your perfect friends turn out to be perfect strangers…?

If you like Clare Mackintosh, Katie Marsh, Kerry Fisher, Jenny Blackhurst, Rachel Abbott, Laura Marshall, Elle Croft, Cara Hunter or Lisa Jewell then you will be utterly gripped by this psychological thriller with a massive twist you won’t see coming.

Beautiful Liars is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link.)

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#BeautifulLiars Blog Tour – NOVEL OPENINGS

 

When I’m browsing in my local book shop, I’m unlikely to take a punt on a new-to-me writer without first reading the back cover blurb, quickly followed by the opening page.  If those first words don’t grab me, I’ll probably return it to the shelf – after all, there are so many good books out there, and only so much time. A mundane or woolly or unnecessarily complicated opening sentence has the ability to shut down a reader’s attention.  A well-crafted, compelling start, on the other hand, has the power to hook and hint and draw us in – and as writers, that’s what we strive to do. We want you to want more; we want you to care about our stories as much as we do.

 

From time to time, I teach creative writing, and I’m always quick to recommend my students read Stephen King’s On Writing – both as a fascinating study of a writer’s life, and as a treasure trove of great sense.  What I love about Mr King’s writing (in this and his novels) is how effortlessly straight-talking he is, avoiding passive phrases and over description in favour of unputdownable storytelling that is a pleasure to read.  You can see this at work in the first of several attention-grabbing novel openings I’ve selected below:

 

The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end – began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.

  • It by Stephen King

 

I dream about Carmel often.  In my dreams she’s always walking backwards.

  • The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

 

I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.  I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me.

  • The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

 

Dear All – Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.  My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of …

  • The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

 

Rebus placed his knife and fork on the empty plate, then leaned back in his chair, studying the other diners in the restaurant.  ‘Someone was murdered here, you know,’ he announced.

  • Rather by the Devil by Ian Rankin

 

Master was a little crazy; he had spent too many years reading books overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return greetings, and had too much hair.

  • Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

I hope that a few of you will be intrigued enough by the above short extracts to seek out at least one or two of these excellent novels.  In my own writing, I tend to think of opening lines as chinks of light, inviting the reader to push the door a little further, to press their eye against the widening gap in the hope of discovering more.  The following extract is the opening from my latest thriller Beautiful Liars.  I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it leaves you wanting more …  

 

Many thanks to Sarah for hosting this feature on the #BeautifulLiars Blog Tour.

 

A Death

It wasn’t my fault.

I can see that now, through adult eyes and with the hindsight of rational thinking. Of course, for many years I wondered if I’d misremembered the details of that day, the true events having changed shape beneath the various and consoling accounts of my parents, of the emergency officers, of the witnesses on the rocky path below. I recall certain snatches so sharply – like the way the mountain rescue man’s beard grew more ginger towards the middle of his face, and his soft tone when he said, ‘Hello, mate,’ offering me a solid hand to shake. Hello, mate. I never forgot that. But there are other things I can’t remember at all, such as what we’d been doing in the week leading up to the accident, or where we’d been staying, or where we went directly afterwards. How interesting it is, the way the mind works, the way it recalibrates difficult experiences, bestowing upon them a storybook quality so that we might shut the pages when it suits us and place them safely on the highest shelf. I was just seven, and so naturally I followed the lead of my mother and father, torn as they were between despair for their lost child and protection of the one who still remained: the one left standing on the misty mountain ledge of Kinder Scout, looking down.

I can see the scene now, if I allow my thoughts to return to that remote place in my memory. I watch myself as though from a great distance: small and plump, black hair slicked against my forehead by the damp drizzle of the high mountain air. And there are my parents, dressed head-to-toe in their identical hiking gear: Mum, thin and earnest, startle-eyed – and Dad, confused, his finger pushing his spectacles up his florid nose as he interprets my gesture and breaks into a heavy-footed run. Their alarmed expressions are frozen in time. There is horror as they register that I now stand alone, no younger child to be seen; that I’m pointing towards the precipitous edge, my eyes squinting hard as I try to shed tears. There are no other walkers on this stretch of path, no one to say what really happened when my brother departed the cliff-edge, but the sharp cries of distress from the winding path far below suggest that there are witnesses to his arrival further down.

It wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault. This was the refrain of my slow-eyed mother in the weeks that followed, while she tried her best to absolve me, to put one foot in front of the other, to grasp at some semblance of normality. ‘It wasn’t your fault,’ she’d tell me at night-time as she tucked the duvet snugly around my shoulders, our eyes never straying to the now-empty bed inhabiting the nook on the opposite side of my tiny childhood room. ‘It was just a terrible accident.’ But, as I look back now, I think perhaps I can hear the grain of uncertainty in her tone, the little tremor betraying the questions she will never voice. Did you do it, sweetheart? Did you push my baby from the path? Was it just an accident? Was it?

And, if I could speak with my mother now, what would I say in return? If I track further back into that same memory, to just a few seconds earlier, the truth is there for me alone to see. Now at the cliff-edge I see two children. They’re not identical in size and stature, but they’re both dressed in bright blue anoraks to match their parents, the smaller with his hood tightly fastened beneath a chubby chin, the bigger one, hood down, oblivious to the sting of the icy rain. ‘Mine!’ the smaller one says, unsuccessfully snatching at a sherbet lemon held loosely between the older child’s dripping fingers. This goes on for a while, and on reflection I think that perhaps the sweet did belong to the younger child, because eventually it is snatched away and I recall the sense that it wasn’t mine to covet in the first place. But that is not the point, because it wasn’t the taking of the sweet that was so wrong but the boastful, taunting manner of it. ‘No!’ is the cry I hear, and I know it comes from me because even now I feel the rage rear up inside me as that hooded child makes a great pouting show of shedding the wrapper and popping the yellow lozenge into its selfish hole of a mouth, its bragging form swaying in a small victory dance at the slippery cliff edge. The tremor of my cry is still vibrating in my ears as I bring the weight of my balled fist into the soft dough of that child’s cheek and see the sherbet lemon shoot from between rosy lips like a bullet. ‘No!’ I shout again, and this time the sound seems to come from far, far away. Seconds later, he’s gone, and I know he’s plummeting, falling past the heather-cloaked rocks and snaggly outcrops that make up this great mountainous piece of land. I know it is a death drop; I know it is a long way down. I can’t say I remember pushing him – but neither can I remember not pushing him.

So you see, I’m not to blame at all. From what I recall of that other child – my brother – he was a snatcher, a tittle-tattle, a cry-baby, a provoker. Even if I did do it, there’s not a person on earth who would think I was culpable.

I was seven, for God’s sake.

 

Dying To See You by Kerena Swan @Bloodhoundbook @KerenaSwan

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Book Description:

He’s Watching, He’s Waiting, She’s next.
When Sophie is told to organize care for elderly Ivy, she is unaware that by meeting Max, Ivy’s grandson, her life will be turned upside down.

 

As Sophie’s involvement with Max and Ivy increases she becomes more distracted by her own problems.

 

Because Sophie is certain she is being watched.

 

For a while Ivy relishes Sophie’s attention, but soon grows concerned of the budding relationship between Sophie and Max.

 

Torn between Sophie and his grandmother, Max cuts ties with the care agency, leaving Sophie hurt and confused.

 

Meanwhile there is a murderer killing women in the area.

 

Is there a link between Sophie’s stalker and the killings?
Soon Sophie will learn that appearances can be deceiving.

 

My Thoughts:

I have to say that this book held some nice surprises as it didn’t go quite how I expected.

Sophie is a single mum to two girls, Tilly and Mia. I loved this family. All the characters you really warm to and what is going on in their lives affects you also. You are really routing for them through out.

Max and Ivy it is hard to say too much about them without giving a lot of the story away and wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone but believe me, you won’t be disappointed!

Dying To See You is a story that I think will take a lot of readers by surprise, it certainly did me. The author grips you from the start and keeps you there until the very last page. The suspense and tension builds throughout to a finale that I thought was extremely fitting. I also like how the author wraps everything up nicely so there are no unanswered questions. I really can’t believe that this is the authors debut novel. Her writing is confident of someone with years of experience. Really looking forward to reading more by the author.

My thanks to Bloodhound Books and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.

Dying To See You is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link.)

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Author Bio:

Kerena lives on the Bedfordshire/Buckingham border with her husband, son and two cats. She also has two daughters and two granddaughters.

12 years ago, following a life-time career in social work and management, Kerena set up a company providing support for children with disabilities.  Highly successful, the company is rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, which Kerena considers her greatest achievement thus far. However, following serious illnesses last year she decided to attempt to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a novel and getting it published. She has yet to tick off other achievements from her bucket list such as playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano all the way through and being stopped for speeding in a red Ferrari at the age of 80 but can tick off building a brick wall.

After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer.  Her husband (worried about his dinners being cooked) has threatened divorce if she writes another book so she’s told him she will write a trilogy.

‘Dying to See You’ is Kerena’s first novel and she has already started work on her second book ‘I Let You In’.  Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience in the problematic world of social work, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir genre.

 

Links:

 

Twitter –  @KerenaSwan

Mark Of The Devil by Tana Collins @TanaCollins7 @Bloodhoundbook

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Book Description:

While Inspector Jim Carruthers and team are busy investigating a series of art thefts, they receive an anonymous tip-off about the body of a young woman on a deserted beach. The bizarre clues to her identity and what might have happened to her include a strange tattoo, a set of binoculars and a slab of meat left on the cliffs.

The team’s investigations lead them to a local shooting estate and its wealthy owner, Barry Cuthbert. However, Carruthers suspects Cuthbert is not all he seems and the DI soon starts to wonder if the cases of the missing works of art, the dead woman and the estate are connected.

When the body of a young gamekeeper is pulled from the sea, tensions boil over. The trail of clues lead the team to the unlikely location of Tallinn and into the sinister world of international crime and police corruption.

Needing answers, Carruthers must look further afield than Fife. However, the closer he gets to the truth, the more danger he finds himself in. Since everyone who crosses the vengeful killers seems to end up dead, can Carruthers solve the case with his life intact?

Also available in the Inspector Jim Caruthers series:

Robbing The Dead

Care to Die

My Thoughts:

Mark of the Devil is the third book in the Inspector Jim Caruthers. I wouldn’t say it was essential to have read the first two in the series but some readers may benefit from having read them.

The story had me gripped from the off. You can’t beat a discovery of a body to have you racing through those pages which is exactly what the author had me do. The whole setting as always just captures your imagination and the story very much came a live in my head.

Jim reminds me a bit of Taggart. He’s a bit of a stickler and prefers his own company. He certainly comes across at times as being a grumpy old Scotsman. A very loveable one as the reader can’t help but take him into their heart.

The story line certainly takes some twists and turns as I would never have envisioned what was in store for me from the beginning of the book. The case that Jim and the team find themselves working on certainly runs a lot deeper and sent shivers down my spine.

Mark Of The Devil is yet another great read in the series. Dark, chilling and had me enthralled through out. If you haven’t read any of these books yet, would highly recommend giving them a go.

My thanks to Bloodhound Books and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.

Mark Of The Devil is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link).

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Author Bio:

 

Edinburgh based Tana Collins is the author of the popular Jim Carruthers detective series set in Fife. Her debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became a No 1 Amazon bestseller for Scottish crime fiction.  Care to Die, the follow up in the series, also became a Top 10 Amazon bestseller. Published on 1st June 2017 Care to Die was described by Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks,  as  “A finely plotted mystery. Tana Collins racks up the suspense on this one. DI Jim Carruthers is a cop to watch.”  In September 2017 having won one of the coveted Spotlight places at Bloody Scotland Tana supported Lynda La Plante on stage.

Her third novel, Mark of the Devil, is to be published 24th April 2018. Author Leigh Russell writes of it, “A cracking read. The suspense never lets up.”

Tana is a trained Massage Therapist and Stress Management Consultant.

 

Author Links:

Website: tanacollins.com

Twitter: @TanaCollins7

Author Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tana-Collins-490774634440829

The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald @bookouture

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Book Description:

One evening in early August, while mashing the potatoes for dinner, Connie McColl decides she’s had enough…

Connie McColl is tired of solving one family crisis after another – usually involving her unruly grandchildren – while her husband Roger spends all day at his beloved golf course. Surely it must be time for her to shake off her apron and start living again?

So Connie packs a bag, gets in her little green car and drives off…

On her journey from England to Scotland, Connie stops in on long-lost friends and makes all sorts of colourful new companions along the way. As Connie has the time of her life, sleeping under the stars and skinny dipping in the sea, she finally begins to rediscover herself. And she starts to wonder, will she ever be ready to return home?

Or will this summer change her life forever?

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My Thoughts:

Connie is my new heroine. At sixty six years of age, she shows us it’s never too late to make changes in your life.

I doubt very much that Connie is on her own with how she feels. I know I for one have wished many a time that I could just up and leave for a few days in the hope that the rest of the family may one day realise just what I do for them. I’m sure they probably feel the same also. Getting married and falling into a routine can be nice but it can get boring and people can also start taking one another for granted.

Connie being sick of this, decides to put her foot down and go off in Kermit, her brilliantly nick named green car, to clear her head and have a good think about what she wants in life.

On Connie’s travels she meets some truly wonderful people. Some old, some new. If more people were like her I think the world would be a much better place. It was a wonderful journey of which I felt I was very much on a road to self discovery also. The freedom of being able to go where you wanted was just so idyllic and my heart at times felt like it was going to burst with Connie’s selfless actions.

The Runaway Wife is one of the loveliest books I have read this year. It will make you want to make changes in your own life as well as become a better person. A heartfelt and engaging read that I never wanted to end. Highly recommended.

My thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.

Goodreads rating 5/5 stars.

The Runaway Wife is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link)

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About the author:
 

Aged 18, Dee arrived in London from Scotland and typed her way round the West End for a couple of years before joining BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) in Passenger Services for 2 years and then as a stewardess for 8 years.

She has worked in Market Research, Sales and at the Thames TV Studios when they had the franchise.

Dee has since relocated to Cornwall, where she spent 10 years running B&Bs, and only began writing when she was over 70!

Married twice, she has one son and two grandsons.

Bookends: 📚 Betsy Reavley & Fred Freeman 📚@BetsyReavley @Bloodhoundbook

Today on my Bookends feature I am delighted to welcome Fred Freeman to my blog. Fred is not only a director of Bloodhound Books, he is also married to the inspirational Betsy Freeman, who is also a director of Bloodhound Books. You can find out more about the company by clicking here

Was delighted when Fred agreed to take part as this is one dynamic duo who live and work together as well as publishing brilliant crime and thriller fiction. What a team! So please give a warm welcome to Fred!

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After years spent beavering away in offices honing his sales and marketing skills, Fred decided finally to put this know-how to good use and pursue his passion for literature.

In August 2014 he co-founded Bloodhound Books. He oversees broad areas of the business including; marketing and distribution, production and business operations.

📚

What’s the best bit about having a partner that is an author?

The exotic holidays and fast-cars! No seriously, the royalties are a nice by-product, but ultimately, it’s been fantastic to watch Betsy’s success as an author grow with each new book. I’m immensely proud of what she has achieved.

 

Of course I have to ask, what is the worst bit about having a partner as an author?

Very few! Betsy’s got a thick skin when it comes to the odd negative review, but sometimes if those reviews are personal or unkind in their wording, it can hurt.

 

How much input do you have with their books?

Pretty much nothing before publication, Betsy gets her head down and writes, and most of the time I’ve no idea what she is even writing.

 

What other roles do you have in supporting their work?

Unusually, of course, as a co-founder of Bloodhound Books, I am also Betsy’s publisher. So my input ranges from production, to distribution, to marketing and of course managing and paying her royalties.

 

Does being so involved make you want to have a go at writing yourself?

I do like writing and would love to write a book one day, but I don’t have anything like the (twisted!) imagination she’s got. So if I ever do write a book it’s not likely to be a crime novel. I’d love to have a crack at some travel writing at some stage in the future..

 

Do you have any advice for anyone that lives with an author?

Give them time and space to write. It sounds obvious of course, but authors really need some opportunities to get their head down and write without distractions. This can be difficult when juggling busy work and family commitments, but if they are ever going to finish the book, you need to be able to build writing time for them in to your schedule.

📚

Below you can find out more about Betsy and how to keep up to date with any news as well as her books. Pressure is Betsy’s newest novel which will be released on the 4th of May and is available to pre-order now.

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Author Bio:

Author of  The Quiet OnesThe Optician’s Wife,  Frailty, CarrionBeneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

You can follow her on Twitter @BetsyReavley

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The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton @simonschusterE @julietstories

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Book Description:

Meet the residents of number 24 in the warm, witty and wonderful new novel from bestselling author Juliet Ashton.
 
When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.

A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?

The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom‘s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential.

The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

My Thoughts:

This story centres on the people who live in the apartments at number 24. Sarah is the main character and through her we get to know the other residents also.

There is a whole package of different characters, some more likeable than others. Sarah and Mavis had to be my favourite. Sarah is someone who could be any of us. She has had a lot go on in her life and I loved her strengths and vulnerability. Mavis is your classic nosy old neighbour who likes to know all the going ons and whose tolerance level seems to be very low. There is something about her though that is intriguing as like Sarah, I wanted to get to know her better.

I love how there lots of different threads going off in different directions but yet all tie in wonderfully together. This way we get to find out about each character and have a whole array of story lines that make this a page turner of a read.

The Woman At Number 24 is a wonderful story that the reader can escape into. It is jam packed full of romance, friendship as well as the most fabulous shocks and surprises. Who knew that a book in this genre could have so many twists and turns. Great read and will certainly be reading more by the author.

The Woman At Number 24 is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link).