Thursday, 15 February 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ A House Full of Secrets by Zoë Miller

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for A House Full of Secrets by Zoë  Miller where I welcome Zoë to my blog where she has kindly provided me with a piece on 5 Things About Writing A Novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Joanna Smyth from Hachette Ireland to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this piece so without further ado, here it is:


I’d like to say a big thank you to Celeste, for hosting me on her wonderful blog, Celeste Loves Books, and I’m delighted to be featured here today. This post on the blog tour for A House Full of Secrets is about some of the things I’ve learned from writing novels. I hope you enjoy, Zoë x
The bookshelves of Ireland are glutted with ‘How-To’ books on novel writing. The internet is another huge resource where you can find a multitude of articles laying down various rules and regulations, tips and techniques. Then when you have suitably frazzled your brain and overloaded your critical faculties on a million and one contradictory ways to write that novel, you come across the much feted advice of W. Somerset Maugham – ‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no-one knows what they are.’  But rules and techniques aside, and being very much aware that I’m on a permanent learning curve in this wonderful job, here are some things I have gleaned over the years about writing novels:
  1. Advice and ‘How to’ books can give you a starting point, provide signposts and directions, and illuminate some of the solitary journey you are about to undertake. They can also be a helpful refresher at any time. But there comes the moment when you have to take that leap into space, stop thinking about writing, and just write. There is no magic formula or golden typewriter. No waiting for permission. You have to begin that scary journey across the blank page all by yourself, putting down one word after another.

  1. The first draft is ALWAYS tough, whether it’s Book 1 or Book 10 and you can expect your initial attempts to be a pale reflection of what you’re hoping to achieve. I find it a help to think of Shannon Hale’s quote; 'I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.'

  1. Regardless of writing competence or talent, self-belief is the biggest attitude you need in your skill set for slogging it through the 100k words required for the average novel. Writing a novel is an endurance sport akin to a marathon race, and you have to believe you can do this. Self-belief will propel you into action, get you past hitting a wall at the 30k mark, enable you to keep up the pace at 60k words, and help you stagger, exhausted but exhilarated, to the finish line. Fake it if you must, otherwise self-doubt will creep in, and that is the biggest enemy of work in progress.

  1. If you have to wait until you feel a bolt of inspiration striking you before you attempt your daily word count, forget it. Story ideas and plot twists can spark at odd moments and draw you to the page, but adding to your word count takes grit, discipline and perseverance. According to Ernest Hemmingway, ‘Sometimes it (writing) comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.’ After nine published novels, I can personally vouch for that nugget of wisdom. The good news is that the everyday act of moving your fingertips across the keyboard can ease you into the zone and induce some kind of creative alchemy. That’s when the magic happens and inspiration whispers gently in your ear.    

  1. Sometimes life can imitate fiction. You create a story, and months later you meet a person in real life who could have walked straight out of your novel. You set up a particular drama or conflict, and in the fullness of time, something similar happens to your nearest and dearest. There are also times when your novel has been safely consigned to the printers only for you to realise that the drama you have poured across the page mirrors an incident in the life of your friends or family. It has happened to me, and I’ve heard other writers also speak of this phenomenon. But good stories with relatable characters address the hopes and fears that make up our lives, so writers are bound to hit on themes and plots that are out there in the world. I’ve had to learn to ignore any whispers of similarities that murmur in my ear and just get the job done and allow the story to unfold as it will, otherwise I’d never write another word.

Last but by no means least, nine books in, writing and using my creativity is my dream job that I feel privileged to enjoy.

© 2018 Zoë Miller

Monday, 12 February 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Owl Always Hunts At Night by Samuel Bjork

With thanks to Thomas Hill and Transworld books, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.......

Detective Holger Munch and Detective Mia Kruger are back just over 6 months from their previous case in Travelling Alone where there's been another murder where a  a young woman is found dead. The scene they find is unexpected. The body is posed and the scene is challenging set and there is almost no forensic evidence to be found.

Due to previous and ongoing battles Detective Mia Kruger has been signed off work pending psychological assessment but Munch has less regard for the rules than he should and he is desperate to get Mia back in the office and on the case, Holger Munch offers her an unofficial deal.  But the brilliant Mia is struggling and the team are unable to close the case.  Until a young hacker uncovers something that forces the team to confront the scope of the murderer’s plans and face the possibility that he may already be on the hunt for a second victim.

I couldn't wait to start this after I finished I'm Travelling Alone, I would suggest you read this which is the first in the series to get a feel for the characters and their backgrounds. I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it, it was brilliant, tense, chilling and twisting, at times I almost forgot to breath when reading some parts. As I said in my review of I'm Travelling Alone that Munch and Kruger have their own battles and demons that they face and especially Mia faces on a daily basis which continues throughout this book and don't know how she is still in the force with all she's gone through and still going through so I feel a lot of empathy for her. I much preferred this book to the first in the series as it didn't feel that it slowed down at all, it was continuous action with plenty of twists.  I've now got 2 favourite characters with Detective Munch and Detective Kruger and I really can't wait until the next installment in the series, The Boy in The Headlights is released and I'm just hoping that it won't be too long to wait.


The Owl Always Hunts At Night is available from all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle where it is currently £3.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Friday, 9 February 2018

REVIEW~ I'm Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

When a young girl is found hanging from a tree in Oslo with an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I'm travelling alone'. 

Police investigator Holger Munch is immediately charged with assembling a special homicide unit. But to complete the team, he must track down his former partner, Mia Krüger, a brilliant but very troubled detective with a lot of problems who sees alcohol and prescription drugs the only way to get through each day and in saying that, Holger Munch has his own troubles too.

With Mia finally tracked down and on board the team, whilst reviewing the file, Mia finds something new in the form of a very thin line carved into the dead girl’s fingernail: the number 1.  She knows that this is only the beginning in a series of girls going missing and to save other children from the same fate, she must find a way to cast aside her own demons and stop this murderer from becoming a serial killer.

Well, I didn't like this, I absolutely LOVED this, it was full of thrills, spills, twist and turns.  Now, I will admit that I read from the start at break neck speed as it was so good but then there were a lot of characters introduced and I wasn't sure what way it was going to go but it all made sense as I turned the last page, but it slowed down a lot in the middle but then picked up again for the final 150 plus pages.  I loved Munch & especially Krüger, I felt empathy for her throughout the book with everything she'd went through.  I had my suspicions and thought I'd worked out who the killer was but I was completely wrong.  I don't want to say much more about this other than get it yourself and see what you think.


I'm Travelling Alone is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle and is currently £4.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Perfect Death by Helen Fields

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Perfect Death by Helen Fields where I welcome Helen to my blog once again where she has kindly provided an extract. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the extract so without further ado, here it is:

Spreading his palms wide on the door to the hospital mortuary suite, he breathed in slowly and deeply. 

‘I’m here, Cordelia,’ he said. ‘Thank you.’ 

He imagined her body covered by a sheet, and wondered why anyone bothered to hide corpses from the world. Was it that the living feared staring into the eyes of death or that the dead shouldn’t be bothered by the still beating hearts going about their business around them? More likely, he thought, that it was all too easy to imagine the dead as monstrous. He knew monsters. He understood them. None of the ones he’d met had ever been dead. They had promised him safety in their foster homes. They had smiled and lied, talked about him above his head in legal speak, acted as if they cared. The dead were harmless enough. 

A nurse rounded the corner, head down, studying a brown folder thick with patient notes. He stepped back to let her pass. Cordelia was gone. He regretted not having been there within sight of her at the end, but he couldn’t have it all his own way. Imagining her death, knowing the symptoms she would have suffered, was enough and he hoped it was not too painful a passing. He was capable of empathy, no matter what the experts said about sociopaths. His priority now was to make the most of Cordelia’s death. To wring every tiny emotion from it. Dying for nothing would be the ultimate insult, after all. He slid his right hand into his trouser pocket and ran his fingers along the length of the beautiful ink-pen he had yet to add to his box of treasures.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

REVIEW~ The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

Thanks to Lauren Woosey from Orion Books, I received an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review.......

If you were being framed for murder, how far would you go to clear your name?

Bethany Reston is a successful photographer who has been happily married to Jason almost 7 years but she is having an affair with a very famous client but no-one must ever know.  But when her lover is found brutally murdered, she has to hide her shock and grief from everyone. Unfortunately someone knows her secret and then the threats ensue with a mounting pile of evidence that all points to Bethany as the murderer.  The only way she can protect her secrets is to prove her innocence which means a deadly and tense game of cat and mouse to track down the killer.

I really, really enjoyed this one, it was full of twists and turns and hold your breath moments and to be honest I never seen that twist coming at all, I was left open mouthed when I read it.  I had my suspicions of who the killer was but I was completely wrong.  I also couldn't believe that this is Elle's debut novel, it was so well written and cleverly crafted.  I'm really looking forward to reading more of Elle's work and hopefully it'll be quite soon. Now, there's no pressure here Elle but I'm really hoping that there's going to be a follow up to The Guilty Wife with the way it was left!??


The Guilty Wife is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle from January 25th and is currently £0.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Monday, 22 January 2018

REVIEW ~ In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

Meet Bella who is married to David and when we meet them they are travelling back to Bella's childhood home for her mother, Elaine's funeral.  Her father Henry Campbell is now lost without his wife and seems to be a little disengaged from his daughter. He needs to talk to her about something important but can't seem to find the right time to talk to her. Then when a tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence that she thought was the truth but in fact is a lie. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life that she's led for so long.

It is a few weeks since I finished listening to this on audio and to say it was brilliant is an understatement, I absolutely LOVED it.  In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller which is both chilling and extremely moving that questions the nature of family and can remind us that sometimes the most shocking and complex crimes are committed closest to home, which is very true. I didn't really know much about the book when I borrowed it from the library and I think that sometimes it's the best way to go into reading/listening to a book, go in open minded. I'm really looking forward to reading more from Amanda Jennings real soon.


In Her Wake is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle and is currently £0.99 at the time of publication if this review.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Cover Up by Marnie Riches

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Cover Up by Marnie Riches where I welcome Marnie to my blog once again where she has kindly provided an extract. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of the extract so without further ado, here it is:

It had started with a scuffle. A little pushing and a testosterone-fuelled hokey-cokey where neither had conceded ground to the other.

‘No guns,’ Frank had prayed quietly to a God that never seemed to listen. ‘Please don’t let them have sodding guns.’

The transition from minor altercation to full-on fisticuffs had taken less than a minute. Otis, his burliest bouncer, had taken a right hook from one of the guys with dreads that had sent him flying backwards into a podium like an ungainly clown. 

Now, Degsy had pulled a gun to best the Asian lad’s knife in an underworld rendition of rock, paper, scissors. Shit, shit, shit. The lying, lanky arsehole was armed to the teeth. Should he stop the music? Should he call Conks, after all?

Frank withdrew a baggie of coke from the pocket of his jeans. Took a hefty pinch of the white powder and deposited it on the back of his sinewy hand. Snorted what he could. Rubbed the rest around his gums. The effect was instant. Pharmaceutical Columbian courage followed soon after.

‘Right, you bastards,’ he said to himself, pulling the sleeves of his old James T up in some deluded act of strong-arm bravado. ‘Nobody messes with an O’Brien.’

Ignoring his racing pulse and the feeling that his legs were liquefying, he crossed the club, heading towards the scrum. No need for that big Northern Irish bollocks. Not tonight. Remember Jack. Don’t make this all for nowt. He approached one of the white rogue dealers from behind.

‘Get out my sodding club!’ he screamed in the man’s ear, grabbing him tightly by the scruff of his neck. Turning his collar into a garrotte. Kneeing him in the sweet spot on the backs of his legs so that they buckled.

Frank was a warrior, now, posthumously defending his son’s honour. Heard his own voice, hoarse and venomous above the music.

‘Who’s your boss? Tell me or I’ll rip your bleeding head off.’ Fingers in the man’s kidneys.
‘Fuck you!’ the dealer shouted, elbowing Frank in the stomach.

There was a flash of metal as the Asian lad stabbed one of the bouncers. Fists flew. It was carnage.
‘Back off, or I’m gonna blow you all into next Wednesday!’ Degsy yelled, waving his piece at the interlopers.

But the guy with the dreads and bad acne scarring was suddenly upon Degsy, waving a semi-automatic. ‘Drop the gun, Manc twat, or I’ll put a bullet in your ugly head!’ His death threats were levelled in a sing-song accent like some nightmarish nursery rhyme. 

Degsy and Dreads both clicked their safeties off. A stand-off. Not good.

Frank was dimly aware of the shrieking of the clubbers on the fringes of his ill-fated dance floor and of the speed-daters who were clattering up the iron staircase from Jack’s Bar below, fleeing the scene. Gloria Bell’s face in among them, somewhere. An overwhelming sense of déjà vu and fear that his club-owning days were finished bore down on him. But his melancholy musings were interrupted by the unmistakeable growl of Conky McFadden, striding through the phalanx of onlookers.

‘Hands in the air, you scabby wee turds or I’ll take the lot of yous out!’ 

Who the hell had called the Loss Adjuster? The bouncers, almost certainly.

Upon them now and casting a long shadow over the interlopers like an avenging dark angel, Conky held a SIG Sauer before him. The music had stopped, as if to pay respectful tribute to the fabled Loss Adjuster’s appearance on the charged scene. 

‘Do you remember me?’ he bellowed, bearing down on dreads-with-a-gun. Striding right up to him, as though his opponent clutched a child’s toy weapon. Pressing the nose of his gun right into the dealer’s jaw. With his free leather-gloved hand, he removed his shades with a flourish. His bulging eyes shone with obvious professional glee. ‘Do you know who I am?’

Dreads dropped his pistol. Held his hands up. Swallowed visibly. ‘Yeah.’ 

‘Get out of this club and get on a train back to Birmingham, like the yokels you are,’ Conky said, encasing Dreads’ throat in a large hand. ‘Tell your eejit boss Nigel Bancroft that if any of you set foot in South Manchester again, you’ll be going home in Tupperware stacking boxes. And you make sure he understands fully that if I see his ponce’s bake in O’Brien territory again, I’ll shoot some fucking wrinkles in him that Botox will never remove.’

Realising that he had been holding his breath all the while that Conky had been speaking, Frank straightened himself up. Inhaled. Exhaled. He acknowledged with some bitterness that he’d been unable to control what went on in his own environment. He felt the humiliation neutralise the bravado in his body. But his pulse thundered on apace and for a moment, as pain travelled up his left arm and encased his tired heart in pure, uncut agony, he wondered if he too would be going home in a wooden overcoat.

‘Frank. Are you okay?’ Conky’s voice, close by.

Clutching his arm, Frank dropped to his knees. I’m coming, Jack. I’m coming.