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Published: 4 May 2017

Description:

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and Lie With Me.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Night Visitor” is the first book by Lucy Atkins that I’ve read, and if I’m honest I really had no idea what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d seen a fair bit of praise for this book and was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.

Following two characters, Olivia Sweetman and Vivian Tester, the author expertly weaves an intricate plot that will leave readers stunned, the story makes for uncomfortable reading in places but it is also spectacularly clever.  The way in which this book has been written is magnificent, each word, each phrase, each nuance is used for maximum effect and is perfectly placed to ensure that readers are entranced under Atkins spell.
Olivia Sweetman is an interesting character who on the surface appears to have the quintessential perfect life.  She is a highly successful academic, a minor celebrity, has a happy marriage and three children.  But below the surface there is tension bubbling, from the very beginning it is clear there is something bothering her, and the relationships around her are not as stable as they might seem.
Vivian Tester, well there’s a character that I found incredibly difficult to work out.  A true hat tip to Atkins here, as this must have been a character that took time and work to get just right on paper.  Vivian Tester is cold, distant, blunt and for want of a better word, strange.  She likes routine, and does not like anyone upsetting it.  She clearly has a secret or two to hide, but what could be behind her sinister aura.
Both of these women make for unreliable narrators, but it’s up to the reader to decide which is the most unreliable……

At times there is a claustrophobic feel to reading this book, suspicion runs rife throughout the plot, there are secrets being kept that could potentially ruin the lives of many and there is an underlying menace that presents in many forms – the book perfectly titled when you consider the events in the tower in France and Vivian’s terrifying nightmares.  All of this combines to form an incredibly rich and atmospheric read, and one that is filled with intrigue.

The attention to detail in the writing absolutely blew me away, Lucy Atkins has clearly spent a lot of time researching her subject matter, intricate details given about dung beetles, the publishing world and academia add a real feeling of authenticity as well as providing fascinating in-depth reading.

A wonderfully gripping thriller, that haunts the reader long after they’ve turned the final pages.

My thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of The Night Visitor via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for the first stand alone thriller by Michael Stanley, the name behind the fantastic Detective Kubu series!  It’s such a thrill to share this extract with you from Dead of Night, and I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do, I know that I cannot wait to devour this book!

Description:

DEAD OF NIGHT Cover VIS_preview

When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything…

Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it…

You can buy a copy of Dead of Night via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones
Book Depository

Extract:

After unpacking, Crys went outside and settled on her porch. It was hotter than Pretoria, but there was a freshness to the air, carrying with it a beautiful scent, which seemed to come from a nearby tree covered in lemon-coloured flowers. She made a mental note to ask Johannes what it was.

She opened her laptop and navigated to the folder that contained the photos Michael had asked Sara Goldsmith to store. Starting with the most recent, she flipped through them, paying closer attention than she had when she looked at them on the flight over.

Michael was a prolific picture-taker, but he had outdone himself during the short time he’d been at the rhino farm. There were photos of everything, from the entrance to the farm to the chalets; from a variety of views of the exterior of the house to shots of the interior rooms. There were even several of Anton being served by a black man at the dining-room table. There were photos of the game vehicles, the electric fence, various trees and, of course, rhinos.

Why were there so many of Tshukudu? Crys decided that Michael must have been doing something similar to her – also writing for his main employer, the New York Times. The good news was that if she missed something, she would be able to find it in Michael’s collection.

When she finished looking at the photos, she worked on her notes and photos for a while, and since Tshukudu had Wi-Fi, she was able to catch up on stuff from home. Pretty soon the afternoon was gone. She took a shower and changed, and headed across to the main lodge for dinner.

Johannes and his father were already in the living room. The older man stood up and introduced himself as Anton Malan. Crys guessed he was mid-sixties and he looked fit.

He shook her hand and kept hold of it. ‘Please say your name again. I didn’t quite catch it.’ His accent was even rougher than Johannes’s.

‘Crystal Nguyen. But call me Crys. Everyone does.’ ‘Pleased to meet you, Ms Nguyen.’ He pronounced it carefully, then let go of her hand. ‘Let’s sit down. Boku will get you a drink.’

Crys walked over to a handsome black man dressed in formal waiter attire and stuck out her hand. ‘Pleased to meet you, Boku. I’m Crys Nguyen. Please call me Crys.’

Boku looked very uncomfortable, but eventually he shook Crys’s hand with the weakest handshake possible.

‘I’ll have an orange juice, please,’ she said hastily, then turned back to the others, frowning.

‘He’s not used to being treated like that,’ Anton said. ‘He’s been one of our servants for fifteen years. We treat them well, but not as equals.’ Crys opened her mouth, but then closed it again. She realised she had a lot to learn about this country, which only twenty years earlier had forcibly kept the races apart.

Crys was astonished when they moved through to dinner. It reminded her of old British movies set in the colonies. She’d never encountered anything like it – its formality made her uncomfortable.

They sat at a beautiful table made from a yellow wood, with the white-jacketed Boku waiting on them. When he wasn’t serving, he stood quietly in the corner of the room. Johannes and Anton ignored him, except for an occasional thank-you.

‘You are obviously from the USA, Ms Nguyen,’ Anton said. ‘Whereabouts?’

‘Well, actually I was born in Saigon – Ho Chi Minh City now. My family left after the war and settled in Minneapolis in Minnesota. There are a lot of Vietnamese people there.’ Crys purposefully kept the statement bland, trying to stop any further personal questions. Fortu- nately, Anton was just making small talk and didn’t really want to hear her life story.

‘Bit of a change of scene for you here,’ he went on. ‘You have such a beautiful place,’ Crys said. ‘And I was so lucky to see them taking the snare off Mary.’

‘Bloody poachers,’ Anton growled in reply. ‘They shoot them in the national park, you know, but we have to use kid gloves or there’s no end of trouble.’

‘They weren’t after the rhino, Dad,’ Johannes interjected. ‘It was a snare for a kudu.’

‘They’d take the rhino if they could. Even for the stump of horn that’s left.’ Anton turned to Crys. ‘Did he tell you what they’d get for a horn?’

She nodded, and then asked: ‘According to a World Wildlife Fund survey I read, fewer Chinese now believe that rhino horn is a medicine. Will that help, do you think?’

‘Nearly fifty percent of Chinese still believe in it, though,’ Johannes replied. ‘And that’s a lot of people. A lot of people.’

Anton went on eating for a while, then put his fork down with a clunk. ‘Surveys are rubbish. People changing their beliefs?’ He shook his head. ‘Look at the locals here. They are trustworthy, good workers, Christians. But they still believe in witchcraft.’

Boku cleared away the plates, apparently oblivious to Anton’s com- ments. Crys felt embarrassed for him and wanted to change the subject. In any case, she was really keen to ask Anton about Michael. This was her best chance of discovering something useful, since no one had picked up his trail after Tshukudu. She was almost scared to ask, though. What if he had nothing to add to what he’d told Sara Goldsmith?

‘I wanted to ask you about a colleague of mine,’ she said to Anton after a pause. ‘A man called Michael Davidson. He works for the New York Times.’

Anton looked up. ‘Davidson? Yes, he was here about a month ago. Wasn’t he also supposed to be investigating the rhino-horn trade or something? Also for National Geographic, I think.’

‘That’s right. Do you know where he went after he left Tshukudu?’ Anton signalled with his glass for Boku to bring him more wine. ‘Well, he was here for a few days then said he was going up to Mozam- bique. I told him to watch his step. They don’t like newspaper reporters over there. I told all this to the police when they contacted me. You know anything more about this, Johannes?’

Johannes shook his head. ‘Crys already asked me. I was taking a group of tourists on a camping trip when he visited, I guess. Why did the police get involved?’

‘He never came back to the States from South Africa,’ Crys responded. ‘No one knows where he is. National Geographic asked the police to try and trace him.’

‘Are you a friend of his?’ Anton asked, taking a sip of his wine. Crys nodded. There was a good chance they’d end up more than friends, she thought.

‘Did the police come up with anything?’ Johannes asked.

‘Basically, that he did go into Mozambique and returned to South Africa about ten days later. After that nothing.’ She paused. ‘How can someone just vanish and no one knows what’s happened to them?’ She didn’t mention Lieutenant Mkazi’s theory of a random hijacking.

Anton shrugged. ‘We’re a long way from anywhere here, you know. If you head into the bush you could lose cell phone signal, break down, I don’t know. It could be a long time before you’re found.’

It all seemed very casual to Crys. People had GPS these days. In the twenty-first century, you didn’t just get lost and disappear.

‘Didn’t he tell National Geographic what his plans were?’ Johannes asked.

Crys shook her head. ‘When National Geographic asked me to take over this project, they sent me all his notes for the article, but they were all about the interviews he’d done and so on. Nothing about what he was planning next. There is one thing. Michael sent me an email saying he was onto something big – smuggling horns out of South Africa – but I’ve no idea about the details.’

‘Something big?’ echoed Anton. He sat back, pushing himself away from the table. ‘Something big can be dangerous…’ He stared at Crys as though he didn’t like the taste of this conversation very much.

‘You think he might have been talking about rhino-horn smugglers?’ Anton signalled to Boku to bring dessert. ‘Can’t say. But those are not good people to mess with.’

‘How do you think—’ ‘Look,’ Anton interrupted. ‘I told that lady who phoned from your magazine everything I knew about Davidson. Was it worth you coming all the way out here and going through everything all over again?’

‘Well, I needed to talk to you about your rhino farming anyway,’ Crys said, taken aback by Anton’s reaction. ‘Didn’t he have all that in his notes?’ Crys met Anton’s eyes without blinking. ‘Yes, but they were sketchy. And it is better for a writer to form their own impressions – you can’t write an article like this from someone else’s notes. Not if you’re a professional.’

‘Anyway,’ Johannes soothed. ‘You’re very welcome here, of course.’ ‘Of course,’ Anton agreed, but he didn’t sound as though he meant it. Crys felt a wave of disappointment. Again, she’d learned nothing more. Michael had been here. He’d asked questions. He’d left for Mozambique and when he came back, he’d disappeared.

And somehow, she seemed to have upset Anton in the process of asking about it.

Boku served the dessert – a sort of filled tart that he said was called melktert. ‘That means milk tart,’ Johannes chimed in. ‘It’s a traditional Afrikaner farm dish.’

Crys took a forkful and liked it immediately. It was smooth and deliciously creamy. After she’d enjoyed a couple more forkfuls, she thought that asking Anton about the business might lighten things up. ‘I’m interested in your business model,’ she said to him. ‘Is it mainly tourists coming to see the rhinos?’

But Anton looked annoyed and gave a sour laugh. ‘Business model? Let me explain something, Ms Nguyen. If I want a business model, I have real businesses in Joburg, where I make good money. Here, I don’t make money – it costs a fortune to run this place.’ He paused. ‘So, you’ll want to know why I do it, then. Well, I’ll tell you. They’re predicting that the white rhino will be extinct in fifty years. But they’re wrong. It isn’t going to happen, because I’m not going to let it happen. That’s my business model.’

Crys didn’t respond and focused on finishing her dessert.

About the Author:

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand.

On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award.

Dead of Night blog poster 2018 (3)

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I am so excited to be part of 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas and be one of the many wonderful blogs sharing reviews and posts from a wealth of authors this Advent.  Today I have the honour of sharing a very special post written by Peter Worthington, the author of The Eden Tree, who has written about how writing his novel was a cathartic experience.


eBook Cover Peter Worthington

Description:

” Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” John James Morgan knew the day he was born. Two days before his sixty-first birthday he found out why. John is a happily married businessman, father and grandfather, living in Cheshire, in the heart of England. Happy, that is, until his family face a crisis. A terminal one. At the local market, a flower-seller tells John a story that changes his life. Assured his destiny is in his own hands, John crosses the globe in pursuit of a religious artefact which has remained hidden for two thousand years. Presented with an antique box containing maps, parchments and a bag of leaves, John returns to the UK and witnesses a miracle. With the box in his possession, John and his family find new friends and enemies; lives are threatened and people die, although some will be healed. With the help of many different people, from all walks of life, John’s journey will finally lead him to the discovery of an extraordinary and mysterious tree. But what will this Eden tree mean to John, his family, their faith and their future? The Eden Tree is author Peter Worthington’s first novel; a fictional account based on his own experiences with his son, John Wesley, who underwent treatment for cancer but sadly passed away shortly after his seventh birthday. The Eden Tree has allowed Peter to give his much-loved son “a happier ending.”

You can buy a copy of The Eden Tree via:

Amazon UK


Guest Post:

How writing the Eden Tree has helped.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share my story. I hope readers find some hope in the words here and inspiration in my novel. When our son Wesley was a three- year- old and diagnosed with cancer writing a book never crossed my mind. Thirty years later, however, I can say the process of thinking and writing theEdenTree has helped me with the loss of our child and been cathartic.

Wesley was born on January 4th, 1977, just two weeks before we moved to Ipswich in Suffolk. Our young family had already been blessed with the arrival of Rachel eighteen months before and in 1980 Calvin was born. With our three children and a growing church congregation, of which I was pastor, everything seemed wonderful. Like my fictional family, the Morgans, that spell was to be broken. On August 18th, 1980, our wedding anniversary, the bombshell dropped. Our three-year-old had cancer.

Like my fictional family in the Eden Tree a world of suffering and worry was opened. A maelstrom. Much of my story is based on my family, and Wesley. In my book there is so much taken from my personal experience. The Morgans enter Great Ormond Street Hospital with trepidation, just as we did as a young family. They are accommodated above the chapel just as my wife and I were. They walk the underground corridors following a red-painted line just as we did. The smells and sounds all came back to me as I wrote. In my book the Morgans drive home in silence, their little boy oblivious. In writing the scenes were very vivid. Seeing those days again in my mind aided the scars in my memory. Is it possible that writing opens wounds that need to heal?

By writing of the shock and pain, alongside the cries of children in the night allowed me to remember our own dark nights. Not in a morbidly sad way but with gratitude for the care and support we received. In the pages of my novel I relived walking the hospital corridors, talking with doctors and witnessing the bravery of our little boy.

There is a healing that occurs when we talk about the loss of loved ones. Putting pen to paper in a poem or story allows the emotions to flow. It is part of accepting the reality of what has happened. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was answering the Registrar, “when did Wesley die?” To admit the fact and see it recorded was gut wrenching. In my novel I was glad that John Morgan could avoid that. One of the thrills of writing is that you determine what happens. It may seem escapism and maybe it is. By drawing upon actual events and memories it’s possible to write your own story yet create romance, mystery, and adventure. Your protagonist can become a better you!

It may seem strange but writing about our experiences and placing them in a story helped me to understand the grief we felt. The Morgans story was mine, yet I could re-write history. My UK press release from Authoright suggested that the Eden Tree gives a “happier ending” which it does, as the fictional Wesley is healed by healing leaves from the mysterious Eden Tree. Most of my research involved the tree in the garden of Eden and archaeological or religious documents. In my novel the Morgans almost accidentally “drop” into the location.

Our son Wesley died just after his seventh birthday in 1984, but in my novel another Wesley celebrates his seventh birthday with nurses, teachers, friends and the leading children’s oncologist. Writing my book gave me cathartic tears as I reflected upon my son, thrilled that my fictional Wesley lived. Of course, as a Christian, I believe in an after-life. I have no doubt that I shall see Wesley again one day. Going through our ordeal has made me a more rounded person, and I believe, a more authentic author.

As a grandparent I love the time I have with my three grand-children. Writing about John Morgan as a grandad caused a lot of happiness as I see my own offspring growing up so fast! Without my personal familiarity with grand-parenting coupled with the feelings generated I would have been unable to write about John and Liz Morgan.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I visited Wesley’s grave in Ipswich. Though we shed some tears, as Christians we have hope. In the Eden Tree too, there is a beacon of hope. I intended my story to be an apologetic as well as presenting an interesting tale.

A friend predicted thirty years ago that the story of Wesley would travel the globe. Little did he realise how that would be fulfilled!

I’m sure you will agree that it was a great honour for Peter to share that with us and it’s so wonderful to see that being able to write a better ending for Welsey has helped him through his grief.

 

About the Author:

Today Peter Worthington lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire with his wife Margaret. Peter has enjoyed a bright and varied career as a church minister, financial adviser and internet consultant. Now retired he is busier than ever thanks to his three grandchildren, studying for an Open University Degree in Creative Writing, voluntary work, playing World of Warcraft, serving on the board of a housing association and writing. He has previously published short stories in a number of Christian magazines. His first novel, The Eden Tree (published by Clink Street Publishing 19th July 2016 RRP £8.99 paperback, RRP £2.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.

For more information you can follow Peter @CatshillPeter or visit http://www.edentree.co.uk/

 

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Mark Tilbury - The Liar’s Promise_cover

** My thanks to Sarah and Mark for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

How does a mother protect her child from the unknown?

During a visit to a local theatre, four-year-old Chloe Hollis becomes hysterical. But her mother, Kim, doesn’t realise that this is just the beginning of the nightmare. In the coming weeks, Chloe talks of The Tall Man – Of death.

At her wits end, Kim confides in Charles Honeywell, the headmaster at the school where she works. But what Kim doesn’t know is that Charles is linked to what is happening to her daughter.

Will Kim learn the terrible truth? And can she overcome her own tragic past and save her daughter before it’s too late?

The Liar’s Promise is a story of past lives and future torment.

My Thoughts & Review:

If you were ever in doubt of the power of the imagination I would strongly urge you to read any book written by Mark Tilbury.  This is an author that can chill the coolest of readers, his imagination can creep even the hardest of crime fiction fans out and I absolutely LOVE it!! There’s disturbing and then there’s Mark Tilbury disturbing, if you’re of a nervous disposition I would recommend finding some images of kittens playing with yarn for the next wee while….

This was quite an intense read with some very intriguing characters, the most powerful being Chloe, a four-year-old girl.
Her mother, Mel, takes her to the local theatre and young Chloe becomes hysterical.   Thinking this is a normal tantrum they leave.  Mel could never have imagined what would come next.  Her young child begins behaving strangely, speaking about The Tall Man, talking about death and destruction, uttering phrases a four-year-old should not know, and worse still, it would seem that she’s the reincarnation of a murder victim.  Mel, is beside her self with worry and has no idea who to turn to.  She seeks advice from Charles Honeywell, the headmaster at school, unawares that he is connected to all of this.
The Tall Man was a character that I held equal fear and fascination for, so creepy and chilling, Mark Tilbury knows just what words to use to set hearts racing and have you questioning whether it was a shadow you saw out of the corner of your eye, and with this character Tilbury has nailed it.  I was on edge, wanted to hide under the covers, hell, I wanted to put this book in the chest freezer and stick railway sleepers on top of the freezer!!  That’s how much it creeped me out, and I LOVED IT!

There’s so much about the plot of this book that screams out to be spoken about but that would be doing it a disservice, this is one book you have to read to understand it all.  It’s such a gripping and complex plot that grabs readers and refuses to let go.  The pace of this works well, it’s a frantic page turner, I found that I was almost speed reading this to try and find out what would happen next.

If you’re a fan of Mark Tilbury’s books already then you are in for a treat with The Liar’s Promise, his usual brand of exciting, supernatural twisted thriller with the shock factor is here in spades.  But for those new to his writing, you are lucky to be discovering a genius!  Highly recommended read!

You can buy a copy of The Liar’s Promise via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author :

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his fourth novel, The Liar’s Promise, along with The Abattoir of Dreams, published, and The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused re-launched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Social Media Links:
https://twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor

http://marktilbury.com/

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A LITTLE CHRISTMAS FAITH_FRONT_150dpi

** My thanks to Rachel and Kathryn for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Is it time to love Christmas again?
Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests … 
But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy.
As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?

My Thoughts & Review:

What a lovely book to get in the festive mood with, full of romance and feel good moments with a fantastic setting and lovely characters.

The style of writing in this book makes the story flow easily, gently leading the reader onwards.  The descriptions are utterly wonderful, The Old Mill really came alive on the pages for me, I could see the huge Christmas tree in the lobby, I felt like I was able to wander the corridors of the hotel, such clear images were conjured by Kathryn Freeman’s writing.  The characters are interesting and easy to connect with, I found that the more I read about Faith, the more I liked her.  She’s the epitome of loveliness, so kind hearted and supportive, wants to be there for everyone and help them.  Adam on the other hand, can’t see past his grief.  He loathes Christmas and everything about it, but underneath it all, he’s such a gentle and lovely guy.  Seeing the chemistry between these two was so lovely, and the way its all unfolds makes for entertaining and enjoyable reading.

The plot is packed with everything you want in a feel good Christmas read, ups and downs, laughter and all the subtle moments that make for enjoyable read that leaves you feeling all is right in the world.

You can buy a copy of A Little Christmas Faith via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:5707-2

I was born in Wallingford but have spent most of my life living in a village outside Windsor. A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also loves to write romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

I’ve two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in my life is all in my head. Then again, my husband’s unstinting support of my career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

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The Prisoners Wife Cover

 

** My thanks to Rachel at Authoright for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this **

 

Description:

From the CIA headquarters to the danger zones of Morocco and Pakistan, undercover agent Shawn Maguire is embroiled in a sinister conspiracy and an unlikely romance in this exhilarating debut spy thriller.

Shawn Maguire, unemployed American spy, has been paid to find a young Iranian now being interrogated in one of the CIA’s black prisons. The prisoner’s location remains unknown – he may be in Fes, Cairo or even Peshawar – but Shawn has every confidence that he’ll find his man eventually. Based on his time as an agent, it’s an assignment he knows he can handle. But there’s one person he’s not sure even he can handle:  the prisoner’s wife.

The Prisoner’s Wife is a political thriller ripped from today’s headlines; a tense trip through the murky worlds of state–sponsored terrorism, nuclear politics, secret American jails and lawless rendition. Conspiracies abound in this sophisticated and suspenseful novel, with its crackling dialogue and evocative, lawless landscapes. Maguire is a first-rate protagonist, complicated and heroic, and writer Gerard Macdonald does an expert job of capturing the casual ambivalence of the American intelligence officers in their rendition campaigns and keenly observes the cynical manner in which operatives prop up or depose criminal leaders depending on America’s own needs.

A pulse-pounding account of political intrigue in the Middle-East starring complex hero Shawn Maguire, The Prisoner’s Wife is the perfect next read for fans of espionage and international thrillers.

Extract:

Outside the gate, the mustachioed chauffeur had reversed the Lexus, turning it around. He stood by the car, bending his head, speaking to the veiled woman within.

‘Your enemies, and your dead. Keep them close,’ Abbasi said to Shawn. ‘I believe in that.’ He stood by the slate-roofed summerhouse, scanning the walled garden. ‘So peaceful.’ He considered his host. ‘Your face. You lost a fight?’

‘That was last week,’ Shawn said. ‘Skinny drunk kid. Thought I could teach him a lesson. I was wrong.’

Abbasi said, ‘We all get old. You attacked one of your colleagues, did you not?’ Shawn nodded. ‘Suspended from active service, I hear. No longer an American spy.’

‘They call it extended leave. I behave, take anger management class, they let me back.’

Abbasi covered his mouth, disguising what might have been amusement. ‘You think?’ His attention elsewhere, he asked how Mr. Maguire spent his time.

‘You’ll laugh,’ Shawn said. ‘It amuses people. What I ask myself these days – what I try getting my head round – is, what the hell was I doing out there? Last twenty-some years.’

‘What you were doing as a spy?’

Shawn nodded. ‘I mean, I know what I actually did, minute by minute, most days. Unless I was drunk. What I don’t know is why. Why they told me, do whatever I did. Why I did it.’

‘Protecting America from its enemies, were you not? So Mr. McCord would say.’

‘Yeah,’ said Shawn, ‘right. It’s what I tell myself. It’s what I try believing.’

He opened a bottle and poured two glasses of sparkling water. Abbasi, an observant Muslim, did not touch alcohol.

‘My turn for a question, Mr. Abbasi. You employ people. A lot of people. Import-export, it’s what I hear.’

‘In the past tense. I did employ. Like its owner, business is not what it was.’

‘I seem to remember offices, AfPak, Morocco, Kandahar, Miami. Am I right?’

‘Sadly, Afghanistan, no longer. Nor Florida. But still, we are in Islamabad. Tenuously, in Fes. And Peshawar, on the AfPak border. As you call it.’

‘So why? Why would you need me?’

‘I have a problem,’ Abbasi said, looking around him. ‘A problem with your people. CIA, Office of Special Plans, CIFA – one or all. I never know. And a problem with my people. My Pakistani, would you say, compatriots?’ He pointed to a table and chairs midway across the lawn. ‘Might we sit over there?’

Shawn stood, moving out of the summer house. A cloud of white doves spread high through still air, planing and gliding in leaderless synchrony.

‘I don’t believe this. You’re worried about bugs? Here? An English village? Do you want to pat me down?’

‘If you would not mind. To be sure you do not wear a wire.’

Ayub Abbasi ran his hands over Shawn’s body. ‘You are very fit.’

‘For your age,’ Shawn said. ‘That’s usually how the sentence ends these days. I’m fifty one. I lose fights.’

‘I know your age,’ Abbasi said. ‘I read the file. You are fifty-three. You still attract women.’

‘That,’ Shawn said, ‘I’m seriously trying to give up.’ He unpacked a new box of shells. Abbasi eyed the rifle and the pear tree.

‘I know that you trained as a sniper. I had not realized you were such a shot.’

Without looking down, Shawn reloaded the M24.

‘I used to be good. Trying to get back there.’

‘For your own amusement? Or some other reason?’ Abbasi seated himself at a wrought-iron table set on a mower-striped lawn. ‘You may know I also worked for your agency. Your former agency.’

‘Langley?’

‘Indeed. I was, as you say, on the payroll. Liaison between America and Pakistan.’

‘Not Pakistan as such,’ Shawn said. ‘Liaison with Inter-Services Intelligence, is my guess. ISI was always the target. Always the problem.’

‘For our purposes,’ Abbasi said, ‘and your purposes, ISI is Pakistan. You know, we all know, they are not just a spy service. Invisible Soldiers Incorporated, we call them. They take the dollars your Congress sends. They run my country. And much of Afghanistan, of course. Taliban is their creation. As is the drug trade.’ Abbasi smoothed his lightly oiled hair. ‘Sadly, now, those invisible soldiers wish to kill me.’

I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely piqued my curiosity!

You can buy a copy of The Prisoner’s Wife via:

Amazon UK

About the Author:

Author Gerard MacDonald lives in West London and is currently working on a short series of political fiction books.

Website: http://gerardmacdonald.net/

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** My thanks to the wonderful Abby and Urbane Publications for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Blood Rites is a Northern thriller set in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in the 1980s featuring Detective Inspector Paul Snow. DI Paul Snow has a personal secret. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force of the time. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, Snow is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons?

My Thoughts & Review:

I should admit that I picked up Blood Rites without having read any of the previous books in the series featuring DI Paul Snow, and this read well as a stand alone novel.

So where to begin, well for a start the setting of the book caught my eye.  Set in 1985 Yorkshire this book jumped out at me, so too did the fact that DI Snow is a high ranking police officer with a secret that could ruin his career and life if discovered, his sexuality.   The rife homophobia at the time makes it impossible for Snow to live his life openly as a gay man, indeed the institution he works for is a hotbed of prejudice and hatred towards homosexuals and so he lives a lie, courting a local headmistress from an all girls Catholic school.
Snow’s struggles are so well written and I almost found that I was reading these passages with more interest that the crime aspect itself.  It was so thought provoking following the development of this character through his worries and thoughts.

The case of the murderer is intriguing, and the characters in this book are complex and really get under the skin of readers, and just when you think you know where it’s going the author throws in a twist that will keep you on your toes.  Whilst there seems to be less focus on the procedural side of this crime novel, it does work and makes for an enjoyable read.  Perhaps not the fastest paced crime novel but impressive nonetheless.

You can buy a copy of Blood Rites via:

Amazon UK
Urbane Publications
Wordery
Book Depository

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** My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books and Rob Sinclair for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Still tormented by the disappearance of his wife, ex-intelligence agent James Ryker sets out on a personal mission of revenge, prepared to go to any lengths in search of the truth.

The trail takes him from the crystal waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, back to a place he thought he would never set foot again – his country of birth, England. But there he discovers more than even he bargained for. Stumbling across a terrorist attack targeted against his old employers – the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency -the faint clues to many events in his recent past are all seemingly linked to one mysterious character; The Silver Wolf.

But just who is the Silver Wolf, and why is he hell bent on punishing not just Ryker, but his closest allies at the JIA too?

Has Ryker finally met his match?

My Thoughts & Review:

James Ryker is back!! This is a series that I took a gamble on, not 100% sure that it was for me but I was so pleased to be proved wrong by Rob Sinclair’s adrenaline packed writing, and have ended up a huge fan of the James Ryker books! After the ending of The Black Hornet, I was frantically hoping the wait for the next book wouldn’t be too long, how could Sinclair keep us holding on too long to find out what would happen next?!

The whole series does read rather fantastically, but I do think that this installment has more globe trotting and action packed into it, and it would be amazing to see this on the big screen.  There’s just something about the writing that makes a film play in my head so I can see the action playing out, it’s quite brilliant!
Sinclair has upped the ante with The Silver Wolf, there are some intense moments that will have readers peeking through their fingers as they read, the notion that even Ryker was shocked at what he was seeing took me by surprise (she says as she bravely read passages whilst hugging a cushion/hiding behind said cushion).  This all just adds to the intensity of the plot and makes for a thrilling and exciting read that keeps readers hooked.

As with most books in a series, I would recommend reading these in order, it makes more this way, means that the story flows naturally and the sequence of events will make sense.  But if you do want to read this one as a stand alone, then it is possible as there is more than enough detail included throughout the narrative to ensure you know what has happened previously in The Red Cobra and The Black Hornet without becoming bogged down.

A fast paced, action packed and absolutely bloody brilliant!!
Please don’t ever end this series!

You can buy a copy of The Silver Wolf via:

Amazon UK

 

About the author:

JPP_4519

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Maxine Morrey’s Best Little Christmas Shop!  I am so excited to be able to share an extract from the book and there’s a fab competition to win some goodies and a signed book too!

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Description:

Come home for Christmas to the Best Little Christmas Shop – the snowiest, cosiest place you can be!

Home for the holidays…

Icing gingerbread men, arranging handmade toys and making up countless Christmas wreaths in her family’s cosy little Christmas shop isn’t usually globe-trotter Lexi’s idea of fun. But it’s all that’s keeping her mind off romance. And, with a broken engagement under her belt, she’s planning to stay well clear of that for the foreseeable future…until gorgeous single dad Cal Martin walks through the door!

Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as Lexi begins to see it through Cal’s adorable five-year-old son’s eyes. But, finding herself getting dangerously close to the mistletoe with Cal, Lexi knows she needs to back off. She’s sworn off love, and little George needs a stability she can’t provide. One day she’ll decide whether to settle down again – just not yet.

But the best little Christmas shop in this sleepy, snow-covered village has another surprise in store…

You can buy a copy of The Best Little Christmas Shop now via Amazon UK


Extract:

The Four Seasons had started life as a quirky little gift shop many years ago – opened by my newlywed parents. It had a USP before that was even a thing in that it followed the seasons. In summer, it was stuffed to the roof with bunting, picnic blankets and baskets, tiki lamps, parasols and everything else you could think of, and plenty you hadn’t, for a perfect summer’s day.

But now, in the grips of winter, it was overflowing with Christmas-related goodies and a warm, cosy ambiance. This was enhanced by a massive tree that had only just fit in the door and was topped off with classy but festive instrumental music playing softly in the background.

Much of the stock was locally made, some by my family, others by friends, and the rest sourced from artisans both here and abroad. My parents had always loved discovering and nurturing new talent, although since Dad’s heart scare a couple of years ago they’d stepped back a little and my brothers now took it in turns to do the travelling for this side of the business, cramming it in around everything else including their families.

From a little shop in the village, over the last forty years, the business had grown into a very successful online one too and my brothers still had more plans for it.

The shop was part of my childhood, part of the fabric of my life. I’d actually taken my first steps in it, and growing up, I’d help choose new stock for the next season. Talking shop was never banned at our dinner table. It was positively encouraged. My brothers and I had been chief toy testers for many years and now my nieces and nephews had taken over that mantle.

Even though my own career had taken me out of the country for over half the year, my family had always made sure I was still included as much as I had the time for. Mum would email me a few pictures, or send me some product samples, asking what I thought. Depending on my mood, and how far away from home I was at the time, it was sometimes a bittersweet experience. I loved that they made a point of keeping me involved in any way they and I could manage, but I knew that had I been closer, I’d have been sat around the big, timeworn pine table discussing that same product with my family in person. Laughing, teasing, talking. And the truth was, I’d never stopped missing that.

Running a business was hard work but the shop had grown along with our family and, as such, it was almost another family member. Even when it took nearly every minute of our time, we loved it. And, much to my surprise, I now found myself sat back behind the project desk next to the till and experiencing exactly what Matt had meant about orders having shot up.

I put aside a completed wreath, gave a glance around my currently quiet surroundings, smiling at the warm fuzzies it set off somewhere deep in my soul, and began work on the next one.

Winding mistletoe around the main structure, I held it up, eyeballing it and sussing where the holly would go. The process was remarkably soothing and although I’d been doing much the same thing for the past week, in between serving customers, I’d felt some of the tension I’d been carrying around for a long time very slowly begin to ebb out of me.

Creating was good for the soul my parents had always said, and although I’d been taught some basic skills, I’d always been more interested in tinkering with the old Jag Dad had in the garage below my room. It was one of those projects he always meant to get around to but never had, and then his heart attack had happened. It had been a huge scare for all of us. Dad had always seemed full of life and indestructible – big and broad like my brothers – but his heart attack had brought us down to earth and now we all fussed him probably a little too much for his liking.

But, thank goodness, he’d been sensible and my parents took the opportunity to step back a little, leaving much of the day-to-day running to Dan and the others. And leaving the Jag to me. But it was still sat in much the same condition as when he’d given it to me. I just never seemed to get the time to do anything on it. During the times that I did get to visit home, I wanted to be with my family and friends, catching up on everything I’d missed, not stuck out on my own in a chilly garage. As much as I loved cars, and that Jag particularly, I loved my family more.

Who knows? Maybe now that the career I’d worked so hard to build was swirling around the plughole, I might finally have the time to do something on it. Not exactly the way I’d planned things to go but still. Although I loved the shop and had worked in here since I could remember, possibly as more of a hindrance than help in my early years, I never thought for a moment that I’d be sat back here in my thirties. A sharp jab in my thumb from a particularly robust holly leaf brought me painfully out of my reverie.

‘Oh f –’ I glared at the leaf now firmly attached to my digit. And then I looked over it and directly into the wide, soft grey eyes of a little boy around five years old who was regarding me curiously. Behind him stood a pair of long, indigo-denim-clad legs. My gaze followed them up and I found myself on the end of an intense stare from a similar pair of eyes.

But these were a much stormier grey, set in the ridiculously good-looking face of a man I assumed to be the boy’s father. I cleared my throat and swallowed my words, making a mental note to get one of my brothers to fix a bell to the back of the door as soon as possible.

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you come in.’

The man quirked a dark brow almost imperceptibly. ‘Evidently.’ His expression was firmly set to unamused. I gave him a fixed smile and looked back to my desk, hoping he’d leave to go and practise his ninja shopping skills elsewhere. The young boy’s eyes were focused on my hands as I picked up the holly again, a little more carefully this time.

‘Come on, George, let’s –’

‘What are you doing?’ George asked, seemingly not hearing his father and sitting the teddy he’d been holding on the table at the end of my supplies so that he could observe too.

I smiled at them both, almost expecting the father to repeat his request to leave but he remained silent, evidently happy to let George’s curiosity be fulfilled and probably aware that the glare he’d given me moments earlier was enough to stop me even thinking about swearing again for the rest of my life. Well, at least until they left anyway.

‘I’m making Christmas wreaths for people to hang on their doors.’

His eyes widened as his fingers reached out and touched the mistletoe. ‘It’s real?’

‘It is. Mind the holly though. That can be a bit spiky.’ I risked a glance up through my lashes and met his father’s eyes, a glimmer of a smirk on a mouth that some might call tempting. I’d probably call it that too but I already had way too much to worry about.

‘We had one like that last year but it was plastic.’

‘Some of those can be very nice too.’ I smiled.

‘Not as nice as yours,’ George said, moving to peer around me at the others he had now noticed hanging behind, ready for shipping out later.

‘Thank you.’

George came around the front of my desk again and watched for a moment as I continued to work. His father had taken a couple of steps away and was now looking at the rows of chutney, fudge, and other delicious temptations on the shelves to my right.

‘I do like your bear,’ I said to George. ‘Does he have a name?’

‘He’s just called Bear.’

‘That sounds like the perfect name to me.’ I gently took Bear’s paw and shook it. ‘It’s very nice to meet you, Bear.’

George giggled. ‘I’m George.’

I shook his hand in the same way. ‘My name’s Lexi. It’s very nice to meet you too.’

George smiled. ‘This is my daddy.’

‘Hello, Daddy … I mean …’

Oh God, that sounded so weird!


 

Giveaway time!

For your chance to win the goodies in the picture below just click on this link
Please note this is for a Rafflecopter giveaway and is open to UK entries only.

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About the author:

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm!

As years went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, aswell as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities.

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read sew and listen to podcasts. As she also likes cake she can also be found either walking or doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

Follow Maxine Morrey

Website           www.scribblermaxi.co.uk

Twitter                        @Scribbler_Maxi

Instagram        @scribbler_maxi

Facebook         www.Facebook.com/MaxineMorreyAuthor

Pinterest          ScribblerMaxi

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** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

My Thoughts & Review:

For fans of Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series a huge sigh of relief can be breathed, the next instalment has landed!

Whiteout sees readers reunited with Ari Thór who is investigating the case of a young woman found dead at the bottom of the cliffs in Kálfshamarvík, a deserted village.  He and Tómas have their work cut out for them with a tight time frame to solve this one, but when they discover that the young woman’s mother and young sister died at the same spot some years ago the investigation becomes as dark and chilling as an Icelandic winter.
The plot also has a wonderful strand relating to the personal lives of Ari, Tómas and Ari’s girlfriend Kristen.  Kristen is heavily pregnant and ends up agreeing to join Ari and Tómas on their trip to Kálfshamarvík, using the time to research her family history.

If you are new to the Dark Island series, I would thoroughly recommend going back and reading the books in order, this will build up a better picture of Ari Thór and give you a wonderful grounding of the skill of Ragnar Jónasson.  He incorporates the eeriness of the setting perfectly into the plot of his novels leaving a reader feeling chilled and wrapped up in the darkness.  I love the way that this feels more like an old fashioned investigation story, relying on intuition and investigative techniques, and it feels like an exercise in mental capabilities trying to puzzle the mystery together with Ari.

There is so much more to this novel than I first expected and I truly am glad.  The character development was superb, it was good to see more about the personalities and  felt that I learned more about Ari and Kristen in Whiteout.  The other characters in this were equally interesting in their own way, some that readers can empathise with and feel invested in, but equally there were ones that you could not help but loathe.

As always, the wonderful scenery that is described in Ragnar’s books really sets the scene and tone for the novel.  I’ve never been to Iceland, and only ever googled images but from what I’ve read in the series it feels like I’ve trudged through the snow, battled biting winds and been lost in the dark of Iceland on several occasions.  The imagery that the writing conjures is so powerful and intense.  The narrative holds your attention perfectly and draws you in slowly making this a superb read!

A thank you to Quentin Bates for this wonderful translation, it’s always a joy when you see him listed as the translator of a book as you know that he will have ensured that the English version of a book will read as though it were the original.

 

You can buy a copy of Whiteout via:

Orenda Books eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author

Ragnar_Photo_TwoRagnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Follow Ragnar on Twitter and his website.

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