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** My thanks to Thomas and Mercer & Netgalley for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing—except him.

Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth—about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.

And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

My Thoughts & Review:

The very description of this book intrigued me, what would I do in the position of the main character Catherine?  How does she go on?  What thoughts are running through her mind when she discovers her husband has gone and never returns?  Also, what drives Simon to do this?  So much about this book just screamed “READ ME”.

The book opens on the day that Simon walks out of his life and the reader then sees the impact this has on his friends and family, watching the ground beneath their feet crumble and their lives are inexplicably changed.  But we also experience the life that Simon goes on to lead in the 25 years he spends estranged from his family before returning “home”, and allowing Catherine to find out who he really is and his reasons for leaving like he did.

From the outset, my heart went out to Catherine.  How awful it must have been for her to try and hold things together for the sake of her children whilst wanting to curl up and stop living.  Her marriage had some issues, and life wasn’t always easy with small children around but she thought that things were stable, that life was ok and that she and Simon were ok.  Not knowing that all the while that Simon had an ulterior motive, that he was planning to walk out on them all and not look back and leave them to try and pick up the pieces and get on with life.  From that moment I didn’t like Simon, I couldn’t help but feel a hatred towards him, yes I admit, I hadn’t read all of his story yet to find out what was driving his decisions but part of me didn’t want to find out.  Part of me wanted to stop reading there and then, I didn’t want Simon’s company, the spectre of him sitting on my shoulder as I read more about him.
I did however read on, more for the sake of finding out if Catherine and the kids managed to turn things around and move on.
It’s always a good sign if an author can evoke such strong emotions from their readers with the characterisation in their books and I have to admit that John Marrs has done that with When You Disappeared, he seems to have found a formula in his writing that makes readers hate characters but at the same time feel that they aren’t 100% sure of their gut instinct, keeping them questioning whether there may be an underlying story that might just save a character…….

Narrated from alternating perspectives, readers experience the lives of both Simon and Catherine, seeing how their lives have progressed in the intervening 25 years, leading up to the moment that they meet again.  I did feel that it pulled at my attention somewhat, the jumping back and forth between the two main characters did feel a little disjointed but it did add to the overall suspense and intrigue so kept me on my toes.  The pace felt that it matched the plot well, not an adrenaline packed, fast paced read, but more a slow build to increase the tension levels and keep readers wondering what might happen.

A very interesting and original plot with some incredibly well created characters that will test your resolve!

This book was previously published as The Wronged Sons.

You can buy a copy of When You Disappeared via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

 

 

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Hello and welcome to the first Celebrating Indie Publishing post of 2018!  Yes, it is the first post for this as I took some time out in January to scale the mountainous reading pile before it toppled over and have only posted a few scheduled shares here and there.

Today I am delighted to share a review of a book I stumbled upon last year by chance, it’s one that was previously published by Freight Books and has been picked up by the mighty and amazing Saraband who are publishing some pretty fantastic books this year.  Anyway, enough of my wittering, lets get on to the book….

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** My thanks to Sara at Saraband Books for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Ian McEwan’s Atonement meets Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth in this extraordinary debut.

A novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements. Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War 2. After witnessing a shocking event she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life amidst the craters of London’s Blitz, and takes comfort in her family of animals, abandoned pets she’s rescued from London’s streets.

In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness? In Goblin, debut novelist Dundas has constructed an utterly beguiling historical tale with an unforgettable female protagonist at its centre.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the moment that I heard about Goblin I was intrigued, it sounded like a very different read and one very unlike anything I’ve read before and I wasn’t wrong!  The storyline moves between different times and locations, but always follows our protagonist Goblin who grew began her days in London.

At the beginning of the book there is a scene that will make many readers chuckle, some will screech in horror, but mostly I think they will appreciate the wit of Ben eating his way through Ulysses, and will not give in until he has finished the book.  ‘Old Lady’ affectionately named by Ben, is Mrs G Bradfield, the Reader in Residence in the Edinburgh library who tries to dissuade Ben from his quest to rid the library of the James Joyce book before realising that this is simply something that he must do.  Her acceptance of this is the first instance readers will get of there being more to this character than first meets the eye.
As the time line flicks between 2011 Edinburgh and 1941 London a link between Mrs G Bradfield and Goblin becomes apparent, and I will admit, in the beginning I wasn’t quite sure how these two were connected but soon it becomes apparent that they are the same person.

Goblin, as we get to know the character doesn’t have a name as such, or at least we don’t ever see her being addressed as anything other than Goblin by her family and friends.  Having been rejected by her mother at a young age, she has formed a bond with her dear dog Devil, who she sees as her best friend and confidant.  There is a respectful silence between Goblin and her father, him allowing her to watch as he repaired various electrical items such as radios when she was younger so that as she grew she was able to help him.  But the human who holds the dearest space in her heart is her brother, he is the one that offers her the relationship that she misses out on with their mother.  His care and compassion towards his younger sister is touching and endearing to see, whilst it is true that younger siblings can be testing at times, and the pair do squabble or fall out, they also have a wonderful bond.

As the plot moves on we see that Goblin has invented a world of make believe around herself, trying to find adventure in her surroundings and living in a world of Martians, Nazis and the Lizard People.  Her imagination is powerful, and part of me wonders if this inventiveness was merely a coping mechanism, seeking a bond with something to fill the parental void.  Whilst most children would have outgrown this imaginary world, Goblin instead fully immerses herself in it, regaling those around her of magical tales of the Underworld and the Lizard People, this make believe world forming a shell, a protective bubble around herself to shield her of the horrifying realities of the world around her.

Ever Dundas has recently won the Saltire First Book Award 2017 for Goblin and it is very clear why, this is an incredibly well written novel that is beautifully poignant, and the juxtaposition of abandonment and neglect with humour makes this such a compelling read and the believable characters bring it all to life.
The only negative thing that I have about this book was that it was initially a little confusing when reading, the way that the plot jumps back and forth between the different times did take a little getting used to, and once I’d grasped the style of writing I found it worked so well with the story, it almost felt like the jumps back were perhaps tangents of Goblin’s aged mind lost in thought and reminiscing.  A stunning debut that I would heartily recommend!

‘Mon Team Corporal Pig!!

 You can buy a copy of Goblin via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

 

 

 

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** My thanks to Margot at One World for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

An isolated Swedish town.

A deaf reporter terrified of nature.

A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest.

A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

My Thoughts & Review:

Doesn’t that description just scream intrigue?!  I love Nordic Noir, something about the cold and brooding setting just makes these books utterly divine and I was thrilled to get the chance to read an early copy of Dark Pines by Will Dean to experience Sweden in such a suffocatingly frightening way.

From the very outset let me just say that I LOVED this book!  I started reading it whilst the little one went swimming with my husband and was almost shocked when they reappeared to announce it was time to go home.  I had failed to notice the passing of time, not drunk my cuppa or even opened the jaffa cakes – the book was that interesting.

The setting of this novel is intoxicating, dangerous yet beautiful and so perfectly described.  Will Dean brings the woods alive to the point that they’re almost like another character in the book.  The opening pages of the book set the dark tone well, giving readers a real idea of the danger that lurks in the woods and just how easy it is for an accident (or worse) to happen and there be no one there to help you.
The way that the woods are a link between the crimes and the characters is fascinating, and even more so because our protagonist is afraid of them.

Tuva Moodyson is an exceptional character, there was just something about her that I found fascinating.  Whether it was her journalistic skills, her great taste in food or her determination to conquer her fear, but one thing’s for certain, she’s brilliant.  One of the the things about her that stands out is the fact that she’s deaf, and how she views it as nothing more than another part of her character.  By that, I mean that she accepts it, doesn’t like people making a point of it or commending her on being able to speak clearly without any telltale signs of her deafness.  I found the passages about her caring for her hearing aids quite interesting, not something I’ve ever had contact with before so wasn’t aware of how static or electrical pulses could cause irritation for wearers, or the importance of keeping them dry.  Do love the feeling that a book has imparted a little knowledge.

If having Tuva wasn’t interesting enough, there is a cast of colourful characters to delight readers.  From the woodcarving sisters, who I won’t lie, creeped the hell out of me, the very odd taxi driver and his son (there’s a story there that needs to be expanded upon!), and the shut in writer are just some of the extremely intriguing beings in Dark Pines.  And they ways that they are written, my goodness I could see them, smell the aromas around their homes, feel the hostility around them…..exceptional writing!

I mentioned food when speaking about Tuva earlier, and that’s because food plays a big part in the plot.  In moments of panic or fear, Tuva seeks out her friend who owns a food catering truck, and serves up some of the most delicious sounding food that had my mouth watering at the very mention of it.  But so too did the food cooked by Frida.  Not a book to read when you’re hungry!

The mystery element to the plot is exquisite!  There are so many suspects and valid suspicions for each of their possible motives, but Will Dean knows how to lull readers into the calm and quiet without giving anything away.  His plotting is utterly brilliant, I applaud him for keeping me absolutely hooked, second guessing myself and being completely and utterly wrong about the killer and the motive.

This has to be the book you start 2018 waiting for, it’s everything you want from Nordic Noir, a creeping chill that spreads through you as you get pulled in to the story and cannot put it down!  Get Will Dean on your list of authors to watch out for, this is a name you don’t want to forget!!

 

 

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** Copy purchased via Amazon UK **

 

Description:

Scott makes enemies everywhere. Powerful people want him dead. He’s coming back to Ireland to finish what he started. But first, he must make it out of Marrakech alive.

Jen knows Scott will come back. Every day, she waits. He almost killed her last time and, fuelled by hate and arrogance, he’s not a man to ever just move on. He will kill her and he will kill her young son. But her husband and friends believe she has spiralled into paranoia.

So she knows, when he returns, she’ll face the psychopath alone.

In this powerful thriller, Hogan plunges us into the world and mind of her psychopathic killer from the first line and relentlessly tightens the tension until the very last page.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When They All Fall Down came out earlier this year I must have been on another planet, I completely missed it and missed out all the buzz about it.  As soon as I heard that Cat Hogan had another book coming out I was quick to find out what I’d missed and was racing over to Amazon to buy copies of both books on the recommendation of some very trusted bloggers.  As usual, they steered me right!

As a sequel, There Was a Crooked Man works so well, it continues the story of Scott, Jen, Andy and Danny and is deliciously thrilling reading.  I loved that there were chapters from Scott’s perspective at the beginning of this book, it makes it all the more dark and intense, and reminded me just how much I loved to hate this character (in a good way!).  It was interesting seeing how Jen was coping in the aftermath of the events in They All Fall Down.  The past events playing heavily on her mind, and in her heart she fears that Scott will return.

The way that Cat writes takes readers on a rollercoaster of emotion, being able to see events from the perspectives of such differing characters really hits the audience.  There’s also a few red herrings cleverly thrown into the narrative to keep you guessing what way the story will go next, increasing the tension and leaving you on the edge of your seat.  I loved the way that the plot drew me in and had me utterly transfixed, I needed to keep reading, I had no idea where the story would end up but I couldn’t put it down! 

As always, with a series I would recommend reading the books in order, it makes a lot more sense to have read They All Fall Down to get a better grounding of the characters (especially psychopathic Scott), but I guess you could read this one as as stand alone if you really wanted to.  Cat Hogan does give plenty background to give readers an idea of what has happened previously but to get a fuller picture I say head back to book one and enjoy!

A tense and dark thriller that will knock your socks off!

You can buy a copy of There Was a Crooked Man via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

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** My thanks to Jennifer Kerslake at W&N for my copy of this magnificent book **

 

Description:

In 1944, in a sleepy English village, Daniel and his emotionally-distant mother, Annabel, remain at home while his father is off fighting a war that seems both omnipresent and very, very far away.

When mother and son befriend Hans, a German PoW working on a nearby farm, their lives are suddenly filled with excitement – though the prisoner comes to mean very different things to each of them. To Annabel, he is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel’s birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the mythical world of fairy-tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise or a magical woodchopper. But Daniel often struggles to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, and Hans has plans to spin a special sort of web to entrap mother and son for his own needs.

My Thoughts & Review:

Between the beautiful cover and that hauntingly superb description it was only a matter of time before this book came to my attention, and I was honoured to receive an early copy for review.

Chloe Mayer is a new author for me, and I have to admit that based on The Boy Made of Snow, she will be sitting firmly on my list of authors to watch out for.  Her style of writing is a joy to read, sublimely detailed and absolutely captivating.  And I particularly liked the references to classic fairy tales interwoven throughout the book.  Each chapter headed up with a quotation from a traditional tale such as The Snow Queen or Rapunzel .  The link within the story to the tales is through the stories that Annabel reads to her son Daniel at bedtime.
Annabel and Daniel live in a small village in rural Kent, and it quickly becomes clear that Daniel’s father is away fighting in the war.  As narration changes between Annabel and Daniel, readers soon learn that Annabel has struggled to adapt to motherhood since the birth of her only child.  Perhaps in today’s time she would be diagnosed with Post Partum Depression, but alas, in the 1940s poor mental health was something to be frowned upon for the shame it would bring on the family.  Through reading from her perspective we can see that she feels no affection for her son, and indeed never calls him by name.   She and Daniel live together in the same house but there is no closeness there, they are worlds apart.

Daniel is what I might expect a nine year old boy to be like in many senses, on the look out for adventure, an imagination that conjures monsters and villains.  But underneath it all, he desperately loves his mother and rather sadly I think, realises that she is different from other mothers.  Reading some of the narrative I find it almost heartbreaking to see that Daniel holds his mother so dear in his heart, he misses his father and he casts so much importance on the fairy tales that his mother shares with him.
Hans, the woodcutter, now there’s a mysterious character.  We only ever see him through the eyes of Annabel or Daniel so cannot really get a true picture of his character.  His presence in the village causes some discord amongst the locals, some not happy about the prisoners of war being there, even if they are doing labour to help out.  For Daniel, he is the embodiment of the woodchopper from Hansel and Gretel, a friendly but strong figure that brings excitement.  For Annabel, he’s a different kind of exciting.  Someone who doesn’t know her, know her struggles and who ultimately makes her feel alive again.

There have been some exceptional novels published this year, and although the year’s not out yet, I think it’s safe to say that readers have been well and truly spoiled this year with what the world of publishing have brought to us.  Chloe Mayer written such a emotion filled debut that I struggled to put down.  There are so many wonderful moments in this book that I felt I could see scenes playing out through the beautifully clear descriptive writing, I could feel the anguish and heart break of Daniel as events unfolded, all too often he seemed older than his nine years, taking on responsibility of caring for his mother but then I would quickly remember that he was a nine year old boy,  not yet equipped with the knowledge to comprehend the trials and tribulations of adults and their emotions.

I could not fault this book at all, it is flawless and wonderful, and I highly recommend it!

You can buy a copy of The Boy Made of Snow via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

 

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Description:

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients.

Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz, as readers may recognise it. Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive? Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud – a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The moment I read the description of this book I knew I had to find out more and was delighted to be offered a review copy to read.  I have a great interest in book set during WWII, the courage and strength shown by the characters is something that I find moving and their stories are incredibly moving.

In this we meet Ella, taken from her family as she went about her day and thrown into Auschwitz work camp.  From here she stops being Ella, the Nazis strip her of her worldly goods including her treasured green sweater.  She is given a number, black and white striped clothing and has to find a bunk in an over crowded hut.  But despite this, she is determined.  Determined to do what it takes to survive, determined not let the Nazis win and crush her spirit.  At just fourteen years old she wins her first job as a seamstress in the camp’s sewing hut.  I say win because she has to prove her worth against another hopeful contender, and in places like the work camps it was a case of survival of the fittest. 

Through some incredibly detailed narrative, readers are almost able to feel the silks that Ella sews, can see the delicate embroidery done on the garments, but most powerful of all is the descriptions of the fear felt by Ella and her fellow inmates.
Whilst Ella is a strong character, she contrasts well with her new friend Rose.  Rose is gentle, and kind and has an imagination that makes your heart swell.  The stories that Rose makes up during their time in the camp are their means of distraction and a way to help them survive the atrocities they endure.  Watching Ella trying to push Rose to be less kind and more selfish was hard, but for the sake of her safety, Rose had to toughen up.

There were many instances whilst reading this that I paused, my heart breaking at what I was reading, like most takes set during this time period, they are not for the feint hearted.  There is a harsh reality that has to be faced, and whilst this is a fictional tale there are elements of truth to it and from reading other books it’s quite easy to imagine events playing out as they did in this book.  The rawness of the emotions I felt reading this are a credit to Lucy Adlington, her writing is superb and truly left me feeling so caught up in the story of Ella.

You can buy a copy of The Red Ribbon via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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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.

TBLC - Giveaway Prize

 

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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I am so thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett and share a guest post with you about her daily writing habits.  Hell to Pay is the fourth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, and it sounds like a fast paced crime thriller that will delight readers!


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Description:

When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter’s investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?

Hell to Pay is a gripping fast paced crime thriller, and the fourth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY


Guest Post:

Jamming with words – my daily writing habits

There’s one thing that drives me every single day, and that’s the need to create new words before I lose myself down the social media rabbit hole or become immersed in the business and marketing side of being a writer.

I now write full-time after years fitting it in around first full-time work and then a part-time job as I slowly grew more successful, but that opens up a whole new can of worms: how to write more, without affecting my health? We’ve all heard horror stories of typists with RSI, bad backs and the like, and I didn’t want to end up like that, so about 12 months ago, I took the plunge.

I started using dictation software to smash my daily word targets.

At first, I approached it with a bit of trepidation, I’ll be honest. After all, it’s weird hearing your own voice, and there is a tendency to feel a bit of a twit to start off with.

Nevertheless, I persevered. I didn’t worry about the special commands to make the software do flash things like save my work or anything – I simply concentrated on training it to understand my voice (not easy with a mixture of an English/Australian accent!), then introduced basic punctuation such as speech marks and commas.

I’m not a patient person by nature, but I am determined. I read all sorts of stories in Facebook groups about people’s frustrations with the same software, but I refused to give up.

The real turning point for me was the blog tour for the first Detective Kay Hunter book, Scared to Death. I’d started to find my feet with the dictation software while drafting the book, but it really saved my bacon when it came to all the guest posts I had to provide for that first tour because rather than typing each one, I simply paced about in front of my desk while I dictated the words.

It was so liberating!

For the past 12 months, I’ve probably dictated two thirds of each of my books this year, including Hell to Pay. The dictation is mostly used during the first draft stage, whereas when it comes to editing, I rely on touch typing and good old handwritten notes.

Yes, it can have its issues. The microphone is very sensitive for starters, and there have been a few instances where a loud noise in the neighbourhood has made me jump with fright, with the accompanying swear words having to be deleted afterwards!

These days though, I can’t imagine writing the Kay Hunter series without the aid of dictation – and of course, it means I can produce the books faster for readers, too!

 

A huge thank you to Rachel for joining me today and sharing her writing habits with me, I’m not sure I would manage to use dictation software, I always think I sound like a complete numpty when I hear my voice played back in videos…..It’d probably put me off listening to myself wittering away haha

You can buy your copy of Hell To Pay via:

Amazon UK

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** My thanks to Alison Brodie for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Devious, ruthless, and loyal.

Zenka is a capricious Hungarian with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charge. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will make Nicholas into the sort of son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas is learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed. As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Zenka was a book that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about it, I’d seen it reviewed by other bloggers and was curious about it as they’d raved about it.

What can I say about Zenka?  It’s an adrenaline packed, madcap, vortex of crime fiction, black humour with a smattering of romance thrown in for good measure.  Now to try and break that down into something that resembles a review without regurgitating the blurb….hmm this could be tricky!
There are so many strands to the plot of Zenka, for a start, Zenka is the name of our protagonist.  She’s Hungarian, a pole dancer in one of the clubs owned by Jack Murray (a gangster) and when Jack saved her life she decided to become his “guardian angel”.  Simple enough so far….
Zenka’s attempts to help Jack and his son connect are disastrous, but they make for entertaining reading.

The clever use of the letters written by Zenka to her friend explain so much about this character, and I found that the more I read, the greater my understanding of her became.  I was initially a little hesitant with the accent that Zenka had, but it grew on me through the book and I ended up hearing her speaking in that accent as she spoke.

Characterisation in this is superb, you really get a feel for the personalities and the quirks of the main characters and it’s hard not to become invested in them.
The humour woven throughout the book is excellent, I found I was chuckling out loud at certain scenes, Jack and Trevor at Christmas, Jack and Zenka trying to “toughen” Nicholas up are just some of the ones that immediately spring to mind.

It’s a well written crime thriller with a difference.

 

You can buy a copy of Zenka via:

Amazon UK

 

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** My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Louise Wise for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Can you really be on the WRONG path in life?

No one knew she was driving on that stretch of road. No one saw her car leave the highway and crash into a watery ditch. No one heard the car’s windscreen smash or saw the tree branch come through to impale her to her seat. No one heard her screams.

Julie Compton’s life should have come to an end that day, but instead, that moment was the beginning of her new life as she wakes, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her traumatic childhood all over again. One flaw. She’s in the body of a stranger.

Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie is forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling other people’s bodies she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one all while wondering if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car.

With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but of those around her. She’s finally ‘living’ but does that mean she must die?

My Thoughts & Review:

There was something in the description of this book that instantly caught my eye and made me want to read more.  I’m a sucker when it comes to tales with a hint of time travel, I recently enjoyed Stephen King’s 11.22.63 and have been watching Outlander on Amazon so this book had an instant appeal and I was keen to see where Louise Wise would take her character with this.

I enjoyed reading this novel, and found that I was eagerly looking forward to seeing where Julie would end up next with her leaps.  The way that the events of Julie’s past are revisited through her possession of another body is fascinating, she is able to watch and experience the events of her childhood through the perspective of another person which adds another dimension to the tale.  The period details of the 70s and 80s were well written and felt authentic.

A little bit of an open mind is helpful when reading this, as it does hint towards sci-fi but it works.  There are elements of humour and romance woven through the plot making this a well rounded read for those who want to branch out from their comfort zones slightly.  I also found that it got me thinking, if I had the chance, would I go back and change anything about my life…..?

An enjoyable and engaging read!

 

You can buy a copy of Wide Awake Asleep via:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

About the Author:

Louise Wise is a British writer and has been weaving stories all her life—and for many years, she was a ‘closet writer’ with a cupboard is full of ageing manuscripts depicting fantastical romantic adventures!

Most of her books have an element of romance, but tend to cross over into other genres, giving them a unique edge.

Her debut novel is the best-selling sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.

A PROPER CHARLIE is a romantic comedy written purely for the chick lit market, but then she decided to unite her love of all things supernatural with romance and OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE and WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP came along.

Her other works include SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories with a twist). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.

She loves hearing from her readers – the good, the bad and the ugly stuff they want to share!

Social Media Links –

Website: http://louisewise.website

Books: http://amzn.to/1Ne7KX0

Twitter: https://twitter.com/louise_wise

 

 

 

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