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Hi and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for “Unforgivable” by Mike Thomas.  This is the second book to feature Will Macready, the first in the series was “Ash and Bones” which I would thoroughly recommend reading (my review of this can be found here).  I’m absolutely delighted to be able to share a guest post today that has been written by Mike, and it’s very inkeeping with his sense of humour, and remember ladies and gents, there are other supermarkets out there if you would prefer their bags….

UnforgivableDescription:

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

You can buy a copy of “Unforgivable” via:

Amazon
Wordery

 


 

How a Bit of Cheek Got My First Novel Published (or ‘Mugging a Publisher’)

Getting your foot in the door of the publishing world is incredibly hard, right?

You write your book, you edit and polish and fret, and when you’re absolutely certain it’s as good as it’s going to get, that it’s going to make an agent or editor sit up and immediately make calls to get you signed, you do it: covering letter (not too long, quickly selling yourself, your novel), synopsis (punchy, intriguing, it has to draw the agent or editor in), three sample chapters (probably the opening, and you’ve made them a thrilling read, right?). Off they go, into the post or via email.

And you wait. And wait. Then you wait a bit more.

During this time your brain does weird things to you. You forget that people can be very busy and won’t respond straight away. When you haven’t heard anything for five hours, you worry that the post office lost the parcel. You think your email got lost in the ether. After two days, you wonder if your letter was a bit rude, or if you’ve managed to upset your chosen agent because the font you’ve used reminds her of an ex-boyfriend’s love letters. After a week you’re convinced the entire publishing industry despises you and you’re the worst writer in the world.

After two months of wretchedness: A LETTER ARRIVES.

You pause, staring at it. Holding it in your hands. Wondering if you will open it… and open up a whole new world.

Of course, it’s a rejection. They usually are. So you spend a day or two feeling numb then pick yourself up and send off another package. Then you and your brain go through it all again. And again. Ad nauseam. You repeat this rigmarole until you’re happy when you receive an electricity bill through the letterbox, just as long as it’s not another ‘We really enjoyed it but it’s not for us I’m afraid’ missive.

I went through all this for years. With three novels. I have hundreds of rejection letters from agents and publishing houses. All of them very polite kicks in the testicles.

By December 2008 I’d had enough.

At this point I’d gone back to university, and was halfway through a Master’s degree. I’d written a novel as part of it: ‘Pocket Notebook’, the tale of a demented police officer whose life comes crashing down around his ears. At regular intervals during the course we would have the chance to listen to and ask questions of guest speakers from the writing world: authors, academics, industry insiders.

For that December it was the Publishing Director of one of the biggest, most respected imprints in the UK, if not the world, who was traveling west from London to talk to us. I won’t name him, for reasons which will become apparent, but he was incredibly interesting to listen to. We sat, rapt, for over an hour as he gave us a glimpse of another world, another life, one that most in the audience aspired to live.

Especially me.

I’ve told you I’d had enough of rejection by this stage. It can do funny things to you. Make you desperate, even. And so, before the speech by the Publishing Director I Won’t Name, I hatched a cunning plan: I gathered the manuscript of ‘Pocket Notebook’, stole a large brown envelope from a University office, and parcelled it all up with my contact details WRITTEN VERY CLEARLY on the front, back, and every side. I ‘casually’ mentioned to my fellow students and several members of the faculty how I wished I could get my book into this publishing chap’s hands. I placed the bulky envelope inside a Tesco carrier bag so that it would be easier to carry on the train back to London, should anybody have to carry it…

And then I sat through the speech and asked some questions and we all really enjoyed it and once it was over and we were having a cup of tea I sidled up to him with the Tesco bag held to my chest and then one of my fellow part-time students – who also just happened to work for another imprint in the same building as the Publishing Director – and several of the faculty formed a small semi-circle in front of him.

And then it happened.

One of them – I can’t recall who – ‘casually’ mentioned that I had written a novel. Then another mentioned that it was half-decent. The Publishing Director nodded and smiled and didn’t actually say ‘no’ so it was then that I seized the moment.

I thrust the carrier bag into his hands.

“This is it,” I squeaked, and gurned at him.

He was incredibly gracious. It was a terribly rude thing to do, but as I’ve said, desperation can make a man do unconscionable things. So Publishing Guy shakes my hand and I stop trembling and the day ended and I went home and that was that.

And, oddly, I forgot all about it. You have to remember that by this point I was a thick-skinned Rejection Veteran, so instead of dreading the worst I simply didn’t think about it. I just went back to work, and Christmas came and went, then New Year, and it’s always a busy time for the police so my mind was on other things, and at this point I had two kids under three years of age and was rather preoccupied.

I was in work, late January 2009 when my wife rang.

I took the call in a side office. Her voice was shaking; I thought something terrible had happened to her or the children.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

And she told me that the Publishing Director had emailed to say he’d read my novel and loved it and wanted to publish it and would I like to come to London to talk about it a little bit more?

I went numb. Thought I’d misheard her. Asked her to read the email again.

Nope, I’d heard right.

I ran around the police station immediately after ending the call. In full uniform, whooping and punching the air. My colleagues watched, shaking their heads.

Why won’t I name this incredibly gracious, gentlemanly Publishing Director? It’s because another imprint came in for the novel soon afterwards… and I went with them instead. So despite what I’d done, and how kind he’d been, and how enthusiastic he was about ‘Pocket Notebook’, I chose somebody else. I used to beat myself up about it, but I’ve learned that, as with any other industry, publishing is a business. You’ve got to do what’s best for you and yours.

Anyway, the next few months were a blur of trips to London and writing articles for magazines and having photographs taken for The Guardian, while publishing people forced books and booze on me wherever I went.

It was a dream come true. And I’m still here. And, I really hope, will be for a while.

So in short: never give up. Keep at it, because you will get there. And sometimes, just sometimes, when the world keeps kicking you in the nuts and you think nobody wants your novel and you’re a terrible writer and you might as well give up… stop, and grab a Tesco carrier bag, and force your work onto people because you never, ever know where it will take you.


A huge thanks to Mike for joining me today and for sharing that with us, I know that it’s given me a fair chuckle!

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Published 18 May 2017

 

Description:

My Thoughts & Review:

This is a very atmospheric and well detailed book that give the reader an idea of the conditions of war time Germany under Nazi rule and the aftermath of the partitioning of Germany by the Allies.  The fear of being caught for an act of treason or indeed the punishment was not enough to deter a group of men in their plot to assassinate Hitler, and because of Nazi logic, the wives of the men involved were never investigated.  Marianne was one such woman left to live her live without her husband after the part he played in a plot to assassinate Hitler.  At one point in the narrative she remarks that it’s because of her gender that she is still alive.  She is a strong character, very determined and headstrong, and a natural leader.  Her promise to her husband to look after the woman and children of the other plot members sees her become a heroine for these lost souls, a role she feels strongly about and takes very seriously.

Benita is one of the women “rescued” along with her son Martin.  She was the wife of a dear friend to Marianne, and although her personal feelings towards this woman are not the most favourable she feels duty bound by the promise she made to seek her out and look after her.  Benita was a character I could not entirely comprehend, her naivety in certain situations was a little hard to grasp, but then if placed in those conditions who could say how they would act.
The final woman tracked down by Marianne was Ania, she and her two sons ended up at a camp for displaced persons.  Ania’s story was the one that stayed with me long after I finished the book.  She really was blind to the realities of Nazi rule and what was happening around her, she believed the propaganda until it was too late but like many German’s at the time, it was safer to live with their head in the sand and believe what they were being told than to question what was happening around them.   Only years later would they question and justify their roles and actions and reckon with what took place in their name.

This is a very thought provoking read, one that feels very balanced and incredibly well thought out.  The themes of friendship, loyalty and reality are strong and weave together throughout, each of the central characters is trying to rebuild lives, relationships and learn to trust again as well as be trusted  in a country that has been ravished by war.  What the author manages to do is get under the skin of the reader with the hardships faced by the characters in this, giving them pause for thought and almost posing the question “what would you do?”

I do think this would be a fantastic book choice for a book group, it is one that would spark debate and much interesting conversation.  Equally it is a book that fans of WWII historical fiction may enjoy.

You can buy a copy of “The Women of the Castle” via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository

My thanks to Bonnier Zaffre & Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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Published: 6 April 2017

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre & Netgalley

Description:

My Thoughts & Review:

Having loved “Little Bones” I was absolutely frantic to find out when book two would be published and thankfully the good folks at Bonnier Zaffre were on hand with that information as well as a review copy of “In Deep Water”.

The return of my favourite member of an Garda Síochána and her superior comes in the form of a very personal case.  Following on from the explosive events of “Little Bones” Cathy Connolly is fighting fit, she’s back at work and has returned to her beloved training in the gym, but the no show of her training partner and best friend is cause for concern that soon spirals into a full blown police investigation that will have far reaching consequences for many. 

With this case being of such a personal nature, this allows Sam Blake the opportunity to give readers a wonderfully in-depth look at Cathy.  The exploration of this character builds upon the knowledge from the first book, and so the development means that readers see a new side to this character.  This coupled with the way in which her PTSD is detailed really show a vulnerable side of her, and gives insight into the importance of relationships for her.  The stability that O‘Rourke brings to their relationship is key to her survival, almost like her guardian angel…albeit one that’s pleasing on the eye.  This book did nothing to dampen my crush on this fictional character…..
The importance of her relationship with Sarah Jane is also vital, the cornerstone of their friendship is another stabilising factor in her life and the motivation that Cathy needs to track Sarah Jane down.

A complex and rich plot masterfully weaves together from several separate strands throughout this novel, culminating in quite possibly one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.  The suspenseful narrative drives the reader to keep reading (even if it means they end up burning the supper), and with so many clever deceptions in plain sight it’s hard not to feel a “facepalm” moment when certain revelations are uncovered, I certainly found that I was so wrapped up enjoying the thrilling tale that I didn’t guess what was coming.

Whilst this book can be read as a stand alone, there is ample detail given to keep readers informed about what has happened previously as well as give readers a good grasp of characters and their relationships, I think this is a series that should be read and enjoyed from the start where possible.  Sam Blake has given fans of the series a treat with this latest instalment, has definitively answered certain points that may have seemed unanswered at the end of book one, and has opened up some fantastic options for where Cathy Connolly could go next.

You can buy a copy of “In Deep Water” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

 

About the Author:

Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.

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Published: 6 October 2016

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre & Netgalley

 

Description:

A gripping psychological thriller with a devastating twist, perfect for fans of Apple Tree Yard, While My Eyes Were Closed and Between You and Me

You’d always recognise your own son. Wouldn’t you?

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.

Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.

By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.

But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.

Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . .

My Thoughts & Review:

“My Husband’s Son” was another of those books that I initially saw on social media around publication date and thought it sounded interesting, there were differing opinions on it but the general consensus was that it was a good thriller and rather chilling so worth checking out.

Heidi and Jason are a couple with a very unique past, each is parent to a lost child.  Heidi’s daughter was murdered and Jason’s son disappeared, but both parents are determined to try and move on with life and come to terms with those awful facts.
When Heidi spots a lad in the local off license one day she is certain is Jason’s son she becomes convinced she’s found Barney.  Her conviction about this sighting is not enough to persuade Jason, he cannot see any resemblance between the lad called Tommy and the computer images he has for what Barney might look like, adamant that he would know his own son if he saw him.

From here Heidi changes, she becomes obsessed with Tommy, and in turn her life begins to fall apart.  Her relationship with Jason is already one under a certain amount of strain.  Their shared grief does not make for the steadiest foundation, and the reported sightings of Barney over the years have been hard on the couple, especially when nothing conclusive has come from them.  Heidi’s suspicions drive her to make decisions that are questionable, but she is determined to find out the truth no matter what it takes.

The characters in this book are interesting, and O’Connor has done a tremendous job creating Tommy.  His skin crawling creepiness is enough to make readers shudder, the powerful hold he has over Heidi is so well written.  I was aware that I felt like I wanted to warn Heidi about him, urge her to break the hold he had and get away from him as fast as possible – I love it when a character can evoke such a strong response in a reader.
Heidi and Jason are damaged characters, initially Heidi is portrayed as determined to get through each day, the past haunts her but by getting up and taking on the day she might just survive.  The change in her to obsessively driven and descending into the realms of unsavoury actions is such a turning point in the story.
Jason on the other hand, he seems fragile and almost lost.  Divorcing his first wife (and mother of Barney), changing jobs – actions that should bring about huge change for him but his life seems stuck, he cannot move past that moment when his son went missing.

This was definitely a book that caught me off guard with the ending (no spoilers here!) but I will say it’s a good thriller, eerie and full of suspense.

You cam buy a copy of “My Husband’s Son” via Amazon here or Wordery here.

 

 

 

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Paperback Original &eBook Published: 23 February 2017

Description:  

My Thoughts & Review: 

The discovery of tiny bones in the hem of a wedding dress is strange enough, but to then ascertain that they are a baby’s bones is enough to turn a simple break-in into a full scale investigation for the Guards in Dublin.
Detective Cathy Connolly and her boss Inspector O‘Rourke have their work cut out for them tracking down answers to solve this grisly case.
Throw in the mysterious appearance of a fugitive killer from Las Vegas, who is intent on tying up loose ends in Dublin and the Guards have more than enough to deal with.   This is the first of instalment of the Garda Cathy Connolly series and it definitely doesn‘t hold back.  The writing it superb, the plot is interesting and gripping, characters are multidimensional and easy to relate to.  The various elements of the story are well written.  Masterfully weaving together the tales of Mary‘s past and present dementia like struggles, Zoe‘s world slowly falling to pieces around her and the personal life of Cathy Connolly mixing with her professional duties.  It would be easy to assume that something would get lost in the myriad of characters and details but as far as I was concerned, nothing did.  The detail in this book was incredible, even the intricacies of the art work created by Zoe was thoroughly detailed, so much so that I could almost imagine the canvases. 

The chemistry and camaraderie between Connolly and O’Rourke is a delight to read, they are a great pairing, and the hints to their shared history open up the opportunity for Sam Blake to go so many ways with this series, I cannot wait to see what she has for us with book two.   

Secrets and lies rarely follow a linear path, the ones in this book scaled the chart of complexity and just when you thought that the secret was as dark as it got, another layer is peeled away and for some characters the truth was too much to bear.  
With so many twists and turns, both expected and unexpected, this book is entirely engrossing.

I enjoyed this book so much that at just over half way in I was already recommending it to friends that I thought would appreciate it.  

You can buy a copy of Little Bones here.  
About the Author:
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.

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Published: 9 February 2017
Reviewed: 2 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

 

Description:

For me David Young has cemented his place on the bookshelf alongside my Cold War thrillers by John le Carré and Len Deighton.

You can buy a copy of Stasi Wolf here.

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Paperback Published: 26 January 2017
Reviewed 31 January 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre as part of blog tour

 

Description:

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work. With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deep to stop the killing. And this time—it’s personal.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Evil Games” is definitely a book that has nothing to fear from the the curse of ‘second book syndrome’ – Angela Marsons absolutely marks her place amongst the greats of the police procedural/mystery/thriller genre with this one.

For those unfamiliar with the Kim Stone series, I would definitely recommend heading back to book 1, Silent Scream, to dive in to the whirlpool that is Kim Stone.  The plot is such that this can be read as a stand alone, enough information is given about previous cases so that you will have grasp of what has passed but why deprive yourself of this series?!

I’m not going to breakdown the plot here, but I will say that readers may feel some discomfort with some subjects in this book as they are of a sensitive nature – however Angela Marsons shows the utmost respect to her readers and subjects by handling these sensitively and ensures that any mention of abuse remains pivotal to the plot without becoming gratuitous.

As a character, Kim Stone is utterly complex and one a reader feels driven to find out more about.  She has a past that is kept well hidden, and slowly it’s being revealed, almost like peeling an onion.  Despite shedding a few layers, Marsons keeps her readers hooked by hinting there is more to her creation that she’s revealed.  The professional relationship between Stone and Bryant makes for great reading, they work well together and he seems to have figured out how to work alongside Stone to get the best from her.

Angela Marsons has to have one of the most wickedly twisted imaginations out there, creating such intricately evil characters, disturbingly haunting plots and characters that you either are cheering on or want to physically scream at.  It’s little wonder her books have sold in their millions and I can see why.  Each of the Kim Stone series is a book that is difficult to put down, you promise yourself ‘just one more chapter’ and before you know it, it’s the wee small hours of the morning and you’re still reading.  The pace of this book is frantic, and there are several points in the plot that catch you off guard.

The next book in the series is “Lost Girls”, the paperback is due out June 2017.

You can buy a copy of “Evil Games” in the UK here.

My thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for the opportunity to read this and be part of the blog tour.

About the Author:

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Angela Marsons is the author of Amazon #1 Bestseller SILENT SCREAM.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their bouncy Labrador and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (My Name Is and The Middle Child) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 8 books. The second, third and fourth books in the Kim Stone series, EVIL GAMES, LOST GIRLS and PLAY DEAD are also now available.

For more information about Angela Marsons and her books go to her website http://angelamarsons-books.com or follow her on Twitter @WriteAngie

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