Monday, 18 March 2019

A Body in the Lakes

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The woman’s limbs were so thin; the skin on her arms as translucent as tracing paper. Around her neck lay a faint string of purple bruises. In one so frail, darker, angrier marks might be expected but Beth knew the bruising would have stopped the moment her heart stopped beating. 

When a walker finds the body of a woman by the shores of Ullswater Lake, the police are put on high alert. Felicia Evans was known to be a tough character, but who would have strangled her? 

Detective Beth Young quickly spots the links to three cold cases. Three women strangled and discarded in the stunning, wild hills of the Lake District. 

As Beth begins tracking down witnesses, the team receives an anonymous letter claiming the charming mayor of Carlisle is behind the murders. There’s pressure from the top to clear his name. But Beth is determined to find the truth no matter whose feathers she ruffles in the process. 

Beth knows the clock is ticking. The killer is hunting again. And it’s down to her to find who’s responsible before another woman becomes his prey… 

A gripping edge-of-your-seat thriller from bestselling author Graham Smith, perfect for fans of Joy Ellis, LJ Ross, and J.R. Ellis. 

Author Bio: 

Graham Smith is the bestselling author of four explosive crime thrillers in the Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies, The Kindred Killers, Past Echoes and Die Cold. Watching the Bodies spent over two weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and Amazon CA charts. Graham is also the author of the popular DI Harry Evans series and has collections of short stories and novellas. His latest novel with Bookouture is set in Cumbria and the Lake District, featuring DC Beth Young.

He is the proud father of a young son. As a time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well-respected review site since 2010.

When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family.

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 My Review

If you enjoy thrillers, especially ones with a serial killer on the loose, then you can expect some graphic description. In this case though, it is a sexual attack on an old woman which shocks the reader to the core.  I haven't read the first book, but this book read well as a standalone. The twists and turns are gripping and the ending both horrifying and satisfying. I loved the red herrings almost as much as the breathtaking scenery but for me, this book was just a bit too gruesome at times and I found myself reading those parts very quickly! Overall, an enjoyable read with a great ending.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Knowing You

Knowing You

An abrupt change; a new friendship; a dark secret...

Kind-hearted Violet has never fitted in, but despite being bullied at school is now content. She is dating ambitious Lenny, has her dream job in publishing and runs a book club at the local retirement home.

However, when her relationship with Lenny begins to falter, Violet, hurt and alone, seeks the advice of her new flatmate, Bella. She changes her image and with her head held high aims to show that she doesn’t need Lenny in her life to be happy and successful.

Her long-term friends Mable and Farah worry about Bella’s influence and slowly Violet starts to distance herself from them. When she was a child, her closest confidant and companion was a boy called Flint. Her mother didn’t approve of their closeness and he suffered a terrible end. She won’t let the same thing happen to Bella, no matter what anyone says...

Knowing You is about friendship and knowing who to trust with your deepest secrets; it’s about taking control of your life and not being afraid to stand out. Perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan, Gail Honeyman and Amanda Prowse

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About Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

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My Review

It took a while for me to become absorbed in this book but as the story progressed, it turned into quite a nail-biter and not at all what I was expecting. I don't want to spoil the ending but although I could see the signs early on about what was going to happen to Maisie, the ending caught me by surprise. The fact that this is based on the author's own personal experiences has made me determined to be less judgemental. We never know someone else's story. As a society, I think we all need to be a bit kinder and Violet's story is raw and hard-hitting. Perfection is definitely overrated. This is a book that I will be thinking about for a long time to come. It's not easy to read and I'm sure it wasn't easy to write but it left me feeling like I'd been punched in the face. Well done!

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

My summer of love and limoncello

My Summer of Love and Limoncello


Three best friends, Italian sunshine and a handsome stranger can fix just about anything… Can’t it? 

Maisie Knight had it all. A gorgeous husband. A successful business. A beautiful home. Until one day, after walking into the storeroom of their shop, she loses it all at once – catching her husband cheating on her with the girl from Checkout 3. So when she wins a holiday to Italy, a week under the Tuscan sun couldn’t come soon enough. 

Treating best friends Cheryl and Emma to a girls’ trip, the terracotta-roofed Villa Marisa on a rustic farm awaits them. The fields of golden sunflowers could be the perfect cure for Maisie’s broken heart – and local farmer, suspiciously perfect Gianni, with his thick black hair and twinkling brown eyes is a welcome distraction from her broken heart.

Mornings waking up to freshly brewed coffee and views of the rolling hills, moped rides with cheeky Italians, and feasts of prosecco and pasta help Maisie forget her troubles. After all her heartache, she’s surprised when she starts opening up to Gianni – she’s even more surprised when the temperature rises and it’s not just the rays of the Italian sunshine…

Maisie could get used to the good life. But just as she’s getting her spark back, disaster strikes. The next thing she knows, her past is catching up with her, reopening old wounds and Maisie has a life-changing decision to make. Should she say ciao to her summer of love and limoncello?

A laugh-out-loud page turner about second chances, finding happiness when you least expect it and the restorative power of Italian food! Fans of Carole Matthews and Sophie Kinsella will be totally hooked by My Summer of Love and Limoncello

About the author

Sue was born in Liverpool and moved to Lancashire as a teenager where she has lived ever since. She has written three books, the third 'My Summer of love and limoncello.' will be published on March 6th and she is busy working on a fourth book. When not busy writing, Sue spends her time with her ever growing family. She enjoys walking, cinema and travelling. Her first book 'My Big Greek Summer.' was inspired by frequent visits to the Island of Rhodes in Greece. All Sue's books are available from Amazon in kindle and paperback format.

My Review

Set amidst the glorious landscape of rural Tuscany, it will warm your heart - much as the Mediterranean sun warms the broken heart of the protagonist Maisie. It's a lovely read, perfect for getting you in a summery mood. It will make you dream of warm, starry nights, handsome Italian men and food to die for. I loved the relationship between the friends and also the way in which Maisie finds out what is right for her. It also brought back memories of Sienna, Pisa and Florence which are all mentioned in the book. Better than any travel brochure for making you want to jump on a plane!

Monday, 25 February 2019

Bitter Edge


DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down...

When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.

Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.

Don't miss this gripping crime thriller featuring a phenomenal detective. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney and Robert Bryndza.

About the author

Rachel Lynch 

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years.

A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

My Review

As always with this series, there are some awesome descriptions of the Lakeland fells, in all their glory and danger. The more we read about the burgeoning relationship between DI Kelly Porter and  Johnny, the more realistic the characters become. This book also explores Kelly's newfound relationship with her father, as usual set against some horrific killings. The drug scene portrayed within schools is sadly all too common and made me hold my son just a little tighter. It's a marvellous read, raw at times but the fact it's so hard-hitting is also its strength.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

My last lie

New beginnings. Old secrets.
Theo and Pilar. The perfect couple.

Successful, beautiful and very much in love
Until a year ago - and the tragedy that nearly tore them apart.
When their baby died, a part of them died with him. 
Now they’re trying to rebuild themselves, moving to a stunning house in rural Cornwall. 
But someone knows all their secrets – and will stop at nothing to disturb their fragile peace. 

Theo and Pilar are about to learn that you can try to hide – but you can never outrun your past

A unputdownable, gripping psychological thriller that will hook you until the final shocking twist. Fans of The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Wife Between Us will be captivated.   

Author Bio:

Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie will be published in February 2019 and is available for pre-order now.

She lives with her husband on the island of Jersey and you can follow her on Twitter @drummondella1 and Facebook:  

My Review

This book deals sensitively with the subject of mental breakdown and the reader bonds with Pilar as she takes one day at a time following a tragic event. It's the detail of her life, her worries, her hopes that endear her to us as well as a supporting cast of over-the-top friends. However, nothing is as it seems on the surface. Everyone seems to have a secret that they wish to hide, yet as events unfold at a rapid pace, nobody will be left unscathed. The ending is absolutely right yet left me gasping ' Whoa!' as it is so unexpected.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Bob Van Laerhoven Interview


A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, Laerhoven published 39 books in Holland and Belgium. Some of his literary work is published in French, English, German, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, and Russian. Four time finalist of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year with the novels “Djinn”, “The Finger of God”, “Return to Hiroshima”, and “The Firehand Files”. Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for “Baudelaire's Revenge,” which also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category "mystery/suspense".
In 2018, Crime Wave Press published “Return to Hiroshima”, after “Baudelaire’s Revenge” his second novel in English translation.
His collection of short stories “Dangerous Obsessions,” first published by The Anaphora Literary Press in the USA in 2015, was hailed as "best short story collection of 2015" by the San Diego Book Review. The collection is translated in Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. “Retour à Hiroshima”, the French translation of “Return to Hiroshima,” is recently finished. 
In 2018, The Anaphora Literary Press published “Heart Fever”, a second collection of short stories. “Heart Fever”, written in English by the author, is a finalist in the Silver Falchion 2018 Award in the category “short stories collections”. Laerhoven is the only non-American finalist of the Awards.  The English book site Murder, Mayhem & More chose “Return to Hiroshima” as one of the ten best international crime books of 2018.

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings a number of people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences. 
Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima's war history. 
A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane.
And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will "overturn Japan's foundations"....
Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel. Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII become unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and the Japanese society as a whole.
 Welcome to the blog, Bob
 Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
In the past six years, since my work was translated and published in English, I began to realize that, in spite of mass and social media, people often don’t know very much about habits, ways of thinking, cultural preferences, et cetera, abroad. I’m a Belgian Flemish writer and, in interviews, I noticed that many of my interviewers, especially Americans, but also Australian, Canadian, and Indian book bloggers, thought that Belgium is a French-speaking country. In reality, Belgium is a country with two separate regions: in the northern part Flanders one speaks Flemish (Dutch), in the southern part Wallonia one speaks Walloon (French).Some of my interviewers didn’t even know that Belgium existed and thought it was another word for Brussels (Belgium’s capital).  
Such realizations lead to modesty: if we know so little about each other, we must be very careful with our prejudices and opinions in general. For instance, lately, I hear so many preconceptions about fugitives, and I think that this is a dangerous trend. When we are impressionable, it’s easy for populists to narrow our minds and to create an enemy image of “the other.”  And now, to (finally) answer your question: I’m a Flemish author trying to get his literary oeuvre “out there,”which isn’t so easy when you belong to a small language community of about 5 million people.  It can be done: look at the Norwegian writers, for instance. But I talked to one of them lately and he was very enthusiastic about the Norwegian government subsidizing translations and promoting Norwegian authors abroad, which is much less the case in Flanders. 
Nevertheless, I’m not complaining: with two novels and two short story collections published in English, and parts of my oeuvre translated in French, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, (Brazilian)Portuguese, Russian, and Italian, I’m faring quite well, thank you.

 Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?

When I started writing, I  wanted to become a poet, but, after a while, I had to admit that my poetic talent just wasn’t good enough and that I was a much better novelist. But I couldn’t give up my love for poetry completely, so in some of my novels,poets play an important role. Let me just give you three examples. In my novel “Baudelaire’s Revenge” (published in English in 2014) the famous French “doomed poet” Charles Baudelaire is the main character, although he has been dead for three years when the novel starts (1870). In “Dossier Feuerhand” (The Firehand Files, 2017, not yet translated) it’s the Flemish Dada-poet Paul van Ostaijen who carries the weight of the plot, and in Alejandro’s Leugen (Alejandro’s Lie, 2016,  first draft of the English translation is finished), one of the most important roles is for the Chilean poet and singer-songwriterVictor Jara.    Those three, plus an endless row of literary novelists, have been my guiding lights, and when I reach to their knees, I’m very happy. I don’t write thrillers, I write cross-over novels between literature and the suspense novel, so the result is something different, something readers often don’t expect. Critics sometimes remark that my novels aren’t very commercial because they are complex, but I think that many reviewers underestimate the modern reader. Let’s say that I try not to...

 Let's talk about your novel! What is it about?

Over here, in Flanders, “Return to Hiroshima” was called the “most complex Flemish literary suspense novel ever”.So, it’s not easy to describe in a few words what the novel is about. Inevitably, when you write a novel with the iconic name “Hiroshima” in the title, the story will touch the unimaginable destruction that the atom bomb “Little Boy” caused in 1945. But “Return to Hiroshima” is also about the Japanese society in the nineties, trapped in a severe economic crisis, the foreshadowing of the worldwide recession and bank crisis that hit the western world in 2008.The story deals with a wild, tense, and dangerous father-and-daughter relationship, with organized crime in Japan, the psychological roots of the warrior code “bushido,”and the widespread longing of the Japanese people to evolve one day toward a “super race.”  It’s about a lot more, but I think you can already see by now that it is a true kaleidoscopic novel, branching out into a lot of topics, but also trying to present a truly noir and suspenseful story.

 Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?

You know, only once in my life, during a period of great turbulence, I have written books with an audience in my mind and aiming for a clearly defined readership.  I was divorced for the second time, but this time my ex-wife and I had children in their teens, and I wanted to be there for them not only as a loving father but also as a provider.So, I wrote a series of thrillers with Flemish/South-African half-blood commissioner Peter Declerqwho teams up with the Brussels inspector Samantha – Sammy – Duchène. Peter and Sammy conduct international investigations in South-Africa, Burma, Algeria, Congo, and Israel. I published the series in the nineties when the interest in cosmopolitan thrillers influenced by literature was in its peak in Belgium and Holland. The five books sold well, and afterward, I returned to my “normal” way of writing: patiently waiting until  I was “abducted” by a theme, a setting, characters, and began to write without knowing what the result would be, for whom the novel was destined, or who would like my story. And I will keep this profound non-commercial way of writing, deeply influenced by the Muse that grabs me, until I die.

 What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?

I am fascinated by the darkness that lurks in our souls. How is it possible that mankind can inflict such horrors on itself? My whole oeuvre is an attempt to understand the Human Condition, but I must admit that, after more than 40 books, I am still baffled by the contradictory impulses that govern us. How is it possible, for instance, that in the 21st Century we keep on being ruled by clan-feelings and blood ties, while we should understand that humanity must learn to think and act globally or we will perish? Why do we choose leaders who can’t muster the intelligence, the courage, and the empathy to work for the good of all of us? Why are we so power-driven and short-sighted that we are busy destroying the world we live on?  My novels are meant to be parables, dealing with the profound,mysterious workings of our minds and our feelings.
 What is your writing process like?

That’s an easy one...Although, maybe not, it’s easy for me but hard to explain.
 A first sentence is “given” to me, and I start writing without knowing what the outcome will be. During the first draft, my only obsession is: go on, go on. I don’t re-read what I’ve written the day before. I plow on, very well knowing that there are messy parts and loose ends in the first draft, but before I start editing I want the whole story to be “complete.”I work as a sculptor: first, he has the rough stone which he transforms into the silhouette of the form he wants to give it, and when he has that overall image, he starts chiseling the details of his work of art. 
So, when the first draft is complete, only then I start the editing process, which consists of re-writing, re-writing, re-writing. A whole lot of work, but my mind is at ease then: I know that I have my story and that I only must polish it up and make it beautiful.

How did you go about getting published? 

That’s also easy.  Or, eh, again maybe not. When my first manuscript was ready, I sent it to a few publishers. Two of them were interested. I chose between those two, and from then on, the only thing I ever did was sending manuscripts to Publishing Houses, asking to be published. They usually did. Two of my manuscripts were failures and were never accepted although I rewrote them many times. In the end,I realized that they’d taught me even more than the manuscripts that were accepted and then polished up by an editor of the Publishing House.

What plans do you have for the future of your writing? 

I’ll be 66 within a few months and I’m feeling that my passion for writing is slowly diminishing. Oh yes, it’s still there, but the inner fire that made me publish more than 40 books doesn’t possess the same power as in the past. That has to do with age, but also with the fact that being an author nowadays is not what it was 40 years ago when my work was first published. To this old writer that I’ve become, everything seems nowadays a bit superficial. The pace of publishing has grown, the stress of having a strong social network also. Reputations come and go so quickly in modern society, and superlatives are being sprinkled around far too carelessly.  
Because I led a somewhat unusual life for an author – I was a traveling author in conflict zones between 1990 and 2003 – I sometimes feel the urge to write my autobiography, but I don’t know if I still got enough “oomph” in me to do it. For the moment, I’m trying to promote my translated books – I have been translated in nine languages now – and since I’m not very apt or quick in self-promoting my work, it takes a lot of my time, which I don’t like, but it is like it is. Meanwhile, I’m trying to pick my memory and to collect as much material as I can to write that last book eventually. In my autobiography I would like to analyze the years that have gone past, the lovers that have gone down lover’s lane, friends and foes who came and went, and myself, changing over the years, searching for inner peace, and everlasting love.

Many thanks for joining us Bob - what an eventful life you must have led!

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websites (NL/FR/EN) (Russian website for Месть Бодлера, the Russian edition of Baudelaire’s Revenge)
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