The Lingering by Susi Holiday #Review #BlogTour #TeamOrenda #Orentober #The Lingering

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Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history. When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution… At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

Today as part of the month long celebration of Orenda Books I’m resharing my review of The Lingering. 

Review

Well in keeping with the title,  this book lingered in my mind long after I finished reading the last page.  Eerie and unsettling throughout, it’s a masterful creation, part thriller and part gothic drama.

Jack and Ali have come to Rosalind House to start again, but the past is leaking through time into the present and setting off a disturbing series of events.

I could list a whole bunch of reasons I loved this book, but for me my favourite element is the tension that builds up like unstoppable force by the end. So much so, that your almost too scared to turn the page, in case your faced even more terrifying events. Where the skill of the writer comes in, is in taking you to the edge of what’s bearable, without terrifying you so much you can’t read on. I was sat firmly with the lamp on, with someone in the house at all times and I loved every second.  Atmosphere is paramount in these types of books and S J I Holliday gives it to us with a lot of va- va -voom.

Another thing I loved about the Lingering is the combination of gothic drama/thriller and ghostly mystery. The story is incredibly creepy and chilled me to the bone. By combining three different genres, you get a story that grabs you and holds you in its embrace in more than one way. Your thrilled by the modern elements of the psychological thriller, the twists and turns, obsession and the mind games. Then scared by the ghostly happens and fascinated by the historical drama that seeps from the past into the present. For me it was the perfect combination and made a story tantalising and addictive in equal measure.

I’ve always believed that houses retain the memories of those that lived there in the fabric of the building and for me that made Rosalind House as much a character in this book as Jack and Ali. The writing creates a palpable sense of lingering fear that inhabits the walls and surrounding grounds, with the entry of a new couple setting off a terrifying chain of events. I loved the brooding nature of the story, created in part by setting it in an old house, in parts neglected and forever haunted. As for the human characters they fit in perfectly, everyone one of them in something hidden in their pasts, but it’s hard to know if they are deadly secrets or if the malign influence of the house that is altering their personalities as we read.

Reminder to self. If giving up life in an increasingly chaotic and scary world to check into a commune, ensure it’s not one dreamed up by the mind of one SJI Holliday!

Seriously this is a top class chilling read.

You can purchase The Lingering from Amazon, WaterstonesKobo and Foyles.

About the author

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S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and the festive serial killer thriller The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, inspired by her fascination and fear of ghosts.

You can follow the author on Twitter and her website.

This review was written from an ARC provided by Orenda Books. The views on this blog post are my own . 

Little Siberia By Antti Tuomainen #Review #BlogTour #Orentober #TeamOrenda

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A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car.
That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.
But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his.
As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.
Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland Little Siberia is both a crime novel and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.

Review

Little Siberia is dark and delicious.

This is the tale of Joel, a priest whose faith is in crisis, with a wife carrying a child that might not be his. A disparate group of villagers all desperate to get their hands on a meteorite that has fallen from the sky, creating a an almost perfect storm in all of their lives. With Joel the only one whose stands between them and the riches they believe will redeems their failures.

This might sound like a story about events so paradoxical that it couldn’t work, yet I promise you it does. That in fact it is so hilarious and theatrical, I read well into the early hours of the morning unable to stop, until I knew if Joel had found peace with his own life and survived the violence of those willing to kill to get what they wont.

For me an important part of any book written by Amtti Tuomainen is the dark humour that enriches all of his novels. In Little Siberia it comes in the almost farcical actions of the villagers who are determined to get their hands on the very valuable meteorite.  Each has their own reasons for wanting it and their actions betray how their lives are seemingly lived within perpetual darkness, deep within Cimmerian caverns; their need for the meteorite results in comical attempts to steal it. I felt bad laughing on times, but the humour is so subtle, so intelligent that you just can’t help yourself. It’s what made this book, such a classic for me.

The intelligence behind the story and the humour is immense.  Think of it this way, a meteorite falls from the sky, through the roof of a car and the community turns into crazed cut throat gang. To make that work and turn it into a so much more than a thriller, takes immense imagination and also restraint. The writer for me balanced the element of farce on a knife edge and turned out a work of brilliance.

The story itself turned the normal elements of a thriller on its head, and added in a story about human frailties and the chasm that opens up for Joel, when all he holds dear is ripped from under him. I was addicted not only to the comedy, but the war that was being waged within him. As he battled to stop the meteorite being stolen, he was at the same time fighting to save his marriage and waging a war against the demons his wife’s betrayal threw up. He too was keeping secrets and that meant his struggle felt all the more authentic. I adored how the writer made his journey as important as the action elements of the story, because it gave it a depth of humanity normally missing from thrillers. It made me care. It meant I could not just put the book down and wander off, I had to seeing through to the end, away from distractions.

If I could give this book more than the five stars, I would shower it with them.

You can purchase Little Siberia from AmazonWaterstones. 

About the author

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Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. The recently published Palm Beach, Finland has been a massive critical success, with Marcel Berlins of The Times calling him ‘the funniest writer in Europe’, and making it one of his books of the year.

Translator

David Hackston is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. He graduated from University College London in 1999 with a degree in Scandinavian Studies and now lives in Helsinki where he works as a freelance translator. Notable publications include The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, Maria Peura’s coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light, Johanna Sinisalo’s eco-thriller Birdbrain and two crime novels by Matti Joensuu. David is currently working on a translation of Riku Korhonen’s latest novelSleep Close. His drama translations include three plays by Heini Junkkaala, most recently Play it, Billy! (2012) about the life and times of jazz pianist Billy Tipton. David is also a regular contributor to Books from Finland. In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. David is also a professional countertenor and is currently studying early music and performance practice at Helsinki Metropolia University. He is a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki.

 

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Cage Lilja Sigurdardottir #Review #BlogTour #OrendaBooks #Orentober #TeamOrenda

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The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.
As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.

Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.

With a shocking crescendo, the lives of these characters collide, as drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noirtrilogy.

Review

Cage is the stunning conclusion to the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy. Powerful, compelling and emotional, it was for me an utter triumph.

I have loved these books and characters from the first book and Cage not only lived up to expectations, it blew them right out of the stratosphere. At the end of the first chapter, I sat bolt upright and said Wow! It opens with a scene with such an emotional kick, that it’s like a punch to the soul and the shock left me reeling! From this point your caught in a whirlpool of emotions, you heart breaks, it recovers, your scared, then shocked and my little reading heart was left both bruised and hopeful.

It is a real rollercoaster of emotions, but not only is it worth every single penny Orenda are asking for this book, double it, no triple it and your getting a bargain.

The mark of a really good book is that the characters develop and they certainly do in Cage, especially Agla who along with Sonja are far from where I expected they would be. It was especially great because Lilja Sigurdardottir managed to show me that I should never expect certain behaviour from characters just based on what happened in Snare and Trapped. It’s the job of the writer to pull the rug from under you and she does it with great finesse. I always felt a great sense of trepidation for Sonja and although in Cage, I still felt alarmed at her fate, now I sensed the cage she found herself in, fitted her with more ease than I would have liked. Don’t misunderstand me, she is a victim of the events that trapped her, but the ease with which she accepts the trappings of the drug trade and the use of violence, showed how much she has had to change. It is a grim reminder of the cruelty of those caught in the world of hard drugs. Cage opened up Agla to me at all levels and her journey to acceptance was a moving one, she is still no angel and free of the cage Sonja finds herself in, she begins to see a life where her happiness, is there to be grabbed, if events allow her to. They are both stunning creations, multi layered and capable of good and bad, but always evolving.

The story itself for me is about the cages we build around ourselves, sometimes of our own choosing, others forced on us by events. Cage never takes the foot of the peddle, for the action and tension flood off the page. You have to keep on reading to see if either Sonja or Agla can break out of the cages they are in and because you never know, it seems impossible not to bury yourself in this tale of murder and betrayal.

Sonja and Agla will always be with me, they are a huge part of my reading life. Cage and the first two books in the trilogy, are individually great reads, together they are superb. This is an exciting and dramatic conclusion and I will be thinking about it for some time to come.

You can purchase this novel from AmazonWaterstones and from the publisher directly. 

About the author.

Lilja Author Picture

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

You can follow the author on Twitter.

This review was written from an ARC. I would like to thank the author, the publisher and the blog tour organiser for the gifted copy in return for an honest review. 

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Overkill and The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon. #BookseriesInTheSpotlight #OrendaBooks #Orentober #TeamOrenda

Today on Booksaremycwtches I am looking back at my reviews of the fabulous Overkill and The Ringmaster both written by Vanda Syman and published by Orenda books.

Overkill

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When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.

Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

Review

When I picked this novel up to read, I was looking for a book that would grab me and sweep me to the final pages with breathless excitement. Well it did and I loved it!

There were for me, so many things to like about this book. The setting is glorious and gives the novel a sense of originality. It has a determined and sassy heroine who strides through this fabulous story with purpose and a hint of vulnerability, making her one of the most believable heroines I have come across in quite a long time and that makes for a very refreshing and satisfying read. The character of Sam makes this novel and she does so with style. Not only is she a strong female lead, she is relatable to. She is not a perfect modern police women, but neither is she so damaged that she can only function with the support of a host of characters. Sam sits front and centre in Overkill with are a plethora of fascinating supporting characters.

Then there is the story itself, the murder of a young mum and wife in a small rural New Zealand community. The story felt to me to be a classic police drama, with a modern twist, set far away from the grim streets of our cities. Vanda Symon creates a first class drama which held me within its embrace from page one to the final sentence. I loved the claustrophobic feel of the small rural community setting that she created, where everyone knows your business and wagging tongues can destroy lives. It contained the story within a limited geographical area, that ramped up the tension to almost unbearable levels. As Sam looked for the killer, you could feel the imagined borders of the community closing in around her, danger at every corner, with forces threatening her and those she cared about. There were none of the distractions often seen in drama’s played out on a wider canvas, so all your focus was there with Sam in Mataura and that claustrophobia affected me, far more than I expected, leaving me anxious and worried that Sam would become another victim.

Why would I recommend his book? Because it is a superb read, written by an emerging New Zealand talent, who if the world is fair will draw a huge following in Britain. The characterisation is top notch, with a strong female lead whose vulnerability is neither overwhelming nor disabling for the story or the character herself. She is determined and written so well, that a series of books featuring Sam will be something I hope will be published in this country as well.
This is an exciting and intelligent read that If you love thrillers should be your next purchase

You can purchase from Amazon and Waterstones

The Ringmaster

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The heart-stoppingly tense next instalment in the richly atmospheric, bestselling Sam Shephard series … for fans of The Dry.

Death is stalking the southern South Island of New Zealand…

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

Review

What can I say other than The Ring Master is another superb book from the hugely talented Vanda Symon! I have been a massive fan since I read the first in this series, Overkill and was anticipating an exciting read when I started the new book and oh boy was I a happy reader when I finished his novel. It is electrifying, has a fabulous female lead, taunt and well paced story and I loved it.

What’s not to love. It has a sassy, independent female lead, who is a natural detective, with an intuitive understanding of the criminal mind. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect, but then who of us are?   Her impulsiveness often gets her into trouble, but at the same time, it is what makes her a great character, you never know how she is going to react and it gives her an edginess that is often lacking in other fictional female detectives.  In this novel she has gone from being  the only police officer in small town New Zealand, to detective training in Dunedin and is very much at the bottom of the ladder, with a boss that actively derides her.  Yet she doesn’t let this crush her, Sam is made of stronger stuff and she is determined to find the killer of a young talented student, even if this places her own life in danger! It’s what I love most about her, the passion and unwavering determination to track down a killer and be the best detective she can possibly be.  Sam is a masterly creation and I could read about her forever and not get bored, because as the book series moves forward, so does she, ever developing and evolving as a character.

As for the story itself, it is intelligent and perfectly paced.  We are pitched head first into the murder of a university student and from there we follow Sams determined pursuit of the killer.  Frequently the writer took me down a dead end, making me think for a moment that I had figured out who the killer was, only for me to realise too late I had been utterly fooled.  I loved that, I hate figuring out who did what too soon and so this book was an utter delight to read.  Vanda Symon weaves a masterly tale, so utterly compelling that putting it down to do boring things like go to work, was actually quite painful.  I didn’t want to be ripped away from the cocoon the story had weaved around me and I certainly need to be sure that one of my favourite characters would survive to feature in even more gripping tales!  I loved the way the circus played a central part in the story as it gave it a unique feel. Not only the protesters who were trying to get it closed down and Sam’s intelligent and amusing reaction,  but for the unexpected ways it added a sense of pathos to the story.  I expected to be thrilled reading this book, it is a detective story, but I wasn’t expecting the moments of sadness which added an emotional depth to the story and made it much more than your typical thriller for me.

The Sam Shephard series has so much to recommend it and I absolutely adore it. Without a doubt I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any reader, both as a standalone novel and part of a pretty special series of books.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

 

About the author 

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

You can follow the author on Twitter

Both these reviews were written from ARCs provided by the publisher Orenda Books. The views of both are my own. 

Review – Effin Birds By Aaron Reynolds #BlogTour #NonFiction #EffinBirds

Effin Birds Cover

Have you ever looked a bird dead in the eye and wondered what it was thinking?

With Effin Birds, the most eagerly anticipated new volume in the noble avocation of bird identification, you can venture into nature with confidence. This farcical field guide will help you identify over 200 birds, but more importantly, for the first time in history, it will also help you understand what these birds are thinking:

The vainglorious grebe is acutely aware of its own magnificence.
The hipster pelican thinks the world is a sh*tbarge.
The overbearing heron wishes you better luck next time, f*cknuts.
The counsellor swallow wants you to maybe try not being a d*ckhead.
Alongside beautiful, scientifically accurate illustrations and a whole lot of swearing is incisive commentary on modern life and the world we, as humans, must navigate. Or maybe it s just some pictures of effin birds, okay?

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

It has to be said, this is a bird identification book with a difference. It’s spun the idea on its head and created a witty, expletive strewn commentary on modern life, in which we are treated to how birds view their human neighbours! The humour is as I mentioned full of profanity, so this book won’t appeal to everyone. It didn’t bother me, because its integral to the seeing the world around us in all, it’s sometimes shocking glory. If I had one tiny issue with it, the repeated use of ‘f**k’ can feel a little repetitive, but other than that, the book is really quite splendid.

I really enjoyed how each bird was given a very distinctive human personality, we can either identify ourselves, our friends, family and especially for me co-workers in them.  I have many favourites, including the Vituperative Lark on page 64, one of those birds you just don’t see coming until its just too late! You know the one, that person in work you wish you could avoid, but you just don’t know where they will pop up next. Or those so called pundits, experts that pop on panel shows all the time, for them there is the Fallacy’s Blackbird, who has a history of deleted tweets.

It’s clever stuff, for the writer shows wit, imagination and a quite sublime understanding of human nature at it’s worst, it’s self doubting anxiety riven lives, or the magnificence of  society with all its plumage on show.

The illustrations are gorgeous and worth the price of the book alone. If you then add on the humour, the insight into our mad society and the birds, people that make it up, then you have a book of striking desirability.

You can purchase the book from AMAZON

About the author

Aaron Reynolds Author pic

Aaron Reynolds is the writer of @EfinBirds and @swear_trek, and the curator of @BatLabels. He is also a software instructor, which is where most of his elfin’ inspiration comes from.

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review ~Murder Untimely by Anita Walker #BlogTour

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Many thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.

Whoopie Kat and Mouse are back. My favourite female detective duo, who along with Mouse’s Nan Doris run the Connection Investigation Agency.

This book and the series has so much to offer readers. It has a cosy feel to it, like your spending time with old friends, yet it is also full of tension and dramatic twists and turns.

I love the cosy feel, I could lose days quite happily reading about these characters, who along with DI Marsden and DS Granger would make perfect material for a TV drama. Don’t get me wrong, cosy doesn’t mean there is no drama, because there are tons of that! From two murders in the grounds of Chatsworth House, to a wealth of possible suspects and a mystery surrounding the disappearance years before of a father and son. Your literally spoiled rotten if your looking for an exciting read. The best way I can explain it is, think more Agatha Christies Miss Marple, rather than Scandinavian Noir.

The best thing about this book, was not just how much I have come to love spending time with the characters over the series of books, but how the writer had me completely fooled about who was the person behind these grisly crimes. Also that it all takes place in a small intimate community, because for me it heightened the sense of drama, confined as it was, it all felt more threatening. I was completely wrong footed about who the killer was and changed my mind multiple times as the story progressed.

It also plays humour so well. The way all the main characters interact, with gentle playfulness made it all feel so welcoming.  The scenes in the office, between Kat, Mouse, Doris and the new trainee receptionist were some of my favourites. I loved how the writer managed to make these feel so warm and light-hearted and yet maintained the sense of drama around the murders.

If your looking for a first class cosy drama, with likeable characters, plenty of drama, then I would recommend this novel and all in the series. They are within their genre one of the best on offer and deserve a five star rating.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author 

Anita Waller

Anita Waller was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1946. She married Dave in 1967 and they have three adult children.

She has written and taught creative writing for most of her life, and at the age of sixty-nine sent a manuscript to Bloodhound Books which was immediately accepted.

In total she has written seven psychological thrillers and one supernatural novel, and uses the areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire as her preferred locations in her books. Sheffield features prominently.

And now Anita is working on her first series, the Kat and Mouse trilogy, set in the beautiful Derbyshire village of Eyam. The first in the series, Murder Undeniable, launched 10 December 2018, and the second in the series, Murder Unexpected, launches 11 February 2019.

The trilogy has now been promoted to a quartet following the success of the first book; she is currently working on book three, Murder Unearthed. Book four doesn’t have a title, a plot, a first sentence… but she remains convinced it will have!

She is now seventy-three years of age, happily writing most days and would dearly love to plan a novel, but has accepted that isn’t the way of her mind. Every novel starts with a sentence and she waits to see where that sentence will take her, and her characters.

In her life away from the computer in the corner of her kitchen, she is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter with blue blood in her veins! The club was particularly helpful during the writing of 34 Days, as a couple of matches feature in the novel, along with Ross Wallace. Information was needed, and they provided it.

Her genre is murder – necessary murder.

You can follow the author on Twitter

Bloggers HPD

Guest Post ~Tangled Roots by Denise D Young

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A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.
Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.
It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.
Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.
Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?
The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy magic, swoon-worthy kisses, and small-town charm. The series is best read in order.

Tangled Roots

I’m delighted today to welcome author Denise D Young to booksaremycwtches with a guest post.

The Perils and Pleasures of Being A Discovery Writer 

There’s always plenty of curiosity about writer’s creative processes. “Are you a plotter or pantser?” writers always ask each other. (Plotters are those who outline before they write a draft. Panters, on the other hand, wing it—or fly by the seat of their pants.)
For years, I balked at the term pantser. It felt silly, a bit dismissive of what feels to me to be a sort of magical yet arduous process. One day, there’s a seed of an idea and, through nurturing and tending and plenty of hard work, it becomes a full-fledged story, a world of magic and mystery populated by fascinating characters, each with their own struggles, sorrows, secrets, and dreams.
So, when I heard the term “discovery writer,” I was overjoyed. That’s it. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t exactly “flying by the seat of my pants”—that some deep, intuitive, hidden part of my writer-self knew where I was going. I didn’t have a map, but I let the stars guide me. There weren’t markers on the path, but whenever I strayed, a muse with her gossamer gown appeared and guided me in the right direction.
What is a discovery writer?
The short answer is that plotters are outliners. They create a detailed, point-by-point outline of their stories before they begin to write the story. They are strategic and are planners by nature. I completely respect this, and, honestly, sometimes I envy their ability to plan out their stories when I’m a bit lost in my manuscript.
Discovery writers, on the other hand, work without a predetermined guide. We might know a few key details, but often they’re not written down anywhere. I might know how a story will end, but not how my characters will get there. I have a destination, but no formal directions, save, perhaps, a few cryptic notes scrawled on a Post-It note or yellow legal pad.
There are perils on the path of the discovery writer.
For one, sometimes we end up with what a writer friend referred to as “bunny trails”—unfinished plot threads that don’t tie into the overall story or end up unresolved. But, hey, I figure that’s what revisions are for. We can remove bunny trails from later drafts or even find entertaining ways to tie them into the overarching plot, with sometimes wonderful results.
Yet another peril? Getting stuck. I’ve been writing paranormal romance since 2008, and I’ve learned to listen to my instincts. Since I’m writing largely by intuition, I have to closely listen to that inner voice, that voice that knows when I’ve veered off course. Sometimes this means stopping and retracing my steps or rewriting a few chapters.
And yes, all of this means that discovery writers often take longer to finish their manuscripts than plotters—but not always. Dean Wesley Smith is notoriously a discovery writer, and he’s also incredibly prolific. (He even wrote a book about his writing process, fittingly titled Writing into the Dark.)
But there are pleasures, too, on this journey.
Those “Eureka!” moments when all of the plot threads come together in glorious harmony. The moments when a character whispers some secret to us, and we find the joy of surprise, suddenly understanding why a character behaves a certain way.
There’s a joy and a magic in moving through a story by intuition. And I’ve learned that much of my creative process happens away from the page. Part of my routine is to walk the dog in the morning, and then sit quietly with a cup of coffee, turning ideas over in my mind. Often, plot solutions come to me during these times, or when I’m doing simple chores like folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher, things that leave my mind free to wander.
So, if not the trusty outline, what are the tools of the discovery writer?
I’d say we often embark on our journey armed with nothing more than a cup of tea, our writing implements, and a fierce belief in the ability of the stars, the magic of the muse, and our own inner voices to guide us.
And for a discovery writer, that’s how the magic happens.
I feel that I should end on this note: We should never assume there is one writing process that is superior to another. What matters most is the stories that get told and the journeys readers embark upon as they turn page after page.
Plotter or pantser, outliner or discovery writer, it makes no difference. I love discussing these processes because it sheds light on an often mysterious process. But just like there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s, there’s no wrong way to write a book.
To put it simply, when the magic happens, it happens.

You can purchase this novel follow this LINK.

About the author 

Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.
Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of romance varying from sweet to sensual.
She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is the answer (no matter what the question was).
If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.
Social Media Links –

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ddyoungbooks
Websitewww.denisedyoungbooks.com
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/denisedyoungwriter/

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Review ~ The Art of Murder by J S Strange. #BlogTour #WelshThriller #LGBTWriter #LGBTCharacters.

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‘I felt that I had been sucked into a well thought out Agatha Christie novel.’ – Danielle at The Reading Closet.

Wales at its best.

The second in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. The follow up to Murder on the Rocks.

Artist Xander Draper is being threatened by a dangerous group. With PI Jordan Jenner’s help, Xander hopes to remain unscathed.

But when Xander is murdered, his body displayed as his final exhibit, Jordan realises the extent of the trouble Xander was in. Now, there are people following Jordan. They know his name, and they want him dead.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s brother Ashley has returned, and he has a secret. As time runs out to solve the murder of the famous artist, Jordan begins to fear his brother may be responsible.

A classic cosy mystery set in the heart of Cardiff.

A perfect read for fans of Agatha Christie.

A murdered artist. A brother with a deadly secret. A group intent on killing. The Art of Murder is the second in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series, a cosy murder mystery set in Wales.

Review

Many thanks to the author and publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I am so happy that Jorden Jenner, described by other bloggers as the Welsh Agatha Christie/Sherlock Holmes is back, because I adore him. I totally agree with this description, and would add, that he also has elements of so many other modern day classic PIs!

So why do I enjoy both character and story?

Firstly, I know many writers suffer from a lack of confidence, but really J S Strange, has a bright future ahead of him. This second book, builds on the promise of book one and delivers an exciting read, full of suspense and drama.

The character Jordan comes across again as likeable, intelligent, passionate, flawed and vulnerable; pitch perfect characterisation. You can’t help but alternately wanting to cwtch him, cheer him on, read through your fingers when he puts his life in danger and want to open his eyes to how special he is. The author peels away the fences he has put up to protect him, allowing the reader to develop a more intimate relationship with him in this second novel. We get to meet his brother, whose secrets threaten their relationship, helping us not just to understand the main character more, but the family dynamic that shapes him.  I loved how we saw more of the protective side of Jenner and yet also how real he is. We all love our brothers or sisters, but having them living in your personal space is not easy and the caring side of Jenner is balanced out by something we can all understand, his need for his own space to think. Then there is his complicated love life, Jordan finds it hard to let people in, but when he tries, you just want it to be okay. It’s like being a protective sibling and the writer makes you care so much, that when he is happy so are you, when he is struggling, so to did I, with him! That is how good the characterisation is, J S Strange made me care and that is priceless to a reader. Because his internal struggles give this book its heart and emotional depth.

The story is, for use of a better word, THRILLING. Jordan becomes caught up in the murder of an artist, a gang determined to kill. On top of this, his brother returns from Australia with dangerous secrets.  From page one, I was metaphorically sat on the edge of my reading chair, as each of the threads were teased apart, brought together and then blown apart throughout the story.  As we weave in and out of Cardiff and it’s suburbs, the story builds up into a complex web of murder, mystery and betrayal, with a touching element of family drama. It’s the way every part of this story is laden with tension and conflict that really marks it out as a great thriller. There is conflict between the gang of art thieves and the art establishment, between Jordan and his brother, creating layers of troubles and a narrative that never relents.

I read somewhere that a great thriller needs an interesting setting and call me biased, but this book makes Cardiff feel like an exciting place to live. It is one of my favourite things about Art of Murder that my home is used as a backdrop in the book, it’s such a refreshing change to have a story set outside the big metropolitan cities like London and Manchester. You don’t have to be familiar with Cardiff to enjoy it though, because he brings the city alive for all to enjoy. It gives this story quite an intimate feel, set as it is, in Wales small and yet metropolitan capital city.

I do hope that there is going to a third Jordan Jenner novel, because I for one, want to read many more adventures.

About the author

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J.S. Strange is an author from Wales, United Kingdom. He writes crime, mystery and horror. His first novels, published in 2016 and 2017, were set in an apocalyptic London. His up-coming novel, titled Murder on the Rocks, is the first in a cozy crime mystery series, featuring a leading gay male detective.

Murder on the Rocks was written by Strange for many reasons. One of those reasons was a lack of representation within the crime genre, particularly with detectives and sleuths. Strange created Jordan Jenner, a private investigator, who lives and works in Cardiff. Murder on the Rocks was written with the intention of shining light on Cardiff, and bringing Cardiff, and furthermore, Wales, into the crime genre.

Strange’s previous works, such as ‘Winter Smith: London Burning’, also explored LGBT themes, and featured socialite Winter Smith escaping a zombie apocalypse. ‘London’s Burning’ became an Amazon best-seller in LGBT fiction.

When Strange doesn’t write, he works in television. He also presents a radio show all about the paranormal. He has an enthusiasm for Britney Spears and cats.

Jack can be reached on Twitter: @JackSamStrange

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Review~Breakers by Doug Johnstone. #Orentober #TeamOrenda

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Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum. On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt. With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too. A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.

Today as part of the month long celebration of Orenda Books I’m resharing my reviews of stunning  breakers by Doug Johnstone.

Review

Many thanks to the author, publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

What can I say about this book, other than it is bloody fantastic.  It had me engrossed throughout. The story is all too plausible and full of the gritty reality of life on the edge of a city, tucked away from the romance of Edinburgh tourist laden streets.

The atmosphere is incredible, you can feel the tension ebbing off the pages, the threatening events and living nightmate than envelopes Tyler and his family.  I was so engrossed in the story, I forgot to turn out the lights at night and get some sleep. It all felt so real that when I did, I’m struggled to sleep, because I felt so unnerved and the slightest noise had me wondering who might be around.  For me that’s the mark of a top notch thriller, when it gets so far under your skin and sets the nerve endings firing on all cylinders.

On top of this, the story is quite moving in places. Tyler is forced into crime by an brutal brother, while caring for his little sister and drug addicted mother and his situation is written with a understanding of what poverty and hopelessness can do to a underclass robbed of all hope. Tyler is written with a survival instinct as part of his very being, which is sad because a child should never have to face the horror and violence which is part of his very existence. I found it near impossible to judge him for some of his actions, so nuanced was the writing and so real he felt to me as a reader.

Superb in its ability to distract me from real life troubles, addictive in that I found it near impossible to put down, Breakers by Doug Johnstone will certainly feature in my favourite reads of 2019.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones

 

About the author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics. Follow him on Twitter @doug_Johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com.

 

Guest Post ~ Havenwakes by Fi Phillips.

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What if we lived in a world where magic and robots existed together? A world where hidden cities lie just beyond the next door, hidden in plain site and guarded by mystical creatures?

Steve Haven is just another ordinary twelve-year-old boy, who just happens to be the nephew of Rex Haven, founder of the world-famous Haven Robotics Corporation.

When Rex dies in mysterious circumstances, Steve finds himself the guardian of a strange artefact known only as the Reactor. But there are people out there who want the Reactor; dangerous and powerful people.

With his parents missing and no one in the normal world he can trust, Steve must join forces with a strange collection of magical beings to save the world by stopping the Reactor from falling into the wrong hands.

What is the truth behind Rex Haven’s death?

What is the secret behind the Reactor and its power?

Do the answers lie in the magical land known only as Darkacre?

Haven Wakes is the debut novel by Fi Phillips and the first in The Haven Chronicles, an exciting and enthralling journey through new worlds, both futuristic and magical.

If you enjoy fantastic settings, magical powers and futuristic devices, then you’ll love Haven Wakes.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Haven Wakes author Fi Phillips to booksaremycwtches with a fascinating guest post about the inspiration behind her novel.

Haven Wakes – the inspiration

“What inspired you to write Haven Wakes?”
“What’s the inspiration behind the book?”
I’ve been asked those questions so many times over the last few weeks they should be easy to answer by now, surely.
The reality is that a lot of what inspired my fantasy fiction novel crept up on me unawares, sidling its way into my periphery until I couldn’t remember when it became part of my story. Maybe that’s always the way with a story’s evolution, and Haven Wakes has certainly evolved over the last few years.
Adding a little grit to the setting
The initial inspiration came from a decision to change a story I’d been working on, The Crystal Prince, from a full-on, Tolkien-style fantasy fiction into something altogether more futuristic and scientific.
As a medieval fantasy, I just couldn’t get the story to work. I fiddled, and re-wrote, and got critiques, and scribbled some more, but the story just refused to behave.
It wasn’t until I took a long, hard look at the story that I realised what was wrong. All that fantasy, with its wizards and mystical settings and evil rulers, didn’t have enough reality. What I mean, is that it just wasn’t grounded enough to be believable. I know, I know, fantasy fiction is supposed to be all about suspending our disbelief for a while, but even a fantasy tale needs real relationships, real physical rules (darn gravity) and real consequences.
What I needed to do, to inject that reality, was to move my story into a more recognisable setting. The here and now was a little too close and mundane, so I made the decision to re-write my story in a futuristic version of our world.

New friends and old familiars
Setting my story in a new future setting meant that I needed to create characters who would fit in that world but to keep the essence of my original story, I brought across some old familiar friends too.
My two favourite characters – a wise-cracking travelling salesman with a knack for finding just the right thing for every occasion and a shadowy assassin – were a major inspiration in building the new world from the old.
Magic and robots
My novel was always going to be full of magic but the more I thought about this future world where magic was hidden, the more the idea of a world reliant on science, and especially robots, appealed.
I began to imagine how we would use robots in a world where they were everywhere. Servants? Drivers? Walking the dog?
And what would those robots look like? Humanoid? Animalistic? Something else?
How would humans change if robots could do most things for them? Would it be like the spaceship-held humans in Wall-e or something altogether more dark and harder to recognise like in Bladerunner?
What would the laws be around the use of robots? Isaac Asimov? Something that gave rights to robots?
Home-grown inspiration
A lot of what you will find in Haven Wakes was inspired by my upbringing:
communities that lived in red brick period terrace houses, that looked out for each other and were almost an extended family in themselves
colourful characters who lived by their own rules
the appreciation of family, even where that family is made up of friends, old and new
the ability to find magic in the most mundane of things, like a stranger’s smile or the smell of freshly cut grass
The journey continues
And now, with Haven Wakes due for release on 1st October, that story has provided even more inspiration for the next novel in the series and all the books that will come after. Who knows where Steve Haven will go from here?

The novel can be purchased Amazon

About the author

For many years Fi Phillips worked in an office environment until the arrival of her two children robbed her of her short-term memory and sent her hurtling down a new, bumpy, creative path. She finds that getting the words down on paper is the best way to keep the creative muse out of her shower. Fi lives in the wilds of North Wales with her family, earning a living as a copywriter, playwright and fantasy novelist. Writing about magical possibilities is her passion. You can follow her on Twitter  @FisWritingHaven–  Or at fiphillipswriter.com – where you can also sign up for an exclusive short story from the universe of Haven Wakes – absolutely FREE!