Sunday, 29 November 2015

**GUEST POST** Daniel Pembrey - Author of The Lion Hunter

Today I am VERY excited to be hosting Daniel Pembury, author of the wonderful short story The Lion Hunter. After meeting Daniel at a party earlier on this week I read The Lion Hunter over the weekend. This is an absolutely cracking read, one that evokes the sights and sounds of Africa transporting the reader to an exciting, exotic location. If you're looking for something a little bit different, then I highly recommend this short story! You can snatch up your copy here:


Thank you for having me on Reading Room with a View, Lisa!

I love the name of your blog. It’s very outward looking, and makes me think of my favourite types of writing. I’m a big fan of crime fiction but I also love travel writing. Indeed, I like nothing more that to read (and write) stories with a strong sense of location.

I’ve just released a new adventure short story called The Lion Hunter, which I hope might make a good Xmas read! It was inspired by a combination of Cecil the lion and a recent trip I made to Tanzania. It’s about British newlyweds who meet a Texan trophy hunter at a remote game lodge; the lion hunting turns out to be less morally straightforward than the husband expects. I loved writing it, and I love the creature it’s based around (I’m a Leo!).

You can buy The Lion Hunter: A Short Adventure Story here if you live in the UK and here if you’re in the US …

Most of my published stories are set in Holland (one is set in Luxembourg). I started visiting Amsterdam eight years ago when my sister moved there with her husband, and was struck by the dearth of crime fiction set in the Dutch capital (in English translation). This surprised me, given that it’s one of northern Europe’s great port cities, lending itself so well to the genre. Then my sister and her husband had a baby daughter, and I ended up visiting more!

Working through a few plot points with my niece Saffron

I’ve also enjoyed the maverick cop stories of Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin and the Scandinavian masters such as the late Henning Mankell … So I set about creating a stoical Dutch police detective, Henk van der Pol, whose beat is in the atmospheric docklands area of Amsterdam. Indeed, I ended up moving there in 2014, to deepen my understanding of the story world (and consume Dubbelbock beer and jenever gin in De Druif!).

De Druif, or The Grape – my police detective’s local

I began writing the Harbour Master series in novella-length instalments – again, a story type I love to read – and was fortunate to have the first two books accepted as Kindle Singles (Amazon’s curated, short e-book programme). They sold well, the first one becoming the number one short story on Amazon UK, and this in turn got me picked up by a good agent – Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates. The book series just sold to No Exit Press and will be re-launched by them in 2016, which I’m very excited about.

Much as I feel at home in Amsterdam, I’m restless at heart and always looking for different places to write about (Berlin has been high on my list for a long while). And I always like to ask readers and writers: Which are the places that you are drawn towards? And of the books set there, which would you recommend?

Thank you for having me on Reading Room with a View!

Daniel is on Twitter and Facebook His website is

Amazon US product page:
Amazon UK product page:

Thursday, 26 November 2015

House of Shadows - Nicola Cornick

"London, 1662:
There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’. 
Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.
Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben."

I am a real history geek, so when I was offered an ARC of this book by the publisher I jumped at the chance. A cleverly constructed time-slip novel, telling the story of a crystal mirror set in the 1600's, 1800's and the present day, I was reminded of the likes of Barbara Erskine and Pamela Hartshorne. I was drawn in immediately by the plot line, and supported by good, strong characters - both likeable and not! - the story really hooks the reader from the beginning. 
The three separate storylines weave together well, and I really enjoyed the way the reader gains an insight into each of the women concerned - Elizabeth in the 1600's, Lavinia in the 1800's and Holly in the present day. Each woman is living in very different times, with different things expected of them and each slip in time could have felt isolated but the way the story is intricately woven together makes for a seamless, enjoyable read. I will definitely be on the look out for more by Nicola Cornick. 

House of Shadows is out now and you can get it here:

**Thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Jazz Files - Fiona Veitch Smith

"Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said...

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?"

I really enjoyed this quirky little mystery novel - it's something  a little different from the usual crime/mystery/thriller stuff that is popping up lately, and is vaguely reminiscent of a good Agatha Christie.
I loved Poppy Denby - she is feisty without being over the top, throwing herself headfirst into her investigations, and she is very likeable. Fiona Veith Smith really brings the 20's to life in her writing, in particular her scenes written on the theatre scene at the time - and some of her characters are brilliantly despicable (if Alfie Dorchester doesn't make you cringe a little, I don't know who will!) 
If you're looking for something a little bit different, a little bit quirky and with some very large characters I highly recommend The Jazz Files - and the good news is, it seems that Poppy Denby will be out on another adventure very soon!

The Jazz Files is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Meet me in Manhattan - Claudia Carroll

"In a New York minute, everything can change …
You don’t mess with aspiring journalist Holly Johnson! The man she fell for is not all that he seems – because sometimes dating online doesn’t quite go to plan. She’s decided to fly to the Big Apple to surprise him and to get some answers. And if her plan works she’ll also get the scoop of her career …
But as she steps out of her yellow taxi and the first snowflakes start to fall, it’s Holly who has the surprise of her life.
What should be a dream come true is looking a little like a nightmare. But Holly is determined to get her New York happy ending!"

This is such a lovely read - and perfect as it's just in time for Christmas! A lovely, warm chick lit novel, with very likeable characters and a slightly unusual plot. This isn't your average boy-meets-girl chick lit story - I loved the plot, which although it was fairly slow to start with, it soon took off and had me racing through the pages. 
I LOVED Holly - she is so likeable and easy to relate to, I could easily imagine being friends with her. I was rooting for her to find her happy-ever-after, and was totally sucked in to her scheme of heading to New York to catch her catfish. The other characters are also easy to relate to - although some are more likeable than others! - and there are some brilliant emotional scenes between the characters that really add to the storyline. 

A really enjoyable read, one that has got me set up for more Christmas reads - it is nearly that time after all!

Meet Me in Manhattan is out on 5th November and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Mistletoe and Mayhem - Catherine Ferguson **BLOGGER/AVON CRAFTY CHALLENGE!**

"Lola Plumpton can’t believe her luck.

Christmas is coming and her gorgeous boyfriend, Nathan has offered up his swanky apartment to host the Plumpton family’s festive celebrations. It looks set to be a Christmas to remember. And it is – but for all the wrong reasons.

As the 25th December draws closer, Lola unexpectedly finds herself missing some key components:

1. A job (but who needs one of those anyway, when you’ve got the ultimate family Christmas to prepare for?)
2. Money (no job equals no money, it turns out.)
3. A boyfriend (yup, Nathan the hunk has said adios to Lola – and in the *most* embarrassing way possible…)
4. Somewhere to host her fabulous family Christmas (because of course, no Nathan means no des res apartment.)

Lola’s at a loss about what to do. But one way or another, she’s going to make this the happiest Christmas her family’s ever had…"

Eeeek! Christmas is coming! This is my first Christmas novel of the year and I LOVED it - funny and festive, I fell in love with Lola and her slightly ridiculous life. Everything seems to fall apart for poor Lola, but she perseveres and that was one of the things I loved about her. Supporting characters in the book were also brilliant - there were some really lovely people in Lola's life, easy to relate to, lovely kind hearted people, perfect for a Christmas story!
This was the first novel of Catherine Ferguson's that I have read, but I will definitely be catching up on her others. 
Tied in to this review was the challenge brought by the Avon team - the book has a fair few Christmassy craft recipes and ideas in it, so us bloggers were challenged to take on the Avon team in re-creating some of them. I opted for the Rocky Road - hoping that bringing my secret weapon into play (my 11 year old daughter, Izzy) would be enough to win!

Rocky Road

We spent a lovely Sunday morning getting covered in chocolate and smashing up biscuits ready for our Rocky Road...

It was so easy to make (and hopefully we weren't going to poison anyone....)

Once everything was mixed together, and it was smoothed out nicely into the tray we popped it in the fridge for the rest of the day...

And this was the finished article! Slightly wonky on the edges (we were going for the country-style, rustic look) and probably cut into pieces that were far too big, it was DELICIOUS and lasted approximately 10.649 seconds. Bring it on Avon Team - lets see if you can do it better! 

Mistletoe and Mayhem is out now (currently at the bargain price of 99p) and you can get it here:

**My thanks to Helena at Avon for my ARC - and the lovely Rocky Road recipe!**

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The 'Meet Cute' Series - Katey Lovell

Today I am lucky enough to host a guest post from Katey Lovell - the author of the 'Meet Cute' series. Katey is one of the first bloggers I met in person, and she is a DIAMOND, so I was super pleased for her when she announced that her short stories were going to be published by Harper Impulse. I've read the first - The Boy in the Book Shop - and it is a deliciously romantic bite-sized read, that left me wanting to know more about the they date? Do they get married? Is he actually not a lovely, geeky, bookshop boy but something else entirely? Now I'm looking forward to all the other 'Meet Cute's in the series!

The most wonderful places on earth…
I’ve always been a complete and utter bookworm, so when I started writing The Meet Cute Series it seemed logical to use a bookshop as a setting for one of the stories.  People say authors should ‘write what they know’.  Well, I definitely know bookshops.  My bookcase can attest to that.
Beautiful Books is the second-hand bookstore where Jade, the protagonist in The Boy in the Bookshop, works, a slightly haphazard shop with boxes of books on the street outside ready for browsers to rummage through and shelves crammed with preloved tomes.  It’s disorganised, but that only adds to the charm of the place.  It has low ceilings, a counter which is too big for the space and the inventory is kept on a basic spreadsheet.  Overall, it’s a cosy, friendly place where bibliophiles can while away their time without being badgered by staff.
Beautiful Books isn’t based on one specific bookshop, but I did draw on my own (vast) experience of second-hand book shopping when writing the story.  When I first moved to Sheffield in the late 90s I was a poor student and I almost never bought new books.  Fortunately, I lived near the Sharrowvale Road area where there were numerous charity shops and a few specialist second hand book shops so I could feed my reading habit relatively cheaply.  I’ll never forget the day I went to one preloved bookshop searching for Erich Segal’s Love Story, which was one of my favourite books at the time.  I’d left my copy back home in Wales and couldn’t wait for it to be posted up, so crossed my fingers I’d be able to source a copy cheaply.  I was over the moon when the chatty lady behind the counter in one of the shops (now sadly closed) told me there was one in stock and that it could be mine for the princely sum of 20p! 
But it’s not just the price that makes me love second hand bookshops.  It’s the unknown.  If you go to a chain bookshop on the high street the likelihood is you’ll see the same bestsellers in every one.  In independent bookstores there tends to be more variety, but they still have to cater for the mass market so much-talked-of books often feature prominently on the displays. 
Second hand bookshops are treasure chests full of long-forgotten gems.  The edition of a favourite book you had as a child.  An out of print novel by a new-favourite author.  A truly eclectic collection of books, every one with a history.
Bookshops are magical. 

Katey Lovell is the author of The Meet Cute series.  The Boy in the Bookshop, the first short story in the series was released on October 29th published by Harper Impulse, to be followed by The Boy at the Beach on November 5th and The Boy at the Bakery on November 12th.

About the Author
Katey Lovell is fanatical about words. An avid reader, writer and poet, she once auditioned for Countdown and still tapes the show every night. Getting the conundrum before the contestants is her ultimate thrill.

She loves love and strives to write feel-good romance that'll make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and their seven year old son.
Find Katey on twitter, @katey5678, Facebook and her author blog

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Before It's Too Late - Jane Isaac

"I concentrated hard, desperately listening for something
familiar, the sound of life. I heard nothing. Just my own
breaths and the wind, whistling through branches above…
The thought made me shiver. I am buried alive.
Following an argument with her British boyfriend, Chinese
student Min Li is abducted whilst walking the dark streets of
picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon alone.
Trapped in a dark pit, Min is at the mercy of her captor.
Detective Inspector Will Jackman is tasked with solving the
case and in his search for answers discovers that the truth is
buried deeper than he ever expected.
But, as another student vanishes and Min grows ever weaker,
time is running out. Can Jackman track down the kidnapper,
before it’s too late?"

Jane Isaac's latest book has to be her best, in my opinion. Taking on the challenge of writing about the Chinese community in Britain must have taken a whole heap of research to get right, and although I know nothing about it, I have to say that Jane must have gotten things right as everything flows perfectly, drawing the reader into a fairly terrifying situation. 
Her characters are intricate and intriguing - there is a sense that something is not quite on the money about one particular character, and I was right in feeling slightly uneasy where that character was concerned. I really like the main detective - Will Jackman is not without his demons (and we all know that ALL good detectives have their demons!) but I liked him and found him believable.
A good strong plot line with some nice twists in it, I did enjoy Before It's Too Late very much indeed, probably the most of out all of Jane's books - it's her strongest storyline yet (and The Truth Will Out was bloody good) and I'm looking forward to the next one!

Before It's Too Late is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward

"Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins's mother commits suicide.
Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.
This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you."

I love a good psych thriller, and I had heard only good things about from my blogger buddies, so it kind of had a lot to live up to. It didn't let me down. Although I found that it started quite slowly, I was soon hooked by the story of two little girls, abducted on their way to school - one returned. One didn't. 
Some of the characters are not particularly likeable or easy to relate to. I wasn't terribly keen on Rachel, nor could I relate to her, but it didn't detract from the story, if anything it made me read on more, perhaps to see if the kidnapper disliked her as much as I did! 
There are plenty of unexpected twists in this novel, and I found myself comparing the writing to the likes of Sophie Hannah (not a bad thing). I found, as I often do with Sophie Hannah's books, that I really couldn't figure where it was all going - there were lots of little strands of plot, none of which I could easily tie up. This was one aspect of the novel that I particularly enjoyed - there's nothing better than getting to the end of the novel without managing to see ANY of it coming. 
A good, strong plot line, although a slow burner it's definitely worth sticking with, even if it's just for the beautifully twisty ending. 

In Bitter Chill is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Monday, 2 November 2015

Written in the Scars - Mel Sherratt

"Scars. Sometimes they’re visible. Sometimes they’re hidden deep within. 

After years of living as a single parent, all Donna Adams longs for is someone to make her smile, to share hopes and dreams with, to keep her warm at night. But when that certain someone gives her the attention she craves, true love doesn’t always follow the right path. 

Home from the army, Lewis is a changed man. Angry and consumed by grief, troubled by nightmares and flashbacks, his mind is worse now than ever. Shutting out what he’s seen isn’t easy, but he risks losing everything he’s come back to if he doesn’t, including his sanity. 

Megan Cooper hides her scars for fear of being rejected. Mary Marshall can’t always remember how she got hers. 

If the past could be erased to make a better future, we’d all want that, wouldn’t we? But life is never that easy for the residents of The Mitchell Estate…"

I love Mel Sherratt - but this is the first Estate series book I've read, even though they are all on my kindle. I love her DS Allie Shenton series, so when I was offered an advance copy of this, I thought it was time to start on the Estate! 
This didn't disappoint - think Martina Cole, but with far more likeable characters. I found the storyline easy to get into and straight away there were characters I identified with, along with some that I got the bad vibe about ( and I was right, which made it even better!).
Mel's writing is strong, and there is some excellent dialogue - you can really hear some of the characters in your ear as they speak, always a good sign for me! 
Although similar in style to Martina Cole, I much prefer Mel - the characters are not quite so rough, and where I began to find Martina Cole's characters all a little bit "samey" Mel' characters all have quite a distinctive, individual feel. There's no massive, shocking plot twist, but the plot line tells the story of life on the estate, and this was something that I did really like - almost a focus on real people, living real lives.
In short, I really enjoyed this. Despite it being the last one so far in a series I didn't feel like I missed anything by not reading the others, but I definitely will be going back to catch up.

Written in the Scars is out on 30th October and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the author for my ARC**