Monday, 31 October 2016

Celebrations and Confetti - Rebecca Raisin **GUEST POST**

Today I have a sneak peek at Cedarwood Lodge....and am wishing so hard it wasn't a fictional place! I could do with a stay there right about now....

"Get ready for Christmas with the first part in a feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.
Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.
Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?
Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One."

Welcome to the Cedarwood Lodge, situated in the town of Evergreen. All you have to do here is relax, and let Clio and her staff cater to your every whim!
Here are a list of our winter recreation activities that are available for our guests, just ring the bell and we’ll arrange it for you.
·      Hiking, choose a trail and let Georges pack you a gourmet picnic
·      Cooking classes: choose from sweet or savory, simple or gourmet, if you can dream of it, Georges can do it!
·      Dance lessons: salsa, tango, ballroom, Latin, our dance instructor is a phone call away
·      Art room: capture the view in water color, sketch, or oils, or if craft is your thing, head to the studio and check out the supplies
·      Games room: Billiards, board games, table tennis, to name but a few things we have on offer. You’ll find the games room opposite the ballroom
·      Ice skate on the lake, join in on snowman building competitions, snowball fights, or sledding.
·      Spa room: call ahead and Clio can arrange any number of beauty treatments from massage to facials, and mud wraps
·      Join us by the campfire to sing songs and toast marshmallows
·      Want to keep the kids busy? Sign them up to the end of season show, there’s a part for everyone!
·      For our bibliophiles, check out the library upstairs, peruse the huge display of books catering for every genre
·      Movie room: flick through our extensive movie library and pull up a beanbag and watch it on the big screen
·      Go for a run around the jogging track
·       Take a virtual yoga/Pilates class

We hope you enjoy your stay!

Celebrations and Confetti is out now and you can get it here:

Monday, 17 October 2016

Dancers in the Wind - Anne Coates

Today I'm hosting a guest post from Anne Coates - author of Dancers in the Wind. She tells us all about her long road to publication. 

"SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER? Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth .... and stay alive."

Dancers in the Wind – the long journey to publication

I began writing Dancers in the Wind over 20 years ago. When I thought I had completed it, I sent it to a few agents I’d had dealings with in my role as an editor. Each agent liked it to a certain extent and offered suggestions – which I took on board – but even after changes, no one wanted to take it on.

At the time, as well as my journalism and editing, I began writing non-fiction books and I was having my short stories accepted in women’s magazines. Dancers in the Wind went the way of another novel I’d written (encouraged by an agent) and found it’s way into the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. Almost forgotten but not quite…

Fast-forward two decades and, having a clear out, I discovered the manuscript (two actually the other still awaits my attention!) and having a free afternoon, I read it. I’d forgotten much of the action and detail so I was almost approaching it as an editor, rather than the writer.

By the time I’d finished reading, I was convinced the story was worth telling – but it needed some work. As I had changed computers and software several times since writing the original, I had to retype the whole thing. Touch-typing is not a skill I possess so it was an arduous task. I bought some dictating software but I found that almost as frustrating. I have never managed to train my Dragon!

Having printed out the pages, I then began the long revision process, checking and editing the timeline, adding and subtracting scenes, reading out loud chapter after chapter. Proof reading. In my other life as a journalist and editor we always had three people proofing. I had no such luxury until a friend and fellow editor offered to step into the breech…

Eventually I thought I had a viable manuscript. Then as I was reading through one last time I realised the ending was a bit weak. Immediately a much more sinister scene presented itself and I was pleased with the result.

Not so, however, with the agents I approached. One didn’t reply at all although I had met him and discussed sending the novel to him. One sent a standard rejection with advice to read her book (I had) and about two liked the idea ­– but not quite enough. A publisher in the US offered to take me on but the email they sent was full of so many mistakes that it didn’t bode well for their publishing skills.

Then I saw a tweet by a publisher looking for reviewers for one of his titles. And within a short while I had a review copy and an offer to read my manuscript, after I’d sent in the idea on Urbane Publications website.

Matthew Smith was not only enthusiastic about Dancers, he also bought into the idea of a trilogy. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. A contract with a new independent publisher offering a dynamic and innovative publishing concept of collaboration and care was a dream come true. 
So just before publication date for Dancers I submitted the manuscript for Death’s Silent Judgement to be published in May, with the third to be released in the autumn.

The journey to publication has been a marathon which finished in a sprint: from début crime novel to publishing three books – within twelve months or so (plus all those years of preparation). 

Dancers in the Wind is out now and you can get it here:

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Kill Fee - Fiona Vetch Smith

"Poppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Faberge Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within - secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Faberge Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg - and the other treasures - should all be restored to the Russian people. Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect...The race is on to find both the key and the egg - can they be found before the killer strikes again?"

This is the second offering from Fiona Vetch Smith in her Poppy Denby Investigates series, and I enjoyed this as much as the first. With a twisting plot line and some very unsavoury characters I was unsure who to trust as events unfolded. 

I love the setting for these novels - London in the 20s - and Fiona's style of writing makes it easy to imagine the way things were in those days. Poppy is a brilliant characters, completely ahead of her time and her outlook on life is very refreshing! I'm looking forward to hearing more from Poppy...this is series that could easily run and run! 

The Kill Fee is out now and you can get it here:

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

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Girl from The Savoy - Hazel Gaynor **GUEST POST**

Today I'm hosting a guest post from the lovely Hazel Gaynor, author of The Girl from The Savoy. 

London Glamour
When I moved to London in the early ‘90s I was instantly charmed. There was something about the iconic buildings and the atmosphere that I just loved and felt very comfortable being around. I lived and worked in London for seven years, and was sad to leave when I moved to Ireland. Of course, when you live in a city you rarely do the ‘tourist’ things so it was only after I’d left, and returned for visits, that I did the Tower of London, St. Paul’s, the London Dungeons and so much more.
It was such a joy to write about London in THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY. In many ways, the hotel and London itself became characters in the book. Writing about such a golden age as the 1920s made me very nostalgic for the more glamourous side of the city, so here is my perfect London day, inspired by my characters Dolly and Loretta, and by my experience of writing the book.
Where better to start the day than breakfast at The Wolseley, such a London institution that food critic A.A. Gill has written a book about it. (No prizes for guessing the title. Yep. Breakfast at the Wolseley). I would have to choose an omelette Arnold Bennett, created by chefs at the Savoy Grill especially for Mr. Bennett, a novelist, whose book Imperial Palace was written at The Savoy and formed part of my research.
After breakfast, a stroll through Green Park and Belgravia before visiting the V&A Museum. The permanent collections – fashion, ceramics, glass and many more – are always wonderful, as are the special exhibitions. The wedding dresses exhibition was amazing. At the moment, you can see Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear! The beautiful gardens at the back of the museum are also the perfect place to escape the bustle of London and relax over coffee. It was at the V&A Theatre Archives (housed separately in Blythe House near Olympia) that I did most of my research into the lives of actresses and theatrical producers of the 1920s.
On to Afternoon tea at Claridge’s which is where my characters, Loretta and Perry, meet every Wednesday. When I was writing the book I contacted the hotel to check what would have been on the menu in the 1920s. They explained that the selection would have been very similar to today – sandwiches, scones and cakes. Sandwich fillings would have been chicken and tarragon, roast beef, and egg mayonnaise. Today, afternoon tea is served today in The Foyer but up to 1926 this was known as The Winter Garden, which is what it is called in The Girl From The Savoy.
Of course no day out in London would be complete without taking in a West End show. The Gallery Girls of the 1920s - ordinary working girls who saved all their wages for theatre tickets - would queue for hours at the theatre doors and scream the house down from the cheap seats at the very top of the theatres. It was from up there that Dolly watches the spectacle on the stage and dreams of being there herself one day. The Novello Theatre was named after the composer Ivor Novello who lived in a flat there for many years. Novello inspired my character, Perry, who lives on the top floor of The Strand theatre (as it was known at the time).
After the show, it has to be dancing at The Savoy with a cocktail in the famous American Bar. The Savoy always had a resident band (the Savoy Orpheans in the 1920s, which has a small cameo in the book). Now the band is Alex Mendham and his Orchestra, who play authentic 1920s and 1930s jazz in the Savoy ballroom. I’d love to try a Corpse Reviver cocktail, invented to fight off the Spanish Flu epidemic that followed the end of WW1.
And to finish the day, a moonlit walk along The Embankment where Loretta looks for shooting stars and Dolly admires the work of the screevers – pavement artists. After all that, just time to curl up with a good book in one of the famous Savoir ‘Savoy’ beds, first made especially for The Savoy in 1905, and still made for them today.

The Girl From The Savoy is out now and you can get it here:

Saturday, 3 September 2016

First Monday - September Edition!

First Monday is a BRILLIANT new evening for crime fiction lovers everywhere - and at £5 a ticket it's a snip. September's evening will include Sophie Hannah, Tim Weaver, Rod Reynolds - author of the incredible Texarkana noir The Dark Inside and Black Night Falling, and Jane Corry, interviewed by Jake Kerridge. I was lucky enough to receive copies of Sophie and Tim's books for review - and they are both CRACKING reads, which makes me even more devastated to miss this month's crime-filled evening.

"Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
‘What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . .’
Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live . . .
Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited . . . until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer?
When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?"

I don't think I know of any crime fiction lover that doesn't love Agatha Christie - I am a HUGE fan and have to confess to feeling a little nervous at reading Sophie Hannah's recreation of Hercule Poirot. WHAT??! Why was I worried? She is an absolute MASTER - in this (the second Poirot book written by Sophie) she easily recreates the levels of suspense that Christie mastered so well. I loved the puzzling plot line and there were plenty of gasp-inducing moments as Poirot worked those little grey cells to give the reader a most satisfying conclusion.  
Closed Casket is out on 6th September and you can get it here:

My second read for First Monday was the utterly brilliant Broken Heart by Tim Weaver.
"Where did she go?
What did she know?
A woman drives to a secluded beauty spot on the Somerset coast.
CCTV watches her enter but doesn't see her leaving.
In fact, Lynda Korin is never seen again.
How can someone just disappear?
Her sister calls missing persons investigator David Raker.
For him, the mystery of where she went is only the start. The real question is why a woman with no reason to run would choose to leave her entire life behind?
Was it her decision? Or did someone make it for her?
Raker is an expert at following the echoes of decades-old lies. But only Lynda Korin knows the most shocking secret of all - and she's missing, presumed dead..."

Blimey. I knew the new Tim Weaver novel would be good, but this one was OFF THE SCALE good. As expected, a gripping plot line and some despicable villains make for a pacy, addictive read, and Weaver hides some brilliant subtle twists and turns. It'll be worth heading to First Monday just to quiz Tim on how he comes up with these cracking twists!

Broken Heart is out now and you can get it here:

First Monday crime tickets are available here: 

Don't miss it! 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ash and Bones - Mike Thomas

"A cop killer on the loose in Cardiff - introducing a dark and gritty new voice in crime fiction, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and David Mark

At a squalid flat near the Cardiff docks, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong when the police aren't the only unexpected guests. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range, the original suspect is left in a coma. The killer, identity unknown, slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help ­- but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path...'

FINALLY -  a police procedural that doesn't involve an old, jaded, got-his-demons detective on the cusp of retirement! I loved the fact that our main detective in this novel is "the new guy" - I loved his insecurity, his slightly rogue attitude to the way he does things, and the fact that he's yet to be swallowed up by the usual crap that sucks the life out of most detectives we meet in these kinds of books. 
The premise was a good one - one that had me hooked pretty much from the off - and at first I thought there was no way every thing was going to tie together, so I was pleased when the ending gave me answers to all the questions I had hovering in my head. 
This is a class example of how a police procedural should be written - fast paced and edgy, with believable characters and a plot that sucks you right in. I'll be waiting impatiently for the next in the series...

Ash and Bones is out on 25th August and you can get it here;

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

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Down on Daffodil Lane - Rebecca Pugh *RELEASE DAY BLITZ*

Our lovely Rebecca has been a bit poorly of late, so what better way to cheer her up than all her writer/blogger mates getting together to blitz her new book baby on release day? (Fabulous idea, Rebecca Minton!) Sooo.....Down on Daffodil Lane is out today! 

Release Day Blitz!

A charmed life…

Maria Charm’s world might have recently crumbled, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let it get her down.
Sure, her ex-husband broke her heart and decimated her trust, and while it would be so tempting to spend forever in her dressing gown, a tub of ice-cream in one hand and a glass of Chardonnay in the other, Maria wants more from her new—single—life!
A make over of her lovely little cottage on Daffodil Lane and a new job at Harriet’s café are just the distractions Maria needs to carve a new life in the country. One distraction she doesn’t need is Mr Tall, Brooding and Handsome from down the lane! 'Maria may only be in town temporarily, but there's nothing temporary about the tingles she feels at gorgeous Brad's touch…
After everything she’s been through, can Maria ever trust a man again? Could risking her heart with Brad lead to a charmed life on Daffodil Lane?
Find out in Rebecca Pugh’s dazzling novel, Down on Daffodil Lane!


Publisher – Carina UK 
Publication Date – 8th of August 2016

Author Bio:

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire. Not an immediate reader, it took her a while to find her way towards the wonderful fictional words hidden between the pages of books. Ever since, she’s fallen under the spell of countless authors and the tales they've weaved. Her favourite authors include Jill Mansell, Cathy Bramley, Sarah Morgan and Holly Martin, to name but a few. She loves nothing more than tapping away at the keyboard, taking her characters from imagination to page and, when that isn’t the case, she adores curling up with a good book.

Rebecca is a fan of fairy tale romances that sweep you off your feet, dashing heroes and strong, lovable heroines. She can’t make up her mind whether she prefers a countryside escape, or a love story set in bustling New York. Either way, she’s more than happy to disappear into both.

When it comes to her own writing, Rebecca aims to whisk readers away to desirable locations, where they can meet characters who, she hopes, will begin to feel like friends. With a dash of romance here, and a shake-up of things there, she loves dreaming up stories and watching them come to life

You can get Becca's other books here:

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Name I Call Myself - Beth Moran

"All Faith Harp wants is a quiet life – to take care of her troubled brother, Sam, earn enough money to stop the wolves snapping at her heels, and to keep her past buried as deep as possible. And after years of upheaval, she might have just about managed it: she’s engaged to the gorgeous and successful Perry is holding down a job, and Sam’s latest treatment seems to actually be working this time. But, for Faith, things never seem to stay simple for long. Her domineering mother-in-law-to-be is planning a nightmare wedding, including the wedding dress from hell. And the man who killed her mother is released from prison, sending her brother tumbling back into mental illness. When secretly planning the wedding she really wants, Faith stumbles across a church choir that challenges far more than her ability to hold a tune. She ends up joining the choir, led by the fierce choir-mistress, Hester, who is determined to do whatever it takes to turn the motley crew of women into something spectacular. She also meets Dylan, the church’s vicar, who is different to any man she has ever met before."

In all honesty, I am a crime fiction girl at heart, and was never expecting be a fan of Beth Moran. She just seemed a little too nice from the blurb. This is the second of her novels that I've read though, and you know what? She isn't as nice as the blurb makes out (this is a GOOD THING, trust me). I really enjoyed Beth's last novel, and it came as a refreshing treat after months of reading about psychos and serial killers. This novel is even better.

This book takes a slightly darker tone than the previous novel, and that was something that I liked. Beth always has very likeable characters, and this time Faith, while likeable, also has a dark secret that she's trying to hide from her new future family. The plot line pulled me in, and there are some really brilliant characters - I loved Marilyn - and the focus on women and how we are so much stronger when we are all together was another element that I really loved. 

Yes, it's chick lit but there's nothing fluffy or two-dimensional about it. The focus isn't on how the main character can get her man, or whatever. It's about being yourself, opening up to others, and showing how we are there to lean on each other - to help each other. It's the kind of chick lit I'd want my daughter to be reading. Basically, I loved it - and I'm looking forward to the next Beth Moran book.

The Name I call Myself is out now and you can get it here:

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

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Silent Scream - Angela Marson (repost)

So, I first posted this review months and months ago when Silent Scream was published as an ebook by Bookouture. Now, the incredibly brilliant Angie Marsons has just had it published in paperback by Bonnier, so it seems natural for me to need to shout about it again! This is the first in what has now become one of my favourite crime series - if you haven't read it yet, then you need to. See that, NEED. Y'all need to read it. And then the next one. And the next one....etc. My original review is below....and yes, I still love it just as much. 

"Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood … 

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. 

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades. 

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?"

I seriously love a good crime novel. It's got to be my favourite genre, but it can be so hard to find a really excellent crime thriller where everything all fits together just perfectly - the plot, the characters, the writing. Generally, I always find one thing that, even though I may love the book, there's a little niggly bit that makes me think "meh" and it's rare that I find one without the 'meh' factor at all. The thing I love most about book reviewing is that you get to find some absolute gems - debut authors that you've never heard of before that make you sit up and think, "I need more of this!". Angela Marsons has TOTALLY done of these things with Silent Scream. I don't think I've been so hooked by a new author since the discovery of Mark Edwards or Mark Billingham, (the only other winners of the 'zero meh' factor, congrats boys).

I loved the plot - totally twisty-turny as a good crime thriller should be. I thought I knew who was behind it all, then I really didn't have a clue, and then another curve-ball was thrown right when I thought everything was all coming together. I loved the characters - Kim Stone is a fantastic lead character, just the right mix of slightly damaged crossed with woman on a mission to see that justice is done. I actually want to be Kim Stone when I grow up. 

Silent Scream gets 5 stars from me - if you finish a crime thriller feeling like you just need to have a lie-down and a cup of tea to get your breath back, then the writer has done their job. Angela Marsons, I still don't have my breath back. 

From 20th February you can get Silent Scream here:

*I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley*

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Beauty of the End - Debbie Howells

After reading Debbie's first book, The Bones of You, I was super excited to be offered an advance copy of The Beauty of the End. A hauntingly brilliant psychological thriller, I found myself intrigued and captivated by Noah's attempts to uncover exactly what has been happening to his ex-girlfriend for her to end up in hospital, accused of murder. This was one read that I really wasn't able to put down until the very last page. Today, for my stop on the tour, I have a piece from Debbie on her writing space.

"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess . . .
A love he'd never forget
Ex-lawyer Noah has never forgotten his first love. When, years later, he hears that she's suspected of murder, he knows with certainty that she's innocent. With April on life-support and the evidence pointing towards her guilt, he's compelled to help her. But he's also unprepared as he's forced to confront what happened between them all those years ago.

A secret she would never reveal
April Moon had loved Noah. She never wanted to hurt him. But there was something - and someone - dark in her life which made happiness together impossible.
A family she could never forgive
Ella is a troubled teenager with her own secrets to tell. But no one will listen. What Ella knows holds the key to finding the killer. But as Noah, April and Ella's stories converge, shocking revelations come to the surface. The truth is obvious. Or so everyone believes . . ."

My writing space:

At the moment, I mostly write from the comfort of an old leather sofa, the floor around me piled with my notebooks, flowers on the coffee table – whatever’s growing outside, which at the moment is sweet peas and herbs.  On the subject of notebooks, I have dozens of them, all sizes – pocket sized to large artists’ sketch books.  I could not write a book without them.

The room is filled with natural light from the huge windows which are usually open, so that I can hear the wind in the trees and the birds.  This spring, there’s been a noisy nest of magpies.  At my feet, I have faithful Bernard, our large and very dear golden retriever.
I write in silence (apart from the magpies) or maybe with music, quietly, in the background.  Lyrics are too distracting, so it’s classical or instrumental - or sometimes, Ibiza chillout – a reminder of the times I’ve spent out there.  But it depends what I’m writing.  Music’s a powerful mood thing – the twisted, dysfunctional people I write about suit a dark, atmospheric soundtrack!

The Beauty of the End is out now and you can get it here:

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

Monday, 18 July 2016

Cut to the Bone - Alex Caan

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Cut to the Bone - a gripping, thrilling tale of the murky world of vlogging. Now, I am an old hand at blogging, but had literally NO IDEA about vlogging so I was intrigued to find out exactly how this story was going to pan out. In short, it was BRILLIANT. Strong characters, brilliant premise, and some cracking little plot twists meant that I devoured this over the course of two days. And THEN I got to have a little chat with extremely talented author, Alex Caan. A pleasure, and a privilege.

"Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she's missing. She's an adult - nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video's uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.

Who better to head up the investigation than the Met's rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She's leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It's time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris - poster boy for multiracial policing and the team's newest member - has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he's around, can she trust herself?
Ruby's millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares.
And the videos keep coming . . ."

So Alex, now I've got you here, describe your book deal moment when you knew someone wanted to publish you.

I’m glad I got to answer this, because it was just so cool. My mum’s not been well for a while, and ended up in hospital for months. It was while I was with her in a rehabilitation unit that I got the call from my awesome agent Luigi to say that Bonnier were going to be my publisher. And so I could share it with my mother, and it made her happy seeing how thrilled I was, and it just felt so right. Sorry this all sounds a bit like an X Factor/The Voice sob story, but really it couldn’t have been better! What about you? How did you get to become super successful Lisa Hall Number One Best Selling author?

Oh, that is SO lovely - not at all X Factor! Mine all happened really quickly - within three weeks of sending out my manuscript I had a two-book deal. So quickly in fact, that I'm still waiting for them to knock on the door and tell me it was all a huge mistake! I personally LOVED Cut to the Bone – what has the response been from your family and friends?

Thank you! You really have championed it and me, so for that you will always be an aubergine! (Readers should stalk us on Twitter to find out exactly what that means…and no it’s not rude!!) My family think writing is a ‘hobby’ not a calling, so don’t think they’ll take me seriously unless I’m J K Rowling. So, never basically. My friends have been amazing. None of them have been allowed to read it yet, but they have supported me for decades in my dream to become a proper author, and never let me quit. I hope they still talk to me after they read such a twisted, creepy novel! How did your family react when they read Between You and Me? Did they get really worried??

Aubergines rule! My family and friends were all lovely and dead supportive when they read BYAM...although I did have to reassure my Dad that it's not true life and that Mr H is not really an evil villain. I know one question I have been asked by various people is whether any of my characters are based on real life people. Spill the beans, Alex - are any of your characters based on people you know?

No. But in the next one…Hisa Lall will be ruling the world! Lol. I think my lead characters are all versions of me, so how I would like to be. Ok when people read about how damaged they are they are seriously going to think I’m bonkers! I just mean it’s natural, bits of yourself end up in your novel. I’ve totally stolen names from real people though. And with the vloggers I had to change them about a million times, everytime I thought I’d invented an original vlogger I saw a video on YouTube of someone doing exactly what Ruby et al did! Please tell me Charlie isn’t based on anyone you know?

I can't wait to meet Hisa Lall...I've heard that she is very beautiful and absolutely does not drink too much Prosecco. Hahah nooooo Charlie is not real! But Sal does have certain elements that I have stolen from someone that I DO actually know! People say “write what you know” – I wrote about domestic violence, even though I didn’t have personal experience of it, and needed to do heaps of research. Cut to the Bone ventures into the world of vlogging (which I also know nothing about, I’m not down with the kids) – how much experience do you have of the vlogging community and did you have to go undercover to get the low down on it all? (I am secretly hoping that you did)

Lol yeah in a shady anorak and sunglasses at Videocon! Not really, before I get arrested. Luckily for me the vloggers lives are all available for public consumption, so I just watched videos non-stop. I did a four day stint at the beginning. I started to believe they were my friends, and that they were speaking to me…oh wow I am so getting arrested! Next!! Lol. Seriously though it’s addictive, and you feel like you’re part of their lives. I did do a lot of research about locations, and the science behind what I wrote, so read some really interesting academic papers on the psychology of online personalities and there was research about mineral ore extraction after which I had to lie down in a darkened room somewhere for a week. In my next one there is loads of complex science and my head hurts just thinking about what I learnt. And we discussed this already. We are so down with the kids we are in Australia! What?? Even I don’t know what that means. Oh and I HATE that rule btw. Write what you want to, or what you want to know, or about a life you secretly would want to live. I’m curious now-what research did you do? Was it harrowing? I really want to ask you about the research you did for some of it, but I’m not going to, it will spoil stuff.

Yes, lips are sealed! I did do lots of research and it was very harrowing - it certainly opened my eyes to things that go o around us! Now back to you - who was your favourite character to write? I have to confess to secretly loving writing the baddies – do you prefer the dark side too?

Lol you do baddies so well though!! Seriously compelling to read them! And yes totally. Even my leads, Kate Riley and Zain Harris, have loads of shade about them. I like messed up people, people who live in the crease of normality. Kate’s got some major secrets which are going to blow people’s minds in future books. It’s that Joni Mitchell song ‘Case of You’ about being drawn to people who aren’t afraid of the dark side, even though I am too scared to venture near it.

Ohhhhh, I can't wait to find out about Kate's major secrets...I might need to bully them out of you when I see you! One of my top reads for the year so far has been Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker (yes, I am STILL going on about it!) What has been your top read so far this year? Which book have you been subtly bullying people into buying? (I know I’m not the only one who does this, so just confess to it now).

Oh man not again. That Whitaker fellow has followed me into too many of my blogs. It’s my blog tour, he didn’t mention me even once! Yes Chris that is a hint!
I can’t pick just one, I’ve read so many novels this year and I don’t want to upset everyone by not picking theirs! I tweet about all the novels I love regularly though, and once I get my sh… into gear I will make sure I review them on Goodreads and on my website…which is erm being developed…very slowly! And not just saying this, but Between You and Me is one of them. Seriously I can’t love your novel enough! I couldn’t put it down and had to read it again when I finished! And I’m not alone because not only are you a NUMBER ONE superstar you are also one of the top selling books on Amazon this year!!

Oh shucks...hahaha, thank you so much - it's always a bit thrilling when an author whose book you've loved likes yours back! (I'm talking you liking mine, not blowing my own trumpet here haha) Finally – what writing advice would you give to new and aspiring writers? Personally, my favourite bit of writing advice has been get your face out there and known…and never run out of teabags.

Lol!! Teabags!! How random!! You make me laugh soooo much! I would say write what you want to write, not what you think you should or what someone told you to or what you think might sell. I like your advice, and it is important. I have to say the crime writing community has been so brilliant, really supportive and encouraging. The Twenty7 authors have been like a rock, seriously couldn’t have done this without them and they all write blazing books! I really wish I could name all the fantastic people I’ve met, but it would take ages. I tweet my love regularly though so they know who they are! Especially that Lisa Hall, who is an aubergine!! (Again-not rude!!)

Thank you Alex, for what has probably been the most brilliant interview I've ever had the joy of doing...Cut To The Bone is a bloody marvellous read! Folks, I really don't want you to miss out on what promises to be one of the most exciting thrillers this year....

Cut to the Bone is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the gorgeous peeps at Bonnier for my ARC**

Sunday, 17 July 2016

High Season (The Polo Season Series) - Nacho Figueras & Jessica Whitman

"World-renowned polo player and global face of Ralph Lauren, Nacho Figueras dives into the world of scandal and seduction with a new fiction series set in the glamorous, treacherous world of high-stakes polo competition. 
Georgia never wanted to be a jetsetter. A plain old country vet was fine for her. But one distress call from her best friend and the next thing she knows she's neck deep in the world of polo's most elite international players--complete with designer dresses, fine champagne and some of the most gorgeous thoroughbreds she's ever seen. Some of the most gorgeous men too... 
Alejandro Del Campo needs his team to win the season's biggest polo tournament or else he's not sure how much longer they're going to be in business. What he doesn't need is some sassy new vet telling him how to run his business--and distracting him at every turn. But as they come closer and closer to the championship match, it soon becomes clear that Alejandro wants to win Georgia just as much as the tourney trophy. But can he ever convince her his world is where she truly belongs?"

I was offered an ARC of this novel, as I had confessed to being a Jilly Cooper fan. Which I am. A massive fan. So, although I was looking forward to reading this, it wasn't without some trepidation. Lots of writers have been compared to Jilly, but the only other one I've found who stands up to Jilly's high standards is Zara Stoneley. I was ever so slightly worried that this wouldn't compare. In a way, it didn't - although I liked a lot of the characters, I didn't have the emotional attachment that I have built up with other characters, but this IS the first in a series, so I'm sure the character attachment will come over time.
That said, it did compare in other ways - the storyline uses a very similar formula to Jilly Cooper (handsome rider-type guy, beautiful girl, he-loves-her-but-doesn't-want-to-and-vice-versa), and it's a formula that WORKS. And it works in this case too - I did really like Georgia and Alejandro, and despite feeling like I didn't connect with some of the other minor characters, I still want to know what happens next in the series, and I know that once I read the next in the series I'll be glad to be re-visiting old familiar faces.
So, in short, NO it's not in Jilly's league JUST YET, but I still give it four stars, as I'm already looking forward to reading the next in the series, and that can't be a bad thing at all. 

High Season is out on 27th July and you can get it here:

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