Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Missing One by Lucy Atkins

After her mother's death Kali McKenzie is desperate to know more about her mother's life before she came to England and lived a seemingly dull and quiet life in the countryside. Kali feels that her Dad is either unwilling or unable to tell her more so having discovered some postcards in her mother's studio all sent on the same day each year and all with the same message "thinking of you" Kali sets off with her toddler son Finn to Canada to find the mysterious Susanah Gillespie who has sent the postcards. Arriving to an isolated island with no internet or phone service Kali is unable to contact her family and as the past is slowly revealed she realises that she and Finn are in grave danger. This is the kind of "women's fiction" I love, though I hate labelling and pigeon holing authors I realise as a bookseller and as a blogger that it helps readers to find the kind of books that they like. Lucy Atkins is part of a growing and exciting trend of female authors who have inherited the mantle of Daphne du Maurier and are dealing in domestic drama where character, storytelling and atmosphere are heightened. This is a thrilling and intriguing tale from debut novelist Lucy Atkins which will enthrall and delight fans of Emily Barr, Lucy Clarke, Erin Kelly and Julia Crouch.
Out now in paperback and e-book from Quercus

The Hangman’s Song By James Oswald

This is the third book in the bestselling DI McLean series set in Edinburgh. I have read and enjoyed the previous two books and this third instalment is another exciting and page turning read.
It is a long hot summer in Edinburgh and Tony McLean is called to what at first would appear to be a simple but tragic suicide. However something doesn’t quite add up and when another hanged man is found Tony begins to grow suspicious. However with his nemesis Duguid now acting Superintendent, it seems Tony cannot get anyone to take his suspicions seriously. Instead he has been seconded to the Sex Crimes Unit where it seems even the detectives are on the take. On top of that Emma is out of hospital and coming to terms with the trauma of her attack. With so much on his plate will Tony work it all out in time before the Hangman’s Song is sung for him?
James Oswald’s novels are brilliant, sharp eyed observations of contemporary policing and the horrors of the criminal mind. There is also a supernatural element which remains a quiet background presence and won’t be off putting to readers who are not fans of the paranormal. I cannot wait to read the next instalment in the series and cannot recommend these books highly enough.

Thanks to for sending me a proof copy of this book which is out today.

Angelites Blog Tour

I am delighted to have been invited by Yah Gotta Read This who promote indie authors, to take part in Richard Moran's blog tour for The Angelites. The book is available on kindle now The Anglites e-book
The book is a fantasy, crime and paranormal adventure featuring Gina Vasquez a former New York City Police Detective whose life has gone off the rails and after a term in prison has moved to New Mexico looking for a fresh start. Instead she finds herself caught in a battle between angels and demons and with a huge decision to make about her future. Read an extract below;

"Gray ashes flew through like leaves in the fall. She couldn’t believe what she had done. This church, once so beautiful, was now in ruins. Tears flowed down from her brown eyes, and as she was relieved that the chaos had ceased, she whispered, “Thank you.”
The victory was short-lived, however, as vociferous thunder roared from the heavens. The black sky morphed into a firmament of flaming red with lightning striking across. Hideous flying creatures, with wings of a vulture and red fur covering their scaly skin, swarmed over the wrecked church. They could smell the terror pouring from her flesh. Black nails stuck out of their tree-twig fingers.
Gina was ready to make a run for it when sandy hands arose from the dusty remains and clutched onto her ankles. The harder she tried to break free, the more hands latched onto her. She looked up and saw the razor-tipped nails coming moments away from shredding into her face. Before she tasted their pain, she woke to a fight with her blankets, screaming in absolute terror.
Her nerves took some time to settle before she realized she was in the confines of her bedroom. The alarm clock on the night table read 1:11 a.m. It was pin-drop quiet outside in the suburban streets of Eagle Nest, New Mexico."

I asked Richard some questions about his writing and his influences.

1. Who are your favourite authors and biggest writing influences?
I like James Patterson books the most, but I would pretty much read anything that sounds good. My love for writing stories with my love for comic books as a kid. I would take a stack of white paper, fold them in half and draw mini comic books for my family to read. However, my desire to write books came when I read the Harry Potter series. That whole world was written in such a unique way and then I thought what if I can do that with my stories; transcend my storytelling to a level where all types of people could enjoy. So, I decided to go for it and see how it will turn out. So far I like what I've produced and I think it's only going to get better from here, stories and otherwise.

2. What's a typical writing day like for you?
A typical day is trying to stuff my ideas on paper as quickly as possible because there are so many things going on in my life right now that I need to get my ideas down as fast as possible before I forget them. Then, I either wait for the late night hours or during my lunch break at work to sit down, pick a playlist that matches the mood I'm in to listen to and get to typing. My only problem is that I tend to write and edit at the same time, which slows me down and wind up not getting as much written as I may've liked to.

3. Do you have other fantasy stories lined up or will you be writing in other genres also?
Yes. I have one other fantasy story already in the works, which goes down a different avenue from The Angelites. This is has the same superhero-esque theme, but it may be a bit family-friendly, (maybe not, depends on the reader, lol) But also, I do plan to write different genres, like now I have an idea for a YA audience that goes down with a problem that exists with teens today, but is taken to the limit, like you know its a story, but can still touch on topics that many people are trying to solve. 

4. Are you a careful planner or do you like to see where the characters take you?
I like to see where the character takes me. Right now I'm changing my entire idea for the second Angelites book because I thought about how I made these characters and then I look at what I wrote before and think "Hmm...that really doesn't work for this person now." I guess that it means to be a write, to keep your characters as fresh as possible and put them in situations to keep your audience attached to them so that they'll continue to buy the books you create.

5. What were your favourite books as a child?
I didn't read a lot of books as a child, but from what I remember...I liked the book, Alive, the true story about the rugby team stranded in the Andes. Also, some Edgar Allen Poe stories I liked, but I enjoyed a Batman graphic novel called The Dark Knight Returns.

6. Did you write as a child?/Did you always want to be a writer?
Besides writing my comics, I never thought of being a writer, at all. Most of my life I wanted to draw, to be an artist. I didn't take writing seriously until I was about 18 years old, when me and my late-best friend, Dennis, formed a rap group called The Endangered Species. Then I started writing my own verses and each one was like telling a story and I had to change my way of thinking to make the story flow. Also, Dennis wanted to be a horror writer, heavily influenced by Stephen King. About 8 years ago, he died in a tragic fire at his home; he died rescuing his mother and sister. Somehow, shortly after that, I felt like his desire to write was sent into me because suddenly ideas for stories started to overflow, like I pictured the book covers in stores and some on the big screen as a movie, I mean it was crazy. Dennis and I were very close, like brothers, but I never thought in a million that his desires would become mine. I guess this was God's way of telling to me to finish what he started.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage

This was one of my favourite books of 2013. I simply cannot say enough good things about it. It is a time slip novel, one of my favourite fictional tropes and it features present day heroine Alex who falls through a crack in time during a freak thunderstorm in the Scottish countryside and finds herself at the mercy of escaped convict Matthew Graham. It is 1658. Matthew feels he must take responsibility for this stranded and confused woman. Alex must come to terms with being separated from her family and reliant on a stranger in this strange and dangerous time. As the book features time travel, romance and Scotland it obviously reminded me of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. While there are some similarities the differences are enough to set the two firmly apart. Anna's writing is sharp with great interaction between the characters and there is adventure, mystery and intrigue in abundance. I don't want to give away too much detail here as it would spoil the read. Suffice to say that it is the first in a series and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you enjoy historical or time slip fiction, are a fan of Diana Gabaldon, Barbara Erskine or Susanna Kearsley then this is for you.

Published by Matador. I am grateful to the author for a review copy.

Inceptio by Alison Morton

Inceptio is the first in a series of books featuring Karen Brown and set in the mysterious land of Roma Nova. The book is alternate history which is a new genre to me but one which I thoroughly enjoyed. The book begins with Karen in present day New York where she finds herself in trouble with the authorities and on the run. The only people she can trust are those sent from Roma Nova; her mother's birthplace to protect her. In Alison Morton's alternate world Roma Nova was established in central Europe by the leading Roman families who fled Rome as it converted to Christianity. A matriarchal society it has remained mysterious and closed off to outsiders. This of course makes the American's very nervous. Despite the high security her new home offers her, Karen; now Cara is still in danger. Inceptio is a high concept thriller, a nail biting page turner and a thumping good read. Alison has included notes on the alternative time line and a dramatis personae which are very useful. This book will appeal to fans of thrillers and historical fiction and I can see it really appealing to anyone who enjoyed Tom Harper's The Orpheus Descent which I reviewed last year see review here It is a must read for fans of Manda Scott and Kate Mosse.

Published by SilverWood Books and Thank you to the author for a review copy.

Shadows of the past by Carmen Stefanescu

Shadows of the Past is a book that straddles a number of genres. It is romance, time-slip, paranormal and magical. Telling the story of Anne and Neil in present day England who are trying to heal the rifts of the past with a romantic country weekend away and of Genevieve and Andrew in medieval England. I found the story easy to read and I wanted to know what happened next to the characters. I will admit however that I enjoyed the historical plot line a lot more and found Genevieve's tale more compelling and better developed. Genevieve grows up as an apprentice to a wise woman, a country hedgewitch with knowledge of herbs and their magical and healing properties. Left alone when her guardian dies she eventually becomes a nun and it is at the convent that she finds both great evil and great love. There were a number of historical inaccuracies that niggled such as the use of modern names for things although this may have been a problem with translation or editing rather than the author. I was a little dissapointed that the story was not set in the author's native Transylvania however the story was well written and dramatic and will appeal to fans of time slip or paranormal romance. You can find out more about the author on her blog

This book is available as an e-book from Wild Child Publishing. Thank you to the author for sending me a review copy.