Blog Tour Review: Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson. @ragnarjo @orendabooks

I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Whiteout today. I’ve read most of the Ari Thór series and loved it so there was no way I was going to miss out on taking part in this. 

Blurb:  Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the old house on the remote rocky outcrop? 

With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and the secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Review:  Ragnar Jonasson is very skilled at weaving stories that keep you reading and this one is no different.  The mysterious death of a young woman and the subsequent discovery that her mother and sister died the same way throws up many questions for Ari Thór and the investigation. The scene is set before that when we meet all of the characters and learn a little about them before the death occurs. The characters themselves come across as a little odd, probably through years of living somewhere so isolated, but once the police investigation begins we begin to see how suspicion and questions affect them all. Due to the remoteness of the location there are only five characters and therefore, if it was murder, five suspects. This means we get an interesting insight into the psychological impact on each person of the unexplained death and the police looking at what happened to the victim’s family, 25 years earlier.  

Despite the fact that there appears to be only two houses in the area and plenty of open spaces the story gives a very distinct  feeling of claustrophobia.  Most of the characters live in the same house with others able to visit easily which makes it feel as if they cannot escape each other which, of course, only adds to the increasing tension as the investigation continues and people get more irate or fed up of the police being involved. 

It has echoes of locked room mysteries and stories such as Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, where all of the characters are confined to a small island and cannot escape while people keep dying around them.  The tension that this confinement creates is fascinating, as is the effects that the ongoing police presence has and that is what makes this story one that you keep reading and are reluctant to put down. Every opportunity I had I was picking up this book, wanting to find out what happened next. 

If you’re already a fan of Ari Thór you won’t be disappointed and if you love locked room mysteries or slow burn psychological stories then this is definitely the book for you.  


Author bio:

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

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Blog Tour Review: CWA Anthology of Short Stories, edited by Martin Edwards. @Orendabooks #blogtour #review

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book today. I have to give my thanks to the publisher for letting me have a copy of the book to review for this tour. 

Blurb:  Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.


Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

Review:   I don’t usually review short stories but when I saw this collection I knew I wanted to read and review it, partly because I wanted something different to read and partly because I have yet to read works by some of the authors so it was a good chance for me to discover some new authors. 

Given this is a collection of stories I wasn’t sure how to approach it so I decided to jump in and start with Ragnar Jonasson, a writer I am very familiar with. His story is only 2 pages long but packs quite a punch. There’s so much packed into those 2 pages that I’m still not sure how he managed it. 

I then chose authors that I have wanted to read for a while but not had the chance yet.  First up was C.L. Taylor with a tale set in Thailand. I admit reading this one I was quite confused at first, which I think was deliberate, but then the smoke cleared and that Ohhhhh moment happened when I realised exactly what was happening. After that I read Ann Cleeves who wrote about an author at a book festival. This one was a story that intrigued from the first few words and twisted around so well that I was left gaping at the end. Both stories were absolute perfection in only a few pages. 

My last read so far was by Christine Poulson, another author new to me. She wove her tale using only receipts which was definitely a first for me.  It was so imaginative and definitely one I will read again just to appreciate the brilliance of the construction. 

This is one of those books that you can easily dip in and out of. I found it ideal for reading on my breaks at work because of the length of the stories. The contributions list reads like a Who’s Who of crime fiction so if you want to discover some new authors this is an ideal way of doing it.  I am going to thoroughly enjoy picking tales at random over the next few weeks. Definitely a must read!

Cover Reveal!! The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans. @HarrietEvans @KatieVEBrown @TinderPress

I am thrilled today to have a cover reveal for you.  I have the blurb and a pre-orde link as well which are below. So, read on and then check out the cover itself, how gorgeous is it!?!!  It looks more like a painting than a book cover!

Blurb:  Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why.  We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

The Wildflowers can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK by clicking here

Guest post by Carol Warham, author of Resolutions. @carol_warham

Today I am thrilled to have a guest post from Carol Warham on the very important topic of character viewpoints.

Blurb:  Carly Mitchell returns to the small town of Yeardon in Yorkshire almost a year after running away on her wedding day. Now she wants to try to make amends with Steve, his family, and the townspeople who had prepared a huge party to celebrate her New Years Eve wedding.

She intends to stay only for a few days at the Resolution Hotel, owned by Steves parents. However, her plans change when Steves father is taken ill, and she feels obliged to step in and help with running the hotel. This also means having to deal with Steves antagonism since he has never forgiven her for humiliating him.

A further complication comes in the form of Ben Thornton, the local doctor, to whom Carly feels an immediate attraction. They enjoy getting to know each other and falling in love, until a famous model from Bens past arrives in the town, and stays at the hotel. 

Steve attempts to get his revenge on Carly by driving a wedge between her and Ben, and by threatening to reveal what he knows about Bens troubled past unless Carly leaves town.

The resolution lies in Carlys hands as she struggles between wanting to flee from the town again and wanting to stay with the man she has grown to love.

                      ———————————-
Guest post:  Viewpoint

As a fledging novelist, viewpoint or the changing of characters’ points of view has been, for me, one of the most difficult things to deal with.

My novel is written from the heroine’s point of view only. I have found it difficult not to slip into other characters POV. Often I would not spot I had done this until it was pointed out to me by my marvellous critique partner. I’m sure she tears her hair out at times!

Usually a viewpoint changes in specific places, paragraphs, chapters, action sequences. My story’s viewpoint must never change. Therefore the actions, thoughts and words of other characters must be either seen, heard or reported back to the heroine. Recently I read a novel where the story head hopped from character to character often without warning. I found this difficult to follow and often had to backtrack to check who was speaking.

One viewpoint I have always been told to avoid is the ‘negative’ viewpoint. For example, ‘Chris didn’t see the man waiting by the corner,’ or ‘Sally didn’t realise who was waiting in the next room.’ If the character doesn’t know these things why has the reader been forewarned about what may be a dramatic scene about to unfold?

Encouraged by my CP I began to delve into what is commonly referred to as Deep POV. Many stories are written from the third person narrative; that is as readers we are ‘watching’ the story unfold on the pages. Deep POV differs from this considerably. 

So what is Deep POV? This means getting inside your character’s head, being your character. You can think, feel, hear, taste and touch what she does. You have to be that person. Their thoughts, actions and words must show what they are feeling and move the story along. It is a skill that leads into strong emotive writing. There is no author intrusion; no telling or explaining what the character is feeling or thinking because you don’t tell yourself what you are thinking or feeling do you?

How have I achieved this, or rather tried to achieve this? Firstly I had to dispense with all speech tags. They should not be necessary. Your character will not ‘say something angrily’. Her actions and thoughts will show that she is angry as you feel her anger. Tags can pull the reader away and out of the character’s head. Therefore reminding  the reader that they are not that character. They keep a distance between reader and character and this is not what you want.

I had to eliminate sense verbs – “saw, felt, heard, smelt”. Next came the thinking verbs – “thought, remembered” and the emotion naming – “terrified, worried, determined.”

All perceptions must belong to the character and not the author. Would she/he really say/think that? Would you?

One of my scenes, which has caused some amusement and some rethinking involved my heroine becoming inebriated. She notices that her glass never seems to empty. She is puzzled but steadily goes on drinking. My critique partner posed some questions about my handling of the scene and my character’s POV. It wasn’t coming across very well. One question was ‘Who keeps filling her glass?” My reply was simple. If my heroine doesn’t know how do I know? We managed a compromise in the end.

One of the things I found difficult was to delve deep into the heroine’s emotions, feel what she was feeling and then write it. Deep POV is just that going deeper and deeper still into that character’s emotions and feelings, deeper perhaps than you may even go into your own. It is intense and can be emotionally exhausting.

Initially this was a concept I struggled with and still do. It does not come easily to me. However the effort to learn to write like this will take my novel, I hope, to a richer and more professional level.


AUTHOR BIO:

Writing has been Carol’s love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up she settled down to writing and having published short stories, poems and holiday articles.

In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.

Earlier this year, she represented her book group on BBC Radio Leeds, talking about books and the work on her novel.

Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam. This lovely area is the location for her first novel, Resolution

Links:

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Warham_Carol/resolutions.htm

https://www.facebook.com/carolwarhamauthor/

Review of Zenka by Alison Brodie. @alisonbrodie2

Today I have a review of Zenka from Alison Brodie who kindly sent me a copy of the book for review. 

Blurb:  Ruthless, capricious, and loyal.

Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not.  Happily, she now has easy access to pistols and shotguns.

Jack learns he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold.  Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges.  Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she aims to turn Nicholas into a son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of.  And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them.  He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a crime boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?

Praise for Zenka:

“A riveting read.  Powerful.  Spicy” –D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

5*  “To say I loved this story would be a massive understatement” –Bloggers from Down Under

5*  “Top of my list for best fiction this year” – Lauren Sapala, WriteCity

5*  “You won’t be able to put this book down” –Laura Reading

5*   “Brodie nails it again. Intelligent wit and outstanding writing” –Charlie Elliott, author of Life Unbothered.

My Rating: 5/5

Review: Having previously read Brake Failure and really enjoyed it, you can find my review here, I was excited when Alison contacted me asking if I was interested in reading and reviewing her newest book Zenka. Obviously I said yes, given this is a review of that book, and I am really pleased I did.  

This book was a joy to read. Zenka is an unstoppable force and I doubt many people would be able to say no to her. She’s fun and bright and brings the story alive, it leaps off the page because of her. The other characters are good, well-written and fit well with the story but this is Zenka’s story and it works because of her.  The letters she writes home to a friend are brilliantly fun snippets that show another side to her and give more depth to her character. The mix of crime and romance is handled well and works (something that can’t be said for all authors) and the element of humour that runs through brings it all together like a perfectly baked cake.

Alison Brodie is fast becoming a favourite author of mine. Simply because her books are always so well-written that you are guaranteed a good read. If you want a book that is a joyride of a read with characters that are a bit larger than life personality wise then this, and Brake Failure, are definitely books you should check out. 

Author bio:

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. 

Brodie is an international, best-selling author.  Her books have been published by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).  Reviews for her debut, FACE TO FACE:  “Fun to snuggle up with” –GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Pick of the Paperbacks.  “Vane but wildly funny leading lady” -Scottish Daily Mail. 

Brodie has now gone “indie”.  Here are some editorial reviews for her recent books.  

BRAKE FAILURE:  “Masterpiece of humor” -Midwest Book Review

THE DOUBLE:   “Proof of her genius in writing fiction” -San Francisco Book Review.

ZENKA:  “ZENKA is top of my list for best fiction this year.  If Tina Fey and Simon Pegg got together to write a dark and hilarious mobster story with a happy ending, ZENKA would be the result.”  -Lauren Sapala, WriteCity

AUTHOR LINKS:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/alisonbrodie2

Website:  http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/untitled

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35845259-zenka

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/AlisonBrodieAuthor/

#Blog Blitz #Review: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell. @bookouture @Caroline_writes

I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog blitz for the latest in the DS Ruby Preston series. I have a review for you so keep reading to see what I thought and be sure to check out the other fabulous bloggers on the blitz too!  Many thanks to Bookouture for letting me have a copy of the book for review and for letting me be part of this blog blitz.

Blurb:  A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die… 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one… 

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.

Amazon Links:          UK: http://amzn.to/2v1l8v5

US: http://amzn.to/2umrDqp

My Rating: 4/5 

Review: I’ll admit now I had trouble writing this review. This is the first of the DS Ruby Preston series that I’ve read and while it works on its own I think you would get more out of it having read the previous books first. There are character relationships in the book that have clearly been developed from the previous two books so in not reading them you miss out on some of the depth and understanding of the background to them. 

However, the main focus of the story is the murders of women that have been set up by the killer and have an experience that is completely different from the one they were expecting.  The killer plays and taunts with his victims and the police. The investigation is, as I would expect many are, convoluted and confusing with lots of hints, leads and dead ends. The killings are very similar to those carried out by Mason Gately years before and as he is currently in prison for his murders the Ruby decides questioning him is a good idea despite the risks to herself. 

The story is definitely fast paced and gripping but, at times, also a bit confusing.  There are a lot of characters be them victims, family, friends or police and I found it occasionally tricky to keep track of who was who, something I suspect would be less of a problem for someone who has read the previous two books. The scenes with Mason Gately were creepy and made me want to skip past them so I could stop reading about him because he made my skin crawl.  I found the scenes with the current killer in them fascinating.  Although your first instinct is to hate him for what he has done there was a humanity to him which added so much deooth and prevented him from being a cliché. 

I enjoyed this book, it’s definitely one you can read and disappear into.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the fast pace, and the feelings of Ruby and the victims as the story progresses. With that in mind I have two recommendations for you before you read this book, 1. Read the previous books first and 2. Makes sure you have plenty of time free when you start reading, you’ll need it because you’ll struggle to put this book down!

Author bio:  

USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”. 

Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.

Author Social Media Links:

www.caroline-writes.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3076677.Caroline_Mit

https://twitter.com/Caroline_writes

www.pinterest.com/Writeparanormal

https://www.facebook.com/CMitchellAuthor/

 

On the blog in November……

I’ve had quite a few blog posts recently and a lot more to come in November so I thought it would be sensible to do a blog post detailing all of them, something I haven’t done for a while.

Everything kicked off today with my stop on the Clipped Wings blog tour.  

Tomorrow I have a review of Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell as my stop on the Bookouture blog tour arrives. 

On the 6th I have a review of Zenka by Alison Brodie. You might remember I took part in the cover reveal for this book recently. 

The 12th sees a review of a book I received a few days ago, the CWA anthology of short stories published by Orenda books. 

I take part in another Orenda blog tour on the 18th with a review of White Out by Ragnar Jonasson.

The 25th brings another review, this time A Pearl for My Mistress.

Then I have a slight change with 2 guest posts, on the 28th for the Blood Rites blog tour and, on the 29th for the Christmas at the Little Knitting Box tour. 

Also around the end of the month I have a review of Letters from the Pianist. 

As you can see I have a busy month ahead. I may also manage to pop a review or two up as well depending on how things go.