Ragdoll by Daniel Cole *Blog Tour*

Hi everyone,

So today is publication day for Ragdoll (WOOHOO!!!) and I’m delighted to be taking part in the release blog tour blitz and resharing my review for one of my favourite reads of last year!!!

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About the book:
The nation is gripped by the infamous ‘Ragdoll Killer’

Every news bulletin and headline is obsessed with this story.

Your friends, your family and your neighbours are all talking about it.
A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?


About the author:
At 33 years old, Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing. He currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing book two instead.


My thoughts:
I had seen Ragdoll on social media in recent weeks and immediately added it to my watch list, and I am so glad I did because it is absolutely brilliant!
I love gory and gruesome in books, and I make no apologies for that, so to open with a body made up of different peoples body parts definitely grabbed my attention! So much so that I devoured Ragdoll in less than 24 hours, I just couldn’t put it down.
When I was raving about it to my husband, he said it sounds like it could be a movie or a tv show, and that’s exactly where Ragdoll’s background is. Daniel Cole has effortlessly transformed his writing into a gripping, twisted game of cat and mouse between the pages.
The characters are all really well written too. I am super excited to read more about Wolf because he is by far the most interesting and beautifully flawed Detective that I have encountered in a long time. And don’t even get me started on the Ragdoll Killer because that is one twisted antagonist, in the best possible way.
I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but it went in directions that I just wasn’t expecting. I found myself questioning everyone’s motives and I’m pretty sure I got it wrong every time!
To say I enjoyed Ragdoll would be an understatement! It consumed me while I read it.

Definitely one of the best crime books I’ve read in quite some time, with an excellent premise and some darkly humorous moments I cannot recommend it highly enough! One to watch for certain!

Out NOW, you can get your copy by clicking HERE!

Make sure to read the other reviews on the blog tour:

The Follower by Koethi Zan- Blog Tour Q&A

Hi everyone,

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for Koethi Zan’s The Follower and I have a great Q&A for you all further down. First though, here is all the bookish info you need!

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About the book:

SHE’D DO ANYTHING FOR HER HUSBAND.

Julie has the perfect life

A kind boyfriend, loving parents and good grades. She has everything ahead of her.

Cora’s life is a nightmare

A psychopath for a husband, a violent father and a terrible secret. There’s no way out.

But one night, their worlds collide

Locked in an isolated house together, they must work out what has happened – and who they can trust to set them free.

The Follower is out tomorrow, and you can pre-order your copy by clicking HERE!

Q&A with Koethi Zan

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in rural Alabama, went to law school, and then practiced entertainment law in New York City for sixteen years before writing my first book. I spent the final eight years of my legal career at MTV, where I worked on reality and scripted television shows, dealing with all manner of crazy situations. When I started writing full-time, I moved to upstate New York where I live with my husband and two daughters. In addition to writing, I’ve gotten very involved in local politics and activism, which would be a perfect setting for a crime novel. I’m taking notes.

How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Writing fiction was a childhood dream of mine that got more or less swallowed up by my legal career. But I’ve always been a serious reader and, over the years, I became interested in crime fiction and true crime. A few years ago, I had the idea for my first book and decided to give it a try, so I got up at five in the morning before the kids were awake and wrote an hour each day until I finished my first novel.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I’m inspired by the psychological dimensions of true crime stories, as well as by writers I love. I tend to do a great deal of research into the psychological literature of my topic, in search of the questions raised for me by true events that I can’t understand. I love the challenge of taking a psychological question and spinning it into a narrative.

How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your books?

My books are psychological crime thrillers with a feminist perspective. My intention is to write page-turners with gripping stories that also dig deep into the psyche of women going through difficult experiences and offer some kind of meaning, explanation, or connection.

Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?

Yes, social media is the way we all communicate with one another now, and it’s so wonderful to be able to engage with readers in a different dimension.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

The actual act of writing. It’s exhilarating and intellectually challenging to try to find the words to express your feelings and ideas. When a phrase lands just right, it’s the most incredible satisfaction. There’s nothing in the world like the feeling when your characters take on a life of their own and you feel that you’re just along for the ride.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

At times it is a bit socially isolating not having an office job to go to every day. I miss my friends from work, and that feeling of camaraderie. Writing is definitely a lonely business.

Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?

I’ll always write crime fiction, but I would like to branch out into historical novels as well. Hopefully I’ll have two or three more books out there in the world in five years.

What’s next for you?

I’m researching the next book now. It will be a crime novel but very, very different from my other books. Stay tuned!

I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?

I read non-stop. It’s one of my greatest pleasures in life. I read literature, non-fiction, genre fiction, memoirs—you name it. I’ve been reading quite a bit of non-fiction lately. I recently finished STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND by Arlie Hochschild and am reading Timothy Snyder’s BLOODLANDS right now. Sometimes truth is stranger (and more devastating) than fiction.

Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?

My all time favorite book is PALE FIRE, by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s obviously a literary masterpiece, but it’s also a cleverly crafted mystery with an unreliable narrator. I re-read it every couple of years and always discover something new.

Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?

So many. I’d say the one I most wish I’d written would be WE’VE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson. Simply a perfect book. Creepy, evocative, and seamless.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I am very involved in local politics as I mentioned earlier, but I also spend a lot of time in my car, unfortunately. That’s the downside of living in the country with kids. Theater rehearsals and ballet classes always seem to be thirty minutes away in different directions.

Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?

Kind of boring, obvious ones: cooking, hiking, and watching movies and good tv. My books are more exciting than my life, that’s for sure!

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

We spend a week on an island off the coast of Maine every summer. I do absolutely nothing except read in a hammock next to the sea. It’s heaven.

Favourite food?

Anything with habanero sauce.

Favourite drink?

It’s a tie: red wine and strong coffee.


My thanks to Koethi Zan for taking the time to answer my questions and to Anna at Vintage for having me on the blog tour!

Make sure to follow the blog tour:

Stasi Wolf by David Young *Blog Tour*

Hi everyone,

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Stasi Wolf, the second in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series, by David Young. I haven’t gotten around to reading these books YET but I have a great guest post from David for you all today. First though, here is all the bookish information:

About the book:

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .

Stasi Wolf is out now and you can order your copy HERE.

 

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About the author:

David Young was born near Hull and – after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree – studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic specialising in Modern History. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and the BBC’s international newsrooms where he led news teams for the World Service radio and World TV.

David was a student on the inaugural Crime Thriller MA at City University – winning the course prize in 2014 for his debut novel Stasi Child – and now writes full-time in his garden shed. In his spare time, he’s a keen supporter of Hull City AFC.

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Guest post from David Young:

Writing 10,000 words a day like Michael Crichton – is it possible?

I’ve always preferred to write first drafts reasonably quickly. The first version of Stasi Child was written in about two months, as I was recovering from a fairly serious DVT in my leg, sustained after a cycle accident and then getting dehydrated. Sitting at a computer typing was almost certainly not the best recuperation from a DVT – gentle exercise is much better – but the Warfarin they give you for thinning the blood was making me feel like I had flu all the time, and writing managed to take my mind off it.

My latest novel Stasi Wolf was a slower affair – mainly because my agent suggest I stop when I was about a third of the way through, as that’s when we secured the initial deal for the series, and he was worried in case Bonnier, my publishers, wanted me to take the novel in a different direction.

After that, I found it difficult to get going again so the process was elongated.

But last summer, when I was about to embark on my Book 3, I started to wonder how many words a day some top authors manage to get down.

My upper limit for the first two books was about 5,000 words – but this was achieved only occasionally on days when I felt I had to catch up with my schedule (normally I aim to write 2,500 words a day – so 12,500 in a five-day week – with the knowledge that with a clear eight weeks that will be more than enough for a novel, and a few days off to boot).

I wrote part of Stasi Wolf while doing the Faber Academy Intermediate Fiction course, as a kind of refresher after my MA in Creative Writing at City University London. One week, tutor and author Joanna Briscoe (a highly recommended teacher!) challenged us to set ourselves word counts. Most fellow students were offering between one and two thousand words before the next session a week later. I wanted to push myself, so offered ten thousand. Lots of the others laughed – but I managed it.

So I was slightly aghast when planning Book 3 to read that Michael Crichton’s word count was 10,000 words a day! Now whether he really did this, or how often he did it, I have no idea.

But it seemed to me an unachievable figure.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued to see if I could do it.

I managed to free up five days in a row to visit my caravan on the Isle of Wight, which I specifically bought as a writing retreat with the advance for Stasi Child, with the intention of carrying out a kind of medical experiment on myself. Could I match Crichton’s alleged word count over a five-day period?

And before I went, I carefully plotted out the third novel in my Karin Müller series – where she and her sidekick Werner Tilsner are investigating the mysterious death of a teenage boy in the very eastern part of East Germany, on the border with Poland.

So I had a road map for each chapter to the end of the book.

The first day I got to the van at about 9am after an early ferry, and immediately sat at the computer and started to bash things out. I decided to break the day into three thirds – only having a short meal break after each 3,333 word chunk (with one extra word to type before bedtime).

That first day I reached the first milestone by about 2pm, and allowed myself about twenty minutes for lunch. By around 7pm I’d chalked off 2/3rds of the target and rewarded myself with another twenty-minute break.

I finally typed the 10,000th word at around midnight, and went straight to bed. After around seven hours sleep, it was breakfast and start again.

I managed to achieve this for four days in a row. So 40,000 words. The fifth day, I had to catch a ferry back to the mainland, but 5,000 more were written. So 45,000 words in just under five days. I felt utterly exhausted – personal hygiene had gone out of the window – but knew I’d broken the back of the novel (which was around 15,000 words in when I started my marathon).

The next week, I managed to get away again for another three days, and clocked up another 25,000 – right to the end of the manuscript. A total of 85,000 words, written over a total period of 19 days from start to finish (but with more than half of that coming in that five-day burst).

So, was the result a complete mess? It did need a lot of polishing and tinkering before I felt it was good enough to send to my editor and agent. They’ve got suggestions as to how it can be further improved – but then that’s always the case. Overall, I felt it was a worthwhile exercise. I’d proved a point to myself. Now I know that if I’m ever fortunate enough to land deals for two different series, publishing at six monthly intervals, I would feel confident about meeting the necessary deadlines. And for most authors, including myself, that’s the only way you’re ever going to have any chance of paying off the mortgage.


Huge thanks to David Young, Emily Burns and Bonnier Zaffre for having me on the blog tour.

Make sure to follow the tour:

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All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda Blog Tour Day 5…

Hi everyone,

So today is my stop on the reverse blog tour for Megan Miranda’s All The Missing Girls. If you’ve been following the tour, you’ll notice that it is being done backwards to reflect the style in which the book is written. I’m lucky enough to have a Q&A with the author, as well as sharing my review with you guys too. Before all that though, here’s all of the important bookish info…

About the book:

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.

Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.

Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.

Click HERE to get your copy!

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About the author:

Megan Miranda is the author of the young adult novels FRACTURE, HYSTERIA, VENGEANCE, and SOULPRINT. Her next young adult novel, THE SAFEST LIES, will be published by Crown BFYR/Random House on May 24th, 2016. Her first novel for adults, ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, is published in the UK in 2017. Megan has a degree in Biology from MIT and currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and two children.

Q&A with Megan Miranda:

Can you tell me a little about your journey to publication?
I worked in biotech, and then as a high school science teacher, before my first book was published. But I was a lifelong reader, and I always loved to write. When my kids were little, I set myself the goal of finishing my first book, which was the start of my journey to publication. I’ve been writing full time ever since. All the Missing Girls is my first book for adults, but it’s my sixth published book.

What made you choose to write a psychological thriller when you’ve written YA previously?

I am a huge fan of the psychological thriller genre. My YA books are also in the suspense/thriller category, so I’ve always been drawn to writing these types of stories. This time, though, I wanted to write about how an event that happened in the teen years could affect the characters as adults. I was interested in writing about the ways the past shaped the different characters, whether they could ever leave the past behind, or whether the past still had a hold on them.

How would you describe All The Missing Girls to readers who have yet to pick it up?
All the Missing Girls is the story of two women who’ve gone missing ten years apart, and whose cases are linked by the same group of friends in a small North Carolina town. And it’s told in reverse, from Day 15 to Day 1.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
Oh, just one? I’d say starting a new project. I love writing beginnings, when I’m just discovering the characters and the story, and anything feels possible.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
For me, the hardest work comes in the revision process. But this is also where a book takes shape and ultimately comes to life, so I wouldn’t say I dislike it—it’s just a different kind of work.

Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?
I hope to be doing the same thing I’m doing now: writing the projects I’m excited about, that really speak to me.

What’s next for you?
My next psychological thriller is called The Perfect Stranger. It’s about two women who reconnect years after they were roommates, both in desperate need of a fresh start. But when one of them goes missing, there’s no evidence she was ever there to begin with.

Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?
It depends on the day! But I’ll go with I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.

Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?
Sometimes when I read and love a book that really speaks to me, I’ll have this moment where I’ll wish I had written it. But I also think everyone brings something unique to the page, and the same idea in different hands will be vastly different depending on the writer.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m usually hanging out with my two kids, who are currently 8 and 10.

Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?
We live close to a lake, so in the summers, we spend a lot of time out on the water.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?
The beach. Any place where there is a beach!

Favourite food?
Macaroni and cheese

Favourite drink?
Coffee


My thoughts:

I was lucky enough to get a copy of All The Missing Girls from the publisher to review, and I started it pretty much straight away. Something about that cover just screamed “read me now”!

As mentioned above, it is told in reverse chronological order. This requires concentration because it has a few characters that you need to follow. More than once, I had to go back (or forward) a bit just to make sure I was on the right track. This didn’t detract from the story for me though.

All The Missing Girls is a really intriguing read. It follows Nicolette, small town girl done good kinda story, as she returns home after receiving a letter from her father referring to Corinne, who went missing 10 years ago. Not long after, another girl goes missing in similar circumstances. What follows is the countdown to that day.

I really enjoyed reading All The Missing Girls. I’m a fan of small town claustrophobia books, and this is definitely present here. Full of secrets and lies, it’s hard to figure out what happened ten years ago and what’s happening now.

The author has done a great job in confusing the reader. Not in a bad way, by any means. I found myself making my brain work overtime to try and work out the connections which is always fun when reading a book. Thoroughly enjoyed this one!


Many thanks to Megan Miranda for answering my questions and to Corvus Books for having me on the blog tour! Make sure you keep up with the tour too!

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Cut Throat Defence by Olly Jarvis 

*Many thanks to the author for my review copy*

About the book:

There is no man richer than a man without a price
Jack Kowalski is a young and newly qualified barrister, who finds himself working on the biggest drugs importation trial ever played out on English soil. With the assistance of his equally inexperienced instructing solicitor, Lara Panassai, Jack argues a savage ‘cut-throat’ defence – a risky tactic where the defendants blame each other – and quickly embroils some of the most eminent QCs in the land.

As the son of Polish immigrants, the sensitive Kowalski has always found it hard to fit in, with a sense of inferiority and constant nervousness in Court. Now he must face his demons and fight not only for his clients, but for his very future at the Bar.

But when the defendant then unexpectedly absconds, Jack and Lara must fight on regardless, following a tip that leads them out of the courtroom and into Manchester’s seedy underworld – crime bosses, strip clubs, corrupt lawyers and all manner of hidden sins.

As the case grows darker with each new discovery, who in this viper pit of deception can Jack and Lara trust?

Click HERE to order your copy!

My thoughts:

I do enjoy a legal thriller, so when I saw Cut-Throat Defence popping up around publication day, it planted itself firmly on my radar!

Following Jack Kowalski as he is thrown into his first high profile case with Lara Pannasai, Cut-Throat Defence is a pretty twisty legal thriller. I’ll be the first to admit that not being from the UK, I don’t have a great understanding of the legal system so I found myself a bit confused on occasion, but that in no way deterred from the story for me.

Jack is a novice, but he’s smart. Under pressure though, he has a tendency to cave and freak out. When the man he is representing absconds from their supervision, Kowalski is in even bigger trouble. How can he defend a man that isn’t there?

There is corruption, murder and so many secrets that it’s hard to know who to believe. Cut-Throat Defence is a decent read, and its pace and short chapters will keep you turning the pages.

If you enjoy legal thrillers than definitely give this one a shot!

 

 

Pretty Wicked by Kelly Charron

*Many thanks to the author for my review copy*

About the book:

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen. But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects. Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.

Click HERE to get your copy!

My thoughts:

I picked up Pretty Wicked as part of my “TBR” catch up recently and its safe to say I was pleasantly surprised by it. Essentially a YA serial killer thriller, it was a pacy read.

Its very odd to read a book about a teenage serial killer, but it was a refreshing change, even moreso because the main character is female. Ryann is an interesting, if a little over-confident, character. She lives at home with her sister and her parents. None of whom suspect anything sinister is going on in their daughter’s life.

Pretty Wicked is the kind of book that you’d pick up and before you realise, you’re halfway through it. It’s not a light book, there is plenty of gruesome details within the pages, and yet it is a very easy read.

I know this is a short review, but there isn’t a lot I can say without giving away the plot. The killer is known, it’s just the methods and the ending that’s the surprise. One to watch out for if you enjoy YA and thrillers as it’s a mixture of both!

Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

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*Many thanks to the lovely folks at Harper Collins Non-Fiction for my review copy*

About the book:

An incredible memoir from one of the world’s most eminent heart surgeons and some of the most remarkable and poignant cases he’s worked on.

Grim Reaper sits on the heart surgeon’s shoulder. A slip of the hand and life ebbs away.

The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks that rope between the two. In the operating room there is no time for doubt. It is flesh, blood, rib-retractors and pumping the vital organ with your bare hand to squeeze the life back into it. An off-day can have dire consequences – this job has a steep learning curve, and the cost is measured in human life. Cardiac surgery is not for the faint of heart.

Professor Stephen Westaby took chances and pushed the boundaries of heart surgery. He saved hundreds of lives over the course of a thirty-five year career and now, in his astounding memoir, Westaby details some of his most remarkable and poignant cases – such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks by six months old, a woman who lived the nightmare of locked-in syndrome, and a man whose life was powered by a battery for eight years.

A powerful, important and incredibly moving book, Fragile Lives offers an exceptional insight into the exhilarating and sometimes tragic world of heart surgery, and how it feels to hold someone’s life in your hands.

Fragile Lives is out Feb 9th and you can get your copy by clicking HERE.

My thoughts:

Anyone who reads my blog will know that I rarely, if ever, review non-fiction. It is definitely not my usual genre, but when I saw it pop up on Twitter recently, I was suitably intrigued. I am so SO GLAD I got the chance to read and review Fragile Lives.

Fragile Lives is a memoir written by Stephen Westaby, one of the most well known cardiac surgeons and hugely prolific in his chosen field. A trailblazer from very early on in his career, he continued to pave the way for the use of new and unknown cardiac treatments and apparatus.

I started it Monday morning, and by Monday night I was a ball of emotions upon finishing it. Every chapter is a case story, and every case is heartbreaking yet life-affirming, if that makes sense. I found myself close to tears on more than one occasion on Monday, knowing that these are real people and they were meeting Westaby at possibly the worst moment of their lives.

The details in Fragile Lives are extremely in depth, especially with regards to the surgeries and various diseases/injuries that are discussed in the book. While it was descriptive, it was not by any means difficult to follow. It was very interesting to read about the anatomy of the heart and the various pathologies Westaby writes about.

I can’t do this book justice with my words. It was truly excellent to read. I was compelled to read it, trapped in the intensity of the chapters. When I had to put it down, I immediately wished I was reading it again. That is always a sign of a great book. If you like medicine, with a large dose of humanity, then pick up Fragile Lives.

Highly recommended!