Blog Tour Extract~ Cold Breath by Quentin Bates

Hi everyone,

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Cold Breath by Quentin Bates, and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all a little further down!

About the author:

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Quentin Bates made his escape from suburbia at the end of the seventies as a gap year turned into a gap decade spent in the north of Iceland. He worked ashore and at sea before returning to England and, once finally ashore for good, drifted by accident into journalism.

Finally the lure of fiction became too strong to resist. Sergeant Gunnhildur and the series of novels she features in have their origins in a deep affection for Iceland and its people, and an intimate knowledge of Icelandic society and its language, customs and quirks.

Today Quentin divides his time between the north of Iceland and the south of England, translating books from Icelandic in addition to working on his own fiction.

About the book:

COLD BREATH.jpg

Gunnhildur reluctantly allows herself to be taken off police duties to act as bodyguard to a man with a price on his head . . .

Hidden away in a secure house outside Reykjavík, Gunna and the high-profile stranger, a guest of the interiors minister, are thrown together – too close for comfort. They soon find they are neither as safe nor as carefully hidden as Gunna and her boss had thought. Conflicting glimpses of the man’s past start to emerge as the press begin to sniff him out, as does another group with their own reasons for locating him. Gunna struggles to come to terms with protecting the life of a man who may have the lives of many on his conscience – or indeed may be the philanthropist he claims to be.

Isolated together, the friction grows between Gunna and the foreign visitor, and she realises they are out of their depth as the trails lead from the house outside Reykjavík to Brussels, Russia and the Middle East.

Cold Breath by Quentin Bates

Extract:

Go for a walk,’ the pale man suggested. ‘Don’t go far. Don’t go out of sight.’
The plump man opened his mouth to speak and then quickly shut it. It had been an instruction, not a suggestion.
‘How long?’ he asked, his voice quivering. Next to him his wife could not hide the helpless hatred in her eyes.
‘Twenty minutes,’ the dark man said, pointing to the wavelets being whipped up on the surface of the lake by a bitter wind. ‘Leave your phones on the table. Go that way and walk around the lake. Be where we can see you.’
‘You . . . ?’ the woman began.
‘Come on, Hanne. We don’t have a choice,’ the man muttered to his wife, taking her arm. He stared steadfastly ahead as they walked away, while she shot a single furious glance over her shoulder towards the two men.
It was supposed to be the holiday they had been looking forward to. For the first time there was no need to hurry. There were no longer projects to manage, classes to teach, meetings to attend, deadlines to meet, or jobs waiting for them to return to. Retirement meant they could spend as long as they wanted touring this rocky island they had long wanted to visit, arriving before the tourist season got underway and taking things slowly, dawdling around the northern coastline as they made their way to Reykjavík, stopping whenever and wherever they saw fit.
That had been the plan, she reflected bitterly, until the unwelcome visitors had arrived one night before they had got as far as the ferry, with an offer they dared not refuse.
‘How long should this take?’ the pale man asked, watching as the tubby man and his stick-thin wife walked stiffly, arm-in-arm, around the shore of the lake.
‘Not long. Under the driver’s side bunk. Tools?’
They disappeared into the camper van, and the dark man opened a compact tool box on the table as he looked around.
‘Nice truck,’ he said. ‘House-proud people. Very tidy.’
‘Maybe they
wanted the place to look its best for their visitors.’
The elderly couple, still arm-in-arm, returned windblown after a slow walk around the grey waters of the lake where the wind filled the air with spray.
‘We’re finished. Thanks for your co-operation,’ one of the men said, standing up from his seat in the camper van’s back door as the couple approached.
‘It’s not as if we had a choice in the matter,’ the woman snapped at him, her voice loaded with helpless anger.
He shrugged. ‘It’s not our choice either, I’m afraid. Now we’d like you to go away and enjoy the rest of your holiday. Forget you ever saw us.
It goes without saying that you won’t say a word to anyone, ever. In which case you’ll never hear from us again.’
The pale man dipped a hand into his pocket and took out a sheet of paper folded into four. He held it up and handed it to the woman.
‘What’s this?’
‘Take a look.’
She unfolded it carefully and stiffened as she saw it. Her husband’s face sagged as she showed it to him.
‘Your
house. Your daughter’s house,’ the pale man said, his finger sliding over each of the four pictures. ‘Your son-in-law’s business. And this is where your mother lives. Just so you know. Not one single word.’

 

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Blog Tour~ Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir Ellen’s Review

Morning all,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down!

About the author:

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Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

About the book:

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Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Ellen’s Review:

Having read Snare the first in this trilogy I was delighted to get tangled up in the next book Trap. I absolutely adore the covers for both books, so simple but eye catching and would look a treat together on your bookshelves! Although this could be read as a standalone I would recommend reading Snare to fully enjoy Trap.

In the beginning of the book Sonja and Tomas are in Florida after escaping from the drug smuggling trade that her ex husband Adam had embroiled Sonja into. However this freedom is cut short when Tomas is kidnapped and Sonja is forced to return to the clutches of Adam and the drug gangs and back to Iceland. You can really sympathise for Sonja and her situation; she is desperate to get Tomas back and resorts to agreeing to once more return to the drug smuggling with the help of her friendly, look-the-other-way customs officer Bragi. Sonja is not going to give in without a fight and is soon caught up in a risky plot involving the deadliest criminals to ensure her family’s safety.

Meanwhile Sonja’s lover Agla is struggling with her own problems; awaiting trial for financial misconduct and attempting to pay back some massive debts. Once more I struggled to warm to Agla, she just appears so fragile and needy when it comes to Sonja and I worry how she would cope if their relationship came under pressure and she was rejected altogether.

I really enjoyed Trap and look forward to reading the final book in the series.

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Blog Tour ~ Heart in the Right Place by Lisa Hill Ellen’s Review

Hi guys,

Today is Ellen’s turn on the blog tour for Heart in the Right Place by Lisa Hill and I’ll be sharing her review with you all just a little further down!

About the author:

Lisa Hill

Lisa grew up in the village of Bussage, near Stroud, in the Cotswolds until she returned to Cheltenham as a teenager. She is married to her very own hero, Matt, and has three sons, Hamish, Archie and Laurence. Her first encounter of a romance author was chats over the garden wall between her father, Godfrey, and Mrs Cooper from the neighbouring village of Bisley. It came as quite a surprise in later life to find that Mrs Cooper was in fact Jilly Cooper! Lisa’s writing inspiration now comes from other Cotswolds authors including Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde.

Lisa writes contemporary women’s fiction with a light-hearted tone. What interests her most is people, their interactions, emotions and relationships. It’s probably why her career to date has been based in property; she confesses herself that she is ‘naturally curious’.

When she’s not busy writing, helping Matt run his electrical empire, or being her sons’ taxi service, Lisa enjoys long walks with the family gundog, Sparky, and is training to be a counsellor where she hopes, one day, to be able to provide therapy in the form of writing to those who need it.

Lisa is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and attributes this supportive and informative scheme to her career to date, including her debut novel, Meet Me at Number Five, and this year’s perfect summer read Heart in the Right Place.

About the book:

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Lottie Hardwicke is Yorkshire’s answer to Kirstie Allsopp, but ten years spent raising her three children with husband, Drew, has relegated her to Saturday Girl status at the family estate agents. This is Lottie’s year; she’s turning over a new leaf and is going to make her time in property less of a borderline obsession and more of an actual career. Only, she hasn’t bet on her interfering in-laws returning to scupper her plans or her teenage crush, celebrity Tom Thorpe, arriving in the village and offering her the opportunity of a lifetime, which could compromise everything…

Can Lottie have it all? Can she be a hands-on mum and get her career back, without wrecking her marriage in the process?

Heart in the Right Place by Lisa Hill

Ellen’s Review:

Now and then I like a bit of sparkle from my reading choices, not the twinkling vampire kind but the type of book that you can skip through merrily with a smile on your face and a real feel good factor. Heart in the Right Place by Lisa Hill delivered precisely all the feels that I was looking for and more!

I’m a Yorkshire lass so loved that this story was set in Harrogate, a place I am quite familiar with. Lottie and Drew Hardwicke are the main characters but there is a wide and varied cast to support them. Lottie’s best friend Jude and her dad Jack, Drew’s parents Pamela and Edward and the celebrity blast from Lottie’s past Tom Thorpe. Each have their part in the story and I loved how all the narrative threads wove together and tied up neatly to deliver the perfect package of a heart-warming tale.

All the elements of family life can be found in the pages of Heart in the Right Place; the good and the bad. It was great to see the realities of what happens when things aren’t quite right and the issues that we all have to overcome. I have to say that I’d love a Tom Thorpe character to arrive into my life and solve some of my problems! In my head he was Sean Bean and who would say no to a visit from him??

This was the first book of Lisa Hill’s that I have read and I will definitely be looking out for more.

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Blog Tour ~ The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech and I’ll be sharing her review with you all in just a little bit!

About the author:

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be
Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in
My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in
the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has
won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the
Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport
Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of
Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre,
where her first play was performed in 2012

About the book:

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Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he
wishes it hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve.
When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems
to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Ellen’s Review:

Louise Beech has once more broken me with her beautiful writing, her intention must be to crush my usually stony reading heart to dust! The Lion Tamer Who Lost is primarily a love story about Ben and Andrew but their journey was never going to be an easy one. Ben is 23 years old and living at home with his brash and bigoted father. Ben is struggling with his sexuality and fears of rejection by his family. Andrew is an older man that enters Ben’s life and turns it upside down. Can they make their relationship work? I really enjoyed the coincidences that occurred in TLTWL, this is a subject that fascinates me in real life so I never struggled to believe it’s place in the book.

The story is told over different timelines; Ben/Andrew in the past and the present where we find Ben working in a Lion sanctuary obviously trying to get over something. This “something” is gradually revealed throughout the novel and there is not much more I can say without spoiling the reading experience for others.

I loved the Lion Sanctuary setting of The Lion Tamer Who Lost; Louise’s descriptions are so vivid that I was immediately transported to Africa. The relationship between Ben and his lion cub Lucy was a delight and really gave an insight into Ben’s determination and strength of character. He refused to give up on Lucy and was obviously so attached to her and her success in becoming part of the pack. I think Lucy was actually my third favourite character after Ben and Andrew!

Louise’s writing is so powerful that in my mind Ben and Andrew are real people. For days after I’d be thinking about them before catching myself and remembering it wasn’t a film I’d watched or anyone in my life that actually existed. To be able to create that depth of emotion and recognition in a character from a reader takes some doing.

A gorgeous book which deserves all the stars!

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Blog Tour: The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham

Hey guys,

Today its my turn on the blog tour for The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham and I’ll be sharing my review with you all!

About the author:

Alison Belsham
Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter — and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner.

Twitter:@alisonbelsham

About the book:

The Tattoo Thief

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed The Tattoo Thief. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but I found myself getting pulled into the story really quickly. I liked the tattoo angle, not least because I have a few myself, so it was interesting to read about.

Marni Mullins is a tattoo artist, and she stumbles upon a body in a dumpster when taking a break at a tattoo show. Conflicted, she calls it in but then goes back to work at the tattoo show, not expecting anything to come of it. Until the police find her.

What follows is a twisty-turny read with lots of things going on. DI Sullivan is investigating the discovery, but he has a lot more going on than what he’s letting on. I enjoyed reading about him and his thinking processes.

I loved the interactions between Francis and Marni too, especially as the book progresses. Their back and forth banter is good fun to read. There is definitely a connection there, and I liked them both as characters.

The Tattoo Thief is a really interesting crime thriller, told from multiple viewpoints, including the killer. It is graphic, and more than a little tense at times. Hard to believe its a debut!

Recommended for sure!

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Blog Tour~The After Wife by Cass Hunter Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today Ellen is reviewing The After Wife by Cass Hunter as part of the blog tour, and I’ll be sharing her review with you all further down!

About the author:

Cass Hunter

Cass Hunter was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2000. She lives in North London with her husband and two sons. She is an avid lifelong learner, and works at a London university. Cass Hunter is the pen name of Rosie Fiore, whose novels include After Isabella, What She Left, Babies in Waiting and Wonder Women.

About the book:

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When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.

She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband.

Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.

But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death.

A gift called iRachel.

The After Wife by Cass Hunter

Ellen’s Review:

I read this book a few weeks ago and am still thinking about it and if that’s not an endorsement for this beautiful book I don’t know what is. The After Wife appealed to my Sci-Fi nerd brain primarily but soon had me caught up in everything else that it is about. Love, loss, what makes us human and dealing with grief, it’s all there.

Rachel and Aidan have the perfect life; the only issue would be that Rachel’s career comes first and she has sacrificed a lot of time with Aidan and their daughter Chloe pursuing her dream. After her death it becomes clear what this dream was, she (with her lab partner Luke) has created iRachel a prototype of a human android. The only problem…this android is the double of Rachel. Suddenly after the shocking passing of his wife Aidan ends up taking iRachel home (Rachel employs a little emotional blackmail from the grave here) so that it/her emotional development can be studied in a home environment. Now, I had to ask myself how I would feel. I’m a similar age to Rachel with a 15 year old daughter; would this robot be a help emotionally or an awful daily reminder of what was missing? This is explored wonderfully throughout the novel and we ride the rollercoaster of emotions that Aidan and Chloe experience.

I’m a huge fan of the TV series Black Mirror/Humans/Westworld and the idea that a synthetic being could develop emotionally. How would they be treated in the real world? A slave? A monster? What sets us apart and makes us human; isn’t it life and experiences? The After Wife may not be set in a time that long from now. Recently AI intelligence mastered a board game that we have played for thousands of years and within three days had mastered the game and created moves that humans had not discovered. AI is being used now in the medical industry to solve scientific problems we have been unable to. Okay – so it’s a long way from creating a domestic android but when you look at how fast this things are progressing? It certainly makes you think!

You can probably tell that I adored this book and really invested a lot of my emotions into it, I probably won’t cry again for a while, my heart of stone has been bled dry. I recently re-read a few pages to refresh my memory for this review and my lip wobbled. Go buy it, and plenty of tissues – it’s the perfect read to get lost in! All the stars (and tears) to The After Wife.

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Blog Tour: Anarchy by Megan DeVos

Hi guys,

I’m back with another blog tour review today, YAY! I’m taking part in the blog tour for Anarchy by Megan DeVos and I also have a guest post for you all too!

About the author:

Megan DeVos grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she currently resides. She graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and have been working as a surgical nurse for the last two and a half years. She has always loved writing, and finally dedicated herself to it during university, where she wrote her first published novel, Anarchy.Connecting with readers worldwide has been the greatest outcome of writing, and is something she will continue to pursue during the rest of her career as a writer.

Side-note: Megan shot to fame on Wattpad, where she wrote Harry Styles fan fiction, and I AM HERE FOR THAT as I’m a huge fan of HS. Needless to say I was sold on Anarchy from the PR sheet 🙂

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About the book:

Anarchy 1

The world is different now.

There are no rules, no governments, and no guarantees that you’ll be saved.

Rival factions have taken over, fighting each other for survival with no loyalty to anyone but their own. At 21, Hayden has taken over Blackwing and is one of the youngest leaders in the area. In protecting his camp from starvation, raids from other factions and the threat of being kidnapped, he has enough to worry about before he finds Grace.

The daughter of the head of the rival camp Greystone, she is slow to trust anyone, much less the leader of those she has been trained to kill.

This is danger. This is chaos. This is anarchy.

Available NOW, click HERE to order your copy!

My thoughts:

Anarchy is the first book in the series featuring Hayden and Grace, rivals from Blackwing and Greystone respectively. Hayden is the well-respected leader of his camp, and when he meets Grace everything he has known is thrown into chaos.

Taking place in the aftermath of an event, Anarchy details the survival of those left alive and the lengths to which they will go to survive. It has a really interesting story, and it is written in such a way that it is actually impossible to put down. I read Anarchy in just a handful of sittings recently, I genuinely couldn’t stop reading.

The comparisons to The Hunger Games series are well-warranted as it has very similar ideas, but for me, Anarchy is better. There is something at its core that made me invested in the fates of the characters, a humanity and a vulnerability that the reader can empathise with.

Hayden and Grace are great characters too, and well supported with other characters along the way. I really enjoyed seeing the progression of the story told through their own chapters. The author gives a good glimpse into their emotions and it was interesting to see their growth as they met with obstacles and challenges throughout the book.

I don’t want to say any more about it because I think you should just read it. It’s a fun story. Its got passion, strength and plenty of action to keep you reading. Definitely one to add to your list if you enjoy YA and dystopian fiction! I can’t wait to read the next books in the series!

Highly recommended!

5 Tips for Aspiring Writers from Megan DeVos

1. The first tip I always give to aspiring writers is to write something you’d want to read. If it’s something you’re interested in, chances are, someone else will be as well. If you feel passionate about the story you’re creating, you’ll end up writing the best version of the story that you not only want to create, but also to read. Loving the story you’re writing keeps you motivated, and in the end allows you to create something you’ll always enjoy no matter what.

2. The second tip I have is to know where you want your story to go. This can be as vague or as detailed as you like, but knowing the general direction of your plot is important. For me, the first thing I always do is write out a general outline of the plot, including major and minor points and character development. Some writers like to have their main plot thought out and develop the rest as they go. Some like to have every single detail planned out down to the tiniest one. Some are somewhere in between. How you write it is up to you, but I think knowing what you want to accomplish with your story is essential.

3. Imagine what it would be like if you were in the story. Maybe you imagine yourself as the main character, or maybe you imagine what that character would be like if they were real and standing next to you. Imaging the characters as real people helps to understand their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Get to know them in your head. The more you think about them as real people, the easier it is to write their specific character traits, and the easier it will be for readers to connect with them and make them feel real.

4. Read your work, then reread it, then reread again. Read it until you have it stuck in your head. Knowing your story is essential to creating continuity and keeping the story flowing in a satisfying and believable way. It helps you know when to include details that will be important to the future. It helps you recognize things you may want to emphasize more, and things you maybe can lighten up on. Rereading your story as much as you can, because every time you do, you’re making your story that much better.

5.Finally, my last tip for aspiring writers is simply to write because you love it. If it’s something you truly feel passionate about, go for it! Don’t write because you feel like you should, or because of some other reason. Write because you love it, plain and simple. True passion shows through in the work, and only makes you better with each page you write. If you love it and enjoy it, that’s the most important factor of all.

Huge thanks to Megan for these brilliant tips!

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