AudioBook Review: Smokeheads

AudioBook Review: Smokeheads

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My Thoughts

This audiobook has all the signature hallmarks of a Doug Johnstone books. Having read a lot of Doug’s previous books and also listened to a few via the Library I was keen to be part of this tour.

Adam and his group of Whisky loving friends take a trip to the island of Islay famous for it’s single malts, Adam wants to start producing his own Whisky so this is the ideal location to pitch his idea to his friends. The first sign of trouble comes when they are pulled over by a police officer fresh off the ferry from the mainland but as per all of Doug’s novels this police officer is about to become central to the plot.

The narrator was also familiar to myself with being a regular narrator of some of Doug’s other books so I felt right at home listening to his smooth voice that carries me into all of Doug’s stories immersing me into the atmosphere of the island and the story.

Bad weather, islanders protecting their own, single track roads, cocaine and faltering loyalties Doug’s writing makes sure whether you are reading this book or listening to it, you won’t miss out which ever media you chose.

 

Doug Johnstone

 

Doug Johnstone is the author of fourteen novels, most recently Black Hearts (2022). The Big Chill (2020), was longlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last two decades including festivals, libraries, universities, schools, prisons and a funeral directors.

Doug is a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow and works as a mentor and manuscript assessor for many organisations, including The Literary Consultancy, Scottish Book Trust and New Writing North. He’s been an arts journalist for over twenty years and has also written many short stories and screenplays. He is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club.

 

Angus King

 

Angus King is a Scottish actor based in London & Glasgow. He trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and works regularly on televisionMotion Capture and the West End and his voice can be heard in audiobookspolitical campaignsradio dramacorporate videoscomputer games, ADR and much more.

 

 

You can pre order Smokeheads on audio from

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Amazon   

 

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The Reading House

 

 

Book Review – Inside Job Treating Murders and Sex Offenders. The Life of A Prison Psychologist – Dr Rebecca Myers

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And here I am. Totally alone in a cell with a convicted sex offender who is free to do what he wants. There is no officer. No handcuffs. No radio. Only the man across the desk and me. He looks more petrified than I do.

HMP Graymoor. One of the UK’s most notorious prisons. Home to nearly 800 murderers, rapists and child molesters.

Reporting for her first shift inside is Rebecca: twenty-two, newly graduated – and about to sit down with some of the country’s most dangerous criminals.

In this gripping, hard-hitting memoir, forensic psychologist Dr Rebecca Myers revisits her time in the ‘Hot Seat’ with Graymoor’s infamous inmates – who might not be as different to us as we think.

This is as close as we can get to knowing what really goes on inside the damaged minds behinds bars.

My Review

I was busy procrastinating and found myself on Net galley and thought oh this looks good and requested it and to my surprise I was accepted : ) so I finished my current read and pushed this to the top of my TBR pile and I wasn’t disappointed.

The book starts as Rebecca starts her first day as a prison Psychologist at the infamous Graymoor prison full of murder’s and sex offenders. We are introduce to a range of characters from prisioners Wayne, Jeremy who sets Rebecca’s Imposter Syndrome on full alert, Sid and  Nigel who are all in Graymoor for sex offenses and sometimes also murder along with a cast of prison officers Len, Daniel and Kenny who sit in these sessions with Rebecca as she tries to teach the inmates ways to stop them offending in the future and also ways to understand why they did what they did. Wayne’s story is on I found especally heart breaking but all of these men who have done some of the most terrible things grew on me and at times I just wanted to give them a hug. (probably not one of my better ideas)

What I also loved about this book is the author’s internal monologue and how she sees some of the journeys these men have been through to get to where they are echoed in her own past and she doesn’t take the view of “well i’ve been through that and i’ve turned out okay?” She is noting but understanding and compassionate. These are the real men behind the headlines and how they’ve got to where they are today and some of the coping mechanisms they can use in the future.

Some of the things these men did are heart breaking and at times very dark and I found worrying having small children myself but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere.

With reading this book on kindle at times i found myself confused with the acronyms SOP? CB? and could have done with noting down these means at the start of the book so I could easily remember them.

I also didn’t realise till I got to the end of this book that all this was going on in the early 90s and how the work Rebecca did was only the ground work for how prisoners are being treated today. With all the trauma in this book I’m glad that at least half of the men Rebecca treated might just be back in our society hopefully doing okay and that Rebecca herself has kids and a hubby and is also doing just fine.

Thank you to net galley and Harper Collins for giving me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m glad that I took the chance on this book and you gave me a voice to talk about this book which I will be for how a while….

Book Review: She Knew Her Killer

51BBErbsnJLFive old school friends reunited for a weekend in Sheffield. A drunken game of truth or dare. One won’t survive.

The young woman is found murdered in a swanky hotel room. Detective Claudia Nunn gets the text just as she leaves her therapist’s office.

The victim’s friends all say the same thing: she had been distracted and kept disappearing all weekend. And on the Saturday, someone had screamed abuse in her face.

Did she know her killer?

As Claudia closes in on the murderer, the top-brass start closing down the investigation. And the team become the target of violent attacks.

Someone will do anything to stop the truth getting out.

 

My Thoughts

Followers of my blog will know how much of a MASSIVE fan of Rebecca Bradley I am! Having followed her Hannah Robbins series since the beginning and also being lucky enough to be on her book launch team I have had the privilege to read her other books too!!!

Rebecca has managed to land herself a publishing deal with Joffe books and I have been super keen to read her new stuff, so when She Knew Her Killer came out and I had time to review it I was straight on it. It’s just a shame it’s taken me for ever to right an actual review….

What has interested me most about this series is the dynamics between Claudia Nunn and her dad Dominic. Though I am starting this series on book three I have missed the beginning of the arc between the two characters and though this is bubbling under the surface of the novel it didn’t matter I was still able to enjoy this book.

Harlow Cunningham has organised to meet up with all her school friends as a guise to learning about her past. As Claudia and her team try and figure out why Harlow was murdered one of her friends eventually reveals that Harlow admitted in a drunken game she was a Foundling (a child who was abandoned after birth)

The story runs along two-story lines Harlow learning about where she came from and who her parents were and the why she was abandoned and the police investigation. We learn early on her parents must have some power as the police investigation keeps being stalled and someone is taking unprecedented steps to stop it completely.

Though at times this story seemed to be dragging along at a slow pace and a lot of the information being repeated several times. I enjoyed this different style in Rebecca’s writing that differed from the Hannah Robbins books I have previously devoured and will certainly going back to the beginning of this series to learn more about the dynamics between Claudia and her dad.

Rebecca Bradley - photo

Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective. She lives in the UK with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis, in her writing of course.

She writes the DI Hannah Robbins police procedural series, the DI Claudia Nunn series and has also released two standalone novels, Dead Blind, about a cop who acquires prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness and Perfect Murder about a crime writer who wonders if she could commit the perfect murder so sets out to see.

You can purchase She Knew Her Killer below:

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You can find Rebecca online, and she’s always happy to chat

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There are also some great resources on her website

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As stated above I love Rebecca Bradley’s books and have done various interviews and reviews of her books, which can all be found HERE

Horses with Annie Rose

Annie has a new book out Recipe for Mr Super! As part of her Recipes of Life Serise so I caught up with Annie to talk Horses????

 

All my books so far have had dogs in, but in Recipe for Mr Super, I’ve been allowed to indulge my love ofauthor horses. A quick disclaimer – all horses in this book are based on horses I’ve known, but, except for Charlie Brown, the Shetland Pony – that was his real name, names have been changed to protect the innocent!

The names weren’t the only thing I made up, okay, I’ll admit I never evented. I have acted as groom, helped at cross country events, been a dressage writer for many, many dressage tests including some major competitions over a long period of time, but I just couldn’t face competing. So, it’s fair to say the eventing world in Recipe for Mr Super is entirely imaginary, except that one event is held at Tweseldown – a real place, and my absolute favourite eventing venue. A place I have spent happy hours, helping, or watching, some talented riders compete. I’ve even gone cross country schooling there on my own horse several times and loved the experience, but never had any desire to compete at any level.

IMG_6811People always tell me that the adrenalin high you get from doing well in competition is the ultimate thrill and worth the anxiety of getting ready to compete. I never agreed. Even the clear-round competition at the local show would have me hyperventilating.

I can’t remember when my love affair with horses started. I was very young. I’d ride anything whenever I had the opportunity, but the only person we knew back then with a horse was my godmother.

My first book was Black Beauty. I still have that copy, the colour plates in it are amazing and it would be my desert island choice. I’ve had it so long; I can’t imagine ever being without it. Photos 2 on 8 Jul 2022 at 20_28_28I was 11 years old, when a lady, my mother worked with, who had a pony, which was a bit of a handful, asked her if I’d like to ride it. Her own daughter had outgrown it, so they’d bought her a horse and needed someone to exercise the pony. I’ve always assumed my mother didn’t understand what a bit of a handful meant at the time, rather than she thought she could afford to lose her eldest daughter. The pony was a rig, with a mind of his own – initially I spend a lot of time on the floor, but it was a great learning curve and I loved him to pieces, spending all my free time at the stables. Eventually, I outgrew him too, but was offered the ride on another horse at the same stables, a lot steadier, and a true gentleman, until a permanent home could be found for him.

I’d been married less than six months, when I finally had the opportunity to buy a horse. I’d been having Beziqueriding lessons and hacking out at a local stable for some time, but it wasn’t a considered decision. I didn’t go out that day having decided to buy a horse, but I was told during a lesson that the horse I was riding, would be going to go back to the dealers and not available for lessons the following week. She wasn’t popular with clients other than me, being a head shaker and very green about everything. The deal I struck with my husband was that if I gave up smoking for a month, I could buy her. I never smoked again, I couldn’t, because although I didn’t tell him, I’d already paid for her.

We went on to develop a really special relationship, (both horse and husband). She taught me so much about unconditional love and trust. I like to think I taught her to jump. She’d only ever been driven, until shortly before she came into the riding school, and responded well to simple voice commands like, “left” or “right” and you had to tell her to “jump” if you wanted her to go over, rather than through or round any obstacle!

My biggest problem with her was that she hated being tied up and could untie herself from just about anything and sometimes her mates! She was a real Houdini, but having done it, she wouldn’t move further than the nearest hay net or patch of grass. She just didn’t like to be attached to anything.

Sadly, she was fatally injured in a road traffic accident, which left such a huge hole in my life that I was finally persuaded to look for another horse and found a huge tri-coloured mare. The picture IMG_7917is by the very talented equestrian artist Lydia Kiernan. I’m not aware that she ever met my horse, but this is just the most picture, it hangs on my wall. It has her facial markings spot on and has really captured her expression. This horse and I clicked, and I just knew I’d found somebody special. There were all sorts of alarm bells that should have rung. She had sarcoids, a cracked hoof, an irregular heartbeat, a dust allergy – I could go on, but the vet took one look at her and asked me what I thought I wanted.

I told him, I needed a horse, no bigger than 16 ½ hands to take care of me, to rebuild my trust in riding. A horse I could hack on my own, and maybe occasionally jump.  

The vet turned and said, ‘Then she’s perfect for you. I’m not going to vet her, because she’ll fail. Just one thing, promise me you will give yourself a year with her to build a relationship. There will be times during that year when you’ll struggle – wonder what you’ve done and wish you’d never bought her. You’ll get her home, think she’s perfect, but give it three weeks and she’ll go through that difficult toddler stage. She’ll start testing boundaries. Don’t let her get away with anything. Always be kind, but firm and soldier on. It will be worth it. If after a year, and I really don’t think this will happen, but if you haven’t bonded then you owe it to both of you, to find her another home.’ He issued a passport for her, and in it said she was 16 ½ hands – years later my then vet said, you do know she’s a lot bigger than that – don’t you?

We did bond and had sixteen amazing years together. She put a broken person back together and we both learned to trust each other. She overcame her fears about walking through water and I learned to accept that if something was really frightening, in horse terms, it was better to walk, or trot past it backwards!

I have just started having lessons again and recently met a lovely horse – a real black beauty!IMG_6999

 

 

 

Recipe for Mr Super by Anni Rose

 
Where’s a hero when you need him?
 
In Autumn Rigden’s case, enjoying semi-celebrity status on the other side of the world. Although Nick Flynn is no superman – talented horse rider and Super Sportstar of the Year he might be, but he has a habit of leaving Autumn in the lurch when she needs him most.

Anyway, Autumn is too busy with her new career to care about Nick. Okay, so she’s had to give up her OIympic dressage dream, her childhood home and beloved Shetland pony – and all to the benefit of Gordon, Nick’s money-grabbing father. But Autumn’s new ambition is to become an heir hunter extraordinaire, and with a promising commission and only a few weirdos demanding she prove they’re related to royalty, she’s all set.

But when Mr Super returns, will Autumn find that forgetting about horses and the Flynns is harder than she could have ever imagined?

 

You can buy Anni’s books below!

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Amazon            images Kobo

 

You can keep up with all things Anni related

 

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@AnniRoseAuthor             Facebook-Xperia  Anni Rose Author

 

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ChocLit-logo-WebAll Anni’s books can be found HERE

 

Other posts with Annie can be found HERE

 

The Lisa Carter Files Sound Track.

Hey,

so here we go, month’s in the making..

The Lisa Carter Files Play List The soundtrack to the Best Selling book series

Perfect Lie

Katy Perry – Pearl

She opened the app on her phone and started her music. As she opened the front door she was hit full force by the cold wind and it was raining. She stepped outside and braced herself hoping she would warm up soon enough.

I think that this song sets up the whole book, she is more than what people believe Jen to be, on the face of it she is the perfect mother and wife but really there is this whole other side of her that no one else knows about.

Taylor Swift – … Ready For It

‘Let’s dance.’ she dragged him onto the dancefloor and he suddenly became twenty-one again as this unbelievable woman continued to rub herself up against him. He needed to stay in control. The last thing he needed was to get a stonking great hard-on. As she maneuvered her body away from him, he grabbed her close, kissing her and making sure he got a good feel of her body as an electronic urge hit and rushed through his veins

If there was an album that was meant to sum up Hannah, I think it would be Taylor Swift’s Reputation album. We don’t get to see the other side of Hannah in Perfect Lie, she is a vixen and highly sexualised its her defense mechanism, its all she’s ever known. Even Chris wants HER, but he is a good guy and would never take advantage of anyone in the situation they find themselves in.

Limp Bizket – Take A Look Round

Jen removed the gun from the holster and held it with both hands as she headed towards the east of the lines of containers. It was cold and she could feel her feet turning into blocks of ice. She wiggled them, hoping to bring them to life and keep the blood circulating. She was now alone with her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep on the task.

Slight confession here! I always thought that the lyrics went something like

“All the tension in the world today, All the little girls Holdin’ up the world today, When the good comes to bad, the bad comes to good”

So I’ve always imagined this track being used in a big fight scene, so this would be the perfect track even if i knew the correct lyrics…. Plus it “was” the mission impossible theme tune.

Matt Cardle – When We Colide

Someone forced themselves into his flat as he opened the door, colliding with him and pinning him to the wall. The adrenaline pulsed through his body as he felt soft lips against his own. He tried to break free as he felt them brush across his cheek and moved up to his ear.

‘Come on, Detective Inspector. Put some effort in.’

He managed to free himself before pushing her up hard against the closed door. She laughed as their lips met and his hands started to trail her body. He knew exactly who this was. He would no longer be left with what-ifs and regrets. Because right now he had Officer Littlefair pinned against his front door and there was no reason to stop this time.

When I wrote Chris and Hannah’s final scene I always had this song in my head, to the point my editor wrote something along the lines of can we use something other than “collide” as they seem to be doing alot of that.

In this scene both Hannah and Chris get what they finally wanted. each other….

Our Lady Peace – Story About a Girl

This would be the end credits for a Perfect Lie, as it was a story about a girl : )

A Silent Child

Jimmy Eat World – Polaris

“You say that love goes anywhere, In your darkest time, it’s just enough to know it’s there”

All the character’s in A Silent Child do something because of love.

Jen

‘Jen, will you promise to always come back to me and the kids?’

 Jen looked at him quizzically. ‘I don’t understand, James.’

‘I know we need to put what happened last year behind us, and I’m trying.’ James sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the wall. He had rehearsed what he was going to say to her a million times, so he took a deep breath and tried again. ‘What I mean is, when you go off saving the world, will you promise you’ll always come back to me and the kids?’

‘But I’m not going anywhere.’ Jen moved to sit next to him as she did up her bra.

‘Jen, I don’t want to wake up one morning and for you to have just gone again—’

‘James.’ Jen interrupted him. ‘I’m not going anywhere, though.’

‘I’ve been looking through the news reports. I heard what the DI said. This little boy has been asking for you. He obviously needs your help. If it was his mum who was found in the Trent, he’s completely alone in the world.’

‘I don’t understand, James.’

‘What I’m saying is go back to the DI and go and visit this boy. Just promise me you’ll always come back to us.’

Jen looked at him, clearly surprised. ‘But what you said—’

‘That doesn’t matter any more. Just promise.’

‘I will always come home to you. Who else will put up with my obsessive cleaning and silliness?’ Jen placed her hand on her husband’s face and turned him towards her. ‘I love you with all my heart and more, James Derek Garner.’

James’ lets Jen go because she promises him that she will always come back to them and Jen knows what ever she goes through her kid and husband will still love her no matter what.

Chris:

He needed to made a decision, and as he stood there he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. The name coming up on the screen almost made him laugh to himself, given who he’d just been thinking about.  

‘Mum?’ he answered, almost unsure whether it would be her on the other end of the phone. He was greeted by the sound of someone coughing.

‘Sorry … Christopher?’

‘Is everything okay, Mum? You sound awful.’

‘Ah, just this cold thing that’s going round. It’s the middle of bloody summer and here I am hacking up a lung.’

‘Have you been to see the doctor or anything?’

‘Oh no, don’t be silly. Your dad is looking after me like he always does. If I’m honest with you, he’s being a bit of a pain.’

‘Look, Mum, I’m really sorry but I’m busy. Can I call you back later?

‘As long as you do. We haven’t heard from you in such a long time.’

‘I promise I’ll phone back over the next couple of days.

‘Okay. Goodbye, Christopher. Keep safe.’

He had made his decision. His dad looked after his mum no matter what. What if he’d already found that someone to love in the kind of way his parents loved each other? And he was about to let her go off to who knows where, to fuck who knows who? It was his duty to keep her safe.

Chris realises that he “loves” Hannah and can’t let her go undercover on her own because he believes in the sort of love that his parents have for each other.

Dana

‘I knew this would be the last time I would ever spend with Mikel, so I kept him close and made sure he knew how much I loved him and always would.’

And Dana believes the only way she can save her son, is if she kills herself and let’s him go into care. Little does she know Nottingham is the least safest place for him right now.

Lewis Capaldi – Hold Me While You Wait.

As they left the cottage, he noticed Hannah on her phone. He realised he really needed to get his turned back on and check in with the investigation at home.

‘Ready?’ she asked as she ended the call.

Chris moved around to the back of the car and climbed in. ‘Thanks for coming to get us,’ Chris said to Barry.

‘Not a problem. Did you both have a good night?’

‘You could say that …’

To Chris’ surprise, Hannah got into the back of the car with him. ‘Not sitting up front?’ he asked her.

‘Will you hold me?’ she whispered.

‘You okay?’ ‘I think so, but I just need to lay in your arms and feel safe again.’

This song helped write the scene when Hannah and Chris return after their undercover experiences. I know alot of what went on at the party is left to the readers imagination. But I find sex a very powerful and sometimes emotional draining. So when Chris and Hannah return to the car the last thing Hannah wants is to talk through what went on last night she just wants Chris to hold her and feel loved and safe, the more vulnerable side of Hannah appears the side we never see or even knew existed. We all like an after sex cuddle ; )

A Burning Lie

Tom Walker – Wait For You

Now this song might be a *spoiler* so I’m not going to explain the use, but it would play at the end as the credit’s roll. I’ll let you come in your own conclusions.

***

As you can tell I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about the soundtrack for Perfect Lie, but that is because that book has been apart of me for such a long time… Even before it got published.

Katy Perry – Save As Draft

I love this song, because I spend my life saving things to draft . I also always get loads of reminders from things around me that I *should* be writing that novel!

Book Review: Killer In The Crowd

Killer in the Crowd

Live music is in her blood, but as the death threats arrive, she fears
there’s a killer in the crowd.

Cath Edgley is just a normal schoolteacher… until she hears the shocking news that fading rock star Raven Rain has been murdered.

Because, to Cath, Raven Rain is more than just a picture on a magazine – he was also the ex-lover of her missing mother, Betzy Blac, lead singer of ’80s punk girl band, Décolleté. A woman who went missing over 30 years ago.

Warned by a string of mystery text messages to “trust no one”, Cath is inspired to solve the mystery of her mum’s disappearance, once and for all.

Cath finds herself thrust into the sordid underbelly of the ’80s music scene, when rock and roll played second fiddle to the sex and drugs.

Along the way, she joins forces with Raven’s son, the American superstarheartthrob Travis Brennon, as well as playing a new role: unwitting replacement lead singer for Décolleté on their first tour in over 30 years.

Can Cath find the killers before she becomes their next victim?
Are the superstars she encounters all that they seem?
And what exactly happened to the punk superstar, Betzy Blac?

 

My Thoughts

I have often wondered in the past what it must be like for Johnny Depps kids, (pre all this with Amber Heard I must add) do you wake up one day and think holy shit my dads famous! When exactly did the Beckham kids realise their parents where famous? Well this book in someways tells the story of what it’s like to be an adult and know that both your mum and dad are famous rock stars.

But unlike some of the famous people today who are only famous because their parents are famous Paris Hilton springs to mind. Cath Edgley is desperate for the quiet life opting to teach at a posh girls school away from the lime light until she discovers one day that her father has died of a suspected drug overdose but he’s been clean for years.

Wanting to just get on with life because she never knew her father anyway the world media have better ideas and the police come knocking too looking for a missing manuscript said to be worth millions.

But Cath’s mum was famous rocker Betzy Blanc who disappeared in strange circumstances some thirty years previously, so maybe there is something going on here that isn’t quite right. When her dad son Travis Brennon contacts her asking for her help she is suddenly thrust back into the lime light in order to find out who killed her dad and what really happened to her mum.

I loved this story so much the peak behind the curtain of a rock and roll lifestyle and I’m a sucker for stories when two lonely people end up together (Even though I tend to read crime and thrillers!) I felt a real connection to these character’s who were all betrayed as real people I could relate to, and not “rich people” who were better than me.

A million stars for this novel and I hope to be reading more by P N Johnson in the future.

 

Phil J B&WAs a TV Newsreader, Reporter and Producer for both BBC East and ITV Anglia, P N Johnson covered everything from tracking down criminals in Spain and going on high-octane police chases, to interviewing pop stars, politicians and celebrities. P N Johnson was also the face and voice of
Crimestoppers in the eastern region for many years and created the successful TV series: “999 Frontline”. Now living near Norwich, P N Johnson loves music, travelling, walking, and sailing, and bringing exciting new characters with amazing stories to the page.

You can purchase Killer In the Crowd from the retailers below:

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2021 Books and Audio

I have really struggled with any form of reading this year and though I set my target 52 books I only managed 12 / 13 if I finish the one I’m reading today..

But then I looked at how much audio I had listened to nine 9 audio books so I’m going to include those in my round up of the year….

After winning Cara Hunter’s latest book The Whole truth I decided to start the series at the beginning so I would have some clue what I was doing and I am glad I did.

Having listened to the first three and read the fourth I really loved this series and can’t wait to get stuck into the next one in the new year… What I really love about Cara’s writing is there is always a “twist” at the end and I also love the 1st person story telling with the overall commentary from DI Fawley through-out the book.

I read two books for Noelle’s books this year, after reading her first at the end of 2020 as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about after reading Dead Inside.

I really enjoyed both of these books and I love at the end of the book there is a cliff hanger that leads onto the next book. I also LOVE that Noelle has a habit of making you think that the killer is her brother. I have thoughts about what could be coming next but we shall see…

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This was the second book I read by Sam Carrington and this book was just as good as the one I read last year, Sam takes ever insecure feeling you have when your a new mother and ramps it up big time!

Strictly on Ice final cover image

 

When I saw this was coming out with my publisher, I had to read this! Ice Skating and reality television what more is there to love, Oh and the mention of big Sunday dinners had me sold. Helen Buckley has also released two other books this year which I recommend you read!

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I love Mark Edwards earlier books so was keen to read his latest, though Mark’s style seems to have changed in more recent books I am still a fan and will probably read everything he has ever written.

 

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Having read and loved beyond words “How I Lost you” and also having read “Before I let you”  this book had been on my shelve for a while so I knew I needed to read this, this year. 

This book reminded me a lot of “The Inspector Calls” on of my favorite books from school, I’m not sure if Jenny Blackhurst did this intentionally, but it still made for a good read as I tried to figure out what all the residents were up to. This book has also been re launched as The Perfect Guest. 

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When my publisher revealed the cover for One by One by fellow author Helen Bridgett  I had to own it!

I really enjoyed this book, and it’s character’s that seem to take a fresh look at the murder mystery. I know from previous chats with Helen how much research she also put into this book.

 

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When I saw this book was coming to our tv screens, I wanted to get a head of the excitement and read it first. Though I never got to see it realising that we didn’t have Alibi 😦

It was an interesting read and though there was a lot of detail into the deaths it was interesting to see how each crime was linked. I loved how the book all came together at the end and I would be keen to read future books by Daniel Cole to find out what happens next to the team / relationships.

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I am a HUGE Louise Jensen fan and know that I need to prepare myself to go through a rally of emotions when ever I read her books. I am so happy that she is yet to deviate from her winning formula. Though she now writes under a second pen name I’m really happy she is still producing at least one book a year for us thriller fans. 

 

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Roz Watkins‘ is a local to me author and her third book in the Meg Dalton series. I wondered what this was going to be about when the blurb mentioned a social media star vanishing. I learned so much in the this book also about pig farming, which is heart breaking to say the least. Roz once again takes a myth and weaves in into the story making us wonder if it’s really happening and this time it’s the vanishing girl. I love Roz’s work and she is quickly becoming one of my favoutie authors. PLEASE DON’T CHANGE ! 

 

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I fancied some court room drama after reading Victor Methos’ books previously. I love the main character Natalie Bach and her relationships with not only her mom but her former colleagues. I felt for Natalie as I got further and further into this book and by the end I wanted to read the next book. Caro Land is a pen name for Caroline England who is multi talented author who writes in many genres. including psychological thrillers.

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A friend sent me this book a while ago and I only realised recently it is written by the also super talented Helen Fields. This is a very #Metoo book about a rape trial and a selection of Jury members who are thrust together some who have a alternative motives. I enjoyed reading this book and it was the perfect follow on from Caro Land’s book.

 

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I listened to this on audio and though I enjoyed it, it did seem to be a bit of a mind fuck! The main theme I guess is what would someone do to get acceptance from a sibling? This book is also about self discovery of one self. I am new to Helen’s work but have some of her books in my wish list on audio so will attempt another one in the future. Plus she is an Orenda author so what’s not to like.

 

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I love Doug Johnstone’s books because I find that they are the “perfect length” so don’t drag on forever… Though this one I did listen to on audio (I need to start reading his new series though) This like his other books have a big topic at heart that makes you think about your life and those around you who are less fortunate. I really wanted to look after and love the characters in this book and even now i’m thinking about them hoping they have found there happiness.

 

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I also started listening to A Promised Land by Barak Obama who needs no introduction. Though I will admit I didn’t finish this and skipped through a lot of it, but the stories about the presidential race and his relationship with Michelle during these times I found most interesting. The political stuff less so 😦 as it was borring and kinda dragged on…

 

 

There are also some books and audiobooks I DNF this year, I won’t go naming authors cause it’s not fair on them.

I think hands down my favourtie author this year has to be Cara Hunter hands down, and No way out my favourtie book of hers. But all the books I have read / listened to above I have enjoyed and in some respects look forward to reading more by them.

 

 

Doing the Research – by Helen Bridgett

I was so excited when I heard the next book in the Professor Maxie Reddick series was due this autumn. Helen must have done so much research for One by One and I wanted to know more about her process…

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Many moons ago, I started off my working life in market research and I loved it. I loved finding out what people thought, how different groups could view the same incident, advert or product in completely different ways and how we could use this information to nudge and influence their behaviour.

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A love of finding out the facts has stayed with me through university and beyond so it’s probably not surprising to hear that when I started writing novels, I simply loved doing the research. Probably too much – as at certain times when I’m really engrossed in a subject, it’s easy to forget that I also have to hit my word count for the day!

For me the research starts with my characters and for the Professor Reddick Series – the most important person to get right is obviously Maxie herself. I had a very strong sense of who Maxie would be – appearance wise, she’s actually based on an old choir teacher of mine. She was a large squat woman with the most incredibly wicked sense of humour. She was confident, funny and wore swathes of fabric – tunics, capes, shawls – all the time. I loved that she was absolutely herself and decided this was how Maxie would be.

Picture4I worked out how old Maxie needed to be to achieve her professorship and from that began researching the events that would have taken place in her lifetime. I love this part and particularly love finding out what music would have been popular when my characters were having their 18th birthday or the first dance at their wedding. I also like to walk down streets that are similar to where they live at different times of the day. You often don’t use these facts but they help to shape the person you’re developing making them more believable.

 

Of course, when you’re writing crime, it’s important to get the facts around the incident and the Picture3investigation right and that takes a great deal of research. I was actually inspired to write this series when the annual police statistics were published – these show how many crimes result in conviction and how those numbers vary by police forces across the country. The numbers were shocking – conviction rates were at an all-time low and in particular – figures for any form of sexual assault were appalling. I knew this would be the type of information my character would be outraged by.

 

Equally important, my research told me that unless the victim reports the crime themselves, the police can’t investigate – which gives a reason for Maxie to get involved.

I don’t write police procedurals but Maxie Reddick a professor of Criminology and this is a something that I have never studied. As well as getting some books on the subject, I also read academic papers from Universities around the world – they are extremely useful. They’ll tell you what the hot topics are in Criminology and how the research is conducted.

Picture2And then there are some downright weird things that many writers do when it comes to research and that can involve acting things out. I’ve asked for my hands to be tied behind my back so I can see what it feels like and I’ve lain on the concrete floor of the garage to see how long it takes for my body to go numb! All in the name of research!

Finally – I just wanted to say a word about Google – if you’re ever using the laptop of a crime writer, don’t get worried when you see their search history “How to murder my friend and get away with it” – is simply all part of the job! And believe me, we know very many ways!

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UntitledA young woman has gone missing. It’s nearly Christmas. Why does hardly anyone seem to care?

Kelly Ingles should have been a case to tug on the public’s heartstrings: a young woman who’s gone missing in the run-up to Christmas.

But Kelly wasn’t perfect – she liked to party, enjoyed a drink, didn’t always make the best decisions. And when evidence of her drunken antics appears online, it becomes clear that Kelly might not just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time; she might also be the wrong sort of girl to encourage public sympathy.

It’s a case that’s right up Maxie Reddick’s street. As a criminology professor, she’s made it her mission to challenge unconscious biases within the criminal justice system – the sort of biases that cause girls like Kelly to slip through the cracks.

But can she get the police and public on board before it’s too late?

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Marie Laval

This is Marie’s second book of 2021 and is most definitely on fire! Below Marie talks about her inspiration behind Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cover…

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Thank you very much, Claire, for having me on your blog today to talk about Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove, my latest contemporary romantic novel released by Choc Lit UK on 22nd June. I am a slow writer and as usual it took me over a year to write this story but I remember perfectly the three things that inspired me.

There was the photo of a yellow mobile library on a deserted road in the Highlands that an author friend posted on Facebook. I am not a very brave driver at all and I just couldn’t imagine driving a vehicle that size on narrow, winding roads in the middle of nowhere, but mobile librarians do it all the time, and they really are a lifeline for remote communities. It really does annoy me tremendously that the work librarians do is far too often unappreciated and unrecognised, and that so many libraries were closed these past few years. We used to have a small library in my village where children stopped on their way back from school. Sadly, it has now gone…

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Regarding the setting of the story, I knew I wanted an island, and read quite a number of books regarding the Hebrides, including the wonderful A Drop in the Ocean by Lawrence MacEwen about his family, his life and his work on the Isle of Muck. I finally chose the Isle of Skye with its glorious, breathtaking landscapes… but don’t try to find Arrandale, Mermaid Cove or Daniel McGregor’s ruined castle on a map of Skye because I made them up!  

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Finally I was very much inspired by a television series about the brave and selfless men and women volunteers at the RNLI. These people dedicate their time and risk their life to rescue people at sea, and yet are incredibly humble and modest. I have so much admiration for them.

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HappyDreamsAtMermaidCoveFINALFrom the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye … 

When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams …

However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?

 

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Marie Laval other books can be found here.

 

Check out my Meet The Family post with Marie HERE! and Which Books HERE!

 

Book Review: Widow’s Island

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Stephanie Miller is an average working mom. She isn’t perfect, but when her war hero husband dies and her work as a scientist puts her in news headlines, her past laid bare for all to see, she’s determined to make a new life for herself and teenage daughter, Amy. But she fears it’s only a matter of time before the biggest mistake of her life is revealed.

As Stephanie and Amy take refuge on a remote island in Washington, it feels like they’re learning how to live again. But then they come home to graffiti on their garage door, there’s no escaping the hate online, and Stephanie is sure someone is watching from the shadows outside their house.

When someone close to Stephanie is murdered in cold blood, she knows her worst fears have come true. Someone knows the truth. And she must become the fighter her husband always knew her to be if she is to protect her daughter, and everything left in the world that she loves.

An absolutely nail-biting thriller from bestselling author, L.A. Larkin. Perfect for fans of Rachel Caine, Lisa Regan and Gregg Olsen. An addictive, unputdownable, up-all-night read

 

My Thoughts

This is an atmospheric read, being trapped on an island, your best friend has been killed and someone is intent on ruining your life and now there is someone out there that wants you dead!

Stephanie and her daughter Amy moved to the island after their husband and father died thinking that it would be a place of sanctuary. Amy has never wanted to move in the first place and is pleading to return to the life she once knew, but things are slowly starting to work out between the two when they start to take a turn for the worst.

This book deals with two subject’s serial killers and internet trolls, it isn’t hard to believe that there really is a company out there who you can pay to troll someone online and make all their past mistakes comes back and haunt them. Sometimes I wonder if these sorts of people work from the worlds media companies because if you’ve done something bad in your past they will find it. (Noel Clarke, when all his past tweets where found, various other reality tv stars that have said something bad in the past and ended up leaving the show.)

I found it really difficult to find an old tweet of my own the other week… so imagine if your being paid to do this and have the right equipment and know how to do so. Could any of those offices I walk past on a daily basis be hiding something more sinister inside….

Then there is the FBI agent who has been chasing a serial killer for years until he vanished and now he is suddenly back on the radar, there is no way he will let him get away this time…

I really enjoyed this read and would recommend it, because it’ll leave you wanting more and more until you get to the end and then your left wondering how you are going to fill that book void in your life.

Thanks to bookouture for the ARC of this A Widow’s Island in exchange for an honest review.

 

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L.A. Larkin is a crime-thriller author, published by Bookouture. Her latest novel, Widow’s Island, is now available for pre-order and is described as “an absolutely nail-biting crime thriller with a heart-pounding twist.”
She is also the author of Prey, Devour, Thirst, and The Genesis Flaw and she writes a funny dog detective mysteries under the pseudonym of Louisa Bennet.

Lee Child described Widow’s Island as, “Fast and immersive – a really fine thriller”
C.J. Carver described Widow’s Island as, “Dark and menacing, Larkin’s characters are heart-wrenchingly real”
Peter James, “Intrigue in spades”
Marie Claire, “‘Written with pacy cinematic style, this chiller thriller will reel you in” (Thirst)
Good Housekeeping, “Brilliant!” (Devour)
James Phelan, “‘L.A. Larkin is a world-class thriller writer”
Literature Works, “Exciting, original and utterly captivating” (Devour)
Bookseller + Publisher, “Exciting, compulsive reading” (The Genesis Flaw)

You can contact Sarah via

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