Monday, 24 April 2017

Guest Author: Laurie Ellingham @LaurieEllingham #OneEndlessSummer


One Endless Summer was published by HQ on April 20th 2017. It is available for Kindle and in Paperback.

Three best friends.

Three continents.

Three months to live.

How long can you keep a secret?
Three best friends are embarking on an all-expenses paid trip of their dreams. The only catch? Every moment will be documented on film.
Lizzie’s battle with cancer is coming to an end, and now she’s ready to embrace adventure for the very first time. There are only three months, but it is Lizzie’s time to finally start living!
Jaddi is known for her stunning looks, flirtatious attitude and many conquests. But Jaddi has a secret and on this last trip together she needs to decide whether her best friends will ever know the real her.
Samantha has always been the ‘grown up’ of the group, the one with a five year plan. What Lizzie and Jaddi don’t know is that Sam is trapped, and her perfect life isn’t quite what it seems…
As they trek across the globe Lizzie, Jaddi and Samantha must come to terms with loss, love and trusting one another. But will it all be too late…


I am delighted to welcome Laurie Ellingham to the blog today, she has written a great guest post about her journey to publication. 


One Endless Summer

My rollercoaster journey to publication

When I hear Ronan Keating singing: “Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it,” I always wonder if he’s singing about the life of a writer, because for every high we have, a low always follows. From the day-to-day feeling of writing a good or bad chapter, to obsessively checking Amazon rankings, life for us authors really is a rollercoaster.

One Endless Summer (released on 20th April by HQ/Harper Collins) is a journey in every sense of the word. It’s the journey by three best friends to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, and America. It’s also a journey of friendship and love and the unravelling of secrets. Just as there are highs and lows within this story, the journey of its creation was also a rollercoaster ride.

This is my rollercoaster journey of One Endless Summer (so far!)

January 2015 High and Low

A massive high came when I grabbed hold of the idea for One Endless Summer. I knew straight away that this was going to be a very different style of book and I was so excited, but there was also a huge amount of self-doubt. Could I write it? Did I have the skills to convey the emotions I knew this novel would need?  In the end I decided there was only one way to find out...I had to start writing.

April 2015 - High

A literary agent called me (for the first time ever!) to tell me that she liked my writing but didn’t love it enough to sign me. This was for a previous book, and whilst it was a rejection she gave me a crucial piece of advice about my style - don’t be afraid to add depth. She loved the sound of One Endless Summer and encouraged me to send it to her when it was finished.
I danced around the kitchen and sat back down to work.

May - August 2015 Highs and Lows again

In the thick of the novel there were days when I loved every word that poured onto the page. Then there were days when I agonised over a comma. I was desperate for feedback and any kind of validation that I was onto something different, but for that I had to finish.

September 2015 Higher and Higher and rock bottom

I finished the first draft! YAY! There are few better feelings for us writers than writing THE END. I sent a submission back to the agent and she requested the full manuscript (another first!).  Then the no came, along with some extremely harsh feedback which stung for a long time.

October - December 2015 Lower still

Suddenly all my confidence was gone. I tried a few more agents but after more rejections I stopped and went back to the drawing board. I needed editorial help; I needed to know if my gut feeling about this book was right. So I paid a lot of money to have it edited. 

January - March 2016 Climbing again (slowly)

The editorial feedback gave me something to work on. Again, I wasn’t convinced the editor had grasped what I was trying to achieve, but I felt I was making progress. I was also accepted for an agent one-to-one at the London Book Fair, which would be my first ever face-to-face meeting with a literary agent.
In March I plucked up the confidence to submit One Endless Summer directly to a publisher who didn’t require authors to be agented. They wanted the full manuscript. YAY!

April 2016 Lows and scraping the sky

The agent one-to-one did not go well. “The concept of three main characters travelling the world just wouldn’t work,” she said. I was about to give up on the idea of traditional publication and self-publish when I received a call from the publisher I’d submitted it to. They loved it. Really loved it! Would I consider a two-book deal? umm YES!
The rollercoaster didn’t stop there, but at least I had an amazing editor sitting beside me on the ride. Someone who saw what I saw in my novel.
I’m still on the rollercoaster now and face daily highs and lows with the novel I’m writing, but with the added nerves of having One Endless Summer out there for everyone to read. Looking back, my journey from starting my novel to signing with a publisher was a short one, but it came after ten years of writing and submissions. Ten years of riding the rollercoaster.
My advice to anyone else thinking of writing a novel or who has made the leap and started - Hold on tight, persevere. Don’t get off!

Thank you Leah for having me as a guest on Reflections of a Reader. 


About the Author:



Laurie lives in a small village on the Suffolk borders, with her husband, two children, and their cockerpoo, Rodney. When she is not disappearing into the fictional world of her characters, preferably with a large coffee and a Twix (or two) to hand, she is running through the countryside, burning off the chocolate intake and plotting her next chapter.


To find out more visit www.laurie-ellingham.com, or find her on Twitter @LaurieEllingham and Facebook Laurie Ellingham Author

Sunday, 23 April 2017

World Book Night 2017 - Giveaway #WorldBookNight


It is the time of year for World Book Night and in order to celebrate reading and encourage others to do so, I have an exciting giveaway for you. World Book Night is run by The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers.

The official books chosen for World Book Night can be seen below, although I have something a little different for you...

As readers of my blog will know my favourite book last year was The Wacky Man by Lyn G. Farrell, today also happens to be her birthday which is very timely. You can read my review of her book here, and an interview I did with her here as part of my Monday Musing series.

Lyn has very kindly given me five copies of her book to give away and I have added some miscellanous, surprise stationery items. So that is five prizes to be won, I will leave the competition open for a week and then the winners will be selected at random. I will then contact you and get the prizes sent out to the five lucky winners. As it is World Book Night, I have decided to open this competition internationally.

Now about The Wacky Man...

Longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize 2016
'An astonishing tour de force!' -- The Daily Mail
'Book of the Year!' -- Clio Gray, Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction-shortlisted author
A striking debut from the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary
My new shrink asks me, 'What things do you remember about being very young?' It's like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone...
Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised.
As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?




World Book Night Giveaway


Thanks for entering. Good Luck.




Monday, 10 April 2017

Blog Tour: Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl @OrendaBooks #Faithless


 Faithless is published on the 15th April 2017 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour. It is translated by Don Bartlett. 


Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal… 

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again. 

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

My Thoughts:

I jumped at the chance to review this book when asked as I really enjoy nordic noir, particularly on television but haven't really read that much fiction in this genre. I anticipated that I would find it quite hard to get to grips with but the translation by Don Bartlett was seamless and the story flowed effortlessly. 

This book is part of a series but it reads perfectly as a standalone although I for one will definitely be seeking out more from this author. 

Chock full of suspense, this book hooked me in from the first page. Short sharp sentences and brief narratives made this book punchy and kept me turning the pages. Frølich was something of an enigma for me but I found him all the more engaging because of this. 

Frølich is shocked to discover that a body of a woman is somebody he knows, and indeed somebody he had detained previously. She was also the partner of one of his oldest friends. Frølich seems to be embroiled in something and the past may or may not play a part. Alongside this a student goes missing and it isn't clear initially if the two cases are connected. 

There is plenty of suspense, mystery, lies and red herrings wrapped up in a relatively short novel. I loved the old fashioned police work and the setting for this novel and was completely and utterly wrapped in the moment. The norwegian setting worked really well for this story, and it would also work well as one of the television series of the genre I love so much. 

I will most definitely recommend it and look forward to reading more of this authors work in the future. I found is engaging, exciting and original. 




About the Author: 


One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.


Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour:


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Blog Tour: The Blood The Binds by Dave Sivers @DaveSivers


 “Two intriguing cases – one twisted plot.” – Alison Bruce

"Stylish, skilful and packed with suspense.” – Sharon Bolton

SOMETIMES THE PAST IS BEST LEFT ALONE

The quiet Buckinghamshire village of Houghton is reeling. Soon after twelve year old Leanne Richards is killed by a hit and run driver, the two classmates who were with her that night disappear, one by one.

Jade and Becky said they couldn’t identify the car or the driver. Does someone want to make sure it stays that way? Or are other, darker motives in play?

As DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines search for the truth, buried pasts and secret loves begin to reveal themselves. But is time running out for the girls? Or is it already too late?

PRAISE FOR ARCHER AND BAINES:

‘You’ll enjoy this if you liked Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Gillian Hamer's Gold Detectives series and Val McDermid's Wire in the Blood’
- J J Marsh, author of the Beatrice Stubbs novels.


I am delighted to welcome Dave Sivers to the blog today as part of The Blood That Binds blog tour. He has written a great guest post about speaking at the WI. Thanks for stopping by Dave, and good luck with the new book. You can see his post below. 

Not All Jam and Jerusalem
Talking Murder and Mayhem at the WI

Okay, first a confession.

I’m a WIMP.

No, no, that stands for WI Male Partner. It’s what Women’s Institute members – at least those in my little corner of the Chilterns – call their significant others.

It so happens that Buckinghamshire – where I live, and the setting for my Archer and Baines novels – boasts the oldest WI County Federation in the country. And my own local institute, which will be 100 years old in May, is the oldest in Buckinghamshire.

The Bucks County Federation has its own speaking circuit, and it occurred to me last year that – especially as 80% of all book purchasers are apparently female – this was something I ought to get in on. What better way to boost my readership than talking to groups of women all over the county where Archer and Baines fight crime – and getting paid for it, too?

So I applied, with some stuff about me, and a bit of blurb about the talk I proposed to do. There’s quite an approvals process. The relevant committee has to decide to give you an audition, and then you give a cut-down version of the talk – about 20 minutes – to a packed hall of representatives from all over the county, who will be hearing from several hopefuls that day.

I didn’t have a satnav back then, and I’m rubbish at navigation, but AA directions had always served me well. So, allowing myself an extra half hour to get there and find the place, I set off – only to find that the village in question was a sprawling, rural affair, and that there was something hokey with either the directions or the postcode. It took three locals to help me find it and I arrived in a state of panic about five minutes before my slot.

Fortunately, I’m no stranger to public speaking, so I was able to gather myself and present my patter to this sea of ladies, who fortunately laughed in the right places and asked some interesting questions at the end.

I gather the feedback from each audition then has to be discussed by the committee – but in due course I received an email saying I was in!

New speakers go in a directory (for which there’s a small fee) and get advertised in the county newsletter when  they’re first approved. Within a short while of my details appearing there, I started to get contact from various programme arrangers. Not just WI, either. By whatever route, some other organisations also contacted me, including wives’ associations, a senior citizens’ club and, my favourite so far, the Aylesbury Ladies Electrical Association.

The Electrical Association for Women was founded in 1924 to teach women how to use electricity. By the 1930s there were 260 branches throughout the country, including Aylesbury. The association into liquidation in 1986, but the Aylesbury branch, with about 100 enthusiastic members decided to carry on under the new name of Aylesbury Ladies' Electrical Association.

Anyhow, I digress! The upshot is that I have at least one engagement for every month this year, and I’m already receiving approaches for 2018 – again, not just from WIs.

And it’s great! I now have a car with a satnav (affectionately known as Zoe). I load up a box of books, tell Zoe where I’m going, arrive at a village hall or community centre, set the books up and speak when they want me to. The talk is about 40-45 minutes and I speak about my writing journey, the fast-moving changes on the publishing landscape, and the challenges of writing gritty crime fiction in a pleasant rural area. I leave time for questions, and the questions are always great (and show that my audience managed to stay awake).

And they buy books. Mostly the first in the series though. I’ve had to order more copies of The Scars Beneath the Soul, as my stock is almost sold out. There are always a couple of gift purchases for members’ WIMPs, too.

It’s often said that the WI isn’t all Jam and Jerusalem. Well, it’s early days of my bringing them Murder and Mayhem, but so far only one group has sung Jerusalem. It would have been churlish not to join in, but I was very aware of being the only male voice in the room.

As for the jam – there is sometimes cake, and you’ll find a Victoria sponge with jam in on those occasions. Mostly it’s biscuits with the tea though, which is just as well for my waistline.

If you’re an author and you fancy a few nice evenings out, with a warm welcome, a lovely audience, and a chance to earn a small fee and flog some books, I recommend applying to your local WI federation. I’m absolutely loving it!

About the Author:


DAVE SIVERS

Dave’s civil service career took him to exotic places like Rhode Island USA, Cyprus, Brussels, Northern Norway and Sutton Coldfield. Along the way, he moonlighted variously as nightclub bouncer, bookie’s clerk and freelance writer, as well as picking up a first class honours degree from the Open University.
Writing has always been his passion and, since giving up the day job, he has launched a second career as a novelist.
The Scars Beneath the Soul, the first book in his popular Archer and Baines crime series - set in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale - and the follow-up, Dead in Deep Water, both hit the top three in Kindle’s ‘Serial Killers’ chart. The Blood That Binds is the fourth in the series featuring DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines.
Dave has also won prizes and publication with his short fiction, written for newspapers and magazines, and writes material for the amateur stage.
Dave lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with his wife, Chris.


Twitter: @DaveSivers
Facebook: @davesiversauthor1

Goodreads: Dave Sivers

Do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour and if I have tempted you to read this book it is available now from here.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Blog Tour: Stronger Than Skin by Stephen May Stephen_May1 #StrongerThanSkin


Stronger Than Skin was published by Sandstone Press on 16th March 2017. My thanks to them for sending me a copy and for having me on the blog tour.


Mark Chadwick is cycling home from work, eager to get back to his pregnant wife Katy and two children, when he sees the police calling at his house. He knows exactly why they are there and he knows that the world he has carefully constructed over twenty very deliberately uneventful years is about to fall apart. He could lose everything. A story of a toxic love gone wrong, with a setting that moves easily between present day London and 1990s Cambridge, Stronger Than Skin is compulsively readable, combining a gripping narrative with a keen eye for the absurdities of the way we live now.


I am delighted to be able to host the blog tour today, I have an extract for you below, do let me know if it encourages you to read the book. 



Katy has told me not to go back home tonight but I can’t stay in that room either. I have to go somewhere. I have to do something.
I have a shower. I use up an entire bottle of kelp body wash and head off out of the Castle into the night, smelling like the sea.
            I seem to cycle around most of North London, music loud, still trying hard not to think.
There’s a breeze spiteful enough to keep people off the streets, but even so London seems freakishly quiet. Whatever the weather a London night should be raucous, should be mixed martial arts meets burlesque. It should be theatre. London at night should be all pissed up street-poets bobbing restlessly through the streets like discarded plastic bottles down the Thames. But not tonight. Tonight London is pensive, aloof and grown up. Things on her mind.
I stop once at an all-night cafe and the cabbies and the call girls and the foreign students chat together in a way that seems strangely small-talky. The weather, the football, the economy – how since the internet no one wants to pay the proper rate for anything. How we’re all working harder for less, running to stand still. It reminds me of the staffroom. When did London get as banal as this?
Every half hour or so I make a stealthy return through the chill drizzle to the end of Haverstock Road but there is always that bloody police Astra outside the house.
I wonder what they think, the police. Sitting for hours in the sweaty cubicle of the car, waiting to nick a guy who hasn’t had so much as a parking ticket in twenty-odd years. Do they really believe this is a good use of police resources? They should be angry, they should be wanting to chase real criminals: muggers, burglars, rapists, terrorists. If they joined the force because of the hope of making a real difference to how things are, then they’ve been cheated.
Five times I come back, and the last time – at gone midnight – hanging back in the dark, I see our master bedroom light go off. I wait around another twenty minutes to see if the team in the panda car give up, but they seem pretty dug in. Not going anywhere. No getting past them.
I’m going to text Katy a last goodnight, only I realise I’ve left my phone back in the Castle. But at least I’m maybe tired enough now to sleep. Time to go back.
When I get back to the King George Suite I’m going to make the most of the facilities, I’m going to drink the minibar dry. I’m going to dive into the poshcorn. I’m going to warm up with a long bath. If I find myself crying, then a bath is the place to do it.
I wonder how safe it would be to email Katy from the hotel. Best not. It’s not just mobiles they monitor these days. Funny, if a postie tampers with the snail mail then he goes to prison – but the electronic postmen, they seem immune. They get rewarded, even. These days you never know who is reading your stuff. Some googlenaut in Motherfuck Nebraska, some minimum wage Amazon drone hunched over his algorithms in Idaho, some spook in Murmansk, all of them getting a bonus for each piece of intel they extract. People forget: an email is not a private letter. It is a publication. It is the magazine of you carelessly discarded in the waiting room of the world.

I am just outside the Castle about to swipe my key card when the door opens and Jake Skellow hurries out, takes me by the arm in a strong-fingered grip and hustles me into the shadows whispering urgently as he does so.
‘None of my business Mr Chadwick, but the old bill. They’re waiting for you. In your room.’
‘Really?’
‘Yeah, they came about twenty minutes ago. I’ve been looking out for you.’
‘I wonder what that’s all about?’ I say. I’m trying to move my features into a frowning picture of professorial puzzlement. I’m cursing myself for not switching that bloody phone off, or for not throwing it away even. Jake straightens himself to his full height. This pretence has irritated him. He’s lost a bit of respect for me maybe. He’s come out from behind his desk into the cold night to give his old teacher a heads-up. I should be a little more honest. There’s a pause. What do I do now?
‘You know, Jake, I’m really not up to facing questioning by the police. Not tonight.’
Jake smiles. Another quick happy flash of those big white teeth. I have seen this before with kids at school, how they love to turn the tables, love to become the teacher themselves. The way they like to educate you about how the modern world works. About phones and computers. About pop or fashion. About how to escape from justice too it seems, because he has an idea.
‘You could go to my place. Kip the night there. If you wanted.’
Now I remember some staffroom talk about the troubled background Jake comes from. Some gossip about how his family were at war with the authorities, of the Skellows being involved in all sorts of dubious businesses – believable rumours of loan sharking, cigarette smuggling, buying and selling of knock-off goods, the breeding of banned dogs. It’s fair to assume that Jake has not been brought up to respect the forces of law and order. 

About the Author:



Stephen May’s first novel TAG was longlisted for Wales Book of The Year and won the Media Wales Reader’s Prize. His second, Life! Death! Prizes! was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa Novel Award and The Guardian Not The Booker Prize. He also collaborates on performance pieces with theatre-makers, artists, film-makers, musicians and dancers. 

You can find him on Twitter: @Stephen_May1



Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour:



Monday, 20 March 2017

Blog Tour: Boundary by Andrée A. Michaud #Boundary @noexitpress


Published by No Exit Press on the 23rd March, my thanks to them and the author for the review copy and having me on the blog tour. 

Boundary is translated from French by Donald Winkler.

A chilling thriller as compulsive as Emma Cline's The Girls.
It's the Summer of 1967. The sun shines brightly over Boundary Pond, a holiday haven on the US-Canadian border. Families relax in the heat, happy and carefree. Hours tick away to the sound of radios playing 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'. Children run along the beach as the heady smell of barbecues fills the air.

Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan, with their long, tanned legs and silky hair, relish their growing reputation as the red and blonde Lolitas. Life seems idyllic. 
But then Zaza disappears, and the skies begin to cloud over...
My Thoughts:

Boundary is a spectacular book and not entirely what I was expecting. It is indeed a crime novel but with none of the pace of recent thrillers. I found this book though to be equally exhilarating. 

Set against the backdrop of 1967, 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' are our soundtrack. The lazy days of summer are meandering by until a girl, Zaza goes missing. Summer days and carefree attitudes are forever altered by this turn of events. 

Told cleverly from various viewpoints, the story builds over the pages much like the claustrophobic heat of the summer. A cast of individual and often troubled characters piqued my interest. Perhaps there is no such thing as a carefree summer after all, as a melancholy descends and things slowly seem to unravel. 

The author of this book clearly knows the location like the back of her hand. It is so painstakingly and vividly described, It almost felt like I was there and could smell the heat and the woods. The scenes surrounding the location for me anyway are this books greatest strength. Boundary is a character itself, it is full of charm, it is beguiling and mysterious if one could venture into the woods. 

The author writes in an unusual style that I particularly loved. Her writing is almost cinematic as the landscapes and the people were played out before me. The writing is eloquent, beautiful and poetic and belies the terrible crime that has taken place between the pages. This kind of writing excites me, and I will be certainly looking out for her previous work.

I would suggest that this book takes a small amount of investment from the reader, it is not the easiest book to get into initially but wait until you have read it. I feel enriched and rewarded as a reader from the experience.






I am thrilled that I also have a guest post on how this story came about...

Andrée A. Michaud, Boundary


How the idea of Boundary came to me

The idea of Boundary came to me on an August night, when the air, filled with the scent of rain, reminded me of the smells of Bondrée, a little lake surrounded by woods, at the border of the United States, where my father used to take me when I was just a little girl.
I was living near the St. Laurent River for the summer in the cottage of Gabrielle Roy, a famous Canadian writer, where I’d been lucky enough to have taken a writer’s residency. I was sitting on the veranda, watching the foxes and the raccoons leaving the woods in the dark, when a scent of ancient rain, back from my childhood, came through the screens, carried by the wind. This scent was so intense that all my memories of Bondrée came back in a few minutes. At that very moment, I knew I had the material for my next novel and that it would take place there, in that wonderful and mysterious wilderness, at the exact same moment that I myself had discovered it: the Sixties.
I let the images of Bondrée surround me: the rain wet my clothes, and I saw a man, poorly dressed, his hair long and dirty, who was silently following the foxes. Peter Landry was born.
The next morning, I sat at my desk – which was in fact Gabrielle Roy’s desk – and the story spread out in Landry’s wake: cottages appeared around the lake, characters appeared in the cottages, traps appeared in the woods, and a young girl named Zaza Mulligan, loudly singing her drunken dreams, entered the woods…

Boundary started like this, from the lightly salty smells of a river to those of a forest lake.

About the Author:
Andrée A Michaud is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction (Le Ravissement in 2001 and Bondrée in 2014) and the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Prix Saint-Pacôme for best crime novel forBondrée, as well as the 2006 Prix Ringuet for Mirror Lake (adapted for the big screen in 2013). As she has done since her very first novel, Michaud fashions an eminently personal work that never ceases to garner praise from critics and avid mystery readers alike. In 2010, her thriller Lazy Bird, set to the rhythms of jazz, was published by Les Éditions du Seuil in France, as part of the Point Noir Collection.
Donald Winkler is a Canadian Documentary maker and French-to-English literary translator. He won the Canada's Governor General's Award for French to English translation in 1994, 2011 and 2013.
Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour: 




Monday, 13 March 2017

Blog Tour: Deadly Game by Matt Johnson #DeadlyGame @Matt_Johnson_UK


Published by Orenda in paperback on 15th March 2017. It is available in e book now. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy and having me on the blog tour.

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. 

Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all … 

Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate. Deadly Game is a stunning, terrifying and eye-opening thriller from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.


I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Deadly Game today, although I haven't read the first book Wicked Game I was well of the buzz it was creating on social media. I hadn't planned on reading Deadly Game yet as I have a thing about reading in order but I picked it up yesterday for a bit of background for today. I am already two thirds through and hooked in, review will follow later this week. 

For now I hand over to Matt Johnson who has written a fabulous guest post about reviews and the positives and negatives of social media for an author. Thanks so much Matt for stopping by...




As a newly published author, getting noticed amongst the huge pool of talent that exists in the social media world is an incredible challenge. If there were an easy way, we would all be doing it.
Only yesterday, I read a tweet from an independent author asking for people to do an 'exchange review' with him. What he was offering was a 'quid pro quo', 'you scratch my back...' type arrangement.  I've had a few similar requests myself, normally by DM, and I always decline. It was the first time I had seen an author being so public about courting such a favour.
I was so tempted to contact him and tell him not to get into that ball-game, but then decided that it was, really, none of my business. If he wants to, that's up to him, but it's not an avenue I would ever go down.
My personal feeling is that any means to secure reviews other than through genuine readers is fraught with danger. Sure, you may get a few lovely things said about your book, but it's not genuine feedback is it? It's not going to give you any idea as to whether your writing actually appeals to readers and, surely, that is the purpose of a review?
Some authors argue that reviews are a way of getting noticed, an aid to securing that elusive book deal or boosting sales.  I guess that the argument is that publishing editors, on seeing a large number of excellent reviews on a book will then be tempted to take a look at it. That assumes, of course, that editors don't know how the review system can be manipulated, that they don't hear that companies are selling 5* reviews and that authors do review exchanges to boost their ratings. The truth is, of course, that they do, and they look at reviews with a very sceptical eye, and so, of course, do the readers.
And what happens after the initial rush of 5* reviews? What happens when genuine reviewers start posting what they think of your work? You can be very sure that if they feel they have been conned that they will say so. So, if your bought or exchange reviews create a false impression of the standard of your work, then you'd best be prepared for the backlash.
The same applies to followers on twitter and 'likes' on facebook. I have a healthy 'followship, not outstanding, but each and every one of my followers is a genuine person… I think! I tend to followback and also follow readers to see what books they are talking about. It also enables me to talk to readers, secure feedback and see if my own work is heading in the right direction.
Like many, I have had my share of unwanted messages offering me opportunities to buy new followers. I can understand why a struggling author might be tempted, it can create an artificial appearance of status which may encourage genuine twitter users to take an interest in you. I was looking at the followship of a well-known author recently who is one of the top in my chosen genre. I saw that most of his original followers were 'bots', so he too had fallen for the offer.  Given that this same author has a name for creating fake profiles to promote his own work and attack others, I had to ask myself, is he right? Is this vanity, or is it good marketing? Not an easy question to answer. Books are a business after all.
Just yesterday I received this unsolicited email...
Hello Matt

I am called  Harry. I also specialise in  Facebook and Twitter management helping to generate more customers  and also give your Twitter page  the wow factor.
 Our daily newsletter consists of nearly 500,000 people whom have all completed a lifestyle survey , so we have a ideal  indication of what interests our customers . When someone submits an order through us unlike most of our competitors, We then submit your link through our newsletter and in turn people then like your page. We do not use robots or fake likes.
 Prices from :-
£50 for 2,000 Facebook Likes
£50 for 6,000 Instagram followers
£45 for 7,000 Twitter followers
£50 for 30,000 YouTube Views
If a new visitor  logs on to your Facebook page  and can see that you have 7000 likes compared to your competition with just 350 likes, they tend to side with you even without considering price differences, as they are added  with confidence. This will also increase your position  through Facebook and start to drive organic  traffic through your page and through google.
We always have special offers, currently we have buy 20,000 Facebook likes for £170 get 5,000 Free Twitter followers Samples are available for serious buyers.
Many Thanks,
 Harry

Well, Harry. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is a very definite, no.
About the Author


 Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. 

You can find out more: www.mattjohnsonauthor.com
Twitter: @Matt_Johnson_UK


Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour:



Saturday, 11 March 2017

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel #ManipulatedLives @HALeuschel


This book was published independently via the Createspace Platform and is available to buy via Amazon now. My thanks to the Author for providing a review copy. 

Five stories – Five Lives. 

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 

In this collection of short novellas you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

My Thoughts: 

As the title suggests this book is about people whose lives have been manipulated by others, well in actual fact it is a series of novellas or short stories. Each story centres on a manipulator and how their individual behaviour effects themselves and those around them.

The five stories are called:

1. The Narcissist
2. Tess and Tattoos
3. The Spell
4. Runaway Girl
5. My Perfect Child

They are of varying lengths and I found them all to be a bit unsettling and something of a challenge. A challenge in that they made me think and they made me ponder what makes a person a manipulator. They are all well written and most were not what I had expected at all. 

By definition a manipulator is someone who controls or influences another in an unscrupulous manner, and a person that needs to have control. Therefore it becomes easy to see that manipulators can come from all walks of life. In this case we read about an old man on his deathbed, a lady who on the surface is lonely, a single dad trying to make ends meet whilst embarking on a new relationship, a young girl that wants to leave home and be independent, and a mother who would do anything for her son.

What became authentic and clear in this writing is that the lines are never entirely black and white. Sometimes the lines blurred between who was the 'victim' and who was the 'manipulator'. The story I found most engaging in this regard was My Perfect Child. At what age do we hold a person responsible for their behaviour and therefore this lead me to believe anyway that some behaviours must be learnt. 

This author has the capability to challenge, engage, and shock with her writing. It is almost as if she has taken a highlighter pen and signposted to me behaviour that is all around. I was somehow drawn into the stories, whilst knowing these sorts of people exist quite frequently and so the stories are not far fetched at all.

I rushed through reading some of the stories, as was my haste to reach the conclusion and sometimes these were not at all what I had anticipated. I would have liked to have found out more about some of the characters but I think this is a positive as it shows how invested I was in the writing. 

All in all I felt that this was a well constructed set of stories that have left me with much to think about, the psychological bits have twisted my brain and left me wanting to read more. I would look forward to see what this writer comes up with in the future.



About the Author:


Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

You can find her on Twitter: @HALeuschel