Friday, 23 June 2017

Woman of the Hour by Jane Lythell

Woman of the Hour
By Jane Lythell
Published by Head of Zeus (3 November 2016)

Publisher's description
Meet Liz Lyon: respected TV producer, stressed-out executive, guilty single mother. 
StoryWorld is the nation's favourite morning show, and producer Liz Lyon wants to keep it that way. Her job is to turn real-life stories into thrilling TV – and keep a lid on the scandals and backbiting that happen off-stage. 
But then simmering tensions erupt at the station, trapping Liz in a game of one-upmanship where she doesn't know the rules. As the power struggle intensifies, can Liz keep her cool and keep her job? Does she even want to? 

My verdict
Woman of the Hour is an intense fictional look at what goes on behind the scenes in the pressurised world of live morning TV. It's certainly not as glamorous as people are often led to believe.

In places, Woman of the Hour reads more like memoir than fiction, providing an honest and realistic account. Jane Lythell clearly knows her subject, having worked in TV for years, and this shines through in her writing with so much detail described - in terms of setting, daily lives and people's rising emotions. It was fascinating reading, filled with secrets, lies, ambition and power. Some things made me laugh, others brought tears to my eyes - and then there was some events that made me cringe. There are a wide range of characters, many with big egos and others that I couldn't help but hate.

The chapters alternate between Liz's work life and her home life, showing how she juggles the two (often struggling to do so) and how each impacts upon the other, shaping her responses to people and events. This book explores whether working women really can have it all - being good mothers while rising in their careers. It also looks at the trials and tribulations of single motherhood and dealing with feisty teenagers.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the author.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Angela Marsons

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share her BEST OF CRIME ... 

My favourite crime author would have to be Val McDermid, especially the Tony Hill series of books. I could read them over and over again. I love main characters who are just a bit ‘off’ and strange. I enjoy the different threads and storylines running throughout her books/ 

My favourite film is A Few Good Men – may be a bit dated now but the tension throughout that film gets me every time. I find it a good lesson in taut writing. Not one scene in that film is wasted and is used to move the story forward. I also like that the Aaron Sorkin resisted the temptation to include a romance for the sake of it. The film didn’t need it. 

My favourite TV drama would be Rebus. I absolutely love the stories and the drama and the character of Rebus himself. Can I also shout out to Vera as well. She reminds me of Kim Stone in twenty years time.

My all time favourite would be Hannibal Lecter. Too scary! His complete lack of conscience is fascinating and repulsive at the same time.

Kathy Mallory from the Carol O’Connell novels.  Like Tony Hill she is a bit off. She is borderline sociopath which makes for compelling reading as you never quite understand her or know her as well as you would like to.

Teeth. Hannibal Lecter. A true lesson in how just one part of your body should not be underestimated.

Definitely the scene in Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal Lecter has escaped from his cage and has taken out his guards. The vicious ruthlessness of the attack shocks me every single time.

It has to be Wikipedia. I spend hours on that site. I begin with researching one particular subject and then see something else that intrigues me and before I know it the morning has gone.

Don’t show anyone your first draft. Gives you the freedom to write whatever you want without inhibitions as you know you can take it out before anyone else gets to see it. I always view the first draft as my sandpit and my time to bond with the story and the characters.

Crisps, crisps and a few more crisps.

Angela Marsons is the author of the Amazon Bestselling DI Kim Stone series - Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines and Dead Souls and her books have sold more than 2 million in 2 years.
She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their cheeky Golden Retriever and a swearing parrot.
She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read "Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people's".
After years of writing relationship based stories (The Forgotten Woman and Dear Mother) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.
She is signed to for a total of 16 books in the Kim Stone series and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Her last two books - Blood Lines and Dead Souls - reached the #1 spot on Amazon on pre-orders alone.

Find Angela Marsons on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @WriteAngie


Publisher's description
When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.
As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.
Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found. 
But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy - and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

Dead Souls was published by Bookouture on 28 April 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Mayfly by James Hazel - Blog Tour

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Mayfly by James Hazel. The Mayfly is published by Zaffre on 15 June 2017.

The Mayfly
By James Hazel
Published by Zaffre (15 June 2017)

Publisher's description
A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

When lawyer Charlie Priest is attacked in his own home by a man searching for information he claims Priest has, he is drawn into a web of corruption that has its roots in the last desperate days of World War Two. 

When his attacker is found murdered the next day, Priest becomes a suspect and the only way to clear his name is to find out about the mysterious House of Mayfly - a secret society that people will kill for. 

As Priest races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?  

My verdict
The Mayfly is a fast-paced crime thriller. My interest was piqued from beginning to end and I found myself racing through the final chapters, with no idea how the jigsaw pieces would slot into place.

The author has clearly done his research and developed a multilayered and complex plot. But knowing a lot about Holocaust, I would have liked a few more flashbacks to convey the horrors of that time - particularly conditions in the camp and the experimentation that was at the heart of the book's story. There was some of this in the early chapters, but I felt more background would have helped to explain further the whole 'how and why' of the plot (i.e. the development of the secret society).

Charlie Priest is intriguing, quirky and likeable, clearly shaped by events in his past (including his serial killer brother), plus there were some other great memorable characters too. Although the book covers serious issues, there were a few well-placed lighter moments to break up the darkness.

Overall, The Mayfly was an enjoyable read - an impressive debut and a great start to a new series. Looking forward to the next Charlie Priest book to see how the characters, and series, develop.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher - Blog Tour

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for All the Good Things by Clare Fisher. All the Good Things was published by Penguin on the 1st June 2017.

Read my review ...

All the Good Things
By Clare Fisher
Published by Penguin (1 June 2017)

Publisher's description
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone - even a 100% bad person - deserve a chance to be good?

My verdict
All the Good Things is a well-written book that highlights thought-provoking issues, particularly those surrounding motherhood.

Beth has done something bad, really bad, which is why she's in prison. She's now ready to give up on life. But her counsellor tells her to write down all the good things that have happened to her over the years, to prove that she's still good deep inside.

All the Good Things isn't about the bad thing that Beth did. It's not about why she's being punished for it either. It's about why the bad thing happened and what led to it. This story of Bethany's life took me on an emotional rollercoaster and made me cry several times. It addressed heartbreaking social issues, and the consequences of NHS cuts - a girl let down by the system, left on her own with serious repercussions.

The book is very moving and felt very real. While it isn't necessarily a book to 'enjoy' due to the subject matter, it's certainly one that leaves a lasting impression.

Highly recommended!

I received an Advance Reader Copy.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Graham Minett

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share his BEST OF CRIME ... 

I first got into crime through the obvious US authors such as Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, James Ellroy. Lately I’ve found new US favourites including John Hart, Neely Tucker, Ace Atkins and especially John Sandford. How he turns out two a year of such quality is beyond me. Over here my favourites would be Ian Rankin, PD James, Graham Hurley and I’m becoming more than a little enthusiastic about David Mark. 

Se7en and The Usual Suspects take some beating. The original version of Sleuth with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine takes some beating too. 

So many. Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos for the US. Line of Duty, Prime Suspect, Between The Lines, Happy Valley and The Missing over here. The Bridge, Engrenages (Spiral), Braquo and The Killing from Europe. I’ll have missed out some excellent ones though. 

Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford in Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me. Genius.

In no particular order:
  • Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport (John Sandford)
  • Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly)
  • John Rebus (Ian Rankin)
  • Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke)
  • Aector McAvoy (David Mark)
  • Elvis Cole and Joe Pike (Robert Crais)
  • Quinn Colson (Ace Atkins)
  • Kurt Wallander (Henning Mankell) 

To be honest, I’m not really interested in murder weapons. It’s more the psychology behind it that gets my attention .

A bit of a cheat here, because it’s not an actual death scene but that final shot in Se7en took my breath away when I first saw it and even now, after several times, I find the build up to the moment when Brad Pitt opens the package almost unbearably tense, especially when Morgan Freeman works out what’s going to be in there. If you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean.

NHS Choices – if I can’t find what I need for my characters I can always check I’m doing OK personally.

  • Act out your dialogue and check how authentic it sounds
  • Respect the intelligence of the reader
  • Put the reader on the street corner alongside your characters – what can they hear, smell, feel?
  • Listen to as much advice as you can but only act on it if you’re convinced it’s right for you

  • Walnuts
  • Banana
  • Cereal bar
  • Small pack of raisins
  • Can of diet coke/pepsi

Every morning at 11
Well, wouldn’t do for us all to be the same, would it? 

Graham Minett was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and lived there for 18 years before studying for a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge.
He taught for several years, first in Cheltenham and then in West Sussex before opting to go part-time and start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Completing the course in 2008, he gained a distinction for the dissertation under the guidance of novelist, Alison Macleod and almost immediately won the Segora Short Story Competition with On the Way Out.
Other awards soon followed, most notably his success in the 2010 Chapter One novel competition with what would eventually become the opening pages of his debut novel. He was signed up by Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, who managed to secure a two-book deal with twenty7, the digital-first adult fiction imprint of Bonnier Publishing. The Hidden Legacy was published in eBook in November 2015 and paperback in August 2016. Lie in Wait was published as an ebook in August 20116 and paperback in March 2017. The One That Got Away will be published as eBook in November 2017.

Find Graham Minett on his website, FB page and on Twitter - @GJMinett


Publisher's description
A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect...  
Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back - and what's more, it seems she never even made it inside.
When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called - and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit - not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

Owen's always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems - least of all Owen Hall...

Lie In Wait was published in paperback by Zaffre in November 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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Friday, 16 June 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Ruth Dugdall

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share her BEST OF CRIME ... 

I think Stephen King is a force to be reckoned with. He’s a diverse writer, and though most people would associate him with the supernatural genre, Misery has to be one of the most unsettling and finest crime novels of all time. He’s prolific and he’s fantastic at tension and pace. What I also love is that he’s a writer for the people, a true democratic choice.  

The Talented Mr Ripley. Oh my goodness, no matter how many times I see that film I never stop wanting it to end differently. The narrative is so clever it has us rooting for Tom, because he’s presented as the underdog, and each murder is beyond his control. It’s star-studded, with Matt Damon, Jude Law and Seymour Hoffman and Gwyneth Paltrow, and they are all first rate. If you haven’t seen it you’re in for a treat! 

I really loved River, especially the melancholic idea that the protagonist detective works with his partner, who is dead, in his head. There’s a scene where he’s singling in a Karaoke bar, alone, but imagining they’re together. Truly heartbreaking.

Humbert Humbert is such a clever killer that he almost fools us of his innocence. (His interest in Lolita is about to be exposed by her mother when she is `accidently` run over). In the narrative, told entirely from Humbert’s point of view, we are encouraged to see him not as a predatory paedophile but as a protective figure. My old copy of this book described it as a `romance` which I think sums up how effective Nabokov was in portraying this Saville-like monster.   

Clarice Starling, because she’s vulnerable but fierce, a compelling combination. Her motivation is to stop the lambs screaming, something I identify with, as my own reason for working with criminals was to understand behaviour that frightens me. It’s also a large part of why I write in the crime genre.

The corkscrew at the end of Girl On a Train takes some beating.

There’s a scene in Anne Cleeve`s book, Out of a Clear Blue Sky, where the mother finds her dead son dead, naked in a bath, surrounded by flowers. A powerful image.

There are some threads on Reddit, crime discussions with people obsessed with certain cases, that I find useful. 

Keep buggering on!

I drink constantly, like a camel. I try to stick with lime and soda until it’s evening, then I love a glass of cremant. When I lived in Luxembourg alcohol was ubiquitous (women drank after doing their weekly shop in bars at the mall) but returning to UK I reverted back to the six o clock rule. 

Ruth is a crime writer whose novels are strongly influenced by her previous career as a probation officer. Her books feature strong female leads and are based on, or inspired by, real crimes. 

Find Ruth Dugdall on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @RuthDugdall


Publisher's description
Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.
Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.
Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself. 

My Sister and Other Liars was published by Thomas & Mercer on 1 May 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.