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Friday, June 22, 2018

BLOG TOUR SPOTLIGHT: The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts @robertselaine11 @aria_fiction

The Foyles Bookshop
by Elaine Roberts

Spotlighting this adorable first-in-a-series historical fiction/romance book by Elaine Roberts!

Continue below to learn about the book, the author and read a guest post from Elaine about how she started writing.

Publisher:  Aria Fiction
Publish Date:  June 1, 2018

Kindle Edition
Series:  The Foyles Girls #1
Genres:  Historical Fiction, Romance

London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London’s renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again…

Alice has always been the ‘sensible’ one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father's wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it's a dream come true. But with the country at war, Alice’s happy world is shattered in an instant.

Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can’t help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline…

Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn’t be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood - a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war.

Perfect for fans of Elaine Everest, Daisy Styles and Rosie Hendry.

About the Author:

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.



Guest Post from the Author

English wasn’t my strongest subject at school; all the verbs, adverbs, nouns, pronouns and adjectives just confused me. Maths and creative lessons were more my thing, yet I have written for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t novel writing, but I kept a journal. All my private thoughts would be laid bare on the page, whether it was about fancying someone, or a family problem. It was almost therapeutic, especially as I was a very shy child. My father was in the army and, as a child, it felt we were constantly on the move. I can hear my mother now, telling me to go out and play instead of always having my head stuck in a book, but the characters were my friends and I’d get lost in their adventures.

As I grew older, my journals grew longer and sometimes took the form of letters, which no one ever saw. So with all my reading and personal writing, you’d think writing a novel would be a piece of cake, but oh no. When I joined The Write Place Creative Writing Class, I was already in the middle of writing a novel. People often say write about what you know, so I did and there were definitely elements in the story that came from my own life. Over the weeks and months of attending the class, I discovered I never mentioned any clothing my characters wore or about them moving around, for example plumping up the cushions or making a cup of tea. I’m not even going to mention the lack of the five senses - smell, sound, sight, taste, and touch. I clearly had a lot to learn, and it is something we still joke about now.

Five years have passed since then, and I have hopefully learnt a lot.

I was encouraged to write short stories for magazines, which I didn’t want to do. I stubbornly wanted to focus on the novel. However, fear of the class tutor had me writing them and sending them out. I was thrilled and dancing around my front room when I sold my first one at the beginning of 2013 and it turned out to be the first of many. Learning to face my fear was the best thing I could have done, because it made me look at word choices and keep to a word count. It is still something I practice today.

In the beginning, my novels were all contemporary, but then I decided to move out of my comfort zone and into historical. I have a love of the Victorian era, so I decided to start there. I loved writing it and one day I hope to see it in print, but it needs some minor changes before that can happen. After attending the Historical Novelist Society Conference, and on advice received, I decided to move my family forward a generation to 1914. The young girl in the Victorian novel is now Alice’s mother in The Foyles Bookshop Girls. The girls are going to be in three books together, helping each other through the war. I have grown very attached to my make-believe family and friends and they feel very real to me.

Alice, Victoria and Molly all work in Foyles Bookshop and although they come from very different backgrounds, their friendships are what carry them through their trials and tribulations. Alice is the main character in The Foyles Bookshop Girls and is the eldest daughter of four children. She is a quiet, sensible and responsible person and tries to guide her sister, Lily, by telling her to be careful what she wishes for. The war changes everything for the girls and there lives will never be the same again.

I have to pinch myself from time to time, because I’m living my dream job. I love to write and to know that someone who doesn’t know me actually wants to read my work is absolutely thrilling. What this tells me is that no dream is impossible, if I work hard and commit to it. What I’d love is to walk into a shop and see my books on the shelves. I want my mother to be able to see it and touch it and be proud of my achievements. It’s all about baby steps and enjoying where I am, with one eye on the next stage of what I’m hoping will be a long writing career.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: Crusader by Joel Galloway @smithpublicity

by Joel Galloway

Spotlighting this DEBUT NOVEL from Joel Galloway!
Learn more about this thriller about the Mexican cartel below.

The realities of Mexican drug cartels are not for the faint of heart, and neither is a new thriller from stunning debut talent Joel Galloway. CRUSADER follows a former DEA Agent who has been captured, tortured, and left for dead in the Mexican wilderness. He is discovered and brought to a monastery where he is healed by a polymath Catholic priest. Eventually the protagonist becomes devoted to the priest’s cause. He is transformed into a holy warrior, reminiscent of the Knights Templars, and will stop at nothing in his fight against the cartels to protect the innocent.
            The tale is set against the backdrop of the original, monolithic Mexican drug cartel which has splintered into several warring factions. An ancient evil religion fuels the ambitions of the most powerful cartel leaders, hell-bent on utter destruction. As it fights its descent into darkness, the country desperately searches for heroes.

            The violence that has occurred in Mexico is shocking and disturbing,” Galloway says. “But it happened and is happening. Rather than turn a blind eye, people should be aware of it. Thus, I wanted to vividly illustrate some of this to the reader.”

Joel Galloway was raised in the mountains of Idaho where he developed a passion for hunting, fishing, and athletics. For close to a decade he lived on the U.S./Mexico border as a missionary and student, eventually graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He’s followed the so-called Mexican drug wars with fascination and extreme concern, the subject eventually becoming the impetus for this novel. He and his family currently live in Northern Virginia where he works as a government contractor, assisting in the defense of the United States. This is his first novel.

REVIEW: Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley @atriabooks @netgalley @nabenruthnum

Find You In The Dark
by Nathan Ripley

Thanks so much to Atria Books and NetGalley for this copy!
An intriguing debut novel - a mystery/thriller that slowly burns....

Publisher:  Atria Books
Publish Date:  June 19, 2018
368 Pages
Genres:  Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

In this chilling and disquieting debut thriller perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’s Hidden Bodies and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, a family man with a habit of digging up the past catches the attention of a serial killer who wants anything but his secrets uncovered.

For years, unbeknownst to his wife and teenage daughter, Martin Reese has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and obsessively studying them, using them as guides to find the missing bodies of victims. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees the situation differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case‑closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source she calls the Finder, especially since he keeps leading the police right to the bodies. Even if he isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, how can she be sure he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his wife’s sister. But when he arrives at the site, he finds more than just bones. There’s a freshly killed body—a young and missing Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn left the corpses of his victims…and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work. And when a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder.

Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape, he may have to go deeper into the killer’s dark world than he ever thought… 

My Review:

This is a slow burn of a thriller featuring Martin - a man who clearly loves his family but you're never sure if he's on the right side of things entirely.  A successful man who was able to stop working, have tons of money to put towards his own research of these dead bodies while consistently gone from his family was quite interesting.  He had quite the understanding, yet frustrated wife and a precocious daughter, Kylie, that I truly found to be the highlight of this book.  My favorite line by her: "Fuck You, Dad."  Haha - my sentiments exactly, girl!

Here's what I loved about this book - a man going against the law to try and do some good.  Using his family and his wife's peace of mind as the excuse to do what he does.  While I do believe this was mostly the case, you know anyone with this type of obsession and the wherewithal to get things done... there's something lying underneath.  This is what kept me reading.

What I didn't particularly care about was the extremely slow burn... which ramps up at the end to an almost too fast of a conclusion that was wrapped up a bit too neatly for my taste.  Almost.  The last 20% certainly did keep my attention and to be honest, I started to like Martin a little bit more towards the end.

A solid thriller that I did feel was worth getting through the slow burn for.  I can see good things coming from this author.  While this is touted as a debut thriller, we know this is a pseudonym with other published works under both names.  I'm definitely curious where he goes from here.


SPOTLIGHT: Project Nighlight by Gianinna Koszegi

Project Nighlight
by Gianinna Koszegi

Do you like dystopian novels?  Then take a look at Gianinna Koszegi's novel!
First in a series, this is available NOW!


What does it mean to be chosen?

Everything is normal. Work. Family. Friends. School. Until one day, it isn't. It's as if a power button that control the entire world has been pushed. Blaize Henderson is now part of a group, called the Chosen 13, all of them handpicked by the very beings that pushed this button. What is she chosen for? Well, Earth’s survival. Now, she has no choice but to lead the rest of the chosen through a perilous journey that they might not make it back from... Should she trust the abilities they gave her? Her head? Her gut? Her heart? All she knows is if they don't make it back and give their new visitors the answer they want to hear, Earth will never be the same again…

About the author: 

Gianinna Koszegi (1998-) was born in, and grew up in the cactus-filled deserts of Arizona, despite being a full-blooded Hungarian. Gianinna has wanted to be a professional author since the age of nine and she can't remember a time when she wasn't writing or reading something. At the age of fifteen, she sat down and decided to make her dream come true and started writing her first book. Now, at the age of nineteen, she has two published works under her name and because of her love for the English language, she is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing.

-Instagram: @author.gianinna
-Tumblr: @authorkintsukuroi

#allthebookreviews: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn @ambertamblyn @harperperennial

Any Man
by Amber Tamblyn

Thank you so much to Harper Perennial for this intense, eye opening and powerful book.

Jessica and I both gave this 5 full stars - continue below to get our full thoughts.

Publisher:  Harper Perennial
Publish Date: June 26, 2018
288 pages
Genre:  Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

In her blazingly original and unforgettable debut novel Any Man, Amber Tamblyn brings to startling life a specter of sexual violence in the shadowy form of Maude, a female serial rapist who preys on men.

In this electric and provocative debut novel, Tamblyn blends genres of poetry, prose, and elements of suspense to give shape to the shocking narratives of victims of sexual violence, mapping the destructive ways in which our society perpetuates rape culture.

A violent serial rapist is on the loose, who goes by the name Maude. She hunts for men at bars, online, at home— the place doesn’t matter, neither does the man. Her victims then must live the aftermath of their assault in the form of doubt from the police, feelings of shame alienation from their friends and family and the haunting of a horrible woman who becomes the phantom on which society projects its greatest fears, fascinations and even misogyny. All the while the police are without leads and the media hound the victims, publicly dissecting the details of their attack.
What is extraordinary is how as years pass these men learn to heal, by banding together and finding a space to raise their voices. Told in alternating viewpoints signature to each voice and experience of the victim, these pages crackle with emotion, ranging from horror to breathtaking empathy.

As bold as it is timely, Any Man paints a searing portrait of survival and is a tribute to those who have lived through the nightmare of sexual assault.

My Review:

You ever start reading a book and know immediately that it was going to be something different than what you've ever read before?  That you know you're going to get gut punched and deepen that line between your eyes from the intense face you make as you turn each page?  Yeah, that's what happened here.

Amber Tamblyn uses a variety of writing styles here to bring you a story that's not about the victimizer, but about the victims.  She takes us deep into their minds in the aftermath of their horrible incidents and we see how they try to feel whole again.  We are taken into their random thoughts...  how these situations occur and then she takes us further in showing how society and the media help to perpetuate the rape culture in America.  All of this is done in a various styles: poetry, tweets, chat boxes, interviews, journal entries, emails.... and every single one of these hits you right in the solar plexus.  

We hear ALL the time how a woman shouldn't have worn that short skirt or dressed herself up like that if she didn't want the attention.  How she was just asking for it.  In this novel, we hear about how he shouldn't have gotten drunk at the bar while his wife was at home with the kids.  What was he thinking?  STOP VICTIMIZING THE VICTIMS FURTHER.  How many of you think men CAN'T get raped? Why do we, as a society, blame the victim, use them as the story of the day and then toss them aside when something more horrifying comes alone?

This book puts you into the mind of the survivors.  How they will have to live with this for the rest of their lives and how by using each other as a support group, you can eventually, hopefully, more forward.  I went through a roller coaster of emotions as I read this.  It hit me HARD and left quite the imprint.

Equally horrifying, eye opening and heart breaking, this book is INTENSE.  Tamblyn clearly knows how to write and this debut will leave you reeling.  This won't be an easy read for some readers, but it's a necessary one.


Jessica's Review:

I'll start out by saying that this is a very intense read. This will not be for everyone because it depicts the physical, mental, and emotional aftermath of rape and sexual assault. ANY MAN by Amber Tamblyn is one that I definitely won't be forgetting any time soon, and not just because of the topic. Her writing style is so unique and original, while it did take a chapter or two to get used to, I absolutely loved it.
We follow the stories of 5 men that all have one thing in common - they all fell victim to the same female rapist. This book takes a look into rape culture and how the public sees and treats the victims of these horrible crimes. I will say that this is the first book to actually get some kind of emotional reaction out of me. I got so frustrated with a few parts and things that people were saying in response to these crimes, but I'll leave that for you to read!
This was told through the eyes of each character, journal entries, transcripts, poetry, and online chats (mainly OkCupid and Twitter). The chapters aren't clearly marked by the names of the characters, but they each have such strong voices and stories that it is very easy to know who is the narrator.
ANY MAN is emotionally raw, harsh, and unapologetic. While the attacks are the focus of the story, we also get to see how these men begin to overcome these terrible crimes. They are survivors and find ways to cope and help each other. I hope to see more fiction in the future from Amber Tamblyn and can't wait to hear what others think of this one. Definitely an engrossing and intense read that you won't quickly forget about.
I give this 5/5 stars!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

REVIEW: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce @grandcentralpub @harriet_tyce

Blood Orange
by Harriet Tyce

Thanks so much to Grand Central Publishing for this FANTASTIC read!!
Put this on your radar for February 2019 - you really don't want to miss this!

Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date:  February 19, 2019
352 Pages
Genres:  Crime Fiction, Suspense

An electrifying debut suspense novel for fans of Paula Hawkins, A.J. Finn, Jessica Knoll, B.A. Paris, or Shari Lapena.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison, a young lawyer, has just been given her first murder case to defend. Her new client is a meek housewife who doesn't deny that she stabbed her husband. In fact, she's desperate to plead guilty. But the deeper Alison digs into her story, the more she suspects that something is gravely amiss.

Get your hands off me.And in Alison's own life, too, all is not as it seems. With a doting husband, an adorable daughter, and a blossoming career, she has everything she could want, right? But Alison is deeply entangled in a toxic affair with her senior legal partner--a man whose influence helped land her the murder case but whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle--and unable to extricate herself. She's in way over her head. And as the murder case escalates, she can't stop her personal life from spinning further and further out of control.

I'm watching you. I know what you're doing.
But someone knows Alison's secret. Someone who wants to make Alison pay for what she's done, and who won't stop until she's lost everything....

A deeply disturbing, toxic and compelling novel that explores the power of fear and desire, jealousy and betrayal, love and hate, BLOOD ORANGE introduces a fresh and distinctive new voice in psychological suspense.

My Review:

Wow!! I absolutely LOVED this book!  I did NOT want to put this down.  

Alison is as flawed a character as you can probably get.  Success lawyer with a husband and daughter at home - yet in an illicit affair with a man she can't stop thinking about.  Her first murder case that has her on edge and wondering what her client is hiding.  Soon it all starts coming down.  You know what they say, when it rains, it pours... and Alison is about to get DRENCHED.

Here's the thing.  I love thrillers and crime fiction and I'm sure you know that if you've been following me at all.  After a certain point, a lot of stories start to sound the same, or the pacing isn't quite what I prefer because I've just read SO MANY OF THEM.  If you ask a lot of thriller reviewers, you'll see that they agree.  This is typically why I like to sprinkle other genre books in between these reads to refresh my brain for a bit.  But then I run into a book like this and I jump for joy, scream from the mountains, do my Snoopy dance and thank the publishing gods for finding Harriet Tyce and Blood Orange.

While the book does talk about the murder case, the main storyline is Alison and her issues and I absolutely LOVE that!  I was so in tuned with everything.  I wanted to know about the murder case, I wanted to know what was going to happen to Alison.  I felt for her and wanted to slap her all at the same time.  I loved the little hints that led you in the wrong direction and while I did figure out one twist, the other (MAIN) one, I did NOT.  

I could gush about this one all day.  Basically it's this - PUT THIS ON YOUR TBR LIST.  February can't come fast enough. I need people to discuss this book with!  Trust me, you don't want to sit on this one.  And Harriet - I hope you're coming out with another one soon because I need more from you!


SPOTLIGHT: The Accusation by Zosia Wand @zosiawand @aria_fiction @hoz_books

The Accusation
by Zosia Wand

Spotlighting this suspenseful mystery!  Come read about the book, the author, read her guest post about "What is a Family?" and continue to read the prologue! Enjoy, readers!

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publish Date:  June 1, 2018
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Who would you choose if you had to - your daughter or your husband?

Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the 'settling in' period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.

But then Eve's mother, Joan, comes to stay. Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn't right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?

Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve's family to pieces...

*picture credit to Mark Harrison

Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.




What Is A Family?

I am often asked how I come up with my ideas.  The truth is that a novel or a play are usually two or three ideas that come together.  A situation I want to explore, a character that intrigues me and something I want to say.  So my first novel, Trust Me, started with three ideas.  Firstly, a character in a difficult situation: a young, not-quite-step-mother to a teenage boy.  Secondly, grooming, and how society tends to assume teenage boys are less vulnerable than teenage girls.  Thirdly, the juxtaposition of a dark story against the beautiful backdrop of the Lake District.  My new novel, The Accusation takes that same beautiful setting for a dark story, follows the adoption process as Eve and Neil adopt four year old Milly and explores the theme of motherhood.  What assumptions do we make about mothers and how they should be?  At what point does a mother’s love become obsessive, even toxic?

I am interested in complicated family dynamics and the way characters create relationships in order to survive and support one another.  The traditional nuclear family: Mum, Dad and two children, is no longer the norm in Britain.  Divorce is common and remarriages, gay marriages and some very interesting and successful alternative arrangements exist all around us.  This is beginning to be reflected in novels, films and television, but it’s taken a while, and we are only just scratching the surface.  My stage play, Quicksand, featured a family of three.  Two women and a teenage boy they had brought up together.  They were not a gay couple, but two Polish migrants.  Renata was the breadwinner and business woman, and Ula, to all intents and purposes, was her ‘wife’.  She took care of Renata’s son and managed the house.  Her undefined role as housekeeper and unacknowledged mother to Leo, form the heart of the story.  Sally Wainwright’s hugely successful television series, Happy Valley, featured a similar family set up, with Sarah Lancashire’s grandchild, the son of the psychopath who raped her daughter, being brought up by his grandmother and her sister.  That family set up is unusual and not without its difficulties, but all the warmer and richer for that.  My next novel, The Treehouse, will focus on two minor characters from The Accusation, Eve’s next door neighbour, India and her ‘mother’ Kath.  Kath is not, as Eve assumes, India’s mother.  Kath’s daughter, Julie, lives in London. India is Julie’s best friend and almost-sister, Kath’s unofficial foster daughter.  Almost daughter and almost sister.  The ‘almost’ is the heart of the story.  India stayed in Tarnside while Julie moved away and Kath finds it easier to be with India than she does Julie.  So what happens when Julie moves back?

It’s these undefined, unacknowledged relationships that interest me, because they are often the most unexpected and generous, and also the most vulnerable.  There is no precedent to follow, no previous experience.  When these relationships are put under pressure from an external source, they are forced to define themselves and sometimes, fight to survive.  It’s the gap between the familiar, what we understand to be the norm, and what has been forged from necessity provides me with a rich seam for stories.  I like, what I call, salvaged families.  Individuals who come together, often as a result of painful event, to create a unit of support.  It’s not just mothers who do the mothering in our society.  I send several cards out on Mother’s Day every year for this very reason.  There are a number of individuals I am compelled to thank for providing me with the love, support and advice I have needed in this life.  Aunts, neighbours, older, wiser friends.  The person who really mothered me was not a blood relative and someone I spent just two months of the year with, but when I shower my children with kisses and prepare their food and really love them, it’s her I remember.  Ciocia (Aunty) Marysia.  The lifelong friend and companion of my grandfather’s spinster sister, Zosia, in Poland.  I am named after them and was loved by them both, but it was Marysia who did the mothering.  She was an orphan, brought up by nuns and had no mother of her own, but her love bridged the physical distance that divided us for most of the year and overcame the difficulties of Soviet rationing, censorship and martial law to shower me with treats.  She was my safe haven and every story I tell is a tribute to the family she created simply through love.


I know something about fear. I know it can be red and urgent, the roar of a dragon, flames in your face. We all recognise that. You will know it as something brief and fierce, leaving smoke and ashes, sometimes scalded flesh. This fear is different. My fear is not hot and fiery, but grey and quiet, lingering in the shadows. It’s a chill breath on my neck, a whispered warning in my ear. I have no idea why it follows me. I have never experienced real danger, never suffered an act of extreme violence, but I live with a sense of something lurking. If I do the right thing, if I follow the rules and keep everyone happy, all will be well, but if I get it wrong, something terrible will pounce. I’ve learned to be one step ahead, becoming stealthy, slipping out of sight, dodging the icy drips and sidestepping the puddles. Always alert.

I sense it before the phone rings. Feel its cold grip on my hand as I try to accept the call. Neil’s name on the screen. My fingers won’t move. I have no reason to think this is anything other than the call I was expecting, to tell me that lunch is ready, that he and Milly are waiting for me. But I know before I tap the screen, before I hear the breathless panic in his voice, I know.


‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s Milly.’

A bitter cold pressing into my back, seeping through my flesh and between the bones beneath. Please, not this.

‘She’s gone.’