Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary blog tour @Sarah_Hilary

I’m really excited to be welcoming the brilliant Sarah Hilary onto my blog, as part of the blog tour, to share her Road to Publication. I have been a huge fan of Sarah’s writing since I read the first DI Marnie Rome book (how are we on book four already?) and whenever she has a new book out it always goes straight to the top of my reading pile and I am never disappointed.

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

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SARAH’S ROAD TO PUBLICATION

Sarah Hilary

  • Do you find that inspiration strikes you in specific places or do ideas come to you everywhere?

Like all writers, I can’t afford to wait for inspiration to strike, so I tend to track it down. I often find it lurking near water. Val McDermid tells me it’s the same for her, so that’s my top tip – try and walk by water every day.

  • What do you usually do after you get the first spark of a fresh idea, is it straight to the computer to write the first chapter or straight to a notebook to start planning?

Notebook first, as a rule, but when a voice or an idea is especially strong, I will start typing a small scene and see how it grows from there. I do find that the act of typing helps the ideas to come – muscle memory in my fingers, perhaps!

  • How long does your first draft usually take to write?

Between four and six months. I write that first draft swiftly as it gives me the momentum I need (I don’t plot beforehand).

  • Do you celebrate when you finish your first draft and if so how?

I’m chary about celebrating, as there’s always more work to be done. But I try to mark the milestones, so I may raise a glass to the moment.

  • Is it straight to editing or do you leave your manuscript a while before you pick up the red pen?

All the advice says we should leave our work to ‘rest’ for six months or so, but I’m always editing. I have to force myself to stop once the book is being printed; even then it’s hard.

  • How long do you spend editing before your book is handed over the printers?

Between myself and the tremendous team at my publishers, this would be around three months in total. I will always read out loud to myself just before I send the first and subsequent drafts to my editor. That’s my favourite stage in many ways, as I feel I’m seeing the book properly for the first time.

  • At what point, prior to publication do you find the nerves start to kick in or do you not get nervous in the approach to publication?

I’ve trained myself not to think too much about the stages which are outside my control. Otherwise I’d be a nervous wreck all year round. These days, I’m probably most nervous as I sit down to start writing something brand new, but those are good nerves.

  • How does it feel when the early reviews start to come in?

Exciting, and just a little odd. No matter how many books I write it always feels a bit surprising to realise the world at large is reading my words.

  • How long do you wait after finishing your book before starting on your next project?

An hour, maybe? In all seriousness, I am always writing the next book, even if it’s only in the deepest recesses of my subconscious.

  • And finally how do you celebrate publication day?

On publication day, I’m usually to be found online, thanking the lovely readers, reviewers and bloggers who have helped me to launch another book into the wild. Thank you!

Thank you so much Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions and to Katie Brown at Headline for organising the blog tour.

To find out more about Sarah and her writing you can visit her website: www.sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk

Follow Sarah on Twitter at: @Sarah_Hilary

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BlogTour

Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza Book Review

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She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.

MY THOUGHTS 

Every time I finish an Erika Foster novel, I think, surely Robert can’t do any better than that, but I’m always proved wrong. Cold Blood is his best yet, but I know I’ll be saying the same when I finish the next one. A terrific plot, excellent characters and fantastic writing. All the ingredients that you need for a great thriller.

When the dismembered bodies of a man and a woman are found in a suitcase after it is pulled from the bed of the Thames, Erika and her team have their work cut out in trying to identify the victims and their killer. But as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that this isn’t the only time the killer has killed. Is the killer working alone? How many more have they murdered and will Erika and her team find them before they are too late?

What I love about Robert’s writing is his ability to hook me right from the start. With each new case, I am always rooting for Erika and her team to get the results. As the series has progressed, we get to learn more and more about Erika, particularly in the last two books, Robert has revealed more about her family in Slovakia. In Last Breath, we were introduced to Erika’s sister and her two children, but in the latest instalment, we meet the rest of her family when she travels back to her home town.

There was one particular scene in this book, which really had me on tenterhooks. Robert Bryndza is a master of tension when it comes to putting his characters in a sticky situation. I was glued to the page. I don’t want to say anything about what happens as I don’t want to spoil the story, but you’ll know the scene I mean when you read it. Another example of brilliant writing.

The Erika Foster series just keeps getting better and better, I can’t wait until the next one is released and I’m sure I’ll be the first in the queue to read it.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 18th September 2017

Print length: 354 pages

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Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir blog tour @OrendaBooks @lilja1972

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Snare blog tour today and I’m sharing today’s blog tour stop with Novel Deelights.

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After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Lilja Sigurðard.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardottir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavik with her partner.

MY THOUGHTS

At the beginning of this week, I attended First Monday Crime where I heard Lilja Sigurdardottir talk about her latest novel Snare at City University. I hadn’t started reading the book at that point, but Lilja had me intrigued when she spoke about what her novel was about, and I started reading it the moment I got home.

Snare takes a different look at the criminal world in the crime fiction genre. In Snare, Lilja takes us into the criminal underworld of drug smugglers and drug mules. Sonja has recently gone through a messy divorce and struggled to pay her divorce lawyer the money she owed, leaving her in a tricky situation. To help pay him the money back she agrees to traffic drugs in and out of Iceland. Sonja is now in a very difficult situation that she will struggle to get out of.

Snare is a very fast paced book. Lilja captures the tension well on the page, which mounts inside Sonja as she arrives at the airport and awaits to collect her luggage. Although she approaches the task in hand with a degree of professionalism, there is that constant dread hanging around her that she will get caught. At this point, we also see her through the eyes of customs officer, Bragi who begins to notice something odd about her as he pours over CCTV footage. As he tries to work out what’s going on, he becomes obsessed with Sonja, and he is determined to find out what has been going on right under his nose, and what he has been missing.

Snare showcases some excellent writing and strong characterization. After the divorce proceedings finalized, Sonja’s ex-husband took full custody of her son, Tomas. You can see a rift growing here as Tomas desperately wants to live with his mother. Lilja told this part of the story really well. We also meet Sonia’s partner, Agla who is a fiery character. Agla is caught up in a messy business herself. The novel is told in the wake of the financial crash in Iceland. Agla works in the local bank, and she is being investigated by the police who believe she has been involved in transferring millions of pounds to offshore accounts. Sonja’s family really aren’t in for an easy ride in this book, but this is what makes Snare an utterly compelling read.

At First Monday Crime, Lilja revealed that Snare is part of a trilogy. I’m already hooked on her writing, and I can’t wait to read more, I’m hoping that we don’t have to wait too long for the next book to be released. Thank you Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy to review and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 1st October 2017

Print length: 276 pages

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Brothers In Blood by Amer Anwar Book Review

Brothers in Blood (Zaq & Jags) by [Anwar, Amer]

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THEY’RE NOT BOUND BY FAMILY. BUT A FAMILY COULD TEAR THEM APART.

Southall, West London. After being released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put the past behind him.

But when Zaq is forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter, he quickly finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.

With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?

MY THOUGHTS

This is such a brilliant book; it is definitely one of my favourite reads of this year.

There is action right from the first page, and there are some brilliant, well developed characters. I’m hoping that Zaq and Jags are going to return in a future book as I would certainly like to catch up with them again. There was some exceptional dialogue between them and a good dose of humour which is what made them both really likeable. In fact, I think some of the best scenes were when Zaq and Jags were alone together, they were a pair who really gelled well together.

Zaq Khan has recently been released from prison after serving five years for manslaughter. He is keen to keep his head down and stay away from the criminal underworld. As far as he is concerned, he has done his time and he doesn’t want to go back there. But his boss has other ideas. His boss asks for his help to track down his daughter, Rita, who has disappeared to escape an arranged marriage. Zaq is reluctant to help out but when his boss threatens to put him back in prison what choice does he have? But Zaq soon realises that he has become a part of something much bigger and it may be tricky for him to get out alive.

Brothers In Blood is an explosive debut from a fresh new voice. Amer is a very talented writer when it comes to dialogue and especially the fight scenes. This is one of those books which I would like to see on the big screen, I think it would translate to film really well.

The final chapters of the book really did have me gripping the pages as it raced towards its climax. After finishing the last chapter, Amer has left me wondering what’s happening with his characters now, especially Rita’s family. This is an exceptional debut. I’m hoping we don’t have to wait too long for another book. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Dialogue Books

Publication date: 6th September 2018

Print length: 448 pages

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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell book review @spookypurcell @BloomsburyRaven

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Inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine…

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed reading The Silent Companions. It is a dark, Gothic ghost story that you definitely don’t want to read at night, especially if you are on your own. Or you could be brave and read by candlelight just to add to the atmosphere. And if you haven’t got anywhere to go on Halloween this book is perfect to keep you company.

At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to Elsie Bainbridge. Elsie is in a mental asylum and it is clear that she has recently suffered from a very traumatic experience. As she begins to recall the events which lead up to her incarceration in the asylum we begin to see a different character. As the novel turns back the clock we learn that Elsie is in mourning for her late husband Rupert and she is carrying his child. She has arrived at the family seat in Fayford known as The Bridge. It is a crumbling mansion which needs a little more work than a simple touch of TLC. As Elsie sets about exploring her new home with her late husband’s cousin, Sarah she comes across a stunning set of carvings which are known as Companions. They appear so lifelike that you could almost mistake them for real people. But it is when the Companions start to move that the novel takes a darker turn, is Elsie only imagining things or is there something much darker at work?

The Silent Companions was an absolutely terrifying and chilling read. The ending of this book really left me with chills. I really liked the setting of The Bridge, I have spent a lot of time visiting old, gothic mansions that are open to the public in the past and Laura Purcell captures the architecture and the somewhat gloominess of these buildings really well. I particularly liked her descriptions as Elsie set her eyes upon the house for the first time which set the tone of the story and as the reader you know instantly that you are in for a treat.

What I also liked about the book was the different timelines. When Elsie and Sarah make the discovery of the Companions, Sarah also discovers a set of journals belonging to her ancestor Annie Bainbridge who lived in the 1600s. At the time the diary extracts were written, Annie and her family are playing host to King Charles the first and his wife the Queen who Annie is particularly excited about. The diaries also have a particular relevance to what is happening in the present day.

An outstanding debut, Laura Purcell has crafted a haunting tale that will stay with you long after you have finished reading. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy to read.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Raven

Publication date: 5th October 2017

Print length: 384 pages

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The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen blog tour @OrendaBooks @antti_tuomainen

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A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Antti Tuomainen

Finnish author Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable.’ Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula.

MY THOUGHTS

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen begins with a startling revelation for our protagonist, Jaakko. Jaakko has been informed by his doctor that he has just weeks or potentially days to live. Jaakko is convinced that he has been murdered and he sets his eyes upon his wife. Can he find out if his wife is involved in his death before his time is up? How long exactly does he have left?

A topic I always find prompts discussion from a group is what would you do if you found out you had a day to live. The question prompts a round of answers: I would raid my bank account; I would eat fast food all day. But what if you thought that you had been murdered? Would you use your final days trying to prove if this was true and to try and find out who did it? I think personally, if this was the situation I was faced with, I would try and spend my final days having fun or at least spending time with friends and relatives.

Many of you will know that I read a lot of crime fiction and to me this book felt very fresh, it’s hard to stand out in such an overcrowded market but I think the author has done just that. There is also plenty of humour in this book which I really liked. We delve into Jaakko’s mind as he contemplates what he has learnt from the doctor and he paints a very philosophical view about our lifetime on this planet.

This is a brilliant book by a talented writer. If you’re looking for something that is a bit different then I would highly recommend The Man Who Died. Thank you to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for sending me a copy of the book to review and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 10th October 2017

Print length: 300 pages

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