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Sunday, 10 December 2017

#Blog Tour - The Season for Love - M. W. Arnold





It's been eighteen months since Chrissie Stewart's husband, Richie, died and she's still struggling, blaming herself for his death, visiting his grave daily and having conversations with him via her special diary.

Shutting herself away from friends and family, she's become a shadow of her former self but this is how she feels safe, cocooned in her own little world, oblivious to things going on around her.

She regularly sees a man visiting a nearby grave but it's not until an unfortunate encounter at her local supermarket, that the pair strike up a proper conversation.

Meeting Josh Morgan is a turning point in Chrissie's life. The two of them seem to have a lot in common and they soon become friends. Josh's friendship is a real comfort to her and she feels that she can open up and talk to him about things that she has never told anyone close to her before. Chrissie feels a real connection but when she meets his young daughter, Lizzy, Chrissie soon finds herself wondering just how close their connection could be.

The Season for Love is a wonderful story about loss, friendships, love and new beginnings. Knowing how devastating it can be to lose someone close to you unexepectedly I could really sympathise with Chrissie. It was obvious that she and Richie had a very loving relationship while he was alive and when I found out exactly what had caused his death I could understand why she would blame herself and my heart went out to her. To see her coming out of her shell and getting back to her old self was heartwarming to read. Chrissie's sister Deb and her best friend Annie were delightful characters, always there to support her but prepared to dish out some tough love when they felt it was necessary and I adored Lizzy's older than her years attitude and the relationship she had with Josh.

For a debut novel, M.W. Arnold has written a beautifully feel good read that's perfect for curling up with at this time of year and one that I would highly recommend.

The Season for Love will be released on December 16th and is now available for pre-order.

                                               About the author





Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England, and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force, before putting down roots, and realising how much he missed the travel. This, he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and writing a regular post at the Novel Kicks blog site.

He’s the proud keeper of a cat bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, with the forthcoming publication of his debut novel The Season for Love.

You can connect with Mick by using the links below:


Follow the rest of the blog tour with these lovely bloggers:





With kind thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy and the invitation for the blog tour.




Saturday, 9 December 2017

#Blog Tour - You're Next - Michael Fowler






Today I'm the last stop on the blog tour for You're Next by Michael Fowler. This is the second book in the DS Scarlett Macey series but don't worry if, like me, you haven't read the first one of the series, Scream You Die, as it works perfectly as a standalone novel.

DS Scarlett Macey has been looking forward to her day in court with James Green, also known as 'The Lycra Rapist', who has been charged with a series of brutal rapes but the case collapses after an incident involving their only witness. Convinced of his guilt, she's furious and sets out to get him to ensure that he pays for his crimes.

But James is also busy, plotting his revenge against the people who he feels have done him wrong. Which one of them will reach their goal first?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading You're Next, with it's cleverly interwoven plots, short, snappy chapters and realistic characters. I loved Scarlett, determined to get her man, despite lacking the support of her superiors, but fully supported by her team, especially DC Tarn Scarr.  As for James, he literally made my skin crawl every time he appeared, he was evil personified, determined to ensure that no-one was going to catch him at whatever cost. It's clearly evident that Michael Fowler has a wealth of knowledge and experience within the police force as the procedural details in the book were exceptional.

If you like gritty and believable police procedural/thrillers then this fast paced, action packed book could be just the one for you and I definitely recommend that you give it a try.

                                                 About the author




Following retirement, after thirty-two years as a police officer, working mainly as a detective, Michael returned to the deadly business of murder, as a writer. His past work brought him very close to some nasty characters, including psychopaths, and gruesome cases, and he draws on that experience to craft his novels: There is nothing gentle about Michael’s stories.

His landmark novel Heart of the Demon, published in 2012, introduced Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr. Michael has since written five novels and a novella featuring Kerr.  He also released the first DS Scarlett Macey book in 2016. Michael is also the author of a stand-alone crime novella and a true crime thriller.

Michael has another side to his life – a passion for art, and has found considerable success as an artist, receiving numerous artistic accolades. Currently, his oil paintings can be found in the galleries of Spencer Coleman Fine Arts.  

He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.

You can find out more about Michael and his books on his website

Although I'm the last stop on the blog tour you should check out what these other fantastic bloggers thought of You're Next.




 With kind thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books and Caffeine Nights Publishing for the review copy.


Friday, 8 December 2017

#Blog Tour - The End of Lies - Andrew Barrett






I'm always on the look out for new authors to read so I was delighted to be offered a copy of The End of Lies by Andrew Barrett as part of the blog tour.

Becky returns home to find her husband, Chris, lying dead on the floor and men ransacking their house, looking for something that they are clearly prepared to kill for. Lucky to escape as she's chased by one of the intruders, Becky then sets out to try and unravel the mystery surrounding her husband's death.

As if losing her husband wasn't bad enough, when Becky finds out who is responsible for Chris' death things get even worse for her as she has to hand over something to some very unsavoury characters within a week or she'll end up going the same way as her husband and she has no idea where to find it. No pressure then!!

The End of Lies is a book that starts off at breakneck speed and it carries on at that pace until towards the end when Andrew Barrett ups the pace a few more notches! The story cleverly flits from past to present, giving little glimpses into Chris and Becky's relationship as well as with her best friend Sienna. Nothing and no-one are what they seem and just when I thought I'd got a handle on who was lying and who was telling the truth I had the rug well and truly pulled from underneath my feet. This book is full of more red herrings than Billingsgate Market (yes I know they're not actual fish, I'm just using it as a comparison!) and it certainly lives up to it's strap line of being a gripping thriller that you won't be able to put down. If this book is anything to go by then Andrew Barrett is a talented writer and I'm looking forward to checking out his other books in the not too distant future.

                                                     About the author




Andrew Barrett has enjoyed variety in his professional life, from engine-builder to farmer, from Oilfield Service Technician in Kuwait, to his current role of Senior CSI in Yorkshire.

He’s been a CSI since 1996, and has worked on all scene types from terrorism to murder, suicide to rape, drugs manufacture to bomb scenes. One way or another, Andrew’s life revolves around crime.
In 1997 he finished his first crime thriller, A Long Time Dead, and it’s still a readers’ favourite today, some 120,000 copies later, topping the Amazon charts several times. Two more books featuring SOCO Roger Conniston completed the trilogy.

Today, Andrew is still producing high-quality, authentic crime thrillers with a forensic flavour that attract attention from readers worldwide. He’s also attracted attention from the Yorkshire media, having been featured in the Yorkshire Post, and twice interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds.

He’s best known for his lead character, CSI Eddie Collins, and the acerbic way in which he roots out criminals and administers justice. Eddie’s series is four books and two short stories in length, and there’s still more to come.

Andrew is a proud Yorkshireman and sets all of his novels there, using his home city of Leeds as another major, and complementary, character in each of the stories.

You can find out more about Andrew, his books and connect with him using the links below:


Follow the rest of the blog tour on these fantastic blogs:




With kind thanks to Bloodhound Books for the review copy.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

#Blog Tour - The Liar's Promise - Mark Tilbury


Back in May I read my first book by Mark Tilbury, The Abattoir of Dreams, and it quite literally blew me away so when I was offered a spot on the blog tour for his latest book, The Liar's Promise, I couldn't say yes quick enough!

When Mel takes her four year old daughter Chloe to the local theatre, she is stunned when Chloe starts screaming, refusing to go any further than the foyer because she's afraid of the 'Tall Man' and she doesn't want to die. Nothing will calm her down so Mel takes her home, manages to calm her daughter down and settle her into bed, but this unsettling incident is just the beginning of a very eventful night!

Over the course of the next few days Chloe's behaviour changes dramatically, she draws pictures, talks about horrific events in the first person and makes frequent references to the 'Tall Man' who is coming to kill them.

Not knowing who to turn to she decides to talk to Charles Honeywell, the headmaster at the school where she works, unaware that he is very closely connected to the events that her daughter is talking about and by speaking to him about it she has potentially made the situation a whole lot worse.

I won't tell you any more about the plot but what I will say is that I'm pretty sure that you won't be able to put this book down, I know I couldn't!

After I read The Abattoir of Dreams I knew that Mark Tilbury was a talented author who was capable of freaking me out with his writing but I had no idea just how far he could get under my skin, and he did just that with The Liar's Promise. This book was so creepy I was convinced that I was going to have nightmares each night as I was reading it before turning off the light and snuggling down under my duvet. All sorts of disturbing images were flying around my head, the Tall Man, an innocent looking child's doll, an array of coloured freezers. . . . . nope I'm not going back there again as I've only just managed to get the images out of my head.

I absolutely loved this book, despite the fact that it freaked me out so much, which is a testament to the author's writing. It's fast-paced book that will drag you kicking and screaming to places that you never want to go, it's gruesome, it's sick, it's twisted, it's dark, it's disturbing and I can't wait to see what comes next from this outstanding author!

                                               About the author

Photo courtesy of Mark Tilbury



Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He's always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his fourth novel, The Liar's Promise, along with The Abattoir of Dreams, published, and The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused re-launched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he's not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.



You can find out more about Mark and his books and connect with him using the links below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon

Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour with these brilliant bloggers:


With kind thanks to Bloodhound Books and author Mark Tilbury for the review copy.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to G.J. Minett



Being a book blogger I'm always on the lookout for new authors and Twitter is one of my favourite places to look for them. Back in August I noticed Graham Minett and decided to follow him and when he very kindly followed me back we started chatting, I looked into his books a little closer and bought a copy of his first book, The Hidden Legacy, with the plan to sneakily squeeze it into my reading schedule. A few weeks later I started reading it and I couldn't put it down! You can read my review here and because I enjoyed it so much I asked Graham if he'd like to write a guest post for The Hippo ahead of his next book, Anything For Her, being published on the 30th of November and I was thrilled when he agreed.

Well, I think you've heard enough from me so let’s get to the main event, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you all to GJ Minett.

Photo courtesy of Graham Minett

Graham Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which earned him the first of two separate two-book deals with Bonnier Zaffre.

The Hidden Legacy and Lie In Wait are both already published as eBooks and in paperback. His third novel, Anything For Her, will appear as an eBook in November 2017 and then in paperback in March 2018.

Now writing full-time, he is represented by Adam Gauntlett of the Peters, Fraser and Dunlop Agency and lives in West Sussex with his wife and children whilst nevertheless retaining close links with Cheltenham and the rest of his family.



                                                 Blurb

You'd do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn't you?


When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy's never forgotten her. He'd do anything for her then, and he'd do anything for her now.


When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?


Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing - reasons that might be more dangerous than she's led him to believe . . .


Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.


                                                     *    *    *    *

The following scene, which does not appear in the novel, imagines an interview between Billy and a psychotherapist (MLW) at a time when he is recovering from his breakdown at university. He is 20 years of age and the consultation takes place 6 years before the opening scene of the novel.

                              Extract from interview with Billy Orr

Transcript from tape WO/MLW2
Date: June 16th 2009

Billy:     How long have we got left?

MLW:    About . . . seven minutes or so. Why do you ask?

Billy:     No reason.

MLW:    If you feel you’ve had enough for today . . .

Billy:     No, I think I can stand the excitement for another seven minutes.

(pause)

MLW:    You sound . . . I don’t know . . . a little dejected. Were you hoping for more from this session?

Billy:     Not really. When it comes to expectations, I tend not to set the bar that high. You mind if I ask you something? How do you do this day after day? Is this what you always wanted to do . . . sit there and listen to a procession of wounded birds chirping away? I mean . . . you’re intelligent, university educated, it’s not like you’d have been short of options when it came to choosing a career. Why the hell would you go for psychotherapy?

MLW:    It’s not something that would appeal to you?

Billy:     No way. And you’ve done it again incidentally. You know how many times you people answer a question with one of your own? Is that part of the training? I mean, no disrespect but you act like actually engaging with a patient would be serious professional misconduct. You all just sit there, as if you’re thumbing your way through some text book – what is it, the Manual for the Terminally Unimaginative? You hide behind protocols and case studies like you’re too scared to really talk to me. You just tiptoe around the conversation we really ought to be having and if I ask any questions of my own you just deflect them back to me. Wouldn’t you rather communicate?

MLW:    So you think these sessions should be about you asking me questions?

Billy:     I think they should be less artificial. More like a conversation than an inquisition. I don’t know you – don’t know the first thing about you. I don’t open the door to the delivery guy from Tesco and immediately start telling him my innermost secrets. I don’t stop the bin man at the end of the drive and fill him in on what I dreamt about last night. I know both of them better than I do you and yet I’m supposed to sit here and open up to a complete stranger while she peeks and probes and tries to worm her way in. That doesn’t sound artificial to you?

(Long pause)

MLW:    And yet here you are, Billy.

Billy:     And yet here I am.

MLW:    Because . . .?

Billy:     Oh . . . right. Is that page 7? Get the patient to admit how central these sessions are

to his sense of well-being?

MLW:    Why are you here, Billy? Why will you be here again next week?

Billy:     Don’t flatter yourself. I’m here because my sister is worried about me. I can’t keep

going into meltdown every time the pressure starts to build up and if it will help her feel better about things I’ll visit every shaman and snake oil salesman who’s prepared to put up with me. But it’s not because I’ve got any genuine expectations that you’ll be the one to find the release valve.

(pause)

Don’t mean to be rude but you did ask.

MLW:    So what do you feel I should do to make these sessions more relevant and meaningful for you?

Billy:     (sighs) Talk to me. Make it more of a conversation. More of an exchange, you know? I don’t know your first name.

MLW:    It’s Melanie.

Billy:     Melanie. Right. Talk to me, Melanie.  Forget for a few minutes that I’m a patient and treat me like a real person. Have a bit of respect for my intelligence. And if you want to know something about me, go ahead and ask instead of dancing around the question and trying to sneak in through the back door. If I don’t feel ready to answer a particular question, I’ll say so. Do you understand what I’m saying?

MLW:    Totally. But it’s not always that straightforward. These meltdowns, as you call them – they’re happening for a reason. You’ve been through some very challenging and distressing experiences and sometimes just charging straight ahead and tackling them front on may not be the best approach. It pays to be careful.

Billy:     It also pays to move forward every so often.

MLW:    You don’t feel we’re making any progress?

Billy:     Look, we’ve got a couple of minutes still. Why not go for a quick word association exercise to finish off. Just two minutes. I’m up for it if you are.

MLW:    You think that will help?

Billy:     Yes. Just go for it. Two minutes.

(pause)

MLW:    OK. If you’re sure.

Billy:     Sure.

MLW:    Quickfire answers. First thought that comes into your head.

Billy:     Got it.

MLW:    OK. House.

Billy:     Bleak.

MLW:    Sun.

Billy:     Shine.

MLW:    Water.

Billy:     Fall.

MLW:    Family.

Billy:     Tree.

MLW:    Parents.

Billy:     Dead.

MLW:    Mother.

Billy:     Loving.

MLW:    Father.

Billy:     Dead.

MLW:    Girlfriend.

Billy:     None.

MLW:    Sister.

Billy:     Everything.

MLW:    Girlfriend.
Billy:     Move on.

MLW:    Deadlines.

Billy:     Matter.

MLW:    Girlfriend.

Billy:     Two minutes are up.

Additional note (MLW):

As he left, Billy challenged me to listen to the tape and decide which of the answers he’d given were fabricated.

He is clearly going to present something of a challenge.

                                        *    *    *    * 

Thanks for the insight into Billy's character Graham, I can't wait to find out all about him!
Anything for Her will be published on November 30th and is available to pre-order now.

You can find out more about Graham and connect with him using the links below:


There's also a blog tour for Anything For Her where you can read reviews and more which you can follow with these brilliant blogs:



I'd like to thank Graham for stopping by today and for taking the time to write such an intriguing guest post.