Class Murder by Leigh Russell BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to be the next and final stop on Leigh Russell’s top ten tour. 

For those of you who don’t know, Leigh writes the fantastic Geraldine Steel series. The tenth novel Class Murder is out now. In it Geraldine moves to York and has been demoted to Detective. She finds herself investigating the murder of two people, both of whom went to the same school and were in the same class. It soon becomes a race against time to stop the killer before more bodies appear. 

Obviously any novel using York as a setting instantly heads to the top of my tbr pile. It’s always nice to read stories set where you live and I’m very glad I did. This is a fantastic story that kept me gripped throughout. The chapters from the killer’s point of view were especially chilling. 

Although this is the tenth it works perfectly well as a standalone. I suspect this is helped by the move to York as I got to know Geraldine along with her new colleagues. Having only read a couple of her early novels before I definitely want to go back and read the whole series now. 

To celebrate the release of the tenth novel I’m pleased to share Leigh’s latest top ten and this time we are finding out her top ten TV shows :

Homeland
Breaking Bad
Judge Judy
The West Wing
Have I got News for You
The Coroner
Line of Duty
Safe House
Sherlock
Death in Paradise

Some interesting choices there. I thought I was the only Death in Paradise fan! 

If you want to find out more about Leigh’s top tens then visit the other stops on her tour. 

Thanks to No Exit Press for my copy of Class Murder.

http://www.noexit.co.uk/index1.php?imprint=1&isbn=&ebookid=1607

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Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson – a review Blog Tour

I’ve recently been hearing a lot about Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson so I was delighted when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for his novel Whiteout, the latest to be translated into English.

Whiteout is the perfect winter novel to pass a cold evening. Just before Christmas a young woman’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff. Detective Ari Thor gets a call from his old boss Tomas to help investigate the case. Ari, along with his pregnant partner Kristina, travels to a remote village to help investigate whether she fell, or was pushed. When he finds out that this is the same spot both the girl’s Mother and Sister were also found dead, he soon starts to suspect foul play.

Whiteout is a fantastic read. Set in Iceland the novel is incredibly atmospheric and gives you a real impression of a dark, cold, isolated place. The story itself is interesting being a classic whodunit that had me trying and failing to guess the outcome throughout. The crime is set in an abandoned village with only a small number of characters and so you get a real sense of claustrophobia surrounding the story. You also know whilst you are reading it that if indeed it is foul play there is only a very small number of suspects.

The characters were well drawn, and I especially liked the way we get to know the murder victim. Although I must admit to finding the whole pregnant partner story a bit unnecessary. However that may be because although this is the first of this series I have read, it is actually the 5th in the Dark Iceland series featuring Ari Thor. I suspect that there was a lot of back story that I had missed which would have given me a different impression of the characters. However that is not to say the book doesn’t work perfectly well as a standalone. The story alone is superb.

This is a fantastic novel for anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery. It is also a great example of the Icelandic traditional crime story, despite being bang up to date. I thoroughly recommend this to those of you who like your traditional crime stories with an added layer of ice and intrigue.

Thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of Whiteout

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The Swimming Pool

So a while ago I signed myself up for a new challenge. To swim 22 miles in 12 weeks. That is apparently the same distance as swimming the Channel. Although, as it is done in a pool it’s without any added dangers such as big boats, jelly fish, and sharks.

When I signed up it seemed like a really good idea. Our gym has a lovely open air pool, which is always pretty quiet. Apparently not everyone is as keen as me on the great outdoors. Even though the pool is nice and heated unless it is a glorious summers day there is rarely anyone in.

However what I hadn’t factored into my swimming challenge was that the lovely quiet outdoor pool shuts at the end of October. Therefore the majority of the 22 mile slog was actually going to have to be done in the indoor pool. Well frankly I think swimming the Channel itself might actually have been an easier option.

It seems that there is no time when the pool isn’t absolutely packed. If it’s not full of kids trying to see how much water they can knock out of the pool, it’s full of old people reenacting scenes from Cocoon. 6 am the gym opens, so you’d think that would be a good time to go. Nice and early to beat the crowds. Well you’d be wrong. 5.55 am I arrived the other day and there was a queue of octogenarians channelling their inner Usain Bolt. As soon as the clock struck 6 they shot off through the turnstiles, literally running to be the first in the changing rooms, a pile of walking sticks and zimmerframes left in their wake.

The other problem with indoor swimming is the dreaded lane choice. There are three lanes, slow, medium and fast. Choosing which to go into is a nightmare. Try the slow lane at 6 am and sometimes you have to poke the other swimmers just to check they are actually breathing. Medium would probably be my lane of choice yet again this can be tricky as working out if you are supposed to swimming clockwise or anticlockwise can take up valuable time. The biggest nightmare is accidentally getting into the fast lane. If that is the only empty lane I’ll jump in there, but then you are stuck if someone else gets in. Obviously you can’t just get out and swap lanes, what would people think? Instead you end up having to swim as fast as you possibly can for six lengths and then pretend that was all you had time for. This involves getting out of the pool, staring pointedly at the clock for longer than completely necessary and then hurrying into the changing room as though in a rush.

  It really is no surprise that more people don’t take up swimming when it is fraught with such anxiety. It is a lesson to us all though that signing up to swim 22 miles might seem like a good idea, reality isn’t all its cracked up to be. It’s a good job it’s all for a good cause!

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/candi-colbourn-2017-channel-swim-15810

 

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The CWA Anthology of Short Stories – Judith Culter Q and A BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for the latest collection of short stories by Orenda Books, The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour. For those who don’t know the CWA stands for Crime Writers Association and membership includes some of my favourite authors whose short stories appear in this fantastic collection. The book is a complete mystery tour that takes you from Glasgow to South Africa to the Ukraine. Each of the stories as you suspect has a rather murderous intention behind them, or do they? One intriguing story with a rather clever twist was from Judith Cutler and I’m delighted to welcome her to acrimereadersblog to talk about short stories.

Welcome Judith. I loved your story in A Mystery Tour. What was the inspiration behind it?

I just hope life doesn’t decide to imitate art, in this case. My husband, Edward Marston, and I are privileged to be invited to take on a lot of speaking engagements. We almost always do these together – we call ourselves Murder Ancient and Modern. Some call us the Morecambe and Wise of writing… However many events we do, and however well we’re prepared, there’s always a frisson of anxiety: is this the right day? Will we have an audience? Once I was ready to speak – to find an audience of zero. Last time I was in the USA I shared a signing session with C J Box and Jeffrey Deaver – an exercise in humiliation since none of my books had reached the conference and their fans formed queues pretty well round the block… So far, however, I’ve not turned up to find the event cancelled at the last minute.

It must be very nerve wracking doing events like that, fingers crossed your story stays as a fiction one rather than influencing real life! Do you prefer short story writing or full length novels?

Predictably, since I had success with the short form at the start of my career but didn’t feel I’d “arrived” as a writer till I saw my first novel on bookshop shelves, I’m going to say I like writing both. A novel is a Test Match of an endeavour: you’re going to live with characters who grow and develop over many chapters – and sometimes several novels. There is time to slow down, time to accelerate. I might be tempted to continue the image: a short story is more like T20 cricket –swashbuckling and speedy, with a rapid outcome. But I’d say a short story requires, in proportion, more concentration and effort than a novel. Each and every word must carry its weight – not a punctuation mark must be wrong. A story demands to be put away for a while to mature, so you come back with fresh eyes and can prune even more.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

It used to be very much the standard 9.00 to 5.00 working day that thirty years of college work had got me used to. Sadly about three years ago I injured my right hand so badly (at a church fete – don’t ask!!!) that I’ve had to reduce my time at the computer. Now I limit myself to about a thousand words a day, and spend the non-writing time doing things to keep the rest of my body fit: Pilates, ballroom dance, gardening and tennis (I’ve taught myself to play left handed though thank goodness the right hand is beginning to work again).

An injury at a church fete sounds like an ideal short story plot, although glad to hear you are on the mend. How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Having played tennis in the morning, I’d go on to a cricket match. I love the game so much I dedicated my latest book, Head Count, to the cricket charity for young people called Chance to Shine (www.chancetoshine.org). I’d round it all off with a concert given by the wonderful City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (with luck conducted by their brilliant young musical director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla) in Symphony Hall.

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Like many writers, I want to read a lot more than I do. One problem is that many writers are better than I am, so I end up feeling downhearted about my own work. One or two aren’t as good as me, so why read them? This applies at least as much to so-called literary novels as to so-called genre-writers. But for consistent pleasure, can you beat the dear late Reg Hill for his amazing use of language in entirely the appropriate setting? I also love Kate Ellis, Amy Myers, Martin Edwards, Priscilla Masters – and many others whom I’m honoured to call friends. Oh, and there’s Edward Marston, of course – and I get to read his before anyone else does! As for old favourites, Jane Austen and George Eliot take a lot of beating, and when I’m feeling down who better to cheer me up than Georgette Heyer?

I think that applies to us readers too, there are always too many books and not enough time. That’s why short stories are so great as they can be dipped in and out of. Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

I’m working on the third in the Jane Cowan series I’m writing for Allison and Busby. Jane’s a survivor of extreme domestic abuse. Finally she’s building a life away from her ex-husband who’s currently serving a prison sentence for what he did to her. She’s now a headmistress in Kent, running not one but two village primary schools. Times are tough in education, with staffing and finances under enormous pressure. In this novel it’s not pupil behaviour that’s an issue, however – it’s that of some of her new neighbours…

That sounds really intriguing Judith, I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thanks very much for joining me.

The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour is out now and is well worth a read.

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Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett – BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of Rachel Amphlett and have read all of her series featuring detective Kay Hunter. Therefore it is a great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest book Hell to Pay. I’m very pleased to be able to welcome Rachel to acrimereadersblog.

Thanks for joining me Rachel. It must be incredibly exciting to have a novel published, so how do you spend the night before publication day and what do you do on the actual day?

Publication day for me is a bit weird, as I’m in a completely different time zone to a lot of my readers. I’m originally from the UK, but Australia is currently home. So, after I get up in the morning in Brisbane, feed the dog, and make the first cup of coffee of the day, it’s still late afternoon the previous day in the UK!
The night before, I’ll have checked all the links to my books are working on the different retailers, and I’ll prepare the newsletter to go out to my Reader Group, so I don’t have to worry about that – everyone who joins my Readers Group gets the chance to buy the book at a discounted rate, so it’s really important to me to have that ready to go.
For the past four releases, I’ve had a number of book bloggers kindly take part in a book tour for me, and by the time publication day comes around, that tour has typically been running for a week.
I get a flurry of activity on social media as the rest of the world starts to wake up (I’m a very early riser, so that means 5:30am for me!), but before I do anything else, I hit my word count on my current work in progress – that way, I can concentrate on the launch of the previous book without feeling guilty!
The rest of the morning is spent responding to emails and social media shout outs from readers and the incredible book bloggers that support my new releases.
The action really kicks off once the UK is wide awake and continues through the night as most of my book blogging buddies are in the UK and North America – I can get a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the notifications, but it’s a lot of fun, and I really appreciate the support everyone gives to authors in this way.
I don’t get much sleep that night, either – again due to time differences, my Facebook launch party usually starts pretty early the following morning for me, even though it’s still only 8pm in the UK. I don’t mind though – I know for at least 48 hours I’m going to be running on pure adrenalin!
Once the Facebook party is over, it’s a case of monitoring emails and social media for any notifications – I try to respond to every shout out I receive from readers and bloggers, and I always respond to every email I receive from readers. I wouldn’t be here without any of them.
The blog tour runs for another week after publication day to help me spread the word about the new book, but in the meantime, it’s back to business as usual for me, and that of course means finishing the next book!

Sounds like a very busy day, but completely worth it of course. Hell to Pay is out now and is a great read either as a stand alone or as part of this excellent series. I would throughly recommend them, and a huge thanks to Rachel for taking the time to join me today.

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Boundary by Andree Michaud – a review

Boundary by Andree Michaud is a story set in Canada in the late 1960s.  It’s the height of summer and families are arriving at the resort of Boundary for their annual holiday. The place is idyllic, despite the ghost stories surrounding one of the earlier residents Pierre, a trapper who lived in the woods. Unfortunately the peace and tranquillity is soon broken when a young girl called Zaza goes missing. Quickly the mood turns to fear and distrust when her body if found caught in a bear trap.

I have to confess I’m not sure this was a book for me, as I found it very hard to get into. The first half of the story is quite slow. It is very descriptive not only of the setting, but also the inner thoughts and feeling of the characters.  This made it feel very different to the normal edge of the seat thrillers I gravitate towards. However once I got into the rhythm of the prose, it did draw me in. I wanted to keep reading but this was because of the language more than to find out the crime solution.

The story is told mainly from the viewpoints of the detectives hunting the killer but we also hear from young local girl Andree who was fascinated with Zara and her friend. To Andree the girls were seemingly so grown up and glamorous she longed to join in. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that the distinction between the characters voices was particularly clear which meant that I had to flit back and forth in order to keep track of who was narrating. This could of course be also partly due to my habit of skim reading so isn’t necessarily down to the writing. It has also been translated from French so again some of the phrases used were a little unfamiliar.

One thing I did really like about the novel was the sense of a place that you got from it. You could feel the isolation of the lives of those who normally live in the area contrasted with the change during tourist season when it becomes a thriving lake side town. The characters themselves were interesting. I liked the way the detectives interacted with each other, and the pace of the investigation felt realistic.

Overall for me this was a slow burner, that picked up pace in the later stages. However, if you like a well written, descriptive story focussing on people’s emotions and lives as much as the actual crime then this is well worth a read.

 

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Clipped Wings by Jennifer Gilmour – BLOG TOUR

Clipped Wings is not the usual type of book that is found on acrimereadersblog. This is a collection of true stories from survivors of domestic abuse.

Synopsis
‘Just imagine you thought that you had met the man or woman of your dreams. This person was charming and you thought they were the one or perhaps that this was fate; it was just meant to be.
But as the months go by things start to change. Their behaviour towards you isn’t the same, they are more critical, more particular about your appearance, what you do, how you do it, who you see. Time goes by and you feel isolated from your friends and family because that behaviour has now changed to threats, maybe violence and you feel that your identity is all but gone. But still you stay. Where would you go? Who would help you? You are not worthy.
But you are.’

When I was asked to review this I jumped at the chance. Many years ago I was on the Trustee Board of our local domestic abuse charity and saw first-hand people affected by this crime.  However reviewing Clipped Wings is actually quite difficult, suffice to say it is a book that everyone should read.
The stories in this book are disturbing and upsetting. Each story is different yet there are similarities in all the accounts. One thing that really stood out for me was just how isolating domestic abuse is. Often the perpetrator will have alienated their victims family and friends. They will controlling their partner’s every move, every penny and every minute having to be accounted for.
Whilst it is heartbreaking to read some of the accounts and what the people went through in their relationships, it is ultimately an uplifting book. The stories are as much about courage and recovery as they are about violence and abuse.
I would say this book is a must read for anyone who wants to hear first hand how people can survive such terrible abuse and come through the other side.
If you wish to find out more about domestic abuse or want to know where to go for advice and help then visit Yorkshire based IDAS. http://www.idas.org.uk

About the author

Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to

being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base.

Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and

plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive

relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write this first novel ‘Isolation

Junction’. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally

abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life

and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for

those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed.

Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have

been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice.

Jennifer hopes that ’Clipped Wings’ give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s

awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

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