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The Silence – Q and A with Katharine Johnson BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Katharine Johnson to acrimereadersblog. Katharine is the author of The Silence, a great novel about secrets and lies.

Thanks for joining me Katharine. I thoroughly enjoyed The Silence and thought it was a great story. Did your writing skills come natural or did you have to attend courses to help you develop that creative side?

I’ve always liked writing and I’ve been a non-fiction writer for years but when I decided to look more seriously into writing fiction a few years ago I did a writing course with the Writers Bureau. I also read lots of advice pieces about creative writing because the rules change all the time. Things that were acceptable or even encouraged a few years ago are frowned on today,  like using exclamation marks and adverbs.

What books/authors inspired your writing journey?

So many! Whenever I read a good book it makes me want to write one.

I know that feeling! How does it feel to know that your books inspire others? Whether readers with a response to the content or other aspiring authors?

I’m not sure that’s happened yet but being able to connect with people in this way is a lovely thought.

Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?

Not really – I just write when the I get the chance.

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?

Great question! I suppose Rebecca – such a vivid character and we never even see her.

Great answer! Thanks very much for joining me today Katharine. If you want to find our more about Katharine’s novel the Silence make sure you look out for other posts on this tour. Tomorrow visit:

https://keeperofpages.wordpress.com/

https://cluesandreviews.wordpress.com/

http://www.mistimoobookreview.co.uk/

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Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson – a review BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson.

BLOCK 46 COVER AW.inddBlock 46 is a novel that travels not only between cities but also time. In modern day London we meet true crime writer Alexis Castells. When her friend jewelry designer Linnea doesn’t show up for the launch of her new collection, at first it is thought she has just missed her flight back. However is not long before her body is discovered mutilated in Sweden, and links are soon made with a similar murder of a young boy in London. Alexis teams up with profiler Emily Roy to try and catch the perpetrator. Alongside this we are introduced to Erich Ebner in 1944. He has been transported to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and is trying to survive the horrors of the Holocaust as best he can.

I thought this was an incredible debut novel that was absolutely gripping yet disturbing at the same time. Block 46 has been translated from French and is written with very short chapters. This is a style I personally like, and it suited the story.. Some of the scenes within the Camp were so disturbing that actually longer chapters would have been hard to deal with. Initially I did find that the story seemed a bit slow, although I suspect this was due to the chapters set in Buchenwald being so completely intense that they made the modern tale a little flat. This didn’t stay the case for long though and once I got into it the story was utterly compelling.

The characters were interesting, and I very much liked the rather standoffish and rude but brilliant Emily Roy. Alexis I found a bit more annoying, but still very readable and I felt the pair together made a good duo. This is a book full of twists that kept me reading, although I have to say that I did guess one person would be involved right from the start. However this is no way ruined the book, as how they were involved was a complete shock.

Block 46 did take me longer to read than is normal for me, yet I think this was because actually unusually for a speed reader like me, I was compelled to read every word. It is a very dark and disturbing book, so not for the fainthearted. Yet the story has a certain flare about it that makes you think, rather than just recoil. I would highly recommend this novel and think it is definitely one of the best I’ve read so far this year.

Thank you to the publishers Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of the book.

 

 

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Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan – a review BLOG TOUR

watchI was lucky enough to be invited to join the blog tour for one of my favourite authors, Eva Dolan. Her latest novel is called Watch Her Disappear. When I read the first of Dolan’s series I was drawn to it because of the setting around the area where I grew up but that soon became a secondary motive for my interest. The series is superb and her latest novel is no exception.

Watch Her Disappear begins with the murder of Corrinne who was attacked whilst out jogging.  When DI Zigic and his colleague DS Ferreira from the Peterborough Hate Crimes division are called out they are unsure why. There have been a series of rapes in the area and they assume this is the latest one.  It soon becomes clear why they are involved.  Corrinne is transitioning from Colin and the murder could be linked to other attacks that have been taking place against the transgender community.

Watch Her Disappear is a fascinating novel, dealing as Dolan’s stories do with social issues, prejudice and hatred. The quality of writing is, as always, excellent and deals well with sensitive issues such as transphobia. Eva manages to write about it perceptively without sensationalising the issues, despite focusing as it does on murder.

The characters are well rounded, and just like in real life there are sides to all of them, some good and some bad. Personally I think that one of the things that makes these novels stand out are the two main characters. Zigic is the sensible family man who in Watch her Disappear is leading the team through an investigation whilst struggling with the demands of a new baby. Whereas Ferreira is the wild one sleeping with a senior officer and running off with her own line of investigation. They make a great team despite their differences and both draw on each other to move the investigation forward.

Lots of the locations such as Ferry Meadows where the crimes take place are familiar as places I went to as a child, which does add another element to the story.  I was delighted to get the chance to ask Eva what makes the area stand out for her:

‘Back in 2012, when I started the first book in the series, Long Way Home, Peterborough felt like the natural choice. It’s a city with a history of 20th century immigration, with a large influx of workers coming from southern and eastern Europe after WW2, to take up jobs in food processing and at the local brickyards. Later they were joined by people from India and Pakistan. Then the 90s saw the arrival of many Portuguese and Polish migrant workers, drawn to the agricultural jobs available on the fenland surrounding Peterborough. It’s the perfect melting pot, small enough for each wave of immigration to feel distinct but large enough to contain all manner of criminality. Peterborough has also become something of a magnet for media coverage of issues of immigration, social cohesion, and the recent rise of ultra right political parties, a subject I explored in the second book, Tell No Tales, so even readers who haven’t been there will recognise it as a place where these issues are in play.’

I also wanted to find out where in Peterborough Eva goes when she is researching.

‘I try to keep it all about the work while I’m on a research trip but Peterborough has a really great shopping centre that I can’t resist and I was happy to stumble across Clarkes, an amazing restaurant on Cathedral Square; it has a lovely intimate atmosphere and a small but frequently changing menu focusing on local, seasonal produce. It’s the kind of place Zigic would probably book for Anna’s birthday. But I think Ferreira would take issue with their slim selection of rum.’

Watch Her Disappear is an excellent novel that I would definitely recommend. It works well as a standalone, and you won’t lose anything by not having read her others. However if you haven’t read the rest of the series I would highly suggest you do.

If you want to find out more about the Zigic and Ferreira series, and Eva’s thoughts on Peterborough and the fens, then pop over to Cleopatralovesbooks on the 1st April where I will be taking part in her  feature Put A Book On The Map and talking all things Peterborough.

In the meantime to find out more about Eva Dolan and her series head over to some other stops on the blog tour:

http://www.foyles.co.uk/Public/Biblio/Detail.aspx?blogId=1578

http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/introducing-zigic-and-ferreira/

http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/ones-to-watch-in-2017-watch-her-disappear-eva-dolan/

https://forwinternights.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/watch-her-disappear-by-eva-dolan/

You can also find out what novels Eva herself is looking forward to in 2017 at her column

http://wwwshotsmagcouk.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/eva-dolan-on-her-most-highly.html

Thanks to Eva for her time and to netgalley for my copy of the novel.

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Soho Honey by A.W.Rock – a review BLOG TOUR

I was sent a copy of this by the publishers Clink Street in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this novel sounded interesting, and not like my usual choices which can often be a good thing. As the title suggests Soho Honey is set in Soho, London. The main character Branen had to leave the UK six years earlier due to his criminal past. He returns when his daughter is brutally murdered and Branen is asked to return to hunt down her killer. However he soon realises that unless he wants to spend the rest of his life running he will have to face up to his past.

I must admit to being slightly overwhelmed by the start of this novel. The book begins with a long list of names of characters such as Snowman, and Whitey and abbreviations of the varying secret agencies that are involved in the story. It looked like an awfully long list, however I skipped over that and carried on.

This is a very gritty novel that covers pretty much all the darkest elements of society including drugs, gangsters, and prostitutes, even a bit of bee keeping. It was quite an evocative novel with descriptions vividly conjuring up the seedy side of Soho that you imagine would make a great film.

Soho Honey was quite a slow story to begin with. You know from the blurb on the back that Branan’s daughter is going to get killed, but it takes a good third of the book for things to start to happen. Despite the ending I suspect that this is the start of a series, and therefore this book was very much about setting the scene for later novels.  Once the story gets going however the pace picks up.

The writing was good and it seemed to flow well. The book is split into different parts with very short chapters which I liked. Once you understand whose viewpoint each part comes from then it was easy to follow. None of the characters, including Brenan, were I thought particularly likeable but that’s not always a bad thing especially in a book like this.

Overall despite the slow start this was a good novel. There were some elements such as the writing style I really enjoyed although I suspect it was not really my kind of thing. I would imagine that for fans of 007 this would be a real treat.

 

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The Good Mother by AL Bird – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of The Good Mother from the publisher and am very pleased to be taking part in the blog tour.

The Good Mother starts with Suzan waking up realising that she is being held captive in a bedroom and her daughter is missing. Soon she hears her daughter Cara in the next room who is also being held. Their only way of communicating is via pencilled letters pushed through a grate. Suzan is desperate to escape and between them they try and hatch a plan. Firstly though they need to work out who is keeping them prisoner and why?

I absolutely sped through this and couldn’t put it down. To me it seemed quite an original storyline. You know that she is being held and we hear a bit from the voice of the captor but it’s hard to pin point exactly who is telling the truth. The majority of the story is told from the viewpoint of Suzan with occasional words from the captor. This gives quite a claustrophobic atmosphere as you almost feel you are the one being kept locked up.

My only slight criticism of this book is that the actual motives and actions of some of the characters did seem slightly unrealistic. It is hard to explain as this is an incredibly difficult book to review without giving away any of the plot. However I’m not really sure that people would act in the way that they did in this story even with the best of intentions at heart. However we never really know how far people will go to protect their loved ones.

This was one of those novels that you start to question once you have finished it and wonder what you could have missed along the way. The style of writing is probably not for everyone as it’s very fast and written in very short sharp sentences. To me this was perfect for conveying the fear and desperation that Suzan was feeling. It does start off quite confusing and some of the bits seem rather unbelievable. However once you hit the twist towards the end suddenly with hindsight everything starts to make sense. It wasn’t a twist I saw coming which makes this book all the better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to reading more from AL Bird.

 

Author biog

AL Bird lives in North London, where she divides her time between writing and working as a lawyer. The Good Mother is her major psychological thriller for Carina UK, embarking into the world of ‘grip-lit’. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London, and is also an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, which she studied under Richard Skinner. She’s also a member of the Crime Writers’Association. For updates on her writing, you can follow her on Twitter, @ALBirdwriter, or by visiting her website, at www.albirdwriter.com

The Good Mother is out on the 4th of April and will be available from Amazon.

 

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Behind closed tours – Q and A with BA Paris BLOG TOUR

It’s my turn to host the Behind Closed Doors blog tour. This was a great novel I enjoyed last year and so am delighted to welcome author BA Paris to my blog.

Thanks very much for joining me. I really enjoyed your debut novel. What was your inspiration for Behind Closed Doors?

I used to know someone who had a seemingly perfect marriage but there were just a couple of little things that seemed off-kilter, and I began to wonder what life was really like behind their closed doors. It gave me the idea for a story, my imagination took a giant leap and Behind Closed Doors was born. Although I hope that no-one is going through a marriage quite like Grace’s, I believe there are women – and men – who are in a similar sort of situation, though hopefully not quite as desperate, and are unable to tell anyone through shame or fear.

Sadly there are many people in similar situations suffering domestic abuse. Here in Yorkshire there are a number of excellent organisations people can contact for help and advice including www.idas.org.uk

I know you are a teacher as well. What’s a typical working day like for you, juggling both your career as a teacher and as a writer?

On the days that I teach, I don’t usually write, because my days are pretty full. I try to keep two days a week free for writing, but that often doesn’t work out because there are so many other things that have to be done and friends to catch up with; it would be very easy for me to become a hermit! I tend to write in snatches, a few hours here, a few hours there, but I definitely don’t have as much time to write as I’d like. In an ideal world, I’d spend all day, every day writing. I enjoy my job, though, and clients tend to become friends, so it would be hard to let them go. But next year, I hope to have more time to write – there are still a lot of books in me!

It sounds like you are pretty busy. What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?

Relaxing with my husband and daughters, having dinner with friends, visiting family and friends in England, eating out, going to the theatre. No sport; I love watching it – especially rugby! – but I hate doing it!

What kinds of books do you read yourself? Do you have any favourite authors?

This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but since I started writing I’ve barely read a book, simply because in my free time, I prefer to write than read. In the past, I’ve enjoyed books by Leon Uris, Douglas Kennedy, Sebastian Faulks and Wilbur Smith. I also love Kate Atkinson and look forward to reading A God in Ruins when I have time!

If you weren’t a writer and teacher – what would be your ideal job?

A few years ago, I met a young woman on a flight back from South Africa and she told me her job was sourcing fruit from South America for one of the big supermarkets. It entailed flying first class (South Africa wasn’t a business trip, which is why she was sitting next to me in economy!)  and she met wonderfully interesting people and I thought it had to be one of the best jobs in the world (those who have read my book may recognise Grace’s job!) If I had my time over again, I would probably choose a career in publishing – it seems an obvious career choice for someone who loves books as much as I do!

Fruit buying certainly sounds a glamorous way to earn a living! What are you working on next?

My second book comes out in September, so I’m putting the finishing touches to that, and working on another book at the same time.

I’ll definitely look forward to reading those. Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my questions today as part of the Behind Closed Doors blog tour, head over to cleopatralovesbooks for the next stop tomorrow.

 

BAParis

BA Paris

Amazon buy link:
http://amzn.to/1YuqFpv

Author info:

B A Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel

 

 

 

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Fever City by Tim Baker – a review BLOG TOUR

This was another free book that I picked up at the festival. It hadn’t really made it onto my reading radar until I had an email from the publisher inviting me to this blog tour. The description they sent intrigued me so I dug out my copy and I am delighted to be hosting the last stop of the Fever City Blog tour.

Fever City by Tim Baker is set around three different main story lines. It starts with the kidnapping of the son of rich businessman Rex Bannister. Private Investigator Nick Alston is asked to investigate and during this investigation he meets hitman Hastings. We then meet Hastings again in 1963 heading towards Dallas. The third of the three stories is set in 2014 when the journalist son of Nick Alston is researching the conspiracy theories of the 60s and looking at the assassination of JFK. The book switches backwards and forwards between the characters and their actions.

When I was at University I studied American History and have always been interested in the whole Kennedy era so mixing in some crime and some modern day meant this book was right up my street. Interspersed alongside the kidnapping plot we get to read about numerous historical characters that are synonymous with that time. Joe Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, J Edgar Hoover, they all make an appearance as we head towards the actual assassination.

This was a thoroughly fascinating novel that kept me gripped through to the end despite the rather long length (compared to my normal reading matter) There was a lot of mixing between time frames and viewpoints which took a while to get into. However once you got into it the book flowed easily and didn’t get as confusing as can sometimes be the case.

It is certainly not a book for the fainthearted as it doesn’t portray the romantic gentle Kennedy’s often seen. This is a much more hard boiled take on them, with some very violent scenes which is to be expected as soon as you get the know the characters a bit. Corruption, violence, mobsters – all those fascinating elements of 60’s America are covered here.

This novel cleverly mixes fact with fiction and creates an interesting mix of political thriller, historical conspiracy and family drama.  I would thoroughly recommend this novel for anyone with an interest in thrillers and the Kennedy assassination.

If you would like to find out more about the author then pop over to Crime thriller girl’s blog for a q and a.

 

 

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