Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Mystery, Noir, Suspense

For Better, For Worse, Jane Isaac 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @JaneIsaacAuthor #DCBethChamberlain #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #Domestic #noir #FamilyLiaisonOfficer #Author #Interview #BlogTour #BookReview #PoliceProcedural

Stuart Ingram was once a respected local councillor…

The first time the police knocked on Gina’s door, they arrested her husband.

The second time, they accused him of child abuse.

But he died a guilty man.

This time, the police are here for Gina – to tell her that her husband is dead. Murdered, just two weeks before his trial.

Gina always stood by her husband. Even when everyone else walked away. She believed the trial would clear his name. But now Stuart is dead.

And his wife is the suspect.

It’s a race against time for DC Beth Chamberlain to uncover the truth – especially when a second man turns up dead.

Domestic noir meets police procedural in this pacy thriller.

Previously published as Presumed Guilty.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Beth Chamberlain is a likeable, realistic character. Dedicated to her career, despite the problems in her personal life. As a family liaison officer, she needs great people skills and well-disguised investigative talent. She is uniquely placed to discover family tensions, and gain the trust of the victims’ relatives and find out the true story.

A historical suicide, a deliberate hit and run, which results in a man’s death. Emotions and suspense build, as the investigation proceeds. Further crimes, throw up more questions, than answers. The relentless investigation, finally finds the answers, leading to a devastating conclusion.

The story explores the concept of trial by social media, and the consequences, both personal and establishment, of this contemporary trend. The wife of the murdered man, who has stood by him, shows her strength of character in the face of public antagonism, against her late husband and her family.

The connection between the various crimes is cleverly interwoven. The police investigation is authentically portrayed. The domestic noir and suspense build gradually, giving the plot added depth and adding the ending’s impact.

Dark crime, complex characters and relatable police investigation team, make this addictive reading. Looking forward to the next one.

Author Interview – Jane Issacs – ‘For Better For Worst’ Blog Tour

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jane. I’m thrilled to be here!

Is there a particular event or person who inspired ‘For Better, For Worse’?

Ooh, I can’t say there was a particular event or person that inspired this story, more a combination of things I’ve read and watched in crime news and documentaries over the years. I was particularly struck with someone wrongly accused – or were they? Also, the challenge of being married to someone who holds a dark secret and when that secret is uncovered, the fallout of how they deal with it and ultimately how it affects the family unit.

The idea of a wife standing by her husband and the whole debate of did he/didn’t he seemed such an enticing project to work with.

 What comes first in your story creation process, character, plot or setting? Why do think this is?

I think it’s a combination of things that come in stages, like building blocks, and form the foundation of the story. Often one element influences another. For Better, For Worse is the second title in the DC Beth Chamberlain, Family Liaison Officer, series. Beth’s detective character and the setting of Northamptonshire were already established for the series, although I did have to research particular locations and site the new family. As the plot unravelled in my mind, I realised we needed another point of view in Gina Ingram (the councillor’s wife) and built her character into the story.

 Do you find dialogue easy to write? How do you create authentic-sounding dialogue in your novels?

I think dialogue can be very tricky to get right. I often imagine speaking it as I write and draft it without speech marks initially to avoid slowing myself down, then tidy it up later.

How do make you protagonists’ responses to a traumatic event believable?

Ooh, good question! Lots of research, talking to people who have been in the situation and reading in and around a similar event in the news or in books. Plus, I like to imagine myself in their shoes, if possible and see how I would react. Even after I’ve drafted a scene, I’ll come back to it and rewrite it several times before I’m completely happy.

Do you enjoy, or have time to read? What are your favourite genres?

Yes, I love to read and do so as much as I can. Crime fiction will always be my first love – I revel in the twists and turns of a good mystery, and love a page-turning psychological thriller. I recently read The Lying Room by Nicci French and couldn’t put it down!

That said, I do like to intersect my thrillers with other books. I’m currently reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd which is a beautifully written and uplifting literary novel.

Are there any other genres you would like to write in? If so, what are they, and why do they interest you?

I think the idea of creating your own fantasy world would be really interesting. I loved the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, though I’ve no plans to move at present!

Jane Isaac

Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.

Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, ganglit, Thriller

Risking It All Stephanie Hart 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @StephanieHarte3 #ganglit #crimefiction #thriller #London #BlogTour #Author #Interview #BookReview #PublicationDay

Gemma is about to risk it all for the man she loves. Will she survive entering into a life of crime?

Gemma has always been there for Nathan. He’s the love of her life and she made a commitment to him, one she’d never consider breaking… until smooth-talking gangster Alfie Watson comes into their lives and changes everything.

Alfie doesn’t care about true love – he wants Gemma, and the gangster always gets what he wants. When Nathan ends up owing him money, Alfie gets payback by recruiting Gemma to carry out a jewellery heist. To everyone’s surprise, she’s a natural. Until Alfie forgives Nathan’s debt, she has no choice but to accompany the gangster on more and more daring heists – even though one slip-up could cost her everything.

Nathan might have fallen under Alfie’s spell, but it doesn’t take long for him to realise that he needs to save Gemma from his own mistakes if their marriage is to have any chance of surviving. But when that means taking on the East End’s most notorious gangster at his own game, will he find himself up to the challenge?

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Fast-paced and detailed, this ganglit novel follows Gemma and Nathan’s fall into crime. Is it because of Nathan’s mistake? Or does, gangland boss Alfie have a sinister agenda?

The violence is mostly implied, rather than implicit in this book, which is unusual for this genre. The underlying menace is always there, as the couple’s enforced stealing spree, takes in Europe’s most glamorous cities. Told, from the three main characters points of view, you gain insight into each characters’ motivations.

Gemma follows her heart, she gave up a lot for Nathan and continues to do so. She’s intelligent and you may wonder why she sticks with such a selfish man. Love makes fools of all of us, and Nathan is Gemma’s weakness.

Nathan is irritating. He says, he loves Gemma, but he continues to drag her down and lacks the insight, to see what he is doing. Seeing the events unfold from his point of view, you do understand why he behaves as he does, but he is weak, and hard to empathise.

Alfie is the archetypical hard guy. His agenda is the reason Gemma’s life is in turmoil, but she proves to be a challenge, which leads to some unexpected outcomes for him.

An interesting read, which opens the door for more stories of Gemma, Nathan and Alfie.

Author Interview: Stephanie Harte – Risking It All

What inspired you to write ‘Risking It All?

My inspiration for the novel came from an article I’d read about a man who lost everything, including his wife and children, when his gambling addiction took over his life. I love to travel and have a huge interest in gangland crime, so I wanted to create a story that incorporated those elements as well.

When you begin a new story, what is the first thing you develop; characters, plot or setting? Why is this?

I develop a rough plot first. I like to know where the story is going before I create my characters. But when I start to write, the plot occasionally changes course along the way as the characters sometimes take it on a path I hadn’t originally planned.

What is the unique selling point of your story? What do you hope will make it stand out in the gang-lit genre?

In Risking It All, my heroine is forced to become a jewel thief to clear her husband’s debt. I hope the fact that I’ve written the story from the viewpoint of the three main characters will make it stand out in the gang-lit genre.

Do you find it easy or difficult to write dialogue? How do you make it sound natural and believable?

I like writing dialogue. I try to give each character their own distinct voice, to match their personality, to make the dialogue sound natural and believable.

What is the best thing about being a writer? Are there any negatives?

I like being able to work from home. It’s a big bonus as I get to spend all day with my dog while I’m doing something that I love. I haven’t encountered any negatives so far. In my experience, the writing community have been very supportive.

Do you enjoy reading? What are you reading at the moment?

I love reading. I’m currently reading Queenie by Kimberley Chambers.

What are currently writing?

I’m currently writing the third book in the series.

Stephanie Harte

Stephanie Hart is a debut author writing in the ganglit genre. She lives in London with her family. Twitter

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir

One Dark, Two Light Ruth Mancini 5* #Review @RuthMancini1 @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #crimefiction #noir #BlogTour #BookReview #Author #Interview #legal #family #drama #detective

New Year’s Eve, London.

Outside the Hope & Glory pub, a man has been left to die. A victim of extraordinary violence, he will never walk or speak again. He remains in hospital for months, until criminal defence lawyer Sarah Kellerman walks onto his ward.

Sarah barely recognises the man she once worked with – he was honourable and kind – what was he involved in? Who wanted him dead? But in her race to uncover the truth, Sarah comes to realise there are two men in her life that she never really knew at all…

From one of crime fiction’s most compelling voices, One Dark, Two Light is where the personal and criminal collide, as Sarah works to bring dark secrets into the light.

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You’re invested in this story from the first page. The relatable characters are easy to empathise. Drama, twists and intensity keep you absorbed and turning the pages, right until the end. Cleverly written the story, unfolds like a Pandora’s box of betrayal and lies. There are three main plot lines, two of which converge as the story progresses. The world-building is authentic, underscored by obvious knowledge, and research of the criminal and legal world and how they interact.

Character-driven, the main protagonist Sarah, a dedicated defence lawyer becomes personally involved in a case, which is prejudiced by a chance encounter. Sarah is easy to like, she’s emotional, impulsive and tenacious, good news for her clients, but she often risks her safety. Her home life is complex when her ex returns and her boyfriend is gravely ill. She is someone you want in your corner if you need help.

Fast-paced the story has disturbing, sinister undertones. The ending brings the plot strands to a believable, if unexpected conclusion, which is perfect for this addictive read.

Author Interview: Ruth Mancini– ‘One Dark, Two Light’ Blog Tour

 One Dark, Two Light’, is dark crime fiction, what are the inspirations behind it?

Well, the main inspiration came – sadly – from what happened to my father. He disappeared one New Year’s Eve and was found in a London hospital three months later by a work colleague. He’d had no ID when he came in, so no-one knew who he was. Then, bizarrely, the exact same thing happened to my brother just over twenty years later in almost the exact same area of London. Pretty dark, I know. I’ve also drawn a lot on what I do for a living when I’m not writing. I’m a criminal defence lawyer and so there is a wealth of material there.

How do you create your characters?

My characters usually just appear in my head. I can’t deny that I draw, to some degree, on people I know or have read about or have seen on TV, even if it’s just a case of borrowing their name or looking at a photo and then mixing them up with someone else and then developing them from there. It’s probably like creating your own recipe when you’re cooking. A little bit of this. Taste it. A bit more of that…and then they start grow as ‘real’ people as the story progresses and as you write.

What comes first in your creative writing process, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is? Is it the same for every story?

All of it comes together simultaneously for me. But I plot it first. I’m not a ‘pantser’, as we know it in the business – that’s the name writers give themselves when they write by the seat of their pants and hope it goes in the right direction! I’m sure many amazing works of fiction have been written that way and I doubt Dostoevsky plotted Crime and Punishment out first, but I find a little cold, calculated premeditation works for me!

What interests you about dark crime fiction? Do you enjoy reading books in this genre?

I enjoy reading books that have psychological depth. I don’t mind whether they’re dark, light, crime or something else, so long as I enjoy the characters and want to spend time in their world with them.

 How do you research your novels?

On the internet and by approaching professionals who can talk to me about their day job. I do a lot of research. I’ve been known to spend a day or longer researching one sentence! I probably need to cut that down a little …

Ruth Mancini

Ruth Mancini is a criminal defence lawyer, author and freelance writer. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, Noir, Political Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Last Drop of Blood Graham Masterton 5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @GrahamMasterton @GrahamMasterto1 #crimefiction #Detective #political #thriller #noir #Irish #suspense #Author #Interview #BookReview #BlogTour #KatieMaguire

The final thriller in the million-copy-selling Katie Maguire series.

In the driver’s seat of a Jaguar, on a country road, a good man burns.

Justice Garrett Quinn should have been at a sentencing. He was one of the good ones, fighting for order in a lawless world. In a burned-out car, on the outskirts of Cork, DS Katie Maguire finds what’s left of him.

But this is only the beginning. The judge’s death sparks a gang war fought with bullets and bombs, and civilians are caught in the crossfire. As the city spirals deeper into violence, Ireland’s most fearless detective must find the courage to fight for her hometown one last time.

Katie Maguire is no stranger to sacrifice – but she has lost so much already. Facing new horrors each day, Katie must decide: can she do her duty when she has nothing left to give?

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#TheLastDropOfBlood

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An action-orientated, crime thriller set in Cork. ‘The Last Drop of Blood is a mix of ganglit, police procedural and political thriller with a distinctive Irish ethos.

Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire battles against establishment misogyny, warring crime gangs and an indiscriminate murderer. Recently bereaved, her personal and professional lives clash. Despite this, her survival instinct keeps her moving forward, steadily solving the complex web of crimes and outwitting those who would prefer her to fail.

It’s addictive reading and leaves you in no doubt about the evil lurking on the streets of Cork. The dialogue draws you into an Irish world, and gives the story it’s engaging authenticity. The characters are complex and easy to visualise. You see the world as they see it, and sometimes it’s a scary place to be. The violence is vividly portrayed as are the episodes of domestic abuse. Sex is shown to be both a weapon and a solace for the characters in this story.

This is reputed to be the last in the series, but it is the first Katie Maguire crime thriller, I’ve read. There are many characters, but the story focuses on Katie’s point of view for the most part, with other characters offering theirs at pertinent moments. There is sufficient backstory to read this as a standalone, I was hooked from the beginning and the plot layers and reveals kept me turning the pages.

The crime detection is believable, and the clues are commensurate with the progression of the police investigation. The ending is powerful and leaves the door open.

Author Interview with Graham Masterton – ‘The Last Drop of Blood’ Blog Tour

What inspired you to write the Katie Maguire thrillers?

In 1999, my late wife Wiescka and I moved to Cork for a while, attracted (a) by a change of scenery since our three sons had all grown up and left home; and (b) by the fact that the Republic of Ireland does not charge authors income tax. We found a huge old Victorian house to rent in Montenotte, high above the River Lee, so that we could see the tankers and the pleasure boats passing to and fro from our upstairs windows.  

Cork is an extraordinary and interesting city, with a very varied and colourful history because it is the second deepest harbour in the world after Sydney and over the centuries has seen the arrival of Vikings, Spaniards, as well as Sir Francis Drake and his fleet. It was the last port of call for the Titanic before she set sail across the Atlantic. Because of that, it has a slang all its own and an accent quite distinct from the smooth Dublin Irish. People still say ‘take a sconce to that’ when they mean ‘take a look at it’ — in other words, hold up a candle to it. Shopping is ‘the messages’ and ‘benjy’ means a bad smell like BO, and ‘langered’ means drunk. 

I was fascinated by the city and its heritage…especially as the centre of the Irish struggle for independence in the 1920s. The British Army burned down the shopping centre of St Patrick Street in December of 1920 in revenge for an ambush of British Auxiliary Forces, and Cork is still known as the ‘Rebel County.’  I realised that very few thrillers had been set in Cork, if any, and that’s what inspired me to write the first novel about Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire. 

I also wanted to write about a woman who has been promoted to a high position in a male-dominated environment, and how she copes with resentment and misogyny from her male colleagues…as well as solving crimes and having a very tangled love life. My closest friends have always been women and even though a man will never be able to think like a woman 100 per cent, those friends have given me understanding and empathy with female thinking. 

At the moment one of those close friends Dawn G Harris and I are writing short horror stories together and I have never known two creative minds click together like ours. 

‘The Last Drop of Blood’, is the last in the series, are you sad to say goodbye to the character? How did you know the series was at an end?

To be honest, it was my publishers who suggested that after 11 Katie Maguire novels it might be time to take a break. They say it’s the last and maybe it will be, but it won’t be a spoiler to tell you that Katie survives and may live to fight crime another day. 

How do you create your characters? Are your characters, based partly on real-life individuals?

My characters seem to come to life spontaneously!  Of course, they are based on close observation of real people, particularly the way they talk and dress and react to stressful situations. But it’s amazing how they seem to be born fully-fleshed and with a personal history and a personality of their own…sometimes a personality that I wasn’t expecting and which causes problems in developing the story. I was trained as a newspaper reporter and so I was taught to notice everything about the way in which people behave, and this is tremendously useful in developing fictional characters. 

How do you create authentic-sounding dialogue in your novels?

If you were to write dialogue verbatim, in the way that people really speak, it would be either boring or incomprehensible (especially in the case of Corkinese) or both. So I have to write dialogue that ‘sounds’ real, even though it is more like film dialogue. I studied Cork slang and use quite a lot of it in the Katie Maguire thrillers to make them sound realistic, but if I had quoted it in the way that it is actually spoken, none of my readers would have been able to understand a word of it. Such as ‘he’s the bulb off your man in that thing’ = ‘he looks exactly like the actor in that other film that I can’t remember the name of’.’ and ‘the place was jointed’ = the club was so crowded it was difficult to push your way through and ‘that 3-in-1 gave me the gawks’ = that curry rice and chips made me puke. Every sentence has the word ‘like’ in it somewhere, and almost every sentence ends with ‘d’ya know what I mean, like?’

Do you enjoy reading crime fiction? If so, what attracts you to this genre? Or, do you prefer to read other genres?

I read almost no fiction at all of any genre. When you have been writing fiction all day it would be like being a chef and spending the evening cooking. Also I am highly critical of my own writing and just as critical of other writers and if I come across a poorly-developed plot or an awkward sentence, it totally suspends my disbelief. Almost all of my reading is non-fiction, especially historical books, for research. 

Are writing another crime fiction series? If so, can you share a little about it here?

In parallel to Katie Maguire I have written two crime novels set in the 1750s in both London and America – SCARLET WIDOW and THE COVEN. The heroine is Beatrice Scarlet, who is the daughter of an apothecary. Her childhood training from her father in chemicals gives her the qualifications to be something of an 18th-century CSI. I am planning to write more about Beatrice but I also have ideas for another major crime series, but it is a little too early in its development to share it at the moment. I promise you, though, it will be very unusual. And of course I continue to write horror fiction….the Horror Writers Association gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award last year so it would be churlish not to! 

Graham Masterton

Graham Masterton trained as a newspaper reporter before beginning a career as an author. After twenty-five years writing horror and thrillers, Graham turned his talent to crime writing.

The first book in the Katie Maguire series, ‘White Bones’, was published by Head of Zeus in 2012 and became a top-ten bestseller. The series was inspired by Graham’s five-year stay in County Cork.

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Posted in Author Interview, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Romance

Lorna Gray Author Interview Mrs Ps Book of Secrets/The Book Ghost #AuthorInterview @MsLornaGray @0neMoreChapter_ #30DaysofBookBlogs #PublicationDay #LiteraryFiction #HistoricalFiction #Romance #Mystery

#LornaGray #AuthorInteview

December 14 2019 is publication day for Mrs Ps Book of Secrets (UK) and The Book Ghost (US). I reviewed this original literary fiction novel on Wednesday, as the first stop on the #30DaysofBookBlogs Tour. Read my review here

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Today I have an author interview with Lorna Gray to share…

Author interview with Lorna Gray

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets (UK) / The Book Ghost (US)

What are the inspirations behind your latest story?

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets explores several themes, such as loss, returning home, belonging and family. But as you probably don’t want an essay from me, I’ll just describe the first idea I had for this book – where it all began.

The opening lines in the book speak about Lucy’s mother and grandmother performing a rather unusual war service. They were spiritualists and throughout WWII they regularly held séances in an attempt to guide the wandering souls of poor lost soldiers out of the filthy quagmire of war into the peace of the hereafter.

Those few lines in the book are autobiographical. Only in my case, it was my grandmother and great-grandmother. They acted on the principle that some of the war dead might be so shocked by their sudden end that their souls wouldn’t quite know how to move on. My great-grandmother believed she was playing a vital role in reaching out a kindly hand to them through the medium of a séance. She certainly gave comfort to their families at home who had received awful news.

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets grew from that little piece of history. It is in part a ghost story, although this definitely isn’t a novel about wartime spiritualism. What those women did was done in the spirit of giving. I didn’t want to turn the dead into a speaking part for Lucy, my heroine, where she might simply move a marker around a table to instantly demand answers to her questions.

Instead, her story is more about being sensitive to the echoes that are left behind when someone has passed. Have you ever gone into the library of an old house or a quiet garden and felt a sense of the people who have gone before? Do you ever go somewhere and find that your mind can strip away the modern layer from the scene to leave you with an idea of its history?

This is what Lucy experiences as she is pushed by the secrets of her uncle’s publishing business into exploring the boundaries between her memories and an old mystery that ought to have nothing to do with her at all.

I wanted her to walk that very fine line between reaching out and letting go.

And while she experiences all of that, I particularly wanted her to find a new friendship with Robert, her uncle’s second editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press. He is the key to the other elements of the story, which involve books, and being valued, and about putting down roots in a new place and discovering whether or not they will hold firm.

Ampney St Mary near Fairford and Cirencester helped to inspire the mystery
Image Credit Lorna Gray

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets / The Book Ghost is set in the immediate post-war era, 1946. What made you choose this particular time?

I knew I wanted to bring Lucy home to a small old fashioned publishing business. I nearly set it in the present day. But then I uncovered a small piece of research about paper rationing in the war and post-war period.

Paper rationing had a massive impact on books and publishing in the 40s and early 50s. Did you know that during the war, one of the big London publishers – Penguin, I think – managed to get a large order to supply paperbacks to the Canadian army? They didn’t take payment in the form of money. They arranged for the Canadian government to send them a shipload of paper across the Atlantic because they were so desperate for supplies.

After discovering all that, I couldn’t wait to delve into the world of a small publishing business and its secrets in the era of paper rationing.

Moreton in Marsh was a wonderfully atmospheric location for a 1940s publishing business
Image Credit Lorna Gray

What is it about the post-war period that interests you?

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets is my fourth historical novel. You may not be aware that before writing this mystery, each of my previous novels has been inspired by oral history. I have always been passionate about understanding the past. The post-war period is long enough ago that for me it satisfies my urge to write about history, and yet it is modern enough that when I want to know more, I can simply ask someone to share their memories.

It makes writing and researching the period endlessly fascinating.

Do you enjoy writing stories that cross the genre boundaries? Why is this?

The way my writing seems to cross genre boundaries must come from my own reading. I don’t think I’m ever constrained by genre. I read anything from classics to modern romance and literary masterpieces and memoir.

How do you research your stories? 

Everything is researched, even down to the details of the weather. Luckily, the internet is an extraordinary resource. And then I ask people to share their memories too.

When you aren’t writing, what other interests do you have?

I keep far too many animals! Some years ago, I had the idea that I might breed goats, but when it came to finding good homes for the kids (young goats), it turned out to be very hard indeed. People weren’t terribly honest about what they intended to do with them. So now my husband and I have a large and ageing herd of pets, and they give me endless hours of happiness.

When reading to relax, what kind of books do you choose? Why do they appeal to you?

I treasure any book that has many layers. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who finds it impossible to judge a book by its cover. So I always read based on recommendations by a few trusted people. I also love to return to favourite books, discovering new details each time.

An obvious example is that I’ve read Pride and Prejudice many times. I first read it when I was a teenager and I vividly remember that initially, I could only see the characters through Elizabeth’s eyes. But then I read the book again some years later, and it turned out that the evidence had been there all along that characters such as Mr Darcy really weren’t as Elizabeth believed them to be. I love that depth of detail.

 Can you give us a brief insight into Mrs P’s Book of Secrets /The Book Ghost?

Look out for the accidental misspellings of Ashbrook. There are a few deliberate typos for the purpose of the plot, but the more I explored the concept of ‘an influence’, on Lucy’s search for the secret of a little girl’s abandonment, the more these errors crept in. For all my wise words about there being no tangible apparition in this book, the ghost certainly wanted to have his or her say. I asked the proofreader to leave them untouched.

There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.

The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.

But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.

For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…

Posted in Author Interview, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Noir

The Orange Grove Kate Murdoch #Author #Interview @KateMurdoch3 @RegalHouse1 #Lies #Secrets, #historicalfiction #18Century #France #historicalromance

#The Orange Grove

Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. 

Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the Duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.

The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.

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Read my 5* Review of The Orange Grove

Author Interview – Kate Murdoch – The Orange Grove

What inspired you to write ‘The Orange Grove’?

Since my teens I’ve loved everything about French culture—I’ve studied the language and travelled to France numerous times. So, the idea of writing a French book felt like a natural step. I’m also fascinated by the period of Louis XIV’s rule, the extreme decadence of life at court and for nobles in general before the Revolution. This made researching the book a joy because I discovered many details about how people lived, their outlooks, and what their motivations were at different levels of society. 

When you begin a new story, what is the first thing you develop; characters, plot or setting? Why is this?

The setting, because I can’t have an understanding of what might happen in the story and who my characters might be if I don’t know the context of their immediate environment and the historical background.

What is the unique selling point of your story? What do you hope will make it stand out in the historical fiction genre?

A lot of historical fiction focuses on a key event and/or a particular historical figure. In The Orange Grove, I was interested in exploring how a fixation on status and position, prevalent in France in the early 18th century, might have impacted peoples’ behaviour and their relationships. How self-preservation can erode integrity and morality.

Do you find it easy or difficult to write dialogue? How do you make historical dialogue sound natural and believable?

I find it relatively easy once I work out who my characters are. It’s one of my techniques for understanding my characters—I figure out who they are as I write dialogue and watch them speak to one another. Perhaps that’s why I write a lot of dialogue! I would say I’m the most immersed in the act of writing during these ‘conversations.’

What is the best thing about being a writer? Are there any negatives?

The sense of community and understanding shared with other writers. I really enjoy the friendships and connections I’ve made since becoming a writer. I also feel so much joy when a reader understands and enjoys my words, is immersed in my stories. That’s very satisfying. A negative would be being so consumed that it’s sometimes hard to find a balance with other aspects of my life.

Do you enjoy reading? What are you reading at the moment?

I adore reading. At the moment I’m devouring The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt alongside research books for a new project.

What are you currently writing?

I’m writing a dual-timeline story set in World War Two Croatia and 1960’s Melbourne, through the perspectives of three generations of women.

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone CircleShe exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press, December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate was awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel,
The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Festive Read, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance

Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage Katie Ginger 5*#Review @KatieGAuthor @HQDigitalUK #Festive #ChristmasRead #Romance #Friendship @rararesources #BlogTour #Author #Interview

#SnowflakesatMistletoeCottage

On a grey, London day, Esme’s world crumbles around her when she loses her glitzy job on a top TV programme, her gorgeous, city-slicker boyfriend and her stunning apartment, all in one fell swoop just before Christmas.

Esme is forced suddenly to move back to her sleepy hometown of Sandchester, and despite the snow blanketing the roof and the fairy lights that twinkle in her rustic little cottage, everything is looking bleak. That is until she reconnects with an old crush and finds herself unexpectedly getting swept away.

But Joe, handsome and charming as he is, is not all he seems. Esme soon realises that he has a tragic past which he just might not be able to overcome…

Surrounded by her loving, if harebrained, family and with the support of her hilarious friends, Esme is determined to have a go at forging her own path, even if it all comes to nothing. But one question still lingers in her mind: will she find someone to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

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I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The scene on the cover may be picture-perfect, but that isn’t Esme’s life when she returns to her home town and finds solace in a run-down country cottage. Joe is living half a life, scared to try again and overcome his tragic past.

The main protagonists are complex and emotionally damaged, they find something in each other that gives them hope, but is it enough to take the final step? The cast of characters, Esme’s family and friends are wonderfully eccentric and flawed. Despite the emotional roller coaster Esme and Joe are riding, there are lovely humorous scenes in this story that lighten it without diminishing the conflicts they have to overcome. There is lots of festive moments and some delicious sounding recipes.

A lovely festive themed romance with plenty of heartwarming moments.

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Author Interview – Katie Ginger – Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

What do you enjoy about writing festive stories?

I’m pretty crazy about Christmas and I start getting excited as soon as the kids go back to school in September, so writing festive stories is never a hardship! I make notes and plot during winter so I’m fully immersed in it. I just love everything about Christmas — the planning, the gifts, the tree, and especially the food. It’s that that gets me really excited! And writing festive stories means I can pretend there’s a white Christmas, even if we never actually get one!

Festive stories are often written out of season, to fit in with publishing schedules, how do you get in the festive mood in the Summertime?

When it’s going well, writing is like watching a movie in my head and I have to keep up with what the characters are doing, describing their actions and acting like a narrator showing the reader their feelings. When it’s like this, I disappear into the story and kind of forget about the world outside. Plus, I’m one of those people who is always cold, which helps! When it’s not going well, I shove on a Christmas movie or playlist and get myself in the mood.

What inspired you to write this story?

I am completely obsessed with Christmas cookery shows! It’s actually pretty bad and my family hate it, but as soon as they come on I get all excited and start watching them. Then one day, in the middle of an episode, I just had a second where I imagined what happens when the director shouts ‘cut’ and suddenly Esme appeared! It really all went from there. But one thing I was sure of was that I wanted to have the hero carrying the emotional baggage rather than the heroine, so poor Joe got all the bad luck!

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

It really varies from story to story. For The Little Theatre on the Seafront the setting came first, for Summer Season on the Seafront it was the plot and for ‘Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage’, it was the character of Esme. It really depends on what’s inspired the story and how my imagination decides to work (or not!).

Do you have an ideal setting for your festive holiday?

I really love those Hallmark movies where there’s a little town and a big wooden lodge with an enormous tree! They’re my favourites. Having said that, I live by the sea and there’s nothing better than a walk along the harbour on Christmas Day. As long as there’s a roaring log fire somewhere you can’t go far wrong.

What are the best things about Christmas for you? Is there anything about the festive season you don’t like? Why is this?

The best thing about Christmas is definitely ALL the Christmas food! The decadent deserts, the hearty meals — and let’s be honest, the gluttony! The only thing I don’t like is the weight I put on! And I love the traditions. My mum always makes the Christmas puddings with my children and we have to stir three times clockwise and make a wish before they’re finished. My husband and I have our own Christmas traditions with our kids too. We always take a walk along the beach on Christmas Eve morning, in the dark, and then we watch Home Alone in the afternoon. I think those sorts of things are the best things about Christmas because they’re so unique to every family. And you can create your own traditions at any time!

Which books do you enjoy reading?  Do you have a favourite genre?

Of course, I love romance stories, but I also enjoy reading cosy mysteries. I’m particularly fond of ones set in the 1920s to 1950’s. I’ve just found a writer called Marlowe Benn, and I’m really enjoying her novel Relative Fortunes (A Julia Kydd Novel Book 1). It’s set in 1920’s New York and is fab and feels really glam. Perfect for autumn afternoons!

What are you currently writing?

I’m actually just about to start writing my Christmas 2020 novel! Being able to write over the festive period will be so much fun. I really can’t wait! And I’m so excited about this story even though I can’t give you any details right now!

#KatieGinger

KATIE GINGER lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage is her third novel. She is also the author of the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront. When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be performed like a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy’s face. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).

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