Posted in Crime Fiction

Vote for your favourite title from the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 shortlist #TheakstonAward @HarrogateFest @Theakston1827 @midaspr #pressrelease

Elly Griffiths | Joseph Knox | Laura Shepherd Robinson
Mick Herron | Vaseem Khan| Will Dean

Vote Here

The shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, has been announced today, with six bestselling authors competing to win the UK’s most prestigious crime writing prize.

The coveted award, now in its eighteenth year, celebrates crime fiction at its very best, with this year’s shortlist taking readers from newly independent India to the tension of a remote Fenlands cottage, from a nail-biting missing persons’ investigation in Manchester to the wilds of North Norfolk, and from the hedonism of Georgian London to the murky world of international espionage. Selected by the public from a longlist of eighteen novels, with a record number of votes being placed this year, the list of six novels features newcomers to the shortlist, two New Blood panellists, a previous Festival Programming Chair, and a five-time shortlistee. None of this year’s shortlistees has ever taken home the prize before, making the competition even tenser.

Elly Griffiths, who was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair in 2017, is shortlisted for the fifth time for The Night Hawks, the thirteenth instalment in her popular Ruth Galloway series. The Night Hawks sees Norfolk’s favourite forensic archaeologist Galloway called when a group of metal detectorists discover a body buried on a beach with Bronze Age treasure, a find which will lead to a series of murders seemingly linked to the local legend of a spectral dog whose appearance heralds death.

Sunday Times bestseller True Crime Story, the first standalone novel from Joseph Knox, blends fact and fiction to tell the gripping story of a 19-year-old university student who leaves a party in her student halls and is never seen again. Knox, who was selected by Val McDermid as a New Blood panellist in 2017, was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2018 for his thriller Sirens the following year, but has never previously reached the shortlist stage. 

Historical crime writer Laura Shepherd Robinson continues her incredible streak as her second novel Daughters of Night is shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, two years after her debut Blood & Sugar was longlisted for the award in 2020. Robinson’s evocative novel transports readers to the seedy underworld of Georgian London, as Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham tries to solve the murder of a prostitute in the infamous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an investigation which will delve into the darkest corners of high society.

Bestselling author Mick Herron is longlisted for Slough House, the tenth instalment in his series of the same name, which was recently adapted by Apple TV as spy drama Slow Horses, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas. Herron will be hoping to take home the prize this year, with 2022 marking the fifth time in the past six years he has secured a place on the shortlist.

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan, the first in a new series chronicling the investigations of India’s first female police detective, marks Khan’s first time reaching the shortlist. The novel introduces readers to Inspector Persis Wadia as she is plucked from obscurity in a basement office and tasked with solving the murder of an English diplomat as the country prepares to become the world’s biggest republic.

Finally, The Last Thing to Burn sees bestselling author and New Blood 2018 panellist Will Dean move away from the Nordic setting of his acclaimed Tuva Moodyson series in favour of a claustrophobic thriller set on the British fenlands. The Last Thing to Burn, which has secured Dean his first ever placement on the shortlist, sees a woman held captive in a remote cottage by a man who calls her Jane and insists she is his wife. She has long abandoned hopes of escape, until she finds a reason to live and finds herself watching and planning, waiting for the right moment to act. 

The six novels shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 are:

·       The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Quercus Fiction)

·       True Crime Story by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)

·       Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle/Pan)

·       Slough House by Mick Herron (Baskerville)

·       Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

·       The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean (Hodder & Stoughton)

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added“What a fantastic shortlist, six thrilling tales which deliver shocking twists and unforgettable characters! We raise a glass of Theakston Old Peculier to all of the shortlistees and look forward to revealing the winner in July as we kick off the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, commented: “We are delighted to announce this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year shortlist, featuring six novels by some of the most exciting crime writers working today. Whisking readers around the world and through time, this shortlist is a fantastic demonstration of the variety to be found in crime fiction. The public has a tough task ahead of choosing just one winner and we can’t wait to see who they vote for!”

The public is now invited to vote for a winner at www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com. Voting closes on Friday 8th July, with the winner to be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 21st July. The winner will receive a £3,000 prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and the Express, and is open to full-length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 by UK and Irish authors.

Posted in Blog Tour, Guest post, New Books

Blue Running Lori Ann Stephens #GuestPost #BlogTour @lorifromtexas @midaspr @moonflowerbooks #ComingofAge #Thriller #literaryfiction #Texas #urban #BlueRunning

In the new Republic of Texas, open-carry gun ownership is mandatory, fundamentalist religion is the norm, violent motorcycle gangs terrorise the towns, the police are corrupted, and vigilantes guard the Wall that keeps people out and in. It is in this setting that Bluebonnet Andrews has grown up in the small town of Blessing with her alcoholic deputy father, her mother had fled the country just before Texas’ borders were closed to the rest of the world.

When a firearm accident kills Blue’s best friend, the Texas Rangers accuse her of murder. The penalty for murder is death, regardless of your age. Terrified, Blue goes on the run. In this journey away from the only home she has ever known, Blue joins up with a Latin American teenager named Jet, who is also on the run. Blue’s vague plans of crossing the border and finding her mother are galvanized by Jet’s situation: the 16-year-old is pregnant. She needs to cross the Wall into America, where abortion is still legal. But is freedom of choice worth dying for?

Blue Running addresses issues of feminism, nationalism, women’s rights, racial injustice, immigration, and gun ownership, framed through the intimate tale of two young women from different backgrounds reacting to the system. Underlying these surface issues are their own personal struggles: histories of abandonment, abuse, sexual assault, racism, and individual agency.

Lori Stephens is a massive new talent in the literary fiction thriller scene. Her writing is sparse, fearless, and real. Blue Running pulls no punches. A fast-paced, page-turning, chilling book that looks unflinchingly at what the future could hold, Blue Running is unforgettable and important. This is her first book to be published in the UK.

Guest Post: Writing Forgiveness By Lori Ann Stephens

It’s been a year. I live in Texas, where it’s not unusual to be stopped dead in your tracks by an astonishing pink and gold sunset or a melodramatic moon. But under this wide Texas sky, I’ve been stopped dead in my tracks by some equally astonishing headlines. It seems that the pandemic wasn’t quite shocking enough for our Texas legislators. From the “heartbeat law” abortion ban to the new gun law that allows adults without a permit or training to openly carry a gun, millions of Texans feel a blend of betrayal, anger, and trepidation. Over the past few weeks (because 2021 isn’t over yet, and it wants to deliver one final punch), a growing number of conservative groups have pressured school administrations to ban – and even burn – books that don’t align with their personal (religious) ideologies. It’s not surprising that most of the books are written by or about the minority and LGBTQ experience. It’s easy to get angry and demonize those who want to restrict freedom of expression, limit others’ civil rights, and endanger lives with intolerant ideologies.

How do writers write under such heavy emotional burdens of recent headlines? It’s easy to turn those forces into antagonists, to cast them as the evil characters in stories and watch them wreak havoc and suffer the consequences. But then you get cardboard stock characters who are two-dimensional and unrewarding for readers. I’ve found that writing about oppressive situations (and oppressive people) helps me better understand what it means to be human. I try to create complex characters who are flawed, but I also have to remind myself that even the deeply flawed antagonists are grappling with insurmountable fear or anger. And that fear or anger can be 1) infectious, and 2) calamitous.

From the initial drafting process of Blue Running, I knew that my main character, a naïve girl named Bluebonnet, would suffer from an unhealthy home environment. Her father, whom she calls “Daw,” is an alcoholic who slipped into depression and addiction after his wife left the Republic of Texas when borders closed. Daw loves Blue, but his addiction chips away at his ability to empathize with Blue’s increasingly dire situation. He’s guided by his fear that his daughter will turn out like her mother. And his bigotry has poisoned his critical thinking: he bases his beliefs and his reason on gut feelings. I guess that creating Daw was my way of exploring my frustration with the increasing number of people who spread disinformation, who think compassion is for the weak, and who force narrow ideologies onto others’ private lives.

In the end, as a writer, I needed to find forgiveness for Daw so that I could write him as a three-dimensional character. I needed to be reminded that he was a human capable of love, even if the other parts of him did not add up to love for humanity. In the process, I found that humans, like ideologies, are messy and boggling and complex, but love (yes, it’s cheesy and clichéd) love and empathy could mend a lot of the messes we’ve made.

Lori Ann Stephens

Lori Ann Stephens is an award-winning author whose American published novels include Novalee and the Spider Secret, Some Act of Vision, and Song of the Orange Moons. Her short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories and other literary presses. She is also the winner of The Chicago Tribune’s “Nelson Algren Awards.” A lifelong Texan, she’s seen the best and worst of her home state and has come to the conclusion that Texans are truly fabulous at heart. She teaches creative writing and critical reasoning at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“Having grown up in Texas, I’ve experienced the threat of various freedoms, a fundamentalist past, and the paradox of living in “the Friendly State.” It is both terribly friendly and deeply terrifying. In creating Blue Andrews, I wanted to peel back the layers of my own childhood, rife with hope and the naïve perceptions of right and wrong and justice. Of course, Blue is a product of a patriarchal and racist system, but she’s also sceptical and curious—always watching and listening and figuring out her world. Beyond our state borders, I’ve also seen my world become more xenophobic and less compassionate, and this is my response. I don’t know that it’s an activist or political response, but this girl certainly must face her own demons as well as the demons that far-right politics have unleashed. At heart, it’s a tale of humanity.”

“I began writing the novel in 2018, after I started mentally collecting snippets of heated conversations about gun rights. Usually it was the Second Amendment defenders who were worked up to a heightened state of pathos, which is much more common now than the stoic Texan of the past. I straddle two worlds – the world of my gun-toting brother who lives in the countryside and encounters rattlesnakes and wild boars on a regular basis, and the world of my university colleagues who live in the city and overwhelmingly support stronger gun control laws.”

Author of Blue Running – Lori Ann Stephens

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books

White Dog Rupert Whewell 4* Review #WhiteDogBook @wearewhitefox @WhiteDogBook @midaspr #thriller #literaryfiction #publicationday

White Dog is a literary thriller set against the backdrop of the contemporary art world. It follows the fortunes of Ryder, a cynical art deal who aspires to the heights, yet despises the people who populate those realms.

On his way to the top, back down, and back up again, Ryder encounters a picaresque collection of characters and gets drawn into a web of intrigue that involves murder, money-laundering, and materialism. But can his newfound fame and fortune ever make up for the loss of the one thing he ever really valued in life?

White Dog will take you on a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and art – of violence, blackmail, hedonism, and dark politics. Are you ready to face the wolves?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Described as a literary thriller, I was intrigued to read this story completed and published posthumously by the author’s sister.

The author’s love of words is evident in his lyrical writing full of literary and sensory imagery. The writing style is in sharp contrast to the plot and setting that depicts a contemporary art world riven with materialistic people with little true feeling for the art they seek to possess.

Ryder, the main protagonist, is a young, ambitious art dealer who wants to be part of the art world’s elite even though he appears to despise them and what they represent. The story follows his career and life. Vividly depicted characters bring the story to life, but Ryder remains a mystery. He is self-absorbed, certainly, but his true self is hard to discern.

More literary fiction than thriller, but this will appeal to readers who enjoy this genre.

The only novel from budding author Rupert Whewell, who sadly lost his life in a tragic climbing accident in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas. At the time of his death, the manuscript of White Dog was left incomplete, with Rupert’s plans for the book’s ending remaining a mystery.

As a tribute to her brother and his love of words, Rupert’s sister Lisa Anson worked closely with renowned author John McDonald to complete White Dog, which allowed her to come to terms with his unexpected passing.

This book has been a long time in the making. Rupert always loved writing and talked often about his desire to write a book. Distracted by a full life and being present with his friends and family, it remained in the background, referenced, and variously started without real progress. In his late forties, he started to put pen to paper in earnest and White Dog was born. Rupert was a very special person; not just to me – as a lifelong presence – but to his many friends. His tragic death is something I will never get over and will never forget.

I have taken on the task of finishing and publishing his book, which he left 80 percent complete. It was important to me to see his story through and share his writing. It brought me closer to Rupert, and I hope it will keep his memory alive for those that knew him and will entertain others who did not.”

Lisa Anson, Rupert’s sister.
Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Cover Reveal, Literary Fiction, New Books

White Dog Rupert Whewell #CoverReveal #WhiteDogBook @wearewhitefox @midaspr #thriller #literaryfiction #preorder #18November2021

White Dog is a literary thriller set against the backdrop of the contemporary art world. It follows the fortunes of Ryder, a cynical art deal who aspires to the heights, yet despises the people who populate those realms.

On his way to the top, back down, and back up again, Ryder encounters a picaresque collection of characters and gets drawn into a web of intrigue that involves murder, money-laundering, and materialism. But can his new-found fame and fortune ever make up for the loss of the one thing he ever really valued in life?

White Dog will take you on a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and art – of violence, blackmail, hedonism, and dark politics. Are you ready to face the wolves?

Publish date: Thursday 18 November 2021 – Whitefox- Paperback & eBook

#preorder Amazon UK

RUPERT WHEWELL was born in Buckinghamshire in 1969. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from Downing College, Cambridge, before working in advertising in Hong Kong and later as a recruitment consultant. He established his own firm, Bateman Gray – named after the respected protagonists of his two favourite novels – in London, specialising in placing bankers. A keen adventurer, Rupert loved hillwalking, climbing and skiing, counting skiing down Mont Blanc as one of his greatest triumphs.

With his fiftieth birthday looming, he joined a group setting out to climb peaks in the Nanda Devi area of India in May 2019. An avalanche brought about his early death in the Himalayas, together with the loss of his seven climbing companions. He is survived by his mother Elaine, brother Andrew and sister Lisa, having no children of his own.


White Dog is his first novel, published posthumously.

The only novel from budding author Rupert Whewell, who sadly lost his life in a tragic climbing accident in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas. At the time of his death, the manuscript of White Dog was left incomplete, with Rupert’s plans for the book’s ending remaining a mystery.

As a tribute to her brother and his love of words, Rupert’s sister Lisa Anson worked closely with renowned author John McDonald to complete White Dog, which allowed her to come to terms with his unexpected passing.

This book has been a long time in the making. Rupert always loved writing and talked often about his desire to write a book. Distracted by a full life and being present with his friends and family, it remained in the background, referenced, and variously started without real progress. In his late forties, he started to put pen to paper in earnest and White Dog was born. Rupert was a very special person; not just to me – as a lifelong presence – but to his many friends. His tragic death is something I will never get over and will never forget.

I have taken on the task of finishing and publishing his book, which he left 80 percent complete. It was important to me to see his story through and share his writing. It brought me closer to Rupert, and I hope it will keep his memory alive for those that knew him and will entertain others who did not.”

Lisa Anson, Rupert’s sister.
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Crime Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Political Thriller

The Garfield Conspiracy Owen Dwyer 4* #Review @OwenDwyerAuthor @LibertiesPress @midaspr #BlogTour #BookReview #publicationday #histfic #psycholgical #contemporaryfiction #TheGarfieldConspiracy #IrishFiction #LiteraryFiction

A burnt-out writer is visited by the characters he is researching while writing a book about the mysterious assassination of US President James Garfield.

Richard Todd, an award-winning writer, is outwardly successful but inwardly plagued by uncertainties. Worst of all, he can’t seem to write any more. When a bright young editor, Jenny Lambe, arrives on his doorstep to work with him on his latest book, about the assassination of US president James Garfield, his life is sent spinning off in a new direction.

President Garfield was killed by Charles Guiteau, who was tried and hanged for the murder. But was he acting alone, in July 1881, or was there a more sinister force at work? Richard hears Guiteau’s voice in his head, and as his relationship with Jenny deepens, he is visited by other characters from the assassination drama – including Garfield himself, his Secretary of State James Blaine, Republican senator Roscoe Conkling, Conkling’s mistress Kate Chase Sprague, and the investigating police officer, Detective McElfresh. Are they helping Richard to solve the mystery surrounding Garfield’s murder – or pushing him further towards the edge?

A remarkable, disturbing portrait of a middle-aged man torn between his carefully constructed life and new adventures which may beckon, in the present and the past, from one of Ireland’s most exciting emerging authors, and based on original research into a little-known period in US history.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An engaging medley of historical and literary fiction, this original story is a satisfying read. It begins with a once-successful author being confronted with his failings by a young historical researcher at the behest of his publisher. Richard is a little stereotypical, as is Jenny, but this is intentional, and the reasoning becomes clear as the story progresses.

The author explores contemporary issues in a thought-provoking way. The story’s historical aspect is refreshing and well-researched. The appearance of the salient characters in the story brings it to vibrant life. The twist is unexpected and completes this unique story perfectly.

Owen Dwyer

Owen Dwyer is a prize-winning short-story writer who has won the Hennessy Emerging Fiction Prize, the Silver Quill (twice), the Smiling Politely Very Very Short Story competition, the South Tipperary County Council Short Story competition and the Biscuit Fiction Prize, and has had stories published in Whispers and Shouts magazine. His previous novel, Number Games, was published to glowing reviews by Liberties Press in 2019, and follows The Cherry-picker (2012) and The Agitator (2004). Owen lives in Dublin with his wife and their three children.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Friendship, Political Thriller, Romance

Codename Firefly C.J. Daugherty 5*#Review @CJ_Daugherty @moonflowerbooks @midaspr @agentmilburn #Number10 #BlogTour #BookReview #YAThriller #Conspiracy #ComingofAge #Spy #Political #CodenameFirefly

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is an excellent sequel to the impactful and intriguing Number 10, which I enjoyed despite being considerably older than the Teen/Young Adult audience this series is aimed at.

Gray, target for the paparazzi, and terrorists is a resident at an exclusive boarding school renowned for keeping dependants of VIPS safe and secure. This book explores her adventures and relationships and the conspiracy that threatens the prime minister her mother.

It’s a balance of coming of age and political thriller that delivers an intriguing, insightful story.

Read my review of Number 10

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, New Books

Earthlings : The Beginning Ray Star 5*#Review @RayStarBooks @chronospublish @midaspr #Earthlings #ReadGreen #SavethePlanet #magick #dysotopian #animals #BlogTour #BookReview #AuthorInterview #QandA #MondayBlogs

A twisting tale of elemental magick and a broken ecosystem, Earthlings is the spellbinding debut from Ray Star exploring family, friendship and the intrinsic value of nature

Peridot Watkins has always lived a very sheltered life. Raised on a remote island by an over-protective mother, she has never spoken to anyone outside of her family.

Until one day, a strange boy Euan knocks on her window, mumbling about escape from captivity on the mainland and Peri quickly learns that the world isn’t safe for people like them. It isn’t safe for Elementals, those who have the power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

On her quest to learn the truth, Peri escapes the island to discover that the world is worse than she could have possibly imagined. Humans are slaves, animals can talk and the world is run by unruly chickens.

Peri is thrown into a world she barely understands; caught in an ongoing battle for freedom and struggling to command her magick whilst trying to find Euan, who is entangled with people who may not be as straight forward as they seem. Peri’s abilities may be what is needed to save humanity but at what cost?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Earthlings is intended for the young adult fantasy age group, but it explores issues that affect everyone. There is something in this story to capture most people’s interest. It envisages an alternative world where the balance of power shifts from humanity to the animal world. Whether you are an advocate of animal welfare or not, it’s hard not to see that current practices using animals are likely to harm not just them but humans too.

Peri’s sheltered life leaves her unprepared for her exceptional skills and the real world she encounters. This story is about how she copes and the difference she can make. It’s a coming-of-age fantasy story, but its setting and the world-building gives it a dystopian ethos. The inhumanity shown to animals is reversed in this world with humans as the farmed captive creatures. The story has a serious message that is impactful because of the quality of the storytelling. Adventure, friendship, family and relationships are all explored. Magickal practices feature strongly in this story through the main protagonist and as a major plot strand giving this story an engaging vibrancy.

The characters are believably crafted and draw the reader quickly into a world that should defy belief but doesn’t.

Q&A with Ray Star – #Earthlings

When creating your story, which comes first, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is?

I am going to be completely honest with you, I have no plan of action when it comes to writing. The words find their way to me when I’m in the moment, and I rarely, if ever, know what I am going to write.

The Earthlings story came to me bizarrely when I was at lunch with my mother, a few weeks after my dad’s funeral. We were seated next to a small tropical fish tank, and I remember feeling so sad for the fish that would inevitably spend their lives swimming round in circles, never experiencing freedom.

I remember vividly, turning to Mum and saying quite out of the blue, “I’m going to write a book about animals that can talk.”

She stopped eating, put her fork down and said with a smile, “Well, why not?”

“Yes,” I thought, “why not indeed?”

I looked down at my dad’s ring that I wear always, and as the green gem twinkled back at me, Peridot’s tale came to life from there.

What are the inspirations for Earthlings – The Beginning, your debut fantasy novel?

Animals and the environment were the reason behind the creation of the Earthlings trilogy. As a practising eclectic green witch, I have a deep love for the natural world, and it pains me to witness how humanity neglects our home and its inhabitants.

I wanted to write a book that had a conscience to the narrative, enabling readers to contemplate how life could be if we were no longer the dominant species on the planet.  

World-building is an essential component of fantasy novels. How did you create yours?

This was surprisingly the easiest part of writing Earthlings, I looked at modern day society and without giving too much away, reversed some of the roles.

I remember thinking another writer might have a similar concept and beat me to it, itching to publish the book so I didn’t miss the opportunity to share the Earthlings tale.

Did you set out to write a book suited to the young adult market? If so, can you share why you believe they are your target audience?

I knew from the moment I wrote the first chapter that I wanted the story to revolve around teenagers, finding their inner power and trying to make positive changes for the planet. It’s a concept I believe we can all relate to.

Deep down, everyone wants to make the world a better place.

I also wanted to incorporate some of my daily practises as an eclectic witch into the novel, as an avid YA Fantasy lover, giving Peridot magick (yes – magick with a ‘k’), was too tempting to resist.

This was the only aspect of Earthlings that I debated – whether to include magick. In the end, it was my love for YA Fantasy that made it an easy decision to make.

 Is this book part of a series? If so, what aspect of elemental magick and the ecosystem does the second book explore?

Earthlings includes genuine magickal practises that I use in my own rituals, from herbal lore, crystal healing and invoking the elements to following moon cycles – I wanted to include practical magick that works and that we can use in our lives today.

Earthlings is book one of a trilogy as the story has many depths that I wanted to cover, and I physically could not cram them all into one book, as much as I wanted to!

The following book in the trilogy (Dominion) is in the editing process due for release this festive period, with the final instalment (Land of hope and glory) to be released next year.

A little inside secret for your followers; I will be writing a prequel (The Changing) which will be Peridot’s mother’s story explaining how the Earthlings world came to be, and I plan to have a spin off series from this once that book is complete.

Readers can sign up to my newsletter on raystarbooks.com for more details on this to come next year!

 What five words summarise your story. Can you explain why?

Unexpected. Intriguing. Disconcerting. Moving. Magickal.

Earthlings is the world we live in today, reversed, and with a hearty helping of magick added to each page.

Ray Star

Ray Star is a Fantasy author from Essex with a passion for animal rights and eco-living. She can often be found writing, exploring nature and occasionally stargazing underneath a full moon with a tarot deck in one hand and a strong cuppa in the other.

Earthlings was conceived from a love for the environment and inspired by her father, whose passing was a catalyst in leading a greener lifestyle.

Ray’s dream is to one day open an animal sanctuary and wildlife reserve in memory of her father. Earthlings is Ray’s debut novel and the first book in the Earthlings trilogy.

#Earthlings

 Website Twitter Facebook Instagram

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Suspense

#Repost Ruthless Women Melanie Blake 5*#Review @MelanieBlakeUK @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview @MidasPR #SoapOpera #Thriller #Relationships #Friendship #Revenge #suspense #RuthlessWomen #Paperback

RUTHLESS WOMEN Melanie Blake

Published by Head of Zeus
8th July 2021 | Paperback Currently £7.19

Ambition can be deadly…

Ruthless Women takes readers on a wild ride behind the scenes of beloved TV drama Falcon Bay, beamed globally to millions three days a week from its picturesque location in the Channel Islands. But even in this beautiful coastal spot, tensions swirl. Once one of the world’s most popular soap operas, but now with ratings and syndication at an all-time low, the production has been sold to an American business woman, beautiful and malevolent Madeline Kane, the new network owner who arrives on the tiny island just off Jersey, determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to number one.  

Writer Farrah, star Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to the network’s lead male rival, Catherine is terrified of the public falling out of love with her and Amanda’s evil husband Jake, vice president of the network, is plotting to get his own wife kicked off the show.

As the dawn of a new era begins, cast and crew turn against each other with loyalty, decency, and trust, replaced by scandal, betrayal, and an outrageous ambition to survive.

In a true battle of the sexes, these women will do anything to stay on top. But can they team up to bring down their male rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge tear their long held friendships apart?

As the story reaches a climax so shocking readers will be talking about it for decades, one thing is certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive… 

Amazon UK

The Genre…

Over 25 million people in the UK watch soaps a week and now they’ll get a true glimpse of what really goes on behind the scenes of TV’s most  popular shows, and examples of the desperate trade off’s their beloved leading ladies go through to survive the very game they are in. Ruthless Women shows that what takes place behind the cameras is way more juicy than on….

Even the actresses, who Melanie was worried would be angry about what she’s written, are raving about Ruthless Women too.  Well, some of them are….

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

My Thoughts…

Scandalous, sexy thrillers based on real experiences and personalities are always addictive. Ruthless Women’s vibrant characters and vivid scenarios make guessing the inspiration behind them a must. The abuse of authority and prejudice are relatable, and the intelligent way the women fight against them believable. The female characters are flawed but easy to empathise. Hidden agendas and twists make this an intriguing read.

Scandal, secrets and sex underpin the story of a ruthless boss determined to make a once top-rated show great again. The dynamic between Farrah, Catherine, Amanda and Sheena is insightful and the force behind the story. It is both their strength and weakness, which Madeline exploits to her advantage.

This story has a poignant side which gives it depth and immerses the reader into the characters lives. The noir world simmering below the surface of television’s glamorous facade is the perfect setting for this story of ambition, friendship, revenge and scandal.

The suspense builds coupled with striking sensory imagery, as the story develops and the final chapters are full of twists, with a climactic ending.

I can’t wait for the next book.

Melanie Blake

At 15 Melanie Blake dreamed of being a writer, but was told by her English teacher that the only thing she’d ever write were labels for factory boxes. Severely dyslexic, and desperate to escape a childhood of poverty and religious extremism in Stockport, she left school with no qualifications and ran away
from home.

Against all odds, Melanie managed to blag her way onto the lowest rung of the showbiz ladders, working as an extra on Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders and a camera assistant on Top Of The Pops. It was during this time that she got her first big break aged 21, when soap icon Claire King chose Melanie to be her agent. Her agency was an immediate success, and she would go on to represent the likes of Patsy Kensit, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Beacham, Emily Lloyd, Denise Welch, Jennie McAlpine, Laila Morse, Daniella Westbrook, Amanda Barrie, Gillian Taylforth and Nadia
Sawalha; earning herself the tag ‘Queen of Soaps’.

Melanie wrote her first book The Thunder Girls when she was working in the music industry as a young woman. She was told no one wanted to read a book about middle aged female singers on a comeback tour and so it wasn’t until 2019, twenty years after she first put pen to paper, that The Thunder Girls was finally published by Pan Macmillan, becoming an Amazon number one bestseller. She adapted it for the stage herself and it went on to break box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre.

Her second novel, Ruthless Women has been an even bigger success, going straight into the Sunday Times hardback fiction chart at number four, staying in the top ten for a month, and also charting in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as foreign language translation rights being picked up by Russia, Romania and Hungary; meaning Melanie Blake is going global. Ruthless Women is inspired by Melanie’s behind-the-scenes knowledge of British soap operas. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. They say write about what you know, and in Ruthless Women, Melanie certainly has.

Melanie still represents some of the best-known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a columnist, producer, author and playwright. She lives in London and is available for interview and to write features, and this woman has got a lot of stories!

Posted in Biography, Blog Tour, Book Review, New Books, Non-Fiction

Hamilton and Me {An Actor’s Journal} Giles Terera 5*#Review @GilesTerera @NickHernBooks @midaspr #Acting #musicaltheatre #diversity #journal #BlogTour #BookReview #nonfiction #motivational #HamiltonandMe

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author and Nick Hern Books via MidasPR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Based on Giles Terera’s journal entries, this book gives the reader insight into the actor’s process as he auditions, prepares, rehearses and performs the character of Aaron Burr in the London production of the musical Hamilton.

Whilst I’ve heard about this musical I have never seen it, but I quickly became absorbed in this actor’s view of the production. It’s easy to read and hard to put down. Honest, insightful and reflective, the book takes the reader to the heart of this iconic piece of musical theatre, its motivations and outcomes and what it meant to play such a pivotal role in it.

Interspersed with images from the show, at its various stages, and the author’s thoughts about the casting and the company, it gives the reader a unique perspective on what is involved in bringing a musical theatre production to life.

The relationship between actor and character is particularly fascinating.

A book that will have wide audience appeal whether you are a Hamilton fan, a student of acting or someone seeking an informed, intense and intriguing read.

Giles Terera

Giles Terera MBE is an award-winning actor, musician and writer. He trained at Mountview Theatre School and has worked consistently at venues such as the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is best known for originating the role of Aaron Burr in the London production of the award-winning musical Hamilton, for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

Posted in Cover Reveal, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Friendship, New Books, Political Thriller, Romance

Codename Firefly C.J. Daugherty #CoverReveal @CJ_Daugherty @moonflowerbooks @midaspr #CodenameFirefly #YAThriller #Conspiracy #ComingofAge #Spy #Political

Head back to school this September with the latest instalment of the UK’s most gripping boarding school series. Perfect for readers aged 13 and upwards Codename Firefly is a thrilling teen crime novel that tackles subjects including mental health and politics while also being an engaging and compelling read that teens will devour.

When Gray Langtree, the daughter of the UK Prime Minister, is moved to an elite boarding school for her own protection, she thinks she’ll finally be safe from both the press and the assassins who tried to kill her mother.

But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there’s the secretive Night School, which only a select few students are invited to, and whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch. 

Gray has a hard learning curve in front of her discovering who she can be friends with and who is not to be trusted. When the school grounds are broken into one night,  Gray starts having panic attacks and the school begins to feel like a very dangerous place indeed.

Dylan, a mysterious American student, seems to know more than he should – but he’s always there when Gray needs him. Can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? As winter closes in and darkness falls, Gray will have to think fast.

The hunters are coming…

Codename Firefly  is the second book in a new Night School spin off series that sees CJ Daugherty back at her spine tingling best.  Gripping, thrilling, and filled with intrigue, Codename Fireflyexplores the nexus of power in the UK from a teenager’s point of view. 

C.J. Daugherty

A former crime reporter and accidental civil servant, C.J. Daugherty began writing the Night School series while working as a communications consultant for the Home Office. The young adult series was published by Little Brown and went on to sell over a million and a half copies worldwide. A web series inspired by the books clocked up well over a million views. In 2020, the books were optioned for television. She later wrote The Echo Killing series, published by St Martin’s Press, and co-wrote the fantasy series, The Secret Fire, with French author Carina Rosenfeld.

While working as a civil servant, she had meetings at Number 10 Downing Street, and saw people disappearing through a small door leading to a staircase heading below ground level. This visit became the inspiration for Number 10.  FYI: She still doesn’t know if there are tunnels below Number 10. But she hopes there are.

Her books have been translated into 24 languages and been bestsellers in multiple countries. She lives with her husband, the BAFTA nominated filmmaker, Jack Jewers.