Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Guest post, Romance

Secrets of the Mist Kate Ryder 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @KateRyder_Books #BlogTour #GuestPost #Extract #Timeslip #Romance #EnglishCivilWar #HistoricalRomance #Supernatural #Love #Relationships #Dorset #VillageLife #BookReview

#SecretsoftheMist

A gorgeous timeslip romance.

Maddie is restless in London. She has friends, a job and a sort-of boyfriend, but something in her life is missing. Then she visits the ancient village of Walditch, deep in the Dorset countryside. Something stirs in her, and on a whim she buys a centuries-old cottage and moves there three months later. Her friends think she’s crazy, but for Maddie it feels like coming home.

Late at night in the cottage, Maddie hears strange noises and sees mist gathering indoors and out. When she starts investigating the cottage’s history, she becomes drawn into the tragic story of a family who lived here 400 years ago. Meanwhile, Maddie starts to fall in love with a local carpenter – but he has a relationship already…

Can Maddie solve the riddle of the past? What is her connection with the family that lived there so many years ago? And can she and her true love ever be together?

Previously published as The Forgotten Promise.

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#AriaBlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

I live in a sixteenth-century converted barn, and just standing in it, thinking how long it has stood over looking the Exmoor landscape is awe inspiring. So, I can fully appreciate the inspiration behind, this lovely timeslip romance set in Dorset.

Serendipity plays an important part in this book. I was drawn to Maddie’s story, as soon as I read about her unexplained, and out of character attraction to the old cottage, formerly a blacksmith’s, when she visited the village as part of her work. The story is cleverly written, so that Maddie’s experiences at the cottage are believable. Set in the present, as she brings her new home up to date, there are many slips into the past as historic events and a time defying love unfolds.

Maddie’s leaves a well-paid career and a glamorous life in London behind her. At a crossroads in her life she is not sure why, but as the story progresses, things start to fall into place. Her meeting and attraction to Nick is powerful but fraught with conflict. Their chance of something developing seems remote.

The characters are complex and realistic, the situations they find themselves in believable. The pacing and the timeslip element make this an absorbing read. I couldn’t put it down, literally I read it into the night.

The poignant ending is perfect, and the epilogue draws everything together in this gentle, timeslip, romantic story.

Guest Post – Kate Ryder – Secrets of the Mist

Hello Jane,

I’m so thrilled to be invited on your guest post.  Thank you!

Do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time?  I have explored this theme in Secrets of the Mist, a time slip romance that encompasses self-discovery and a great love resonating across the ages.  With supernatural, historical and geographical overtones, it should appeal to fans of Kate Mosse, Diana Gabaldon and Barbara Erskine.

A few years ago, my husband and I moved to Cornwall and bought a derelict, 200 year old cottage.  Whilst carrying out extensive renovations and taking the cottage back to its shell, we discovered a time capsule left by a previous owner.  The contents were fascinating, if not that old (circa 1980), and made me consider previous occupants during the past two centuries, the lives they led and the dramas that may have taken place within the four walls of our cottage.

Apart from spending days mixing cement, procuring building materials and helping to install the plumbing and electrics (must remember to add these to my CV!) I was also selling complementary health products at country fairs throughout Devon and Cornwall.  One day, a chance conversation with a fellow trader set my creative juices flowing as she described a Dartmoor cottage she once owned, which had an unusual, internal stained-glass window and unaccountable cold corners.  Well… that was all the encouragement I needed!

At the time I was a member of a local writers group and, suitably fired up, I penned a short story.  The room fell silent as I read it out to my fellow writers and all wanted to know what happened next.  During this period I had to travel up to the South East on a fairly regular basis.  On one particular trip I took a detour to Dorset and discovered the villages of Walditch and Shipton Gorge, which became the setting for the tale.  Furthermore, whilst researching the villages and surrounding area, I uncovered historic events on which to pin the story.  Three months – I mentioned I was fired up, didn’t I? – and 85,000 words later, I had a novel!

I self-published the book as The Forgotten Promise, and this version achieved one of the first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” awards.  I am very fortunate that Aria agreed to publish the novel and, with further time-slip development, it is now Secrets of the Mist.  Lastly, but by no means least, I must mention the lovely cover, which has a softly haunting feel and is totally appropriate to the story.

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Kate Ryder writes romantic suspense with a true-to-life narrative. Her passion is writing (a period during which she studied acting only confirmed her preference for writing rather than performing!). Since then she has worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. Kate lives in Cornwall with her husband and a newly acquired rescue cat.

In 2017 Kate signed a 4-book publishing contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus). Her first novel, ‘Summer in a Cornish Cove’, saw her nominated for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award. Under its original self-published title, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, ‘Secrets of the Mist’, was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s “Search for a Star” and awarded a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.

Extract From: Secrets of the Mists – Kate Ryder

We arrived in Walditch late morning, having first visited the Bridport estate agents, Randall & Mather, to pick up the keys for The Olde Smithy. As we pulled up alongside Walditch village green I noticed a few people already sitting outside the Blacksmith’s Arms. Casually, I wondered if there might be an opportunity of work in that establishment.

Clambering down from the van, I stretched and rubbed my hands together. ‘OK, let’s get cracking.’

Over the next couple of hours we unloaded the van, depositing bags and furniture in various rooms. Dan hit his head several times on the low beams of the downstairs rooms, but I had no such trouble. At five feet four inches I was a good ten inches shorter.

‘Must have been midgets in the seventeenth century!’ he muttered, ferociously rubbing his skull.

According to Randall & Mather, the cottage dated back to the mid-1600s, in part. The property details stated: A charming, two-bedroom period cottage situated in Walditch, a village set deep in hilly countryside yet only a mile from Bridport and West Bay. The Olde Smithy offers discerning buyers an opportunity to put their stamp on a property steeped in history but with all modern-day conveniences.

The sitting/dining room, kitchen and master bedroom were in the original part of the building, and all had heavily beamed ceilings and uneven floors, while a two-storey extension, built during the late 1980s, created a hallway, downstairs bathroom and first-floor guest bedroom. A small, overgrown, cottage-style garden to the front opened directly onto the village green and to the rear, immediately accessed from the kitchen, was a courtyard created by a collection of outhouses, one being an outside privy. A pathway led past the outbuildings to a further area of overgrown garden where there were three gnarled and twisted fruit trees, in desperate need of pruning, and the outline of a long-forgotten vegetable bed. To my delight, at the far end, was a neglected pond.

The day passed quickly and we busied ourselves unpacking boxes, stacking shelves and filling cupboards. I had energy to spare. Soon, the cottage soon took shape and by the time the elongating shadows of the oak tree encroached upon the front garden it felt homely. Only the last remaining packing boxes stacked in the hallway and the lack of curtains at the windows declared me a new occupant. I made a mental note to buy fabric during the next few days to remedy this, as I’d been unable to salvage any window dressings from the flat. Being a Victorian conversion, the apartment had tall sash windows to which the landlord had fitted vertical blinds.

As the day progressed, Dan regained a cheerful disposition and his earlier melancholy evaporated. He was busy cleaning the fireplace as I rummaged through a box in the kitchen, searching for elusive teabags. I paused and looked around appreciatively at the beams, the flagstone floor and the view of the courtyard through the small-paned windows. I could already see next spring’s hanging baskets on the outhouse walls. I smiled, instinctively knowing that all that had gone before was simply leading to this day.

‘Hey, Mads, take a look at this,’ Dan called from the sitting room.

I turned and walked to the doorway. A thick haze filled the room and I marvelled at how much dust he’d created. I was about to suggest he let in some fresh air when I noticed all the windows were open wide. I frowned. How strange… The room was full of fog and yet there was a strong breeze blowing outside.

It must have been a trick of the light because, as Dan turned, his blond hair appeared darker and longer and he seemed less tall and lean; an altogether rougher version. I blinked and shook my head, as if brushing away the image. As quickly as he had appeared altered, there he was, once again, the Dan I knew.

‘What have you found?’ I walked across the room and saw a small opening in the stonework to one side of the inglenook. ‘How did that happen?’

‘One of the stones was loose. It came away quite easily when I investigated. I think there’s something behind it.’

‘Clear away a bit more,’ I said, enthusiastically. ‘It might be a bread oven.’

Placing his long fingers into the gap, he teased away at the stones around the opening. For a moment nothing happened but then one suddenly shifted, coming away in his hand. There was a definite edge to the hole. I peered inside at a hidden void.

‘Wow, how exciting!’

Without hesitation, I inserted my hand and felt around, unsure what I expected to find, but apart from a thick layer of dust and rubble, the alcove was empty. Disappointment flooded through me.

‘I’ll make a feature of it,’ I said. ‘I’ll visit a reclamation yard and find a door that fits.’

‘This cottage will give up more of its secrets as time goes by.’

As Dan spoke the words I became aware of an expectant stillness in the air.

‘Why did you say that?’ I asked sharply.

‘Well, these old places always have secrets, don’t they? And this one’s had four hundred years to collect them.’

Suddenly I felt hot and short of breath. Feeling dizzy, I reached out for Dan, as if trying to hold on to something solid; something I could trust.

He caught hold of my arm. ‘Hey, steady, Mads!’

Beads of perspiration pricked my forehead and I struggled to hold back rising nausea.

‘You OK?’ Dan asked with concern.

‘I just need some fresh air,’ I gasped.

‘Tell you what – let’s abandon the tea thing and go to the pub instead.’ This was his answer to most things.

‘Yeah, I could do with a drink.’

He smiled at me.

‘And dinner’s on me,’ I said weakly, hurrying towards the door.

‘Now, there’s an offer I can’t possibly refuse, but won’t that be a tad messy?’

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Horror Fiction, Noir, Novella, Short stories, Suspense

Ryder On The Storm Ray Clark 4* #Review @T1LOM #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup #Supernatural #CrimeFiction #Novella #ShortStories #Excerpt #BlogTour #BookReview #bookbloggers

#RyderOnTheStorm

When builder Terry Johnson spots what he thinks is a bargain he can’t resist but to succumb to temptation. The large, detached house stands on the side of a railway track and would be perfect for his needs … and it’s cheap! 

But Billington Manor has a very tainted history, and the grounds upon which it stands were part of an unsolved murder back in the 1850s. Terry is about to discover that the road to hell is not always paved with good intentions.

Based upon a true incident, Ryder On The Storm is a stand-alone supernatural crime novella from the author of the IMP series, featuring desk sergeant Maurice Cragg.  

Amazon UK

Excerpt from Ryder OnThe Storm – Ray Clark

Terry slammed the door shut.

His head was all over the place, not to mention his stomach. If he’d eaten anything at all he was sure it would have reappeared. Pins and needles raced up and down both his arms.

What the fuck had he walked into? Was George a ghost? Was he being haunted? Is that what the Billingtons had been on about when they said “he’d” take care of the place. And who exactly were the Billingtons? What part did they play in it all?

Excerpt from Ryder OnThe Storm – Ray Clark.
#RyderOnTheStorm

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

My Thoughts…

The blurb for the first story in this book intrigued me. I like stories with a supernatural element. This story starts in the past with the discovery of a body. Then in the present day, a builder is viewing an old house with a view to redevelopment. The elderly couple are strange and the logistics of the sale is similarly odd, but the builder’s eyes are focused on profit.

What follows is suspenseful and dark. I read it through twice, and the second time it resonated. The twist of the story is a popular one, but it is effectively used here. The more you think about it, the darker it becomes.

The other three short stories feature the author’s characters from the IMP series, which I haven’t read. The first two are Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries. Each is prefaced with an author’s note detailing how the story came about. This has intrinsic interest and puts each short story in context. The stories are well-plotted with complex characters and decent twists. All have engaging settings. Each delivers a good murder-mystery, and police procedural genre story.

I enjoyed reading all of these stories, perhaps the last three short stories are my favourite, and make me want to read the IMP series.

#RayClark

The British Fantasy Society published Ray Clark’s first work in 1995 – Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. In 2009, Ray’s short story, Promises To Keep, made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. Ray is based in Goole and has set his Gardener and Reilly crime series in nearby Leeds.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

The Whisper Man -Alex North- 5* #Review @MichaelJBooks @writer_north #Thriller. #Crime #TheWhisperMan #Supernatural

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle into their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books – Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A curious medley of a creepy, suspenseful thriller and poignant sadness are my impressions of this complex, multi-layered story.

A little boy is missing, and the disapperance has echoes of serial killings years before, but ‘The Whisper Man was caught, so who has taken the little boy?

There are so many facets to this story, a crime to be investigated, a little boy who hears voices and talks to imaginary people. A troubled father and son relationship, in the wake of a family tragedy, and a policeman haunted by his past both personal and work.

The plot slips effortlessly between points of view and different genres. The police procedural is authentic and helps you keep past events and what is currently known in mind. The sadness experienced by Tom and Jake is profound and you empathise with their grief and loss. The killer is damaged and dangerous and the level of menace pervades the entire story. Finally, there is a supernatural element, hinted at, leaving the reader to decide if it is really there or not.

Everything is fused together cleverly, making this a suspenseful, shocking and often sad story. The ending is fast-paced and breathtaking and written packed with vivid imagery. You can see the events unfolding in your mind as you read.

A page-turning, absorbing read that makes this thriller stand out above the rest.

Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

Little Darlings -Melanie Golding – 5* #Review – #Author #Interview @HQStories @HQDigital @mk_golding #Thriller #MentalHealth #Folklore #WednesdayWisdom #WednesdayThoughts

THE TWINS ARE CRYING. 
THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.

LAUREN IS CRYING. 
LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.

Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .

Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.

When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.

Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?

Amazon UK

 Little Darlings –  Blog Tour – Interview Questions – Melanie Golding

What inspired you to write this story?

I began with a re-telling of an obscure folktale which features in the book, A Brewery of Eggshells. After a while, I started thinking about who thought it up in the first place and why. I thought maybe it was actually about postpartum depression and psychosis. Either that or fairies were real….

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

Characters begin as amalgamations of people I know; maybe they have one or two opinions in common with someone in real life. After a while, they become real people that live in my head, with no connection to anyone outside of it apart from the few seeds I might have used to create them. Often they are or contain aspects of myself, extrapolated.

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

The story comes first, and the characters are part of that; the story wouldn’t be happening to anyone else, it’s always because of something the characters are or are involved in. The setting is very important, but it tends to grow up around the story.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I think writing for many people is unavoidable. However, I did make a conscious choice to switch from writing lyrics and music to writing novels, as performing never seemed to fit around my personal life. I’m so glad I did because it turns out I’m a lot more successful, for whatever reason, at writing novels than being a singer/songwriter.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

All books! I will read anything, everything, always. If there is text in front of my eyes it gets read. In the shower, I have to turn the shampoo bottle away or I’ll keep reading the back of it, over and over.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

Best thing: solitude

Worst thing: loneliness

I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Where to start with this unusual thriller. It is a curious mix of folklore and medicine, seen from Lauren’s point of view, she is acting sanely to ensure her babies are safe. Seen from a medical perspective she has mental health issues, most likely puerperal psychosis. The question is what do you believe, and even at the end of the story, I’m not sure.

This story resonates. In Victorian times any non-conformist behaviour was considered a mental aberration, many young women incarcerated in mental institutions, just because they had children out of wedlock, So perhaps, in this case, the truth lies somewhere in between the folklore and the medicine?

Intense and suspenseful, you are torn between Lauren’s anxiety and need to find her children, and the prospect that if she isn’t stopped innocents will suffer. It’s an intelligent thriller, with many layers and possibilities and a poignant ending that makes you wonder what if.

Lauren is an unreliable protagonist, but she is easy to empathise, even though part of you believes she may be dangerous. Harper is a complex character, a police detective, who is drawn to the case by her own history, and even though she finds answers she is still not sure she’s discovered the truth. The cast of supporting characters are essential and give the story depth and diversion.

Prefacing each chapter with folklore concerning Changelings, .the reader compare them with what is happening in the story, adding to its complexity.

This is a creepy, unsettling thriller, exploring the grey areas of mental health and the power of folklore, why did it originate, was it to explain why some mothers seemed to endanger their children, or is there a twisted truth, we don’t understand?

‘Little Darlings’ is disturbingly different.

Posted in Book Review

No Time to Cry -4* Review – James Oswald

Posted in Book Review

Where the River Bends – Elsa Winckler – 5* Review

Posted in Book Review

the tall man – Phoebe Locke- 4*Review

A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.

1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.

2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.

2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.

Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.

He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…

YOU DON’T FIND HIM… HE FINDS YOU. 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

This story starts off sinister and creepy, and this urban myth should have held me spellbound, but it didn’t. There are numerous sub-plots most of which feed the main storyline. The story’s pacing is in the main fast, but there are areas mired in detail that make it drag.

The plot’s supernatural element alluded to in the blurb and title fades into the background, amidst the making of the documentary and Amber’s relationship with her parents. Well executed plot’s twists in an ethos that is undeniably chilling and sinister make the facts of the story when revealed genuinely horrific but the connection to ‘the tall man’ seems tenuous.

A good thriller with authentic characters, vivid setting and carefully built suspense, it just needs the supernatural element to be more prominent to be great.

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