In The Dark by Loreth Anne White #GuestPost #BlogTour (@Loreth) @AmazonPub #InTheDark

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I’m so excited to be taking part in the blog tour today for In The Dark by Loreth Anne White and I have not one, but two, exciting features for you with a Q & A with the author and an extract from the novel. Huge thanks to Morgan Doremus of Montlake for inviting me on to the tour and allowing me to publish the extract. And watch out for a review of the book, which I am currently reading, coming soon on the blog.

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The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.
Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.

Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.
Q&A with Author Loreth Anne White
 
1. You are very well known for your romantic suspense tales, but your new title, IN THE DARK, is all about mystery — a real whodunit! Tell us a bit about the story. 

I like to think there is still a strong echo of my earlier romantic suspense books that ripples through IN THE DARK. Yes, it’s a locked-room mystery/thriller —  wilderness style, but the mystery narrative is wrapped inside a romantic suspense-style narrative that follows a budding friendship between Detective Mason Deniaud and Search & Rescue manager Callie Sutton who must not only piece together what happened as they hunt for survivors, but also must race against time to save who might be left. The story leaves off with a promise of more ahead in the relationship between Callie and Mason, so my roots are still showing, I hope.

2. Your story definitely has shades of Agatha Christie as well as a nod or two to Stephen King. Did these authors act as inspirations for this book?

IN THE DARK is not only a homage to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, but Christie’s story becomes a plot device, a psychological tool that the villain uses to instill fear in the victims trapped in the lodge because the victims know what transpired in the book, and they anticipate the same will happen to them. 

And yes, a teensy nod to master of atmosphere and horror, Stephen King’s THE SHINING where characters are trapped in a remote and snowbound hotel and become mercy to the psychological horror that descends on them.

3. A rural, isolated lodge is always a great place to start a suspenseful novel. How exactly did your characters all come to be at Forest Shadow Lodge?

The characters are invited for an all-expenses stay at the brand new, high-end, fly-in wilderness lodge and spa. They are lured by an offer to enjoy a ‘soft opening’, so to speak, where they can assess the accommodation and potentially negotiate lucrative contracts with the new lodge owners. Each guest runs a business that would be suitable for such an establishment. Each is excited by a possible lucrative contract. But not all is quite what meets the eye, of course.

4. Your story is told from multiple points-of-view as you take deep dives into the characters’ lives and histories. Does everyone have something to hide?

Don’t we all have something to hide? My characters in this book certainly do. Some of their secrets are more powerful than others.

5. Mason and Callie are two of the law enforcement responders that are trying to piece together exactly what happened at The Lodge. Tell us more about these characters and what makes them so good at what they do. 

Mason Deniaud was a top homicide detective before relocating to the remote north for personal reasons. He lost a young son and a wife and he’s searching for a way to live, or exist, if not heal. Callie Sutton is a young mother who is single, but also isn’t because her husband lies in hospital and is brain dead. Her husband is there, but he also isn’t there for Callie and her young son. Like Mason, she’s in limbo, a place where she can’t move forward, or back. It’s through this they find a bond. And the search for the missing lodge party pushes them together.

6. IN THE DARK is a pivotal novel in your career. What does it have in common with your previous writing and how is it different? How does this inform your next steps as a writer?

Pivotal sounds cool. I’ll take it! Thank you. But yes IN THE DARK is a bit of a departure from my previous romantic suspense books. If readers enjoy it, however, and if my publisher remains happy, I’d like to keep growing in this direction. But I do think my crime stories will always revolve around strong women, or women who might be victims to start with, but who find agency and take back their lives and become strong and survive through the arc of a story. (As with my forthcoming work IN THE DEEP). I do love to include a relationship element in my crime novels, but bonding with a potential love interest comes out of the personal growth of the protagonist. I like to tell—and read—stories of women who find ways to rescue themselves.

 
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Thank you for giving us a peek into the inspiration and writing of the novel, Loreth. Now for an extract from the novel to whet your appetite!
In The Dark Excerpt
 

“The gas stove and the gas water heaters work,” Nathan said. “And there’s plumbing.” He turned his back on them and busied himself taking mugs out of the cupboard in an exaggerated fashion. His heart hammered in his chest. Sweat prickled across his lip.

“And there’s tea, coffee, tins of tuna, and soup,” Steven said as he hurriedly opened more cupboards.

Bart frowned. “Well, at least we won’t go hungry.” He made for the living area, paused. “I found a path. It looks like it leads around to the other bay, but it was getting too dark to follow without a flashlight.”

“Do you think it might lead to the real lodge?” Steven asked.

Nathan blinked. It was like the doctor was reaching for straws by asking—as if hoping, still, that their pilot had just made some terrible screwup with the GPS coordinates.

Bart said, “We can check again in the morning to see if—”

“There is no real lodge.” Jackie appeared in the doorway that led from the great room into the kitchen.

They all turned to look at the solid woman with intense eyes.

“This is no mistake,” she said curtly. “This is a con, some sick game.”

“What do you mean?” Bart asked.

“Did you guys not see the plaque outside, next to the front door? This place is called Forest Shadow Lodge. As in Forest Shadow Wilderness Resort & Spa. Here, look at this.” She pulled a brochure from her pocket and smoothed it out on the kitchen island.

“I printed it off the website before I left home.” She jabbed a photo of the luxury lodge. “It’s fake. It’s photoshopped, because it’s using the same location. See this bay here? And the shape of this one here? This mountain? This is how the terrain looked from the air. It’s this spot, but someone has photoshopped the spa into the location. They’ve erased parts of the forest, added cabins and trails, plus interior shots from some other spa and lodges.” She met their gazes. “This whole thing was faked from the get-go. We were lured here. All of us. And now we’re trapped.”

A sinister cold seemed to enter the kitchen. A shutter banged upstairs, and wind whistled. Mist, cloying and wet, pressed up against the windows. It grew darker inside.

“Why?” Bart asked, still holding his wood.

“God knows.” Jackie dragged her hand over her hair. “But right now, we’re stuck. We’ve been baited and lured into some weird kind of wilderness prison.”

“We are not trapped.” Stella entered the kitchen. “We have a plane. And you guys have a pilot—me. We have fuel. We—”

“We have no bloody radio!” Jackie snapped, whirling round to face Stella, her eyes furious.

“What?” said Steven.

“That’s right,” Jackie said. “Go on, tell them, Stella.”

Stella’s gray eyes flashed, shooting daggers at Jackie.

“Go on. Tell them. The radio is broken. Sabotaged, wires cut.”

“But I heard you speaking to your dispatch on the radio,” Nathan said.

“But it wasn’t working, was it, Stella?” Jackie said. “Your dispatch couldn’t hear you, could they? No one even knows where we are, do they?”

Stella’s features went tight.

“So when were you going to tell us this, Stella?” Steven asked.

“I didn’t want to say right away. Fear, worry, is not a good thing when—”

“When what? Jesus. Who are you to decide what’s right and wrong for us to know?” Steven barked. “You’re just the pilot, not the boss of our lives, for Chrissakes.”

“There’s a chance I could fix it in the morning. If I can—if it’s an easy fix—you’d never have to have known about it.”

“So you thought you’d play God?” Steven snapped. “Because we would all panic.” He wagged jazz hands at the sides of his face.

“And you’re not panicking?” she said.

Silence swelled in the kitchen. It felt for a bizarre moment as though the house was listening. Alive. Hostile. Nathan felt hairs rise along his arms. He was sensitive to these things. He could feel trees in the forest watching and listening to him.

In The Dark is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Loreth Anne White is a bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the recipient of the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall. In addition, she’s a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. 
A former journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. When Loreth isn’t writing, you will find her skiing, biking, or hiking the trails with her dog (a.k.a. the Black Beast) or open-water swimming. She calls this work, because that’s when the best ideas come. 
Connect with Loreth:
Twitter: @Loreth

The Woman in the Water by Katerina Diamond #BookReview #BlogTour (@TheVenomousPen) @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheWomanInTheWater

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I’m alive. But I can’t be saved . . .

When a woman’s body is found submerged in icy water, police are shocked to find she is alive. But she won’t disclose her name, or what happened to her – even when a second body is discovered. And then she disappears from her hospital bed.

Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey follow their only lead to the home of the Corrigans, looking for answers. But the more they dig into the couple’s lives, the less they understand about them.

What’s their connection to the body in the river?

Why have other people they know been hurt, or vanished?

And can they discover the dark truth of their marriage before it’s too late?

I’m delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for The Woman in the Water by Katerina Diamond. My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me on to the tour and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a book that really made its mark on me this year and is a standout read in this genre. Honestly, I think the author has been so brave in this book in tackling the subjects she does, and does so so sensitively that I found it quite moving and affecting and I was left in awe at the skill and talent she exhibits.

It is going to be quite hard to write the review of this book that I’d like to without including any spoilers, so you’ll have to forgive me if I am a little vague, you really need to pick up the book and read it for yourselves.

The book is shocking and gripping from the opening as a woman is found, barely alive, in freezing water. DS Miles plucks her from the river and, immediately, he becomes closely involved in the investigation into who she is and how she got there. This is a case which stirs up issues from his past and causes tensions in his blossoming relationship with DS Grey, who is trying to understand the effect the case is having on him.

I really loved the closely woven storylines of the police investigation and the personal relationship between DS Miles and DS Grey. This book is as much about the police officers and the effect it has on them as it is about the crime, the victim and the perpetrator, and I think this is refreshing and important because it is very easy to forget that police officers are, first and foremost, human beings with the same problems, hangups and issues as the rest of us and that the things they see and the matters they have to deal with can have profound effects on them and their mental state and they deserve help, support and compassion.

This book is not always an easy read, and may be triggering for some because of its subject matter, but the author deals with the issues sensitively. There are some extremely shocking scenes in the book, even for someone who has not been directly affected by these issues, but they are never gratuitous and always necessary for the story and I applaud the way they are handled, but equally, she isn’t pulling any punches with this book and the reader needs to be ready to be shocked and appalled. This is how it should be, because some things in life are shocking and appalling.

This author is skilled at developing characters we acre about, and the relationship between the two main detectives is one in which her readers cannot help being invested, and I really can’t wait to see where this is going following the climax of this book. She has really upped the stakes for them here, and fans of the author’s books will not be at all disappointed with this latest instalment. If you haven’t read any of Katerina’s books before, what are you waiting for?

The Woman in the Water is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 9 January 2020. You can get your copy here.

Please do check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

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Katerina is the author of the Sunday Times Best Selling Exeter based crime thriller series – starting with ‘The Teacher’ and followed by The Secret, The Angel, The Promise and Truth or Die Katerina is currently working on her seventh novel which is a standalone.

Katerina also runs the facebook book group CRIME SUSPECT with several other crime authors.

Katerina currently lives in East Kent. Katerina was born in Weston-super-Mare and has lived in various places since including Greece, Cyprus, Derby, East London and Exeter. Katerina watches way too much TV.

Connect with Katerina:

Website: https://www.katerinadiamond.com

Facebook: Katerina Diamond Author

Twitter: @TheVenomousPen

Instagram: @katerinadiamondauthor

You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks #BookReview #BlogTour (@MirandaRijks) @inkubatorbooks @damppebbles @DamppebblesBTs #YouAreMine #damppebblesblogtours

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Rupert has spent years searching for his perfect wife. Now he’s found her.  

Her name is Charlotte Aldridge and she’s wonderful. A talented artist, modest and beautiful, she’s everything he ever dreamed of. Her hair, her eyes, her mouth – every little detail is perfect.  

Rupert is confident that when they meet, she’ll fall in love with him just as he has with her. After all, he’s a wealthy British aristocrat. And he’s handsome – the relentless gym workouts and extensive plastic surgery have seen to that.  

But what if Charlotte can’t see that they fit perfectly, that they’re meant for each other? Well, Rupert can be very persuasive. His father taught him certain methods which are extremely effective. Methods that can turn the most determined, ‘I don’t’ into a meek and submissive, ‘I do’…. 

Today, it is my turn on the blog tour for You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Tours for my place on the tour and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Miranda Rijks and I still haven’t decided whether I will be reading another or not yet because this one completely creeped me out and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the mind which managed to produce something so disturbing.

This book revolves around Rupert, a wealthy aristocrat who is on the look out for the perfect wife to complete his otherwise perfect life. He is convinced he has found her in the shape of artist, Charlotte, and he is sure she will fall in love with him if she just gets to know him properly. But is the real Rupert someone Charlotte could ever love? And is it really Charlotte he loves, or the memory of someone else….

This book has an interesting construction as it jumps between the present and the past, following Rupert’s story now as he pursues Charlotte, and events in his past that shaped his current behaviour. We also hear the story from several different perspectives, both in the past and in the present. However, despite the different time lines and the different voices, the story is very well laid out and easy to follow.

This book was extremely gripping and easy to read. I fairly flew through the pages as the pace of the book carries the reader along speedily. The tone is dark and troublesome, these are not easy topics to read about and the story line may prove triggering for some readers. The mood is dark and claustrophobic throughout, which is very fitting for the plot but makes for an oppressive reading experience. Not the book to pick if you are looking for something uplifting.

There are a few twists in the book, a couple of which I guessed and a couple I didn’t. Overall, a compelling read from a devious mind. One for fans of a psychological thriller with a bit of a different spin.

You Are Mine is out in paperback and ebook on 1st December and you can buy a copy here.

To find out more about the book and read some alternative reviews, please do check out the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Miranda Rijks is a writer of psychological thrillers and suspense novels, and YOU ARE MINE will be her sixth novel published with Inkubator Books. She has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

Connect with Miranda:

Website: https://mirandarijks.com

Facebook: Miranda Rijks Author

Twitter: @MirandaRijks

Instagram: @mirandarijksauthor

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver #BookReview #BlogTour (@will_carver) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #NothingImportantHappenedToday #9Suicides1CultNoLeader

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Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But, at the same time, they leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People of Choice: a mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on a train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe. It becomes a movement. A social-media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers.

The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader who does not seem to exist …

So excited to be on the blog tour for this hotly-anticipated book by Will Carver, Nothing Important Happened Today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I’ve dreaded writing this review today because, although I finished the book on Sunday, I still haven’t figured out how to review it or exactly what I want to say. I haven’t even really figured out what I think about the book yet. But, hey, the review is due today so I’ll give it my best stab, knowing full well that it isn’t going to come anywhere near doing this book justice.

I seem to be saying this quite a lot recently, but I’ve really not read anything like this before and, now I’ve read this book, I realise that every other time I’ve said this, the sentiment has been defunct. This book is so unique, so ‘out there,’ so unlike anything else you’ll pick up that you can’t quite get your head around it while you are reading, but it absolutely impossible to put down once you start. I know that it seems odd, given the subject matter, but it’s true. This isn’t an easy book to read, the issues covered are on the darkest side of dark and may be triggering for some, the construction is so unusual that it may well twist your noodle, but you will possibly never read anything that gives you so much reward for the effort.

Because of the writing. Oh, the writing is so sublime that when I think about it, it makes me want to weep for the dark, twisted genius mind that produced it and how my own, pathetic efforts at writing something meaningful are thrown into sharp, unflattering relief by its beauty. Seriously, I have no idea how the author managed to piece this book together and still make the writing flow so perfectly. I mean, this book is written in both the first AND the third person. The narrators are a diverse bunch of voices, most of which we don’t get to know intimately, but only through the detached, dismissive opinion of someone who has given them dehumanising labels rather than names. The ‘main character’ doesn’t appear until a third of the way in. This is a book that should not work. It breaks every rule that authors are given on writing. We are told that we have to connect the reader to the main character at the beginning, snare in their empathy, make them care. This book does the exact opposite, and yet. And yet, I was caught from the first page and held until the last. How did he do it, I’m still trying to work it out.

This book really does cover some bleak subjects. Mass suicide, cults, mental health issues, psychological manipulation, and the descriptions of the violent scenes are graphic. You can hear the necks snapping, the screams, the splats. This is deliberate and necessary for the book but will not be easy reading for a lot of people. But there is a point to all of it and this book has me contemplating the issues raised ever since. Even though I have moved on to another book. As I’m washing my hair, drinking my tea, cooking the dinner. I actually had to pick up something completely mindless and superficial as a follow up, because my brain is still processing what is going on in this novel and what to make of it.

This is a book about modern society. About our craving for acceptance through social media, and the superficiality of those connections and approval. How, in reality, despite being more connected across the globe than ever, we are all really alone, isolated and insecure. How open we all are to manipulation in our quest for approval and acceptance. How people are willing to jump on any bandwagon in the search to belong, for fame and infamy, in order to FEEL. How, the more we all need to feel of consequence in a world where fame rests on the shoulders of people who have achieved nothing of relevance, the more we are becoming disillusioned for no reason. Dissatisfied by lives that are perfectly adequate, seeing problems where none really exist. Trying to find meaning in the meaningless and missing the things that really matter. Selfish, self-obssessed but totally lacking in real self-awareness.

I am aware that this review doesn’t entirely make sense, but that is because I am still processing the book and trying to sort through the labyrinth of thoughts and feelings it has aroused in me. It has turned my brain and emotions into a tangled ball of wool that it will take me hours to unravel. I know that this is a book that I will return to again soon so I can go through it in more detail, after the shock of the first read has worn off, and pick out more of the nuances. And I know that, on a second reading, I will have a different reaction, find different things to extract, and different thoughts to ponder. The book is so complex, so packed with ideas and meaning, that it will continue to reward on repeated reads.

What I have said here feels inadequate to sum up my feelings about the book. I am grasping for words to sum up thoughts and emotions for which I have no adequate vocabulary, but it’s the best I can do. This book is radical, risky, raw and utter genius. It won’t be for everyone, and for me to say I loved it seems wrong, given the topic, but I am so glad I read it, and will come back to it again and again when I want to be challenged. One of my books of the year, without a doubt.

Nothing Important Happened Today is out now in all formats and you can get a copy here.

This is a book that is sure to stir fierce opinions in people, so make sure you check out some of my fellow bloggers’ reactions to the book by following the tour.

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About the Author

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Connect with Will:

Facebook: Will Carver Author

Twitter: @will_carver

Instagram: @will_carver

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Keeper of Secrets by Lynda Stacey #BookReview #BlogTour (@LyndaStacey) @RubyFiction @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #KeeperOfSecrets

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I’m thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the new book by Lynda Stacey, Keeper of Secrets. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which i have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

I was really looking forward to reading this book from the moment the author first told me about it, because it is based around a bit of history of my home town that I had no idea about. Sometimes a book which I am so highly anticipating can fall a little flat in reality, but this one did not disappoint in the execution.

Th author has created a really compelling narrative here, which is all the more fascinating for being built around a piece of lost South Yorkshire history. Since Lynda first talked to me about it, I have done a lot more reading about the Victorian Sand House, and the author has done a marvellous job of building a compelling story around the uncovering of this lost marvel, so I am sure anyone picking up the book will be as fascinated by the whole idea as I was and will want to learn more about it afterwards.

The story itself is totally gripping. I was hooked from the beginning and raced through the novel in two days, desperate to find out what was going to happen. The atmosphere is dark, forbidding, claustrophobic, it reveals a side of my home town that is unfamiliar to me, which is always exciting, and I was riveted by trying to piece together my knowledge of Doncaster with the locations in the book, but I am sure anyone who isn’t familiar with the locale will be equally drawn in by the tension and darkness of the setting, although it may not do much for the appeal of Doncaster to tourists! (It’s a great place, do visit us, we aren’t all crazy!)

Lynda has created some very sympathetic characters to carry the story. I loved the relationship between Cassie, her sister and her Aunt Aggie, and you could not help but be moved by the plight of the girls, and their aunt and their sad, individual histories. The romance in the book was also beautifully unveiled, but it was really the relationship between the girls and their aunt, and what they were prepared to do for each other that made the book for me.

I loved the contrast between the light and openness and carefree descriptions of Cassie in Italy, and the dark, oppressive tension of her life back in Doncaster, and the way the plot of the book began and ended gave a wonderfully rounded narrative. This is my favourite book of Lynda’s yet, and as an author you can see she is getting stronger and stronger. Wonderfully accomplished, I highly recommend it.

Keeper of Secrets is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To read some alternative opinions on the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire..

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. 

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices, helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

Connect with Lynda:

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: Lynda Stacey Author

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

Violet by S J I Holliday #BookReview #BlogTour (@SJIHolliday) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TrainNoir #Violet

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Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

It’s always a thrill to be on a tour for a new Orenda title, so I’m delighted to be taking part in this one today for Violet by SJI Holliday. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Susi Holliday, although I have had The Lingeringer, lingering on my TBR since last year. After reading this book, I will definitely be bumping that one to the top of the pile. This book grabbed me by the throat, gave me a good shake and refused to put me down until I reached the very last page, and I was practically holding my breath throughout the whole experience. This is one of those books that results in book lovers being accused of being anti-social by non-readers, because it is almost impossible to pull your eyes, or your thoughts, away from the plot.

It has every element that you would want to see in a superior psychological thriller. Unreliable characters driving the plot so you don’t know who is telling the truth, who is lying or what you can believe? Check. Excrustiating tension between the main characters that almost makes you want to scream in agony? Check. Dark and twisty plot that you can’t possibly work out until the very last chapter, and even then takes you somewhere you weren’t anticipating? Check. Riveting and original premise unlike anything you’ve seen before that takes you to new and exciting places? Double check.

Every element is present and correct, but the author has taken them and shaken them up, then put them back together in a book that is unlike anything you will have read before and is really fresh and exciting for us prolific readers who may have become over-familiar and a little jaded with the genre. This is one of the best examples I have read this year of a psychological thriller, and I absolutely loved it.

The stand out joy of this book for me was the setting, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. Any regular readers of the blog will know that I am a travel junkie, and this journey is one of those bucket list trips that we dream of taking but probably never will. Well, this author did, and she has shared the experience vividly with the readers through the pages of this novel so you almost feel like you are having the experience alongside her (although I hope Susi’s trip took less of a noir turn than that of her characters!). I love to read literature focused around travel, and it was a particular delight to read on that takes a detour from the familiar, picture-perfect, sunny locations to a place altogether more remote, more alien and, hence, more threatening which provided the perfect backdrop for the story.

The characters in the book also fit the non-standard pattern. We have a couple of young backpackers on the seemingly typical ‘gap year’ adventure. But these are not the shiny, happy, glowing teens we are often presented with, but the much more realistic selfish, grubby, hedonistic and often unpleasant world wanderers, and their adventures are equally torrid to behold. This is much more ‘The Beach’ than ‘Love Island,’ and all the more interesting and authentic to read about because of it.

Reading this book was a bit like riding one of those really terrifying theme park rides that you make yourself go on, even though you aren’t quite sure you want to. You buckle in, still having second thoughts, but it’s too late and you are off. Your heart is in your mouth from the beginning, you aren’t quite sure what is coming or when, you can’t catch your breath, and each spin and drop is equal parts excruciating and exhilarating. It is only when you get to the end that you whoop with joy at how much you enjoyed it, and you can’t wait for another ride, even while your pulse is still racing and you are trying to come back down to earth. Everything you could wish for. But yourself a ticket, you’ll have the ride of your life.

Violet is out now in ebook format and will be released in paperback on 14 November, and you can get your copy here.

Please make sure you do check out some of the reviews from the other fabulous bloggers taking part in the tour, as detailed on the poster below:

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About the Author

Susi author photo

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and the bestselling author of five crime novels, including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story ‘Home From Home’ was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize.

Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers, as well as drawing on her own journey on the Trans-Siberian Express over 10 years ago. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers.

Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.

Connect with Susi:

Website: http://sjiholliday.com

Facebook: SJI Holliday

Twitter: @SJIHolliday

Instagram: @susijholliday

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Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake #BookReview #BlogTour (@Juleswake) @0neMoreChapter_ @RaRaResources @NetGalley #RachelsRandomResources #NetGalley #NottingHillInTheSnow

Notting Hill In The Snow

Delighted to be one of the blogs opening up this tour for the new book by one of my favourite authors today, Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting to me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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It’s mayhem in Bethlehem…unless they can work together!

Viola Smith plays the viola in an orchestra (yes really!), but this year she’s been asked to stretch her musical talents to organising Notting Hill’s local nativity.

Nate Williams isn’t looking forward to Christmas but as his small daughter, Grace, has the starring role in the show, he’s forced to stop being a Grinch and volunteer with Viola.

With the sparks between them hotter than the chestnuts roasting in Portobello market, Nate and Viola can’t deny their feelings. And as the snow starts to fall over London, they find themselves trapped together in more ways than one…

Apologies for posting this a little late in the day but a combination of an Irish road trip, a flat iPad battery and unreliable hotel Wi-fi have led to this situation and I hope it is a case of better late than never.

This book is a follow up to Covent Garden in the Snow insofar as it has some of the same characters, but it is a whole new story with the focus on a new set of main characters and is easily read as a standalone book. However, you should definitely use this new book to catch up on the previous one which is a great book and one of my favourite Christmas reads of the past few years.

Did this sequel live up to the previous book? Did it ever, and then some. This is an absolutely perfect Christmas story with a cast of warm and wonderful characters, a gorgeous wintry setting and an enticing story line to hold it all together.

Oddly, following on from yesterday’s review, this book also centres around the staging of a school nativity play. This time we are following the story of Viola, a musician at the London Metropolitan Opera Company who is tasked with helping out a a school as a favour to a patron. Viola could do without the added stress at a busy time of year when she has work and the demands of her own, rather inconsiderate family, to deal with. However, working alongside handsome and charming lawyer Nate takes some of the sting out of it and when you throw in some cute kiddies, Viola finds herself losing her heart in more ways than one.

Jules Wake’s writing is as approachable and engrossing as ever in this book and the story really held my attention all the way through. Jules has created a character in Viola who immediately steals the heart of the reader and draws us to her side and into her story from the first page. The situation she finds herself in with Nate and Grace really moved me, and was such a relevant and contemporary scenario, totally relatable to so many people, I was captivated from start to finish.

This is a rewarding and charming festive story that repaid the time that I invested in reading it. It left me feeling moved and warmed and satisfied. Fans of this author will not be disappointed and anyone new to her books will have the delightful prospect of catching up on her back catalogue. Lucky things.

Notting Hill in the Snow is out as an ebook now and in paperback on 12 December and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

Notting Hill in the Snow Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Jules Wake (2)

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.  

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.  

Between them, the two Js have written twelve novels, Notting Hill in the Snow being the latest. 

Connect with Jules:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk

Facebook: Jules Wake

Twitter: @Juleswake

Instagram: @juleswakeauthor