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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Leopard At The Door by Jennifer McVeigh



Leopard At The Door


When Rachel returns to Kenya after six years back in England following the death of her mother, she isn't sure what to expect. While she's been in England at boarding school and under the care of her grandparents, she has longed to be back with her father and back in the country she loves and that feels like home.

But when she arrives, things have changed. Her reunion with her father isn't as she'd hoped and she discovers that he has moved another woman, along with her son, into the family home. It's the early 1950s and the political scene has changed as well, so the story unfolds against a backdrop of the Mau Mau uprising.

Things aren't just uncomfortable for Rachel in her new situation, they are actively dangerous as she realizes that she no longer has any idea who she can trust.

The historical details of this story are convincing and give a very authentic feel of the experience of the moral conundrum of being at the centre of colonial unrest. And there are some interesting flashbacks to things that happened when Rachel was previously in Kenya as a child and that, to her adult self, begin to fill in the gaps in her knowledge of what is going on.

Jennifer McVeigh skillfully builds up a sense of menace, of claustrophobic fear and encroaching violence, which rises to a crescendo as everything that Rachel holds dear is threatened. Along the way the themes of betrayal, sexual tension and identity are explored.

I found this an entrancing, sometimes uncomfortable, and complex read and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes a completely absorbing novel with an unusual setting and great characters. Rachel's story is thought provoking, emotional and will stay with you long after you have finished the book.

All in all, a very accomplished and enjoyable read.


Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here. And buy the book here.


You can follow the blog tour here.


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Interview With Amanda James

Behind The Lie by Amanda James

Today, I have Amanda James here to talk about her new book 'Behind The Lie'. Here's the blurb.

Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.
Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.
Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Tell us about your new book, Mandy!

Thanks for inviting me, Helen! Okay, Behind the Lie is about a young woman, Holly who’s had a difficult few years. She left a small Cornish village for the bright lights of London to be a model. Unfortunately, she got caught up with the kind of lifestyle that sometimes surrounds a career like that. She became addicted to drugs and sank into depression. Then she met handsome and wealthy doctor Simon West. Holly soon fell for him; they married and she hopes to live happily ever after.  When she falls pregnant with twins she is over the moon, but then tragedy strikes. Only one of her babies survives. She’s so distraught that she refuses to believe that her son is dead and friends and family begin to fear for her sanity. But Holly is determined to find her son and the story is about her quest to do so.


Where did the idea for the plot come from?

Often ideas for stories just appear as if by magic. Sometimes I wake in the night with a whole story in my head, sometimes they come from a title – A Stitch in Time arrived in that way. I was thinking of a catchy title for a novel and the story followed it in six weeks! But for Behind the Lie, one day I was walking on Crantock beach about twenty minutes from my home, and I looked up at one of the gorgeous houses on the side of the hill overlooking the sea. A dream of mine is to live in a house overlooking a beach, but I’m afraid it will remain just that. Anyway, I wondered who might live in a house like that. The answer came back in the shape of Holly West.


How does it make you feel when you have to make bad things happen to your characters, like you do with Holly?

I feel sorry for them of course, but at the same time know that they will eventually overcome their problems. All the nice characters have happy endings in my books. It’s just the nasty ones that meet their comeuppance, I like making bad things happen to them!

Was there much research involved, and how did you do it?

There wasn’t an awful lot of research really, though of course I researched medical aspects of the story and also the grief of losing a child. People I know have sadly been in that position. Then I wrote the book in about 6 months. Three months after that, it was set to be released into the world!

To what extent is this a departure from your previous novels?


Apart from the two time travel books of mine, there isn’t really a departure. As a reader, I love to try and figure out what is going to happen in a book, what the secret is, or who done it etc. I was inspired to write by Dean Koontz, the wonderful American suspense writer. I gobbled up his stories and he certainly influenced me. He often has a romantic element in his stories and so do I. Koontz often has a paranormal angle also and I enjoy writing those too. Summer in Tintagel and Dancing in the Rain are examples of those. I like reading straight suspense novels, but the added excitement and freedom to go ‘outside the box’ which is afforded by the paranormal is very liberating as both a reader and writer.  Behind the Lie has no paranormal element however, and not as much romance as some of my other books. There is a bit though.

What response from readers to Behind The Lie are you most hoping for?

I’m hoping they like it! Even though this will be my seventh published novel, I still get really worried and nervous every time about how the next book will be received.

What’s next for you in your writing career?

I have another suspense set in Cornwall that will hopefully be out before the end of this year. Watch this space.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps and get a novel published?

I would say, never give up; even when you have been knocked down so often that you don’t think you can find the energy and self-belief any more. Perhaps take a writing course and defiantly get someone that’s impartial to read your work. Determination to succeed is paramount. I have been knocked down and battered to a pulp over the years, but I have had reconstructive surgery and managed to keep finding publishers who think I’m not such a bad writer after all, and lovely readers who seem to enjoy my books.

Thanks so much for the chat, Helen! I really enjoyed it x

Thanks, Mandy. It's been really interesting finding out more about you and your work. 

You can buy 'Behind The Lie' here














Amanda James has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true.
Amanda has written many short stories and has five novels currently published. Her time travelling debut - A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 and has met with great success.
Amanda lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the beautiful coastline near her home. Three of her novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and Behind the Lie - April 2017 pub - HQUK ( HarperCollins)
Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Author links – Amanda's blog - http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/
Twitter - @akjames61
Facebook mandy.james.33


Friday, 28 April 2017

We Other by Sue Bentley


We Other


Jess Morgan faces many of the problems that other teenagers face. Living on a rough estate with her alcoholic mother, Alice, and Alice’s violent boyfriend isn’t much fun. Neither is feeling like she doesn’t quite fit in at school, at home, or anywhere else really. Sometimes it seems like her only friend is a homeless man, Mike, who lives in the underpass.

Meanwhile, in a very different world, Ninka, the kind hudskin, takes care of the mortal child Aerith and protects her from the wrath of the evil Catelysma. In the Faery kingdom human life is dispensable and cruelty is never far away.

We follow Jess as she becomes gradually more aware of her status as being different or ‘Other’. Why does she find the chemicals of the modern world so hard to live with? What are the strange bumps beginning to grow from her shoulders, and why does she seem to possess powers and skills that are far out of the ordinary.

When Jess’s path crosses that of young Caleb, also unhappy at home with a bullying father, the plot moves towards the mysterious Windroth, the home of eccentric artist Ivy Stark. Windroth seems to be the focus of Faery activity, although Caleb doesn’t realise that at first.

At Windroth the human world and the world of Faery collide and Jess has to decide whether to follow her destiny. She also has to work out what that means for her, for Alice, and for her growing relationship with Caleb.

There is plenty in this book to keep the reader entranced. The descriptions of Faery are vividly and convincingly done. Sue Bentley really conjures up all the different forms of life from ogres to pixies in a very original and striking way. This contrasts with the grittiness of the real world situations of Jess and Caleb and adds an extra level of interest to the story.

Jess is a really strong character and I enjoyed getting to know her and following her life-changing story. She has to deal with all sorts of issues that other girls her age will be familiar with, from difficult friendships to worrying about a vulnerable parent. But, when the demands of the Faery world are added to that, the story takes on a whole other dimension.

This is a book to really immerse yourself in. By the end you won’t be able to help feeling that you know Jess, and that you have spent time in the world of Faery yourself.

A highly recommended read for adults and young adults alike.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach


Proof of Lies



A guest review from Lady Techie

Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach is a completely awesome, exciting book. I received a free copy from Entangled Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Proof of Lies fits right in with one of my favorite topics to read about, in fiction and non-fiction, espionage and spies! Anastasia and her sister Keira are both in a "funk" even years after losing their parents to a car crash. Move after move. They move to new locations all over the world following their parents' work as engineers at Dresden. It has taken its toll on Anastasia. Each time she's been told this was home for a while so she has made friends and become involved in activities at her school in Boston. Then suddenly they are gone. She is left with Keira, who is just the age of adulthood herself, to finish raising her.  Anastasia is trying to keep herself going and Keira appears to be going off the rails with partying, drinking and bad boyfriend after boyfriend.

Keira disappears and Anastasia is devastated by the way she disappeared and by yet another loss of a loved one. Their roommate Charlotte is there for Anastasia and she is doing what she can for Anastasia. But, things have changed. Anastasia is lost this time and Charlotte is doing what she can to help her find her way back even if it means to find out what really happened to Keira. Anastasia is convinced that Keira is not dead and is doing what she can to find her. Charlotte is a computer genius that is with her every step of the way and the search takes them across the world and they have no idea who they can trust because no one is who they seem, including Keira’s last boyfriend.


Proof of Lies is one of those books that resonates with the reader if they have a sibling, even if they are the older sibling who has been made responsible for a younger sibling even for five minutes. The resentment, arguing and sometimes ill-treatment of that sibling. Parents do not mean to have a hand in that relationship, but, sometimes they do because they cannot help but treat the children different. Maybe it is not because they like one better than the other, but, because the children are different with different needs and personalities. The parents also have personalities that just seem to mesh better with one child, not because they like the other one less, but, because they have things in common. Sometimes, just the age difference is enough for the siblings to not have as close of a relationship as they could.  Keira and Anastasia seem to have a pretty close relationship but that is put to the test with the loss of their parents. Keira’s disappearance makes Anastasia realize her part in how their relationship has turned. But, what is one of the best parts of this story is that Anastasia knows her limitations and despite all of them she uses the people and tools she must search for her sister. But, in the middle of understanding more about her relationship with Keira, she learns more about herself and her parents. Proof of Lies is the great start to an action-packed thriller with a great mystery and I look forward to the next book! 

This Review was originally posted at  LadyTechie’s Book Musings.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett



Will To Live


The Kay Hunter series from Rachel Amphlett is shaping up to be a very good one indeed. I really enjoyed the first offering, ‘Scared To Death’, which I reviewed here. And the follow up, ‘Will To Live’ is just as good.

This outing sees Kay Hunter investigating a series of deaths linked to the railways. At first they were thought to be suicides, until a dog walker chances to see one victim’s final moments. Could there be more to what is going on than meets the eye. Is the murderer actually using trains to kill people? Who would do that and why?

Kay and her team have to look for links between the victims, and as they do, an event from the past gives them the first glimpse of an insight into the killer’s motive.

This story is packed with action, intrigue and peril and, as with the previous one, is very well plotted.

One of the things I like about this series is that we have a satisfying character arc running through the books that is based on Kay’s ongoing personal and professional issues.

I love her husband, who is a vet with a tendency to bring his work home with him. Last time it was a snake, this time a pregnant Great Dane. Being familiar with her family situation also raises the stakes for the reader when Kay finds herself at the sharp end of some criminal activity which hits her way too close to home.

This book continues the thread started in the last one about Kay’s professional past and the issues she has had to deal with. There is no let up for her in this instalment and we are left wondering just who is trying to blacken her name and why.

All in all, a thoroughly compelling story and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.