My #Review of #TwoStormWood by #PhilipGray @PhilipGrayBooks @HarvillSecker

THE GUNS ARE SILENT. THE DEAD ARE NOT.

1919. On the desolate battlefields of northern France, the guns of the Great War are silent. Special battalions now face the dangerous task of gathering up the dead for mass burial.

Captain Mackenzie, a survivor of the war, cannot yet bring himself to go home. First he must see that his fallen comrades are recovered and laid to rest. His task is upended when a gruesome discovery is made beneath the ruins of a German strongpoint.

Amy Vanneck’s fiancé is one soldier lost amongst many, but she cannot accept that his body may never be found. She heads to France, determined to discover what became of the man she loved.

It soon becomes clear that what Mackenzie has uncovered is a war crime of inhuman savagery. As the dark truth leaches out, both he and Amy are drawn into the hunt for a psychopath, one for whom the atrocity at Two Storm Wood is not an end, but a beginning.

I really like novels that are set during WW1 or WW2 so I was excited to be able to start Two Storm Wood, especially as it’s part of my Backlog!

From the outset this book grabbed me, it’s a love story, a tragedy, a creepy thriller. The two main characters Amy Vanneck and her fiancé Edward Haslam are brought to life so expertly and the attention to detail in describing how they look and their inner minds, is frankly, amazing. The setting is France in 1919 but we also travel back in time and revisit the death fields of war, the descriptions of which are SO realistic, the violence of war is put on paper so skilfully by Philip Gray, and the mental torture that affected every soldier is laid bare here.

The story is vast and almost cinematic in nature as we travel through the abandoned battlefields with Amy in search of her missing fiancé, it is very clear to me that Philip did a ton of research into WW1 and this makes Two Storm Wood such an authentic historical thriller. The battle scenes are almost TOO well described!

It’s almost a strange thing to say, but I loved the storyline of Two Storm Wood, I mean strange in that, some of it is so visceral in its depictions of war, which we know is horrific, but it is not there for glorification, Two Storm Wood just balances love and horror so well. The thrilling conclusion had me literally with my jaw dropping!

I love that Two Storm Wood is almost a love letter to Philip’s Grandfather, who kept records and maps during his time fighting in WW1 ( for more information on this head to Philip’s website) All in all this is a fabulous novel, if you like historical thrillers with a creepy edge, then Two Storm Wood is for you!

A 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read!


Philip studied modern history at Cambridge University, and went on to work as a journalist in Madrid, Rome and Lisbon. He has tutored in crime writing at City University in London and serves as a director at an award-winning documentary film company, specialising in science and history.

Philip’s grandfather was a captain in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought through the First World War from start to finish, losing his closest friends along the way. Years after his death, Philip came across a cache of trench maps and military documents that his grandfather had kept, and in which he had recorded the events that befell his unit. Philip was inspired to write his thriller Two Storm Wood when the pull of his grandfather’s legacy felt too strong to ignore.

You can buy Two Storm Wood HERE

Philip Gray’s website HERE TWITTER

#GuestAuthor this week is the fabulous @TinaBakerBooks author of the gripping #NastyLittleCuts @ViperBooks

J; Thank you so much Tina for being a guest on my blog, I’m so honoured.

J: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Nasty Little Cuts come from?

TB: ALWAYS! From the time I first started to scribble, before school. I was THRILLED being able to write, although spelling, not so much. I wrote poems and stories as a child.

Nasty Little Cuts was originally called Serrations. The idea was to write about all those irritating little things that build in a relationship until they can cause huge damage, coupled with two very flawed people at a tense time in their lives – Christmas, money worries, menopause, bereavement – catalysing the final explosion.

Tina Baker Promo for Nasty Little Cuts

J; The writing of Deb and Marc’s relationship in Nasty Little Cuts is extremely realistic, what research did you do in writing the book?

TB: I’ve been in several toxic relationships. But not like this. It’s fictionalised. The book is an amalgamation of all the (many) bad things that have happened to me.

I’ve also interviewed both women and men who’ve been in abusive relationships in my work as a journalist.

Me with Nasty Little Cuts!

J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Deb & Marc if (and when!) Nasty Little Cuts is turned into a TV series/Movie?

TB: WHEN! Please, God! I’d love Jamie Dornan as Marc. Not just for his looks, but because he can play wounded as well as brooding.

Debs, I’d love to be played by a working-class actress. I adored Sophie Willan in the award-winning comedy, Alma’s Not Normal. She’d be great.

J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?

TB; We didn’t have a TV for years. Radio was my first love.

I loved reading and read everything, including my dad’s, very age-inappropriate books and as many adult books in the library as I could when no one was watching.

Early TV I loved The Magic Roundabout and Stingray and Thunderbirds. My first crush was on a puppet! Captain Troy Tempest!

Fave children’s books, Wind in the Willows, The Wombles, Paddington, A Wrinkle in Time.

J; What was your favourite book of 2021 and why??

TB; They are all my favourite children. You can’t make me choose!

 I loved The Last House on Needless Street, Girl A, The Stranding, The End of Men.

I read a lot of crime last year because I hadn’t read a lot before. And so much pre-pandemic horror! Even The Last One At The Party was about a bloody pandemic. I had no idea because I bought a load of debuts just because and I sometimes like to read without the synopsis

J; Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?

TB; Again, its TOO HARD to choose!!

I’ve re-read a lot of DH Lawrence, Dickens, Thomas Hardy and the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Vasko Popa and Ted Hughes. I love Joyce Carol Oates, Ann Tyler and ALL the Viper authors.

J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

TB; Either a party at Studio 54 in the OTT heyday or being on the moon at the moon landing.

J; What’s the most ridiculous thing you have bought?

TB; In the last month – 2 wedding dresses, 4 wedding veils, fake blood and a rubber knife – for silly promotion videos.

I could also say, THE LIES OF THE MEN WHO SAID THEY LOVED ME! Ha Ha! (J.. I LOVE this answer!!)

J; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?

TB; Bette Midler. Icon. Hilarious.

Stephen Fry. Clever. Real gent.

Marilyn Monroe. Icon. Incandescent.

Billy Connolly. The best storyteller in the business.

J; Was there ever something that you thought was possible after watching some movie as a kid, that is now absolutely ridiculous to think of in retrospect?

TB; There was a children’s cartoon where a little girl wished her hair to keep growing. And I watched so many films about miracles, I prayed for my teddy to become real.

J; If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

TB; Right now ANYWHERE!!! I’ve not been abroad for 4 years. I’ve only had 1 week off since the pandemic kicked off. So, either a week or two in the Caribbean or Cornwall (my husband’s from there) when it’s warmer!

J; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

TB; Don’t let the bastards grind you down. One of my Dad’s.

J; What is your routine for an average weekday?

TB: There isn’t an exact routine as some of the personal training sessions revolve around other people. Ditto press surrounding the publication of a new book.

Writing is a bit haphazard at the moment too. My brain doesn’t work the same thanks to long term anxiety. In an ideal week I’d write a little every day, some days longer, teach a fitness class or 2, and post silly things on social media.

J; Are you currently writing another book?

TB; I’ve just finished another thriller for Viper which has yet to be edited. The story of a domestic cleaner who turns to crime. And I’m kicking around ideas for book 4 for Viper.

Tina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.
Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she’s not stolen a child – so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.

You can BUY Nasty Little Cuts HERE

Follow Tina Baker on TWITTER INSTAGRAM

Tina Baker WEBSITE

My #review of #WomenInLove by #MiriamBurke @renardpress published UK 23.02.22

‘I couldn’t sleep that night; our conversation was like a trapped bird flying around inside my head. The next morning, I texted to say I wouldn’t be coming back. I lied about having to return to my country to nurse a sick relative. I couldn’t bear to see my story mirrored in his eyes, and to see what we never had. I knew he’d understand.’

Women and Love is a thought-provoking collection of seventeen tightly woven tales about the power of love, all its trials and complications, and the shattered lives it can leave in its wake.

The stories explore a huge variety of sorts of love surrounding women in wildly differing settings and features an unforgettable cast including GPs, burglars, inmates, emigrant cleaners, carers, young professionals, and many more. Navigating heavy themes, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, including gender dysphoria and searching for a sperm donor, the stories leave the reader burning with indignation, full of empathy and wonder.

Firstly, Thank you to Will at Renard Press for sending me a copy Women in Love to review.

This isnt my normal genre of book, but I was so intrigued by the description, that I wanted to read something different.

Here is a book with a plethora of love stories about women, they are well written and its clear that Miriam Burke knows her subjects well, in the description of all the various characters throughout the book.

Here we have 17 short stories about women in love. The clear who sees relationships from the outside and has a sad secret, the wife whose husband of many years makes a decision that rocks her world forever, the struggling single mother who encounters every parents nightmare.

I loved the way the stories were written so frankly and found all of them easy to read and compelling. and you can really feel yourself emphasising with the chrachters. My favourite was The Currency of Love, really gripping. I will also say that there are going to be some trigger warnings in these stories.

Overall a nice collection of short stories by Miriam burke, and a word for Renard Press as I loved the book cover design!

A 4 Star read.

A writer from the west of Ireland, Miriam Burke’s short stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals. She has a PhD in Psychology, and before becoming a writer she worked for many years as a Clinical Psychologist in London hospitals and GP practices. Women and Love is her debut collection.

You can buy Women In Love HERE

#BlogTour #NastyLittleCuts by #TinaBaker @TinaBakerBooks published by @ViperBooks

WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.

Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.

Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…

A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.

Thank you so much to Viper for sending me a copy of Tina Baker’s Nasty Little Cuts for part of the blog tour.

This is my first read of a Tina Baker book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but from the blurb I was really intrigued

From the first page of Nasty Little Cuts, I was totally gripped. the story revolves around Christmas Eve morning in a house with Debs and Marc and their two children Dolly and Patrick. Sounds lovely right, WRONG!

This is a novel that takes the reader to some of the darkest place the human mind can go to when under extreme stress, I will say that for anyone who has experienced Domestic Violence/Coercive Control this book will likely trigger you.

Tina’s description of a marriage that has grown rotten to the core, the subsequent domestic violence from both Debs and Marc, the flashbacks to help us understand how people can be moulded by childhood events and the impact that this has on us in later life, is raw and real. I have to say that I was even shocked at how realistic the descriptions of two people fighting were. Yet there is interspersed in this horrific story tenderness and love. It’s a real horror ride of a book explaining the absolute depths that depression and drug and alcohol abuse can get when a person is under pressure.

I read Nasty Little Cuts in 2 days and it left me quite shaken and anxious, it’s a hard hitting storyline and it may not be for everyone, but it is written with care and attention and Tina Baker knows how to pull the reader in and keep them invested in her characters and plot!

A fabulous 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star read from me!

Tina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.
Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she’s not stolen a child – so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.

You can visit Tina Baker’s website HERE

Follow Tina Baker on Twitter Instagram Facebook

You can buy Tina Baker’s books HERE

#BlogTour #TheChemist by Lewis Hastings @istheauthor @HobeckBooks Release Date UK 22.02.22

“Then, with his wrist trembling under the pressure, he carved the names of two men into the paper, ripping the surface…

Jack…

The Seventh Wave organised crime gang is long defeated, its members dead or jailed. Their London-wide campaign of terror a fading memory.

Jason…

Or is it? An old foe is released from his maximum-security prison cell, with dreams of revenge and a score to settle.

…You. Just. Watch.”

He calls himself ‘The Chemist’, and he’s determined to make anyone who’s crossed him pay. To him, death is just a game of chance, and he’s stacked the odds in his favour. Can Jack Cade save those closest to him from the twisted plans of The Chemist?

Firstly I must say thank you so much to Hobeck Books for letting me join in The Chemist Blog Tour and supplying me with the paperback.

Secondly, although this is part of a series, this is the first time I’ve read a Lewis Hastings book, however it did not detract from the storyline.

Where to start! Well this is a fabulous crime fiction thriller and I urge everyone to buy a copy and read it, you won’t be at all disappointed. It is gritty, dark, fucked-up and totally brilliant! I was sold from the first chapter. I love the way Lewis Hastings writes, it is extremely raw and dirty, but it’s exactly what The Chemist is! If you like edge of your seat thrillers with a host of fabulous characters and quite possibly THE most EVIL and fucked-up criminal of all time (Worse than Hannibal Lecter!!) in a book that I’ve read, and I’ve read a LOT of crime books!

Remember the name Constantin Nicolescu because Lewis Hastings has invented a mammoth of a criminal here, the research that has gone into how The Chemists psychopathic mind works and the games he plays with his victims (of which there are many) is breathtaking and at times had me reaching for the sick bucket! Think Chris Carters style of writing only better! The plot revolves around Nicolescu and the chain of awful events that he wrecks on an elite team of Metropolitan Police Officers, dubbed The Orion Squad. Every chapter just draws you in further and makes you gasp!

I really don’t want to give any of the plot away but I must also mention the attention to detail that Lewis has taken in writing the Police characters in The Chemist. As an ex Police Civvy from the 1990’s, I always find a book hard to read if the language and black humour of Police Officers and Detectives in books is wrong, no fear of that here, the writing is super realistic and for me spot on, I think that’s also part of the reason why I loved The Chemist so much. You can tell when an author has been a Police Officer, it makes for realistic writing!

And finally I must draw attention to all the research that must have gone into writing The Chemist, from the effects of drugs and poisons on humans, to the settings in London and also to homeless people and especially ex-Forces homeless, it is absolutely solid gold and I commend Lewis Hastings on this!

This is a big book 500+ pages and it kept me entertained all the way through, the story was complicated but I was able to follow it easily, I was gripped by the darkness that is in The Chemist, and there’s car chases, and edge of your seat moments! The Chemist has it all!

This is one of those books that would very easily lend itself to television or film, and I for one would love to see that happen! And if not then at the very least it needs to become a bestseller or prize-winning novel!

An absolute book banger and a definite 5 ⭐️ read from me!

Lewis Hastings is a pseudonym. His real name is far more, real.

Born as a product of the long, harsh and miserable winter of the early nineteen sixties in southern England he soon shot to fame for his child acting, embellishment and love of justice and propensity for injury. His catalogue of injuries and their research has actually proven to be of use, particularly when describing some of the medical events within the book. The sensation of pain, often clinically described, is based upon real-world events and countless hours in Accident and Emergency Wards. His relationships with the many nurses, doctors and specialists is acknowledged.

Above all Lewis is a passionate and caring soul who always puts the needs of others before his own, a career in law enforcement was therefore a logical path, having drifted helplessly on a sinking rudderless ship that saw him involved in many diverse occupations, including but not limited to selling, border security, exotic dancing, prostitution and people trafficking*.

He joined the British Police in April 1990 and was posted to an upmarket suburb of Nottingham where he learned the art of policing; investigation, intelligence and communication. Along the way he dabbled in many varied branches of policing and worked for seven years in one of the toughest inner-city areas in Britain. Some of the key events and people are brought back to life in the early segments of the story that are set in Nottingham, again, to protect those still serving their names have been changed.

Having spent his formative years both living and working in the United Kingdom he was offered what for many would be the chance of a lifetime. Clutching his worldly goods, his family and his reputation he took the leap of faith and now lives on the other side of the world in a house, with the same wife and a lake-loving Labrador.

Having headed across the world, his law enforcement career – not unlike Jack Cade’s – would take an unexpected turn and soon he found himself building a capable and worthy team at an international border. The thirteen years that followed saw him carve out a reputation as a subject matter expert in port security, document fraud and international border intelligence, particularly the influence of travelling European criminals. He now acts as a government liaison officer – connecting law enforcement units throughout the Five Eyes community. He hopes for the chance to meet another “Theodora” – tired, afraid but agenda-driven and with her own unique story to tell to someone prepared to listen.

He has two amazing children, one adorable granddaughter, an equally adorable grandson and a long-suffering, incredibly patient wife who meets all of the cliched aspects of a redhead.

* The author was never involved in selling.

You can purchase The Chemist HERE

You can follow Lewis Hastings on Twitter Instagram

Lewis Hastings Website HERE

#GuestAuthor #GilesKristian @GilesKristian author of #WhereTheBloodRunsCold published by #BantamPress @TransworldBooks 24.02.22

J; Thank you so much, Giles, for being a guest on my blog.

Thank you for hosting me

J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Where Blood Runs Cold come from?

Reading the poems of Seamus Heaney for A-Level wove a spell on me. From that moment I knew I wanted to write professionally. I went off to university to do a degree in English Language and Literature but dropped out after just a few months to join a pop group. It was an incredible diversion, packed with extraordinary experiences. But, after four hit records and several years in the music industry, I got back on track with my ambition to become a writer. In 2003, I undertook a cross country skiing and igloo building trip in Norway. It gave me the idea for a thriller about a parent and child being hunted through the snowbound mountains. By the time I got round to writing it, I was living in New York and Raven: Blood Eye was on submission. Luckily, Transworld (Penguin Random House) offered me a publishing deal for my Viking trilogy and so I stuck my snowy thriller in a drawer and have been writing historical novels ever since. Then, after Lancelot and Camelot, which were both big, emotionally draining books, I needed to get my teeth into something fresh and different. It was the perfect time to dig my thriller out of the snow. After eleven historical novels, Where Blood Runs Cold is my first contemporary story and I’m excited to send it out into the world.

J; How much research did you need to do before writing Where Blood Runs Cold (without giving the plot away!)?

Well, I’ve spent time in the mountains of Norway, and as already mentioned, I got the idea from a ski touring trip, so much of it stems from experience. There’s always research, of course, but for this book it was a piece of cake compared with writing a historical novel, where hours of the day can be spent researching. With this book it was more like, what’s the most popular hybrid SUV in Norway? Or, what’s a popular brand of snowshoes? Or could a drone fitted with a thermal camera detect a body beneath the snow? These questions are easy enough to Google, whereas the historical stuff requires a library of reference books.

J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Erik and Sofia Amdahl if Where Blood Runs Cold was made into a movie (I hope it is!)

Viggo Mortensen would make a brilliant Erik. As would Alexander Skarsgård. Sofia is more difficult to cast because her age is more specific, and I don’t know many young teenage actresses. Someone like Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont in ‘Game of Thrones’ and star of the forthcoming series ‘The Last of Us’) would be good. As it happens, there’s already serious interest in the film adaptation of Where Blood Runs Cold, so perhaps we’ll need to think about this sooner rather than later. Would be a nice problem to have.

J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader, or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?

I didn’t read books as a child. The first book I read for pleasure was the Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore, which my mum bought me when I was thirteen and off school for several weeks with glandular fever. It blew my mind! Funny to think that if I hadn’t been poorly, I might not be a writer today. As for TV, I loved the series ‘Robin of Sherwood’. I still sometimes play the soundtrack by Clannad. As soon as I hear Robin (The Hooded Man), I’m a boy again.

J; What is your favourite book which you read in 2021?

The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden. Conn really knows what it is to be human, and this gives his writing such wisdom. Iconic figures from history, men such as Themistocles and Xanthippus emerge fully fleshed. Conn reveals their motivations and hopes, their fears, jealousies, and ideals, so that although they died two thousand five hundred years ago, they live and breathe again between the pages. If that wasn’t enough, there’s the prose itself, which is at once economical and beautiful. I was transported. I felt the Mediterranean sun on my face, smelled the sea on the air, stood on the rocky outcrop of the Acropolis, watched the hustle and bustle of Athenian life. I cared for the characters, and I wanted to cast my vote in the Assembly! It was all so vivid in my mind’s eye.

J; Which book that you have written are you the proudest of?

I’m most proud of Lancelot. I wrote that book whilst grieving the death of my father and it was hard. And yet, something of my soul poured into that book. My editor once said something along the lines of, ‘Giles, if you got knocked down tomorrow by the no. 27 bus, it would be OK because you’d have written Lancelot.’ In a way, I agree with him.

J; Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?

My favourite author is Cormac McCarthy. I’ve never come across another writer with his powers of description. Books like All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, and The Road are stunning examples of the craft. However, The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell holds a special place for me. That trilogy inspired me like nothing else, and I’m a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. When he gave me a cover quote for my first novel, I was overjoyed.

J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

I would go back to witness The Battle of Hastings. I’m sure that it would make for a traumatic and hideous spectacle, and I’d probably suffer PTSD after, but it was such a momentous battle, and given that the historical record presents it as a close-run thing, I’d be fascinated to see just how close it was. Because the Norman invasion had a huge impact on the social, cultural & economic life of the kingdom of England. The Normans brought Latin and French, castles, and wine. Culturally, whereas England had looked north to Scandinavia, now it looked to the south-east and continental Europe. The Battle of Hastings was one of those pivotal moment in history.

J; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?

Harald Hardrada, because he was the greatest warrior of his age and I’d want to hear about all his battles. Beyoncé, because she’s a goddess. Elvis Presley, because his charisma would light up the room. King Charles II, because, as Horrible Histories puts it, he was the King of Partying.

J; If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’d like to visit Moscow in winter. Maybe not right now, but some time. I’d also like to go to Alaska and drink beer in small town bar. Cold places appeal to me. As does beer.

J; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My grandma told me not to hide my light under a bushel. This was good advice for the painfully shy boy I was.

J; Do you have a hidden talent?

No, because of the aforementioned advice! Although, new readers might not know that I can throw an axe or two.

J; Are you currently writing another book?

I’m currently writing Arthur, the third book in my Arthurian Tales. I also have a cracking idea for another thriller, but that’s for another time.

During the 90s Giles Kristian was the lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records, performing on Top of the Pops as well as at the Royal Albert Hall, N.E.C. and Wembley Arena, and playing concerts on the same bill as such artists as The Spice Girls, Take That, The Backstreet Boys and Eric Clapton! As a singer-songwriter, he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world, from Prague, Miami, Mexico and the Swiss Alps, to Bognor Regis. To fund his writing habit, he has worked as a model, appearing in TV commercials and ads for Walls Ice Cream (he was a Magnum Man!), Canon Cameras and two brands of lager. He has worked as an advertising copywriter and lived for three years in New York, where he wrote copy for movie marketing company Empire Design but mainly worked on his first novel, RAVEN: Blood Eye
Giles, who is half-Norwegian, was inspired by his family history to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling RAVEN Viking trilogy – Blood Eye, Sons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by this brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion. In The Rise of Sigurd novels – God of Vengeance, Winter’s Fire, and Wings of the Storm – he returned to the world of the Vikings to tell the story of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. His Sunday Times bestseller, Lancelot, is currently in development for TV with a major studio. He followed Lancelot with Camelot, and now, Where Blood Runs Cold is his debut contemporary thriller.  

You can find Giles Kristian’s website HERE

Follow Giles on TWITTER INSTAGRAM FACEBOOK

#GuestAuthor #LewisHastings @istheauthor author of #TheChemist @hobeckbooks release date UK 22.02.22

J; Thank you so much Lewis for being a guest on my blog

LH; My pleasure!

 J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea for The Seventh Wave Trilogy come from?

LH; I fell in love with writing in the 1970s, when my English teacher, the brilliantly named Theodora Bruton told me I had a gift for​storytelling. My parents felt that this meant I daydreamed or told lies! Needless to say, Theo Bruton was right. I so wish she was alive now to read my work. (Of possible interest my old school approached me and asked me to be a writing ambassador for the current generation – I was thrilled!)

 The Seventh Wave Trilogy was a real-life event. I was the duty officer at an international airport when a mysterious Bulgarian female asked to see an Interpol officer. I was the nearest we had. Over six hours she told me her story. That story formed the Seventh Wave (Terribly, as she was telling me, I couldn’t help but see a movie series…)  I tracked her for a week then lost all trace of her somewhere in Thailand as contrary to what we knew she’d managed to get hold of a false passport and slipped off the radar. I have no idea where she is now but I hope she’s OK…she was the woman behind Niko Petrova.

J; How much research did you need to do before writing The Chemist?

LH; Very little. Again, the characters are all very real or based upon real people I have either worked with, followed, or taken into custody. A lot of the chemistry/toxin work was self-researched, but the more complex stuff is down to two men; Mr Brian Price, a fellow Hobeck author who has far more knowledge in the forensic space and a dear friend, Jeremy Batchelor, one of the most gifted organic chemists I’ve ever met. What he doesn’t know about making things explode isn’t worth knowing!

J; Constantin Nicolescu is probably THE most fucked up criminal in any book I’ve read, where did the original ideas for his murders come from? 

LH; Thank you. I think…I’m smiling nonetheless. Constantin was mentioned by Nikolina, (she’s the mysterious Bulgarian woman), as being the cruellest man that she’d ever met. From there I just let my mind inhabit his and considered what I’d most like to do to the few enemies I have in the world. The centrepiece in the old music hall (again a very real place, you can find it on Google maps if you know where to look!) was purely my imagination.

J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Nicolescu, Jason Roberts, Jack Cade and Carrie O’Shea ( or any other of your great characters) if The Chemist was made into a movie (I hope it is!)

LH; Ah the eternal question. Here goes, and this may surprise you. I would LOVE someone to make them into films, I am told repeatedly that the books are cinematographic which is humbling – to be told that they drew a colourful picture in the mind of a reader who has aphantasia (Google it..) was possibly my greatest achievement.

Jack. he’s the difficult one. Possibly an unknown like Daniel Craig was relatively speaking when he became Bond. Someone like a Rupert Penry-Jones with a rougher edge.

Nicolescu the same. An unknown, or someone who can really get into a character. Who knows perhaps Michael Sheen – he’s yet to put a foot wrong!

Michael Sheen

Jason Roberts – I’m smiling but you need to know the real Jason. I’d possibly go a little off-piste and choose Eddie Izzard.

Eddie Izzard

Carrie. Easy. Vicky McClure (sultry, sexy, but with attitude.) I’ve thought about this. I just need Adrian from Hobeck to bribe Jed Mercurio…

Vicky McClure

Bridie would be someone like Jessica Raine.

Jessica Raine

Colin Firth would make a good JD.

Colin Firth

J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?

LH; Famous Five, Secret Seven that sort of thing. Adventures, for the young mind! TV was very much BBC oriented, so Blue Peter rather than Magpie and Swap Shop instead of TISWAS…

J; What is your favourite book you read in 2021?

LH; The Body – Bill Bryson. I love his style and research – humour meets science head-on. 10/10.

J; Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?

LH; I love Peter James’ books – he was my early inspiration and we stay in touch now. He wrote back to me whilst in Jamaica doing some research (him, not me…) and even offered to have Seventh my first novel read by the real Roy Grace. It meant a lot. (‘Roy’ loved it..)

That said, my favourite books of all time are probably Papillon (Henri Charriere) and Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks).

J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why? 

LH; Christmas Eve 1914. To witness the truce. To stand and watch my dear grandfather as a young man and to listen to him tell the tales of the Great War. I was never allowed to ask later in life when as a boy I was fascinated by his bravery. It was never mentioned again. He was one of the most highly decorated members of the Royal Tank Corps as a 26-year-old Corporal on the Western Front.

    “The night wore on to dawn – a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired.”

J;  If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why? 

LH; My grandfather to finally listen to those tales. My Dad. I flew 10,000 miles to read my autobiography to him in a hospice in Kent (this may sound familiar if you have read The Angel of Whitehall) just so I could tell him I’d made it as an author! Something still so powerful that even typing that sentence brings a tear to my eye. For selfish reasons, Kate Beckinsale and for cinematic reasons Vicky McClure to discuss her role as Carrie. And I’d pay for my family to sit on the next table as they’ve all endured my endless book conversations…

J; If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

LH; I’ve been lucky to have travelled very well with work and privately. Cape Cod appeals. I flew over it after enduring a hurricane off the coast of Newfoundland once, and we nearly had to divert there. Looking down it really appealed. Or Bora Bora with Kate Beckinsale.

J; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

LH; Never go back!

J; Do you have a hidden talent? 

LH; Many. I can’t play the guitar in any key. And I’m a mimic, having turned down a fair amount of voice-over work.

J; Are you currently writing another book?

LH;  I am, yes. It’s the sixth in the Jack Cade series and features three places with the same name. I have a seventh in development already which may be a standalone and will introduce a new character which I think will be a first in literature.

Then I have another which is like nothing else I’ve ever written. A love story like no other set initially in sixties London among the publishing world and the British Army. Hobeck might not find a place for it, but like all my books, it will have a twist.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for what you do for people like me Jude, for supporting me and above all reading my books. They are subjective, like people, that you enjoyed them means more than you could ever imagine.

Lewis Hastings is a pseudonym. His real name is far more, real.

Born as a product of the long, harsh and miserable winter of the early nineteen sixties in southern England he soon shot to fame for his child acting, embellishment and love of justice and propensity for injury. His catalogue of injuries and their research has actually proven to be of use, particularly when describing some of the medical events within the book. The sensation of pain, often clinically described, is based upon real-world events and countless hours in Accident and Emergency Wards. His relationships with the many nurses, doctors and specialists is acknowledged.

Above all Lewis is a passionate and caring soul who always puts the needs of others before his own, a career in law enforcement was, therefore, a logical path, having drifted helplessly on a sinking rudderless ship that saw him involved in many diverse occupations, including but not limited to selling, border security, exotic dancing, prostitution and people trafficking*.

He joined the British Police in April 1990 and was posted to an upmarket suburb of Nottingham where he learned the art of policing; investigation, intelligence and communication. Along the way, he dabbled in many varied branches of policing and worked for seven years in one of the toughest inner-city areas in Britain. Some of the key events and people are brought back to life in the early segments of the story that are set in Nottingham, again, to protect those still serving their names have been changed.

Having spent his formative years both living and working in the United Kingdom he was offered what for many would be the chance of a lifetime. Clutching his worldly goods, his family and his reputation he took the leap of faith and now lives on the other side of the world in a house, with the same wife and a lake-loving Labrador.

Having headed across the world, his law enforcement career – not unlike Jack Cade’s – would take an unexpected turn and soon he found himself building a capable and worthy team at an international border. The thirteen years that followed saw him carve out a reputation as a subject matter expert in port security, document fraud and international border intelligence, particularly the influence of travelling European criminals.

He now acts as a government liaison officer – connecting law enforcement units throughout the Five Eyes community. He hopes for the chance to meet another “Theodora”  – tired, afraid but agenda-driven and with her own unique story to tell to someone prepared to listen.

He has two amazing children, one adorable granddaughter, an equally adorable grandson and a long-suffering, incredibly patient wife who meets all of the cliched aspects of a redhead.

You can find Lewis Hasting’s Website HERE Twitter HERE

Instagram HERE Facebook HERE

My #Review of the #creepy and #sumptuous #ChasingTheBoogeyman by @RichardChizmar @HodderBooks

In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman-and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.

Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.

A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, ‘Chasing the Boogeyman does what true crime so often cannot: it offers both chills and a satisfying conclusion’ (Stephen King). Chizmar’s ‘brilliant . . . absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant’ (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

I’ve had Chasing The Boogeyman on my radar since it was released, so as a start on my backlogue, I gobbled it up!

From the start you can tell that Richard Chizmar is an author who pays attention to the little details, his writing is sublime and sumptuous. Putting himself at the heart of a spate of murders in his hometown of Edgewood, was frankly audacious! But it works SO well. His descriptions of everyday life in small town America is awe inspiring, I was absolutely drawn in to this story from the opening page. The way Richard has worked his love for his hometown, memories of growing up and his parents is frankly brilliant, add to that a serial killer and you have a perfect novel.

I flew through the story totally rapt at what events were happening, I loved the fact that there are photographs included which makes it seem super realistic. The plot and storyline is twisty and frankly chilling, and I loved it! I didn’t guess who the killer was but the way we are bought to that moment is brilliant.

A gripping, creepy, almost memoir like, fabulous read from someone who writes with a clear love of words.!

A 5 star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read

.

Richard Chizmar is the author of Gwendy’s Button Box (with Stephen King) and A Long December, which was nominated for numerous awards. His fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and multiple editions of The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won two World Fantasy awards, four International Horror Guild awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustee’s award. His third short story collection, A Long December, was recently published to starred reviews in both Kirkus and Booklist, and was featured in Entertainment Weekly. Chizmar’s work has been translated into many languages throughout the world, and he has appeared at numerous conferences as a writing instructor, guest speaker, panelist, and guest of honor.

You can buy Chasing The Boogeyman HERE

You can go to Richard Chizmar’s website HERE

You can follow Richard on Twitter HERE Facebook HERE

#GuestAuthor #WillCarver @will_carver #Q&A #PsychopathsAnonymous @Orendabooks

J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Psychopaths Anonymous come from?

 W; I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I had a real thirst for knowledge, though. All I wanted to do was learn as much as I could about EVERYTHING. I dabbled with the idea of being a poet, a playwright, a painter and a singer. Theatre directing also made an appearance. So, I definitely always had a creative/expressive edge to everything. But I really honed in on the idea of writing a book while at university.

               The idea for PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS has been brewing for a while. When my dad died, I found a book in his house called ‘Steps to Christ’, which I kept. It’s the kind of thing you are given on a 12-Step program and I assumed he acquired it at some AA meeting. Religion/belief has always fascinated me or, more specifically, the psychology behind it. I knew I’d do something with it one day.

               My books tend to stir up something in me as I write. HINTON HOLLOW DEATH TRIP looked into the idea of good and evil. This fed into THE BERESFORD where I thought a little more about heaven and hell. This then made me consider the function of a God figure. I was looking into Alcoholics Anonymous because I wanted to bring Maeve back and give her a story of her own. All of these things just came together and I invented the Psychopaths Anonymous support group.

J; How much research did you have to do for Psychopaths Anonymous…! Did you have to do a lot of drinking (lol) etc?

W; Ha! I do enjoy a drink and I like to ‘method write’ so I certainly allowed myself to get into Maeve’s character. I do have some personal experience of knowing people with addiction and I drew a little on that. I read through the 12-Step program several times. I always keep a Bible handy, too. I had considered attending an AA meeting but it felt very underhand when there were people there with real problems. We were locked down and there were online meetings but I just felt wrong doing that.

               I did read testimonies from people who say how much the plan worked and I found people who believed it made things much worse.

           When it came to the psychopathy element, I’m constantly researching this for my books and it’s a case of reading a lot of non-fiction and case studies and experiments, all of which I find incredibly interesting. I knew that a person could be a functioning alcoholic and wondered how it would play out to be a functioning psychopath.

J; Maeve is quite possibly THE best female Psycho EVER, how did you write her with such conviction? Did you base her on anyone!

W; It’s funny, a lot of people ask me this. Somebody even suggested that I may have based it on a female writer that I know. But the answer is no. She is fictitious. I had already invented Maeve for GOOD SAMARITANS. She was a successful and independent woman who drank a lot. She was obsessed with reality television and supported her husband, Seth, through some very dark moments. I had hinted at her psychopathy in the next two books and now it was time to ramp up her character.

               There are so many male psychopaths and serial killers to draw from but I liked the idea that there aren’t as many women. It is suggested that men are more violent but I thought it would be interesting to see a woman do these things and not get caught. Maeve is smarter than men. She is calm, considered. She has a list.

               But she also wants love. She wants somebody in her life. She gets off on seeing her ‘friend’ Jill’s misery but also feels those inflicting misery upon her should be punished.

               Maeve is just a very rich and psychologically interesting character, and there was a great sense of playfulness I had in developing and writing her.  

J; Who would you like to see playing the part of Maeve, if Psychopaths Anonymous is turned into a Movie?

W; I have to say that I think the idea lends itself more to a TV series than a film, perhaps. If I had written this book ten years ago, it would be Kate Winslet. No question. (I’d happily make Maeve a little older if Kate Winslet wanted to play her.)

               When we were casting for the audiobook, I did say that Emily Blunt would be my choice in an ideal world, I think she has everything to pull this character off.

               But, in my head, I was thinking of someone that looked like Sherilyn Fenn when she played Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks – that quirky femme fatale type.

J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or watcher of television? Did any part of your childhood make you the writer you are?

W; My parents weren’t big readers, so we didn’t have loads of books in the house. My mother was – and still is – into true crime books, so I assume that seeped into my mind somehow. But, yes, I always read a lot as a kid but I’ve always been way more into films. We always watched films, always went to the cinema. My favourite job – apart from writing – was working in my local cinema. Even now, I find it an entirely magical experience whenever I go.

               I have a gigantic film collection. I get a message each week from my mother reminding me that there are still 3,000 VHS tapes in boxes in her loft. (I’ve snuck some DVDs up there, too. Shhh.) I think film has been the biggest influence on the way I write and is probably why I mess around with the structure of my books so much and end up telling each story in a different way.

               As for my childhood, I spent a fair amount of time alone for various reasons and I think that lends itself to the process of writing/thinking/creating rather well.

J; What is your favourite book you’ve read in 2021 and why?

W; When was 2021? I read quite a few books over the year, I’m bound to forget something then kick myself for doing so. I’m going to pick a couple. One was a big hit, the other was more of an indie discovery.

               I really enjoyed TRUE CRIME STORY by Joseph Knox. It’s nice to see a commercially successful author push things in a different direction. A great idea handled well. It still felt commercial to me and I think could have been edgier than it was but I absolutely tore through it. I’m sure there will be some awards nods coming its way.

               And I’LL PRAY WHEN I’M DYING by Stephen J. Golds. I am a big fan of the writing. It’s dirty and raw and unapologetic. This is the other end of the spectrum to my last choice. There’s a real poetry to the writing. There’s rhythm and style and a powerfully dark story with a screwed up protagonist you want to succeed, even though you shouldn’t.

J; Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time?

 W;              When it comes to contemporary fiction, you can’t beat Chuck Palahniuk, and FIGHT CLUB is an anarchic masterpiece. The book changed my life and made me want to write novels, rather than plays.

               I love Hemingway. A MOVEABLE FEAST and TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT are probably my favourites. You can’t beat Fitzgerald, either. I mean, THE GREAT GATSBY is basically perfect. Oh, and Bukowski, of course. POST OFFICE. Raw. Dirty. Brilliant. I could go on but these are the books I go back to again and again.

J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

W; It’s funny, I do suffer from a thing called ‘Golden Age Syndrome’ where you think your current generation is awful and want to travel back to the time you see as the best.

I’d love to go back to 1969 and attend Woodstock but Joni Mitchell didn’t play, which sucks because she’s the best.

I’d happily stick around for ten years after that to witness the greatest decade in cinema history. (It was also quite a fruitful time in the world of serial killers that I have written about.)

But, if I could only choose one, I’d probably head to Paris in the 20s and drink absinthe and wine with all of my favourite writers and artists. The crazy thing is that they would probably choose to go back to some other time when they thought literature was at its height.

I know that isn’t necessarily one historical moment like the JFK assassination but having all that talent in one city at one time seems worthy to me.

J; You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?

W;               I recently wrote a piece on six fictional psychopaths I would invite to dinner. But if I could have real people. CHARLES BUKOWSKI. I’d want someone who would stay up and drink with me until the early hours. It might end in some kind of fight, who knows? I think the same would be said for HEMINGWAY but he’s a little too serious, probably. Take the work seriously but yourself less so. 

               FRAN LEBOWITZ. Damn, I just love her. Smart, funny, outspoken, interesting. If you get a chance to read anything she has written, you should. And check out her documentary on Netflix to get a flavour for her genius. I could listen to her talk all night. And she probably would.

               PAUL MCCARTNEY. I’m on a real Beatles high, at the moment, and he’s my favourite. I like the idea that we might be able to jam after dinner on the guitar and piano and rock out some songs.

               KEVIN WIGNALL. I’ve been to dinner with Kevin many times. He hosts an intimate gathering every year on the Saturday of Harrogate festival. We eat lovely food, drink great wine and he has a love for dessert wine that is renowned. I think I’d like to repay his hospitality with this fine bunch while also using his unsurpassed skills as a raconteur.

J; When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music?

W:                When I’m creating, I tend to do it in silence or with the thrum of a cafe filled with screaming children. If I listen to music while writing, it’s usually classical or jazz. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics. (I love the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack. Ennio Morricone. Beautiful.)

However, when I’m trying to create a certain mood or vibe to write in, I will listen to something before I write, to get me in the right space to create the sense I want on the page. When I edit, I can have music with lyrics and I tend to have something in the background because editing sucks and I need some joy in that process.

               I also always listen to The Weight by The Band when I finish a book. And I drink a LARGE whisky.

J: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

W;            STOP EATING ANIMALS. That’s the best piece of life advice I’ve received. Going vegan changed me for the better. I feel cleaner, healthier and ethically wrinkle-free. I wish I’d done it sooner.

               The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received was to ‘add light to the shade’. My books are often trying to talk about some societal issue and I can fall into a place where it feels like I am punching the reader in the face repeatedly to make the point. That doesn’t work. Often a serious point can be made by injecting humour. You can’t just hear about a character’s faults, there has to be some redemption. you have to let the reader breathe.

               The funny thing is, I know this, but it’s always the note that comes back to me on any edit. But I think that the first draft is where I am completely caught up in the story and I am getting everything out. The best advice I can give to a budding writer is to get somebody to read your work that doesn’t love you. Your mum/partner/brother/cousin shouldn’t have to tell you that you are awful, it’s not fair. Find someone to read who will be honest. It will set you up for the world of writing and publishing to hear that what you’ve just written is a load of crap because that’s all being a writer is.

J; Are you currently writing another book?

W; I’m always writing another book. I have a lot of ideas and I need to get them down. PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS hasn’t been out that long, so people are still talking about that. I’m in the editing phase of THE DAVES NEXT DOOR, which is due in July, and I am currently writing my book for the end of the year, which is preliminarily called SUICIDE THURSDAY. I’ve written some of it and I’ve got an idea of where it’s going to go but it’s not quite ready for me to really sit down and pound out the words.

               I think I know my next four books and I’d like to branch out in the world of screenplays/stageplays at some point. I enjoy working hard and I love writing, so there is always something on the go.

J; Which of your books are you most proud of?

W;            NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY. Without a doubt. I don’t think there’s a book out there like it. I really managed to hit on something original there but I think, and it’s incredibly rare, it came out exactly as I wanted it to. I can think of things I would change in all of my other books but I just wouldn’t change anything in this. The prose was sparse but had the impact I wanted. I think my voice is at its strongest, too. I know that the subject matter is difficult and I know that the readers who don’t like it tend to really hate it but its point is to provoke that reaction, to get people thinking.

               I’d love to feel that way again about a book but I’m not sure lightning will strike twice. 

Thank you once again Will Carver for agreeing to be my blog guest, and also special thanks to Karen at Orenda books for arranging this and supporting me.

Will Carver is the bestselling author of the January Series – Girl 4 (2011), The Two (2012), The Killer Inside (2013), Dead Set (2013) – and the critically acclaimed Detective Pace series, which includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. The books in this series have also been longlisted/shortlisted for the Amazon Readers Independent Voice Award, Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award, Not The Booker Prize and the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award. Will spent his early years living in Germany but returned at age eleven. He studied theatre and television at King Alfred’s Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition business and lives in Reading with his children.

You can buy Will’s books HERE

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