Review: Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton.

 

daisyinchains

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

 

My 4* review:
I absolutely loved Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton so I was keen to read Daisy in Chains. As people read it the buzz about the book grew and grew, but I do try and avoid reading buzz books when it is being talked about so much as I think that it generally leads to high expectations that often aren’t met. So I thought I’d wait a bit. Sadly the wait was far longer than I had intended.

As with Little Black Lies the scenery once again plays a huge part, it becomes almost like a character itself. I love the way that Bolton describes the weather and the setting so well, she has a real talent for it.

The concept of Daisy in Chains is an interesting one, a lawyer who works tirelessly to get convictions overturned, seemingly without any care of consideration of whether the person is guilty or not. When she meets Hamish, a convicted murderer, the reader is unsure whether he is guilty or not, there do seem to be some strange things about his case, but his behaviour doesn’t seem to be suggesting that he is innocent either.

At getting on for 400 pages this is not a short book, and I do think that it would benefit from being a bit shorter, it is hard to keep the tension going for that long.

But there are plenty of twists and turns, some of them more obvious than others, and the reader will be taken on a journey and immersed in the world that Sharon Bolton creates.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a copy of Daisy in Chains.

Blurb:
Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is charming, magnetic and very persuasive. Famed for his good looks, he receives adoring letters every day from his countless admirers. He’s also a convicted murderer, facing life in prison.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rosie is a successful lawyer and true-crime author. Reclusive and enigmatic, she only takes on cases she can win.

Hamish is convinced that Maggie can change his fate. Maggie is determined not to get involved. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of such a man. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

NaNoWriMo: What I’m going to be doing in November.

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

I don’t normally do rambling posts on here, meaning posts that aren’t about something specific, like a book review or blog tour. But today I am.

I wanted to share with you all what I will be doing in November, and why, all going well, this blog might be a bit quieter than normal.

Apparently, approximately 80% of people want to write a book. That’s an awful lot. Now generally I like the fact that I tend to be a bit different to the norm, I have rarely in my life conformed to be considered normal or common but in this instance I am. Yes, I want to write a book.

Now I have very little faith that this is something that I will actually manage to do, there are many reasons for this including a lack of time and my inability to see things through. I tend to get bored and lack motivation for anything that I don’t have to do. But I’m going to give it a go.

Normally this isn’t something that I would tell anyone about, then no one has to know about my failure. But I am doing something called NaNoWriMo in November, and author Elizabeth Haynes (who wrote the amazingly brilliant Into the Darkest Corner, among others) who is a pro at NaNo told me that I should tell everyone. Her reasoning being that when you ask me how my book is going that the shame of telling you that I haven’t written anything will spur me into keeping going and finishing NaNo. So no pressure folks, but I’m relying on you to shame me here!

So what is NaNo I hear you say? It is National Novel Writing Month, it happens every November and thousands around the world take part in it. The aim is to write 50,000 words in the month of November to be crowned a NaNo winner.

Now if that sounds easy to you then I’m afraid that you are wrong. Google ‘How hard is NaNoWriMo’ and you will get a lot of hits telling you just how hard it is, I quite like this article (apologies for linking to The Torygraph).

So far I have written an amazing (yes, that is sarcasm) 1000 words. Doing so has taken me approximately four hours. So if I need to write 1667 words every single day during November you can see that this might be a bit of a problem. My problem is that I keep going back and tweaking what I have written. I need to stop doing that. One of my favourite authors, Angela Marsons, told me that if I keep stopping and going back to tweak then the story can’t move forward cos I’m busy going backward (she explained it a lot better than I did!). That makes a lot of sense but I suspect will be a hard one for me to crack.

Another potential problem is that according to NaNo I am what is known as a ‘pantser’. A pantser is someone who doesn’t plan, have an outline, or much preparation at all before starting NaNo. I decided in September that I was going to do NaNo, and I started off planning. I then changed my mind on what book I was going to write, so all that go scrapped. And since then I have done pretty much nothing. I have a vague idea of how my book will end, I have a basic outline of the main character but I just cannot settle on her name, and that’s it. Not a jot else. I have a strong feeling that I’m going to regret that in a couple of weeks time!!

So that’s what I hope to be doing in November. As I said I have very little faith that I will finish NaNo, but even if I don’t and end up with say 10,000 words, that’s 9,000 more than I have now! So if you ask me how NaNo is going and I mumble a response about it going slowly then please gently encourage. If I proudly tell you that it’s going well then please celebrate with me and if I tell you that I’ve quit then please don’t judge me.

Guest Post: Confessions of a self-published author by Oli Jacobs.

I love this guest post by Oli Jacobs about self-publishing. Many authors self-publish and I always wondered how it worked, and now I know! Thanks so much Oli for coming to visit us on If Only I Could Read Faster!

Confessions of a self-published author

By Oli Jacobs

 Hello. My name is Oli Jacobs, and I’m an alcoholic.

            No, wait, that’s not right. I’m actually a self-published author. Well, alright, it’s kind of the same thing, but not really.

Let me explain… I’ve been self-publishing my work since 2012, when I looked at the vast amount of unfilmed scripts and short stories I had hanging around my hard drive. Rather than let them waste away in a digital landfill, I decided to throw them all together, do a quick edit, and send them out into the big, wide world.

Hence, Filmic Cuts v1: Sunshine & Lollipops was born.

It was a proud moment, I may have shed a tear.

What it also was, was the beginning of an adventure filled with dizzying highs, crushing lows, and creamy middles. I’ve published a number of books since across a range of genres and seen good reviews, bad reviews, and general waves of apathy. And now, I pass onto you, the good readers of If Only I Could Read Faster, my Oli Jacobs approved steps to becoming a self-published author.

May God help you…

STEP 1: Write a book

This is the easiest part, I kid you not.

Obviously you wouldn’t want to get into self-publishing unless you wanted to write a book, unless you’re a curious sort who likes looking at things. Therefore, to self-publish you’ve got to actually, you know, write a book. Be it Fiction, Non-Fiction, a Graphic Novel or anything in-between, write it, type it, and get it done.

STEP 2: Edit your book

You’re not going to strike gold first time.

Trust me, even the best don’t bowl a perfect game. Once you’ve written your book, pass it to someone to proof-read for you, and make notes on what could be improved and how many times you’ve used “their” instead of “there”. Now, there are plenty of good proof-readers out there willing to look over your work. You can find them on various sites such as Fiverr (where a certain Mr J resides…), People Per Hour, or various other freelance websites.

However, if like me you are a poor, struggling writer, then search out a trusted friend. This gives you the bonus of having what could be considered an average reader look over your work, and also being able to pay them in resources like beer, or hugs.

After that, it’s a simple case of checking the notes, making the edits, and then polishing your work so it’s the best darn writing you’ve ever seen.

And seriously, don’t proof your own work. I made this mistake with Underneath and got the reviews to pay for it. Don’t be a jerk, get someone to proof-read your work.

(That sounded better in my head…)

STEP 3: Publish your book

It is time.

You’ve written your tome, had it looked over by someone else, edited it to within an inch of its life, and now you’re ready to push it into the big wide world.

But how do you do that?

Self-publishing has moved on tremendously since the vanity press of old. Not only do you have sites like Lulu.com and Smashwords, but big companies like Amazon are more than happy to create your literary baby. In fact, they are who I first went with, taking advantage of their Kindle Direct Publishing platform, where you can upload your book to sell via their Kindle service. In addition, if you want a juicy paperback, you can use Createspace as well and have everything wrapped up in a neat Amazon bundle.

Now obviously, publishing a book is more than just heavily edited words. For a paperback, you’ll need an ISBN, and while in the past you’d need to fork out some cash for some price numerical action, nowadays publishers like Lulu and Amazon provide an ISBN for you, meaning you can still save yourself some of that sweet, sweet whisky money.

Also, you’ll want your work to look dazzling, with a cover that speaks volumes. While the aforementioned websites offer cover design services, look out for independent artists who may be able to whip something up that is unique and visually sells your story. Personally, I use British graphic designer CM Carter and Canadian graphic novelist Elaine Will, who I shamelessly plug with a hearty thumbs up.

STEP 4: Market your book

Now here comes the tricky part.

Yes, everything up until now was easy. The writing, the editing, the publishing… all small fry compared to the big elephant in the self-publishing room: Marketing.

As good as your book is, it won’t get anywhere without people seeing it, so you’ll need to showcase it like a wonderful stallion. Social media is good for this, such as Facebook and Twitter, but also look into forums at Goodreads and, of course, Amazon. Here, you can meet likeminded individuals who will hopefully give you pointers and help you gain some of that dreaded exposure.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to give away freebies. Book Groups on Facebook are a great place to start, asking for reviews in exchange for a free copy of your work. Goodreads is equally as dandy for this, but can suffer from over-saturation at times.

Finally, if you have some cash to spare, look into sites such as eBookSoda and PeopleReads. Paid services like these can be hit and miss, while the more successful ones such as BookBub have a strict acceptance policy. Shop around and see what works for you and your budget.
And finally…

STEP 5: Believe in your book

You will not become JK Rowling or EL James overnight.

As I said before, self-publishing is filled with a mixture of highs and lows, and invariably there are more of the latter than the former. You may not get the reviews you want (if at all), and you may see a sudden surge of sales dwindle into nothing, but the low points are only chips on a road. The highs are wonderful, such as receiving a box of your first paperback, or hearing someone has enjoyed something you created.

Once you join the self-publishing world, you’ll see a lot of articles and features about people getting rich off of self-publishing. This may not happen to you. If it does, grand, and now I’m insanely jealous, but most of these people you read about either have great connections, experience in marketing, or have sold their soul to some sort of Eldritch Abomination.

Don’t do that. There are costly.

Most of all, just enjoy the fact that your work is out there. Once you’ve published your work, you’re no longer an aspiring writer, you are a writer, and well done you!

Now get out there, and write some more. And more. AND MORE!

*ahem*

Oli Jacobs is a self-published author from Buckinghamshire, England. You can find his work on Amazon, and “like” him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/OJBooks, or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/olijacobsauthor

Blog Tour: Review, Giveaway & Extract, Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley.

tour-banner-snowflakes-for-jenny

sfcc__new_cover

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley.

My 4* review:
I need to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I decided that I would read Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes. I don’t ‘do’ chick lit. If I’m honest I’m probably a little bit snobbish about it.
So I started the book with rather low expectations. But I do not mind admitting that I was wrong, very wrong. I really, really enjoyed reading Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes, the characters were interesting and believable. I often thought that the outcome was very obvious, but it wasn’t! The author kept me on my toes just enough, while weaving a lovely story. It made a nice change from the crime and thriller books that I normally read, and probably quite a healthy change at that.
While Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes was a nice, easy read, I did not want it to finish. When I did I saw that there was a sequel. Yay, I was so going to read that. And then I saw that there are, in fact, six books in the series! I hope to make my way through all of them over time.
I really liked the Lake District setting, and although I’m typically very Bah Humbug until about a week before Christmas the Christmas setting didn’t put me off, it didn’t play a huge part in the story.
If you like chick lit then read this. If you don’t normally read chick lit but think that a change of genre would be good, then read this. It’s good!!
Chapter One.
“Have you checked in yet, Millie?”
“Yes, Nicole, I have! Don’t panic. I told you I’d make an extra special effort to arrive in
plenty of time, didn’t I? I’m relaxing in the Departure Lounge with a caffè latte and the latest
edition of Voici, soaking up the last rays of sunshine I’ll see for the next two weeks.”
She had no intention of admitting to her super-organised sister that Monique and Hélène
had insisted on collecting her from her bedsit above Brasserie Étienne, then driven her at
stomach-wrenching speed to Nice airport and marched her, still stuffing her passport into her
hand luggage, to the check-in desk. They’d even had the audacity to hang around whilst she
wound her way through security just to make absolutely sure she didn’t meet with some
diversion and miss her flight – not an unknown, or indeed infrequent, occurrence.
“Typical. Just this once I hoped you’d stuck to your usual schedule of taking every
deadline to the wire!”
Millie detected a note of anxiety rather than impatience in Nicole’s voice. “Why? What’s
wrong?”
“I’m so sorry, Millie. It’s Édouard’s father. He’s had a stroke – been rushed into hospital in
Paris. His mother’s frantic – not sure whether he’ll survive the night.” Millie heard her
younger sister gulp down her emotions. “We’re dashing across to France as we speak. As it’s
the last weekend before Christmas it’s an absolute nightmare. St Pancras is in the throes of a
pre-Christmas exodus. We just managed to grab the last five seats on the Eurostar.”
“Oh, Nicole, no. Poor Édouard. Is there anything I can do?”
“Well, that’s why I’m calling. Obviously it means you can’t spend Christmas with us in
Norfolk now. I’m so sorry, Millie. I had everything planned. The girls were more than excited
about spending some alone time with their Auntie Camille this weekend whilst I was in the
Lakes and then having you stay on for the holidays. You’re still welcome to stay at our house,
of course.”
“Thanks, Nic, but it won’t be the same without its riotous rabble of occupants.”
“You could always go back home to Lourmarin? Spend Christmas with François?”
“Ah, no I can’t. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get away. I wasn’t going to tell you, especially
now. I don’t want to add to your burden, but it’s over between me and François. He dumped
me. Scooted off to Paris. He’s even closed the restaurant for the duration of the holidays. First
time ever!”
A slice of pain scorched through her throat but Millie ignored it. Now that she’d broken
the news she needed to get the whole story out into the open. “Monique told me he’s gone
with Heidi. I’m sorry, Nic, you’ve got enough deal with. Look, don’t worry about me. Send
my love to Édouard’s parents. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to spend some time mooching
round the shops in London.”
“So, if you’re sure you still want to come over…”
“What? Is there something else you’re not telling me?”
“Well, you know how grateful I was when you agreed to look after the girls whilst I
tutored the Christmas cookery school for Anne?”
Millie softened her voice. She adored her three nieces. “Nic, really, it’s no hardship. I love
being cast in the role of beloved aunt. Never mind, I’ll just catch an earlier flight back to
Nice.”
“Could I ask a favour, then?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I’ve just spoken to Anne. She might be a seasoned expert in presenting summer culinary
courses at her manor house in the Lake District, but this weekend was to be her first venture
into corporate Christmas culinary schools. She was relying on me. Of course she’s
sympathetic and totally understands, but she’s over at her villa in St. Lucia for the holidays so
she can’t step into the breach. I feel dreadful about leaving her in the lurch at such short
notice. And I’m worried she’ll be reticent about trusting me again. It’s a fabulous opportunity
to be invited to deliver an Anne Grainger course – and at the luxurious Craiglea Manor House
to boot. You know how keen I am to get into tutoring. I really don’t want to go back to being
a full-time food tech teacher when Daisy starts school. But maybe it’s a solution?”

“What’s a solution? Oh no, hang on…”

Giveaway:

So if my review and the first Chapter have made you want to read Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes then you can enter the giveaway! But only if you live in the UK.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057101/?

Blurb:

When all-round buttercream princess, Millie Carter, becomes stranded at Craiglea Manor Cookery School, she believes her chance of enjoying a merry festive season is over.

The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it – she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals. 

She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hypothermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean. 

Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles? 

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough. 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio

Lindsey Paley is a Yorkshire girl and author of contemporary romance novels with page-turning plotlines and satisfying endings. When not scribbling away in her peppermint and cream writer’s retreat (shed) she loves baking cakes, enjoying a spot of afternoon tea with friends and taking long walks in the countryside. Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is the first book in the Camille Carter series set in the beautiful Lake District and the Caribbean. The latest in the series is April Showers and Wedding Flowers and is out now.

Author Links:

Facebook and Twitter.

photo-of-me-jan16

Book Extract: Dark Water by Robert Bryndza.

 

dark-water-kindle

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

 

To mark the publication day of the third book in Rober Bryndza’s Detective Erika Foster series, Dark Water, I am giving you a treat of the prologue for the book. Have a read and hopefully you will like what you read and want to read the rest of the book! Enjoy.

Dark Water

by Robert Bryndza

Autumn 1990

It was a cold night in late autumn when they dumped the body in the disused quarry. They knew it was an isolated spot, and the water was very deep. What they didn’t know was that they were being watched.

They arrived under the cover of darkness, just after three o’clock in the morning – driving from the houses at the edge of the village, over the empty patch of gravel where the walkers parked their cars, and onto the vast common. With the headlights off, the car bumped and lurched across the rough ground, joining a footpath, which was soon shrouded on either side by dense woodland. The darkness was thick and clammy, and the only light came over the tops of the trees.

Nothing about the journey felt stealthy. The car engine seemed to roar; the suspension groaned as it lurched from side to side. They slowed to a stop as the trees parted and the water-filled quarry came into view.

What they didn’t know was that a reclusive old man lived by the quarry, squatting in an old abandoned cottage which had almost been reclaimed by the undergrowth. He was outside, staring up at the sky and marvelling at its beauty, when the car appeared over the ridge and came to a halt. Wary, he moved behind a bank of shrubbery and watched. Local kids, junkies, and couples looking for thrills often appeared at night, and he had managed to scare them away.

The moon briefly broke through the clouds as the two figures emerged from the car, and they took something large from the back and carried it towards the rowing boat by the water. The first climbed in, and as the second passed the long package into the boat there was something about the way it bent and flopped that made him realise with horror that it was a body.

The soft splashes of the oars carried across the water. He put a hand to his mouth. He knew he should turn away, but he couldn’t. The splashing oars ceased when the boat reached the middle. A sliver of moon appeared again through a gap in the clouds, illuminating the ripples spreading out from the boat.

He held his breath as he watched the two figures deep in conversation, their voices a low rhythmic murmur. Then there was silence. The boat lurched as they stood, and one of them nearly fell over the edge. When they were steady, they lifted the package and, with a splash and a rattle of chains, they dropped it into the water. The moon sailed out from behind its cloud, shining a bright light on the boat and the spot where the package had been dumped, the ripples spreading violently outwards.

He could now see the two people in the boat, and had a clear view of their faces.

The man exhaled. He’d been holding his breath. His hands shook. He didn’t want trouble; he’d spent his whole life trying to avoid trouble, but it always seemed to find him. A chill breeze stirred up some dry leaves at his feet, and he felt a sharp itching in his nostrils. Before he could stop it a sneeze erupted from his nose; it echoed across the water. In the boat, the heads snapped up, and began to twist and search the banks. And then they saw him. He turned to run, tripped on the root of a tree and fell to the ground, knocking the wind out of his chest.

Beneath the water in the disused quarry it was still, cold, and very dark. The body sank rapidly, pulled by the weights, down, down, down, finally coming to rest with a nudge in the soft freezing mud.

She would lie still and undisturbed for many years, almost at peace. But above her, on dry land, the nightmare was only just beginning.

DARK WATER (Detective Erika Foster Book 3) 

UK: http://amzn.to/2baBO8N

US: http://amzn.to/2bkuwRk

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. Above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child. 

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago. 

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on. 

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker, comes the third heart-stopping book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster.

She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes. 

1. THE GIRL IN THE ICE
2. THE NIGHT STALKER
3. DARK WATER

robert-bryndza-author-picture-500px

 

Blog tour review: The Killing Game by J.S. Carol.

killing-game-blog-tour

I’m delighted to be part of this blog tour, I read The Killing Game a couple of weeks ago but I am still thinking about it and talking about it to others. Definitely a sign of a great book!!

My 5* review:

Wow, I loved this book! It was easy to read, not complicated but also totally gripping!! I’ve never read James Carol before, but I have heard of him. So trusting the publisher, Bookouture, who rarely release a book that isn’t worth reading I thought that I’d give it a go. The blurb also sounded good.
The story focuses on the entertainment industry in LA, not something that I know a lot about but something that intrigues me all the same. Alfie’s is a small and very exclusive restaurant in LA, it is almost impossible to get a table there, to do so you have to be someone in Hollywood. So when a man armed to the hilt storms into Alfie’s the world is watching and waiting for developments. The Killing Game is told from various points of view, JJ and King who are both inside the restaurant, and from the reporter outside desperate to get the story first, and his boss in the newsroom breaking balls to get it.
I seriously loved this book. It grabbed me from the start and I just had to keep reading it. I ignored the million and one things that I need to be doing and instead read The Killing Game, I just had to know what was going to happen! The story was cleverly told and revealed, and impressively remained plausible throughout.
I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that you should read The Killing Game, it’s bloody brilliant. Just good luck keeping your heart rate below 100!
Blurb:
Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars.
And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.
You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you.
He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.
If he dies. You die.
You have four hours to stay alive.
What would you do?

A heart-stopping thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for fans of Peter Swanson, Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay.

The Killing Game is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.