Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Mark Of The Devil by Tana Collins - Blog Blitz Guest Post

I am super excited to be helping kick off the blog blitz for Mark Of The Devil by Tana Collins. I have a really great guest post by Tana all about her main character, Jim Carruthers. 

Mark Of The Devil  

While Inspector Jim Carruthers and team are busy investigating a series of art thefts they receive an anonymous tip about the body of a young woman on a deserted beach.

The bizarre clues to her identity, and what might have happened to her, include a strange tattoo, a set of binoculars and slab of meat left on the cliffs.

The team’s investigations lead them to a local shooting estate and its wealthy owner Barry Cuthbert. However, Carruthers suspects Cuthbert is not all he seems and the DI soon starts to wonder if the cases of the missing works of art, the dead woman and the estate are connected.

Then when the body of a young gamekeeper is pulled from the sea tensions boil over. The trail of clues lead the team to the unlikely locale of Tallinn and into the sinister world of international crime and police corruption.

Needing answers Carruthers must look further afield than Fife. However, the closer he gets to discovering the truth the more danger he finds himself in.

Since everyone who crosses the vengeful killers seem to end up dead, can Carruthers solve the case with his life in tact?

Guest Post My Main Character – Inspector Jim Carruthers

A friend once asked me why, when I’m a female crime writer, my lead character is a male. My only response was, “my lead character was always going to be male. I have no idea why. I hadn’t ever considered him being female.”

The second question most people ask is if Detective Inspector Jim Carruthers is based on anyone I know. The answer would have to be several people in fact. What can I tell you about my lead character? Jim Carruthers is complicated. Like many of us. He’s stubborn, headstrong and wilful, forever butting heads with his superior, the long suffering Superintendent Bingham. But he’s also honest, loyal and driven by a desire for justice that will see him putting a huge amount of effort into solving his cases. He wants justice for his victims and he doesn’t sleep well at night until he gets it. Well, to be honest, he generally doesn’t sleep well anyway.

When we first meet him he’s separated from his wife but lives in hope he might be able to win her back. However, very quickly in the opening book in the series, Robbing the Dead, which I’m delighted to say became an Amazon Number One bestseller, he is pitched into investigating both the brutal and senseless murder of a young man from the RAF and the bombing of a car belonging to a controversial politics lecturer. His concern for his failing marriage has to take a back seat. 

Jim Carruthers is unlucky in love. He would love to be settled and living with someone but knows deep down he is unlikely to make them truly happy. This is a man who is a loner - at heart happiest while out hill walking and wild camping. He has a lapsed membership of the RSPB, lapsed purely because he’s always too busy to get round to renewing it. He will one day. He’s also a big fan of the James Bond books and is working his way through them. And he’s both an Iron Maiden, Neil Young and malt whisky fan.

He has a great working relationship with DS Andrea Fletcher who is ten years his junior. Like any good protagonist she has her own demons. She is organised to his messy and he admires her youthful energy and fierce intelligence. The only thing that bugs him about her is that she is very nosy, wanting to know all about his failed marriage and, since Jim Carruthers is an intensely private person, he’d rather try to keep his feelings and personal history to himself. Andrea Fletcher, however, much to Jim Carruthers’ annoyance, has a way of ferreting the information out of him. In Robbing the Dead, they both have their own personal crises to deal with and turn to each other for support, which fosters their close relationship even more.

Characterisation was, for me, the hardest thing to write about and I was absolutely delighted when the Amazon and Goodreads reviews started to come in and readers commented on how much they loved the characters in my novels. By the second novel I had introduced another strong character, that of Gayle Watson, who had been drafted in when Andrea had to take time off work. And the character my readers love to hate, DS Dougie Harris, who has featured throughout the series, may have a few surprises up his sleeve for my readers as we get to see a softer side to him in subsequent books.

I do hope you enjoy reading the series. If you like fast -paced hard hitting crime thrillers, with a deeply personal side to the plot, as one reviewer describes, the Inspector Jim Carruthers series might be just up your street.

About The Author

Edinburgh based Tana Collins is the author of the popular Jim Carruthers detective series set in Fife. Her debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became a No 1 Amazon bestseller for Scottish crime fiction.  Care to Die, the follow up in the series, also became a Top 10 Amazon bestseller. Published on 1st June 2017 Care to Die was described by Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks,  as  “A finely plotted mystery. Tana Collins racks up the suspense on this one. DI Jim Carruthers is a cop to watch.”  In September 2017 having won one of the coveted Spotlight places at Bloody Scotland Tana supported Lynda La Plante on stage.
Her third novel, Mark of the Devil, is to be published 24th April 2018. Author Leigh Russell writes of it, "A cracking read. The suspense never lets up."
Tana is a trained Massage Therapist and Stress Management Consultant.

To Connect With The Author

Website: tanacollins.com
Twitter: @TanaCollins7

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Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Silent Sister by Shalini Boland - Cover Reveal

Today I am helping share the cover reveal for Shalini Boland's newest release The Silent Sister, before the reveal though, here's more about the book...

The Silent Sister

She used to be your best friend. Now she’s your worst enemy. 

When Lizzy Beresford discovers a threatening letter addressed to her, the words on the old, tattered paper chill her to the bone. But who sent it? Living in pretty cottage in a quiet country village, Lizzy’s never made any enemies in her life… 

Except her sister. 

Lizzy hasn’t spoken to Emma in years. Not since the argument which tore their relationship apart. Would her sister really want to cause her harm after all this time? 

As Lizzy receives more disturbing messages, she begins to doubt those closest to her – her boyfriend, her best friend, her neighbours. 

Because the mystery sender seems to know everything about her. And after a series of malicious incidents, it’s clear they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed her life

Lizzy knows she must confront her sister. But can she trust her? And will she realise the shocking truth, before it’s too late? 

And Now Onto The Cover

Definitely intriguing and I can't wait to read it as I love Shalini's books! To pre order your own copy, you can click here

About The Author

I write suspense thrillers and dark adventures, and I live in Dorset, England with my husband, two children and our dog. I only write reviews for books I enjoy!

Dark Ice by Dave Stanton - Blog Blitz Extract

Life Of A Nerdish Mum is helping close out the blog blitz for Dark Ice by Dave Stanton. I have an exciting extract to whet your appetite! 

Dark Ice 

While skiing deep in Lake Tahoe’s backcountry, private detective Dan Reno finds the first naked body, buried under fresh snow. Reno’s contacted by the grieving father who wants to know who murdered his daughter and why?
How did the body end up in such a remote, mountainous location? The questions become murkier when a second body is found. Is there a serial killer stalking promiscuous young women in South Lake Tahoe? Or are the murders linked to a different criminal agenda?

Searching for answers, Reno is accosted by a gang of racist bikers with a score to settle. He also must deal with his pal, Cody Gibbons, who the police consider a suspect. The clues lead to the owner of a strip club and a womanizing police captain, but is either the killer?

The bikers up the ante, but are unaware that Cody Gibbons has Reno’s back at any cost. Meanwhile, the police won’t tolerate Reno’s continued involvement in the case. But Reno knows he’s getting close. And the most critical clue comes from the last person he’d suspect.



The cornice stretched three feet over the sheer face below. There was about fifteen feet of vertical drop before the snow-covered slope angled out at forty-five degrees. I inched my skis farther forward, the tips hanging over the void. I was wrong—it was more like twenty feet of mandatory air. And that was the shallowest entry the ledge offered.

I blew out my breath and ignored the sickly sensation of my testicles trying to climb into my stomach. Turning back now would mean a long uphill hike, while the reward for leaping off the cornice was five hundred feet of untracked powder. A slight dip to the left marked the most forgiving launch point. I pushed myself back and sidestepped higher up the ridge. A couple deep breaths, then I released my edges and glided toward the dip.

In a second, I launched over the precipice, my hands thrust forward, my knees tucked toward my chest. As I dropped, I could see the distant desert floor of Nevada fall behind the stands of pine and fir at the bottom of the bowl. I extended my legs in the instant before I touched down and absorbed the shock, blinded for a second by a blast of snow. Then, I cranked my skis on edge, bounced out of the fluff, and made a second turn through the deep powder. It had snowed about a foot last night, but here, the fresh coverage was at least two feet, maybe more. Bottomless under my boots.

Twenty turns to the glade below, my heart pounding, my body disappearing in blasts of powder, the white coating me from head to toe. When I reached the tree line, I skidded to a stop and caught my breath. Then, I looked up and admired the S-turns I’d left on the otherwise unblemished slope. Not bad, I thought, smiling at the understatement. Most of the winter storms that had blown through the Lake Tahoe region came out of the warm Pacific and dumped wet, heavy snow, creating the notorious Sierra cement. But last night’s blizzard had swept in from Alaska, bringing colder and lighter snow. As a result, I was in the right place at the right time.

I skated along the terminus of the bowl and turned into the trees when they became sparse enough to allow passage. This was the Nevada backcountry, unpatrolled, accessible by ducking the boundary ropes at the highest elevation of South Lake Tahoe’s ski resort, right at the California-Nevada border. Before me lay 4000 feet of descent to the high desert floor where I’d parked my truck, near Route 207 outside of Gardnerville.

It was slower going now, the terrain interrupted by tangles of deadfall and icy patches where the wind had scoured the surface. I picked my way through it, my skis alternately between sinking in powder then chattering and scraping across slick bands of ice. Finally, I spotted a clearing—a wide, sweeping snow bank that fell toward a collection of pines hundreds of feet below. I rode the section like a surfer on a wave, turning down off the lip then riding back up, staying high and avoiding a flat area that would likely necessitate a hike.

When I reached the trees below, I entered a broad glade, the trunks spaced at wide intervals, the snow as soft and uniform as a white pillow. The morning sun had just appeared from behind a swath of swift moving clouds, and the snow glittered with pinpricks of light. I took a long moment to take in the scenery, then I picked a line and pushed off into the mild grade. The pristine snow held no surprises, the powder light and consistent, making it easy to find a rhythm. Floating through the trees and leaving a wake of rounded tracks, I became immersed in the splendor of the moment, as if the setting had been created solely for my indulgence.

My grandiose thoughts came to a crashing halt when I came around a tree, and my skis rammed into something solid beneath the snow. My binding released with a loud click, and I flew forward and face-planted in a poof of powder.

“Son of a bitch,” I said, wiping the snow from my goggles. I took a quick inventory of my body and found no injuries. Then, I crawled back ten feet to where my ski lay. When I pulled it from the snow, the edge caught, probably on a hidden stump, I thought. Then, the powder fell aside, and I saw a flesh-colored streak. I froze for a second, certain my eyes were playing tricks on me. Blinking, I used the ski to push away more snow.

“No way,” I whispered, my heart in my throat. A bare shoulder revealed itself, then a snarl of blonde hair strung with ice. I reached down with my gloved hand and carefully pushed aside the hair. The face was half-buried, one eye visible, lashes thick with mascara, a blue iris staring blankly. Using both hands like a shovel, I pushed away the bulk of the snow covering the upper body. A sour lump formed in my gut. The body was naked, the skin that of a young woman, perhaps a teenager.

I stepped back and blew puffs of steam into the frigid air. After a moment, I took my phone from my coat pocket and dialed 911. There was no reception. I removed my pack, found a red bandana, and tied it to a branch overhead. Then, I turned in a circle, taking note of the surrounding features in relation to the sun over the granite ridgeline looming to my right.

The morning was beginning to warm up. It was close to zero at 8:30 when I had come up the chairlift, and now, it was probably ten degrees warmer. I looked again at the blonde-headed girl curled at the base of the tree. She’d not been there long, maybe only hours. Soon, the creatures of the forest would find her. Field mice, badgers, and mountain lions would make short work of the body, the big cats spreading the bones over miles.

I checked the surroundings again. The mountainside was unfamiliar to me, but I knew from a variety of accounts that as long as I headed downhill on a due east course, I’d not run into any cliffs, gorges, or otherwise impassable terrain. I clicked back into my binding and skied out of the glade, my turns lackluster and disjointed, the exuberance I felt a few minutes ago replaced by a creeping sense of dread.


Thirty minutes later, I sat on the hood of my truck and waited for the police to arrive. I’d missed the run-out leading to where I’d parked and had to trudge half a mile up the highway. Dark clouds lolled down from the sky, blotting the sun and shrouding the valley in a dense winter haze. An eighteen-wheeler down-shifted and rumbled out of the fog, chains rattling, a plume of gritty smoke billowing from the pipes above the cab. Streaks of mist lingered in the truck’s wake, floating over the rutted road and hanging in the trees like a cast of ghostly spectators.

A Gardnerville sheriff’s cruiser came along shortly and parked on the icy dirt next to my truck. Two deputies I’d never met climbed out, young cops, one pudgy and baby-faced, the other a studious looking fellow with glasses and mittens on his hands.

“I can’t believe this,” Baby Face said, his cheeks reddened. “The day before Christmas, and we catch a body.”

They began interviewing me while we waited for snowmobiles to arrive. There wasn’t much to talk about. A young, naked female deep in the backcountry, covered by the night’s snowfall. Another foot or so of coverage would have hidden her scent, and she’d have been buried until spring.

The spectacled cop asked for my driver’s license and began taking down the information. Then, he looked up at me. “You’re the PI from South Lake Tahoe?”

“That’s right.”

An SUV towing a trio of snowmobiles labored up the road and crunched to a stop on the shoulder. Police Captain Nick Galanis from Douglas County PD stepped from the vehicle, while two more of his deputies released the straps securing the snowmobiles to a trailer behind the SUV.

“Hey, Dan Reno, right?” Galanis said, flashing his trademark smile, his face tan and handsome. He wore no hat, despite the temperature. His curly locks of black hair were unmoving in the wind.

“It’s Reno, as in no problemo.”

“That’s right, I remember. No problemo, huh? Sounds like we got a problem up there.” He cut his eyes toward the mountainside.

“I’d say so, Captain.”

“So, what happened?”

“I was skiing and ran into a body buried in the snow.”

“Beyond the ski resort boundary?”

“Yeah. No law against it. It’s national forest land.”

He nodded, his expression one of casual agreement, a hint of smile still on his smooth face. Behind his back, local cops called Galanis ‘The Snake,’ a reference to both his habit of seducing college-aged women and his ability to instantly change his frame of reference to serve his personal agendas. I’d also learned in a case some months back that he was corrupt as the day was long, taking kickbacks for building permits, soliciting payoffs from a high-end escort service, and even selling confiscated drugs.

“You know how to ride a snowmobile?” he asked.


“I’ll ride with you, then.” He walked over to where the snowmobiles were staged, one with a body sled in tow.

“Actually, I’m a little rusty, Captain. I’d hate to see you get hurt on my account. Maybe you should ride with one of your deputies.”

Galanis looked back at me, and for an instant, his eyes narrowed. Then, his smile returned. “Okay, we’ll follow you.”

We set out into the woods, and I was able to easily follow my tracks back a mile or so to the scenic glade where the girl lay half buried. I stood aside and watched while Galanis coordinated the crime scene. He made sure his deputies took plenty of pictures before they pulled the stiffened corpse from the snow. Once they lifted her free, I saw her face, her hair falling back behind her ears, an expression of shock and pain frozen on her features. She looked like a macabre Barbie doll, her red lips parted as if her hopes and dreams had died with a final gasp, her eyes wide with the realization that all she’d experienced in her short life had, in no way, prepared her for her final moments.

Galanis also seemed to be studying her face. He knelt and stared at her, his expression incredulous for a moment. I saw his head shake slightly, as if he was denying something. But he recovered quickly, and stood and motioned to the deputies.

“Get the snow off her before you put her in the body bag,” Galanis said. “We don’t want her in a pool of water.”

The deputies began brushing the snow from her flat stomach and large breasts and thighs and scant pubic hair and buttocks and calves. They exchanged embarrassed glances and made quick work of it. I saw she had a couple tattoos, one on her upper thigh and a tramp stamp at the base of her spine.

With considerable strain, they unfolded her stiffened legs. Then, grunting with exertion and blowing steam, they placed her in the bag and arranged the dark folds of plastic until only a thin line of flesh showed. The cops hesitated for a long moment, as if reluctant to finish their grim task, then zipped the bag shut, enclosing her forever in darkness. In a detached part of my mind, I wondered whether she’d been a stripper. A cynical conclusion probably, but even in death, her body made me think of the lyrics to a song, something about shaking your moneymaker.

“Someone must have killed her somewhere else and dumped her here,” one deputy said.

“We would have seen snowmobile tracks.”

“No, last night’s snowfall would have covered them,” I said.

“Assuming she was dumped before the storm,” the other deputy said. “Hell, she could have been dropped from an airplane.”

“It’s all mental masturbation until the coroner looks at her,” Galanis said. “Put her on the gurney and let’s go. It’s freezing out here.”

“Hope it’s not me that has to notify next of kin,” said a deputy, under his breath.

“Yeah,” said the other. “Merry freaking Christmas.”

About The Author

Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960, Dave Stanton moved to Northern California in 1961. He attended San Jose State University and received a BA in journalism in 1983. Over the years, he worked as a bartender, newspaper advertising salesman, furniture mover, debt collector, and technology salesman. He has two children, Austin and Haley, and lives with his wife, Heidi, in San Jose, California.
Stanton is the author of six novels, all featuring private investigator Dan Reno and his ex-cop buddy, Cody Gibbons.

To Connect With The Author

Twitter: @DanRenoNovels

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Monday, 16 April 2018

Uncommon Cruelty by Liz Mistry - Blog Blitz Q&A

Life Of A Nerdish Mum is taking part on the last day of the blog blitz celebrating the release of Liz Mistry's newest book, Uncommon Cruelty. I am honoured to host a fabulous Q&A with Liz.

Uncommon Cruelty 

DI Gus McGuire and his team are called in to investigate the disappearance of a teenage boy after his parents return from a weekend away, to find their home trashed and their son missing. But that is just the beginning. 
As the investigation unfolds, Gus must discover what links a violent bikers’ gang, a Muslim youth group and a fundamentalist American based Christian church. 
Alongside this, two cases from the past come back to haunt DI Gus McGuire and his DS, Alice Cooper.
Gus has a lot to juggle, but will he cope?
Uncommon Cruelty is the fourth in the DI Gus McGuire series set in Bradford West Yorkshire and is a gritty, Northern Noir read.

Are you much of a reader yourself?

I read quite a lot and usually in the crime fiction genre.  I love gritty serial killer novels and Chris
Carter is one of my favourites for that.  I adore Tartan Noir and make no secret of the fact that I really
rate Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae novels.  His character Detective Roberta Steele is fantastic. I
love the way he combines the gritty Noir with laugh out loud humour.

I started a PhD in October 2017 and have been doing quite a bit of academic reading.  However,
because I’m researching the use of the teen voice in adult crime fiction, I’ve been reading a lot of
Young Adult crime fiction and really enjoying it.

I’ve just been sent an ARC of Jeffrey Deaver’s new novel Cutting Edge which, I believe, is out in the
UK in May and am itching to get stuck into that – I’ll be reviewing it on The Crime Warp in May.  I
also have Vicky Newham’s debut novel on my kindle ready to read – that’ll be next, I think, after
Jeffrey that is.

Who could you see playing Gus if the series was adapted for the screen?

Can you imagine how giddy I’d be if my series was adapted for the screen?  How ace would that be?
I’ve been asked this before and my answer hasn’t changed – it would have to be OT Fagbenle who
was in The Handmaid’s Tale, Harlan Coben’s The Five and BBC’s The Interceptor, to name but a
few.  I think he would easily make a sultry, deep and pensive Gus McGuire and he’s a brilliant actor.

(fan art of DI Gus McGuire)

Do you find it harder or easier writing books in a series?

I’ve not written any standalones, so I’m not sure.  All I can say is that I love writing Gus and the
team. As the series progresses, the characters are becoming more well rounded and I can intuitively
guess what their responses are going to be.  In Uncommon Cruelty things are shaken up quite a bit
and by the end, Gus is facing one of his worst times to date.  I love pushing them, taking them that bit
further, exploring their pasts and seeing how what happened before impacts on them in the present.
 In my next one, Compo comes into his own a bit more. I haven’t really explored his character in
depth yet, so I’m looking forward to peeling off the layers and showing the reader a bit more about
what makes Compo tick.  

I still have a fair few Gus and co books in mind, so I visualise the Gus McGuire series going on for a
long time to come.  So, watch out Bradford … who knows which parts of the city I’ll feature in my
next books.

What would be your dream writing space?

At the minute, I share my time writing in either my home office which is ‘cosy’ (cramped), but has
everything I need and Leeds Trinity University Library, where I can’t get distracted too much.  I also
love writing in cafĂ©’s and pubs. I’m a people watcher and an avid eavesdropper, so anywhere there
are people suits me. If I could have a custom-built writing space it would be just like my home office
only bigger.  I have cork boards on the walls and have loads of stuff pinned on there. I have book
shelves and loads and loads of notebooks and pens in different colours. In the corner I have a single
futon folded up, which I use to read on when I’m fed up sitting at the computer.  

What do you know now which you wished you knew when you were first setting out on your
writing journey?

Well, for a long time, I wasn’t even sure I could finish writing a book, then I did.  But then I was
thrown into this alien world of edits and proof reads and self-publicity and things I didn’t know I’d
need to learn … and I love it.  So, I suppose what I wish I’d known then was how much I was going
to love my new life as a published author, creative writing teacher, PhD student and sometimes
literary festival panellist.  I wish I’d had faith in myself years ago … but then Bloodhound Books
weren’t around years ago, were they? So, maybe things happened at just the right time for me.

About The Author 

Liz writes crime fiction books set in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The DI Gus McGuire series is gritty Northern noir with a bit of Scottish thrown in.  She is currently researching for a Ph. D in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University. As part of her Ph.D she is researching how the teen killer’s voice is portrayed in the adult crime fiction novel with specific reference to the influence of  teen social media usage, with a view to writing a crime fiction novel around these issues.
Liz also teaches creative writing, specialising in crime fiction and is a regular panellist at literary festivals throughout the UK.  She enjoys reading her work at Open Mic and Noir at the Bar events. She was chosen to be one of the spotlighted authors at the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival in 2016.  She is the lead blogger for the well renowned crime fiction blog The Crime warp which reviews contemporary, mainly UK based, crime fiction, comments on current issues around the genre and creative writing in general and interviews authors on a regular basis. 
She is available to comment on current issues around creative writing in general and crime fiction in particular and to speak at local and national festivals and conferences
To Connect With The Author
Facebook: @LizMistrybooks
Twitter: @LizCrimeWarp
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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan - Blog Tour Review

Today Life Of A Nerdish Mum is honoured to be a part of the blog tour for the debut novel by Olivia Kiernan, Too Close To Breathe. 

Too Close To Breathe


Polished. Professional. Perfect. Dead. Respected scientist Dr Eleanor Costello is found hanging in her immaculate home: the scene the very picture of a suicide.


DCS Frankie Sheehan is handed the case, and almost immediately spots foul play. Sheehan, a trained profiler, is seeking a murderer with a talent for death.


As Frankie strives to paint a picture of the killer, and their victim, she starts to sense they are part of a larger, darker canvas, on which the lines between the two blur.

My Review

You would never know that Too Close To Breathe is a debut novel, the writing and story telling is absolutely top and thoroughly enjoyable. The author does take a risk in how they develop the main character, DCS Frankie Sheehan, as when I first started reading I had to double check I hadn't missed a previous book or prequel explaining what had actually happened to her before this case and what she is recovering from. However once I was happy that I hadn't missed anything, it worked really well how the story of what happened is eked out alongside the main story. 

Too Close To breathe is quite dark and gritty and covers some of the seedier sides of crime including the Dark Web. It's also quite graphic in it's descriptions, particularly of the autopsies, which I haven't seen for a while but it was a nice touch, though may be too much for someone with a weaker stomach! The story is fast paced and it kept me guessing right until the end which I really liked (though was secretly frustrated because I loved "solving" the crimes myself first!)

Overall an incredibly strong debut and I am looking forward to continuing with the series when the next book comes out and learning more about DCS Sheehan. I would also like to see more of Dublin playing a part in the future stories too as it's such a distinctive place.

I gave this book 4 stars. 

About The Author

Olivia Kiernan is the author of TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE, a crime thriller where DCS Frankie Sheehan investigates the murder of Dr Eleanor Costello. At first glance the murder appears uncomplicated but soon spills out onto a dark canvas of fear, lies and murder.

Olivia Kiernan grew up in the Irish countryside, a background which left her with a great appreciation of storytelling. Being almost sensible she shelved aspirations of becoming a writer and embarked on a career in science, spending six years in university studying anatomy and physiology before receiving a BSc in Chiropractic in 2003. She worked in this vein for over a decade, always writing in the evenings after work and completing an MA in Creative Writing through part-time study in 2012.
In 2015, she began writing TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE as part of National Novel Writing Month, polishing off half the first draft by the end of the month-long writing marathon. After hiding the manuscript on her hard drive for close to a year, revisiting it from time to time to add a scene or remove one, she sent it out to agents. Within a month she had signed with a literary agent and in 2017 a dream was realised when TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE sold.

TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE will be released on 5th April 2018 in the UK, and the 3rd of April in the US.

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Monday, 2 April 2018

Pendle Fire by Paul Southern - Blog Blitz Review

Life Of A Nerdish Mum is super excited to be taking part in the blog blitz for Paul Southern's newest release, Pendle Fire. 

Pendle Fire

Social worker Johnny Malkin is battling a crippling workload and a hostile local community. That’s on a good day: things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Two fourteen-year-old girls are found wandering Aitken Wood on the slopes of Pendle Hill, claiming to have been raped by a gang of men. With no female social workers available, Johnny is assigned to their case. But what, at first, looks like yet another incident of child exploitation takes a sinister turn when the girls start speaking of a forthcoming apocalypse.

When Johnny interviews one of the girls, Jenna Dunham, her story starts to unravel. His investigation draws him into a tight-knit village community in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where whispers of witchcraft and child abuse go back to the Middle Ages.

One name recurs: The Hobbledy Man. Is he responsible for the outbreaks of violence sweeping across the country?

Is he more than just myth?

My Review

When I first heard of Pendle Fire, I was instantly interested as I lived at the base of Pendle Hill for a couple of years and I'm very familiar with the area and Aitken Wood itself. The area is full of myth and mystery (particularly about witches), so I knew this book would fit perfectly in that atmosphere just from the blurb. 

I was not disappointed. Pendle Fire is a lot darker than a lot of crime and it doesn't shy away from dealing with extremely sensitive and yet relevant topics in this day and age. This can make it a difficult read at times due to the gritty realism of the racism and grooming, it's hard knowing that these things happen and the awful consequences that follow. The author does a really good job in my eyes of portraying this all in a realistic but respectful way. 

Johnny Malkin is an interesting and complex character. I really found myself feeling for him and his mental health as he tries to deal with his demanding job and all the darkness which, that entails as well as trying to maintain his own life. At times I just wanted him to get away from it all and be free of the darkness. 

The story itself is really well done and I thought the mythology surrounding the Hobbledy Man was very well executed. I love a bit of local mythology (real or not) and I kind of wish there was something like a Wiki page about the Hobbledy Man so I could go off and do more research about him! 

Overall a really excellent book! I gave Pendle Fire 4 stars. 

About The Author

Paul Southern was born in the 1960s to itinerant parents who moved from city to city. He lived in Liverpool, Belfast, London and Leeds, then escaped to university, where he nearly died of a brain haemorrhage. After an unexpected recovery, he co-formed an underground indie group (Sexus). Made immediate plans to become rich and famous, but ended up in Manchester. Shared a house with mice, cockroaches, and slugs; shared the street with criminals. Five years later, hit the big time with a Warners record deal. Concerts at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Melody Maker front cover, Smash Hits Single of the Week, Radio 1 and EastEnders. Mixed with the really rich and famous. Then mixed with lawyers. Ended up back in Manchester, broke.

He got a PhD in English (he is the world's leading authority on Tennyson's stage plays!), then wrote his first novel, The Craze, based on his experiences of the Muslim community. He has three other published books and has written for ITV. He was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger award in 2002 and received positive reviews from national and international press, including The Guardian, Arena, Radio 4, Ladsmag, and Kirkus, amongst many others.

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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A Glimmer Of Hope by Steve McHugh - Guest Post

Life Of A Nerdish Mum is honoured to be a part of the blog tour for Steve McHugh's newest release, A Glimmer Of Hope. I recently reviewed the last book in his previous series, The Hellequin Chronicles, which was absolutely fabulous so I'm really excited about getting my hands on this book too. 

Now to hand over to Steve and a fabulous guest post on character creation...

Character Creation

Character creation is one of the cornerstones of being an author and writing something people want to read. Bad characters will doom a book, and good characters can carry a book along even if the plot isn’t that interesting. They’re frankly essential. They’re also one of the more difficult parts of writing to get right.

Now, I’m not saying I have the magical best method to do this, because no one does and anyone saying they do is wrong, but my method works for me, so maybe it’ll work for someone else.

And now for the part of the blog post where I discuss spreadsheets.

Yep, spreadsheets. I can almost hear a groan of boredom, and to be honest Excel isn’t exactly the most exciting of things to use, but stay with me.

Creating characters is something that gets easier the more you do it, but you probably don’t want to not have half a dozen people in the book who all look, sound, and act the same. That’s where the mighty spreadsheet comes in.

When I go to create a character, I start with a few details. Are they male or female? How old are they? What species are they? What’s their name? What’s their profession? What do they look like?

These details are necessary to figure out any character, and for characters that only have a small part, that’s fine. I log the details in my spreadsheet, giving a row to each character and the names of topics as the column headers. I’ll add them to the spreadsheet as I go through the book, as I don’t like to plan out in advance by a such a degree that I know all of the bit players before I get to them.

For characters I need to know more about from the start of the book (or  those that just pop in when you’re halfway through and you realize you need a new character), I have more columns for information to be added. So, more detailed abilities, their homelands, where they were born, allegiances, likes, dislikes, sexuality, etc.

It’s a lot of information to think about, but it really helps set the character to be something more real in my head. It also helps me, at least initially, to keep characters traits separate so I don’t have them start to behave in a way that isn’t realistic to that person.

The last thing you want to do is change how a character behaves because you forgot something, or because you wrote yourself into a corner. And I find that having all of the information about them readily available avoids that. It’s not perfect, but it works for me, and once I’ve filled in an entire row for a character, I usually find I have a good grasp on them. Also, it helps me change things about the character if I find they’re not working. If I get to the end of the row and something isn’t sitting right in my head, it’s usually easy to point to the part that I don’t think works.

So, yes, spreadsheets aren’t exactly sexy, nor are they the most exciting thing in the world, but they’re incredibly useful. I use them for all kinds of world building stuff by just putting tabs with different aspects of the world I’m working on. The time I spend entering the characters and details of the world they live in, allows me to realize who these people are.

A Glimmer Of Hope

From Steve McHugh, the bestselling author of The Hellequin Chronicles, comes a new urban fantasy series packed with mystery, action, and, above all, magic.
Layla Cassidy has always wanted a normal life, and the chance to put her father’s brutal legacy behind her. And in her final year of university she’s finally found it. Or so she thinks.
But when Layla accidentally activates an ancient scroll, she is bestowed with an incredible, inhuman power. She plunges into a dangerous new world, full of mythical creatures and menace—all while a group of fanatics will stop at nothing to turn her abilities to their cause.
To protect those she loves most, Layla must take control of her new powers…before they destroy her. All is not yet lost—there is a light shining, but Layla must survive long enough to see it.

To Pick Up Your Own Copy - Amazon UK

About The Author

Steve's been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up 'One boy and his frog' was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn't for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel, the result of which is Crimes Against Magic.

He was born in a small village called Mexborough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.
Twitter @StevejMchugh

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