The Magician’s Curse by Linda G. Hill – Blog Tour Review.

The Magician's Curse Cover

About the Book

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.
Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?
Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Magician’s Curse falls into a genre that I don’t read much of. That of YA paranormal romance. I found it to be similar in style to the Twilight novels, where a young couple fall madly in love but there is also sinister side to their relationship.
Herman, who has spent most of her life putting up with ridicule over her family’s tradition of giving the eldest daughter a male name is running away from home when she meets Stephen on a train. Despite misgivings she decides to accompany him and learn how to be a his assistant in his career as a magician. it is love at first sight for her and appears to be for Stephen but he has a dilemma that the reader becomes more aware of throughout the book.
It is evident that there is much more about both of their families, the fact that Stephen knows who Herman’s father is makes this clear. Some of Stephen’s secret is revealed but I felt there was also much he didn’t know about his family.
My favourite characters were Margaret and Reed. Margaret was more rational and friendly and I have a feeling that Reed will have a bigger role later in the series. I also found Herman’s ghostly family member amusing.
Some of it I found a little sugary, but the demonic slant to the novel kept me interested.

For the duration of the blog tour the book is available on amazon for 99p. To buy click Here

Magicians Curse

This Dark Place by Claire Kittridge – Blog Tour Review.

This Dark Place Cover

About the Book

Priscilla’s body lay motionless on the couch in front of her. They were blood sisters, but Avery never thought it would end like this – thrust against her will into this dark place.
When the brutal death of a young American theater student in London is splashed across headlines worldwide, NYPD Detective Kelly Moore flies across the Atlantic to join a crack team of British investigators on the case.
Together with the London Metropolitan Police, Kelly must track down a twisted killer who seems to know her every move. As the body count rises, and panic spreads, the killer threatens to make Kelly the next victim.
In a heart-racing game of cat and mouse, Kelly must outwit this elusive master of surveillance – who might be the last person she suspects.
From debut author, Claire Kittridge, comes this page-turning, unputdownable thriller. This Dark Place is the first novel in the Detective Kelly Moore series, introducing a tough streetwise cop who will go to any lengths to catch a killer.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. This Dark Place is the first book in a new series. Kelly Moore is a New York based cop who is working in London, helping to solve the murder of a wealthy young college student. She knew the father of the student and is there at his request.
The novel demonstrates the different ways that the police work between the UK and USA, to Kelly one of the more obvious signs is that police in the UK don’t carry guns.
The method of murder in this novel is something that features in my worst nightmares. They are something that I saw in a film years ago and it is something that terrified me. I don’t remember reading about it in fiction before so it had an impact. It did not stop me though from enjoying this book.
I liked the tentative friendships that were being developed, especially between Kelly and Joshi and I am interested in seeing if these develop in future novels. And to see if Kelly will be based in London or back home in New York.
An accomplished debut.

This Dark Place FINAL FINAL Poster

Unscripted by Claire Handscombe – Guest Post – Blog Tour.

Unscripted Image copy

Today it is my pleasure to feature a guest post from Claire Handscombe who is publishing a novel via Unbound.

How to make your characters believable:

My books always start with my characters – I have some sense of who they are, hear their voices in my head, or sometimes just want to write a better version of myself. In Unscripted, Libby is very similar to me, though I made her ten years younger, because I didn’t think anybody would believe that a woman in her mid thirties could have a celebrity crush that is quite as all-consuming as hers. It’s totally possible, of course, that a woman in her mid-thirties would – and I’d know. But the oft-repeated cliché that truth is stranger than fiction is an oft-repeated cliché for a reason. Fiction has to be just that little bit less strange to be believed by our readers.
Unscripted is a multiple point of view novel, and all four characters are sensitive arty types – involved in writing, publishing, and/or acting. They all have something of me in them – Libby most of all – but I didn’t want to make them all a version of me, or different versions of each other. So, as I have with other books in the past, I dived into the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
If you’re not familiar with Myers Briggs, it’s a personality typing system in which everyone falls into one of sixteen categories, which draws on whether you’re an Extrovert or an Introvert, make your decisions based on iNtuition or the more concrete five Senses, are more a Thinker or a Feeler, and prefer to Judge (plan) or Perceive (let things happen more spontaneously). The different elements come together to form personality types with their own sets of characteristics.
All my characters in Unscripted are NF – those sensitive arty types I mentioned – so it was important that I differentiate them in other ways. Libby is an ENPF, but Dan is an INFJ. ENFPs are visionary types, always excited by new ideas. INFJs are idealistic too, but they’re doers rather than dreamers – one of the reasons why it’s a combination that can work particularly well in friendship.
I also used the Enneagram system – cross-referencing with Myers Briggs and what I already knew of my characters. Each of the nine Enneagram personality types has one basic fear that drives them, and one basic goal. It’s helpful if you can keep those motivations in mind as you write each personality, because it informs how they think and speak. The first time I came across the Enneagram was actually in a book called Dialogue: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Effective Dialogue (https://www.amazon.com/Dialogue-Techniques-Exercises-Crafting-Effective/dp/1582972893/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524069271&sr=8-1&keywords=writers+digest+writing+great+fiction+dialogue). (Incidentally, that book is from a series by Writers Digest called Write Great Fiction, and they’re excellent for when you’re starting on your writer’s journey.) The author showed how each type might speak, and, importantly, why.
There’s a lot of good stuff online about the strengths and weaknesses of each personality types, and how they interact with the other types. So, for example, Thom is a Type Three: his basic fear is being worthless and his basic desire is to feel valuable and worthwhile. Ebba, his long-ago ex-girlfriend, is a Type Two, which is known for being nurturing and caring for others. They’re both driven by emotional needs and the need for attention and love. Ebba wants to feel proud of Thom and Thom wants to make her feel proud. Ebba wants to put the spotlight on Thom, and Thom wants the spotlight. So far, so perfect. But there are downsides, too: the Type Three’s tendency to become chameleon-like in an effort to feel loved, and the Type Two’s tendency to overwhelm with their attention.
I think the trick is to internalise these things about your characters, and not let these character traits just be abstract concepts, but to think through how each trait works itself out practically. One book that can help massively with that is What Would Your Character Do? by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel. It puts your characters in all kinds of specific situations – a family picnic, say, or a high school reunion – and gives you options for how your character would react in a number of scenarios. Given what you know of your characters’ underlying motivations, you can start to flesh out how they would be in the world. I also ask my friends what Myers Briggs and Enneagram types they are, and think through my interactions with them, and how they react in different situations. I ask them to help me understand them better.
Of course, just like people in the real world, our characters aren’t just cardboard cutout examples of particular character type – but having an understanding of how they see the world and what their motivations are can help make them three-dimensional, as well as help us figure out what they want and why, which is the driver of so much good fiction.

 About the Book

No-one is a bigger fan of actor Thomas Cassidy than Libby. No-one. That’s why she’s totally going to marry him
She is going to write a novel, name the main character after Thom, and find a way to get it to him. Intrigued and flattered, he will read it, fall in love with her prose, write to her and ask to turn it into a movie. She will pretend to think about it for a week or so, then say, sure, but can I work on it with you? Their eyes will meet over the script, and fade to black. It is a fail-proof plan.
Except for the fact that he is a Hollywood star – not A list, perhaps not B list, but certainly C+ – and she is, well, not. Except for the fact that he lives in America. Except, too, for the teeny tiny age gap. Not even twenty years! Totally overcomable. All of the obstacles are totally overcomable. It’s all about determination.

About the Author

Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA, but actually, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. (Like her main character Libby, she knows a thing or two about celebrity crushes and the life-changing power of a television series.) She was recently longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, and her journalism, poetry, and essays have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Bustle, Book Riot, Writers’ Forum, and the Washington Post. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show about news and views from British books and publishing.

Twitter — @clairelyman
Blog — britlitblog.com
My other book, Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives can be found at thewestwingbook.com

About Unbound

Claire Handscombe’s novel Unscripted is forthcoming from Unbound.
Unbound are an innovative, crowdfunding-based publisher who’ve produced best-sellers and award-winning books, like The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla. Their model is based on Kickstarter-style pledges, and when a book reaches 100% of their funding, they kick in as a more-or-less traditional publisher. So when you pre-order a book, you’re actually helping to make it happen. You get thanked in the back for being part of the journey, and you can also get various rewards at different pledge levels. So if you like the sound of Unscripted, please consider supporting the book by pre-ordering it at Unbound.

Unscripted Final BT Poster

Dead Man’s Badge by Robert E. Dunn – Blog Tour Review.

Dead Man's Badge Cover

About the Book

Career criminal Longview Moody, on the run from killers, assumes his dead, twin brother’s identity as the new Chief of Police of a Texas town that’s being terrorized by a Mexican drug cartel. To pull off the deadly deception, Longview desperately works to become the kind of cop and man that his brother was. But when the two lives he’s living converge, he’s forced to embrace the violence within him to get justice…and vengeance.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. At the beginning of this novel Longview isn’t having the best day, which is hardly surprising when he is digging his own grave at gunpoint. But he manages to escape and goes to meet his brother at his trailer. Things don’t go to plan and Longview ends up assuming his brother’s identity as chief of police in a town on the Mexican border. He makes plenty of enemies immediately but there are also a handful of people who he feels he can trust. These are also people who he can’t fool.
The book is full of violence and corruption and mistrust. Hardly anybody is who they say they are, including obviously Longview. He has to work out who can be trusted the most,and with his most likeable colleagues tries to make things better.
My thoughts changed throughout, I’m not that familiar with the different American agency and Government departments, or the politics between America and Mexico but what I did discover is that the family who ruled the town were capable of anything. This is demonstrated in the latter part of the novel when the reader realises exactly what type of people they are.
I had to admire Longview, the easiest option would have been to walk away but he was determined to be a better person whilst getting revenge for his own reasons. And even though he didn’t fool many, there were people willing to help. My favourite character by a long way was Hector, he was probably the only one who could show how his true feelings. I also liked the married couple who dealt with council matters, they added some welcome humour and compassion amongst the violence.

Dead Man's Badge FINAL Poster

Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton – Blog Tour Review.

 

Binary Witness Cover

About the Book

A young woman trapped by her fear, a young man pursued by his past, a murderer hunting the Cardiff streets by night. Agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane employs ex-con Jason Carr as a cleaner. When the police `borrow’ Amy’s skills to help track down the killer, Amy and Jason become a crime-fighting team, Amy on her computer, Jason on the streets.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
Binary Witness is a different type of crime novel. Police officers do feature, and they are looking for a serial killer but the people they get the most help from are not the police. Amy is an agoraphobic computer whizz who lives in squalor and forgets to eat. Jason is an ex-convict who gets a job as her cleaner/ housekeeper/cook. She also uses him to do the stuff that she can’t,which is basically anything that involves being outside or having any contact with people she doesn’t know. They have a great relationship, no sign of any romantic entanglement but they understand each other and have each other’s best interests at heart. Although I do have the feeling that Jason gets unsettled by Amy knowing everything about him.
It is completely unbelievable but I found it to be very entertaining. The crime they are investigating is no different to other crime novels, women abducted and killed who have no apparent connection to each other. But the way in which Amy and Jason have so much input in the investigation is what makes it fun and refreshing.
It is the first in a series, the second book is also part of this blog tour, so I have plenty of opportunity to get to know Amy and Jason. Amy especially is a character I want to know more about. I want to know what happened in her past, most of the focus in this novel was on Jason.
It was a novel that I read after a more harrowing one so it was perfect timing for me. Great entertainment and quick to read. Recommended.

Rosie Claverton Blog Tour Poster