Blog Tour: The Vault by Karen Long

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Good afternoon readers, after finishing the ten day review challenge I’m adding another to the list with the kick off review of the blog tour for Karen Long and her book ‘The Vault.’ Recently I’ve become a little more twitter obsessed and was tweeting away when I got a lovely message from @crimebookclub who asked whether I would like to take part in the tour. I readily said yes and settled down to read. It’s always a great privilege for me to be included in a blog tour because they are so wonderful at creating a buzz around a book and one as good as this thriller needs to be read. This one is dark, gritty and gory and I couldn’t get enough of; let’s hope I do it justice.

VAULT: A large room or chamber used for storage of valuables, especially an underground one…

In the unrelenting heat of the Toronto summer, a fire at a land-fill site uncovers the remains of a local prostitute. But the post-mortem reveals disturbing details – the body has been preserved and is not who or what it seems. DI Eleanor Raven is back on duty six months after barely surviving being kidnapped and tortured by a depraved serial killer. Work is her sanctuary but she’s carrying deep scars – mental as well as physical. Where do you go when the place you feel safest is also the place where you are most at risk? As Eleanor battles her own demons, it looks as though a killer in the city is making a gruesome human collection. And Eleanor’s fight to save the last victim of the Collector becomes a battle to save herself.

When I started this review I tried to think of word to sum up the book as a whole, maybe shocking or terrifying, or perhaps taboo or intense. As I rifled through the words I couldn’t think of one that could sum up this book on the whole it is all of those words and so much more. The book follows Eleanor Raven who a number of months before was terrifyingly kidnapped and tortured by a serial killer; however after a number of months away from the force she takes her rightful place back on the job just in time for a new case. A body is found in a local tip, thought to be a mannequin by a local worker; it has been almost perfectly preserved but why and by who? As the team work through the case methodically a new victim is revealed and the case must be solved quickly to stop this inhumane killer. As the case continues new clues, evidence and suspects are thrown up but will it all be too much for Eleanor who is fighting her own personal daemons? You’ll have to find yourself a copy, snuggle down and read to find out!

A couple of years ago I read a book that stopped me sleeping for a number of days and this could definitely do the same. First things first the premise of the book is incredibly strong but awfully horrifying. Someone is ‘plasticising’ victims and it’s not pretty. The idea of this was enough to make me shudder and as the author took me on this tale of horror and taboo I found myself feeling both sickened and also desperate to continue. There are so many themes throughout that are woven in, sexual tension, taboo, and also a transgender victim which is managed very well there’s not much the book doesn’t include. In terms of characterisation Eleanor is a wonderful character both determined and steadfast and also harbouring strains from past experiences that are running incredibly close to the surface. She is an exceptionally intricate character and that allows the author to play with her so much more. Although the story mainly follows her, because she is the main protagonist the supporting characters are equally well thought out and described.

In terms of writing style it was perfect for me, just enough detail and gore without giving too much away. I was surprised at how much information has been gathered and woven into the book because it felt so real and authentic. The research into the process of this type of crime is both fascinating and stomach turning. I loved the way the novel dipped and bobbed between different alternative sub-plots. The obvious one would be Eleanor’s past experiences but the author takes it further than that experimenting with sexual frustration and release and also starvation and malnutrition of the main character. It is both heart wrenching and utterly compelling. This matched with other subplots such as the distance from her partner and his request to join another force and also parts of the story told from the POV of the killer made for a complex but utterly compelling read. The pace to get everything in is snappy and rapid but matched with the strong writing style you don’t feel like anything has been missed out.

I think the author really went to town on the details, there is some much to go through and keep up with you do feel a little overwhelmed at points; the skulls, the wooden animals, the additional suspects, witnesses and the continuous and relentless pace would make you think this would eventually get muddled but the author manages (somehow) to create an incredibly coherent novel that just keeps giving you more and more. Continually throughout I found myself so engrossed and then utterly confounded and disturbed. Overall this is an incredibly detailed and exciting book that will be perfect for all you thriller readers out there, a wonderful protagonist, a sickening plot and a brilliant read.

As part of this blog tour we have a little competition for you wonderful readers; Karen is offering one of you a personalised signed copy of The Vault valid today only! All you have to do is suggest a name for a character in Karen’s next book and email mylittlebookblog2014@gmail.com The competition ends at midnight on the dot. I will pick my favourite and let you know by email tomorrow! Good Luck!

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_DSC7396Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.

She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.

Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.

The Safe Word is Karen’s first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, soon to be joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault

My Writing Process Blog Tour

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Morning my lovely littlebloggers! Today I am taking part in the ‘My Writing Process Blog Tour,’ and firstly I must thank the both incredibly talented and hilarious blogger Jacke Wilson; I first came into contact with Jacke when he asked me if I wouldn’t mind reviewing his book. Since then I have read and reviewed both his books and he has now recommended me for this blog tour which is super! If you ever have minute please go and take a peak at his blog it is very special and I am a big, big fan! So I’ve checked off  number one. (Acknowledge the person who invited you to the blog tour, and that you are part of “My Writing Process” Blog Tour.) So the next on the checklist is to answer these four questions;

What am I working on? This one is a little difficult for me, as I’m not officially a writer but a book blogger. However, I am currently working on a number of book tours and cover reveals, and I have recently started my own weekly post called Thoughtful Thursdays. Although I say I’m not a writer one day I hope to get a novella published but we will have to see! For now my job as a blogger is to keep reading and reviewing!

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Hmm, this question is difficult for me. As a blogger I think what sets me apart is that I will take any book; it doesn’t matter if it is self-published, or if it’s only a couple of chapters that have been posted as an off-thought. I will read any genre, any stance, any idea, and I will listen and try and reflect. I also spend a lot of time whilst reading trying to understand what the author is trying to tell me, or how they are trying to make me feel as to get the best understanding of a book. I get a lot of people commenting that my blog is more of a community feel in which people can come and comment and reflect and ask questions and I really do try and keep it as open and as comfortable for any writer. I really try and play on the community feel in which to give writers as much support as I can as a blogger.

Why do I write what I do? This question is an easy one for me; I started this blog as a personal project fourteen months ago. It all came from writing for the university magazine Concourse. Although I was writing book reviews I had no idea if anyone was viewing my reviews let alone reading or enjoying them. So, after many suggestions from my wonderful mother I set up ‘mylittlebookblog.’ Now, this started as somewhere to write about my personal reviews of books, until I set up my ‘review requests’ page. Since the setting up of that page I have been inundated with requests. These are books from real authors who have spent months, no, maybe years, creating a product. From the seed of an idea, to the filling out of the characters, the setting of the scene, the editing and re-editing, the tears, the cutting of chapters, the sheer hard work and determination, at the end of it all they pass this creation over to me to hold, and to delve into. Here, I have the ability to read the books of unknown, new authors and I get to spill the secrets of how incredible their books are. How they build their character profiles, or how their prose rises and falls unstilted and beautifully fluid. What could be lovelier; they have no idea how I will find the book and yet they want me, yes me, to review it and I am trusted not to be nice, but to be honest. To give praise and criticism with the knowledge that it is sometimes cruel to be kind and that sometimes to critique helps to make the end product even better and more polished. I have fallen in love with blogging, and I have fallen even more in love with reading if that is even possible. But really, why do I write what I do? Because if I have the chance to help one, just one author, then I have done my job here, and that makes me feel incredible.

How does my writing process work?

Hmm, how does my writing process work?

Pyjamas: Okay, that’s a little specific but for me pyjamas work for my writing process. I guess what I am saying is to be comfortable.

Space: The second most important thing for me is to be in the right space to write. I like to sit with my legs crossed on my bed with the sun streaming through the window. No, I can’t control the weather but as long as I am comfy, with my legs crossed staring out the window, words seem to seep out of my very pores. Rain, sleet, snow, cloudy skies, I seem to gain a creative flow.

Music: Now this is potentially a controversial one; I love to listen to music whilst I am writing. The crooning of Maroon Five or the beauty of Ben Howard a little music goes a long way with me. Now, I know many will disagree but whether it is silence, the buzzing of the radio or pumping chart tunes make sure the noise around you is right for you. Experiment, mix it up, but like number one make sure you are comfortable.

Other Bloggers: The last of my four tips is to use other bloggers; I am always looking at my favourite blogs to find inspiration. As mentioned above Jacke Wilson has inspired me to start potentially writing my own ‘Life in 100 objects,’ and after reading a post on ‘Musing Mondays,’ I decided to start my own ‘Thoughtful Thursdays.’ For me creativity can come from anywhere but bouncing ideas off other bloggers seems to work pretty well

So the last point on the list to check off is; Nominate three more authors to follow, with short bios and blog links, and give the date of their blog.

1) So the first blogger is the incredibly lovely Bradley from http://greenembers.wordpress.com. A couple of months ago Bradley took a chance on me as a blogger and asked me to take part in one of their podcasts. I was a bag of nerves, however he made it so incredibly lovely and since then I have been a daily reader of the blog he runs! It really is worth a look!

2) My second blogger is Shannon Bradford as http://readingwritingcreating.com. Shannon did a blog post for a couple of months back and the response to it was amazing! If you’d like to see more here is a link; https://mylittlebookblog.wordpress.com/?s=guest+post. Knowing that Shannon is a new blogger I really wanted to get her involved as she is a brilliant writer and rather selfishly I want to know more about where she gets her inspiration from whilst also helping to show you littlebloggers her great blog!

3) Last but certainly not least is Jonas Lee from http://jonasleeblog.com. I met Jonas after he asked me to review his book which you can check out here: https://mylittlebookblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/the-time-travellers-grandchild-jonas-lee. After reading the book we have kept in touch regularly commenting and talking about books! I recently nominated Jonas for a blogging award and his answers were incredibly brilliant and I cannot wait to read about his writing process!

 

Look forward to all three posts and their nominations on the 7th of July!

Right, so they we go, I did it. It’s been a pleasure to be involved and I hope you enjoyed this slightly different post! Ciao.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Miranda Uyeh and her debut book ‘To Die Once!’

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I recently reviewed Miranda’s new book ‘To Die Once, which you can find in my reviews section. ‘ Here is my brilliant interview with her about that brilliant book ! ENJOY!

How were you personally inspired to become a writer and what inspired you to write your most recent creation ‘To Die Once?’ I first took notice when I came across a Christian fiction book (which I can’t remember the title) for the first time by author, Norma Jean Lutz. After she replied to a letter I wrote to her, it only increased my excitement and planted a seed in my heart. As time passed, I forgot about that book because I’d delved more into mainstream titles. God, however, lovingly reminded of who I’m supposed to be. I wrote all about it in a blog post I titled, ‘Why I Believe In Christian Fiction.’

Which writers inspire you? Love this question! I simply can’t get enough of Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, MaryLu Tyndall and Julie Lessman! I, also, recently discovered K. Victoria Chase.

Give us an insight into your main character; what makes her so special to you? Jennifer is a beautiful sweet, tender, and adventurous dreamer, but not on the wild side, and somewhat naïve too. When I picture her, I see a rose. She’s also a Christian. She’s special to me because she wasn’t afraid to break out of the norm for what she wanted and believed in, although, her decisions cost her a lot.

‘What was the hardest thing about writing your debut book ‘To Die Once?’ At first when I starting writing I constantly wrestled with how honest I should make the thoughts/monologue of the characters. I wanted to write a book that exposed the raw feelings of people in the circumstances created in the story, but of course doing so without crossing the boundaries set for a clean/Christian romance read. Eventually, I decided to put the truth out there, as I felt it was important if the message of grace would be understood to the depths that I hoped it would be. When you read “To Die Once,” you’ll get my meaning. Making the decision was one thing, but crafting it so it turned out exactly how I hoped was another feat of its own.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it? This book is part of the Child of Grace Series. There will be four books in all. I’m presently working on book #2, “To Lie Once”, a story centered on Jennifer’s sister, Joyce. It has a “good girl gone bad” feel to it. I’m truly excited writing it! The Child of Grace Series center on God’s redeeming power of grace, told through the stories of these four siblings—Jennifer, Joyce, Matthew, and Charity, in that order.

What book/s are you reading at the present? On my desk I have “Called To Suffer” and “To Be Called A Friend”, both by Patricia Stuart; “The Movement of Crown Series” by Nadine C. Keels, “Love’s Promises” by Sandra Leesmith, and some others.

Explain a little about the Christian element of your book as it features quite heavily throughout, is it a main feature or is to make the reader think about their own faith? Both actually. My writing centers on my beliefs and faith. They can’t be taken out of it. So, yes, it is a main feature. But I also hope my readers will walk away with something valuable. I, myself, have benefited much from the works of other Christian authors. I’d like my books to have as much impact as well. You can find out about my story in this piece, “Why I Believe In Christian Fiction.”

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character/s from your most recent ‘To Die Once’ book if it were made into a film? Hmm, still scanning my brain for an actor that would do Rodrigo justice. But I think Paula Patton would play Jennifer well.

And finally, any tips to get through the dreaded writer’s block? Ah! That. Well, it’s VERY important to have the general idea of your story sorted out so it’s a foundation you can build on. Make it clear to yourself what you want the expected end to be. That way when you’re stuck you can brainstorm for ideas that will develop the story towards that end. You don’t have to have all the details pinned down at first, just something you can work with. Eventually, as you develop the story, everything will be fleshed out—dialogue by dialogue, monologue by monologue, scene by scene, and so on. Understand, though, that the first draft of a manuscript merely lets you put together your scattered ideas so that the story has a direction. You know what you want and the general idea is clear to you at this point. Subsequent drafts let you flesh out your characters, clean up their dialogue/monologue, tidy the settings and other descriptions, and put your theme into better/sharper focus. When your brain is tired, let it rest for as long as it needs. If you’re sure of what you want but you’re having trouble putting it into words, use resources instead. The internet is great for this as it is a mega database for anything you want to find. I’ve used videos, pictures, scenery around me to help describe what I want when my mind was too foggy to do so itself. I’ve written several simple posts about it on my blog: How To Keep The Creative Juices Flowing.

How can you get involved?

  • You can follow the series right here: https://www.facebook.com/ToBeAPerson
  • Or if you are a tweeter you can follow the #ToDieOnce hashtag on twitter to follow the author and the influencer bloggers to keep up to date with the reviews!
  • Or if you are an avid pinner on Pinterest, readers can view the board set up for To Die Once here!

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To Die Once: Miranda A. Uyeh

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So this is my first time taking part in a blog tour and it is all extremely exciting! My blog has really grown over the last couple of weeks and I could never ever have guessed the growth spurt it would go through! It is only through the support and the collaboration with others such as this author that I can continue not only my self-improvement but help to promote others! So, when Miranda commented on one of my posts asking me if I wouldn’t mind taking part, reading and reviewing her new book and blogging about it, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the book and give it a read! This book was really not what I was expected; but I was honestly pleasantly surprised. So, here you go here is my review of ‘To Die Once.’

The book follows Jennifer a lowly bank clerk whose life is about to be turned completely upside down. Enter Rodrigo Montello, a suave Italian, with a clear-cut suit and an even more strongly cut jaw line. Broad and dark haired Jennifer can hardly stop her chin from hitting the floor. Montello immediately is drawn to her and sets about drawing her in and making him his. Although the chemistry between the two is strong and there is immediately a strong connection, Jennifer cannot help but feel that there is something distinctly dangerous and uncouth about her new suitor, but she brushes it aside. As Jenny finds herself becoming more and more involved she finds her new lover has broken the law; as she promises to love him she must say goodbye to her new lover as he must pay the price for his criminal mistakes. Time passes slowly for the poor Jenny but not wanting to be apart from her new lover she waits. When the pair is finally reunited they are quickly consummated in marriage and move to Italy, to Rodrigo’s roots, in the hope of starting a new life together; perfect eh? But no, Jenny was not mistaken and Rodrigo’s past starts to rear it’s ugly head ready to cause immediate trouble to the two young love-birds. As Rodrigo becomes more and more secretive over his involvement in sinister circles can the pair move forward and keep their love strong? Only time will tell! When Rodrigo suspiciously disappears when visiting London it appears that his criminal past has finally taken him away from Jenny forever; can she remain faithful to her husband? Can she stay truthful to her faith? Or will she find herself crumbling like her life around her! You will have to get a copy and read to find out!

One of the things that I think really sings from the book is its Christian vibes however this is not overpowering in the overall concept of the book or the plotline. Not being a strict Christian I had worried that the style of the book would depend entirely on the basis of religion and that this would distract readers and put them off. However it is an underlying concept that really guides the main character in her decisions causing her to re-think the entirety of her faith and her decisions; can she really rely on a deity to guide her through the hardest time in her life. As I wasn’t reading the book based on it’s religious statements I didn’t find that they overpowered the book but instead guided the reader in understanding the implications of religion on the life of the main character and the difficulty she has in relying on faith alone in the hardest decisions that she will ever have to make. A second strength in the book is that it covers a long period of time; often when reading we are forced to understand the character in a single setting however here Uyeh plays with the use of time to help to really develop the characters. Jennifer, is really given the time and space to develop and as a reader we are able to experience her changing completely from vulnerable to gaining independence and then during the twist that suddenly occurs she is back to the defenceless and exposed character lacking in inner strength and support. By using time is this way it allows us to get a real understanding of how the author wants us to emote and feel for the female protagonist. I think another really strong point to the book is that it really develops the pain and sorrow that is felt; it starts as a shocking pain, something that really surprises us, and as Jennifer continues through the book we feel the sort numbing pain that we can’t quite escape. Until the final scene where it ebbs away and we can finally breath again!

One slight flaw in the book is in it’s believability at times I thought…really? But then I think that depends on the reader as to how you decide on something. In terms of the writing all of the ends are neatly tied up but for me a few things towards the end nagged of a lack of believability however this does not draw away from the main plot-line and is only a minor flaw! I think it really depends on who you grasp things as a reader and this is such a subjective flaw that it may be completely unnoticeable to some readers! This is a well-created and navigated plot line that stuns the reader throughout and really pulls on the emotions! It has everything; love, deceit, faith, hope and anger! One you won’t forget in a hurry!

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