**Blog Tour w/Guest Post, Review & Giveaway** Blue Wicked by Alan Jones

It was a year ago when I reviewed Alan Jones‘ first novel, The Cabinetmaker. I was absolutely intrigued by the author’s writing style and the in-depth research that I felt had been undertaken. He certainly knows how to write a great crime thriller/drama! And so, it is with great pleasure that we have the chance to be a part of the blog tour and review for his second novel, Blue Wicked.

Included is an exclusive GUEST POST written by Alan Jones, a four-chapter sampler, and he is kindly offering a GIVEAWAY, where one lucky winner will win a paperback of Blue Wicked, and another will win an e-copy! For further details, please scroll below!

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Blurb:

‘Blue Wicked’ is a gritty thriller set in the south side of Glasgow. Eddie Henderson finds himself as the unlikely investigator with information that there’s a serial killer targeting the substance dependent underclass who inhabit the notorious Glasgow housing estates. The police force ignore his warnings but one young detective believes him and she helps him search for the truth, despite putting her own career at risk. Their desperate search for the truth on their own proves Eddie right and sparks off a massive manhunt, with Eddie and Catherine, the young detective, at the forefront of the investigation. The book contains a fair bit of strong language and Glasgow dialect, and has some very violent passages.

Amazon UK buy link

Amazon US buy link

GUEST POST – ALAN JONES

Writing and me: motivation, inspirations and ideas.

What makes me want to write?

Probably like most book junkies, I read incessantly from an early age. As a child, I was brought up in a very religious household, where television was deemed inappropriate. Oddly, reading was encouraged and even more strangely, not censored, and with plenty spare time not glued to a TV screen, I became a voracious devourer of books of all types. My dad had a reasonable collection of books and we lived close to a good library; when I outgrew children’s books faster than my peers, a perceptive Librarian let me use my junior library ticket to borrow books from the adult section without particularly screening what I was reading. (I was a fount of knowledge for my fellow pupils on sexual matters when we all discovered it existed, though most of them overtook me in turning theory into practice, with my being what you would call a ‘late developer’.)

All that reading improved my writing as well. I always enjoyed and thrived on creative writing at school, the only part of the English curriculum that suited me. When I started secondary school, the dissection of literary classics, poems and plays spoiled some of them for me, although I enjoyed most of the ones I re-visited as an adult, appreciating them for being the good read they were, and not as an academic exercise.

The joy of reading a good book, and the pleasure I got from writing, ignited in me the idea that I should give writing stories a go, but life got in the way, with a career, a wife, four children and a house that I populated with restored and hand-built furniture, all conspiring to leave me little time for writing. And we had a TV! I have to confess that I did a lot of catching up, and even my reading dipped a little while I was watching a backlog of TV series like MASH and Porridge, and all the films that I’d missed over the years.

About fifteen years ago, I had a run of reading what I thought were mediocre books, some from authors that I’d previously liked, that left me disappointed and restless and, in my own mind, I thought that I could do better than that. Only, I never did. Then, one day, I told myself that I should put my money where my mouth was, and actually write something.

I got as far as jotting down a few ideas for books, but none of them grabbed me until I came up with a rough plot for The Cabinetmaker. I wrote in fits and starts for the next ten or twelve years, often doubting that I could finish it, but it reached a critical mass about half way through, and it all fell into place, taking less than six months to complete.

Write what you know is the old adage, so that’s what I did. The first book was about making furniture, playing football and living in Glasgow; subjects that I knew a lot about.

My second book, Blue Wicked had its roots in my job working with animals. Having the confidence that I could write, I self-published it within a year of sitting down to start it. The third book is taking a little longer, but it is almost at the first draft stage and should be going to my lovely freelance editor, Julie Lewthwaite, by Christmas. Part of the reason that it has taken longer is that I have spent more time this last year trying to promote my first two books and, although enjoyable, this has been more involved than I’d anticipated.

I get ideas for stories from a number of areas. The biggest so far have been the things like my job, my pastimes, my passions other than reading and writing, but I also love talking to people, or listening to banter in pubs and at social gatherings of all kinds. I make quick notes whenever I hear something interesting or witty, and some of these jottings eventually make their way into my books, heavily disguised to protect the guilty.

The bottom line is that I love writing and, when I’m in the mood and the words just flow from my imagination on to the screen, and I like what I read, there aren’t many things that can surpass that!

Contact Alan:

email alanjonesbooks@gmail.com

Twitter @alanjonesbooks

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006737580444

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

Blue Wicked is completely engrossing; the grittiness, dialogue and sheer suspense kept me gripped throughout. The reader follows vet, Eddie Henderson, who specialises in animal abuse and poisoning, when he comes across cases where cats have been subjected to antifreeze and been abused under it’s influence. However, when Eddie hears of a murder with similar circumstances he begins to suspect that maybe the animal abuser has turned to harming humans. Is he right? If so, will the police take him seriously?

The story begins with Eddie looking into the death of a cat, and I must warn all animal/cat lovers that there are some graphic and brutal scenes from early on. However, the reason I was so intrigued was because of how well-written the scenes are, the sense of how realistic it felt to read, and the enthusiasm that Eddie has to get to the bottom of just how these poor animals have come to die. Eddie is very thorough in his work, pushing as many boundaries as he has to in order to reach the truth.

When human bodies begin to be found, and victim identities are revealed, it becomes clear that many of them were the victims of drug abuse and/or alcoholism, with many of them being homeless or unemployed; people that not too many would notice have been missing. Their lives were desperate, yet when faced with death they were extremely fearful, which leads to extremely suspenseful and brutal scenes. I couldn’t help but think of Blue Wicked as Val McDermid (Wire in the Blood series) with a twist of Irvin Welsh (Trainspotting). I can very easily picture Blue Wicked as a tv detective drama, due to the dark, intense atmosphere, mixed with the relationships that Eddie has with the police.

Although the police are not very open to Eddie’s theories, this does not prevent Eddie from wanting to look further into each case. And when young officer, Catherine, shares his belief, she takes it on herself to investigate in her own time with Eddie. In Eddie’s otherwise lonely life at home, Catherine brings with her warmth and friendliness, a belief in what he is doing, and a unity whereby they work together, complimenting each other’s work along the way.

The way in which their relationship builds is fascinating in itself. With Eddie concentrating just on the work alone, he finds it a little more awkward to be sociable, coming across as cold even at times. However, just as friendships develop, the more time they spend together the more they expand on varying topics. Catherine begins to see more in him than just the investigative vet; she begins to understand his set ways and mannerisms. Meanwhile, he appreciates her help and eagerness to find more solid leads, at a time when many others are almost ignoring any connections, thus making it a risk for Catherine to go out on a limb to help him in terms of her career.

I am so glad I have had the pleasure to read both Blue Wicked, and The Cabinetmaker; both of which are stand alone novels. Fans of gritty crime thrillers will appreciate the writing that Alan Jones provides in both story-telling and character building. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

You can check out our review of The Cabinetmaker here.

And, here you can enjoy the first four chapters of Blue Wicked, courtesy of Alan Jones.

BLUE WICKED sample

GIVEAWAY

To be in with a chance to win a paperback or an e-copy of Blue Wicked all you need to do is type your name in the comments box below. (You can also enter on our Facebook page.)

Two winners will be picked at random on Tuesday, 2nd February 2016 at 5pm GMT.

The first to be picked will receive a paperback, and the second an e-copy, direct from the author.

The winners will be contacted as soon as they are picked out.

We would like to thank everyone in advance for entering, and wish you all the very best of luck! 🙂

Caroline & Tina

 

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*Promo with Guest Post on Publishing Tips* ‘Frenzy’ and ‘Daniel Jones Doom’ (The Daniel Jones series, #1 & 2) by Mark King

Hi readers, we are all in for a treat with not only a promo of the post-apocalyptic Daniel Jones series by Mark King, but the author has very kindly written a guest post for us on publishing tips! You can find all info on Frenzy (Daniel Jones #1) and it’s sequel, Daniel Jones Doom, below with links, as well as an author bio. This series is certainly on my reading list for me to review later in the year. We hope you enjoy! – Caroline

Frenzy 3 v2Title: Frenzy (A Daniel Jones Story #1)

Author: Mark King

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Date released: March 1st, 2013

Published by: Book Guild Publishing

Length: 226 pages

Jacket Blurb:

Daniel leads a peaceful life with his family until he finds out a repulsive secret about the Over-seers, the ‘saviours of humanity’, and his security is blown to smithereens. He enters a world where death is the only certainty and quickly learns to kill – or be killed.

Enter Gwendolyn, with the charm of a snake and a bite that’s twice as dangerous. People skills aren’t her thing but she knows how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world; she’s a hotshot with a bow and arrow and can rustle up a mean rat soup.

Mary is the only person left alive over forty. She’s not too good at fighting but she knows where to find the one thing that could save their lives; the golden shield. Only Mary can remember life before the alien invasion, before humanity was brainwashed into following the procedures.

Pursued by the Over-seers, the Triclops and the barbaric hunters, can the three brave rebels triumph in their quest for the golden shield? The odds are stacked against them – hold tight for a white-knuckle ride through a landscape of devastation!

Back jacket extract:

Bang. Bang. Bang.

And the ground shook.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

And the ground shook with an almighty force.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

And the ground shook with such terrifying power that once again the soul of humanity would cry out in fear tonight.

Silence.

Frenzy (A Daniel Jones Story #1) by Mark King is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US. You can also check it out on Goodreads.

Daniel Jones Doom Cover LargeTitle: Daniel Jones Doom (A Daniel Jones Story #2)

Author: Mark King

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Date released: December 12th,  2014

Published by: Rethink Press

Length: 238 pages

Blurb: Daniel’s peaceful life has been destroyed after discovering the hideous truth about the Over-seers – the new masters of humanity. Hiding in centuries-old flint mines from Hunters and from the terrifying Triclops machines, Daniel’s recurring nightmares lead him, once more, into danger. With mankind brainwashed under the false hope of a glorious new life in the Achievement Centre, he must return home through a devastated landscape to save his father from certain death.

Daniel reunites with two fellow fugitives – Mary and her young companion Gwendolyn – to undertake a rescue mission so dangerous that death is the only guarantee. Is it too late for Daniel’s family or is it too late for humanity itself? Daniel Jones DOOM, the exciting new sequel to FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story, is another fast-paced, engrossing chronicle of three rebels who once again risk their lives in a vividly depicted world peopled by memorable new and known characters.

Daniel Jones Doom (A Daniel Jones Story #2) by Mark King is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US. You can also check it out on Goodreads.

 GUEST POST: Publishing Tips by Mark King

After the success of my debut book FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story and now with the release of the sequel Daniel Jones Doom I am asked by aspiring authors for advice on becoming published. I have found it’s a journey that has three distinct parts with each being as important as the others.

Stage one is getting the story out of your head and onto the laptop. I often come across people who have been writing on a manuscript for many years, but because of the daily trials, and tribulations, that life throws up it never quite gets finished. I decided in early 2010 to resign from a secure job leaving me just two years to fulfil my dream before I had to re-join the daily rat race. So set yourself a deadline and keep to it no matter what sacrifices you need to make or what gets in the way.

Stage two is getting a publisher or agent. All new authors are guilty of using the scatter gun approach; sending out reams of paper to dozens of publishers or individuals, and you will only end up propping up the stack of what is commonly known in the industry as the slush pile. With agents you are in a catch twenty two position because they are generally only interested in authors’ that are already published! Go to the local book shop and look at the shelves in which genre your book is based, and then note the relevant publishers. Carry out lots of research on these leads, and if the time is right one or two may be open for submissions. Ask yourself this question. If your manuscript is a science fiction based dystopian novel why bother sending it to Mills and Boon?

Stage three is the marketing and promotion of not only your book, but of yourself as an author. Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year around the world and all are trying to get noticed. I set up a blog called always-hanging-around to connect on a personal level with new people. I also had a professional photo shoot because when the media asked for interviews they also requested photos. I only had holiday snaps either with me pulling a funny face, or I had a drink in my hand. If all else fails then authors are lucky now to live in the age of the Internet and the opportunities that are offered by self-publishing. This option is very popular in the U.S.A and becoming more so in the U.K. and one well worth looking at. FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story and Daniel Jones DOOM are only the start of the journey for me as I now start on my third book in the Daniel Jones series, and if you keep my three points in mind then hopefully too you can follow the same path.

Author bio:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMark King is a free spirit, lover of life, family, friendships, good food, and travel. He lives in Norwich in the county of Norfolk in the U.K. It’s one of Britain’s most historic cities and a hub for present day literature. Author of the internationally acclaimed book Frenzy a Daniel Jones Story and the sequel Daniel Jones Doom; Mark is also the writer of the world-wide blog at www.always-hanging-around.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @author_king and on Google +. Mark is now working on the third book in the Daniel Jones series.

Cover Artist vs. Published Author – Dawné Dominique **GUEST BLOGGER POST**

A Reader’s Review Blog have had a great opportunity to hear from a cover artist and author, Dawné Dominique. Dawné has kindly written a blog post for us, providing an insight to both worlds and their challenges and differences. Throughout the article we also feature some examples of her beautiful cover designs. – Caroline & Tina

Dawné Dominique

Cover Artist vs. Published Author

A lot of people may be familiar with my name as a cover artist, but I’m also a published author. Unfortunately, both are not synonymous in the aspects of the publishing world. In other words, I’m known more for my cover art than my books.

Dominique 1I restarted my writing career in early 2000 as a fantasy writer, wherein world building and character development are tantamount in creating believability in fantasy fiction. People who have read my books, whether fantasy, paranormal, or erotic romance, told me that they read like movies; that they feel my characters; they walk in the worlds I’ve created; but more importantly, they actually care about what happens in the story. Then why am I not a NY best selling author? Firstly, I’m published with a smaller publishing house. Secondly, do I want to become famous? Well, of course. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t get into this business to get rich or famous. I write because I love to tell stories. And I create cover art because the artistic gene in me needs to flourish. Being my own cover artist? Uggg! I’m my own worst client. I’m never satisfied. Even after a book of mine is published, I’ll discover something on the cover that I want to refine and/or revise.

Dominique2Someone once asked me how many covers I had created during my career. I’d never given it much thought, so I began calculating and came up with a number that astounded me. The total was well over 1K. Since I branched out on my own with DusktilDawn Designs, in any given year, I’ll create approximately 500 covers, so that initial number is far higher. Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am because to me, it’s not work. It’s an absolute pleasure—and more so when I read an author’s reaction to my design.

Writing books, however, takes me far longer. I can’t seem to write novellas, although my first published piece of work was that size for a book anthology titled Ridley’s Rival, which had been nominated for a CAPA. For my very first submission, I was rather pleased with that recognition. But the cover? *shivers* (And not in a good way).

Dominique3As any author knows, the icing on the cake is their book cover. It’s the first thing people see. It’s what entices people to read their books. It’s my job to create that initial visual selling tool.

When I get a cover art request from one of the publishers I work with, or the many Indie authors I represent, all I have to work from is a paragraph sized description and/or a brief synopsis. Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s enough for me. I, unfortunately, have no time to read the books. If I did, I’d be setting up bathroom appointments, not to mention eating and sleeping at my desk. Because I’m an author too, I believe it gives me an extra edge in their creative designs. For the record, no draft cover is sent to an author unless, and until, I would be proud to have it as my own. There are some past covers I’ve done that I cringe at when I see them. In my earlier days, I would bow to an author’s wishes. What they wanted, I gave. I’m more stringent now. If it’s not going to look natural, I won’t do it. Changing “hair” is the most contentious idiosyncrasy of mine. If a male character’s hair is described as long, and I can’t find a picture with appropriate hair, I’ll somehow ensure that their hair isn’t showing or that the change can be completed and look real. I’ve seen so many covers out there with badly photo-shopped hair that it makes me cringe.

Dominique4No matter what the genre, after reading that paragraph, more times than not, a design will pop into my head. I think like an author, and a managing editor (another hat I wore for several years) so I have a clear concept of what sells and what doesn’t. Simplistic, streamlined, and artistically crafted covers work best in catching the eye of readers and holding their interest. A word of caution, however. What I put on the front MUST reflect what’s inside those pages (i.e. character descriptions, location, items of importance, etc.). There are some readers who will never read another author’s book if the cover doesn’t accurately reflect what’s inside those pages.

It’s those authors who hire me and tell me to “run with it” is when I have the most fun. Especially with horror cover art. I can’t watch the movies, but doing fiendish book covers is a passion of mine. Go figure. : )

TearsofSanFerath_finalCreating art from a mere paragraph is challenging, but I love what I do and every cover is a challenge to exemplify an author’s deepest desire to see their words depicted into art.

Now if only I could sell as many books as the covers I create.

To see some of my designs, please visit me at:

www.dusktildawnDesigns.com

www.dawnedominique.com

www.dthomasjerlo.com

Zombie Takeover *Guest Post by Author Tera Shanley* ~ includes giveaway!

Another big welcome to author Tera Shanley who has once again popped in to share some Zombilicious info with us as part of her month long Zombie Takeover to celebrate the release of Love at the End of Days. This week Tera tells us all about what the heroine Vanessa Summers keeps in her bag to keep the Deads at bay! Don’t forget to check out the super duper giveaway link at the end of the post where some fabulous prizes are up for grabs. Tina 🙂

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Vanessa’s Bug-Out Bag Essentials

Every good Dead hunter understands the importance of a well-equipped bug-out bag. One that stays packed and can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. A backpack that contains anything the survivor would need in a pinch. Through Love at the End of Days, Vanessa Summers is learning how to take her life back from her fear of Deads by going through rigorous guard training.  Here is a peek inside the bag that goes everywhere with her.

Extra throwing knives – Her weapon of choice is knives and she’s put in the time and practice to perfect her craft. It’s essential she not run out of blades while on the run, so if she’d running low, she has spares in her bag.

Canteen with iodine tablets – Water is important. Clean water is a must.

Tarp and rope – For a quick and easy shelter, tie the rope between two trees, drape the tarp over and anchor the edges with rocks.

Protein bars – Food is imperative for energy to escape the hordes. Protein is a must and these are easy to eat on the go.

First aid kit – for injuries less lethal than Dead bites.

Spark starter – for making fire.

Dry socks – need at least two extra pairs. If your feet go, you’re a Dead snack.

Fishing line and flies – these can be stored in a Tic-Tac case.

A tree harness – in case you are treed by Deads, you don’t want to fall asleep in a tree without some safety precautions.

Flashlight – it’s dark out there with no electricity. Step carefully.

Small ax – doubles as weapon and for cutting/chopping.

Compass – don’t get lost.

Laminated maps – following soggy, smudged maps is a dangerous game.

Small shovel

Bug spray

Soap/hand sanitizer

Multi tool – I use one of these all the time and it’s not even the zombie apocalypse.

Pistachio shells – provides a clean slow burning tinder for starting fires.

Pancho – stay dry, stay alive.

Leather palm gloves –protect those hands, survivors!

What about you? Do you have anything else you would add to Vanessa’s bug-out bag?

Giveaway

Click on the link and enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win 3 Ebooks: Crushed Seraphim by Debra Anastasia, Divinity by Patricia Leever, and Love In The Time of the Dead by Tera Shanley and some swag! Crushed Seraphim Pendent, temporary tattoo from Satan Jack, and signed bookmark.

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Zombie Takeover *Guest Post by Author Tera Shanley* ~ includes giveaway!

Zombie Baner

Today we extend a huge welcome to author Tera Shanley who, as part of her Zombielicious Takeover, is giving us valuable insider info on Vanessa Summers, the heroine of Tera’s upcoming Zombie themed romance, Love At The End of Days. A copy of the first book in this series Love in the Time of the Dead, an Amazon gift card and some super witches and angel themed prizes are up for grabs through the rafflecopter link. Tina and Caroline 🙂

Six Facts about Vanessa Summers

Release day is upon us for book two in the Dead Rapture series, Love at the End of Days, and to celebrate, I wanted to give you a closer look at the heroine of this book, Vanessa Summers. She’s a tough-talking, knife-wielding bad mamma jamma who is only afraid of Deads and getting her heart broken. And though she was introduced in book one, you’ll get to see her work through some of the grit that comes with being a zombie apocalypse survivor in this book.

Hard on the Outside, Soft on the Inside

Vanessa is mouthy and sarcastic, but once someone wiggles into her heart, they are there to stay and she will be a fierce and loyal friend.

Secret Crush

A year ago, the man she had a fling with left Dead Run River with her arch nemesis, and she’s taken all this time trying to get over him. He was the first man she allowed herself feelings for after the Dead outbreak, and when he blows back into her colony, she has to do some quick thinking to sever her heartstrings to the man who rejected her. But Sean Daniels, second-in-command at her colony, with his sexy eyes and undiluted attention make it a lot easier to move on.

Devoted Sister

She was responsible for getting her little brother, Nelson, out of the city alive when the Dead outbreak occurred. Weeks on the run with the constant fear for her brother’s safety made her afraid to allow anyone else into her heart. Her brother’s safety comes first, before anything else, and when he starts asserting his independence as he grows up, she has a hard time learning to let him go.

Not a Laney Fan

Laney Landry got the man she started having feelings for last year, everyone hails her as the reason for the possible vaccine that could save the human race, and even Vanessa’s brother, Nelson, has a huge crush on Laney. Vanessa is not amused, and when Laney comes back to Dead Run River, she must figure out how to deal with the emotional upheaval her return causes. But through the course of the book, and through their trials together, it is hard for Vanessa to continue disliking Laney.

Skilled with Knives

No one practices knife throwing as much as Vanessa. She’s dedicated, practicing her dead-eye aim at targets on a daily basis, and is determined that if she is ever in a scuffle with a Dead, she will be the victor by blade. Several knives accompany her at all times in the belt of her standard issue cargo pants.

Guard in Training

Vanessa had a bad experience with a Dead last year when she and her brother were caught unaware between colony gates. She was helpless, and frozen, just watching the monster come for she and her brother, and it broke something inside of her. She has grown an overwhelming fear of Deads. To rid herself of that reserve, she’s thrown herself headfirst into guard training, so she can get her stronger self back.

And oh, this girl gets tough and at the same time vulnerable in such a cool way. She was so fun to write!

 Goodreads link:

Giveaway

Click on the link to win$5 Amazon Gift Card, Book One in the Dead Rapture Series, and eBooks by Cherie Colyer, Lisa Sanchez, Carol Oates Kate Evangelista, Trish Wolfe.

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