Woman of the Hour by Jane Lythell

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What’s it about?

StoryWorld is the nation’s favourite morning show, and producer Liz Lyon wants to keep it that way. Her job is to turn real-life stories into thrilling TV – and keep a lid on the scandals and backbiting that happen off-stage.

But then simmering tensions erupt at the station, trapping Liz in a game of one-upmanship where she doesn’t know the rules. As the power struggle intensifies, can Liz keep her cool and keep her job? Does she even want to?

In this gripping novel of power, rivalry and betrayal, Jane Lythell draws on her experiences of working in the glamorous, pressurised world of live TV.

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Review

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Liz Lyon is the woman in Woman Of The Hour who showed me the other side of what we usually see on our tv screen. A job at a television station is something that seems galaxys away from your ordinary joe’s life, it speaks to the imagination, something one can only dream of and seems nothing but exciting, glitzy and glamerous but is it really all glam and shine? I believe that you’ll have a much more realistic image of the tv world after finishing this novel.

Liz is a woman trying to hold her own in a world dominated by men. Her job? To comfort, put out small fires, deliver bad news, stand up for her people against angry publicists and mitigate time and again between several characters with quite a bit of an ego.

She’s got a diverse cast of characters under wings, there are 8 of them: there’s tv presenter Fizzy, cook Ledley, agony-aunt Betty, researchers Simon and Molly, astrologer Gerry, runner Ziggy and an intern new-comer Harriet under her supervision. Their problems become her problem and believe me when I say that they all have their big and smaller problems that she’ll have to solve. While she’s juggling to placate and appease everyone, she too has her own personal problems. I really liked that insight I got into her as a mother and in another role than in the work place.

Personally, I thought the television world was much more of an individual scene, but if this is anything like the real thing then they are more tightly-knit than in a normal (male dominated) corporate environment like the one I’m working in so I was pleasantly surprised in that respect but it really isn’t a gift to Liz to have to choose her battles and be the middle woman every time again.

This novel held a lot of drama and intrigue, there’s plenty of lies and deceipt, affairs and blackmail going on behind the scenes of StoryWorld. This is not my usual kind of read perhaps but I still enjoyed watching their life and world from the sidelines and it was written in an easy and compelling fashion. After reading this, I’m not really all that jealous about her job anymore though :-).

Many thanks to the author, Jane Lythell, for sending me a free copy of her novel. All opinions are unbiased and my own.  

Author spotlight: The Bluebell Informant by Nick Tingley #Guestpost

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The Bluebell Informant

What’s it about?

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

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About the author

Nick Tingley

Nick R B Tingley is the author of several short stories and novels.

Born in Dartford in 1987, Nick discovered a passion for writing from an early age although a strong interest in history and archaeology led him to study at the University of Exeter for four years.

Praised for his masterful story telling, Nick won the Inkitt Fated Paradox Prize in 2015 with his short story, Dressed to Deceive, and has been working diligently on his debut novel ever since.

Under the name of Nicholas Tingley, Nick produced a short collection of war poems entitled Grey Skies and Broken Branches, which he released on the anniversary of the start of the Great War.

Known for his dark and probing insights into the human condition, Nick’s work often deals with corruption and falsehoods, peeling back the veil to reveal how everyone, no matter how pure, can be susceptible to their darker side…

Connect with Nick Tingley

 

 Want to know some more?

Why it all started out as a prequel

The Bluebell Informant follows the story of Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles who is launched into a nationwide conspiracy when a simple murder turns out to be part of a much deeper plot. With all the twists and turns, shocks and intricate plots, you might be forgiven for thinking this debut novel started out as a story in its own right.

But you’d be wrong.

In fact, The Bluebell Informant is the second DS Giles book I’ve written, but the first to be released in the series. What started out as a short novella that I wrote to gain a better understanding of my characters, very quickly grew into something much bigger, and ended becoming the launch pad for this exciting series.

So how did this come about?

Well, it all started with what will be my second Giles novel, The Court of Obsession. I’d written a book that I was very happy with – it had an intriguing murder and a gradually evolving plot – but it did suffer from one or two minor flaws.

In the first instance, I hated my main character – and I mean seriously hated. There is nothing more upsetting for an author than hating your own character, and this was one of those instances. It wasn’t that Giles was a particularly unlikeable character – she just wasn’t particularly real to me. Throughout The Court of Obsessions, I was making references to events that had happened to Giles before hand, but I didn’t really have a solid idea of how that back story had occurred.

In the second instance, there were aspects of Giles’ character that I couldn’t get my head around. Here I had a highly intelligent woman, a competent and highly decorated detective, who was completely distrusting of her colleagues and opted to go off on her own rather than rely on anyone else.

How did she get to this?

It wasn’t long before I decided that I needed those answers before I could carry on any further. So I began writing, The Bluebell Informant, on a nice warm day in May. I’d taken a walk along the river Eden and, as I marched through the fields and trees, an idea slowly formed in my head.

I was going to write a prequel novella – not for anyone else’s benefit – just so that I could better understand my character. I wasn’t even going to release it – it was going to be one of those mysterious works that I referred to every once in a while but never shared with anyone else…

There was only one problem. Well – two actually. My novella was actually quite good. I mean really good. The more I wrote for it, the more involved I got in the story. Pretty soon, my novella wasn’t a novella at all – it was a fully-fledged crime novel – a tantalising murder case complete with thoroughly likeable (and several completely unlikeable) characters who just seemed to leap off the page.

I began to realise that The Bluebell Informant wasn’t just a project to help me understand my character better. It was an essential first chapter for what was about to come. What started off as a prequel novella had developed into the most important part of what will become the DS Giles series…

… the beginning!

So, anybody agree with me, sounds interesting right? I see the beginning of an interesting series here! 

Book bliss nr. 8: four different ways I got new books in May!

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It’s been a long time since I did one of these but I’ve got plenty to share! Here’s what I received and will be reading soon:

Received from a publisher

The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon (published 18 May 2017)

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The Night Stalker by Clare Donoghue (published 10 August 2017)

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Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (published 15 May 2017)

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Bought on a local book fair 

Klikspaan / Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge

Waar is ze? / The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

Won in a giveaway organised by the author 

Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister (published 9 March 2017)

Everything but the truth

Received from a wonderful book blogger friend (thank you Nicki @ The Secret Library)!

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton (published 4 May 2017)

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So have you read any of these? Let me know if you’ve liked one of them – or didn’t 🙂

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

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What’s it about?

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When the notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

amazon uk amazon com

Review

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The Marsh King’s Daughter is actually an old fantasy story by Hans Christian Anderson and the author shares this old tale through several chapters in between the main story. Anderson’s story is about the child born from a Marsh King and an Egyptian princess, a girl who has two forms, frog by night and a beautiful girl by day. I won’t give away the rest though but you know how these stories go… you’ll see the similarities in the end and it’s so amazing that she used this fairy tale in her own story.

The Marsh King’s Daughter tells the story not by the girl abducted but, quite uniquely, through the voice of their offspring, a girl – now woman – called Helena who has a husband and two children herself in the present day.

This was an utterly fascinating story told in alternating timelines through Helena’s life in the present day, where she deals with her father’s escape from prison, and her first twelve years living with her mother and father in a cabin on a ridge in the wilderness. They lived in a self-proficient way and they were very resourceful which was displayed in many many ways. There was no electricity and maybe this was the thing she missed most of all when looking back. She still remembers the highlight of her fifth birthday when her mother made her a real birthday cake, made using a duck egg and bear grease. She got a doll from her mother as a present too which she shackled and used for target practice later, and from her father she received her first knife. Her father learned her to hunt, snare and trap, he learned her to swim and he gave her first tattoos. When she talks about her father I felt she genuinely loved him and looked up to him, he was her hero and she was a real daddy’s girl, and I wondered how she could be responsible then for him being in prison. In the present day though she knows the police won’t be able to catch him and she sets out to find him and lock him up again. She once was his ‘Little Shadow’ but she’s determined to outwit him at his own game again, she has learned from the best after all.

Sparsely scattered through her accounts at first but more and more so later on, situations and reactions from her father in the past were mentioned that made me frown upon and where I once even felt some kind of sympathy and perhaps even thought their life as a family wasn’t all that bad, it became crystal clear that I couldn’t be more wrong. The author made me take an enormous u-turn in my understanding of this fellow. It was a struggle though for both of us to face the reality and for her in the end, to see that he wasn’t all that she thought he was. It was a perfect love-hate relationship and the suspense in this novel is mostly brought on by the questioning if she has what it takes to stop her father. Does she really take after her father in the end?

The world building in The Marsh King’s Daughter was incredibly detailed and atmospheric, it must have taken lots of research and it was amazing to be immersed in this rugged landscape and very basic life. Her love for her three-legged dog pulled on my heart-strings plenty of times. The only scene I didn’t read entirely was the one where she and her father go deer hunting. I know it was a scene that was in line with the story but it was too difficult for me to read about this. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed the rest of the story though. In the beginning there’s a lot to learn about her past but towards the end, when we finally learn why and how they left the ridge, it was followed by such a high rise in tension and it didn’t let up anymore.

This was an outstanding read, one I can highly recommend!

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

BFF : Reading Between the Pages

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Today on the blog I want to introduce you to my new Blog Friend Tina, who blogs at Reading Between the Pages. Tina is the biggest Judy Blum fan I’ve come across so far :-). She likes to read a good dose of mystery and thrillers, a cup of historical fiction and a light sprinkling of other genres in between. The last books she read make me very jealous 😉 as she read The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea, The Dry by Jane Harper and Bring Her Home by David Bell. She started her blog in February so if you haven’t done so yet, go on over and take a look at her wonderful blog. Now, to get to know her better, you’d better stay here and read this next part :-).

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Name: Tina Woodbury

Age: 40’s 😊

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Birthday: February 18th

What did you study or do you study now / what is your current job?

I’m a retired stay-at-home mom. My oldest graduated from college last June and is now working in the San Francisco area, and my youngest will be a senior in college next year.

When the kids were younger I was super involved with their school (book fair, cookie sales, treasurer of the booster club, room mom, and so on). I guess I was at the school too often so they finally decided to employ me as the librarian for a couple of years.

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Do you have any other hobbies?

I love all kinds of arts and crafts, and make memory quilts. Oh, and traveling, if you can count that as a hobby.

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I made this quilt for my son when he graduated from high school. The fabric is his old sports uniforms.

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I made this quilt for my daughter when she graduated from high school. The fabric is her old dance and sports uniforms.

Your favourite color?  Pink

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Do you collect anything (besides books)?

Sweaters! Well that’s actually more of an obsession, not so much of a collection. I have over 50 sweaters at the moment and have been purging a few a year, much to my daughter’s delight. At one point, I had over 75, what can I say…I like to be warm.

Here’s just a sample of them…

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What’s the name of the book that you’ve had the longest? Have you read it?

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy by Johnny Gruelle. I’ve had Raggedy Ann since I was a child and yes I read it. It even came with a 45 rpm record that I listened to over and over. Raggedy Andy was my brother’s book and when my parents moved I found it. My brother didn’t want the book and I thought the two deserved to be together.

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Have you ever regretted a book you purchased? A book that sounded so promising but you wished you’d have spent your money on another book after reading it?

None that I can think of.

Do you listen to audio books?

Not very often. I’ve tried, but I’m always thinking and find my mind wandering. I do much better having to focus on the written word.

Do you have a favorite genre?

I gravitate towards mystery/thrillers and historical fiction, but I do like to throw a few other genres in from time to time.Blank bookcover with clipping path

What is the book highest on your wish list right now?

That’s a tough one…I’d have to say Final Girls by Riley Sager.

 

How is your library organized?

For the most part, anything in a series is in my “treasure chest” of books and the standalones are on my bookshelf.

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My treasure chest!

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Hers on the left and his on the right.

Do you read more ebooks or physical books?

I have a tendency to read more eBooks, but still love the feel of a physical book. Every time I read one I realise how much I miss it.

Do you have a favorite book?

My Judy Blume books are my favorites, they bring back fond memories.

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What’s the cover in your collection that you’re most proud of?

This is going to be an odd answer, but it’s the cover of one of my husband’s math books. Years ago, he had a preliminary edition of his Algebra book in paperback form and the publishing company needed a cover idea. They went with a quilt wall hanging that I made for him to put in his office. The design of it proves the Pythagorean theorem.

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Do you have any idea how many books you own? <100, >100, >200, >300 …?

I have about 75 books.

What’s the title of the last book you purchased?

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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What was your favorite author when you were a child?

Judy Blume – I picked up one of her books and that was it, I was hooked. I eventually bought and read most of her middle and young adult books.

From which author do you have most books?

It’s a tie! I have 11 from David Baldacci and Victoria Thompson.

Are there books you’ve read 2 or 3 times?

Not as an adult, one and done! There are so many books out there, I just don’t have the desire to go back and re-read one I’ve read.

How many books are there on your Goodreads challenge this year and how many have you read already?

60 and I’ve read 27.

Can you spell your name with the first letters of titles in your book case?

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This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
As Night Falls by Milchman

Thank you so much Tina for participating today, it was very nice getting to know you better!

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In case you missed it, these are the BFF’s (Blog Friends Forever) I posted about before :

Martina – The Mystery Corner
Liis – Cover to Cover
Anne – Inked Brownies
Danielle – Books, Vertigo and Tea
Drew – TheTattooedBookGeek
Jillian – Rant and Rave About Books
Meg – Magic of Books
Betty – Bookish Regards
Anais – Zeezee with Books
Nicki – Secret Library
Donna – Chocolatenwaffles’ Blog
Chitra – Books & Strips
Annie – The Misstery
Dee – Novel Deelights
Stephanie – Teacher of YA

I don’t want my BFF club to be complete just yet! There’s still plenty of room for more friends so unless you want this to be my last BFF post, please consider signing up! Thank you!

 

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

I was nominated by two amazing people for the One Lovely Blog Award, Shameeka and Adrienne. Thank you both for tagging me!

If you haven’t seen her colourful blog Shameeka’s Fictional World yet, go check it out! I wish I could do all the things she can do which make her blog look like this, it’s a feast for your eyes. Also check out Arizona girl Adrienne’s blog Darque Dreamer Reads. She’s a very interesting person if you read her facts in her last blog post and she loves YA fantasy books!

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them
  • Share 7-15 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 9-15 bloggers you admire and contact them

Facts

  1. One person at work always called me Blue Eyes. He’s left the office but I really liked that nickname.
  2. To build further on the previous one: I have pale blue/grey eyes but I wear contacts with the colour blue sapphire, which is a very bright blue and people always ask me if it’s my natural eye colour.
  3. I’m scared of spiders and even pictures of spiders and I hate it when there are surprise pictures on Facebook, they almost give me a heart attack when they catch my eye in the feed.
  4. Talking about Facebook, I can’t read any sad stories about animals anymore, it just breaks my heart if they’re mistreated and neglegted because it makes my heart ache for what they had to endure and for all those who are not rescued.
  5. I used to go to the animal shelter to walk with dogs and I had to stop doing that because every single time I was too emotional afterwards. I wish I could have taken them all in.
  6. I’ve been wearing the same watch now that I was wearing 20 years ago and which was a gift for my birthday. I just don’t need another.
  7. I watched The Voice Kids last week even though I told myself it was a stupid show ‘with kids’. I was impressed with quite a few of these kids after all.
  8. I don’t have any shorts in my closet.
  9. I still like watching disney movies.
  10. My preferred sports to play: darts

Nominates

Feel free to ignore if you don’t want to do this one and apologies if I nominated you and you already did this tag!

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

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What’s it about?

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

amazon uk amazon com

Review

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I’ve eagerly anticipated the next installment in the Erika Foster series – the 4th novel already if you can believe it – and the author’s outdone himself with this one! It really is very strong competition for my favorite one which was, to this day, The Girl In The Ice, his first novel and the one that immediately turned me into one of Erika’s biggest fans. Only now I’m just not all that sure anymore, this one’s got so much going for it and could very well take first place!

Social media is a dangerous place, anybody can pose as another person and this plotline is effectively and thoroughly proving this point. It’s a very actual theme with people being more and more online and on social media platforms so it was an amazing idea to make this a plotline and Mr. Bryndza spins it in such a harrowing way that it really made my blood run cold when thinking of the possibility of this really happening. It’s easier to acquire info on someone than you think apparently. I’m certainly making sure I’m protecting my profile and identity to those I don’t know after finishing this novel!

I felt there was a lot of change in this novel for Erika, both on a personal level and professionally, and I’m pretty sure this adds to the recipe of success that’s making this one another exceptionally good read. Erika’s still the same person as before of course, efficiently bulldozing her way into an investigation that isn’t hers but she’s more the likeable Erika from the first novel again, having shaken off a bit of that previous harshness. Everything is shaping up for her in this novel and I think she’s starting to really feel better with where she is in life. I am pretty sure it’s against police procedure to make certain promises to the parents of victims, but there’s not a single hair on her head that isn’t convinced she won’t succeed in catching this killer. Of course I knew she would succeed but how was unclear and made me scratch my head more than once.

At the beginning I had some doubts about the killer’s identity, it could be either of two characters brought to my attention, but soon enough the killer’s POV took away any doubt. The police are doing great work but the killer stays out of their scope and reach. He’s like a ghost on the internet and he avoids all CCTV cameras so how are they going to find him? Your guess was as good as mine, all I could hope for was that he would slip up and Erika would see this mistake and pound on him.

And then there’s a tension that’s creeping in when you see that someone in his vicinity is developing an infatuation for this person. I wanted to warn her, to shoo her away from him but the heart doesn’t always see what it must. She’s getting in some very dangerous territory there. It was like I was watching a trainwreck waiting to happen. It didn’t help exactly that I could hear what he was thinking, it was very frightening :-).

Last Breath was full of suspense and drama with very well-developed characters, an enjoyable revisiting of my favorite characters and an outstanding plotline with an ending that would definitely have showed a spike in my heartrate if it were measured. Catching a killer is definitely not without danger!

You can read this as a standalone but I recommend starting with the first novel for the introductions to these people, they’ll grow on you even more. Needless to say I think but I look forward to number 5!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.