**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!



‘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


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.



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



*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.


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.

Exclusive short story: Cinderella Boy (A Tom Mariner festive short story) by Chris Collett

Tina and myself are absolutely over the moon to be able to share with you, Chris Collett’s short festive story, following DI Tom Mariner. Chris Collett is a local author from the Midlands, UK, and you may remember our post of her crime thriller/police procedural series of Detective Inspector, Tom Mariner, and that her series is also based in the area.

Chris Collett 7 Dead of NightHere is a link to our post, which includes an author post and bio, an excerpt of her latest novel, Dead of Night (DI Tom Mariner series #7), as well as the blurbs and covers for each book of the series:-

Chris Collett promo post of the DI Tom Mariner series

We hope that you enjoy this heartfelt festive short, Cinderella Boy, just as much as we did. And, we would like to thank Chris Collett for this fantastic opportunity!


Caroline & Tina 🙂

CINDERELLA BOY by Chris Collett

It’s done in seconds and the sleight of hand makes DI Tom Mariner cough with surprise. The boy looks up and as his gaze meets Mariner’s, the brown eyes, unnaturally large for his face, widen for a second, before he swivels and bolts for the door.

Mariner had been watching the kid over the supermarket shelves for several minutes. On his way into work he’d felt a sudden craving for chewing gum, so had gone into a local convenience store, which at this time of the morning was busy with a steady influx of customers. It was cold for November, with grey skies shedding the odd flurry of snow. The boy caught Mariner’s attention in the first instance because of his size. No more than about six or seven he seemed young to be out on his own. He was also woefully underdressed for the time of year; jogging bottoms, the knees shiny with wear, oversized black trainers and a thin short-sleeved football shirt.

But perhaps the boy has dressed for a purpose. Standing in front of the dry goods shelves, he picks up a can of baked beans. Clutching it to his chest he holds out his other hand and frowns at the assorted coins there. Satisfied, he pockets the money before casually moving towards the end of the aisle and a display stand of cheap, blister-packed toys. He stares at one of the dangling packs for a good couple of minutes, occasionally reaching out to lift it with a fingertip and watch it swing back. He gets out the coins and checks them again. Then with a furtive glance to either side, he unhooks the pack, and tucking the can of beans under his arm, lifts his shirt to stuff the toy into the waistband of his trousers, dropping the shirt to conceal it. That’s when his eyes meet Mariner’s and, as the beans clatter to the floor, he turns and scarpers. Mariner keeps pace with him along the parallel aisle, but loses valuable seconds as he’s blocked by an elderly woman pushing a wheeled trolley. Rounding the end shelves he sees the door of the shop swing open and a blur of red as the boy pushes out past an incoming customer.

Grab him-!’ Mariner yells, but too late. The boy is already out and disappearing across the street. There follows a horrible squeal of brakes and the blare of a car horn. Bursting onto the pavement Mariner sees a people carrier, stationary, the female driver white-faced, knuckles gripping the steering wheel. Fearfully, his eyes drop to the road, but somehow the boy has escaped and is making off along the opposite pavement. ‘Stupid kid,’ Mariner breathes, half with relief. 

Skirting around the car he gives chase, the icy air searing into his throat, but the boy is fast and has opened up a gap. Ten metres away, Mariner sees him stumble and hop a couple of steps. There’s a flash of bare foot before the lad darts into a tunnel cutting between the terraced houses. Turning into the passage and palming the wall for traction, Mariner feels the ripping of cloth as his jacket sleeve snags on an exposed nail. Ignoring it he keeps moving, but when he emerges at the other end, breathless, into the alley that runs along the back of the houses, the boy is gone and all that’s left is the discarded blister-pack containing a ninja turtle mask and black, plastic rectangle moulded to look like a cell-phone. Mariner strains his ears for footsteps or the slamming of a door, but when all that echoes back at him is silence, he bends down to retrieve the toy and retraces his steps to the street. At the entrance to the passageway he comes across the black oversized trainer lying on the ground and picks that up too. A cheap brand, it’s scuffed and worn to holes in places. A teenage mutant turtle logo grins up at him from the side panel. The laces, brown and frayed, are much too short for the lace holes and obviously recycled from elsewhere. It’s why the shoe had slipped off.

Mariner goes back to the shop to return the toy. ‘Sorry, he was too quick for me,’ he tells the young Asian man serving behind the counter.

The man shrugs. ‘Don’t worry about it. Probably not the first time, or the last. Little bugger.’

Not really knowing why, Mariner takes the shoe with him when he climbs the stairs to his office at Granville Lane. He lays it ceremonially on top of the filing cabinet, and is still dwelling on the incident when his sergeant, Vicky Jesson arrives. They’re a man down while DS Charlie Glover is off on some kind of pre-Christmas religious pilgrimage, and there’s a lot to get through.

‘What happened to you?’ Jesson asks, immediately noticing Mariner’s torn jacket sleeve. ‘Bit early in the day for fisticuffs, isn’t it?’

He tells her what happened.

‘Cheeky little sod,’ she says. 

‘I don’t know,’ says Mariner.

Jesson waits expectantly.

‘Well, what kid that age is out at eight o’clock in the morning buying baked beans?’ Mariner continues. ‘He should have been at home having his breakfast or on his way to school with his mum.’

‘You’re feeling sorry for him? I thought you said he was pilfering stuff.’

‘Only because he didn’t have the money. You should have seen the state of him. When he lifted up his shirt I could have counted his ribs; played a tune on them. It’s been snowing for Christ sake, and he’s wearing a football shirt; no socks. When he ran away his shoes were so big for him, one fell off.’ He indicates the trainer.

Jesson frowns. ‘Some kids are just skinny,’ she says. ‘And don’t feel the cold.’

‘He was more than skinny,’ says Mariner. He looks up at Jesson, the ice-chip eyes bluer than ever. ‘There was bruising.’


‘On his torso; where no one would see it.’

Jesson is staring at him, trying to figure it out. ‘Why has this got to you?’

‘It’s happened before.’


‘Years ago, back when I was in uniform. I’d forgotten all about it till now. One weekend I was patrolling the high street. There were a handful of market stalls strung out. I saw the same thing – a scruffy kid pinched a pasty. I didn’t do anything about it that time. He looked like he needed it, so I just let him go. A couple of weeks later I saw him again, his face splashed all over the papers. Samuel Wright.’

Jesson frowns. ‘I know that name.’

‘He was beaten to death by his step father. Everyone told me I was mistaken. It couldn’t have been him; my mind playing tricks. But I know what I saw. This kid today; when our eyes met he was terrified.’

He’d been caught red handed,’ Vicky reminds him.

But he didn’t know I’m a copper. It was fear of an adult male. And he was going home empty handed.’

​’So what do you propose to do?’ asks Jesson, reasonably. ‘Knock on every house in the area to see who the trainer fits?’ She’s right; it is hopeless. Vicky Jesson, forty-something mum of three, has always had a slight crush on her boss. He’s not bad looking and she likes that, but mostly it’s because of the way he responds to situations like this.

On his way to work the following morning Mariner can’t resist going back to the supermarket, even though he knows it will be futile. Over the next few days he develops a serious chewing gum habit, but he doesn’t see the boy. At the weekend he takes one of his customary early morning walks; it just happens to be in that area.

‘You want to watch yourself,’ Jesson warns him on Monday when he tells her. ‘Hanging around the streets looking for small boys could get you arrested.’

Mariner phones the PPU. ‘Anyone on your radar?’ he asks. But the description he gives them doesn’t match anyone they know, which just makes him feel worse.

Christmas approaches. The toy shop where he goes to buy a Christmas present for DC Millie Khatoon’s baby is loud and chaotic, and at the checkout he stands in a queue behind parents and their demanding kids, who, judging from the stacks of boxes and packages, will have all their wishes, and more, fulfilled. He thinks of the boy, and knows that he won’t. Helping Suzy to put up her Christmas tree the boy seems to watch over him from the corner of the room, reminding him that not every child gets the cosy Christmas of the TV ads. Sometimes Mariner’s job is too much information. He carries the numbers in his head; fifty-five children a year die at the hands of their carers through abuse or neglect. Samuel Wright begins to creep back into his dreams.

Two weeks before Christmas Charlie Glover returns from leave. Coming into Mariner’s office his first morning back, his eyes are level with the top of the filing cabinet where the trainer still sits. ‘Where did you get that?’ Glover asks.

‘Don’t worry,’ Mariner reassures him. ‘I’m not planning to wear it; not my size.’

‘It’s not that,’ says Charlie. ‘I’ve seen it before; the laces-’

‘Where?’ He wants to grab Charlie by the lapels.

‘Our church runs a food bank. Back in the summer Helen and I helped out a few weekends when they were short of volunteers. We’d set up a couple of jumble sale stalls too, clothes and stuff. There was a pair of trainers exactly like them, in a similar condition. Some little lad kept pestering his dad for them. We were only asking a couple of quid, but the bloke wasn’t interested. He started to lose it, though he calmed down when he saw me watching. Helen intervened, said they could have the shoes. The kid had bruises, but the dad said he’d fallen off his bike.’

The lump of stone grows in Mariner’s stomach. ‘Did you believe him?’

‘Honestly? He didn’t look the sort of kid to even own a bike.’ Charlie shrugs. ‘But what could we do? There was nothing physical, just his dad’s tone of voice and the boy’s demeanour. You know.’

Mariner does. Charlie’s an experienced copper too. You developed a feel for these things. ‘Did you get a name, an address for the family?’

‘It’s not the way it works,’ says Charlie. ‘They have the vouchers, they take the food. It’s humiliating enough for most of them that they have to do it in the first place.’

But the next morning Charlie comes back to Mariner’s office. ‘I talked to Helen last night about that kid. She remembered him. She reckons he was wearing one of those school polo shirts. It was grubby and didn’t fit him properly, but she’s pretty sure it was for St Martin’s.’

Mariner sees a glimmer of light. He has a contact at St Martin’s; a teacher he came across during a case earlier in the year. He phones and asks to speak to Sam McBride.

Don’t know if you’d remember me-?’ he begins.

Of course I do,’ said Sam. And by lunchtime, having run the gauntlet of two hundred kids careering around the playground, Mariner is standing in the school foyer clutching the trainer. Sam takes it along the staff room, returning a few minutes later. ‘Sorry.’ Her disappointment is tangible. ‘No one recognises it. The kids are meant to wear plain black school shoes. Occasionally they don’t, but no one remembers seeing this before. I could take it and-.’

But while she’s talking, Mariner is distracted by the hordes of young children running around the compound outside. A face he’s seen before flashes across his line of vision, almost unrecognisable; grinning in delight as he runs with a gang of other boys. ‘That’s him!’ Mariner practically shouts. But he’s vanished into the crowd again and doubts kick in. Seething with frustration, Mariner stands beside Sam, straining his eyes to pick out that familiar face and hoping he wasn’t mistaken. But no: ‘There he is, there he is; brown hair; shirt hanging out!’ He tracks the child with his finger.

Milo,’ Sam says, eventually. She seems surprised. ‘Milo’s fine.’

He’s not at risk?’ That anxiety won’t let him go.

Not in the way that you think,’ says Sam. ‘He’s a much-loved little boy.’

But the bruises.’

Sam shakes her head. ‘Milo’s always got bruises; invariably acquired on this playground. He’s on intimate terms with our accident book,’ she says. ‘Mostly because he thinks he really is a ninja turtle. Sorry, I should have made that connection.’ She sees that he’s unconvinced. ‘Children in Need day he came in dressed as Leonardo; his hero. There’s a picture here, I’m sure.’ Sam walks Mariner over to a display board of colour photos and they scan them. After a moment he spots Milo standing in the middle of a group of kids. The others, without exception, are wearing perfect, commercially produced, replica outfits; Snow White, Spiderman, Robin Hood. Milo’s costume is improvised; a scarf tied round his forehead for a bandana, what looks like a woman’s shawl held with some sort of brooch for his cloak. ‘Shortly after that was taken, he hurled himself off the climbing frame and treated his TA to yet another unscheduled trip to A&E,’ says Sam.

‘So what’s his story?’ Mariner asks.

‘Milo’s mum’s got rheumatoid arthritis,’ says Sam. ‘It’s just the two of them and on the days when it’s bad she’s very disabled, so Milo is essentially her carer.’

Jesus; at his age?’ But even as he speaks, he knows he’s being naïve.

He’s got people looking out for him,’ Sam says. ‘You know how it is with these things though.., My guess is that when your friend at the church saw him, Milo was giving his harassed social worker a hard time. He has a tough life and sometimes it shows.’

‘It explains why he was out buying beans at eight in the morning. How will they get on at Christmas?’

‘Like I said, they have some help,’ Sam tells him. ‘Mary, our family support worker is brilliant. She’ll make sure that Milo gets presents, though given the budget cuts it won’t be much this year. Anyway,’ says Sam. ‘You can see that our Milo is very much alive and kicking.’

‘Yes.’ It was a relief. ‘Will you give him that?’ Mariner gestures towards the trainer.

‘Of course.’

After leaving the school Mariner takes the afternoon off. Bracing himself he braves the toyshop once again. A couple of days later he stops off at the school and seeks out Mary.

Christmas is far from peace on earth for Tom Mariner. In the early hours of 25th December he is called to a fatal stabbing outside a city pub; business as usual. Ten days later and into the New Year he is still in the throes of the investigation when an envelope lands on his desk. He opens it. Inside is a child’s drawing, a stick figure leaping through the air, with eyes peering out from a bandana, bright red cloak billowing out behind him. The caption underneath in bold, crooked letters reads: Milo Beckett my best presnt ever. It’s the first child’s picture Mariner has ever received. He tacks it to the wall above his filing cabinet, where the trainer had sat. He reads the accompanying note: To Tom, from one crime fighter to another. Thank you. Sam x

For more info on Chris Collett, here are her author links:-

Website: www.chriscollettcrime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrimeCrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Collett/585943991417531

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=128351834&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

And, please take a peek at our promo post, with lots of info on her DI Tom Mariner series:- PROMO POST

Chris Collett 1 Worm in the BudChris Collett 2 Blood of the InnocentsChris Collett 3 Written in BloodChris Collett 4 Blood of MoneyChris Collett 5 Stalked by ShadowsChris Collett 6 Blood and StoneChris Collett 7 Dead of Night

Chris Collett 7 Dead of Night

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:




Easter Hol treat – A short intro to a paranormal written by my daughter

Hi guys, I hope that you all had a fab Easter weekend! We still have heaps of chocolate to get through, and so I am happy that my kids are off school until next Monday to enjoy some family days, and of course work their way through the choc!

My oldest, Katie (9 yrs old), has been surprising me as always and I was delighted to read the beginning of a paranormal story she has started drafting over the hols. I’m hoping my reviewing can coincide with her influences from Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Twilight, Ways to See a Ghost and The Wolfstone Curse!! I thought I’d share the beginnings of her story with you 🙂

“The War of Wolves and Vampires by Katie Russell (9)


Kt's storyIt was 1996 and in a dark forbidden forest no-one goes exist creatures, dark creatures. Some say they’re real, some say they weren’t. But there it is, a wolf with a limping leg. It turned into a human, then walked off with a limp. He was a teenage boy, looked like a year 8 boy (age 13). He went into a cave and there was a person with fangs who started attacking the teenage boy…….

A week later

The police found the boys body and all there was on his body was a bite mark. They drove him to the hospital. It was night and where the boy lay was nothing but blood on the pillow and then it disappeared like the pillow sucked it in.

Chapter One

Two years later

Kt's story 2Emily watched the birds tweeting as if to say ‘Good morning’. Then she got up for her first day at school in Year 8. She had had a wonderful summer, staying with her Auntie Rose and cousin, Jim. Jim was mysterious and quiet and two years older than Emily. On Monday she walked to school with Jim and when she got to school she sat down at her desk, at the back of the room in a corner. She noticed the boy from the woods was there, but she thought it couldn’t be possible. But, it must be possible as she could see the bite mark on his neck.

“Hello, I’m Tom.”

Emily listened but wanted to ignore him because he was very interested in her. In science they had to do a project and Emily had to be partners with Tom. Tom was happy about it but Emily felt a bit nervous. Then, when everyone went home she was still waiting for Jim. But he had gone so she walked home on her own. But when she got back her aunt was crying. There was no sight of Jim, or no sound but her aunt crying.

She was worried about Jim because her dad told her about what happened in the forest. He knew as he worked for the police. When she sat down her aunt said, “Jim has gone! How did you get home?” “I walked”, as she wondered about Jim.

I absolutely love the creative, imaginative side to Katie. She certainly takes note of interesting stories and explores her own. I loved reading this, and knowing she’d used her own initiative to start writing a story. In this short piece we are introduced to some interesting characters, a violent attack and a whole lot of mystery and suspense. I hope you enjoyed this little treat as much as I did! 🙂

Caroline Barker, a very proud Mummy xx

Guest Blogger – Sabrina, ‘The Urban Book Thief’ – Deconstructing the Alpha Hero

shutterstock_118713643-001Today we are thrilled to welcome Sabrina, aka ‘The Urban Book Thief,’ to our blog to give us an insight into the alpha heroes we love. In doing so she also shares some awesome book recommendations. Sabrina’s blog is bursting with fun and fantastic news and reviews of kick ass romance, urban fantasy and paranormal books. If this sounds like your thing (and it’s definitely mine), check it out, you won’t be disappointed! Over to you Sabrina and many many thanks! Tina 🙂

Deconstructing the Alpha Hero

Heroes. Male protagonists. The Alpha. The hottie with a body. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em – there’s just no avoiding them. For me, I just can’t seem to get enough. Unfortunately, this sentiment isn’t shared quite so much by my hubbie, who has to live in a house with hundreds of books featuring half-naked men on their covers. Meh.

So I was going about my day last week when I ran into a rather awesome website called All About Romance. The content is stupendous; please do check them out if you have the time. The authors have one or two very insightful things to say about romance heroes, and I read an interesting post about how they tried to determine how many different types of ‘Alpha’ hero there are out there in big bad world of fiction. According to them there are eight heroic archetypes. It’s totally legit. They even had focus groups where they ogled different men and everything.

I was so extra-ordinar-ily fascinated with this idea that I created my own (rather less insightful) response.

1. The Chief

This is the guy you want to stick around when the world is about to blow. He is uber powerful, doesn’t take no for an answer and can kill a man by just jauntily raising his eyebrow in mock humour (just kidding – actually no… I think some of these heroes actually could).

Think Roarke from Nora Robert’s In Death series, Hawke from Kiss of Snow or Jericho Barrons from the Fever series.

“I’m not the hero, Mac. Never have been. Never will be. Let us be perfectly clear: I’m not the antihero, either, so quit waiting to discover my hidden potential. There’s nothing to redeem me.” (Shadowfever by K.M Moning)

Chiefs will never admit to being the hero. They are THAT inflexible. Though it is probably because they had to leave a lot of casualties behind on their way to the top…

2. The Bad Boy

This is the guy you don’t want your parents to meet: he’s the one with the leather jacket, a confident swagger (like Jagger yo) and a past he wants to bury. Tut-tut. He’ll usually say the wrong thing and will likely flick the Chief the bird when asked to do something. Even when it’s polite.

Think Tack from Kristen Ashley’s Motorcycle Man, Wraith from the Demonica series or Gabriel from the Dark Magic series.

“His voice was low and rough … “What about you? Do you like bad boys?” “There’s definitely appeal,” she breathed. “Good,” He bent and clipped her earlobe with his teeth … “Because they don’t come badder than me.” (Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione).

Ooooh! Count me in for a side serving of rebel with lashings of extra sarcasm. The bad boy is good for making with the funny and delivering the ultimate wise-crack put downs. Slam!

3. The Best Friend

This guy is known by many different names – my cuddly snookums, the one guy everyone gets along with, the sweetheart or the hero who declares his love within the space of almost three chapters. He remembers your birthday and will surprise you with flowers when it isn’t even Valentine’s Day. He’ll rock your little socks off.

Think Drew Kinkaid in Nalini Singh’s Play of Passion, Packard from the Disillusionists series or Jack from the Travis Family series by Lisa Kleypas.

“I respect you,” he murmured. “And your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God.” (Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas).

In paranormal romance, this type of hero is usually referred to as a Beta – and you know what ladies? Beta’s tend to be practical, they’ll pick their clothes off the floor without any prompting and will even cook dinner for you if you ask nicely… I’m sold. Where can I find one? My house needs cleaning…

4. The Charmer

This guy will sweep you off your feet with sweet, sweet words and a devilish smile. He’s fun, he’s sm-oo-th and usually has the gift of the gab which almost always get him into – and also out of – trouble. Think Bones from the Night Huntress series, Reseph from Rogue Rider or Gwenvael the Handsome from the Dragon Kin series.

“Wrong way, Bones. The men’s showers are in the opposite direction.” “I’ll file that away with all the other information that doesn’t pertain to me” was Bones’ mocking reply. (One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost)

He’s a playboy with a heart of gold… well, most of the time anyway. A word of warning, he’s not always the responsible type so don’t pen his name down for babysitting duty – not until he has been trained.

5. The Lost Soul

This guy is the one you want to take home and put your arms around cause life has just pure sucked for him in the past. Big brooders the lot of ‘em. Think Demetrius from the Night Prowler Series, Kere from Born of Silence or Dageus from Dark Highlander.

Also like honor and courage and love, sometimes the truth can be lost, and you have to find your way back to it, crawling over fields of broken glass and dead bodies, your knees and hands bloody and raw, until you get to it and it’s even sweeter than before because of what you suffered on the way. (Rapture’s Edge by J.T. Geissinger).

The Lost Soul is usually no stranger to torture, suffering or pain. In fact, if he wasn’t so god damn sexy we would probably have to put him out of his misery. Poor thing. Nice abs though.

6. The Professor

No, he hasn’t always got his nose in a book – but this guy does have book smarts, and lots of them too. This is a hero who is logical, practical and one to stick to the facts. Plus, I reckon he would definitely be able to complete The Times crossword puzzle. In an hour.

Think Ian from the Highland Pleasures series, Gabriel from Gabriel’s Inferno or Lock from the Pride Series.

When she knew she had her voice back, she asked, “So I’m your girlfriend now?”

“Yup. We’re going to attempt what’s known in the nonintellectual world as a rel-a-tionship.” He sounded the word out and Gwen struggled not to laugh. (The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston).

Cool as a cucumber and smart as a badger (badgers are dead smart. This I know because I’ve never actually seen one. In fact, I do not know anyone who has seen a real life badger. So unless they have all mystically met their maker, I have deduced that they are cunningly clever ninja spies). This guy can also count without having to use his fingers too. This will definitely help when he goes grocery shopping. Definitely.

7. The Swashbuckler

Step back Indiana, these guys have it covered. Fearlessly brilliant, this is a group of gainly gentlemen know how to dodge a deadly viper while simultaneously bouncing on a space hopper and eating a Big Mac. The Swashbuckler is not afraid to get dirty. In fact – he loves it. Oooh soldier!

Think Strider from Lords of the Underworld, Archimedes Fox from the Steampunk series Iron Seas or Garreth MacRieve from the Immortals after Dark series.

“At fifty times the distance, you dispatched that ko-bold with three arrows to the neck. I’ve earned a trio to the chest. Seems you slapped him while you’re tickling me. You doona want to kill me, which is a good sign. Maybe this is your way of flirting?” (Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole).

These thrills – they be multiplying. And boy do these guys love their thrills. Though just check yourself before you wreck yourself because this man likes to invite chaos and havoc along his merry way.

8. The Warrior

This is the guy you want with you when battling the demons lurking under your bed. These heroes are men’s men. Intensely masculine, hard as nails and potential knights in shining armour – although they may grumble about it and say things like ‘it was my duty’ or ‘I protect all my peoples, even lovely wenches such as yourself’.

Think Curran from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Rain from the Tairen Soul series or Sin from the Dark-Hunter series.

“I turned to leave and paused before the gap in the ruined wall. “One last thing, Your Majesty. I’d like a name I can put into my report, something shorter than typing out ‘The Leader of the Southern Shapechanger Faction.’ What should I call you?” “Lord.” I rolled my eyes. He shrugged. “It’s short.” (Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews).

When the warrior comes out to play it’s time for the bad guys to git cause this guy leaves no stone unturned – so be sure to leave plenty lying around in your back garden in case he comes over for a cup of tea.

Thank you for visiting us from ‘Down Under’ Sabrina. I love all of the alpha archetypes identified, although I’ve currently got a major thing for The Warrior – hence the post image, which I could not resist! I  also admit to adoring Barrons (The Chief), Bones (The Charmer) and  Wraith (The Bad Boy), from the alpha heroes that you identified. I think that all of our readers will have their favourites. Once again thank you for sharing your insights with us. Tina 🙂

The Urban Book Thief blog

All About Romance

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