In the Spotlight: Author AJ Waines

We’re hot on the trail of great reads this week, and today is launch day for a new psychological thriller from AJ Waines. I’m a big fan of her work, and this latest in the Samantha Willerby Mystery Series promises to be just as terrific as her other books.

AJ’s fiction is a logical extension of her 15-year career as a psychotherapist. Her professional expertise brings a rich authenticity to her writing, and the result is mesmerizing. Today, AJ gives us a glimpse into her world. Read on!

Tell us about your latest book:

Perfect Bones is a murder mystery and psychological thriller, all in one! It’s about psychologist and ‘amateur sleuth’, Samantha, who is given seven days by the police to coax information about a killer from the sole witness – a young student who saw the attack, but who’s been traumatised by it all and can’t say a word. When he finally makes a sketch, it’s not what anyone expects – but by then another murder has been committed…

What’s different about your novels?

I’ve published eight to date and as a former psychotherapist, I like to combine a murder mystery on the surface with darker, psychological tension underneath. My books contain very little violence, blood and gore, but plenty about the internal workings of the mind: revenge, secrets, lies, hidden motives. Readers also say there’s a poignant feel of humanity in my stories (my killers are never ‘monsters’) and there’s always a big twist at the end!

What’s your biggest claim to fame?

The title of one of my books got mixed up with a more famous one that was written a few years later: ‘Girl on a Train’ – sound familiar? That was my title (the one by Paula Hawkins is ‘The Girl on the Train’). The mix-up meant tons of readers bought my book by accident and while a few felt they’d made a terrible mistake (!) – others loved my version, too! As a result, I went to Number 1 in the full Amazon chart in UK several times, and also Australia.

 What does “home” look like for you? 

Home for me is five minutes from the water Hamble, Hampshire (UK) with the river on one side and part of the English Channel on the other. I love the house, because it’s so quiet.

Home includes a beautiful garden where we’ve just installed an arbour for reading and a fountain for lazy Sunday afternoons just sitting, watching the birds.

What are you reading now?

At the moment, it’s probably Belinda Bauer. Her writing is quirky, poignant and macabre with a brilliant injection of humour. How can anyone combine those elements in crime fiction and make it work? Belinda cracks it every time. I’ve just started reading Snap!, but Rubbernecker is my favourite so far. There are many threads to this story that interweave in a complex, refreshing and fascinating way, taking psychological thrillers to a new level. The author also manages to address issues such as communication, isolation, the assumptions we make about coma victims and empathy in a chilling page-turner. An absolute must-read!

***

About the author:

AJ Waines is a #1 bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author has sold nearly half-a-million copies of her books, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada.

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times.

Note: I received a complimentary advance copy of the book. I like it so much that I immediately pre-ordered a copy. You can order your own copy here. I don’t know how long the super-low price will last, so jump in now to get this terrific book!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Q&A with AJ Waines. You can keep up with the latest news about this terrific writer via Facebook, Twitter, or her own website.

Book Blast Tuesday!

Moon Games

by Shelly Frome

Synopsis:

The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome

At the outset, Miranda Davis has nothing much going for her. The tourists are long gone by October in the quaint Carolina town of Black Mountain, her realty business is at a standstill, and her weekend stint managing the local tavern offers little to pull her out of the doldrums. When prominent church lady Cloris Raintree offers a stipend to look into the whereabouts of a missing girl hiker on the Q.T, Miranda, along with her partner Harry (an unemployed features writer) agree.

But then it all backfires. A burly figure shambles down a mountain slope with a semi-conscious girl draped over his shoulder. Miranda’s attempts to uncover Cloris Raintree’s true motives become near impossible as she puts up one smokescreen after another, including a slip of the tongue regarding an incident in Havana. The local police keep stonewalling and Harry is of little help.

Tarot cards left on Cloris’ doorstep and arcane prompts on her e-mail only exacerbate the situation. Growing more desperate over the captive girl’s fate, Miranda comes across a link to a cold case of arson and murder. With the advent of the dark of the moon, she is summoned to “Tower Time” as this twisty tale continues to run its course.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Amateur Detective
Published by: Milford House
Publication Date: August 2018
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 1620061848
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The wind picked up yet again, joined by spatters of cold rain and the rustle of leaves from the encircling shrub.

All at once, the lantern flicked off, a scream cut through the wind and spatters. The cries became muffled, replaced by the grunts of a hulking figure clambering up the knoll, coming directly toward him with something writhing and flailing over its back.

For one interminable moment, he caught sight of her eyes, frozen, terrified, beseeching him.

Reflexively, despite every decent intention deep in his bones, Harry dropped the Maglite, turned and ran down the slope, tripping and stumbling, falling to his knees, righting himself, smacking into a brush that scraped his cheek. Rushing headlong now, smacking into more brush and banging his elbow, he kept it up, twisted his ankle but hobbled forward fast as he could until he reached his station wagon. Squirming behind the wheel, he fumbled for his keys, dropped them on the mat, groped around, snatched them up, grinded the ignition, set both front and back wipers going and shot forward hitting the trunk of a tree. He backed up into the hedgerow, turned sharply, not daring to flip on the headlights, scraped another tree and slid onto the narrow lane.

He switched on the low beams so he could see where he was going in the drizzle and fog and began making his way down. Dull headlight beams flashed behind his rear window and faded.

With his mind racing and the wipers thwacking away as the rain lashed across the windshield, he careened down the zig-zagging lane and thought of the car that was wedged under the branches parked on a downward angle and the hulking figure carrying his prey over his shoulder shambling toward it. And her eyes, those beseeching eyes.

He might have a few seconds lead before the girl was tossed in the trunk . . . or deposited in the cottage while the driver lying in wait exchanged signals and went after him. So many what-ifs? while some cowardly part of him only wanted a place to hide.

Then the dull, low beams flicked on again, glinting on his rearview mirror.

Straining to see through the wipers and beads of rain, he turned off down Sunset, then onto a flat, darkened stretch, then gunned it through an amber light over the tracks across brightly lit Route 70.

He drove away from the tracks where the girl doubtless had been tailed, came upon a T and swerved left onto a sign that said Old Route 70. In no time, he spotted a Grove Stone Quarry, but the gates were closed and he could swear the low beams tailing him flicked on again. If only he could stop veering all over the place, if he could get behind those humongous mounds of sand and stone.

Ignoring the traffic light, he cut to his right and swerved up a road bordered by a high wire fence demarcating a prison facility, sped past until he was hemmed in by walls of white pine. The walls of pine were intersected by for-sale arrows and a bright red banner. He killed his headlights altogether, swerved again into a cluster of model homes that formed a cul-de-sac, and coasted to a stop as the car stalled.

He got out and followed an exposed drain pipe that angled down until it cut off at a rain-slick paved drive onto a neighborhood of two-story houses, porch lights and street lamps.

His ankle gave way again as he became fixated on circling back to that massive, enclosed hiding place where he could try to get his bearings.

The cold rain beat down harder. Though the Blue Ridge range hovered in the near distance, it was shrouded in mist and offered no comfort.

***

Excerpt from Moon Games by Shelly Frome. Copyright © 2018 by Shelly Frome. Reproduced with permission from Shelly Frome. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, and Murder Run. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Moon Games is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website, Goodreads, & Twitter!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Bound 2 Escape
Brooke Blogs
Caroles Book Corner
Celticladys Reviews
CMash Reads
Eclectic Moods
Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Lauras Interests
Mystery Suspense Reviews
Mythical Books
Nesies Place
Our-Wolves-Den
Read and Review
Stacking My Book Shelves!
Tfaulcbookreviews
The Book Divas Reads
The Bookworm Lodge
The Reading Frenzy

Giveaway!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Shelly Frome. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on November 6, 2018 and runs through November 14, 2018. Void where prohibited.

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Showcase: The Vampire Knitting Club

Introducing a new series of paranormal cozy mysteries by bestselling author Nancy Warren!

Synopsis:

The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren

At a crossroads between a cringe-worthy past (Todd the Toad) and an uncertain future (she’s not exactly homeless, but it’s close), Lucy Swift travels to Oxford to visit her grandmother. With Gran’s undying love to count on and Cardinal Woolsey’s, Gran’s knitting shop, to keep her busy, Lucy can catch her breath and figure out what she’s going to do.

Except it turns out that Gran is the undying. Or at least, the undead. But there’s a death certificate. And a will, leaving the knitting shop to Lucy. And a lot of people going in and out who never use the door—including Gran, who is just as loving as ever, and prone to knitting sweaters at warp speed, late at night. What exactly is going on?

When Lucy discovers that Gran did not die peacefully in her sleep, but was murdered, she has to bring the killer to justice without tipping off the law that there’s no body in the grave. Between a hot 800-year-old vampire and a dishy detective inspector, both of whom always seem to be there for her, Lucy finds her life getting more complicated than a triple cable cardigan. The only one who seems to know what’s going on is her cat … or is it … her familiar?

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Published by: Ambleside Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN:13 9781981498970
ASIN: B07HDBQ7BB
Series: The Vampire
Knitting Club #1
Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 to tempt you:

Cardinal Woolsey’s knitting shop has appeared on postcards celebrating the quaint views of Oxford, of which there are many. But when a visitor has tired of writing ‘wish you were here’ on the back of pictures of the various colleges, the dreaming spires, and the dome of the Radcliffe Camera, a cozy little shop painted blue, brimming with baskets of wool and hand-knit goods, can be so much more inviting.

My grandmother Agnes Bartlett owned the knitting shop and I was on my way to visit after spending a very hot month at a dig site in Egypt visiting my archeologist parents.

Gran was always ready to wrap her warm arms around me and tell me everything was going to be all right. I needed comforting after discovering my boyfriend of two years Todd had stuck his salami in someone else’s sandwich. I referred to him now as my ex-boyfriend The Toad. I was thinking about Gran’s wisdom, her hugs and her home made gingersnaps, when I started to feel as though cold, wet fingers were walking down the back of my neck.

My wheeled suitcase clanked and rattled behind me along the cobblestones of Harrington Street as I looked around, wondering what had caused the heebie-jeebies.

The October day was chilly and crisp and, in the mid-afternoon, the street was busy with shoppers, tourists and students. Church bells chimed three o’clock. When I glanced ahead, I saw my beloved Gran. She wore a black skirt, sensible shoes and one of her hand-knit cardigans, this one in orange and blue. She was walking with a glamorous woman in her sixties whom I didn’t recognize. I thought Gran looked confused and my hackles immediately rose. The glamor puss was holding an umbrella over Gran’s head, even though the day was dry and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I waved and called, “Gran!” moving faster so my suitcase began to bounce.

I was sure they saw me, but as I sped toward them, they veered down a side street. What on earth? I lifted my case and began to run; though my case was so heavy it was more of a grunting stagger.

“Gran!” I yelled again. I stopped at the bottom of the road where I’d last seen them. There was no one there. A dry, shriveled leaf tumbled toward me and from a window ledge a small, black cat regarded me with what looked like pity. Otherwise, the street was empty.

“Agnes Bartlett!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

I stood, panting. The side street was lined with a mixture of half-timbered cottages and Victorian row houses, all clearly residential. Gran hadn’t popped into a shop and would soon emerge. She was visiting in one of those homes, presumably. I wondered if it belonged to her friend.

Well, there was no point standing there. I’d go to Cardinal Woolsey’s and wait for Gran there. Her assistant, Rosemary, would be running the shop and I could let myself into the upstairs flat and unpack while I waited for my grandmother to return.

I retraced my steps, but when I reached the entrance to the quaint shop and tried the door, it didn’t open. I tried again, pushing harder, before my other senses kicked in and I realized that no lights were on inside.

A printed sign hung on the windowed front door. It said, “Cardinal Woolsey’s is closed until further notice.” At the bottom was a phone number.

Closed until further notice?

Gran never closed the shop outside her regular closing days. And if she had, where was her assistant?

I stood on the sidewalk that feeling came again, like cold fingers on the nape of my neck.

***

Excerpt from The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren. Copyright © 2018 by Nancy Warren. Reproduced with permission from Nancy Warren. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Nancy Warren

Nancy Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 60 novels including the Toni Diamond cozy mystery series.

She shares her time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Bath in the UK.

Catch Up With Nancy Warren On:
nancywarren.net, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Next stops on the book tour:

10/28 Review @ Cozy Up WIth Kathy
10/29 Review @ The Montana Bookaholic
10/30 Review @ Reading Authors
10/30 Showcase @ Just Books
10/31 Showcase @ shannon. muir@ outlook. com
11/01 Guest post @ Jane Reads
11/02 Review @ Simply Kelina
11/03 Review @ Musings From An Addicted Reader
11/04 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
11/05 Review @ A Holland Reads
11/06 Showcase @ Quiet Fury Books
11/07 Review @ The Bookworm
11/08 Review @ Jane Reads
11/09 Interview @ The Bookworm
11/09 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
11/10 Review @ Brooke Blogs
11/11 Review @ SailorGirlEtc
11/12 Review @ Nesies Place
11/13 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews
11/15 Review @ tfaulcbookreviews
11/16 Review @ WTF Are You Reading?

Playing it safe

Hurricane Florence photo provided by NOAA

Wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters can strike anywhere, anytime. Even if you’re currently high, dry, and safe, it’s important to have a clear action plan to get you and your pets to safety in times of trouble.

Have a plan! This 2-page checklist from the CDC is one of the best I’ve seen; print a copy and keep it with you. For more information about pet-focused disaster planning, check out this page.

RedRover has an updated list of resources you may find helpful. They include a disaster kit checklist and a list of US-specific and international pet-friendly accommodations. You’ll also find links for detailed information about dogs, cats, horses, and birds as well as reptiles and amphibians.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has information and helpful links worth reviewing. Check them out at FDA’s animal/veterinary resource page. And speaking of veterinarians, the not-for-profit  American Veterinary Medical Association has a wealth of information to help you develop a comprehensive plan to care for your pets before and after disasters. Here’s one video on their site:

Keep ID tags current. Microchips are one smart way to ID your pets. My Sasha and Buddy The Wonder Cat are both microchipped and registered with AKC Reunite. Make sure you complete your registration and keep your contact info current.

Take photos today of your pets. Photograph them standing, left and right profiles, and face-on head shots. Take additional photos showing you with your pets. If you can tag or add metadata to each photo, that’s even better. (To learn how, click here.) Save copies to Dropbox and/or email them to yourself and others. That way, if you lose your phone or computer, you can easily retrieve them.

Build your own “Go” bag.  Use a backpack or small tote to stash extra kibble, leashes, collars, and basic first-aid supplies. Collapsible bowls are a great addition and don’t take much space. Put paperwork in sealed waterproof bags, and make sure to include your name! Remember flashlights and batteries. Keep your bag handy so you can grab and go.

If you have space in your vehicle, add extra jugs of water–essential in all emergencies. Pack tarps, ropes, and bungees; if you have to evacuate on foot, roll up the tarp and fasten it to your backpack with those ropes or bungees. If you are stranded on the side of the road or have to camp outdoors, find the highest ground possible.

It seems ironic, but water is often the most difficult resource to acquire in flooded areas. The CDC offers a quick “how to” for making water safe for drinking here and here

Communicate. Let family, friends, and co-workers know your plans. Social media can be a great tool to help you stay in contact. Always have a back-up plan, to include alternate routes and destinations. And remember: cell towers and Internet providers may be impacted by disasters, so share info ahead of time and take print copies with you in waterproof bags.

Practice! If you had to leave home without advance notice, how long would it take you to grab your gear and herd people and pets into your vehicle?  Tip: keep travel crates, leashes, etc. where you can quickly grab them.  Keep your go-bag in your vehicle or at least in an easy-to-grab location. Make a habit of keeping your shoes, keys, laptop, phone, and chargers in one common location.

When you think you have everything ready, run a drill. (Remember those fire drills from your school days? Same concept.) Practice in the daytime. Practice in the dark. If your pets don’t like their crates or balk at the idea of the vehicle, turn this into a game and reward them for playing along. The more often you practice, the easier it will be when an emergency does occur.

Plan ahead. Practice. Be safe!