“Why We Write” Drop in Feature – Guest Post from Jeffrey Perren.

 

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This Writer’s Life by Jeffrey Perren

 

Up before dawn — tea for me, coffee for the wife, pet the dog. Check emails, correspondence with beta readers, and miscellaneous.

 

So far, that doesn’t sound very exciting. But that’s the business side of things. I leave as much of that as I can to my publicist — remembering how blessed I am to have one who loves my work.

 

Later, write or edit the latest story. Currently, that’s The Lighthouse Pylon, a tale of a lonely lighthouse keeper who discovers at last his ideal woman — and finds her a very dark lady indeed. Soon, it will be a re-telling of the William Tell legend and later a trilogy set in the Age of Discovery.

 

But whatever the subject matter, the process is similar: research everything you can about the history, technology, and general society and daily lives of the period and people. Then, weave a plot within and around all that, one filled with drama, romance, and ideas to enrapture the reader for every single page until the end.

 

Tall orders, any one of them. Taken together, near-impossible. But that’s what makes the writer’s life a glorious adventure all on its own. Visit places I’ve never been but want to see. Be people I’ve never been but strive to become.

 

Like life, the effort is three-parts tedium to one-part heart-pounding excitement. And you’re continuously trying to shift the ratio, despite the never-ending resistance of the universe to move it in the undesired direction. Still, you have to try — and try and try again. To give up is to decay, to die a little on your way to complete dissolution. No profit in that.

 

It isn’t for everyone, for sure. It’s cerebral and emotionally taxing. It’s isolated and isolating, and it takes far more self-discipline than most people — me included — can manage on a regular basis.

 

No one orders you to write all day, every day. But if you don’t the page doesn’t get filled. You feel guilty when you slack off, and rightly so. You realize that no one, yourself included, is paying you to not write — neither in coin nor in praise. So, you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and plunge in again.

 

Then, you find you’re enjoying the process so much you wonder why you procrastinated so long.

 

That’s one writer’s life, anyway. Your mileage will no doubt vary.

 

THE LIGHTHOUSE PYLON

 

Genre: Romatic suspense

 

Expected Publication: December 2014

 

DESCRIPTION

 

CURL HOYER WAS A MAN WHO COULD NOT BE FOOLED… EXCEPT THIS ONCE.

An unstoppable sea and an immovable tower hold the key to several lives, past, present, and future.

Approaching middle-age and desperately lonely, Lighthouse Keeper Curl Hoyer is pining to find a wife, the unique partner just right for him.

When alluring photo-journalist Henne arrives to do a story on him and the romantic coastal facility, his prayer seems answered at last. Seductive and intriguing, she soon makes him fall in love with her — all according to plan.

What is that plan?

At first blush, it appears nothing more than a desire to corral a man of unusual character: a rare blend of passion, curiosity, and tenderness. Soon, it’s revealed to be a demonic scheme for revenge, payback for wounds festering since adolescence.

Why? What is the mysterious connection between the pair reaching back 20 years? And can Curl uncover the plan in time to save himself and the vital lighthouse?

A haunting seaside tower brings them together again for one final showdown.

The Lighthouse Pylon is dramatic suspense harkening back to the golden age of Gothic romance, when a shoreline structure could be as menacing as the villain. Jeffrey Perren’s latest is surely his finest novel yet, with a twist at the end we challenge any reader to guess!” – ClioStory Publishing

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23513707-the-lighthouse-pylon

 

BIO

 

Jeffrey Perren wrote his first short story at age 12 and went on to win the Bank of America Fine Arts award at age 17. Since then he has published at award-winning sites and magazines from the U.S. to New Zealand.

 

His debut novel was “Cossacks In Paris,” an historical adventure set in Napoleonic Europe, inspired by a real soldier of the Battle of Paris in 1814. His second, “Death is Overrated,” a romantic mystery, is the story of a scientist who must prove he didn’t kill himself. His third is “Clonmac’s Bridge,” an archaeological thriller and historical mystery set in contemporary and 9th century Ireland. “The Lighthouse Pylon,” a novel of romantic suspense is expected to be published on December, 2014.

 

He was born in Independence, MO right around the corner from Harry Truman’s house. But then, at the time, everything there was right around the corner from Harry Truman’s house. He now lives in Sandpoint, Idaho with his wife, an economist.

 

Amazon profile

 

http://www.amazon.com/Jeffrey-Perren/e/B00B7PTTKO

 

Goodreads profile

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6851798.Jeffrey_Perren

 

Twiter

 

https://twitter.com/JeffPerren

 

https://twitter.com/ClioStory

 

 

 

Competition Time! Get your dancing shoes on…

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The Last Days of Disco by David Ross is now available as an e-book. I LOVED it and a full review and hopefully other little treats such as an author interview will be appearing in the new year in time for the Paperback release – but for NOW how would you like to win your very own E-copy and enjoy an emotional, nostalgic, often funny and always heartfelt story. You will ESPECIALLY love it if you grew up in the eclectic 80’s with its peculiar brand of music and mayhem (remember the hair folks!) but equally this is a story for all time and all ages.

SO what do you have to do? Well, you have to Tweet me @Lizzy11268 using the hashtag #DiscoDays and tell me your favourite musical memory. Include the publisher @OrendaBooks and the best one will win a copy of the novel.

The competition closes on Friday 19th December at 5pm and winners will be announced shortly after that. Not yet convinced? Here is some more information, including a purchase link in case you just can’t wait.

Synopsis:

Early in the decade that taste forgot, Fat Franny Duncan is on top of the world. He is the undoubted King of the Ayrshire Mobile Disco scene, controlling and ruling the competition with an iron fist. From birthdays to barn dances, Franny is the man to call. He has even played ‘My Boy Lollipop’ at a funeral and got away with it. But the future is uncertain. A new partnership is coming and is threatening to destroy the big man’s Empire … Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller have been best mates since primary school. Joey is an idealist; Bobby just wants to get laid and avoid following his brother Gary to the Falklands. A partnership in their new mobile disco venture seems like the best way for Bobby to do both at the same time. With compensation from an accident at work, Bobby’s dad Harry invests in the fledgling business. His marriage to Ethel is coming apart at the seams and the disco has given him something to focus on. Tragic news from the other side of the world brings all three strands together in a way that no one could have predicted. The Last Days of Disco is a eulogy to the beauty and power of the 45rpm vinyl record and the small but significant part it played in a small town Ayrshire community in 1982. Witty, energetic and entirely authentic, it’s also heartbreakingly honest, weaving tragedy together with comedy with uncanny and unsettling elegance. A simply stunning debut. ‘Full of comedy, pathos and great tunes’ Hardeep Singh Kohli ‘Warm, funny and evocative. If you grew up in the Eighties, you’re going to love this’ Chris Brookmyre.

 

About the Author: David F Ross

Biography

I was born in Glasgow in 1964 and I lived in various part of the city until the late 70’s. I subsequently moved to Kilmarnock where I have lived since. I was educated at James Hamilton Academy until being politely asked to leave.
(Expulsion is such a harsh word, isn’t it?)
Following a frankly ludicrous early foray into sporadic employment (Undertakers, Ice Cream Parlour, Tennis Groundsman, DJ…I’ll save these stories until I know you better) I found myself at Glasgow School of Art, studying architecture.

In 1992 I graduated from the Mackintosh School of Architecture. I am now the Design Director of one of Scotland’s largest, oldest and most successful practices, Keppie Design. (Funny old world, eh?)

I have worked all over the world and I led our practice strategy for projects in countries as diverse as China, Egypt, Malaysia, India and Libya. I am a designated business leader for East Ayrshire Council, a Board Mentor for Entrepreneurial Spark and I was design advisor to Strathclyde Passenger Transport for their modernisation programme of the Glasgow Subway in advance of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

I’m married to Elaine and I have two children, Nathan and Nadia, who have both signed legally binding agreements to house me in the best Old Folks Home my money can buy. I’m a Chelsea fan – from long before the cash-rich days – and I occasionally write stream-of-consciousness rubbish for @ByTheMinChelsea and other @ByTheMinSport feeds on Twitter.

My most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP, and The Last Days Of Disco is my first novel.

 

Follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dfr10

Purchase information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Days-Disco-David-Ross-ebook/dp/B00OYTBMAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418736770&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+days+of+disco

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….Alice and the Fly by James Rice.

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Publication Date: 15th January 2015 from Hodder and Stoughton.

Source: Goodreads Giveaway

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition’s caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I’ll flood out all these tears and it’ll all be ok and I won’t be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can’t think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories – Herb’s death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah – but none of these are what caused the phobia. I’ve always had it. It’s Them. I’m just scared of Them. It’s that simple.

Another book that stunned me into silence (and believe me that is not the easiest thing to achieve) Alice and the Fly really is a most amazing read – immediately addictive, haunting, terribly authentic and with some beautifully written prose and an almost creepy, unsettling ambience this will draw you in and hold you there throughout.

Told mostly by Greg through his “diary”  he paints a picture of an isolated life – Greg has issues, he is the loner, the “strange” one – his peers refer to him as “psycho” and his parents tend to ignore him as much as possible. The world seen through Greg’s eyes is a strange, unbalanced one, yet often unknowingly insightful when it comes to the people around him, his way of describing things will leave you feeling off kilter but entirely fascinated.

It is a difficult one to review, mainly because I’m loathe to tell you anything much about the plot – I quite honestly think the less known about anything here the better it will be for the reading experience. It is the tale of a boy on the edge and touches on many themes, all of them important and relevant, given a true, resounding and emotional voice through young Greg, a character you will be utterly utterly engaged and enchanted by.

I’m aware from the blurb that came with the copy that the author has used some of his own experiences to colour the narrative and this shines through in the absolutely realistic feeling that you get from the story, you really could be reading a real account from a real person, facing real problems and emotions. The last few chapters had me gulping in air as I waited on tenterhooks to see what the outcome would be, where Greg would end up, what would happen to him and to others, it was impossible at this stage to put it down even for a moment.

I’ll be honest and say I’m not really sure what I was feeling at the end. Slightly heart broken, definitely a bit teary eyed, and a pure mix of other emotions that won’t come out in words. A beautifully written, haunting, evocative and immensely accomplished tale which I THINK is mostly about perception and love but who am I to put a label on it? Unbelievable for a debut, this is a novel that demands that you make people read it –  James Rice is one to watch. No doubt in my mind. Don’t miss it.

Highly Recommended. 5 bright shiny stars and some kittens for this one.

You can follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/James_D_Rice

Pre-Order Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/james+rice/alice+and+the+fly/11072730/

Top Ten Spotlight: Only Ever Yours. Interview with Louise O Neill.

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So my No 1 read for 2014 was the gripping “Only Ever Yours” by Louise O Neill. I caught up with her to ask a little bit about it and here is what she had to tell me.

 

I know that this novel had its inspiration in your personal experiences – Would you tell us a little bit about that?

Of course, my own battle with anorexia and bulimia shadows the story as the girls are obsessed with weight and their calorie intake, and that was a deliberate decision. I went to an all-girls boarding school, so I’m very familiar with the environment of a single sex education. However, I found it interesting re-reading my novel as I could see different threads running through it that had also been inspired by my own personal experience, but I hadn’t consciously realised that while I was writing Only Ever Yours.

Self Image can be a difficult issue for teenagers, what do you think needs to change in our society to help them with this?

The work here needs to begin far earlier than when girls have entered adolescence. Almost from birth, they are given Barbies to play with and Disney movies to watch. Both of these perpetuate an ideal of beauty that tends to be unrealistic (minute waists, large breasts etc) and homogenous. (usually caucasian.) We need to see all types of beauty, in all shapes and sizes, so that teenagers have the tools to reject the idea that there is only one type of physicality that can be considered attractive.

Did you always have that ending in mind for the story or did it develop along with frieda’s story?
I always knew how the story would end. ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin is one of my favourite novels, and I loved how vague and uncertain the ending of that book is. I wanted to achieve something similar in Only Ever Yours. I wanted an ending that would feel shocking but also almost inevitable. I had set up certain rules within the world of the book, and I believe that was the only way freida’s story could have ended.

 

Which book would you most like to give to friends and family this Christmas?

I have a few! ‘You’re Grand’ by Tara Flynn is a great stocking filler, and I’ve also bought “Young Skins” by Colin Barrett for a few people as I adored it.

Thank you Louise!

 

My Original Review:

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.
For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.
Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

So I read the final page of “Only Ever Yours” and was incoherent for about half an hour. Literally. Thats how good it was. Unbelievably believable, , compelling, utterly riveting and scary as hell when you think how much of this imaginary world could so easily be our reality given a simple twist of history or fate, I was completely undone by the whole reading experience.

We follow along mostly with frieda – she’s an “Eve”, a female bred for the pleasure or service of men. She is at “school” learning to be perfect, respectful, pleasing and beautiful, and hoping to be ranked in the top ten which almost guarantee’s that she will become a companion, wife to a man with the sole purpose really of bearing him sons. Each day is filled with a number of classes and activities to ensure perfection in all things – weight, skin, hair, and attitude. When Frieda’s friend Isabel starts gaining weight disproportionately, Frieda is torn between supporting her in her time of need and maintaining a distance. But Isabel is behaving strangely and all is not as it appears.

It is really difficult to put into words the impact this book has – Ms O Neill has a unique writing style which literally pops off the page – you are drawn into this strange yet oddly familiar world – where even when there is a drug for everything, the young girls face the same issues that can be found in our world. Bulemia, anorexia, self esteem issues and peer pressure. The school environment is very similar to high school – the popular girls rule, any sign of being different is frowned upon. As the time moves ever closer for the ceremony that will see the girls move into their next life as either companion, concubine (basically prostitutes)  or chastities (those who remain in school and teach the next generation) frieda’s world starts to disintigrate into madness as she struggles to maintain her worth. It is heart pounding, captivating and often hard to read.

I am deliberately being a bit obtuse about plot details – it will shock you, enthrall you and completely absorb you during the time you are in it, but if I tell you too much of the whys and wherefores the impact will lessen. And that would not do, oh no not at all.

This book is most definitely “The Handmaids Tale” for a new young generation – Whilst it is dark, uncompromising and utterly daunting to read as a woman, it is and should be a classic in the making. If you want a happy read, an uplifting and redemptive tale then look away now – this is stark, unrelenting and absolutely gut wrenching,  yet completely  fascinating and will make you consider a lot of things. If my daughter were still a teenager I would be throwing this book at her. I’m probably going to throw it at her anyway. This one will stay with me for a long time.

Basically, just read it now. Thats all I really NEED to say.

Find out more here: http://www.louiseoneillauthor.com/

Follow Louise on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/oneilllo

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Only-Ever-Yours-Louise-ONeill/dp/184866415X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404816488&sr=1-1&keywords=only+ever+yours+louise+oneill

 

 

Why We Write – Guest Post from Tony Drury

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The motivation to write fiction lies with Albert Einstein who said:

When a man stops learning, he starts dying

Each book is an adventure, a voyage of discovery, an emotional rollercoaster: the experiencing, for the first time, of ‘word block’ is something you never forget.

The prize is a book of perhaps eighty thousand words which entertains, creates comment and belongs to you. You pray it is an improvement on your last effort.

Perhaps the ‘Holy Grail’ for the author is the dream that your book might, one day, become a film. This allows the director and producer and the actors to take your words, as adapted by the script writer, and give vision to your ideas.

Every day as an author you learn more about life: dying can be put on hold.

Tony Drury is an author of 5 fictional novels;  ‘Megan’s Game’, ‘The Deal’, ‘Cholesterol’, ‘A Flash Of Lightning’ and most recently ‘The Lady Who Turned’.  He is also a celebrity ambassador for HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity and has written a selection of short stories, recently collaborating with a Poet Laureate to produce a poetry collection from and for the heart.  All publisher’s profits will benefit the charity.  His work is available from Amazon and all good book shops.    Tony, a successful author has 2 of his novels currently being made into films; ‘Megan’s Game’ and ‘A Flash Of Lightning’.

Follow him on..
Twitter: @mrtonydrury
City Fiction: @cityfictionltd

Top 10 Spotlight: The Kill. Interview with Jane Casey.

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So in at No 10 this year for my Top Ten of 2014 was The Kill by Jane Casey. So I caught up with Jane and asked her a couple of little questions and here is what she had to tell me.

 

So outing No 5 for Maeve then, do they get easier to write as you know the characters or harder because you care more about them?

 

The joy of series fiction is that you can let things play out over several books and you can really delve into your characters’ souls. Unfortunately that generates its own pressure because you have to hope you’re living up to the ambitions you had three books ago! I found THE KILL quite hard to write because the previous book, THE STRANGER YOU KNOW, was very well received and I decided early on I couldn’t possibly live up to it (pure author paranoia). I was also including a plot line that I’d thought up a few books ago – so there was a lot of pressure on me to deliver a good ending for that particular story, but one that wasn’t too much of an ending in itself for my characters. It all worked out in the end! 

It’s becoming easier in one way to revisit the characters every time as I know them better and better, and I understand aspects of them I probably didn’t quite recognise at first. I think all writers have the experience of writing a story and then subsequently understanding it. It’s the same for me with the characters I create. I don’t always realise how complex they are to begin with. I learn more about them every time. And because I write from the perspective of Maeve, the heroine, I can show her understanding of the people around her developing. I should say though that just because I write from her perspective, that doesn’t mean I endorse her opinions about things. She can be wrong and frequently is. Something that happens in THE KILL can be interpreted in two very different ways, and I knew when I was writing it that it would be a complex development for readers. I’ve had readers get in touch who were very angry with me about that particular scene and how Maeve handled it. She’s not always the wisest person on the page.

 

Most people know about my total crush on Derwent (and I’m not the only one!) He did not appear in the first novel – where did the inspiration for that character come from?

 

Derwent completely surprised me, to be honest – he wasn’t in the first book and he would have been a major distraction if he had been. THE BURNING is all about Maeve establishing herself on the team and developing closer relationships with the people on her team. I brought Derwent into THE RECKONING to be a headache for Maeve – an overbearing boss she didn’t trust. Originally I intended to make him a proper villain and dispose of him at the end. But there was something about him that made me feel he needed to hang around and he’s grown in importance with every book. He’s heroic but definitely not a hero – far too awkward for that. He’s hugely vulnerable and insecure and makes up for that by being arrogant or angry. I think we all know people like that! I don’t think he would make a good main character but he and Maeve are a great team. In some ways he’s her opposite, but in other ways it’s the two of them against the world. I love writing about the dynamic between them – the way Maeve stops him from going too far, the way Derwent rescues her from disaster when she’s got herself into trouble, the way the two of them bicker constantly. He starts off being someone she can’t stand and really doesn’t want to work with. Then they develop a wary respect for one another. By this stage he and Maeve are like a squabbling pair of siblings – often angry with one another, but woe betide anyone who comes between them. I think neither of them appreciates how much the other one cares about them – not in a romantic way, but as an important part of their lives. It makes me very happy that readers love Derwent, but I’d say there are as many people who detest Derwent as those who like him. It amuses me when first-time readers mention how much they dislike him and how awful he is. If you think he’s awful in THE KILL, you definitely wouldn’t think much of his behaviour in THE RECKONING! But he wins over a few more people with every book. And he’s so much fun to write when he’s being bad.

 

How far ahead do you plan? Which is my sneaky way of asking if you’ll tell us anything about what is next for the gang?

 

I’m always looking forward and back, making sure the whole series makes sense and there’s a feeling of steady progress – a series arc, if you like, above and beyond the individual book’s narrative. Each book has to relate to what precedes it and comes after, although I do leave myself room to change tack if it feels right – you can’t necessarily force things to be the way you originally imagined them. I have a strong sense of how the next two or three books will be, and how the relationships will change, and the types of plot I want to tackle. All I can say is that none of my regular characters are wholly good or wholly bad, so people who come across as negative now might surprise readers later on, and vice versa. And if you’ve read the other books in the series, you know there are secrets that must come out, probably at the worst possible moment.

As the series goes on, readers are becoming more and more involved in the characters’ lives, which is amazing to me. I’m obsessed with them, of course, but it’s always a surprise that anyone else is! I know that readers feel quite strongly about some of the things that have happened so far, and I’ve read many predictions about how things will play out for the characters. I don’t want to disappoint anyone but let’s just say the most confident predictions of what I’m planning for Maeve and the others are almost entirely wrong. And yes, that does give me a malevolent thrill.

 

Which book would you most like to give to friends and family this Christmas?

 

Everyone would love and cherish Lists of Note compiled by Shaun Usher, a gorgeous book and a keeper forever. (I know, I know it’s cheating not to pick a novel but genuinely there were too many great ones this year to pick a favourite! I’ll be buying lots!)

Thank you Jane!

My original Review:

Maeve Kerrigan is used to investigating murders.But this time a killer has struck far too close to home…
When a police officer is found shot dead in his car, DC Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent take on the investigation. But nothing about the case prepares them for what happens next: a second policeman dies . . . and then another . . .
The Metropolitan Police struggle to carry out their usual duties, but no one knows where or how this cop killer will strike again. While London disintegrates into lawlessness Maeve’s world starts to fall apart too. For if the police can’t keep themselves safe, how can they protect anyone else?

The fifth adventure for Maeve Kerrigan already – seems like only yesterday I started that journey and these days a new Jane Casey book is always one of the highlights of the year for me, so when this one dropped through my letterbox I promised myself that the weekend would belong to Maeve and Derwent. As it happened only a couple of hours overall was required which should tell you just how addictive these books are – plus of course there is my huge literary crush on Derwent, a character who, if he came to life, would be fighting us off as I know I am far from being the only one. Hey he would love it! And I’d win….

In this instalment, police officers are dying and there appears to be no rhyme nor reason to it – no-one is safe, not even Maeve’s nearest and dearest and the fact that I don’t believe Ms Casey would be adverse at any point to killing off one of our favourite characters kept me right on the edge of my seat. Add to that some of the ongoing threads of Maeve’s story starting to come to a head, and Im surprised I didnt suffer more than the odd papercut in my desperation to keep turning the pages.

Crime fiction being one of the most popular genre’s, it is hard to keep things fresh and new, keep the reader involved in the characters and the story but in this case it seems almost effortless. There is a beautiful ebb and flow to these novels overall, not just in this particular story but as an ongoing tale – with each new book you sink deeper into this world and each time there is something new to learn about the characters, their motivations and their relationship to each other, all influenced and impacted by what has gone before. On top of that each one has its own complete story within whichever current mystery is being unravelled – you can actually pick up any single one and not feel like you are missing anything. There is a subtlety to the writing that lets you know the things you need to know without the use of endless exposition and “previously on” type paragraphs that can take a constant reader out of the equation – in that respect these are perhaps some of the most cleverly constructed crime novels out there. I’m not constantly thinking “I KNOW this already I’ve read them all for heavens sake!” but equally I’m reminded gently of what has led us here. That is not easy to achieve – I know, I read a lot of crime fiction.

I often see these described as Police Procedurals, and I guess thats a fair description if you are looking solely at the basics. But personally I dislike that tag for the Kerrigan series, it gives the impression that this is “by numbers” writing. It is anything but – it is the art of creating a group of characters, putting them into varying and often dangerous situations and letting them live. It just so happens that in this case they are Police Officers, but thats not all that they are by any means, and there is nothing generic or standard to be found here. Jane Casey has a humerous and realistic touch that just makes everything brighter and more substantial. Magic on the page yet set in the real world.

I love Maeve. I love that she’s a bit useless sometimes but also intuitive, loyal and lovely. I ADORE Derwent with every fibre of my being despite the fact that as a woman I should probably often frown at his antics and show some disapproval. But hey, I’ve always been one for the bad boys. Surrounding them are many more authentic and often enigmatic characters, none of which you would want to be without – and here we are full circle to earlier in my review – edge of the seat stuff!

Anyway, I guess you can say I kind of liked this one. Now I’m going away to deal with my Derwent withdrawal. Sigh.

5 bright shiny stars plus an extra gold star just because.  Go read them now. Go on…I promise you won’t be sorry.

Find out more here: http://www.maevekerrigan.co.uk/

Follow Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JaneCaseyAuthor

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-Maeve-Kerrigan-5/dp/0091949688/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401086675&sr=1-1&keywords=the+kill+jane+casey

Also why not try out Jane’s excellent series for Young Adults featuring Jess Tennant.

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Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Casey/e/B003VNABHU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1418199501&sr=1-1

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Golden Son by Pierce Brown…and you thought it couldnt get better.

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Publication Date: 1st January 2015 from Hodder and Staughton UK/Random House Del Ray US.

Source: Netgalley

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

Oh well what to say about this one. When I read “Red Rising” back in 2013, it ended up being my book of the year, it was a gloriously rich and deeply layered adventure with some of the best characters I’ve seen in fiction ever, let alone within this genre.

So moving onto Golden Son, the very LAST thing I expected was that it could get any better. As good perhaps, even the possiblity that it might suffer “middle book syndrome” had crossed my mind, but nothing NOTHING could have prepared me for what I actually faced when I started reading this novel.

All readers know that books are highly subjective and that which speaks to one does not to another – but I challenge anyone, ANYONE, whether their favourite fiction is Tolstoy or King, commercial or literary (gosh don’t you hate tags!) to pick up this book and not marvel at it. Red Rising first though – Darrow, after all, was born in that story and you have to be with him from the start.

And here it is. The sequel to Red Rising, the middle book of the trilogy, and so far ahead of Red Rising in story, plot, pure adrenalin and absolute reading joy that in actual fact Red Rising seems almost  tame – and we all know THAT ain’t so. In this instalment, Darrow is attempting to solidify his place within the Gold ruling classes but is thrown into turmoil at every step. As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Darrow is thrown into a heart stopping thrill ride that will grip you utterly and throw you out the other side of it battered and bruised but oh boy the pleasure is in the pain here that is for sure. When I read the last few pages I’m not sure what I was feeling but whatever it was it hasnt let go yet.

From the deeply imagined and absolutely fascinating mythology, to the totally heart stopping characters all of which you love even as you hate some of them, this is an absolute marvel of a read, a true tour de force of fiction and a masterful lesson in how to create pure emotion in the reader, making this world as real as the one we live in. I couldnt put it down, yet couldnt bear to pick it up – every single chapter throws something new into the mix, every time you think you have a handle on things something else turns round and hits you right in the soul. Darrow is extraordinary, a hero to root for the like of which you’ve never seen, a true Daniel in the Lions den and it is not hard at all to feel every moment of his struggle.

It is quite hard to describe the pure genius of the writing – Pierce Brown is a magical weaver of words, setting scenes straight into your brain almost as if you were in some kind of immersive virtual reality experience, you feel every knock, cheer at every victory, groan at every defeat. I spent half the reading time peering at the story through my fingers, unable to bear the tension, but unable to tear myself away, like a child watching Dr Who from behind the sofa. By the time I got to the end of it I’d bitten two nails clean off although I didnt actually notice until later – so caught up was I in the sheer glory of the story unfolding. And oh that ending – what a marvellous, unimaginable, unpredictable finish to one of the best books I have read in my entire life up until now. Step aside Stephen King, my favourite author spot is wavering towards Mr Brown, words are almost certainly HIS power. How on earth I’m going to wait for the conclusion is currently unknoweable, but of course wait we must. If the ante is upped anymore its going to be on Mars with the Reds.

I am not surprised that there was a bidding war for the movie rights – one can only hope that when it inevitably becomes a film trilogy that they remain true to the heart of this. There is not one single reason I can see for changing even a tiny part of it to bring it to visual medium. One of those novels that is already a movie and so much more, an experience that offers so much beyond a couple of hours entertainment – one that sits in your soul and lurks there, the very best I can say about it is BloodyDAMN its good!

 

Find out more here: http://www.redrisingbook.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Pierce_Brown

Pre order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/pierce+brown/golden+son/10372583/

Read First

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http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/pierce+brown/red+rising/10501425/

My original Red Rising Review.

http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/red-rising-by-pierce-brown-sometimes-words-are-not-enough/

Happy HAPPY reading folks!

 

 

 

 

 

Alternate Realities – Guest Post from Joanna Courtney

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Today I’m pleased to welcome back Joanna to the blog.

 

Alternate Realities

Alternate Realities

I sometimes wonder what it must be like to live only one life – very relaxing I suspect. I, however, find that I’m often existing in at least two, switching between them like Mr Ben in his magic changing room, though not always as good-naturedly.
When I spent a lot of time writing short stories I could have any number of characters, settings and scenarios scrabbling around in my head, desperate to get out onto paper. That was strange enough but now that I’m getting deep into my second novel it’s almost as if I genuinely have two worlds – my ‘real’ life with my lovely family and friends, with supermarkets and bills, parties and homework, and my sometimes almost-as-real life with my heroine. And given that she – Elizaveta – lives in Kiev in the 1030s it’s quite a different existence!
I was lucky enough to be working on Elizaveta’s story, dreaming it into being, on my summer holidays this year. We were camping, as we always do, in a pre-erected tent on a fantastic beachside campsite in Spain. The sun shone for hours and obligingly left its warmth behind even when it had dropped below the palm-tree-lined horizon so that none of us – kids included – were ever in bed before midnight.
It was fantastic fun but, as an added bonus, it meant that my little sweethearts slept in until nearly ten most mornings. As I usually woke at 8ish, that gave me two blissful hours to lie, warm and comfy, whilst mentally exploring the furthest reaches of the Viking empire. When they would finally emerge from their bedroom compartment, I’d almost as blurrily surface from a century back and send them for fresh bread whilst my husband, bless him, made coffee and I made hasty notes in case my other reality slipped back into the more obscure reaches of my aging mind before I had captured it on paper.
‘It must be weird,’ I said to my husband one morning as I closed my notebook, ‘only being here, in Spain.’
He looked at me.
‘I don’t think that’s the weird bit,’ he said.
He’s probably right. I know more about Grand Prince Yaroslav’s battle with the Pecheneg tribe in 1036 than I do about Gaza and sometimes I worry that’s not socially responsible of me but, really, there are lots of people way better qualified to worry – and hopefully even do something – about that than me and in the end don’t we all have to stick to what we’re best at? If, for me, that’s worming my way into the long dead minds of obscure medieval royals then so be it. I love it. I love them. And I especially love the frisson that they did actually exist in their own right way back when. I’m not so much creating my characters as – at the risk of sounding weirdly megalomaniac about it – resurrecting them.

What’s so truly lovely about it, though, is that I am not alone in doing this – no writer is. For the other crucial part of the fiction jigsaw is the reader’s imagination; every bit as powerful as the writer’s. It’s only together that the casts of novels, be they historical, contemporary, futuristic, or something in between, get to actually live.
Last summer on another campsite, in France this time, I saw a woman by the pool reading Tracy’s Bloom’s newly self-published (and now hugely bestselling) book ‘No one Ever has Sex on a Tuesday’. The poor creature had to suffer me bouncing up to her in my bikini saying, ‘my friend wrote that’. She smiled very politely, bless her, and agreed it was all ‘very exciting’ and then went gratefully back to the book as I scuttled off with the kids doing their usual ‘oh mum!’
But it was exciting. What had started in Tracy’s head had made it, via the wonders of computers and printers and the internet and a plane or two, into that other lady’s head and I’m so grateful MacMillan are publishing my trilogy so that my characters will have a chance to make that journey too. I may be a bit weird – most writers probably are – but I hope that next year, when my first novel hits the shelves, people enjoy my alternate reality every bit as much as I can honestly say that I do.

Medieval Kiev on a Spanish beach and an artist’s impression of the real place – think we did a good job!
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1-Kiev

On Strike For Christmas….

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Publication Date: Available Now from Piatkus

Source: Publisher Review Copy.

At Christmas time, it seems as though a woman’s work is never done. Trimming the tree, mailing the cards, schlepping to the mall, the endless wrapping – bah humbug! So this year, Joy and Laura and the rest of their knitting group decide to go on strike. If their husbands and families want a nice holiday filled with parties, decorations, and presents – well, they’ll just have to do it themselves.

Now then, I’m not one for Christmas. Very Bah Humbug me. I think it starts too early, goes on too long, has become way too commercial and is all about the stuff. Buy this buy that – if you can’t afford to get your children THE gift of the year SHAME ON YOU… and oh heavens have you SEEN how much food people buy to cover 2 days? The magic has been lost somewhat…well an awful lot. So it was interesting for me to read this novel to see if Sheila Roberts could ignite some Christmas spirit in me…

Well she did. I really enjoyed it – not my type of book usually to be fair, but I rattled through it at a fair pace, often giggling and totally absorbed. As the Knitting club band together to try and get their husbands more involved in the nitty gritty of Christmas, it is a very enjoyable and what I call “popcorn” read – perfect for the season. By the end I was actually quite excited to get wrapping up presents, looking out the tree decorations and generally feeling much more like I was going to enjoy the holiday…

Ms Roberts writes with a very bubbly style that is quite old school yet enchanting. Bob Humbug had me laughing away and as the strike takes on a life of its own in the media and everyone gets involved, there is a little moral here about what I was mentioning earlier – the really important stuff, how we treat each other and how we support each other, especially within close relationships. So overall then as a fun read with a bit of a message it was really very good.

For me there was a little niggle – this is very throwback – using a gender stereotype when it comes to the roles men and women play in family life, roles which are so often reversed these days – the families in this story were very 50’s if you know what I mean. It was appropriate to the tale being told of course, but on a very personal note I kind of wished that Sheila Roberts had mixed it up a little – but thats just me and overall it was a highly enjoyable story.

So if  you are a little bar humbug this year – pick up a Christmas story, it does help!  This one might work nicely.

Find out more here: http://www.sheilasplace.com/

Follow the Author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/_Sheila_Roberts

Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/sheila+roberts/on+strike+for+christmas/11160223/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Debut Novel Spotlight: Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Beulah Press

Source: Author review copy

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…

I was intrigued by this one, the starting point being adoption, as an adopted child myself it appealed to me for that reason. Plus the hint of mystery tempted me in and what I found was a really good read, some great characters and an often emotive look at family relationships.

One of the things that especially appealed to me was the authenticity with which Ms Danby writes about Rose’s reaction to finding she is adopted – her hunt for her “blood” parents takes on an obsessive streak and the very real need she has to understand her origin is beautifully drawn. I speak from experience when I say Rose is not alone in wondering if being adopted had an unknoweable affect on her relationship with her adoptive mother – especially since their relationship was up and down – I have been right there myself.

The relationship between the Sister’s, also subtly altered by this new found knowledge is as well a great strength of the story – all in all the family ties elements of this novel are engaging and appealing and explore the issues around adoption in a very positive and realistic way.

There are some lovely little twists and turns on Rose’s journey to the truth, as we go back to a time where adoption was very different, often surrounded by secrecy, which makes it harder for Rose to find out what she needs to know but she is a determined and very likeable character so you  root for her all the way.

Lily also has a voice here and she is just as well drawn and if anything I probably liked her even more. Discovering your Sister is not really your Sister has a profound affect on her as well, at the same time she is dealing with some tough emotional issues as she struggles to get pregnant. With a husband who is seemingly unworried, this thread of the tale is seamlessly woven into the rest and Rose and Lily go on a journey together that is very addictive and will involve you all the way.

All in all a really really great debut that definitely makes me want to see what Ms Danby can come up with next. This will appeal to fans of family drama with authentic real life issues and I would highly recommend it.

Find out more here: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Follow Sandra on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SandraDanby

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ignoring-Gravity-Haldane-Identity-Detective-ebook/dp/B00O3D2PFI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417762709&sr=1-1&keywords=ignoring+gravity

 

Happy Reading Folks!