Halloween with Sebastian Gregory…

The Asylum for Fairy Tale CreaturesThe Boy in the CemeteryThe Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland

Fancy some creepy Halloween reads? Here is a taster of Sebastian Gregory….

Blood Red Riding Hood

The woods held no fear for the girl. She followed her grandma’s advice and her boots held to the path hidden amongst the moss and shed leaves. Thick and ancient trees, old and wise, smiled with knotted faces that only the girl could see. Beams of bright yellow split through the dense overhead canopy and created a dark green rainbow. Her way was clearly lit through The Dark-Dark Forest. And the girl loved this place; it was so mysterious, so gloomy but so full of life. Birds perched heavy on the branches and screamed into the air; insects danced strange fandangos to the sound. Creatures of all shapes and colours trembled in the undergrowth. They crawled from rotting bark, playing amongst carpets of compost. “The dank is good for the lungs,” Grandma told her. “Breathe it in, girl.” The scent of wet greenery filled her senses, making her nostrils sting and eyes water. It was sweet sweat of the forest. She felt so at home here, the other children of the village thought her strange and sneered when they saw her go by. She did not mind; she only needed the forest and her grandma.

Ever since her father had succumbed to a wasting infection the previous year, her mother’s wits were lost to everlasting grief; the girl had found refuge in solitude. Her own thoughts and company were more than enough for her, those and the frequent trips to the house in the woods to visit Grandma. The girl losing her father and her grandma a son gave strength to the other. So it became traditional that the girl would bring a basket full of treats once every seven days. Mainly berries and fruits picked from the forest, sometimes scones freshly baked. In return the grandma taught the girl things, secret things she could not and would not share with anyone, especially her fretful and evermore absent-minded mother. For instance, she would never tell her mother how she had been shown to extract poison from black pond toads. She could never tell how, by chewing certain types of red moss, she could see the fairies and fey that inhabited the world in secret. Her grandma taught such things as a distraction from losing a parent; she comforted her granddaughter as the girl’s mother was less and less herself.

The girl had become the adult at the age of thirteen. She kept her mother safe and warm by selling fruits and vegetables at market, chopping kindle, and sewing—anything to get by. When the girl had rare free time, she spent it by her father’s graveside. Sitting in the weeds next to the wooden cross, she would tell him of the day’s events. How winter was coming and there was a harvest that needed to be stored or how the rain was turning the world to mud. Sometimes the crueller children would hide in the wooden garden and laugh and throw coal at the girl talking to the dead.

“It is nowt but jealousy,” Grandma commented as the girl cried in a rocking chair.

Grandma was rummaging in her old oak chest.

“Of what?” questioned the girl with a sigh between sobs.

“Of this.” Grandma grinned through the biggest set of gums ever seen. All the better to smile with.

With a swish Grandma produced a beautiful garment of golden brown fox fur. The girl took it, instantly feeling better and stroking the fur against her cheek.

“It’s a riding cloak,” Grandma explained. “I swapped with a right posh bugger gentleman.”

“For what?” the girl asked, distracted by the gift.. She stood and tied the cloak around her; it had a hood, which she pulled over her hair.

“For secret things, never you mind.”

“It has a hood! It has a hood!” The girl was jumping and squealing.

“The better to keep you warm.” The grandma laughed. She might have been old and her bones more bent than not, but the girl and grandma danced together and everything was good.

On this day the girl arrived at Grandma’s house. A small cottage made of coloured river stone, with a thatched roof that had been turned into root from the trees, which according to Grandma kept the house from prying nobodies. Two windows that flanked the green door reminded the girl of a surprised face. There was no fence for there was no garden, just the woods, which were becoming full of twilight as the sun had hid itself. The girl as always went to knock, but the door creaked open. It seemed to be the only sound in the world for the forest suddenly became hushed as if in anticipation. The girl stepped in. It was dark inside and from the pantry was the sound of a pot on the boil; the smell of rabbit broth filled the air, she recognised the smell of the tender meat bubbling away.. Although it was dark, the girl knew the house well: the brickwork with tree roots creeping in and gripping tight. The creaking wooden floors where furniture made from forest twigs sat. As she stepped further in, a millipede scurried over her boot and into a crack in the floor.

“Grandma?” the girl called meekly as she set the basket down and dropped her hood.

“I’m here, dear. I could hear you from all the way in the trees.”

The voice was guttural as if from a throat that needed clearing yet at the same time full of whimsy. This would explain why the house was left cold and dark. Grandma must be ill and resting. The girl made her way through to the back room where Grandma’s bed was located.

To ease her nerves she joked, “My, my, Grandma, what big ears you have.”

“All the better to hear you with, my dear,” came the reply.

Her nerves rattled and the hairs on the back of her neck swayed like dried grass in a breeze. Slowly—oh, so slowly—through shadow the girl peered around the door frame. There amongst knitted quilts and cushions lay Grandma. Her shape shifted as the girl stepped to the end of the bed. There was a crunch; the girl looked down to see a broken ornament under her boot. She went to question the discovery but her attention was grasped by a trick of the shadow. The face staring back at the girl was wrong. The pieces were there, the grey bun of hair, the loose skin and wrinkles, yet somehow the outside of Grandma was slipping. Through the drooping eye sockets deep yellow orbs gripped the girl.

“My, Grandma—” she shuddered “—what big eyes you have.”

“All the better to see you with,” Grandma growled through a mouth that was no longer just gums, but instead two neat rows of white sliced teeth that even in the dark shined like razor-sharp pearls.

The girl recoiled taking a step backwards as Grandma rose to the ceiling; or rather the beast did, freeing itself from the suit of skin with a wet slurp. It stood on hind legs, lifting a huge girth of a body and arms that ended in claws. From toe to head that broke the ceiling, covered in a dark, dark black coarse pelt.

“All the better to eat you with.” Its breath reeked of rotten meat and spittle.

The girl ran; she was through the doorway just before fur and death splintered the wood. She fell forward, franticly crawling in the dark as the strength left her legs. Behind her the beast casually padded on the floor. The creature’s lungs pumped hot breath and a constant growl.

The girl found herself in the pantry, crawling over something wet and soft. She could see from what little light broke through holes in the roof that before her lay Grandma. She had been peeled. Gasping so as not to scream, the girl pulled herself up on to the stove, where a still-boiling pot of steaming stew sat. atop.. It was hot and heavy as the girl gripped the handle in both hands, spilling the contents of meat and vegetable and scalding herself. She kept the pain inside just as a low rumbling rippled her hair. She turned, swinging her arms, spraying the boiling pot in the direction of the growl… Outside the peace of the forest erupted with a howl and the nested birds took flight.

The morning mists swirled from the nearby foliage and gently covered the village. The crows called from nests in thatches. A farmer led a cow to market while a bell swung from its fatty neck. Some of the older women took buckets to the well in the centre of the village where all of the mudded lanes met. The children arrived before chores, to run in the swirl and chase loose chickens. A gang of four children were tormenting a small brood. One particular strong-willed fowl broke away, as did a small boy determined to whack the squawking thing with a stick. It ran on idiot legs to the outskirts, quickly followed by the boy swinging away. Just as the boy was about to brain the poor creature, he stopped in his tracks. The stick fell into the mud and his eyes and mouth were opened as wide as they had ever done. There she was, a figure slowly wandering from the mist, injured in body and spirit. She passed the boy without noticing his existence. The boy could not take his eyes off the bloodied girl. The girl’s mother, who resembled something between a woman and a ghost, came from her cottage as if drawn by an invisible force and found herself facing her daughter. A whispering crowd had formed and she parted the group with their worried glances. The girl fell to her knees, exhausted; her riding cloak was wrapped around her, matted with blood.

“Mother,” the girl said, pleading with a barely audible cry.

“What did you do?” the mother screamed with a sudden outburst—screaming and pointing a shaking finger at the girl’s riding hood, now a dirty crimson.

“What did you do?”

Later, after time had passed and the story became myth, the village children would dance in a circle and sing a rhyme.

“Poor Blood Red Riding Hood has gone and turned insane,

Poor Blood Red Riding Hood has lost something in her brain,

Poor Blood Red Riding Hood, her grandma skinned and gone,

Poor Blood Red Riding Hood, to the asylum.”

 

From THE ASYLUM OF FAIRY TALE CREATURES, free for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

Sebastian’s latest book THE BOY IN THE CEMETERY is only £0.99 for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

THE GRUESOME ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN UNDEADLAND is also £0.99 for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

Look out for A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY, coming in December.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Gregory/e/B00N77S9R4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1414652511&sr=1-2-ent

 

Dark Tides Blog Tour – With Chris Ewan

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Today, as part of the blog tour for Dark Tides, I’m pleased to welcome author Chris Ewan to the blog, talking about writing from a female perspective.

We also have signed copies of the novel to give away, to be in with a chance to win one (UK only) please comment on this article telling us your favourite scary Halloween read and why. Alternatively tell me on Twitter @Lizzy11268 using the hashtag #DarkTides

Over to Mr Ewan….

 

Writing From a Female Perspective

 

Write what you know. It’s popular advice. And like a lot of popular advice, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

What do I know – and I mean really know – that I’m in a position to feel absolutely confident writing about? I used to be a lawyer, which you might think would come in handy for a crime writer, except I wasn’t a criminal lawyer, and there’s not much call for novels about film law or pensions administration. I can drive a car as well as the next person, but I’ve never been in a high speed chase or attempted to tail someone without being spotted. I’ve got angry from time to time, even rageful on occasion, but I’ve never lashed out at anyone, let alone killed somebody. I’m average. I’m ordinary. Most writers are. But I don’t want to write about the average or the ordinary, and you don’t want to read about it, so I make stuff up.

I’ve written about burglars. I’ve written about assassins and hostage negotiators; about spies and police officers; about motorbike riders, plumbers, paraplegics, magicians and showgirls. I’ve never been any of those things. Never even tried out on a Vegas stage. And of course that doesn’t matter, because like you, I have this nifty special power known as imagination. I can put myself in other people’s shoes, just like we all do from time to time, and I can imagine what it would be like to be on the run from rogue British Intelligence agents, or searching for the answers to the unsolved murder of a loved one.

This fiction business is strange. You go along quite happily, inventing whole other worlds, completely made-up characters, and then suddenly you do something that seems to draw a little more attention to the act itself.

Like, for instance, writing as a male author from the perspective of a female character.

In Dark Tides, my new book, pretty much all of the novel is narrated in first person perspective by the character of Claire Cooper. (The only alternative material is some second person narration from the perspective of a killer). And that shouldn’t, I don’t think, be any more noteworthy than narrating a book by a male character, or by an alien, or a dragon.

And yet it is.

It is, for one thing, because it’s something people tend to notice or remark on. A couple of early reviews of Dark Tides have already made reference to this, in fact.

But it’s also something I was conscious of myself when I began work on the book. Early on, I knew the only way to get to the guts of the story I wanted to tell was to narrate Dark Tides from Claire’s perspective because she was at the heart of everything for me. And truthfully, that made me nervous. Hell, I’m always nervous when I begin a new book, but this was a subject my anxiety could latch right on to.

Why? A couple of reasons, I think.

First, how could I find Claire’s voice – which is always the hardest step for me – when I had no idea what it could feel like to be a teenage girl or a young woman, to have my mother go missing, to grow up alone with my dad, to be isolated from other girls my own age, to work as a female police officer among male colleagues?

And two, I felt like I was painting a target on myself if I handled the narration insensitively in some way, if I made a crass error, or if Claire didn’t come across as authentic or credible. It stands to reason that the hazards of these potential errors should apply to every character an author writes about, though somehow they seem, or perhaps just feel, amplified when a male author writes from a female point of view.

As an aside, I think it’s also true, though I don’t know why, that it’s much less remarked on when female writers narrate novels from the perspective of male characters. Perhaps they just do a better job.

In any case, the point is that in writing Dark Tides, it became something I was very conscious of.

So what did I do differently? Not a great deal. I guess my confidence got dented a few more times than it ordinarily might. I think perhaps I provided fewer physical descriptions of Claire or her body than I’ve done in the past when I’ve written from the perspective of male characters. Other than that, I did what I always do. I tried to empathise with the character I’d created, to understand the emotions Claire was experiencing at a given moment, to get a solid grip on her motivations. And then I ran with it.

Did I do a good job? That’s impossible for me to say. But one thing I can tell you is that I think Claire is the most complex, most rounded character I’ve ever created. I miss writing about her and from her perspective. And I very much hope you might enjoy making her acquaintance.

 

DARK TIDES by Chris Ewan is out now, £14.99 (Faber & Faber)

My Review:

 

When Claire Cooper was eight years old her mother mysteriously vanished during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween. At fourteen, Claire is still struggling to come to terms with her disappearance when she’s befriended by a group of five teenagers who mark every Hop-tu-naa by performing dares. But Claire’s arrival begins to alter the group’s dynamic until one year a prank goes terribly wrong, changing all their futures and tearing the friends apart.

I’ve been a fan of Mr Ewan’s thrillers since Safe House – particularly because he always brings something different to the table with each new novel so you know you are in for a treat (or a trick?) every time, you are just not sure what kind of treat it might be..

In the case of “Dark Tides” the treat was this – one of my favourite types of story (past events invading current happenings) done with this authors particular style, using some terrifically drawn characters facing some terrifying circumstances, all wrapped up in an often scary package – perfect Halloween reading.

Pretty perfectly constructed, we go between past and present to paint a picture of the things that have shaped Claire Cooper – losing her Mother at a young age, growing up fairly insular and isolated but finally finding some really good friends. Sometimes however, friendship can be harmful and this group of eclectic and impulsive characters may not be the best thing for Claire. As events spiral out of control and she faces down a killer, it is compelling stuff and you will be hooked.

I VERY much enjoyed finding out more about the Manx version of Halloween, with all its similarites yet with a deep and imaginative mythology that lent itself brilliantly to the tale being told, giving a perfect backdrop to the often creepy and haunting events. Each of the characters has a heart and a voice all their own, Claire is especially likeable even as she does some rather idiotic things. There are not TOO many male authors who can pull off such an authentic female voice but Chris Ewan is one of them, she is someone you will want to follow along with and will root for all the way.

The mystery element is also intelligently done – ok, so the author did not manage to “trick” me but there were some fascinating insights into a heart full of darkness and an exellent flow to the proceedings, one of those books that keeps you up in the night and leaves you bleary eyed the next morning. I loved it – my favourite so far without a doubt and most definitely Highly Recommended.

 

Find out more here: http://chrisewan.com/

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

Order information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Tides-Chris-Ewan/dp/0571307434/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412675533&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+tides+chris+ewan

Liz Currently Loves….The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

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Publication Date: Available now from Two Roads Books.

Source: BookBridgr

Elizabeth Pringle has lived on the beautiful island of Arran for over 90 years; the retired teacher and spinster is a familiar and yet solitary figure tending her garden and riding her bicycle around the island. When she dies she leaves her beloved house, “Holmlea” to a woman she merely saw pushing a pram down the road over thirty years ago. That young mother, Anna, had put a letter through Elizabeth’s door asking to buy the house, but Elizabeth never pursued her. But time passed and Anna is now in a home with dementia and it falls to her daughter Martha, the baby in the pram, to come and take up their inheritance.

This was an utterly charming novel, a gentle and engaging read, told over two alternating timelines, that of Elizabeth through her journal and that of Martha as she takes up the legacy and works through the issues in her own life.

Beautifully drawn when it comes to sense of place, the author manages to bring the Isle of Arran – a place I have never visited –  to life in wonderful detail giving an evocative backdrop to Elizabeth’s story. Elizabeth herself is fascinating as we follow events from the first World War onwards, watching her develop friendships and live out her life, leading to the secret that defined her. I was totally engrossed in the tale throughout and I especially liked the similarites drawn between the issues both Elizabeth and Martha face and the changing outlook of modern times.

Martha is also enchanting – Taking up some of Elizabeth’s friendships, dealing with the difficult relationship she has with her sister, whilst also coping with her mother’s dementia (this part I think was one of the best, watching Martha see her mother fade is touching and poignant) Kirsty Wark manages to capture the emotional resonance of the two women perfectly, keeping you immersed in their story for the entirety of the read.

The story flows beautifully, there is some wonderful writing here, two strong and intriguing female characters, a story that spans changing times and attitudes and descriptive prose that will immediately make you want to visit Arran, I read this over the course of one day and was very sad to leave Martha and Elizabeth and for that matter ALL the characters behind me. Ms Wark is well known as a journalist and broadcaster and this, her first foray into novel writing, for me was pitch perfect and I can’t wait to see what she brings us next.

Recommended for fans of family drama that packs real emotional punch.

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

Follow Kirsty Wark on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KirstyWark

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Legacy-Elizabeth-Pringle-Kirsty-Wark/dp/1444777629/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414312217&sr=1-1&keywords=the+legacy+of+elizabeth+pringle+kirsty+wark

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Taking a short break….

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I am loving my reading at the moment but for the next 2-3 weeks time is an issue as there is a lot going on. Things are due to settle down any time now but I’ve found myself exhausted and stressed and not feeling particularly able to get over in words how much I’ve loved (or hated for that matter) the books I’m into at the moment. So its time for a break…

Reviews will still appear but not as often as has been usual, or possibly a whole lot will arrive in a lump!  All blog tour commitments will be met (I’m extremely excited to be a part of them) and my reading schedule has not changed, just my writing schedule, and only for a short time.

So please bear with me folks, and don’t stop sending me your lovely books for review – they will all get my heartfelt love and attention and will be reviewed in all my normal spots as soon as possible. New blog posts will appear every few days so keep an eye out…

In the meantime….Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

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Publication Date: 23rd October 2014 from Randomhouse UK/Cornerstone.

Source: Netgalley

Revelation “Reve” Dyer grew up with her grandmother’s family stories, stretching back centuries to Reve’s ancestors, who founded the town of Hawley Five Corners, Massachusetts. Their history is steeped in secrets, for few outsiders know that an ancient magic runs in the Dyer women’s blood, and that Reve is a magician whose powers are all too real.

I do love a bit of magical mayhem, a story set in a place we understand but with hidden gems just below the surface  – Chrysler Szarlan’s “The Hawley Book of the Dead” does this to perfection, using one character, Reve, to ground the story whilst building up around her an enchanting and spellbinding world of mystery, mythology and magic.

“On the day I killed my husband, the scent of lilacs startled me awake.”

….is the first thing Reve tells us and from that perfect set up flows a beautifully constructed and addictive tale, with some terrific characters and clever world building that transports you to another reality.  Reve and her husband have a very popular magic show, one day a terrible accident occurs and her husband is lost. Danger lurks so Reve moves her family back to Five Corners, hoping to be safe and to take time to heal from the tragedy. However things are about to take a sinister turn as Reve discovers more about her family history and the implications of events that occurred many years before.

I really did love how this one flowed from the page – you are caught up in a rollercoaster ride as Reve struggles to protect her girls, find out the truth of her background and fight the evil that stalks her…using a combination of stories told to her as a child, her own past experiences and what is happening right now, the story unfolds in a fascinating and often eerie way…and boy will it keep you turning those pages.

There is some intelligent and imaginative mythology created here, the author managing to fill in the background slowly but surely in a way that is very satisfying indeed. The sense of place is extremely well done with some wonderful descriptive prose, I was fascinated by the hidden layers of the places the characters inhabit. Some elegantly drawn characters can be found alongside Reve, all adding to the whole and I particularly loved “Nan” with her mysterious and often frustrating habit of talking around a given subject.

Particularly engaging for me was the thread of the tale that dealt with magic shows, the staging of such things, the work that goes into it and the planning, I found it absolutely riveting, a whole other world in itself.

Overall then a fantastic magical read, one that I would definitely recommend and I hope very much to meet Reve again in further stories. We shall see!

Find out more here: http://chryslerszarlan.com/

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

Pre-order/Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hawley-Book-Dead-Chrysler-Szarlan-ebook/dp/B00L4HYPB8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413622537&sr=1-1&keywords=the+hawley+book+of+the+dead

Happy Reading Folks!

Stressed out? On Edge?

…I have a perfect solution. Reading as Therapy.

Is this you?

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That used to be me a lot, still is sometimes. But ever since I can remember, a good book has relieved the pressure in life, allowed me to escape to another world if only for a while and has at every low point in my life managed to save me from myself. Until recently I had not really considered reading as therapy but I believe it can work for a lot of people whether they are currently avid readers or not..

Can it work for you?

Yes. All you need to do to start is buy a book. Or borrow one. Let the cover art guide you, pick up one that catches your eye, read some blurbs, wander your local bookshop or library to your hearts content until something pops out at you. This in itself you will find strangely relaxing…

Start by deciding what you need to give you a boost. Mundane job getting you down? You need a terrific fantasy novel. Tired, over emotional new parent? Try a humerous novel about other new parents. Lucy Lawrie’s “Tiny Acts Of Love” for example will make you realise you are not alone and will also make you laugh even at your lowest moment.

There is always a book that can take you somewhere you need to go.  You can find ANY escape in a book – another world entirely, or our world, stories about people like you and unlike you..Humour, Education, Magic, Mystery, Excitement, Adventure..ALL to be had within the pages of a book. There is a reason that storytelling is an ancient art after all.

 

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Sometimes a book can save your life. Those of you who follow my posts here on the blog and on Twitter will be aware that it happened to me. Matt Haig’s “The Humans” was a book I read over one dark night of my soul which left me wanting to live. And eat peanut butter of course. Plus now I want a dog. And all this when only a few hours previously I had wondered if life was worth living…

 

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All you need is to pick the right book for you, find a space and do this….

index                         Or this….

 

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You don’t need a lot of time. A few pages, a few chapters, will take you out of yourself and give your psyche a chance to take a breath. At the end of a long day, make yourself a cup of tea (or a stiff drink!) find a comfortable spot, and lose yourself in the pages of a novel. Any novel. I promise it will make a huge difference and give you something to look forward to at the end of the next stressful day…after all, you will need to know what happens in that other world.

Thank you for reading my thoughts for the day! If you would like to know more about “The Humans” please follow the link…

 

http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/yes-yes-liz-still-currently-loves-the-humans-by-matt-haig/

 

Or about “Tiny Acts of Love”…..

 

http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/lucy-lawrie-and-tiny-acts-of-love/

 

But the choice of reading material is, as ever, yours. Pick a good one!

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves….Cut Out by Fergus McNeill

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Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder and Staughton

Source: BookBridgr

Nigel never meant for it to happen. At first, he just wanted to be Matt’s friend. But when he discovers he can hear what is going on in the flat below him, his fascination with his new neighbor drifts into obsession. Rearranging his furniture to recreate the layout of the rooms downstairs. Buying the same clothes, going through his post, his things. Becoming Matt without him ever knowing. And it would have been all right, if Matt hadn’t brought the girl home. When things spiral out of control, Detective Inspector Harland has to unravel the disturbing truth. But there’s far more to the case than meets the eye . .

My first DI Harland novel from Fergus McNeill (There are two others prior to this one, Eye Contact and Knife Edge) and it was a definite page turner and some really excellent crime fiction. It was easily read as a standalone novel, although I will certainly be returning to read the previous stories in the series.

A  drug dealer is murdered but before DI Harland can get his teeth into the case he is moved over to investigate the disappearance of a local woman as fears for her safety grow. As he interviews various people in her life, we are also taken back in time to hear from Nigel, who is becoming more and more obsessed with his downstairs neighbour…

I loved how this one was constructed, making it highly addictive and eminently readable – seeing the police investigation unfold whilst also learning about what has lead up to current events, the author manages to keep you on your toes with some terrific storytelling and an intelligently plotted mystery. Not everything is as it first appears and as the story twists and turns to a terrifically exciting conclusion this is crime fiction at its very best.

I adored the characters, the setting and the flow of it – DI Harland is wonderful as a main protagonist and I also developed a bit of a soft spot for Nigel despite his,erm, quirks. Add to them a well rounded supporting cast, a clever and satisfying set of suspects and an interesting psychological depth when it comes to the issue of stalking and you have a well imagined, intriguing tale which will keep you avidly turning the pages until you are done.

Definitely highly recommended for Crime fiction fans and for anyone looking to dip their toe in the water when it comes to this genre.

Find out more here: http://www.fergusmcneill.blogspot.co.uk/

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fergus-McNeill/e/B009ROPGAO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Also Available:

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Being “A Writer” – Guest Post from Joanna Courtney

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Today its the turn of Joanna to guest post again – this time about Being “A Writer”.

 

People sometimes ask me on courses ‘when can I call myself a writer’ and I always say – and very firmly believe – that the moment you write something you are a writer. Some people, after all, are happy just to write for themselves or for close friends/family and why not? The question, maybe, is ‘when can I call myself a professional writer’ and for that you do need to earn money from your work.

 
I sometimes think that as writers we feel a bit apologetic about wanting to earn cold hard cash, as if it somehow sullies our art. That’s stupid, though. After all, Shakespeare wasn’t slow to take payment for his plays! And if Wayne Rooney is paid such a fortune for creating drama (or, indeed, failing to create drama) with his feet, then why should we not also be rewarded for our stories? Besides, there’s nothing quite like someone buying your story/novel/poem/play to make you feel it’s worth something and that, frankly, makes you feel fantastic. Plus, we all need to eat.
The problem, perhaps, comes when we have to earn money by other means whilst we wait for our JK Rowling break. It’s sometimes hard not to resent the time spent not writing, but needs must and there’s nothing like a small window to make you focus!

 
When my daughter was a baby my stepmum very kindly had her one day a week whilst I was released to the library down the road to write. It was a blissful freedom and a chance to use my slowly rusting mind on something more stimulating than nursery rhymes, but it was also a big pressure. I remember pacing the paths outside the library one morning in despair – I felt I had NO ideas, as if the thousands of stories forever teaming around in my head had deserted me the moment I had time to capture them on paper.
It was tough but it didn’t take me long to get on top of it, mainly by dint of keeping a notebook with ideas jotted down and, ideally, developed just far enough to tantalise me so I was keen to get going once I hit my desk. It’s a practice that has stood me in good stead over years of snatched writing time during playgroups, naps (theirs not mine), playdates and that most guilty of motherly tools – the electronic nanny. I’m sure the same is also true for people writing in lunch hours, days off and (the killer) evenings.
The key, as with so much in life, is in getting started. The blank page is a scary beast, even the blank page of a pretty new notebook (yes, like most writers I am addicted to stationery). It holds the latent threat that you’ve forgotten how to do it. I’m still convinced every single time I start a new story/chapter/episode that all writing ability will have deserted me.
I’ve just spent two gorgeous weeks on holiday. Much of it was lovely family-time but in the mornings I would wake first and lie blissfully in bed thinking about the characters and plot turns of Book 2 of my Queens of the Conquest trilogy. I’ve made lots of notes and am excited about getting started but I’m also half clinging onto the precious time before I do, just in case I simply cannot write any more. That’s especially true this time as I’m aware my lovely PanMac editor Natasha has high hopes for the book and by the time it’s finished (assuming I do get started) there will be real, live readers out there too! That’s amazing but also terrifying.

 
So I need to get past that blank page, At least once there are a few words written down, autopilot can hopefully take over and I can lose myself in the joys of the unfolding story rather than the terrors of the actual act of creation. Roll on September and the end of the school holidays so I can go for it.
Nowadays, with both children at school I have a much longer writing day (though I confess to yearning slightly for them both being at secondary school in just over a year’s time for an even longer one) but I still feel that being constrained for time helps me, which is a good job as I have to balance my Open University work with my magazine writing, my other teaching, and, of course, writing Book 2.

 
cornish deskThere are times when I dream of retreating to a remote island, just me and a giant notebook, but I also wonder if panic would set in again. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be willing to give it a try if anyone offered me an island – especially one in, say, the Caribbean – but maybe it’s actually the pressure of fitting other things in that makes my writing time so precious and so valued. I’m a tutor, a mother, a wife, a PTA member and a dog-walker and I love it, but on top of all that I’m delighted to call myself a ‘writer’ and hope others are too.

Dark Tides by Chris Ewan….Hop-tu-naa is coming…

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Publication Date: 16th October 2014 from Faber and Faber.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

When Claire Cooper was eight years old her mother mysteriously vanished during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween. At fourteen, Claire is still struggling to come to terms with her disappearance when she’s befriended by a group of five teenagers who mark every Hop-tu-naa by performing dares. But Claire’s arrival begins to alter the group’s dynamic until one year a prank goes terribly wrong, changing all their futures and tearing the friends apart.

I’ve been a fan of Mr Ewan’s thrillers since Safe House – particularly because he always brings something different to the table with each new novel so you know you are in for a treat (or a trick?) every time, you are just not sure what kind of treat it might be..

In the case of “Dark Tides” the treat was this – one of my favourite types of story (past events invading current happenings) done with this authors particular style, using some terrifically drawn characters facing some terrifying circumstances, all wrapped up in an often scary package – perfect Halloween reading.

Pretty perfectly constructed, we go between past and present to paint a picture of the things that have shaped Claire Cooper – losing her Mother at a young age, growing up fairly insular and isolated but finally finding some really good friends. Sometimes however, friendship can be harmful and this group of eclectic and impulsive characters may not be the best thing for Claire. As events spiral out of control and she faces down a killer, it is compelling stuff and you will be hooked.

I VERY much enjoyed finding out more about the Manx version of Halloween, with all its similarites yet with a deep and imaginative mythology that lent itself brilliantly to the tale being told, giving a perfect backdrop to the often creepy and haunting events. Each of the characters has a heart and a voice all their own, Claire is especially likeable even as she does some rather idiotic things. There are not TOO many male authors who can pull off such an authentic female voice but Chris Ewan is one of them, she is someone you will want to follow along with and will root for all the way.

The mystery element is also intelligently done – ok, so the author did not manage to “trick” me but there were some fascinating insights into a heart full of darkness and an exellent flow to the proceedings, one of those books that keeps you up in the night and leaves you bleary eyed the next morning. I loved it – my favourite so far without a doubt and most definitely Highly Recommended.

I will be part of the Dark Tides Blog Tour on the 28th October when you will find a guest post from the author. And on Halloween itself keep an eye out, there may be a treat in store. No tricks. I promise…

Find out more here: http://chrisewan.com/

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

Pre-Order information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Tides-Chris-Ewan/dp/0571307434/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412675533&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+tides+chris+ewan

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves….Help for the Haunted by John Searles.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Sphere.

Source: Publisher Proof Copy.

It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping “haunted souls” find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church’s red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

I absolutely adored this beautifully written, haunting and evocative novel about two sisters and their strange childhood and coming of age, growing up in a house with parents who are not by any means normal and whose career lends itself to some strange and sometimes scary goings on…

Exquisitely constructed, the story opens on that fateful night at the old church, then moves backwards and forwards in time telling the tale of Sylvie and Rose as they grow up and slowly but surely revealing the background and events leading up to the time that everything changes. It is truly compelling throughout and highly addictive – as Sylvie struggles to make sense of her life and the lives of those around her you will be enthralled, immersed into their world and barely able to look away. Often horrifying, definitely upon occasion very creepy and yet with an elegance and depth to it that will resonate, this is absolutely one of the best books I have read this year.

Sylvie provides our eyes and ears – she is the “good” daughter, the one who is accepting and who never causes trouble. She has a love/hate relationship with her sister Rose, who is a completely fascinating character, not so willing to forgive or understand and who has her own inner demons to fight..as such I found her enthralling and often eminently dislikeable yet more fragile than she cares to admit. Extremely well drawn both, they provide the anchor around which all else flows, in a tale that is at turns enchanting and alarming.

I kind of don’t want to give anything else away. How they cope, what happens, where and why – these are all things to discover as things unfold…at its heart it is  the tale of one family, the author simply allowing his characters to speak, and the reader to draw their own conclusions. An intelligent and very appealing novel, with some surprising twists and turns, a complete tale which lends itself well to allowing the readers imagination to have full flow, I’m very sorry to say goodbye to this one. And without doubt I shall be reading more from this author. Preferably VERY soon.

Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/JohnSearlesAuthor

Follow the Author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/searlesbooks

Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/john+searles/help+for+the+haunted/10125629/

Happy Reading Folks!