Liz Currently Loves – The Sham by Ellen Allen

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Publication Date: Available Now from BookBaby.

Source: Author Review Copy.

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as “The Sham”, with her boyfriend, Jack, but he’s very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He’s also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months’ ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily’s classmates washed up in the local floods.

The Sham was a book that surprised me. I expected one thing, got quite another, it was a terrifically eclectic and weirdly wonderful read exploring some haunting themes at its heart.

Emily meets Jack, a strange enigmatic character and falls for him. So much so that she glosses over his odd proclivities and rather weird ways and is willing to go a long way to protect him from the suspicions of the town. Meanwhile her own family is causing her grief, old signs are appearing all over “The Sham” and girls are disappearing..

Admittedly I was very nearly put off this one by a very violent bullying scene right at the start of it – however this was simply the jumping off point  for a really clever tale that is not all that it immediately appears to be and this scene is integral to that and important. Ellen Allen keeps the suspense going throughout – Just who is Jack and where did he come from, what is happening with the disappearances, all enthralling and engaging stuff.

Added to that we have a hint of family drama, some very well drawn characters some of whom are immensely unlikeable but still very authentic. I loved Emily, she is ruled by her heart rather than by her head a lot of the time, but its still very practically minded. There are some humerous moments to offset the dark side of the story, some of which made me laugh a lot…the jam for example, ha.

Clever writing, a weird and wonderful feel to it and a story that will take you in often astonishing directions, I thought it was terrific. It will get into your head and stay there!

Find out more here: http://www.amazon.com/Ellen-Allen/e/B00NBSMRYK

Follow Ellen on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EllenWritesAll

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sham-Ellen-Allen/dp/1505583667/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422264777&sr=1-1&keywords=the+sham+ellen+allen

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale.

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Publication Date: March 26th 2015 from Tinder Press

Source: Publisher Review Copy

In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.

An absolutely remarkable novel, I loved every single minute of it. Old School storytelling at its best, Patrick Gale weaves a heartfelt and emotive web around the reader as we follow a man called Harry Cane through life, love, war, insanity and redemption.

When we meet Harry he is a gentle soul who drifts through life, facing problems as they arise but mostly having a quiet and routine existence with nothing hugely significant going on. He meets Winnie, marries her and seems set to carry on meandering along. Then an encounter leads to a passionate affair, which when it ends leaves Harry in an untenable position – so he departs for Canada, seeking a new path.

It is beautifully written, atmospheric and with a magnificent sense of place and time, undeniably addictive I was enthralled throughout. Fascinating looking back at the differing attitudes of the time, the characters pop from the page and it is all brilliantly authentic and often very emotional. I was up and down like a yo-yo with my feelings whilst reading this, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, always utterly enchanted with the people and the places, by the end I was in tears. The good kind.

It is kind of hard to know what else to say, sometimes I guess less is more.  I have joined the growing mob of readers who are going to throw this novel at everyone they ever met once it is released – a marvel of a story that you will both relish and adore, I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

Find out more here: http://www.galewarning.org/

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

Pre-Order information:

Special Edition Signed by Author (I want one!) http://www.goldsborobooks.com/books/a-place-called-winter-4260.html

Alternative Pre-Order:  http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/patrick+gale/a+place+called+winter/11344628/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Why We Write – Drop In Feature – Guest post from Ravinder Randhawa.

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Today I am pleased to welcome Ravinda to the blog telling us why she writes. Thank you Ravinda!

 

 

Why We Write

 

I knew at a very young age that I wanted to write. A strange knowing in a young child, whose family circle was devoid of writers, journalists or any other literati. The family may not yet have produced authors and artists but it was a family which valued knowledge and learning. We were taught that books were always to be treated with care and respect. As a child, I remember being really shocked when I saw a friend scribbling and drawing in her book, and when I asked her about it she couldn’t understand why it mattered. Personally I couldn’t understand why it didn’t matter. Books are precious. This is akin to Salman Rushdie’s childhood story about having to kiss a book if it fell to the floor before putting it back on the bookshelf.

Books have always been a passion and I was the traditional bookworm, always having a book under the pillow, or truanting from my chores, nose buried in a book. The love of books doesn’t always lead to the urge to write so there must be some mystery, some unknown part of our soul and psyche propelling us writers to spend our lives creating stories which we hope will entertain, convey some truth and meaning, or purely provide escapism. The desire to tell stories and the desire to listen to them has existed throughout the ages and across the world. Could it be that we humans do need more from our brief existence than merely the satisfaction of our physical needs? That we have an insatiable desire to engage with greater vistas, ideas and philosophies?

The conviction that writing is my vocation has been one of the fixed things in my life, accompanying me from childhood to maturity. Like a companion, always there at my side and existing in the sense of a journey, not a destination. I’m sure I’ll be tapping away on my last day on this planet, worrying about how to formulate this or that sentence, trying to decide whether a comma or semi-colon is needed and looking forward to getting stuck into the next revision. Unlike some writers I love revising, for that’s when the novel begins to develop, stretch and gather depth.

I used to think that writing was far too noble an art for me to aspire to (not that it put me off) but I used to go around calling myself a ‘would-be’ writer. Even now, after having had three acclaimed novels published and many short stories, I sometimes think ‘Wow, how did that happen?’ I remember holding the published copy of my first novel, A Wicked Old Woman, in my hands with a sense of pure disbelief. How could those handwritten pages, those typed sheets have been transformed into a book that was as bona fide as any other? How could it actually be sitting in bookshops and libraries, being bought and borrowed by actual readers?

Publishing the first novel is always a milestone but it doesn’t mean that writing subsequent novels becomes easier. In fact, I think it becomes harder because you demand more from yourself and become more critical. Perhaps that feeling of always having to go back to the baseline and start from scratch, arises from the different demands of each novel, the different challenges of story, structure, plot and character. In addition, I do think the more you write the more critical you become of your own work. That heady outpouring of the first novel, never really occurs again, because with each work, the desire to develop, extend and refine becomes stronger.

The urge to write is also the urge to have my say about the world. Thousands of writers, Shakespeare, Dickens and others have used fiction to have their rants and raves about the world, whether the subject is treachery, Victorian workhouses or political corruption. For me, fiction is a truth teller; telling the truth with tenderness, humanity and nuance. Whether it deploys the structures of comedy, tragedy or satire, fiction accomplishes the amazing feat of making the reader forget themselves and experience the emotions, dilemmas and dangers of someone else, as if in this way, more is conveyed than is actually being said. Fiction provides an ‘immersive’ experience in a way that newspaper articles, which with all their information, statistics and research never can. The deceptive art of ‘making up stories’ often succeeds in leaving the reader haunted by characters and events, which enrich the reader’s life experience, allows them to extend the boundaries of their own lives, and look at the world in a more thoughtful way.

Writing is that strange act of creating something out of nothing. I’m not quite sure where the urge comes from but the challenge is always there: to create an entertainment or a truth which captivates and enthrals, engages the heart and mind. It’s wonderful when a reader says ‘I got lost in a book.’

 

About Beauty and the Beast: Enemies,Romance, Fireworks.

‘Problems? Confusions? Contradictions? I got them all and if you’ve got them, then FLAUNT them is my motto.’ Meet Harjinder (aka Hari-jan): ‘A’ level student, supermarket worker and desperate journalist. Feisty and impulsive, Hari-jan can’t refuse a dare and to make matters worse has fallen in love with the wrong boy. Her best friend Ghazala has taken to wearing the hijab and mentoring racists. Can Hari-jan battle through the hurdles and win her man? Can Ghazala work out how to do Good in her own way? A sparkling, coming-of-age novel about life, love and friendship.

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

Follow Ravinder on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/RealRavs

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ravinder-Randhawa/e/B00JABUL1S/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Happy Reading Folks!

Author Interview: Luca Veste and The Dying Place.

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So I’m a bit behind here – apologies to Luca who very kindly answered some questions for me about his brilliant follow up to “Dead Gone” ages ago now. I use Christmas as my excuse, I mean who doesnt get a befuddled brain at Christmas? Anyway here we are at last, and thanks to Luca for telling me all about The Dying Place. Although I’m sure the answer to the last question may have changed by now…

A second outing for Murphy and  Rossi then – and something a little different for them this time. What was the original inspiration behind this story?

 

The initial idea came from an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with my dad for many years. Whilst extremely liberal in most societal concerns, when it comes to teenagers and the issues they can cause, he has a very different view. On many occasions he has said that the only way to deal with what some would call “scallies” or “chavs” etc, is to get a group of old boys together in a van and pick these teenagers up off the street, beat them up, and then return them to civilisation changed forever. As I’ve got older, I have started to question the logic of violence ending violence, so I decided to write about a group of people coming together to do exactly what my dad had outlined… and it, of course, leads to disastrous results!

 

Its an interesting theme and one that will garner discussion – do you think perhaps society as a whole could do more to encourage young people to focus their energy in a more positive way?

 

Of course, but I think it’s always been that way. It’s arguably more prominent now, with an ageing population who have stories about youths and the problems they cause fed to them by their preferred media. However, it’s not just the fault of media as to why encouragement is possibly not there as much now, and there are many things which we could do as a society to give more opportunities to young people. Closing libraries, youth clubs, and avenues such as those is not the answer. Neither is increasing university fees to ridiculous levels, restraining those in low-income families to consider going (which is arguably the intention). With the collapse of industry a few decades ago, what jobs/careers are actually viable for young people out there? It’s something that needs to be considered more.

 

Can you tell us anything about what is next for the duo?

 

I’m writing Murphy and Rossi 3 at the moment. All I can say is that there’s a serial killer in Liverpool again… but this time, there’s a twist. The theme is violence in media and 24 hour news culture. That’s all I’m allowed to say at the moment!

 

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

 

My favourite read of the year so far is between three… Long Way Home by Eva Dolan, The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby, and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, with the latter just edging out the other two. I would probably go for that one as a present, but I learned long ago that I don’t exactly share taste in novels with the rest of my family, so a voucher may be a better idea instead ;-)

Thank you Luca!

Review:

DI Murphy and DS Rossi discover the body of known troublemaker Dean Hughes, dumped on the steps of St Mary’s Church in West Derby, Liverpool. His body is covered with the unmistakable marks of torture. As they hunt for the killer, they discover a worrying pattern. Other teenagers, all young delinquents, have been disappearing without a trace. Who is clearing the streets of Liverpool? Where are the other missing boys being held? And can Murphy and Rossi find them before they meet the same fate as Dean?

 


A different case for Murphy and Rossi this time, a dark and disturbing tale but brilliantly written and very addictive, taking on themes of the breaks in our society and turning them into a haunting tale which is also endlessly fascinating.

I’m a fan of Murphy and Rossi as a duo – they are a great “crime fiction” pairing, I find one of the strengths of these tales is how Luca gives focus not only to them but to the people they get involved with in each case, we as readers see both sides of the story, even as identities are hidden to allow for some terrific mystery elements.

In the case of “The Dying Place” I was not only enthralled and often disturbed by the tale unfolding but it also gave me pause for thought, to consider the heart of Justice and how that can mean different things to different people. At turns terrifying and emotional this really was a wonderfully constructed thriller with hugely appealing characters, both those we know and those we don’t.

A very emotional ending with an excellent lead in to book 3, which I can’t wait for, made this one of my top crime reads of last year. Excellent stuff.

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

Follow Luca on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LucaVeste

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dying-Place-Luca-Veste/dp/0007525583/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421739251&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dying+place+by+luca+veste

 

Also Available:

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/DEAD-GONE-Luca-Veste/dp/0007525575/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

New Release Spotlight: Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley.

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I recently read Shallow Waters, a great crime debut from Rebecca Bradley  – so I caught up with her to ask a few questions, here is what she had to tell me.

 

Tell us a little about the inspiration for Hannah as a character?

 

To be honest, I’m not sure there was a real inspiration as such. I just knew I wanted a female protagonist and I wanted to tell the story in first person narrative so the reader would be there right in the middle of the action as she was. From there Hannah evolved on the page with the story. I drew up a backstory, which is only hinted at in Shallow Waters, and that makes her who she is. As for her manner with her team, I didn’t want a tough hot-headed maverick, but neither did I want her to be seen as a pushover. I wanted to avoid stereotypes which is difficult is such a busy genre, so I just wrote, with those parameters, and what you read is the result.

 

Was there a lot of research involved to make the police investigation aspects so authentic?

 

Thank you, I’m glad you found it authentic. I know crime readers can pick up on details so it is important to me. If you decide to write a procedural, it needs to be procedurally correct. If you’re writing that maverick cop, mentioned above, who do as they please, then it doesn’t matter. Luckily I know a lot of police officers and research isn’t a difficult issue for me. I know the case she investigates is a difficult read for people, but there have been so many high profile court cases on the news lately of girls being groomed that I wanted to cover it, but obviously with as light a touch as I could and again, I know the right people.

 

Is crime your preferred reading genre as well as writing?

 

I love crime fiction! Last year I had to force myself to start reading outside the genre. I then found out I quite liked YA. How’s that for a change in genres? But there are some great crime writers out there and they can tackle some great social topics or they can just give us a really good read. I have so many books I still want to read, I need to be able to read faster!

 

Can you tell us anything about what is next for Hannah?

 

Hannah will be returning at the end of June this year. It will be six months on from the last novel (in the novel as well as literally) and the team are in for a really difficult time. It’s more complex as she has to deal with fallout from Shallow Waters; emotionally and practically, and at the same time she finds herself up against a killer who in some ways mirrors her. It’s an interesting one.

 

 

One book you recommend to everyone.

 

Just one?! If I say it fast you might not notice :)

 

OK, deep breath; Everything by Karin Slaughter, David Jackson, The Humans by Matt Haig, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer!

 

There. Just the one!

 

Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

 

Read a book. Seriously what else if it’s a lazy Sunday? I have to have multiple cups of tea with me as well though.

 

One famous person you would most like to meet and why.

 

There are a lot of people I’d like to meet and for various reasons, but one person is Chris Hadfield. The astronaut who was in space and making YouTube videos while he was up there. Teaching. Sharing. It was amazing to follow him on Twitter and see his photographs. Did you see the video where he sang David Bowie’s, Space Oddity while up there? It was amazing! OK, end of gushing.

Thank you Rebecca!

 

Review:

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.
Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.
But it doesn’t stop there. When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

A really excellent crime debut, dark, clever and immensely readable, Shallow Waters is a gritty and addictive read that will grip you from the outset.

Hannah Robbins is an excellent main protagonist, emotionally resonant and with just enough secrets to embed you into the series – she is driven and very authentic, you will get right behind her. I liked the relationship she had with her reporter boyfriend, it gives an intriguing twist to proceedings and the rest of the cast are well rounded, as an introduction to a new ongoing series this worked perfectly.

It is violent – possibly not for the faint hearted, the mystery element is emotive and very well drawn and will keep you turning those pages to discover the outcome. The police procedural portions of the tale are well rounded and realistic, the pressure and the horror of tracking a killer comes across beautifully. There is a terrific depth to the plotting, especially in relation to allowing the reader to get to know the victim, therefore ensuring that we are as desperate as the police are to catch the villain.

Overall then a really really great read and one that I highly recommend for fans of Crime Fiction. Can’t wait to find out what is next for Hannah and Co.

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

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/RebeccaJBradley

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shallow-Waters-DI-Hannah-Robbins-ebook/dp/B00R9Q4CUM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1421651214

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves…Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery.

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Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mantle

Source: Advance Reading Copy.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the rainy season. When a French man, Hugo Quercy, is found brutally murdered, Commandant Serge Morel finds his holiday drawn to an abrupt halt. Quercy – dynamic, well-connected – was the magnetic head of a humanitarian organisation which looked after the area’s neglected youth.
Opening his investigation, the Parisian detective soon finds himself buried in one of his most challenging cases yet.

So “The Lying Down Room” was one of my favourite debuts of its year, so I was very excited to revisit Serge Morel in the second book in the series – it was absolutely worth the wait, another beautifully written crime novel with a decidedly intriguing main protagonist at the heart of it all.

Here we find Morel on holiday in Cambodia, hoping to reconnect with family, but the brutal murder of a French man finds him thrown into the centre of another mystery. Dealing with the rather eclectic ways of the Cambodian police, local politics and French politices with a distinct lack of resources, this will be a huge challenge.

There are a lot of things to love about this story – not the least of which is the absolutely evocative sense of place Anna Jaquiery brings to her stories. As a snapshot of real life in Cambodia, it is done with a practical eye and a real sense of authenticity that puts you right there with Serge as we see it through his eyes and that of others. There is a beauty and an emotion about it all that pops off the page and gives this a distinct edge when it comes to immersing the reader in the tale being told.

There are some beautifully drawn characters, the mystery itself is intelligent and evocative – this is not so much a rush to judgement or a thrill ride of a tale, but more of a gentle uncovering of the many layers hiding the truth. The lack of resources Morel faces works to give this a more psychological side, this will not be solved by a lucky fingerprint found but by talking to the people involved, knowing them, understanding their motives, feelings and actions. A Russian doll type tale where Morel unlocks one part of Hugo’s life which leads to another then another then eventually to a killer – It is all exquisitely achieved and absolutely addictive.

On top of all that we get some excellent insights into Morel himself as his own story continues, some small peeks back into what is going on in France, so as a book two it works so well, I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to find out what is next.

Overall then a most terrific read. Definitely highly recommended for fans of Literary Crime stories.

 

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

Pre Order Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/anna+jaquiery/death+in+the+rainy+season/11220622/

 

Also Available: Read First (Not imperative)

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Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/anna+jaquiery/the+lying+down+room/10045120/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on The Curvy Girls Club….

So today see’s the release of “The Curvy Girls Club” by Michele Gorman. It sounds brilliant so I was pleased to be able to spotlight this today for you all and give you some further information…

 

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The Curvy Girls Club US coverU.S. COVER

About the Book:

A hilarious heart-warming read about normal women with normal problems.
Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Bridesmaids.

Can the curvy girls have their cake and eat it?

Meet best friends Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane. Fed up with always struggling to lose weight, they start a social club where size doesn’t matter. Soon it’s the most popular place to be – having fun instead of counting carbs. And the girls suddenly find their lives changing in ways they never imagined.

But outside the club, things aren’t as rosy, as they struggle with the ups and downs of everyday life.

In this funny, heart-warming read about normal women learning to love themselves, the curvy girls soon realise that no matter what life throws at them, together, anything is possible . . .

 

Watch the video’s!

“You are not fat”: http://youtu.be/qsNP-ganYno

“Bloom”: http://youtu.be/zdMTumzl_cE

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Michele Gorman is the USA TODAY bestselling author of eight romantic comedies. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 16 years. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

You can find out more about Michele by following her on twitter, Facebook and by reading her blog or website. Do chat with her online – she’s always looking for an excuse to procrastinate!

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Curvy-Girls-Club-Michele-Gorman/dp/0007585624/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421310430&sr=1-1&keywords=the+curvy+girls+club

Happy Reading Folks!

The Girl in the Photograph. Interview with Kate Riordan.

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So tomorrow you can finally get your hands on The Girl in the Photograph, a brilliant and evocative story – As you may know I recently spent a weekend at Owlpen, the inspiration for the novel, you can find a link to my article about that further down the page. To celebrate publication I asked Kate a few questions and here is what she had to tell me.

 

Having had a wonderful weekend there, I know Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire provided the inspiration for the novel – but tell us a little about your first visit and how the story started for you?

 

I first went to Owlpen for a travel piece I was writing for Time Out magazine. I stayed in the Court House, which is a little cottage close to the manor house. I was expecting the estate to be beautiful; what I hadn’t anticipated was the atmosphere of the place. That was what stayed with me, and later inspired the setting for the book that eventually became The Girl in the Photograph – with the Court House becoming the little summerhouse where Alice finds Elizabeth’s diary. The first scene I wrote was Alice’s arrival at Fiercombe Manor. At that point I didn’t know what had brought Alice to the valley, or what would happen to her while she was there. I was just enjoying writing about a beautiful place with a mysterious past – mysterious even to me!

The two amazing women we follow in the story are on similar paths but are very different people – Were you emotionally attached to both equally or was there a favourite?

 

Though outwardly they seem very different, that’s because they’re products of different times and different backgrounds. At base they actually have a lot in common. Both are trapped because they’re women; both are frightened by their lack of choices; both are romantics who have been let down by the men in their lives. I wanted to rescue both of them at various points in the narrative – pick them up and put them down in our times – so, yes, I definitely felt attached to both. Your sympathetic characters become close friends of a kind, and so it would feel disloyal to pick a favourite.

 

 
Elizabeth is definitely an echo within Fiercombe – do you believe that history can “haunt” a house, not necessarily in a supernatural way?
 

 

Yes, I like to think so. I don’t believe in ghosts per se, and I’ve looked hard in some ostensibly haunted houses without seeing a thing! Even so, I’m really drawn to the idea that something of what has gone before still remains. There are places I’ve been where the past just seems so much closer. Sometimes that’s creepy and sometimes it’s comforting. Generally it’s the latter – and I prefer living in old houses for that reason. I think about people from a hundred years ago moving through the same rooms I now occupy – laughing and arguing and dreaming – and I find that fascinating. Poignant, too.

 

 

Did you always forsee that ending for both Alice and Elizabeth or did things change as the tale developed?

 

I knew I wanted a blend of sadness and redemption so yes, I planned the ending pretty early on. What I didn’t know was how I was going to get there, in either character’s case. It was the middle I didn’t have a clue about. Characters have a habit of taking you in a direction you didn’t expect but I was always clear how I wanted to leave them.

 

  One book you recommend to everyone.
 

Books are so subjective that there isn’t a single one I can think of that everyone would love. But if that’s too much of a cop-out I’ll go for Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

 
Book you wish you had written.
 

Oh, I’m always wishing that. One of the more recent ones is Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. That woman is a genius. Her books are so funny, heart-breaking and uplifting all at the same time. Her ear for dialogue is unrivalled, too.

 

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

 

I’ve almost finished the first draft, which is exciting (and a relief). It’s about a grandmother and granddaughter who are both governesses when they’re young. Moving between 1878, 1910 and 1922, it’s not only about their experiences working for the same family, but their own complex relationship. I’ve been interested in governesses since I read Jane Eyre as a child. Theirs was a life of contradictions because they were neither servant nor family. They were working women when very few ‘respectable’ women were, but this didn’t mean they were free and independent. Far from it: they might have been educated but they were usually without means or status. All this gave them a unique – and frequently lonely – perspective on life.

Thank you SO much Kate!

About the book:

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In the summer of 1933, Alice Eveleigh has arrived at Fiercombe Manor in disgrace. The beautiful house becomes her sanctuary, a place to hide her shame from society in the care of the housekeeper, Mrs Jelphs. But the manor also becomes a place of suspicion, one of secrecy.
Something isn’t right.
Someone is watching.
There are secrets that the manor house seems determined to keep. Tragedy haunts the empty rooms and foreboding hangs heavy in the stifling heat. Traces of the previous occupant, Elizabeth Stanton, are everywhere and soon Alice discovers Elizabeth’s life eerily mirrors the path she herself is on
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I absolutely adored this story – told in two timelines as we follow Alice as she arrives at Fiercombe Manor and Elizabeth Stanton, a previous resident who is somewhat enigmatic, this gripped me from the start and is written so beautifully and with such great poignancy that it stayed with me long after I had finished it. The two main characters are appealing and genuinely fascinating, separated as they are by years but both living strangely parallel lives.  It really was a most terrific read and I loved every minute of it.

This will certainly be going on my Highly Recommended list when I write up a fuller review and I would definitely encourage everyone to add it to their reading lists for the New Year.

I was lucky enough to recently visit the inspiration behind the story, Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire and you can read all about that here. Again I would encourage anyone who can to visit there themselves – beautiful and peaceful I had the best time. Links to the Owlpen website can be found in the article.

http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/kate-riordan-the-girl-in-the-photograph-and-owlpen-manor/

 

You can follow Kate on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KateRiordanUK

Teaser Trailer for the novel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-AqAqtAp6w&feature=youtu.be

Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/kate+riordan/the+girl+in+the+photograph/11223559/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Gone by Rebecca Muddiman – Blog Tour.

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So as part of the Blog tour for the terrific crime novel “Gone”, in the spirit of my “Why We Write” occasional drop in features, Rebecca Muddiman kindly wrote a guest article all about her writing process.

 

My Writing Process

I’m constantly searching for the perfect writing process and routine. I have a copy of Daily Rituals by Mason Currey next to my bed which outlines the habits of other writers and I do wonder about copying some of the greats in order to get the work done. Unfortunately, many of them include drinking large amounts of alcohol, often in the day, which I’m terrible at; or taking naps, which I’m also bad at, unless I’ve been drinking but then that’s your whole day gone. So, instead, I’ll just stick to what I know.

Most of my writing starts with a vague idea – maybe something I’ve read or seen on the news. Watching TV and films or listening to music sparks a lot of ideas too but often these ideas don’t fit with the kind of crime novels I write. Warning to my editor: I’ve just re-watched Twin Peaks so things could get a little weird in the next book.

Some ideas never get past the swirling around in my brain phase but those that do end up being scribbled on various scraps of paper until those bits of paper start to look like they could become an actual story.

With my first novel, Stolen, the plot came first and the characters were built around it. Even DI Gardner was just a bit part in the initial draft but over time became the star. And because he kept growing and his back story kept developing, when it came to writing Gone, the plot became informed by his character.

The next part of the process is often the most fun and the most frustrating as I try to piece everything together. I do this by writing down each plot point or scene on a little bit of paper and then spread them all over the floor. This way I can see more clearly where things are missing and also how best to structure the book. I shuffle the pieces around until I’m happy and then write up a vague chapter by chapter outline. I use this to guide me once I start writing but often I’ll go off on tangents anyway.

My writing day sort of depends on where I’m at in the process – planning, writing the first draft or editing. Writing the first draft is usually the most rewarding, mostly because I can watch the word count rise and it feels like I’m getting somewhere. Editing often feels like treading water.

I try to be at my desk by about 8am and work until it’s dog walking time. After lunch I get back to it and work some more until I’m either hungry again or my brain seizes up. I always work from home, rarely venturing out to write somewhere new. Our house is nicknamed Murder Cottage as both me and my boyfriend both write crime novels. We thought about getting a plaque but wondered whether the postman would stop coming. Anyway, it’s really nice to work from home because you never know when you’re going to need a stiff drink or a nap.

About the book:

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250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. 11 years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems.

My Review:

An extremely clever and addictive mystery story to be found here, another great crime novel and it kept me on my toes throughout. I have been lucky lately to find a lot of new crime novels, one of my favourite genres – this is a top notch addition to my must read authors list.

Some brilliantly drawn characters lead us along – the most fascinating of which is one Lucas Yates, someone who has a past with missing teen Emma Thorley – now presumed dead – and who was not that fond of her. Then we have DI Michael Gardner, a man haunted by his past when it comes to his present colleague relationships, with the sense that he did not do the search for Emma justice at the time of her disappearance. These two very different but equally compelling characters made this book for me – I was eager to find out the outcome for both.

The mystery element is beautifully imagined and very well constructed – as the story ebbs and flows there are some great twists and turns and Rebecca Muddiman has a great turn of phrase and descriptive prose that keeps you deep into the story throughout.

Overall then highly recommended for Crime Fiction fans, an excellent addition to my list of author favourites.

Find out more here: http://rebeccamuddiman.wordpress.com/

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

Purchase Information:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gone-Gardner-Freeman-Rebecca-Muddiman/dp/1444791591/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421048905&sr=1-1&keywords=gone+rebecca+muddiman

 

Happy Reading Folks!

New Release Spotlight: Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan. Author Interview.

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Tell No Tales is the second in the DS Ferreira and DI Zigic series, an intense and terrific crime novel – I caught up with Eva to ask her all about it.

The first novel “Long Way Home” set the scene and introduced us to DI Zigic and DS Ferreira – tell us a little about the inspiration behind the characters.

Before starting Long Way Home I’d thought a lot about the world I was going to be exploring and knew I’d be setting the book in a Hate Crimes department, so I wanted characters who’d be sympathetic to that and who were steeped in the community they’d be working with. Having detectives from migrant backgrounds was just the natural way to go.

 Zigic and Ferreira aren’t quite a ‘chalk and cheese’ cop duo, they’re both conscientious and determined but in very different ways because I like a bit of a frisson between main characters, so while Zigic is a settled family man, sympathetic and logical and thoughtful, Ferreira is more gut-driven and combative, her experience is much closer to that of the victims and criminals they deal with, being a first generation Portuguese immigrant herself, and because of that she’s got a bit of a chip on her shoulder.

They’re huge fun to write and just now, finishing the third book in the series, I’m enjoying finding out more about them and seeing how they react under new pressures.

What made you decide to set the books in Peterborough specifically?

The storyline of Long Way Home led me to Peterborough. Once I knew I’d be writing about immigration I wanted a location which was small enough for an influx of migrant workers to have a pronounced effect and obvious reaction, but somewhere large enough to contain lots of stories if the series continued for awhile. Peterborough has seen several waves of economic migration during the last hundred years and as such has an interesting ethnic mix. It’s one of those post-industrial Midlands-ish cities with its fair share of deprivation and social challenges, good fodder for a crime writer as the series continues. It’s also on the edge of thousands of acres of bleak and beautiful fenland, great for chase scenes and dumping bodies in.

How did the plot for “Tell No Tales” start forming for you?

The storyline for Tell No Tales came out of unused research I did for Long Way Home, looking into the British far-right, its history and make-up and how it was now becoming worryingly mainstream thanks to a certain Euro-sceptic party and the medias obsession with its racist, sexist, homophobic members. I wanted to explore how the political arm of the movement related to the foot soldiers, the internal warfare they’re constantly locked in, and what would happen if you threw murder into the mix.

 
There are some important issues highlighted within the books – do you find its important to you to try and inform and influence as well as entertain?

A year is a long time to spend writing a book and for me there needs to be something  ‘bigger’ at stake that just telling a good story. I want to be moved by the subject matter, so tend to seek out issues which I believe are important, usually ones which make me angry or I feel are being overlooked elsewhere. Getting fired up like that helps create momentum and with Tell No Tales the mainstreaming of ultra-right ideology was very much in the news while I was writing, so every time I opened a paper or saw a bulletin there was some fresh annoyance to spur me on.

There’s nothing wrong with writing to entertain – all authors should strive to do that – but writing solely to entertain is not for me. Don’t know if I’ve ever managed to influence anyones thinking but if a reader comes away from my books feeling like they’ve seen a world that’s new to them then I’m happy.

Any writing habits? Must have coffee? Chocolate?

I am hugely superstitious, so I have to have my big, ugly writing cardigan on and my lovely Toast pyjamas, two cups of very strong coffee in my special writing mug, two roll-ups, and some Lindt dark chocolate for sugar infusions during long sessions. I’ve found lately that music is too distracting while I’m working but I need some kind of background noise so put on the BBC news channel for a low murmur and occasional inspiration. I usually prep my brain with a few hands of poker but it takes a lot of self control to close that table and start writing, especially when I’m winning!

One book you recommend to everyone.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy because it’s the most accessible of his books and I want everyone to get sucked into his dark and deeply twisted world.

3 people alive or dead you would love to have at a dinner party.

Mark Thomas, Nigel Farage and Shami Chakrabarti – I don’t hold with that convention of not talking politics or religion over dinner and I think they would make for a memorable evening.

Thank you Eva!

Review:

The car that ploughs into the bus stop early one morning leaves a trail of death and destruction behind it.
DS Ferreira and DI Zigic are called in from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit to handle the investigation but with another major case on their hands, one with disturbing Neo-Nazi overtones, they are relieved when there seems to be an obvious suspect. But the case isn’t that simple and with tensions erupting in the town, leading to more violence, the media are soon hounding them for answers.  Ferreira believes that local politician Richard Shotton, head of a recently established right-wing party, must be involved somehow. Journalists have been quick to acclaim Shotton, with his Brazilian wife and RAF career, as a serious contender for a major political career, despite his extremist views, but is his party a cover for something far more dangerous?

Another gripping read from the pen of Eva Dolan, who’s first novel in this series, Long Way Home, gave a fresh take on Crime fiction and was terrific. The follow up “Tell No Tales” is, if anything, even better as now we know the characters and understand a little of what they are up against.

In this instalment a hit and run causes tensions to rise within the community and Ferreira and Zigic are under pressure to get a result before things explode. It is not that easy however as political shenanigans and extremist tendencies get in the way.

I love how the author paints a picture of a community here – troubled yes, but also rich in history and diversity – I was particularly taken with Sophia, who has a difficult life, often made worse by her own actions. The political landscape is extremely well drawn, echoing the issues we see in our society today and giving them a voice and an authentic background, it is endlessly fascinating and totally addictive.

Beautiful flowing prose and a distinct ability to get to the heart of the matter make this a top notch, brilliant crime read and definitely solidifies the author’s place on the list of those Crime writers who are only going to get better, classics in the making. I, for one, can’t wait to find out what is next for DS Ferreira, DI Zigic, their colleagues and the Peterborough community.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:  http://loiteringwithintent.wordpress.com/

Follow Eva on Twitter here:  https://twitter.com/eva_dolan

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tell-No-Tales-Zigic-Ferreira/dp/184655778X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420704877&sr=1-3&keywords=eva+dolan

Also Available:Read First:

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-Way-Home-Zigic-Ferreira/dp/0099584395/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420704984&sr=1-1&keywords=eva+dolan

 

Happy Reading Folks!