Liz Currently Loves….No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

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Publication Date: April 2015 from Headline.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Two young boys.Trapped underground in a bunker.Unable to understand why they are there.Desperate for someone to find them.Slowly realising that no-one will…

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…

So what seems like years ago now (I read it VERY early) I first encountered Marnie Rome in Sarah Hilary’s haunting debut “Someone Elses Skin”. It has felt like a long wait for the follow up novel but it was worth every minute.

In this instalment, a horrific discovery sets off a highly disturbing case for Marnie and co that hits closer to home than anyone is comfortable with – as things twist and turn their way towards a breathtaking conclusion, it becomes obvious that nothing is as it appears and the story is at turns completely compelling, extremely frightening and often very emotional.

This time I was utterly hooked from the first page. I read it in a day, there simply was no stopping once I started – the beauty of the writing, especially for Crime Fiction is beyond compare and it sucks you into the vortex of Marnie’s world, holding you there barely breathing until the case is solved and the story is done.

Once again the author takes on the mantle of another hugely emotional issue that should be talked about more but is not – in “Someone Elses Skin” that was domestic abuse, in this story, well, I obviously can’t tell you because that would spoil it, but suffice to say Marnie is facing the darkness head on and is determined to give these children a name and a voice – in order to do so she may have to face some harsh truths of her own.

I absolutely love how Sarah Hilary writes her characters with plenty of moral ambiguity – no “good guys” or “bad guys” but just people – living life day to day and sometimes heading into dangerous territory, doing the wrong thing for seemingly right reasons and vice versa, as far as psychological depth goes you won’t find better than this. Scary in its authenticity, with a heroine at its heart that will steal yours, this was truly an amazing and evocative read.

You would say there was nothing new in Crime Fiction these days, difficult to find something fresh – as I remarked on Facebook during the reading of this, I have no idea how Ms Hilary manages to write in this genre as if she was the first person who ever did, but that is what she does. Expressive and resonant, I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

Find out more here: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/sarah_hilary

Pre-Order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/sarah+hilary/no+other+darkness/10849545/

 

Available Now: Read First:

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http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/sarah+hilary/someone+else27s+skin/10146923/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Top Ten Spotlight: Murder: Interview with Sarah Pinborough.

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So in at Number 7 on my Top Ten reads of the year was Murder, the follow up to Mayhem, from lovely lady Sarah Pinborough. She was nice enough to answer a couple of questions for me – here is what she had to say.

 

Could you tell us a little bit about where the inspiration for Mayhem and Murder came from?

 

When I was coming to the end of The Dog-Faced Gods trilogy and starting to think about what I’d like to do next, I finally got round to reading The Terror by Dan Simmons. I really loved it, and particularly liked how there was a blend of fact and fiction woven together. I wanted to do something like that but with a crime instead. I started researching unsolved Victorian murders and I found the Thames Torso Murders and that was it. I was hooked.

Was it enjoyable or a little daunting giving an imaginary voice to some real characters from History?

 

Both! I was more worried about getting the facts right actually. I’ve tried to keep to the real people’s lives timelines and also kept the details of the investigation and murders exactly as they were. It was really interesting to have a factual skeleton to add the flesh of fiction to. But it is a strange thing to think that so many of my characters were real people. I’ve almost forgotten that having spent so much time with them. I hope they wouldn’t have minded!

Whilst this story is not specific to that, but set around that period, why do you think people still find the Jack the Ripper story so fascinating?

 

He was flamboyant and he arrived at a time when newspapers could suddenly print every gruesome detail and spread the fear in the way the tabloids do now. The impulsiveness of his crimes and the dramatic nature of them and of course the fact that he was never caught has meant that the cases have never been laid to rest. In a lot of ways, He’s almost become like a fictional villain.

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

 

I have three books to give to people this year.. the first is Lists of Note, the second is Great Lost Albums, and the third is Alan Stoob: Nazi Hunter.

 

Thank you so much Sarah!

 

Original Review:

So after Mayhem there was Murder and as Ms Pinborough wove her unique brand of literary magic around me again I was immediately transported back to Victorian London and the weird and wonderful world of Dr Thomas Bond.

Here we find him recovering from the events of “Mayhem” and finally finding some form of equilibrium again – his life back on track, love in his future and much to be grateful for. But the darkness has not been completely banished and life is about to take an unexpected turn.

In “Mayhem” life and soul was given to some real life characters from History, here that mythology deepens and expands in the most delightful way. I was engrossed, addicted, often sitting WAY too close to the edge of my seat and the sheer genius of the tale was absolutely compelling. And frankly, often scaring the bejesus out of me. Which is not easy to achieve.

The writing is sublime. The storytelling is intelligent and engaging. The descriptive prose and creeping sense of menace is beyond any words I have to describe it –  add to that probably the best scene setting I’ve seen for a while with the ability to put you right on the streets of London as it was and you have a heady mix of reading mayhem. Yep that was intentional.

Sarah Pinborough is absolutely one of my favourite authors. Definitely the best lady on the block. And coming close to kicking the ass of Stephen King who has had my No 1 spot forever. What else is there to say?

Read it. Live it. Love it.

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

Follow Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SarahPinborough

Order:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1780872348/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0QX8PTF66HFB18TS49QY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=455344027&pf_rd_i=468294

Also Available: Read first!

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mayhem-Sarah-Pinborough/dp/1780871252/ref=pd_sim_b_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=14XW0PHNY788QP0MDJHV

Just look at those covers! How can you resist?

 

Happy Reading folks!

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…The Boy in the Shadows by Carl-Johan Vallgren

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Publication Date: 29th January 2015 from Quercus

Source: Publisher Review Copy

In an overcrowded Stockholm underground station a father and his two boys are late for their train. Joel, the youngest, is howling in his pushchair and his seven-year-old brother, Kristoffer, refuses to take the lift.
A woman approaches and offers to lead Kristoffer up the stairs. Reluctantly his father agrees, but when he arrives on the platform Kristoffer and the woman have vanished without a trace.
Many years later, Joel, now an adult, goes missing in suspicious circumstances. His wife turns to Danny Katz – an old friend – for help. But Katz isn’t the only one trying to find Joel, and the deeper he digs the more secrets he uncovers about the wealthy and powerful family at the heart of the investigation. Then suddenly, the case takes a dramatic new turn.

An absolutely brilliant debut this one – eminently readable, SO addictive with such a great flow to it and some often unexpected turns, this is definitely one to watch out for in the New Year – most especially if you are a Crime Fiction fan.

It starts with a disappearance and tells the tale of a family with a haunted past – enter Danny Katz, a man with more to him than meets the eye, and a rip roaring, thrilling, often emotional and terribly compelling tale unravels with some beautiful writing, wonderful characters and a truly involving mystery.

This is one of those novels where you will fall for the main protagonist and therefore be emotionally involved all the way – there are some emotive themes covered here anyway, but the author has managed to weave the sentiment into the thrill of the plot effortlessly, it is both exciting and compelling whilst being heartfelt and thought provoking. The mystery element is so well drawn, the story really does twist and turn beautifully keeping you on your toes and making for a rollercoaster ride of a read.

I don’t want to give anything away, but by the end of this I was happily realising that here is yet another series (I assume and hope) that will be right at the top of my must read list in the future. I’m getting to read some wonderful translated fiction and this was one of my favourites of the year.

Overall an amazingly good debut and I imagine things can only get better. Don’t miss it!

 

Find out more here: http://vallgren.nu/

 

Pre-Order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/carl-johan+vallgren/rachel+wilson-broyles/the+boy+in+the+shadows/11312252/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

“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!