Featured: Post Apocalyptic Fiction. Guest Post by Dean Crawford.

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http://www.deancrawfordbooks.com/

There is something uniquely interesting about post-apocalyptic stories, and I think that it’s the universal fear that we all share of our insignificance before the world around us. In our modern societies, provided with food and warmth and shelter to the extent that we never need to worry about surviving, the possibility of a global apocalypse becomes a morbid source of fascination. None of us want it to occur, but we all want to experience it through the eyes of fictional characters exposed to a future too horrific for most of us to contemplate.

There are many post-apocalyptic stories concerning alien invasions, zombies and such like, but I much prefer the real chillers, those set around events that could happen today, tomorrow, or this very moment. For Eden and its forthcoming sequel, Eden: Redemption, I chose a solar flare to wipe out all of mankind’s electrical systems, casting our species back into the Stone Age overnight. The reason for this was because it’s happened before, the 1859 Carrington Event. If that tremendous solar storm were to occur today, it is likely that our modern world would take decades to recover, if it ever did.

 

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I recall reading a novel called Z for Zachariah at school, and was struck even at a young age by the idea of the human race being reduced to a few lone survivors, struggling to eek an existence out of the planet’s rarified resources. Likewise, today’s proliferation of survival programmes on television and prepper documentaries hint at an undercurrent of fear running through many people: that our complex society is fragile and that its myriad interdependent threads could unravel and collapse at any time. We all know that it’s possible, yet few of us really wish to think about it. It is those who do think about it who will be those who might survive should the day ever come: super-volcano, asteroid impact, pandemic, methane substrate explosion, radical climate change, supernova radiation, nuclear war…., the potential list of mankind-eradicating catastrophes is as endless as the stories that have been written about them.

But they all share one common theme – a human story. It is rarely the event itself that captures readers but the aftermath, the tale of those left behind who must survive and struggle to learn lost skills in the haunted wreckage of mankind’s wake. Should that terrible day ever come, any reader of post-apocalyptic fiction will likely have already understood something of what the survivors will be going through: and of what they might need to do themselves.

Follow Dean on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/DCrawfordBooks

Purchase Information http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dean-Crawford/e/B004UO651U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1396600975&sr=1-1

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Featured: Dystopian Fiction. Guest Post by Sharon Sant.

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http://sharonsant.com/

Dystopian fiction and Runners

 

The Oxford dictionary defines dystopia as: ‘an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one. The opposite of Utopia.’

 

Unpleasant and bad are the tools of many a writer’s trade, and so the town of Dystopia sounds like a perfect place to set a novel.  And it seems that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’ve been reading reports for some time now about how agents and publishers are sick of dystopian novels landing on their desks.  According to them, since The Hunger Games, we’ve gone dystopia crazy. I hate to burst that industry bubble, but I don’t think that dystopia is going away any time soon. In fact, I don’t think it was ever really missing from the cultural landscape in one form or another.  Thinking back to novels like 1984, even as far back as The Time Machine by H G Wells or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, it’s clear that we’ve always been fascinated by the ideas of dystopia.  As a narrative tool, dystopia can hold a mirror up to our own society to make all sorts of political and social statements, or it can be used simply to issue warnings, the latter being closely linked and often overlapping with speculative fiction like Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. For me, however, it also represents a society where the normal rules of our world no longer apply.  Like fantasy, dystopia is a setting that you can manipulate; it presents the opportunity to create a world that enables your story to unfold how you want in order to propel the plot.  You want kids beating each other to death on a TV show?  In a dystopian society you can make this entirely plausible.

 

When I first had the idea for my dystopian novel, Runners, (way back in 2007, and it seems like a lot longer!) I knew straight away what the setting would be: a near-future Britain where the current economic hardships and climate change had progressed to their worst possible scenarios. I’m a huge fan of fantasy in realist settings and for me this was just perfect.  There are no silver-clad futuristic cities, no radiation-soaked skies full of spacecraft, no mutated humanoid species in Runners – all fantastic settings and scenarios for dystopian fiction, of course – there’s just a crumbling version of a contemporary Britain and a poverty-stricken population that no longer cares what happens to anyone. I took a lot of my ideas from periods of austerity in history, so there are Victorian-like features such child labour and workhouse-type institutions, and then there’s rationing like during the Second World War. These things have already happened in real life and just because they’ve gone away, it doesn’t mean they can’t come back.  Because in real life, just the tiniest false step from the people in charge and we could actually find ourselves living there.  It’s a scary prospect for us but a perfect dystopia for a book.

 

I think that some of the best fictional dystopias are the ones almost close enough for our society to touch, the ones where you can easily imagine yourself living there. Let’s look again at 1984. On the surface an unremarkable, if slightly grim, representation of 20th century life. But when you scratch beneath the surface you find it’s all kinds of weird. Whilst there are no outward signs of dystopian control, it’s all about what’s going on behind closed doors, about controlling the populace from within their own psyches.  It’s so easy to imagine ourselves there, and, tellingly, people frequently relate back to 1984 when discussing government control in the real world, over sixty years after the novel was first published.  Orwell’s vision was remarkable when we look at how close he came to what we have now, but that’s what makes it so compelling.

 

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About Sharon Sant:

 

Sharon Sant was born in Dorset but now lives in Stoke-on-Trent. Aged eight she wrote a poem about ET, which received the ultimate praise of being pinned onto the classroom wall, and from that moment on she knew she’d never stop writing. She graduated from Staffordshire University in 2009 with a degree in English and creative writing. She currently works part time as a freelance editor and continues to write her own stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes across many genres, when not busy trying in vain to be a domestic goddess, she can often be found lurking in local coffee shops with her head in a book. Sometimes she pretends to be clever but really loves nothing more than watching geeky TV and eating Pringles. Young adult novels Sky Song, The Young Moon and Not of Our Sky (the Sky Song trilogy), The Memory Game and Runners were all released in 2013 to glowing reviews. She is currently working on a series of Runners prequel stories, the first of which is scheduled for release 2014.

 

 

 Follow Sharon on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SharonSant

Purchase information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sharon-Sant/e/B00B0W6FHE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1396421819&sr=1-1

Happy Reading Folks!

Why We Read – Guest Post by Olga Godim.

Today in the ongoing feature “Why We Read” I welcome good BookLikes buddy Olga to the blog. If you would like to know more about Olga, visit her site or her BookLikes page.

 

http://olgagodim.wordpress.com/

http://olgagodim.booklikes.com/

 

I want to meet an angel

 

By Olga Godim

 

I write fantasy, so it won’t surprise anyone that I read fantasy too. My favorite fantasy writer is Sharon Shinn. I enjoy her lyrical and magical tales, a blend of fantasy and romance. Her stories are full of light, without the darkness that’s dominated fantasy novels in the past decade. I especially like her older Samaria series. The series’ first novel, Archangel, is one of my favorite books.

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I’ve read it several times and enjoyed it each time. It’s a love story but not a simplistic formulaic romance with its required number of sex scenes. Nor is it a religious tractate, despite the unfortunate title. Instead, Shinn deftly weaves together a fantasy thriller and a romantic maze, and the result is a delightfully multicolored and multifaceted tale, bursting with lively tunes and ingenious plot twists, like a classic opera. But above all, it’s a story of two people searching for connection.

The female protagonist, Rachel, is a human. The male protagonist, Gabriel, is an angel. Shinn’s concept of angels is unique in the genre. It has nothing to do with the biblical angels and everything with the writer’s imagination. In her Samaria stories, the author has created a charming race of angels. They’re not divine, far from it. Her angels are arrogant and talented, decadent and dedicated to their duty. They are hot-blooded men and women, fallible and diverse like any other race. Their only deviations from humans are their wings.

Whenever humans of Samaria need divine help, angels fly into the sky and sing/pray to their god, asking for medicine or rain, sunshine or planting seeds, and their god promptly and unavoidably provides. A timely divine intervention: an unattainable dream on Earth but a reality in Samaria. The angels don’t know why it happens or how. But they know their voices make a difference, and they use them for common good.

It’s such a beautiful picture, but behind its lacquered prettiness, contradictions abound: between rich and poor, between fanatics and agnostics, between angels and humans. Fantasy and life collide in Shinn’s story, as personal misunderstandings arise between the two protagonists.

They are incompatible at first glance, but I couldn’t help but care for them both. I wanted them happy and wouldn’t stop reading until they learned to accept and love each other.

Rachel is stubborn and defiant. She dislikes angels; they are too rich, too spoiled, but any underdog is a subject to her compassion.

Gabriel is her opposite – a rich and powerful man, full of goodness but inflexible about his principles. He cares deeply about the land but doesn’t like people much. Here is what he thinks about people and himself:

 

… they were the same to him, the land and the people, the same in an abstract way: things to be cared for the way some people cared for their crops or their livestock or their collection of glass and pewter. Though he maintained an emotional distance from his people, they were a part of him in ways he could not make anyone else understand. They defined him. They gave him a reason for being. If there were not people for angels to watch over, he, Gabriel, would not exist. And so he loved them because they told him who he was.

 

And here is his first impression of Rachel:

 

She looked to be nothing but eyes and tatters and undomesticated golden hair.

 

Gabriel demands much of others and even more of himself. One of his friends said about him:

 

“Gabriel gets very testy when angels misuse power for personal comfort. But then, almost everything makes Gabriel testy. If we all conformed to his standards, we would sit mute and motionless… thinking only poor thoughts.”

 

When Rachel’s simmering passion and Gabriel’s righteous remoteness clash, sparks fly in all directions, offering a fascinating read, especially with the addition of a power hungry villain and a bunch of vivid secondary characters, each with his or her own sets of problems.

Every time I read this book, it touches my heart and play havoc with my emotions. Every obstacle makes me worry, even though I know the heroes would win, and every character inspires a visceral response. I adore them or hate them or envy them. They are alive for me, even the ones with wings. I believe in Shinn’s angels despite my atheism. I long for their beauty, and even their remoteness doesn’t frighten me away. I want some of them as friends. I want to meet an angel at least once in my life. Maybe I already have – through Shinn’s novels.

Of course, I love this book.

 

 

 

 

Look Who’s Back! A merciless satire indeed…

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Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

Summer 2011. Berlin. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, though – as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All while he’s still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it.

There have already been mixed opinions on this one – basically surrounding the sense or not of writing what is basically a comedy of errors and making one of the most villified characters in history – Hitler – its main protagonist. Before I dived in, I read several online discussions, a few non-spoiler reviews and was intrigued to see just what all the fuss was about…

How did I find it? Well I laughed a lot, sometimes in a vaguely guilty way admittedly. Mainly in the portions that dealt with Hitler’s interactions with the media – where they are assuming he is an impersonator, of course, and he is solidly and absolutely himself. Add to that, especially in the early chapters, his despair at the state of the world – and his discovery of television cookery shows – and the whole thing is ironically amusing.

I can see it would be fairly easy to find a reason to be offended by this book but I see no need. The author never tries to make Hitler likeable  (or unlikeable for that matter) or offer excuses for his actions, nor does he pretend that this is anything other than exactly what it is – a darkly imaginative fantasy tale with perhaps a touch of social commentary.

The only small downside for me was perhaps that this is aimed very much at the German audience – I’m sure a lot of the satire went straight over my head, especially with regards to the pop culture of that country – there were media releases and tv shows that I was obviously expected to know about that I assume would have made certain portions of the book more humerous – but mostly I would say I tootled along fairly well.

I also think that people with a better knowledge than I possess of Hitler’s period of history would get more out of it – when he is talking about his political party and the players in the war I was often a bit lost because my education in this matter stops with the big stuff (the horrific treatment of the Jewish community) and I also knew the name of Hitler’s mistress. Apart from that I am actually quite ashamed to admit I know very little detail. A fact I should perhaps rectify…

Overall though this was an intriguing, humerous and fascinating reading experience which I enjoyed very much. Beautifully translated as well. Kudos.

About the Author

Timur Vermes was born in Nuremburg in 1967, the son of a German mother and a Hungarian father who fled the country in 1956. He studied history and politics and went on to become a journalist. He has written for teh Abendzeitung and the Cologne Express and worked for various magazines. He has ghostwritten several books since 2007. Look Who’s Back is his first novel.

About the Translator.

Jamie Bulloch is the translator of novels by Daniel Glattauer, Katharina Hagena, Paulus Hochgatterer,Birgit Vanderbeke, Daniela Krien and Alissa Walser.

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Look-Whos-Back-Timur-Vermes/dp/0857052926/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1396247623&sr=1-1

Final Note: The Hardback is a beautiful looking book. Great cover!

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman.

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Publication Date: April 2014 from Faber and Faber.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the beautiful advanced reading copy.

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette ‘Bambi’ Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative if not always legal businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

I’ve been a bit of a fan of Laura Lippman’s novels for a while – they are quietly atmospheric and always beautifully constructed with wonderful storytelling and characters and this was no exception.

When Felix skips bail to avoid a prison sentence, he leaves behind his wife, three daughters and a mistress – when ten years later his mistress also disappears it is assumed that she has gone to be with Felix but then her body is discovered..

Told in present time as a cold case specialist tries to solve the murder, and in flashback showing how Bambi and her daughters have coped, this is compelling stuff. There is a mystery at the heart of it but this is purely about the people – Felix leaves a lot of emotion and anger in his wake, this novel explores the themes of loss, guilt, rejection and love in an evocative and heartfelt manner.

From the seemingly pragmatic Bambi who hides a maelstrom of emotion beneath her tough exterior, down to youngest child Michelle, selfish and demanding, the Brewer girls are formidable indeed and yet vulnerable in many ways. As the story twists and turns – just where did Felix go and more importantly where did his money go – you will be utterly immersed into the multi-stranded family drama. Mistress Julia is also beautifully drawn and fascinating, the mystery surrounding her disappearance and murder only deepens as time goes on. It is a page turner, addictive and real, and bang in the middle of it is a man you know very little about. Felix Brewster.

Appealing and captivating this is perhaps my favourite of Ms Lippmans novels so far.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Author Interview – Alison Taft. Shallow Be Thy Grave.

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I recently read two novels by Alison Taft featuring main protagonist Lily Appleyard and I thought they were terrific, so I asked Alison a few questions and here is what she had to tell me.

Tell me a little bit about how the story started for you. 

They say your first book is always autobiographical, and that’s the case for Our Father, Who Art Out There…Somewhere. It’s based on my own experiences of trying to track down a reluctant birth father. (I promise I never kidnapped anyone though). In my mid-thirties and following the birth of my two children, I felt the need to find out more about my father and his side of the family (he left home the day I was born). I wanted to ask questions about my genetic heritage. He refused to have any contact with me.

 

I was so mad. I was at home being run ragged by the demands of two small children and all I was asking for was the opportunity to ask a couple of questions. The anger became the fuel that powered the writing process

How much did the story and characters develop over the course of the writing ?

That’s an interesting question. At the time I was struck by how my birth father could say he had no wish for contact without knowing anything about who I was, or what my circumstances were. I thought, ‘I might be in real need here, and you don’t care.’

Lily, the main character in the book, is a nineteen year old girl whose mother’s just died. I asked myself, “who is the worst person this could happen to?”

 

So, I had a character and I had a problem. Lily wants to meet her dad. He doesn’t want to meet her. I wanted to raise the issue of whether she has a right to meet the person who fathered her. However, once I sat down and started writing the story took on a life of its own. That’s the most exciting part of writing.

 

I never intended to write a series but sometime after Our Father was published I realised the anger had gone and it became more about grief. I have to grieve the fact I will never meet my father, or any members of his family. Shallow Be Thy Grave came out of that grief. Perhaps all books are attempts to answer questions. The question behind Shallow was, ‘How do you mourn someone you’ve never met?

Do you have a favourite character from the books, apart from Lily?

I’m very attached to Aunt Edie, and Bert The Perv, mainly because they both love Lily. Lily and Jo’s friendship is one of my favourite aspects of writing the books, because female friendship for me is one of the strongest bonds of all.
Will we meet Lily again in future novels?

Yes. I’ve just finished the third in the series, which is called My Time Has Come. It will be out later this year. Bert asks Lily to find his missing wife (last seen on his wedding day) and the search takes Lily to Thailand. It’s been the most enjoyable one to write so far, I think because it’s not so personal anymore. Maybe I’ve written out most of my issues. Now that would be something…

Any writing habits/processes?

No, I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m firmly of the ‘no planning’ school. Like Stephen King says in his excellent book, On Writing – the excitement of writing is the excitement of going into the unknown and allowing a story to unfurl.This can be a very frustrating process – I have two complete manuscripts that never came to life, but when it works, it’s just the best feeling ever…

Coffee, Tea or Other?

Peppermint tea or skinny hot chocolate or water. Nothing else…

Book you recommend to everyone.

Non-fiction – The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.

Fiction – Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child.

Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

Take a bath, potter in the garden, feed the ducks (the ducks are in the park, not the garden…

 

Thank you so much Alison!

 

Reviews:

Our Father Who Art Out There Somewhere.

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A very clever and emotional story, here we meet Lily Appleyard for the first time. When she loses her Mother she struggles with heartache and begins to wonder about her Father, who she has never known. When she discovers he is alive but has no intention of getting involved with her, fuelled by grief and vodka she takes matters into her own hands. What follows is an emotive and compelling “coming of age” tale with some highly intriguing characters right at the heart of it, exploring some interesting outlooks on the meaning of family.

I loved Lily – impulsive and wonderfully drawn, despite her rather strange reactions, she is utterly believable. Nothing is as straightforward as it first appears, not least Lily herself and as the story twists and turns this is addictive reading. I do love a book where the characters speak to you, Ms Taft has a unique way with words that really gets you right to the heart of the matter. Without giving too much away I’m certain that you will be at turns surprised and delighted by the ongoing drama and it might give you pause for thought on how you view your own life and family.

The telling thing with this novel was the fact that when I had finished it I immediately picked up the second story featuring Lily – I did not want to wait. So do yourselves a favour and have both to hand – just in case.

Very much Recommended.

Review:

Shallow Be Thy Grave

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So the second novel featuring Lily Appleyard  – This one heads far more into the “mystery” genre and solidifies some of the events of book one. Lily and her newly found half sister Fiona have a rocky relationship – but when Fiona disappears, Lily sets off on a journey to find her.

Once again I was struck by the characterisation and emotional resonance of the writing here – even though its a very different book in a lot of ways the heart of it remains the same. As Lily searches the sense of place here is also terrific – I could almost imagine myself right there in Paris and Amsterdam. Lily has a sense of obligation here, feeling responsible for Fiona’s disappearance, as she heads into the world of sex trading and the darker side of human nature, this is compelling stuff indeed.

Also again, the exploration of family, especially with relation to sibling rivalry is highly authentic even given the circumstances – Lily discovers things about herself as much as about her sister and this is engaging and fascinating reading.

I also found that I got to know Jo, Lily’s friend, a lot more in this book than the last – she’s probably one of my favourite characters here.

Overall the two novels sit extremely well together and I thought both were fantastic. I’m very pleased to hear that we will visit again with Lily – I’m interested to see what is next for her.

Once again, very much recommended. And read them in order!

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

Follow Alison on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AlisonTaft

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-J-Taft/e/B008GRT0IC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Publication Day – Emma Kavanagh and Falling…

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Of all the wonderful advance reading I did last year, Falling by Emma Kavanagh, was one of the best and made into my Top 10 books of 2013. Today is official release day and you can all get your own copy – and I would. I really would! I asked Emma a few questions and here is what she had to tell me.

Tell us a little about how the story started to form in your mind

 

I am a documentary junkie. I watch them constantly, and will often take inspiration from real life events. Falling began to take shape after watching a documentary about an airplane crash, and the complexities that the investigators uncovered in the aftermath. From there, the characters simply began to grow and take on lives of their own. That’s my favourite thing about writing; the way you start with a very simple premise and then hand it over to your characters and let them tell you the rest.

 

It has an intriguing mix of eclectic characters, did you have a favourite?

 

Ooh, tough question! That’s like choosing your favourite child. If I’m being honest, I think that my real favourite is Freya. I like her spunk and her strength of character. And, from a purely selfish point of view, she was very easy to write – one of those characters that just takes charge and seems to write her own scenes.

 

 

Some parts are very emotional – was it tough to write in places?

 

There were some parts which I found more draining than others. Although, ironically, those intensely emotional, psychologically tough parts were also the ones that seemed to flow most easily when I was writing. I’m thinking of one chapter in particular towards the end where the character simply told me the story, from start to finish. It was a tough chapter, but took me maybe an hour and a half to write because it just flowed so organically. I love it when that happens!

 

 

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

 

I’m currently in the midst of edits on my next book. The Casualties begins with a mass shooting – a horrendous act by a mysterious gunman. It then moves back a week, and tells the story of the lead up to the shooting – from the point of view of the shooter himself, and three of the casualties, whose innocent actions have inadvertently fed into the horrors of that day. It’s a dark subject, but I have to say that I have loved writing this one. It is fairly complex in terms of plotting, but has been a joy to write.

 

 

Author you wish would write a book a week

 

Oh, so many! Can I have more than one? Kate Atkinson and Barbara Kingsolver, both geniuses, whose writing I just cannot get enough of. And Justin Cronin. I devoured The Passage and The Twelve and am chomping at the bit to get hold of his next. Write, man, write!

 

 

Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

 

There’s nothing like snuggling on the sofa with my husband and toddler, a hot cup of coffee and a good book. My idea of heaven.

 

3 people living or dead you would like to invite to dinner.

 

Jane Austen one of the greatest authors of all time, and anyone who can write a character like Elizabeth Bennett must be fun to have around. Nelson Mandela – I don’t really need a reason for this one, do I? And Neil Armstrong, because in my next life I’m going to be an astronaut, so I would like to get tips

Thank you so much Emma!

 

Review:

First of all thank you kindly to Random House, Emma Kavanagh and Netgalley for the review copy.

A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide.

Right I could probably write a whole book myself about how much I loved this one but I will try to keep to the salient points..and avoid spoiling what is a  wonderful, multi-layered character driven story that needs to come with a sleep deprivation warning….in the best possible way.

It has been tagged as a psychological thriller and it is that yes, but I hope that this will not put people off who don’t tend to read that type of novel – because when I say this is multi layered I mean exactly that. Yes there is a murder – and yes you will want to know who and why and all the usual things you want to know when reading a crime or thriller tale, but as you head into the novel you will discover that at its heart are people. Humans. Fallible, emotional, occasionally annoying people..who make right decisions, wrong decisions, get caught up in life events beyond their control and deal with it in oh so many different ways. Just like the rest of us..

Told from various points of view, chapter by chapter, we follow the aftermath of a plane crash alongside the aftermath of a murder. Falling is a perfect title and a theme throughout the story – in the literal sense of falling from the sky and the more metaphorical sense of falling through life. Poetic prose and a compelling flow to the narrative makes this hard to put down and leave for a while…I managed but only just.

Usually I might give a run down of some of the characters at this point of a review but in this case discovery is key to the reading experience – therefore I give you one. The one that touched my reading heart. Cecilia, wife, mother, torn between wanting and needing things she cannot clarify resonated with me for very personal reasons. And surrounding her are many others with just as much heart and soul…you will find someone there for you without a doubt.

The various strands of the story are brought together in an adept and fascinating way to give us the ultimate conclusion – and this is one of those books where you will wonder for a long time afterwards what may have happened to these characters next. I imagine them out there…somewhere…

The last time I felt this way about a debut novel was when I read Elizabeth Haynes “Into the Darkest Corner” – that feeling that tells you another author has come to the fore that is going to ultimately offer you many long and happy hours living another life in another story…

You can follow Emma on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EmmaLK

And getting your very own copy is as easy as clickety click: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Falling-Emma-Kavanagh/dp/1780892020/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395907457&sr=1-1&keywords=falling+emma+kavanagh OR a visit to your local Bookstore!

Happy Reading Folks!

Cover your eyes…Bird Box is coming…Interview with Josh Malerman.

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So thanks to Kate and Bob of Killer Reads fame I was one of the lucky few to read this early – tomorrow will see it being released on the general population and it really is a most amazing read, one of the best Post Apocalyptic books I have read and I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy as soon as you can hit the bookstore. I asked Josh some questions about the book and other stuff and here is what he had to tell me.

Tell us a little about how the story started to come together for you?

Essentially, Bird Box is about facing infinity. You know how they say a man will go mad if he meets himself, sees the face of God, stands where space ends, goes back to the moment when time began? Well, that infinty is outside the house Malorie and the others are stuck in. It makes the decision to go outside a big to-do. The thing outside the house is beyond the ceiling of the housemates’ minds.

It’s difficult to say where the story came from or how it came about. I write a lot and I feel tremendously guilty when I don’t. So when I’d finished the novel previous to Bird Box, I waited a few weeks and got started on another. At first, all I had was an image of a woman, traveling down a river blindfolded. I loved that idea. And the story, encountering infinity, quickly ballooned from there.
I love that the main protagonist is a strong female lead – was it hard to write from that perspective?

Yeah. I think it was hard! But at the same time, because she was pregnant, I think I related to her more than if she wasn’t. Not because I’ve been pregnant (not yet!) but because it put her in a patient place in this new world. I liked standing there with her. It kind of forced her and I to observe the scenes a little longer, take a little longer getting up a flight of stairs, a little longer to walk down the hall. There was definitely a difference between experiencing Malorie while she was pregnant (in the house) and when she wasn’t (on the river.) She felt lighter, freer, on the river, but at the same time, she was blindfolded and stuck in a rowboat the whole time. Come to think of it, she really went through a lot! But as goes the man/woman thing, writing the part of a woman, she came pretty naturally to me. I think her and I would’ve made very good friends. In fact, I’d even say we did.

 

Are there any particular Post Apocalyptic tales that inspired it and are you a fan of such stories generally?

I don’t think of Bird Box as an apocalyptic yarn. For me, it falls squarely in horror. When I think apocalypse, I see an ashen sky, ruins, dying trees, poisoned water, disease. Bird Box takes place in a regular old suburb. The world is certainly in trouble, but I don’t think it’s “end times.” It’s too small a story for me to call it “apocalyptic.” It’s all a matter of not opening the front door, not facing infinity, which has more to do with what a man or woman can comprehend, rather than the world crumbling because of something someone in a position of power unleashed.
Can you tell us if there will be more tales from this world?

Ooh. That’s a hard one. I’m interested. Why not? I’d like to know what happened in some other houses. And sometimes, at random points in the day, I’ll find myself wondering how Malorie is doing, how are the kids, do they need me? If they do, maybe I’ll come.
  “Guilty Pleasure” read?

I have been on a strict horror diet for so long I’m surprised I don’t look like Freddy Kreuger. One thing I can’t stop reading are the numerous books about the history of horror cinema. Even when they tell the same stories, book to book, over and over. I’m like, “Ooh, I can’t wait to see who gets to direct Rosemary’s Baby” even though I know damn well who directed it!
E-reader or Physical book?

100% physical. I love to hold ’em. And the curves of the pages are sexy.
Favourite thing to do when procrastinating.

I pace. Or I tell myself I need to go buy the newspaper. Or I check sports scores. But mostly I just feel guilty for putting anything off, so either I’m working or feeling guilty for not.
Coffee or Tea? Or other…

Whiskey. And Coke. Haven’t graduated to straight whiskey yet. That’s probably best.

Thank you so much for taking the time!

 

Review:

Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street.  Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent.The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn’t look outside anymore.

So thanks to Kate and Bob (known to her friends as Katie) this novel arrived on my doorstep on Friday – all I knew about it was what I have put for you above. Anyway, loving post apocalyptic fiction as I do, I added it to my next reading batch and on Saturday off I went. And then I didnt stop. Literally – the book held me in its thrall for the entire day. Various attempts to put it down and do something else for a while ended in failure. Yes, its that good.

Now I strongly advise that this is all you attempt to find out before you begin reading, basic plot is all you will get from me, and that is the absolute best way to come at this one.

We follow Malorie, responsible for her two children, who have been born into a dangerous world, as she attempts to bring them up and keep them safe. Food, water, sleep, none of this comes easy. And she is on her own…

Its hard to describe the atmosphere if you like of this one. It sucks you into the vortex of a completely different way of living – one that is barely imagineable as I sit here typing away in a world full of light and people and hey, internet access. And yet somehow the author, with no effort it seems, makes it all too real. Malorie is a compelling character, and as we learn a little more about the events leading up to where she is now, you will feel what she feels and will travel along the way with her.

Yes Josh Malerman has managed to do something a bit  new with the genre – no easy task. And the perfection of the writing means you feel slightly off balance while reading this – its creepy. It really is. And so addictive – I simply had to know. From beginning to end completely and utterly fascinating, obsessive and sublime. Loved it. Can you tell?

Follow Josh Malerman on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JoshMalerman

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bird-Box-Josh-Malerman/dp/0007529872/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395817665&sr=1-1&keywords=bird+box+josh+malerman

(Incidentally I am SO buying myself the HardBack version of this one)

Happy Reading Folks!

 

How Not To Be Starstruck – Portia Macintosh Blog Tour – Guest Post.

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Portia – Why I like a little truth in my fiction

 

Fiction is great, and I love to read and watch all kinds, but I think it’s great when a story has realistic elements. There’s two ways I appreciate this most.

The first is when a tale is told by someone in the know. One of my favourite books of all time is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Originally published under a pseudonym, The Bell Jar was semi-autobiographical and it shows. The main character’s struggle feels real, and you can learn a lot from it.

Another thing I love is brutally honest fiction. I doesn’t have to be based on a true story, just true to life.  Patrick Marber’s play (and the movie that followed) Closer is a brilliant example of this, because it shows love, relationships and the way people behave in the ugliest way. They hurt each other, they cheat and the lie, and all because they are selfish. It’s a bleak view of the world, but these things do happen. Life isn’t always a fairy tale.

When I started writing books about the music industry, I wanted to give people an insight into the world. I wasn’t telling true stories, but I was heavily influenced by real events.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love a completely fictional tale that goes above and beyond my imagination, but a look into other people’s real lives can be nice sometimes too.

 Find out more here:

http://portiamacintosh.tumblr.com/

https://twitter.com/PortiaMacIntosh

Bio:

When she was fifteen-years-old, Portia MacIntosh fell in with a bad crowd… rockstars.
After disappearing on tour and living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for a few years, Portia landed a job in the music industry – but only so that she didn’t have to join the real world just yet.
Now in her twenties, Portia is ready to spill the beans on the things she has witnessed over the years. Well, kind of. If her famous friends knew that she was borrowing their lives to inspire her fiction, they would stop inviting her on tour and banish her from the inner circle. Then she really would have to rejoin the real world, and she’s still not ready.
Portia only started writing novels to share her secrets, but then she realised she actually quite liked writing – maybe even more than she likes living on a bus with a bunch of smelly boys – and has since tried her hand at writing about other things.

Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Not-Starstruck-Portia-MacIntosh-ebook/dp/B00IECEZ2U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395732361&sr=1-1&keywords=how+not+to+be+starstruck

Featured: Post Apocalyptic Fiction – Guest Post by James E Parsons.

So today its the turn of James E Parsons to talk Post Apocalyptic Fiction. Thank you so much for getting involved.

 

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The genre (or possibly sub-genre some might argue) can often be very fascinating as it can explore and ask serious questions about our society, which we might see as almost perfect culturally, morally, and what if things were to suddenly or dramatically go terribly wrong, extremely bad and all that we know, all we rely on or take for granted might be taken from us. Also, now that we are internationally much more globally connected via the internet and technological advances as a large global community, we are more aware of extreme different cultures and ways of living that are not our own ‘civilized’ Western and capitalist or industrial ways, there can be parallels and fear even of slipping back to more desperate ways. We might fear losing our culture, our technology, and devolving to more basic, savage, primitive ways.  That is just one view of the genre, and sometimes it can feel more dramatic, exciting or essential reading or viewing than more slow, regular ‘safe’ horror or science fiction in general.

My own first science fiction novel Orbital Kin (published last year), has a strong apocalyptic atmosphere, and the last third of the book is in some way post-apocalyptic. After a mysterious epidemic spreads over the UK, towns and cities breakdown, communication and daily life is lost, and people have to soon adapt to desperate, dangerous ways of surviving day by day. This is the last part of a larger story, but it is in some ways my own reaction to the huge continued stream of post-apocalyptic fiction and films over the last few years. It is set in the UK, not in America as most tales are, and with my set of different characters, already on their own journey. I tried to look at some of the areas and themes or issues usually ignored or rarely focused upon. I do not just have one  strong macho Alpha-male lead character, a quiet or needy female. The whole state of the ruined UK streets and towns are focused upon as are issues of power-politically, socially, control, morality, democracy, hope and more.

 

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Some books and films that may have inspired my writing in this genre include the classic novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the manga/anime AKIRA, the Mad Max films, the pivotal 28 Days Later and sequel 28 Weeks Later, George Romero’s zombie movie series, recent British thriller film Perfect Sense, and most definately many books and tales from J.G.Ballard such as High Rise, Kingdom Come, Millenium People.

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There are expected traits, familiar imagery and sequences, such as barren land, a near future usually a few decades away or less, familiar towns, cities, countries ruined or neglected, ravaged by disease, violence, unrest or something more mysterious but unstoppable. Characters have to adapt without our modern western luxuries, a lowering or questioning of morals and social ethics in the most desperate situations for the most basic needs-survival, food, shelter, freedom, existence.

 

Thank you James!

 

Find out more here: http://www.jameseparsons.co.uk/home.php?page=home

Follow James on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ParsonsFiction

Happy Reading Folks!