Author Interview – Charlotte McConaghy. Fury.

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I recently read “Fury” – Book One of The Cure from Charlotte McConaghy and I was totally addicted. You can read my review again in a while, but first I asked Charlotte some questions and here is what she had to tell me.

Tell us a little bit about where the story came from.

I had the character of Josi in my head long before I figured out the rest of the story. I knew I wanted to tell the tale of a woman who believed she was transforming under the moon, who was burdened by the fear of having committed atrocities, and I didn’t know initially if it was going to be a real transformation or a figment of having endured such a traumatic childhood. The world came when I realized that I wanted to counteract Josi’s fury, and what better way to do that than with a society that has lost the ability to empathize with anger? The world gradually took shape after that, as I realized I wanted to look at why we sometimes seem so frightened of extreme emotions, and like science-fiction should, it looks at what might happen if we continue to be frightened.

How much do you believe that emotions such as anger define us, do you think we could live without our darker sides?

 

 
I don’t think that any one emotion defines us—I think feelings are fluid, ever- changing and very difficult to define. The idea of dark sides is always one that has thrilled me, because I suppose the idea in itself conjures a sense that a dark side is a rebellious side, one that doesn’t conform, doesn’t fear, but instead lives in the thick of desire and indulgence. There are other dark sides, too, darker dark sides, made of anger and cruelty and fear. I’m not going to make a judgement on what people should feel or want or how they should behave, because I think the point of my novel Fury is about people’s right to be whatever they are.

One of my favourite lines from Brave New World by Aldous Huxley reads, “I’d rather be myself. Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.”
Josephine is a highly intriguing character – did she change much over the course of the writing?

 

 

Very much so, actually. She was a whiney, complaining nag in the first, ancient draft. Haha. I wrote a very different, simplified version of the story years ago, and then dusted it off to take a read later, horrified by what I found. So I rewrote the whole thing, and though the major story beats remained the same, Josi’s character needed a huge overhaul. She was one-dimensional, she was miserable, and frankly she was just a pain to read. So I worked hard to give her depth and insight—I wanted her to have a great sense of humour, to be dry and sarcastic and clever. I wanted her to be able to laugh in the face of her horrible, tragic life, because that’s as natural as moaning about it is.

 

Can you tell us a little about whats next for Josephine and Luke?

 
Well I’m currently writing book two in the series, which is set, as the cliffhanger at the end of Fury suggests, in the west. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book has a host of new characters, deals with the idea of the cure for sadness, and is still told from the perspectives of Josi and Luke. It’s also very romantic.

Favourite book and/or author.

 
Laini Taylor is my favourite author at the moment, her novel ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ my favourite.
Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

 
Go to the cinema. Drink wine and eat cheese. Hang out with friends. Luxuriate in a Game of Thrones marathon.
3  people alive or dead you would love to go for a drink with.

 

King Arthur, Lady Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. Haha! And let’s pretend they’re real. Oh, man, that would be the best.

Thank you SO much Charlotte!

About the Author:

Charlotte grew up with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. At fourteen, her English teacher told her that the short story she’d submitted was wildly romantic, so she decided to write a novel. Thus began her foray into epic fantasy and dystopian sci-fi, with sweeping romances, heroic adventures, and as much juicy drama as she could possibly squeeze in.

 

Her first novel, Arrival, was published at age seventeen, and was followed by Descent, which launched The Strangers of Paragor series, an adventure fantasy for teenagers.

 

She then wrote her first adult fantasy novel, Avery, the prologue of which came to her in a very vivid dream. Her second adult novel, Fury, is the first in a romantic science-fiction series called The Cure, set in a dystopian future.

 

Charlotte currently lives in Sydney, having just finished a Masters in Screenwriting from the Australian Film, Television & Radio School. With her television pilot script, she won the Australian Writer’s Guild Award for Best Unproduced Screenplay of 2013. She will, however, always be a novelist at heart, still unable to get her nose out of the books.

 

Review: Fury.

When emotions are erased from the world, creating a civilization of mindless drones, only those with fury can survive.
On the same day each year Josephine Luquet wakes naked, shivering and covered in blood that is not her own. Under the cold gaze of the blood moon she is someone else entirely, but when dawn breaks her memories flee and she is left with only an icy horror, a burning fury. Amid a sea of drones, she alone hasn’t been cured.

The first thing that I have to say on this one is that it has been a while since a novel in this genre has captured my imagination so utterly and completely that I have literally gulped it down in huge magnificent chunks of reading joy – and come out the other side feeling utterly destroyed that now I have to hang on in there to find out more. I need more I tell you! Book Hangover alert!

So we meet Josephine – from the confines of a psychiatric hospital she tells her Doctor a strange and wonderful tale – and tries desperately to warn him of the danger that surrounds anyone who is close to her at one particular time of the year – a time that is fast approaching. As her tale unfolds, a picture emerges of a cold world – one where emotions are non existant and the ability to feel love, fear, anger, betrayal, almost anything that makes us Human have all but disappeared. Except for Josephine. Well, maybe…

This was a beautifully constructed story – with a highly imaginative and compelling premise – just what WOULD we be without our emotions? I really do not want to go too much into plot detail, the reasons, the truth that lies just beneath the surface, and what may or may not happen because of it – these are the things that make this book so fascinating, such a great read and a truly brilliant page turner that will often have you on the edge of your seat. Don’t make assumptions. I’m just saying…

Characterisation is of a very high standard, Josephine is damaged, uncertain, absolutely sure that she cannot be helped, she just wants to avoid hurting others. The people she meets along her journey are all enigmatic and there is a lot to be revealed – the author leads you slowly but surely through the minefield of a world gone mad..and puts you right at the centre of one girl’s struggle to understand it all.

I would place this book on the cusp of YA and Adult. It has a definite eye towards the YA audience but tackles some very adult themes and does involve occasional sex and violence – I don’t like to put books in boxes but I think that anyone aged around 15 and up will love this and find something to spark their imagination here…

Clever and captivating, at times enchanting and with an ending that will send you into a spiral of dismay at the thought of having to wait any time at all for the next instalment, I highly recommend this one.

Find Out More Here: http://charlottemcconaghy.bounce.com.au/

Follow Charlotte on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/CharMcConaghy

Purchase Information: http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/fury-book-one-of-the-cure-omnibus-edition/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Brahma Dreaming…A Beautiful book.

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Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

Published by: JJ Books.

Brahma Dreaming” is master storyteller John Jackson s latest collaboration with the acclaimed artist, Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.John s intriguing versions of the tales of the Hindus great gods are graced by Daniela s brilliantly reimagined illustrations of the deities, each a masterpiece of detail and drama.

First of all, this really is a beautiful looking and feeling book – aesthetically speaking it is a wonder and I am extremely happy to have it in my ever growing book collection – it is one I will return to a great deal I imagine to enjoy the wonderful illustrations and, indeed, some of the stories within it. Large hardback with a ribbon bookmarker, absolutely perfect.

I went into this with no expectations at all, I had no idea what to expect considering I had no prior knowledge beyond the extremely peripheral of Hindu Mythology. Not a book I would have immediately put on my reading list it has to be said, and that would have been a shame.

It was VERY easy to immerse myself in these tales and alongside the absolutely stunning illustrations (they stole the show if I’m honest) I found myself dipping in and out of this one alongside all my usual reads and considered it a treat each and every single time. The stories are broken down, after the three Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Each one a little gem and a fabulous way to get a feel for the culture and stunning mythology surrounding each one, yet told in the authors own way and with his own particular twist.

I’ll talk a little more about the illustrations for a moment – such creativity and so elaborate that you will find something new every time you go back – and a perfect accessory to the stories being told, bringing each and every one to life. Fantastic.

Overall I would say this would be a perfect present for someone interested in the subject matter OR someone who appreciates the fine art and absolute grace of an appealing and handsome looking book.

If you fancy this one, get the proper book. Not the Kindle version. That would be my advice for any avid reader or book collector.

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brahma-Dreaming-Legends-Hindu-Mythology/dp/0956921280/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397632030&sr=1-1&keywords=brahma+dreaming

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….The Lying Down Room by Anna Jaquiery

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Publication Date: Available Now.

Published by: Mantle

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

At night Armand lay in bed with a sadness in his heart that ballooned until there was room for nothing else.

He thought with horror of the lying-down room…

Paris; in the stifling August heat, Commandant Serge Morel is called to a disturbing crime scene. An elderly woman has been murdered to the soundtrack of Faure’s Requiem, her body then grotesquely displayed.

At first this strange case seems to offer few clues; and Morel has problems of his own. His father – always a great force in his life – is beginning to succumb to senility; and he is unsettled by the reappearance of the beautiful Mathilde, the woman he once loved. Only origami can help calm the detective and focus his thoughts on this troubling crime.

The Lying Down Room is the first in a series featuring Serge Morel, and as an example of purely poetic Crime Fiction this one had it all.

Atmospheric, deeply moving in places and with a truly remarkable main protagonist, I was totally immersed in this world for the entire time. As Morel and team try to track down an elusive killer, I was with them all the way. The Paris setting is often sombre, always compelling and extremely well described, putting you right in the moment.

For pure story flow it doesnt get much better – the people are key and there are some interesting background events going on in the lives of the featured characters which will make you want to read further as the series progresses. The psychological aspects of the killer are fascinating and impressively authentic – this is not necessarily a book with huge amounts of twists and turns, it is more an examination of the human condition and the things that drive us.

Going on the must be read list immediately, Anna Jaquiery is definitely one to watch. If you are a lover of Crime Fiction this one is definitely for you – if you are a lover of beautiful storytelling then don’t miss it.

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lying-Down-Room-Serge-Morel/dp/1447244419/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397551263&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lying+down+room

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….Surrounded by Water by Stephanie Butland.

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

Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.
How typical of her kind, generous husband – a respected police officer – to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s.
Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband’s actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike’s life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.

A very good friend of mine sent me a quote the other day. That quote was “You learn more about someone at the end of a relationship than at the beginning” How absolutely true that can be…as Elizabeth discovers in “Surrounded by Water”..

This is a novel about family. This is a novel about secrets. But mostly, mostly, this is a novel about grief. In all its forms, in all its gut wrenching, heart stopping, can’t breathe eat or sleep moments. And about coming out the other side no matter what the cost.

I absolutely refuse to tell you much about the ongoing story here apart from some very basic details. This book needs to be felt…and the more you know the less you will feel it. When Elizabeth loses her husband to a tragic accident, the ramifications of that spread like wildfire through the small community setting. As Elizabeth tries to come to terms with her loss, and realises that she didnt know everything there was to know about the man she loved after all, it is compelling, emotional, utterly profound and oh so very authentic.

This is not just about one woman. This speaks to the whole, the family unit which extends to friends and even acquaintances – How you support others in their grief when you are grieving yourself, how different personalities cope with the myriad of consequences to just one action…and how lives unravel with the simplicity of just knowing. I can’t make any more sense than that.

This was a wonderful if sobering reading experience. I will never forget this book. It will stay with my reading soul in the way that some do. Exquisite writing. Graceful and in a lot of ways inspiring, this one will hit you right in the heart.  And the letters. Oh my, the letters. I don’t think I have any tears left to cry.

To leave you with another quote.. Grief is the price we pay for love.

Find out more about the author here: http://stephaniebutland.com/

Follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/under_blue_sky

Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/stephanie+butland/surrounded+by+water/9959449/

 

 

 

Nagasaki by Eric Faye – A short and Intriguing tale.

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Winner of the Academie Francaise Grand Prix.

Translated by Emily Boyce. Thank you to Gallic Books for the unexpected pleasure of this read.

In a house on a suburban street in Nagasaki, meteorologist Shimura Kobo lives quietly on his own. Or so he believes.

Food begins to go missing. Perturbed by this threat to his orderly life, Shimura sets up a webcam to monitor his home. But though eager to identify his intruder, is Shimura really prepared for what the camera will reveal?

Based on real-life events, this prize‐winning novel is a moving tale of alienation in the modern world.

This, based on a true story from 2008 was a short, extremely sweet and intriguing tale of one man, living a normal if fairly dull life, who suddenly realises he is not alone. As he sets out to discover whats what, he may end up with more than he bargained for.

I loved this – I read in in one sitting, it is a novella, but also because once I started I really wanted to find out where the yoghurt had gone. Sounds slightly mad perhaps but hey, that yoghurt bugged me!

What I got was a snapshot of daily life in Japan, some beautiful writing, the heart of two amazing characters and a strange and engaging story of  people passing like ships in the night , almost literally. There is a lot beneath the surface of these two and that comes out beautifully in the telling.

On the surface a fairly simple but compelling tale, underneath is the soul of lonely people everywhere. A perfectly formed magnificent piece of writing.

Definitely recommended and once again translated marvellously by Emily Boyce.

About the Author

Born in Limoges, Eric Faye is a journalist and the prize-winning author of more than twenty books.

About the Translator

Emily Boyce is in-house translator at Gallic Books. She lives in London.

Find more from Gallic Books here: http://gallicbooks.com/

Follow them on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/gallicbooks

Purchase Information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/eric+faye/emily+boyce/nagasaki/10190610/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves….Murder by Sarah Pinborough

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Publication Date: May 1st 2014 from Jo Fletcher Books.

Thank you SO much to all concerned for the advance reading copy. It meant I didnt have to commit murder myself…

Dr. Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, is still recovering from the event of the previous year when Jack the Ripper haunted the streets of London – and a more malign enemy hid in his shadow. Bond and the others who worked on the gruesome case are still stalked by its legacies, both psychological and tangible.

But now the bodies of children are being pulled from the Thames… and Bond is about to become inextricably linked with an uncanny, undying enemy.

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

Pre-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!

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!