Liz Currently Loves…..The Reluctant Cannibals by Ian Flitcroft

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So thanks to Legend Press I recently got to read this wonderful quirky and unique novel which I enjoyed very much – review later but first of all I caught up with Ian Flitcroft and asked him a few questions. Here is what he told me….

 

Ok this is a bit of a cliche question but I have to know…where on earth did the idea for “The Reluctant Cannibals” come from?

Over my years in medicine I have taken an interest in odd syndromes and initially was looking to write a book about one of these: Apotemnophilia. This is a curious condition in which people desire a healthy limb to be removed and often go to extreme lengths to achieve this. The original plot line started going in a very Hannibal Lecter direction
and much darker than I intended. So I kept the cannibalism aspect, made the donation of the limb a little less gruesome and made the whole book an exploration of gastronomy. A rather non-linear progression from concept to final version!

Do you cook a lot at home? Any culinary skills you could have brought to the table?

I love cooking and also experimenting with odd recipes. Even though I have a mountain of cook books (and keep buying them) I rarely cook from books. I read those for ideas and for fun but I now prefer to cook from scratch starting with a few core ingredients and seeing where that takes me – ideally to music such as Jacqueline du Pré playing Bach’s solo cello suites.

There are a lot of interesting food facts dotted around in the novel – did it take a lot of research?

I was familiar with around half of the foody facts in the book but had great fun researching the rest, often taking long detours through old books on gastronomy before coming back to the writing of the novel itself.

Oxford is a terrific setting and one I know well. What made you decide to make it the heart of the action?

A few reasons. It’s one I know well. Eccentricity is the “new normal” amongst Oxford dons so it gave great scope for an interesting bunch of characters. Finally an Oxford don (Nicholas Kurti) was one of the inventors of molecular gastronomy back in 1969 (when Heston Blumenthal was only 3 years old). Kurti was an eminent low temperature physicist
and keen cook who gave a lecture in London that year during which he decried the fact that humanity knows more about what goes on inside a star than what goes on inside a soufflé.

Do you have a favourite character?

It has to be Arthur Plantagenet himself. I was so fond of him that I had to make him come back as a ghost.

Book you wish you had written.?

Gustav Sobin’s The Fly Truffler – a beautiful truffle suffused and tragic love story.

Favourite season of the year?

Anything but winter! If I had to choose then spring. Nothing can beat the green colour of newly unfurled leaves on a tree in spring. I sometimes feel envious of bears who can hibernate through winter and wake up in spring – hungry and skinny.

Coffee, Tea or something a little stronger?

A well made dry Martini. A proper one with gin, not vodka. Stirred not shaken. Twist or olive? Depends how I’m feeling – sometimes both.

 

Thank you Ian!

 

Review

 

Shortlisted for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Award Winner

 

So here is a book I would not have looked at twice if it wasnt coming from the amazing Legend Press who have yet to bring me a book I have not liked. And yes, they have indeed done it again….

In the academic world of Oxford University several likeminded individuals have formed a secret dining society – finding forgotton and exotic recipes they enjoy some culinary treats. When one of their number, Professor Arthur Plantagenet, discovers he has a serious heart condition he comes up with a bizarre plan that will test the boundaries of the society to its limits….

I loved this one.  It was a complete joy to read and unique in its concept and its execution. When a guest dies due to a mishap in the creation of one of the culinary treats – ““What a bloody marvelous way to die” says one character while the corpse is still fresh at the table –  the group is put under the spotlight…and consequences ensue not least due to Professor Plantagenet’s weird and wonderful plan. The whole story is gloriously accomplished – the equivalent of the best meal you will ever eat in book form. A culinary masterpiece indeed…

Dark humour abounds – and somewhat of an education. Little titbits about the history of certain food related topics can be found dotted about and it was fascinating stuff. Want to know what the practice of Sokushinbutsu entails? I know you do…and you will!

Atmospheric and intriguing you will be swept along with all the marvellous and nutty characters, and this is elegantly written in a way thats easy to love. Oh I could tell you about so much more but I’m not going to, why oh why would I spoil in any way such a treat of a reading experience – you see this is a story the likes of which you are probably not going to find again, or have read before. So savour it. Pun intended.

 

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

 

You can follow Ian on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/IanFlitcroft

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Revisiting The Memory Game by Sharon Sant.

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A while ago the lovely Sharon Sant came on the blog and answered a few questions for me about The Memory Game (and life in general) – if you missed out, you can clickety click right here and read now. http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/liz-currently-loves-the-memory-game-by-sharon-sant/

Today, to celebrate the paperback release, Sharon tells us  a little bit more about the origins of the story and the events that shaped it.

 

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When I was a kid, like many other kids in reasonably affluent, first world countries, I thought I was invincible. Not consciously, of course, but that I thought that no matter what I did (and I did plenty of stupid, life-threatening things as a kid) I would live forever.  Even seeing death constantly on news reports – other kids in other places – did nothing to affect this belief – those were somehow removed; distant instances in lives that would never touch mine.

But then two things happened within a few years of each other that changed everything.  The first was when I was fifteen. I worked at a local paper shop delivering papers and helping behind the counter at weekends. My thirteen year old brother also worked at the same shop delivering papers, along with gang of boys his age. One day, a group of them were walking back together after doing a round, and one of them, messing around, stepped into the road. And that was it. A car, seemingly from nowhere, hit him, just like that. He hung on in hospital for a few days, but we all knew he would die.

A couple of years later I worked in a stationery shop in town as a Saturday girl whilst studying for my A levels. I was friendly with one of the girls who worked there, and one Saturday we arranged to meet up out of work for the first time the following week. By Monday, however, she was dead. She had been perfectly well and full of life when I had seen her, and within 48 hours had died from meningitis.  Everyone who had been in contact with her had to be tested and suddenly, as well as the profound shock of our friend dying, we had the very real fear, for the first time, that it was possible for us to die too.

Partly, these two events shaped a lot of my thoughts and feelings when writing The Memory Game.  From being cocooned in this relatively safe world by my parents, when I was young enough not to have even lost close relatives, suddenly, the realisation formed that the world was a much less certain place, and that my mortality was very real.  This is what happens to David, essentially, in The Memory Game, and to all the kids around him.  Of course, the start of the book finds David already dead, but his acceptance of this fact is what is called into question.  He can’t accept that this is his end. Through his eyes the impact of his death on everyone around him, particularly the kids at his school, is seen in painful, honest detail as they all deal with it in different ways.

The Memory Game was a difficult book in many ways to write, but extremely rewarding to finish, and I’m very proud to share it.

 

My review for those who missed it.

 

David died at 15. But he is not gone. Weeks after his death, he wanders his home village, unable to interact with anyone or anything…and unable to understand why, as he seems to be the only ghost around. Suddenly he realises that there IS one person that can see and hear him…her name is Bethany. An outcast and loner, they had no contact in life so why is she the only one who can see him now?

 

This was such a beautifully written story it tugged at my heartstrings. David was not a particularly nice person in life – certainly not in his attitude to girls like Bethany – and as he watches his best friend behave appallingly he comes to some understanding of who he himself was and how different things would be now if only he could get that life back. In the relationship with his Mother, his Stepfather and with Bethany. I suppose in a way, you could call it a coming of age story..except of course David will not have the chance. The relationship that develops between the two youngsters – one living, one dead, is almost what I would like to call “Anti Twilight”. No angst, just a rather strange friendship and mutual respect that you wish with all your heart they could have in life. And yet…if David was alive they would never speak.

As Bethany tries to help David discover just why it is that he is stuck, they learn more about each other and themselves. She really is an amazing girl who has suffered her own share of tragedy…and we all knew girls and boys like her at school, some of us WERE those people – the slightly odd, and seemingly sad misfits. What Sharon Sant has done is give you a glimpse behind the mask – a possible reason for being. It makes you wonder….what if you had simply spoken to a girl like that rather than avoiding them or making fun – what hidden depths might you discover and who knows what friendships are missed because this simply doesnt occur.

And of course its a darn good story to boot – you will WANT to know what David’s purpose is, why he is the only spirit, why is Bethany the one chosen to be able to see and hear him. There are some humerous moments as David tries to accomplish those things that film ghosts always seem to be able to do – moving things, scaring people..but mostly it is an emotional and heart wrenching ride towards the final resolution. Will David be doomed to walk forever with only Bethany for company? I would suggest you read and find out!

You can follow Sharon Here: https://twitter.com/SharonSant

Find out more about her here: http://sharonsant.com/

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Memory-Game-ebook/dp/B00EU7R1GA/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378024812&sr=1-2&keywords=the+memory+game

 

Thank you so much Sharon!

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

BookLikes….A site for Readers and Authors.

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Good Morning and a Happy Weekend everyone!

 

So, instead of my usual “coming next week” post today I thought I would talk a little bit about a new site for Readers and Authors alike that I recently joined..

 

Now I was persuaded to join when, due to the new reviewing policy at Goodreads, a lot of the reviewers and friends that I was following jumped ship to find a new home. I think enough has been said on the subject – I myself will continue to use Goodreads as I always have unless it becomes significantly more commercial (which considering recent events is not beyond the realms of possibility as of course Amazon now own the site) but I was also very interested in trying to find a site that is less about the selling and more about the reading. So far Booklikes seems to fulfill this need…

 

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I have to say I am enjoying it very much. As it is in the early stages of development, there are a few teething issues but that will very much change as time goes on. And of course there is the element of having to learn a new “Set up” so to speak but overall so far it seems like exactly the type of site avid readers will love.

A HUGE plus about BookLikes is the professional, efficient and speedy service offered by staff when you send them a query. I have had several, being a complete technophobe, and each and every one has been answered clearly and concisely within a couple of hours of me mailing or posting on Twitter. Great eh? Whether they will be able to keep this level of service up when their membership grows is another thing – but I have a feeling that they themselves are determined to make this the best site possible for lovers of all things book related.

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Another thing I love is that each member gets their own blog. Now on Goodreads only authors have certain privileges – here on BookLikes, readers and authors alike can post articles, links AND reviews to their blog where they become accessible to all. Shelves appear to work pretty much as they do on Goodreads and more features are being added all the time. I simply imported all my books and reviews from Goodreads (it did take a few days due to the HUGE traffic that they encountered but hey, they fixed that. Another example of the dedication – originally my import was due to take thousands of hours then all of a sudden….done!) I know some users are still awaiting everything to arrive, and some reformatting will be required of the reviews imported but apart from that, easy peasy.

 

You can follow and be followed a little like on Twitter – the “explore” feature lets you look at the biggest hits around site currently, and adding a book is fairly simple.  You can add links to your homepage for your own personal blog and other sites and the share buttons are available if you want to let those on Twitter et al  know what articles you have been reading. I love the clean, informal and intimate layout and have had an awful lot of fun simply clicking my way around and learning as I go…

 

Oh and I would like to give a huge THANK YOU also to those readers and goodreads refugees’s who have joined Booklikes, explored the options, and provided on their BookLikes Blog many simple to follow masterclasses in how to use all the features and customise your blog, even when you need to use code to do so. I have no idea how to code ANYTHING so that has been tremendously helpful (although I still have not been brave enough to actually try more of the technically minded ways of changing things!). The REAL sense of community here is stunning.

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The “wishlist” post on Booklikes is filling up fast with many suggestions to the crew on how to make the site better – each and every one of which is being taken seriously and implemented if possible. Groups are coming soon, as are many other things that all sound terrific! So yes. If it remains like this then I shall indeed be happy to call it home.

A quick note with reference to Goodreads again and THAT policy. Unlike the staff at Goodreads, the Booklikes crew have been more than happy to answer queries on what is and is not acceptable on their site, and their policy is clear and concise. Abuse and Threats are not tolerated, as is absolutely correct, but pretty much anything else goes (within reason of course but if you are unsure you can ask and, hey, actually GET an answer) so I think this is going to be a fun and involving site to play around with.

 

If you fancy it here you go: http://booklikes.com/

If you DO join and would like to be my friend (because we all need friends ESPECIALLY reading friends!) this is me. http://lizzy11268.booklikes.com/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

An Update from Amy…On writing. And Life.

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So today I hand the blog back over to good friend and flegdling writer Amie Johnson. Take it away Amie!

Amie can be found on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/amieblinks

 

From The Beginning

 

Part Two – 23/09/13

Welcome back!

So since my last blog things have changed with my novel. After having a major lack of confidence in my first draft I made a brave decision to scrap it and start again. This turned out to be a really good choice as I have now re-written the chapters, and more, and I am feeling so much happier with it. My first draft was very wordy, and as an avid blogger and reviewer, I think this is going to be something difficult to shake off. A bad habit I need to find a solution to.

 

Currently 8,671 words in, I am reaching pinnacle points in my story that deserve lots of focus and a creative mind. This is my second setback. I won’t write unless I feel ‘in the mood’. It makes writing a much longer process but helps me feel confident in my work. I would rather produce something shorter that I deem to be good, than something lengthy but rubbish, in my eyes. Quality over quantity every time. It’s about having a working ritual and how to get yourself into a creative mind frame. Normally, my best work is produced at night. I don’t know why, it’s just how I am. Maybe this stems from my insomnia?!

As for my ritual, I tend to live by the philosophy; ‘Write when the mood takes you’. Forced writing is not how I work. If I was to just add to it every time I felt I should to stick to an invisible deadline, the quality of what is produced would be very low.

 

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As the weeks have passed since my first attempt at starting my novel I have yet to create a name for a few things in my book, mainly the place where all the action happens. It isn’t set in England, or indeed at the present time. It’s very different to the world we live in. Therefore, I feel it deserves it’s own name, but this is something I’m struggling to generate. My initial thought was to use districts but that is becoming too popular in YA novels so I chose to move away from that idea. Now I am seeking a made up word! Something that is a slow, but working progress.

 

I do fear that procrastination has swayed me off task quite a lot recently. Now back at work and having started my teacher training degree, my main focus isn’t to write anymore. It’s to do my job and do well on my course. When I started this novel in the summer holidays I was hoping to have miraculously finished the first draft by term ones beginning – how wrong was I. Very mis-calculated there. So now I juggle my time between work, PGCE,  partner, friends, family, blogging, reviewing, reading and writing. Also keeping up with the X Factor which has also now started, creating yet another block!

 

 

An author provided me with a tip in my latest blog ‘Workspace and Ritual’ which was to mark in my diary a block each week where I would commit to writing my novel. Even if it’s only once a week, I have to not change my mind, regardless of potential invitations thrown at me. I must stand my ground and switch the creative side of my noggin on. Maybe I should consider testing this theory. I’ll keep you posted…

 

I have managed, through listening to my characters, to fashion new journeys for them to embark on in my story. It sounds weird – ‘listening to my characters’ – but it is something that can happen to writers, should they tune in enough. My characters now guide me through the story, telling me what they want to happen. My mind feels completely weird when I write now because these characters in my book have overthrown my original ideas and as the words flow out, they inject scenes I wasn’t expecting, emotions I didn’t know they had. It’s key to have a plan when writing a story, but my advice is to not stick to it word for word. Allow your characters to express themselves through your writing. If you’re creating a scene and suddenly instinct tells you to change direction, go with it. As they say; ‘go with the flow’. What’s the worst that could happen? You have to highlight a paragraph or two, press the delete button and start over. At least you’re experimenting and during the last month or so, I’ve realised, that’s what it is all about. That is the key element that makes up the beauty of writing, experimentation. Grant your characters permission to explore. You never know, they might just help you in creating a masterpiece.

 

Thank you for visiting.

Please see my blog for more writing tips or any of my reviews: http://amielou89.blogspot.co.uk/

Thank you Liz for sharing me.

Until next time, stay happy 🙂

Happy Publication Day to Neil White…and what else am I looking forward to?

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So today you can finally get your hands on a copy of “Next to Die” by Neil White. To read my recent interview with him clickety click http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/2-days-to-go-neil-white-and-next-to-die/

 

To celebrate I  thought I might talk a little bit about some more books I am looking forward to and am dying to read. And to start with I want to say that THIS…the one I had been waiting for with the most anticipation…is Brilliant!

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Don’t expect a review any time soon though. I’m doing what I always do with a brand shiny new Stephen King book – making it last. Ten minute treats is all I allow myself, but I will say right now…you should probably be reading it. It can be read without first reading “The Shining” but it would lose something…A review for The Shining can be found currently at the top of the Stephen King page here on site….

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Now what else is coming up…Well I’m about to dive into “Long Way Home” by Eva Dolan, with grateful thanks to her and her publisher for the advance copy – this is one I’ve been hanging on in there for. I will let you know how that is going in due course.

My next biggest “MUST HAVE” book is the as yet untitled final instalment of “The Passage” trilogy from Justin Cronin. Sometime next year you won’t see me for dust as I settle down to find out what exactly is going on with Alicia et al…if you havent read The Passage or The Twelve then you are missing out – The best post apocalyptic novel/s I have read since “The Stand” it is truly compelling. Its one of those that I wish I had waited until all 3 were done before I started. Me and my chronic impatience. If these somehow passed you by, then you have a while to catch up. I highly recommend that you do. I’m looking mostly at Will Carver and Nick Quantrill right now…hey you guys you KNOW I’m normally right!

 

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Towards the end of October, “The Violent Century” by Lavie Tidhar will be released. Its been on my radar for a while and looks like it might be a must read. It sounds slightly unconventional and like it might just be a unique experience. We will see. To find out more here you go. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18309415-the-violent-century?ac=1

 

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Finally, and not long to wait now, I am DYING to read “Just One Evil Act” by Elizabeth George. The next Lynley book is ALWAYS one that I anticipate a great deal and so far there has been not a single let down in the entire series. Yes I love some better than others (still for me Playing for the Ashes is the best Lynley) but every single one is terrific. I love Inspector Lynley. Have you read them? If not…then do.

 

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So there you go. My must haves. Do tell me about yours  – maybe I will want to add them to my list as well!

 

So, HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY NEIL and may the rest follow as soon as possible.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Mutton by India Knight – A Mother and Daughter’s view….

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So, when the lovely folks at Penguin Books offered me a chance to read and review “Mutton” from India Knight I jumped at the chance to read something a little different for me. When it arrived I popped it onto the shelf to await my attention – where it caught the eye of my lovely daughter Mel. Insisting it was far more her sort of thing than mine, she got there first – and so the seeds for this article were sewn. Considering the subject matter, that of growing old gracefully (or not as the case may be) we thought it would be fun to do a joint review from the points of view of a 20 something and a 40 something. Penguin were also on board with this idea, so here we are. Kindly, India Knight despite being extremely busy, took the time to answer a couple of questions, one for me and one for Mel. So here are our reviews, followed by the question we asked. Have fun, we did!

 

Mel’s Review

‘Mutton’ was certainly an interesting read for me. On the surface a light hearted chick-lit, the tale follows 46 year old Clara Hutt, a well-grounded mother who thinks she is happy with her life, and her looks, until an old friend (Gaby) comes to stay looking FABULOUS and utterly demoralises her.

 
Debating the many issues surrounding cosmetic surgery and treatments, ‘Mutton’ is a book about getting old, and whether we should try to do it gracefully, or simply grab hold of our youth kicking and screaming until we end up looking like PamAn. Coming at it from the point of view of a 22-year old that already worries about wrinkles (the nice lady in superdrug assured me that I do not, in fact, need the ‘age-defying’ brand of foundation) the main problem I had with this book is that it terrified me. The trials and tribulations that Clara goes through are the very things that keep me up at night, simply because one day I WILL go through them – I’m sure all you fortysomethings are rolling your eyes, but it’s true. Cellulite? Saggy tits? LIVER SPOTS?! Kill me now. I’ll be a complete Gaby. Then again, if mum starts getting botox or going out clubbing I’ll be having words with her…

 
Alongside the main plot we follow the story of Clara’s son and his girlfriend, a couple of teenagers who get themselves into a sticky situation. What I found odd is how, for the first time, I identified more with the adults in a book than the younger characters. Maybe, I might be… a grown up? Either way, both parts of the story link together nicely, with teen angst providing an excellent backdrop to contrast mid-life crisis.

 
When it comes down to it, more than anything this book made me laugh. I laughed on the bus until people started glaring at me. I laughed in bed until my boyfriend woke up and asked me politely to shut up. I laughed on my own, and then laughed some more because why not? Bravo, India, Bravo.

 

 

Mel Asked: How do you think your viewpoints would have differed had you written the book 20 years ago?

Oh, I’d have written a completely different book 20 years ago – something hectoring and intransigent about the very IDEA of having anything done. I’d have banged on about the beauty of a lived-in face and concluded that anyone who even considered the smallest intervention was unforgivably shallow. As Clara says in the book – it’s lovely to hold those opinions, but the women who hold them tend not to be in their fifties.

 

My Review

 

Right, anyone that reads my blog and reviews regularly may have noticed that I don’t really do “chick lit”. But when Penguin offered me a copy of Mutton by India Knight I jumped at the chance…expecting a novel similar to “Bridget Jones Diary” but from a slightly older point of view, that wasnt exactly what I got – but what I DID get was a laugh out loud wry and humerous look at the joys and downfalls of reaching a certain age…

Clara is pretty much every woman…she certainly had a hint of me in there – and when her friend Gaby moves in, all glamorous and youthful looking with a rather strange outlook, hilarity ensues as Clara begins to question what “growing old gracefully” actually means…

My daughter Mel, who is 22, and I both read this book at around the same time…she started first and at one point I got a text message from her telling me I was only allowed to read it if I promised not to get botox or bring men home randomly to fulfill my inner urges – unless I reassured her on this point she said, she was banning me from reading “Mutton” A few laughs later and I was finally allowed to have it back…and I must say it was a whole lot of fun!

India Knight has a fine sense of irony and a wry eye to the ridiculous side of suddenly realising you are probably just slightly too old to get away with that mini skirt now, but equally you don’t want to go all mumsy. Also the relationship Clara has with the younger members of the household is quite realistic (certainly from my experience) and I loved the way that you could pick this book up at any age teenager onwards and probably find something to love.

Highly enjoyable – while writing this review I was giggling as certain parts of the story came back to me. Its not going to change your life – but thats not the point. What it WILL do is give you a lovely little break from your own existance and let you live a short time in someone elses shoes. Great fun!

 

I asked: How much of Clara was based on yourself and your personal views on getting older?

 

Clara started off being pretty much me (in My Life On A Plate), but these days she’s become her own person and there’s only about 10% of me left in her. There’s still some overlap, but it’s almost accidental. Having said that, her views on ageing do mirror mine, more or less – but I hope that they also mirror those of any woman who catches sight of herself one day and thinks “I’m not overly delighted with this new wrinkle”.

 

Thank you SO much to India and to Penguin Books. I hope that anyone picking up this book after reading this will have as much fun as we did.

 

You can follow India on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/indiaknight

Find out more about Penguin here: http://www.penguin.co.uk/#

Purchase Information Clickety Click http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780241955048,00.html?strSrchSql=india+knight/Mutton_India_Knight

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

2 Days to go..Neil White and Next to Die.

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So we all know (Well anyone that knows me!) that I’m quite a fan of Neil White’s crime fiction. As he embarks on a new series of books, starting with “Next to Die” out on Thursday, I tracked him down to find out a little bit more about him….Here is what he had to say.

 

Do you have any rituals or habits when writing?

 

Distracting myself is my main habit. I find it hard to sit and do nothing but write, and so I might be at the computer for four hours, but around three hours of that is browsing newspaper websites or just generally messing about, like deciding to make another coffee or deciding which CD to put on (which then gets turned off because it is too distracting).

 

I’m not very ritualistic about writing. Sometimes I might sit down for a concerted spell of writing and do hardly any, or I grab what I think will be a quick thirty minutes at the end of a long day and it flows and flows.

 

Have you considered writing a book out of your usual genre?

 

I do want to write a book about Johnny Cash, but from a very specific angle. It’s something I might do if I get a spare couple of months, and I’ll do it just for me. As for fiction, I have never considered anything other than crime. It’s what I read and it’s what I watch and it’s what I do in my day job.

 

Bookmark or Page folder?

 

Page folder. Bookmarks are too organised and deciding which bookmark to use would take up too much time.

 

Kindle or Print book?

 

Print book.

 

I have a Kindle, and have enjoyed reading books on it, but I only ever turn to the Kindle when my print book pile has been finished.

 

Have your experiences as a Prosecutor influenced any of your story lines?

 

Not directly, but I have used little asides I’ve heard rather than cases. The main influence is that I am comfortable in that field, and so I don’t feel like my research is starting from scratch.

 

Desert Island book?

 

That’s a tough question. Probably To Kill A Mockingbird, but only because it’s the only book I’ve read where I have immediately wanted to re-read it.

 

Favourite character from a book?

 

Lisbeth Salander. My main gripe with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was that there wasn’t enough of the girl with the dragon tattoo. I thought she was a very interesting character, and it was good to see her come to the fore more in the later books in the trilogy.

 

Rugby: Union or League and why?

 

Rugby League.

 

The simplest reason is that I grew up in Wakefield, and Wakefield is a rugby league city, the largest place in England without a football team. We lived on the same street as the Wakefield Trinity ground, St Catherines Street, when I was around five, and my father used to take me and my brothers to games when my mother was at work at a nearby variety club. I became hooked, and have stayed hooked. I am still a season ticket holder at Wakefield Trinity (now called the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats).

 

Rugby league is everything a crime fiction novel should be: fast, violent and exciting. I love the incessant eighty minutes of biff and bash, blood and muscle, sometimes a tactical arm wrestle, other times fast and furious. I have played rugby union, and the last time I carried a ball in anger was in a rugby union game, but rugby league is the sport for me, and always has been.

 

For any film buffs, the Wakefield Trinity ground was used in the 1962 Oscar-nominated Richard Harris film, This Sporting Life (as was the team). The player who knocked Harris out at the start of the film was the Wakefield captain, Derek Turner, and the rugby scenes were filmed prior to a Wakefield-v-Wigan cup game, with players from both sides pitching in.

 

Don’t ask me any questions about rugby league. I will talk about it all day.

 

In a recent interview with Neil during Favourite Authors week I asked him about his favourite book that he had written. As it talks about Next to Die here is what he told me back then.

 

That’s a hard question to start with, because it is hard to be objective about them, and perhaps the ones that have been the hardest to write have been better books because of that.

 

My favourite is the one due out next month in hardback and ebook, Next To Die, because it was the first book where I felt I was starting from a good position. My previous books were five in a series and then a standalone, but of course the series stemmed from a debut, Fallen Idols, where I was still learning how to put books together, perhaps not wholly comfortable with what I was doing, and if I went back I would perhaps change one or two things.

 

Next To Die is a new start for me, because it enabled me to develop a new series but from a starting point where I don’t feel like a complete newbie anymore. For instance, in my earlier series Jack Garrett was a journalist principally because I wanted to avoid having a lawyer as a main character, as whenever I found myself writing something legal I became more interested in making it accurate than interesting. One of the two main characters in Next To Die is a lawyer, a criminal defence lawyer, and I didn’t have the same fear, and because I’m a criminal lawyer, I felt like I had “come home”. That isn’t to say that I feel like I am in any way accomplished at what I do, but I feel less bewildered by it.

 

To nominate as a favourite a book that is due to come out may come across as being a cynical marketing ploy (*innocent face*) and so if I am forced to choose my favourite from the ones people might have read I will choose my fourth book, Dead Silent. If I think about why, I would say because it is the only plot I came up with in the previous six books where the lead character generated the story. I will try and explain.

 

In all the other books, I tended to have an idea of an angle and then fitted the story around that. In Lost Souls, I became interested in precognition and an arts professor called David Mandell. Last Rites was connected to the Pendle Witch legend. Cold Kill was based on the BTK killer, and in Beyond Evil I was trying to create a low-rent, Lancashire Charlie Manson. Dead Silent had a different genesis. Jack Garrett was a freelance crime reporter, and I wondered what would be the ultimate scoop for a crime reporter, and I guessed that it would be to locate Lord Lucan, the long-disappeared aristocratic nanny-killer. So I came up with the idea of Jack being approached by someone who knew a long-disappeared murdering toff, Claude Gilbert, who would come out of hiding through Jack, provided that Jack could prove his innocence first.

 

I didn’t hide the Lucan background, as a lot of the fake sightings of Claude Gilbert in Dead Silent were in fact “real” fake sightings of Lord Lucan, and the two locations crucial to the Lucan story were used in the book: the basement where the nanny was killed, and the pub to where Lucan’s wife ran in order to escape him.

 

So Dead Silent is the answer. The pace is slightly more gentle than the others, and it’s the fact that character generated the plot rather than an idea being fitted around the characters. Ironically, it has the lowest sales figures too.

 

Thank you so much Neil!

 

Review: Next to Die.

 

Neil White

Next to Die HiRes Vis

Coming 26th September from Sphere

 

Luckily I got my hands on a beautiful copy of this book before I imploded – Thanks Mr White and his publisher for the advanced copy. My chronic impatience was satisfied at last….

Joe Parker is a criminal defence lawyer with a reputation. Sam Parker is a detective on a mission. Years ago they suffered the loss of their sister to a violent crime – a burden they both dealt with in different ways. Now their worlds will collide again when a fresh set of murders hits the city – on opposite sides of the fence what will come first…the law or family?

Its no secret that I’m a huge fan of Neil White’s crime writing – each one has been better than the last and this one is no exception. For pure story flow and engaging with the reader its the best yet. We see the story unfold from several perspectives, Joe and Sam mainly with another voice in the mix. They are rivals the two brothers, that rivalry tinged with respect for each other that comes across very well. You may well fall in love with these two – I certainly did. Perhaps Joe more than Sam but hey, thats all in the eyes of the beholder. I did spend a fair amount of time yelling at them (in my head of course, my daughter cured me of the tendency to do it out loud some time ago!) to just TALK to each other in order to prevent the approaching mayhem and yet we move inexorably towards what may not be the happiest of endings. One thing Mr White does extremely well is create uncertainty when it comes to the chances of survival of those characters you become attached to…no-one is safe.

Another thing this author does extraordinarily well is the death scenes. Heck I love a good death scene – any avid reader of Crime Fiction does…and the clever thing about the way they are written here, and in previous novels, is the ability to make them both gruesome and heart wrenching. Sob. Not that easy to achieve.  It doesnt matter if the character doing the dying is someone you’ve only read two lines about or someone who has been there through it all – you are still going to feel the loss. It all adds up to make a great reading experience.

So. Great story, well told, a yarn, a tale, a wonderful thing. Fun and disturbing, yet another great addition to the Crime genre and one you don’t want to miss. There are crime books and there are CRIME books. This one is definitely the capital version.

Usually I would finish a review by saying “If you havent read this author before you need to start…..” but in this case, as this IS the start of this particular series of books, you can just read this one if you like! And you will. Then you will have a lovely back catalogue to work your way through as well.

 

Find out more here :  http://www.neilwhite.net/

Follow Neil on Twitter here https://twitter.com/neilwhite1965

Purchase Information clickety click here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Die-Neil-White/dp/0751549444/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380003914&sr=1-1&keywords=neil+white

 

Also Available: A selection.

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To find out about all of Neil’s great books http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/neil-white/

 

Happy Reading Folks!

More reviewing pitfalls…and the latest policy from Goodreads..

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So, on Friday evening I was buzzing around as usual on the internet, chatting away to some good friends discussing books and life in general. Then one of them said “Oh have you seen the latest policy change from Goodreads?” So I tootled over to the feedback portion of said site, where already users were up in arms…Here we go.

 

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1499741-important-note-regarding-reviews

 

Now in principle this doesnt sound too bad…put a stop to adversarial content and internet bullying by ensuring that Goodreads remains a site for readers about books, and that people are protected (both authors and reviewers) from that minority that abuse and threaten. But if you look a little deeper there are several issues here – perhaps not so much with the policy itself, but with the implementation and the lack of specific guidelines and goals within the terms and conditions.

To my mind Goodreads made two significant errors here: Firstly they did a “dump and run” Posted the new policy on a Friday night, ensuring that all users had the weekend to get more and more worked up..which they did..with no staff members being around to answer queries. Secondly, they started arbitrarily removing shelves and reviews without giving the user time to back up their content – or the opportunity to change or update their data to bring it in line with the latest policy. No wonder users are angry….

It also appears on the surface that these changes are very much geared towards protecting authors, rather than the readers and reviewers who make Goodreads what it is. You will no longer be allowed it seems, to let other users know that a particular author is likely to give you grief if you dislike their book or give it a low rating/bad review. Now understandably shelves with the name “This author should die” or similar should not be acceptable to my mind – it is uncalled for and abusive. However Goodreads are not stopping there. Many users have lost shelves AND the reviews that went along with them that are marked such things as “Due to Author”. Now Due to Author can have many meanings. It may mean “I will read every book by this author because they are brilliant” or indeed the complete opposite. Hence the need, I feel, to be a lot more specific..because otherwise this will happen..

 

http://www.goodreads.com/user_status/show/33224067

 

Poor Harry Potter!

 

So a huge error in judgement here from Goodreads, in this reviewer’s opinion. Of course some people are speculating as to the cause of this latest policy update and if you search around, or indeed read the comments on the thread I linked earlier you can find out what that is all about. I pass no comment, having never had a problem with ANY of the authors whose books I have reviewed – nor do I have any actual knowledge of this small group of Self Published Authors who seem to be causing a  problem – therefore I cannot speak with any confidence on the subject. However….

 

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It does feel as if Goodreads are going to lose a certain amount of credibility going forward – reviewers who choose to remain on site are already talking about putting disclaimers in their reviews to cover the fact that they have had to self censure in order to keep them in line. Who is going to trust therefore that these reviews are actually telling it how it is?

Secondly, the authors that are going to be most affected are those authors who need the most help and honesty from bloggers and reviewers – the self published author. I can’t tell you how many messages I have received, or how many comments I have read in various book loving blogs/sites/just generally on my facebook saying that the easiest way to ensure that they do not come under fire is to simply refuse to read or review any book from a self published author, but to stick with those established authors with a publishing house behind them. Therefore giving them the safety net of knowing there is a certain amount of integrity and mutual respect each way. I have to say, reading some of the horror stories its a temptation I have myself. If it wasnt for the fact that I have had dealings with many self published authors, and not ONCE had an issue, then I would indeed be reconsidering when and how to accept books offered for review….

 

I do think its VERY important to crack down on ACTUAL internet bullying, and I would applaud Goodreads for making a genuine effort to do so. However this particular policy does not seem to have that effect…if anything it appears to allow those very very few authors  who do “stalk” reviewers around the internet, threatening to expose their personal information, carte blanche to continue…with the tacit approval of a large and busy book reviewing internet site. Am I right? Wrong? Only time will tell. And I think things need to settle down first so we can see exactly how this policy will be implemented.

 

I am very interested to hear the thoughts of anyone reading this post today – most especially authors and reviewers. Please leave me a comment either here or on Twitter.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Coming Next Week to Liz Loves Books.

Hey its the weekend again folks – lets hope its a good one. It surely will be for me, a lovely copy of Dr Sleep by Stephen King arrived on my doorstep this morning. As I am near the end of my current batch of books, guess whats next for me? Anyway, I digress…here is what you can find on site next week….

 

 

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On Monday I shall be passing comment on Goodreads and the recent changes to their policies that have a lot of people up in arms and exiting the building stage left…for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about here is a linky link to help.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1499741-important-note-regarding-reviews?page=1

I will be giving my thoughts on this and reviewing in general. Hey I’ve had a whole lot of lovely author interviews lately – about time I did some work myself. See what I actually think of the whole thing on Monday….

 

Next to Die HiRes Vis

 

On Tuesday as a little teaser for the book release on Thursday, I shall be talking to Neil White all about Next to Die amongst other things…don’t miss that folks, I’m fairly sure you will want to be getting your hands on a copy of this….

 

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On Wednesday my lovely daughter Melissa and I will be talking about “Mutton” by India Knight…a book about growing old gracefully -or not as the case may be – this was a fun read and caused some hilarity in our household. We thought it would be great to give a mother/daughter viewpoint and also India answered a couple  of questions for us. Find out what she had to say on Wednesday…..

 

bookworm

 

On Thursday the actual release date for “Next to Die” I shall be talking about some books that I, personally, am dying to read. And why. And also talking a little bit about that pre release excitement that a lot of readers suffer – yes suffer! You can hear all about that on Thursday…

 

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On Friday I shall be handing the front page over to Amie once more so she can update you on her writing progress amongst other things and we can catch up with her and see how she is getting on.

 

Hopefully something there will take your fancy!

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

Meet Jane Isaac….and Helen Lavery.

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So never was I more pleased to hear that Jane Isaac will be giving us another novel in the Helen Lavery series and that it was to be published by the terrific Legend Press, one of my favourite publishers – they know a good book when they see one! So in preparation for that I thought I’d take a look back at “An Unfamiliar Murder”, Jane’s first novel, and so I caught up with her and asked her a few questions. Here is what she had to say….

 

Helen Lavery is a very realistic character, was she based in part on anyone you know?

Thank you, I’m so glad you felt that! It’s important to me that the characters appear real, they could just as easily be you or I, so that we feel their journey.

For Helen, I interviewed police officers across the ranks in the local force to create a character that is not only interesting, but also realistic in modern day policing. She is genuinely a good person, walking that extra mile to fight for justice in the face of difficult circumstances, and I have great admiration for her.

Her personal side is made up of fragments of people I know, acquaintances, and a lady I passed by in a Café in London. It’s incredible how a chance meeting can have such an impact!
Anna is intriguing and her story is compelling. Did you always know everything about her or did she evolve with the writing?

The story really started with Anna and I pretty much knew what I was going to put her through before I wrote the novel. What did surprise me was how she faced certain situations and dealt with some of the revelations the investigation dredged up. She is a strong independent woman, full of integrity, who’s never quite felt that she has ever fitted in.
Do you have a favourite “peripheral” character from the novel?

Without hesitation, it would have to be Anna’s boyfriend, Ross! I fell in love with Ross the more I wrote him. He’s so fun loving, sporty and adventurous, yet uncomplicated. Perfect boyfriend material. He certainly doesn’t deserve what the plotline puts him through.

Although Anna’s story is told, her relationship with Helen was in its infancy..do you think we’ll see her again?

 

Ha! Now wouldn’t that be something? I love Anna and I found it very difficult to leave her behind after An Unfamiliar Murder finished. It would be lovely to work with her again. Let me have a little think…

Whats next for Helen?

DCI Helen Lavery is back in the sequel, A Truth Will Out, scheduled for release by Legend Press on 1st April 2014. Helen really comes to the fore in this novel; we see her with a love interest, and she faces her toughest challenge yet! Here’s a blurb taster, just for you Liz:

“Everything’s going to be okay.”

“What if it’s not?”

Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.

“Naomi, what is it?”

She whisked back to face Eva. “There’s somebody in the house… ”

 

Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder enquiry begins.

 

Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.

 

Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And as the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?

3 people living or dead you would love to go out for a drink with?

Francesco da Mosto. I found ‘Francesco’s Italy’ fascinating, he balances my other passion of travel with a wonderful sense of fun and adventure. I bet he has some very interesting tales to tell!

Noel Fielding. I loved the Mighty Boosh, and I find Noel’s wacky sense of observational humour in stand up comedy hilarious.

Terry Winter. Co-writer of the award winning The Sopranos and creator of Boardwalk Empire, I’m in awe of the way he weaves so many layers into his characters and plotlines so that you never quite know what direction he’s going to take next. It makes for very compelling viewing!



Favourite comfort read/author?

I know it’s a cliché, but I just love Harry Potter. J K Rowling’s world of Hogwarts is truly enchanting and I devoured all the books as soon as they came out, then re-visited them all again with my daughter. My copies are all crumpled and dog-eared now as they have been read so many times.

I also read her crime thriller this summer and really enjoyed that too.



Coffee or Tea? Cake?

Tea mostly, can’t get out of bed without one. I’m also quite partial to the odd chocolate éclair;)

 

Thanks for interviewing me on your lovely blog, Liz! Loved your questions.

 

And thank you Jane!

 

Review

 

So, you know how sometimes when you start a book, you get that little frisson of excitement because you are fairly sure you are about to add another set of novels to that already large grouping that you call “must read whenever there is a new one”? I had that feeling here, probably about a quarter of the way through the book. Anna returns home from work one day to discover her flat broken into and a dead body occupying it. Which as you can imagine, is a bit of a shock. Suspected by the Police, and discovering that her life wasnt quite what she thought it was, Anna’s world is turned upside down. Enter DCI Helen Lavery (who I assume we are going to meet again – if not I may have to write a strongly worded letter!)leading her first Murder enquiry whilst juggling family life and responsibilities. Here’s what I loved on a personal level. I could relate very strongly to both the female leads here – Firstly, Helen Lavery is a woman after my own heart when it comes to dealing with stroppy teenagers and juggling the needs of the rest of the family whilst still holding down a high powered job. No she’s not perfect, who amongst us is? But she is realistically imperfect in the way of the real world rather than the fictional world. Then there is Anna. For reasons I can’t mention due to my determination never to include spoilers, I really was right there with her – some of what she goes through I have been through myself (no, not finding bodies in my living room I promise, or any sort of violence!)and her reactions are very realistic – or at least I imagine they are as they mirror my own in a lot of ways. From a readers point of view – you get a great mystery, almost Christie-esque (although I’m sure the author won’t mind me saying she’s not quite Christie!) in its presentation and resolution and some terrific supporting characters to back up the wonderful leading ladies. I kind of hope we meet Anna again as well – the relationship that develops between them is in its infancy here, but is fascinating none the less and I would like to see it explored further. All in all a darn good yarn – and I am looking forward with great anticipation to the next novel from this writer.

 

Find out more about Jane here : http://www.janeisaac.co.uk/about.html

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

Find out more about Legend Press here: http://www.legendpress.co.uk/

Purchase Information Clickety Click http://www.amazon.co.uk/An-Unfamiliar-Murder-ebook/dp/B006YK6U18/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1379665076&sr=1-1

 

Happy Reading Folks!