Favourite Authors Week – Elizabeth Haynes

So, Tuesday already how did that happen? Today on Favourite Authors week its the turn of Elizabeth Haynes.

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I adore Elizabeth’s books – human stories with a twist she brings something just a little bit different to each tale which keeps them fresh and exciting to read. With a new book coming out later this year – the start of a series – my chronic impatience is in full flow…Here is what Elizabeth had to say when I posed the favourites questions to her…

 

Favourite Book Written

 

Favourite book I’ve written is a really tricky one. I’m tempted to say ‘the last one’ because I’m always closest to it, the characters are still with me, I’m still existing in that world, but I realise that’s not much of an answer. I’d have to say Into the Darkest Corner, because it was the first novel I finished, the first book I tried to edit and the one that launched me on this crazy journey that had just been a dream until that point. It was a difficult, emotional book to write, and there were times that I hated it. But now I can see what an impact it’s had, and how much it’s changed my life, I am phenomenally grateful that I got to write it.

 

Favourite Book Read.

 

Favourite book I’ve read – that’s even more of a challenge! I’ll take the easy way out with this one and avoid fiction: Paul Britton’s The Jigsaw Man. As much as the author has now been very publicly discredited, it’s a fascinating insight into police murder investigations and the psychology of the offender. Every time I read it I learn something new. Can I also have T S Eliot’s Complete Poems? That would be my ‘Desert Island’ book.

 

Favourite Meal

 

The best meal I’ve ever had was at the Coombe Abbey Hotel near Coventry. The whole place is amazing and the food is wonderful. I don’t have adequate words for it – good job I’m not a restaurant critic really. I’ve stayed there four or five times over the past fifteen years; the last time was for our first wedding anniversary nine years ago, and I can still remember what we ate.

 

Favourite Holiday/Destination

 

The best holiday I ever went on was in my mid twenties with my friend Sam. We went to Crete for a week and when we arrived the rep told us our hotel was no longer available and we’d been moved somewhere else. This turned out to be a newly opened, small apartment block with its own pool, run by a lovely family. We were the only guests. Sam and I wanted exactly the same thing from our holiday – pool, sun, books. We got on so well, laughed so much and loved every minute of it. In more recent years I’ve had some great family holidays too – if you like theme parks, I can highly recommend De Efteling. It’s a very well kept secret here in the UK. Shhh.

 

Favourite Tv Show and/Or Film.

 

There’s only one TV show I can possibly name as my favourite. In the 1980s the BBC filmed two series of John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy. They never made the third series, despite my many letters to Barry Took. I was obsessed with it. I had the sweatshirt, I even bought the 12” single of the theme music. More recently, I absolutely love the US show The Amazing Race. I’ve seen every series. Oh, and Jeremy Kyle – as long as I can read the Twitter feed at the same time.

 

Thank you so much Elizabeth!

Now its a dilemma for me to choose my favourite book from Ms Haynes because I truly loved every single one. Its a bit like having to pick one of your children as being more intelligent than the next! So I’ve decided to go with the one that started it all – the truly incredible “Into the Darkest Corner”.

 

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Into The Darkest Corner is quite simply stunning. One of the best debut novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading, this is fiction at its best. Dealing with some life  issues in an entertaining (from the reading point of view) but very realistic way Elizabeth Haynes takes us into the darker side of relationships and gives us an insight into domestic violence, OCD and, in a very true sense, redemption. Cathy, an outgoing fun loving lass meets Lee, who at first glance seems perfect. Good looking, attentive to her needs and intelligent, Cathy thinks that perhaps she has met her “one”. Slowly but surely though things change..Lee invades every aspect of her life and Cathy finds herself cut off from her previous persona, and relying more and more on Lee for any kind of human interaction. As we, the reader, see her disintegrate slowly but surely and go from being outgoing, popular and fun to insular, needy and alone, its scary stuff. Cathy is NOT a mouse. She is NOT a person who seems as if she would allow this to happen..and yet we watch from the sidelines in horror as everything she was is eaten away by this man. Lee himself is an interesting character – as we learn more about his past and understand the very real dangers that Cathy faces, its both fascinating and horrific. Because men like him exist. They really do. And that is what makes this all the more scary. Forget horror novels, this book is about real life horror – this happens. It happens to women all the time. Sometimes its hard to read, frustrating as you see Cathy take more and more steps towards destruction..but still you will be unable to put it down. And when you are done, you will have a greater understanding of things perhaps you have never given much thought to. Brilliant. Not to be missed.

 

Other Titles

 

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Find out more here: http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com/

You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Elizjhaynes

Linky Link for Purchase information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elizabeth-Haynes/e/B004U4F4DK/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1376981815&sr=1-2-ent

 

Thank you once again to Elizabeth for taking part. She also has her own page here so you can find reviews of the other novels.

Tomorrow its the turn of R J Ellory to tell us about a few of his favourite things.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Favourite Authors Week – Sophie Hannah.

So Happy Monday everyone and welcome to Favourite Authors week. This week will feature 5 of my favourite authors, who will tell us some of their favourite things and I will follow that with a review of my favourite book of theirs. I asked each one the same questions: Favourite Book Written. Favourite Book Read. Favourite Meal. Favourite Holiday/destination and Favourite film/tv show. I would like to thank each and every one of them for taking part and today its all about Sophie Hannah.

 

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I adore Sophie’s books – her creation Simon Waterhouse is one of my favourite detectives. Quirky, flawed yet strangely loveable he investigates the complicated cases and never fails to find the answer. The mysteries are always fun, complex and brain bending and definitely test my mettle when it comes to working out what the heck is going on…The very best thing a book can do for me. Here is what Sophie had to tell me about her favourite things..

 

Favourite Book Written

The Carrier, because although is is a (hopefully) twisty and impossible-to-guess murder mystery like all my others, it is also (again, hopefully, if I’ve done my job right) a study of virtue, vice, guilt and morality, and at its centre is a story of agonising, forbidden love.  It’s about a passionate sort-of-affair, and the love part is really just as important as the crime aspects of the novel.  I’m a mystery addict – mystery is what gets me through a book, both as a writer and as a reader – and there’s nothing more mysterious than an inaccessible love object like Tim Breary in The Carrier.  On this basis, I like to think that if I applied to the Romantic Novelists Association, they might allow me to join!
Favourite Book Read
So impossible to choose! Broken Harbour by Tana French – she is the writer whose new book I always look forward to most avidly.  She’s superb at conjuring up an atmosphere, drawing you into a story that is so rich and detailed and suspenseful that you simply can’t put it down.  And when you finish it, you actually feel mildly bereaved! How will you ever read another novel now? What can possibly live up to the brilliance of Tana French?  She’s huge in the US, and not so huge here, but she really deserves to be.  Broken Harbour is her best novel, though they’re all utterly fantastic.
Favourite Meal.
Curry in an Indian Restaurant – with so much chilli in it that my head might explode.
Favourite Holiday/Destination.
Hotel Sources Des Alpes in Leucherbad, Switzerland.  In fact, I love it so much that I sent Gaby and Tim there in The Carrier.  Unfortunately, all they managed to do while they were there was have a fraught revelatory exchange involving several key plot points, but when I go I have a much more fun time – there’s a naturally heated (i.e. from the ground) outdoor swimming pool there that is just heaven!
Favourite Tv Show/Film.
Film: Twelve Angry Men – Sidney Lumet’s jury room drama, starring Henry Fonda and Lee J Cobb.  I quote it all the time!

‘When there are eleven votes for guilty, it’s not easy to raise your hand and send a boy off to the electric chair to die.’  That’s my favourite quote from the movie, and it’s made such a big impression on me that I will probably never be allowed on a jury – I would just think of Henry Fonda and say, ‘Not guilty’ over and over again.

TV: House MD.  Brilliant medical drama, fantastic human drama, a compulsive mystery-of-the-week in every episode, and a superb investigation of what it means to be a good person.  Greg House is a drug-addicted, hooker-addicted, law-breaking, horrendously sexist and unprofessional, insulting, verbally abusive genius doctor who ignores absolutely every rule that good doctors and citizens are supposed to follow.  Many of his colleagues hate him, try to get him fired and call him a jerk. And yet, underneath all his bad behaviour, he is not only a wonderful (though damaged) person, but also the best, and the most honest (because least hypocritical) character in the drama from a moral point of view.  It’s incredibly cleverly done, the script is brilliant, and the show actually has a consistent philosophical position.  There are two central tenets to this philosophy: people are idiots and everybody lies.  It is impossible to overstate how seriously I take House.  In almost any tricky situation, I think, ‘What would Greg House do?’
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Thanks Sophie!
Now, my choice for favourite book might well have been The Carrier which I enjoyed very much – its a dilemma between that one and one other so as Sophie has talked a little about The Carrier in her answers I’m going to go for the alternative.
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Kind of Cruel is one of my favourites not only because the mystery at the heart of it is so compelling but also because Amber was such a great character! My review:
“Kind Cruel, Kind of Cruel”….words said by our protaganist, Amber Hewerdine, under hypnosis. She knows she’s seen those words somewhere before…but she can’t quite remember where. Then she is arrested on suspicion of the murder of a woman she has never heard of…So begins Sophie Hannah’s latest twisted tale. Facing her insomnia, trying to work out what she has buried in her subconcious, we follow Amber as her life twist and turns – is it something to do with the death of her friend, who’s children she now has custody of? Or is she suffering a false memory and could it be something else entirely. As usual for Ms Hannah, its unlikely that you will know until it is revealed. And again as usual you will find yourself actively engaging with the characters in either a love or hate relationship. Simon Waterhouse is on top form once more with his weird and wonderful ways and Charlie is right there along with him, rolling her eyes and getting into all sorts of scrapes all by herself. The beauty of these books is the ongoing relationship between these two…and a stranger relationship you are unlikely to encounter. Brilliant.
Other titles
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Find out more about Sophie here: http://www.sophiehannah.com/
You can follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/sophiehannahCB1
You may have noticed that Sophie has her own page on Liz Loves Books so you can read reviews of her other novels there as well.
Thank you SO much to Sophie Hannah for taking part today. Tomorrow it is the turn of Elizabeth Haynes.
Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…..Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver

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Coming 29th August from Penguin

 

Thank you kindly to the author, publisher and Netgalley.

Well, I have been waiting for this one – Tim Weaver’s series about Missing Persons Investigator David Raker is one of the best series out there at the moment – and considering the plethora of great crime fiction currently available  that is saying something. But its nothing less than the truth.

In this instalment, David is recovering from his previous case and is living a quiet life in rural Devon. When an old friend of his asks him to investigate the disappearance of an entire family David is drawn once more into the world of the missing. As he digs deeper what he finds is disturbing and dangerous…

The novels are tagged as “David Raker Thrillers” but I always feel that “David Raker Mystery” would be more appropriate – the mystery element, as always, reigned supreme. Thats not to say they are NOT thrilling, they very much are – the action sequences are indeed edge of the seat stuff, especially as Mr Weaver makes no promises about the safety of any of his characters – yet still for me, the intricate plot weaving and attention to detail within those plots are very much what make these novels as good as they are.

I do adore David Raker for his tenacity. What he does is more than a job to him, its a calling. Despite the dangerous path many of his cases take he won’t give them up. Not even for love. The “I am who they have” attitude to those he tries to find is what drives him…when everyone else has given up on ever finding you, David Raker will not. If I were to have a missing loved one I would hope that someone like him were around. His character has evolved over the series beautifully – you could almost call him an Anti hero. If the law fails he will do whatever it takes to succeed – in this novel again he’s treading on toes, getting in the way and generally causing problems, for himself as much as anyone – but he’ll do what it takes. Sometimes at a huge cost…

Another terrific side of these books is the villains are always extremely villainous but somehow terribly realistic – you could easily imagine them out there in the world – you won’t find anyone twirling a moustache here, the bad guys are truly bad in a very entertaining and often horrific way.

You will be intrigued from the outset – The Marie Celeste style disappearance will immediately have you wondering…and thats it, you are hooked. And probably won’t stop reading until the end.

In the case of the Raker books I would highly recommend that you read them from the start, in order. Its not that you couldnt pick any one of them up and be perfectly happy, I just feel that Raker himself is a character who develops in such a way that you will miss out on the nuances if you havent been with him from the start. Which would be “Chasing The Dead”.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Meet Jane Casey…..And Maeve Kerrigan.

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I have long been a fan of the Maeve Kerrigan series from Jane Casey (and indeed her other novels).  Today I thought I would tell you a bit more about them (review or two to follow) so I caught up with Jane, who is a lovely lady as well as a terrific writer and she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me. Here is what she had to say.

 

Maeve as a character develops brilliantly over the course of the books. Does she tell you where she wants to go when you are writing?

When I started to write about Maeve I made her quite lacking in confidence and vulnerable but she was angry about being those things! She’s gained in confidence and experience as she’s weathered some of the horrible things I’ve thrown at her. She’s young so there’s room for her to grow and change in a way that an older character might not. Someone picked up on the fact that she’s getting much less abuse from her colleagues in the latest book, which is deliberate – she’s earned their respect and maybe intimidated a few of them along the way, even if she’s not quite popular yet. She still has plenty of issues to work through, though. It feels as if her development has been quite natural rather than a deliberate plan on my part, though. I do feel as if I’m in her company when I’m writing, rather than inventing her, if that doesn’t sound too mad.

 

Is it difficult, especially these days in a large crime fiction market, to come up with fresh mysteries?

It’s all about character for me, and telling a gripping story, not old-school mysteries where the way the murder was committed is as important as why it happened. In real life, murders tend to be fairly prosaic. My books are grounded in reality (probably the influence of my husband who is a criminal barrister and very critical of anything too far-fetched). Plots are absolutely key, of course, and I love changing direction so readers are surprised, but as long as the characters are original, the stories have a freshness to them even if they’re a reworking of good old Cain and Abel. Mind you, there is nothing worse than that thrill of fear when you read a back cover and think someone else has written your book before you did. Luckily it usually turns out to be very different indeed.

 

Which of the novels is your favourite and why?

I love THE RECKONING because it has a very twisty plot and introduces a lot of key characters who missed the first book, THE BURNING. It sets up a couple of long-running storylines too. But I really enjoyed writing THE STRANGER YOU KNOW, which probably shows. Letting Derwent off the lead is always fun.

 

Favourite character from the series?

It’s got to be Josh Derwent. I’m not just saying that because I know you’re a big fan… Generally, ‘bad’ characters are more entertaining than ‘good’ ones. He is such a great foil to Maeve – he goads her, and bullies her, and forces her to stand up to him. Their banter is so much fun to write. If she worked with someone who gently encouraged her she’d probably still be too scared to open her mouth, but Derwent makes her too angry to stay silent. I always make sure she gets the upper hand in the end, though. And I think it’s increasingly clear that there’s more to Derwent than being a loud-mouthed misogynist. I don’t really like to do single-note characters. Everyone is complicated; everyone has reasons for behaving the way they do. Every book gives another angle on the characters which is why I love series fiction – developing them over time is fascinating.

 

Dead or Alive pick 3 people to have a drink with and why

Alexander the Great, Charles Dickens and Gwyneth Paltrow. Alexander because he has always fascinated me – he was so young and yet such a great general, and he changed the ancient world in such a short space of time. Dickens because you could guarantee he’d be interesting, whether he was talking about writing or social campaigning. Mind you, I don’t think you’d get a word in once he started yapping. Gwyneth because my chances of meeting her are nil, and I find her fascinating. I don’t mind that she’s super-privileged and perfect; she keeps trying to tell us that that’s not the full story and she gets torn apart for it, which seems unfair… I would love to see the real her behind the image.

 

First thing (apart from the people!) you would rescue from a burning building

I’d gather up as many paintings as I could. Paintings are such a vulnerable art form – burn a picture and it’s gone for good. Books go on forever, as many a zealot has discovered. Burn them, ban them – they come back even stronger, like weeds.

 

Dogs or Cats?

I’ve always had cats, since I was three and brought home a stray tabby. My first cat was my companion growing up, and lived to be about 19 – she was very special. I have a black-and-white cat called Fred, who came from Battersea Cats and Dogs Home. He’s getting old and sleepy, poor thing, and competes with the computer for lap-time. My older son, who is almost four, likes to stroke him while saying, ‘When Fred dies, we can get a kitten/puppy/other pet.’ Fred does not appreciate this.

 

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

Follow Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JaneCaseyAuthor

 

Thank you so much Jane! Now shall we take a look at a couple of the Kerrigan books? Recently while I was reading “The Stranger You Know” my good friend and close book buddy Hayley popped round for her usual perusal of my bookshelves before she embarked on the annual family holiday. Again as usual she asked me what I was reading. Upon telling her the response was “Why havent I read those?” then I got  the look.   Trust me when you get the look you jump to it, so I retrieved The Burning from its place and handed it over with a sheepish grin and tried to look innocent. I failed. When I received an excitable message from her later in the week telling me how much she had loved it, I thought hey, great…tell me why then I can tell you lovely readers. So first review from Hayley for the first novel, then my review for the most recent. Here we go…

 

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Hayley’s words. (and hey she hasnt even MET Derwent yet!)

Wow, I loved this book. I couldn’t put this one down until I had read through to the very end! Maeve is a very believable character and one I like a lot. Working on pretty much an all male police team looking for a serial killer, she works very hard to track down the killer. The twists and turns  this story took were fantastic and kept me gripped. I had to know if my theories were right, and if they weren’t how the heck would this one end! A mighty fine read, I look forward to more from this author and lead character!

Thanks Hayley – Yes yes I will find the others for you……

To purchase The Burning clickety click here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Burning-Maeve-Kerrigan-ebook/dp/B0049U48F0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376639968&sr=1-1&keywords=the+burning

 

 

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My review

So here we are at book 4, in a series I have loved from Jane Casey,  namely that of Maeve Kerrigan and more importantly (Sorry Maeve!) her sometime boss and sidekick the adorably unlikeable (but loveable) DCI Josh Derwent. This instalment finds Maeve and co on the track of a serial killer….However she is put in a difficult position when it becomes clear to her that the prime suspect is Derwent himself…

I adored this book for many reasons. Firstly the series main characters are all so very good, and much as I have a  crush on Derwent, Maeve is just as loveable – I especially like her ironic and plausible outlook on her own psyche and actions – often telling herself off as she dives head first into a situation she KNOWS she should avoid..and the way she tends to just fall into the people who are eventually going to become important to her and gives them pieces of her soul without even realising she is doing it. As someone who often has those “lightbulb” moments herself I can relate. As for Josh Derwent, well. He is difficult to describe..the best I can do. You know that silly game you play with friends called “Marry, Sleep with or Kill ?”…well in the book world Josh Derwent would be my answer to all three. Really. And he’s getting a bigger role in each novel…this one was, as described to me by the author “Wall to Wall Derwent” and that made me one happy reader. The aptly named Godley is also a treat as he tries to keep the unruly pair under control and the rest of the cast of unlikely and likely characters all add to the whole. The relationships developed amongst all the characters over the course of the novels is beautifully done – so much so that often the best bits don’t have anything to with their current mystery.

So that leads nicely on to talking about this particular mystery. It had some terrific twists and turns – and no I wasnt automatically sure during reading that my beloved Derwent wasnt a murderer…nor will you be until you read it yourself and find out. Is he? Is he not?  The current murders have their roots planted firmly in the past…and a death that Derwent was caught up in during his teenage years – in the telling of the tale you come to understand him and his motivations a lot more. I always enjoy a book where the past intrudes on the present and this one is a classic and brilliantly imagined example of that. So enjoy. You know you want to. What? Not met Maeve and more importantly (yes yes I know) Derwent (book 2 onwards)  before? Well you need to start with “The Burning”.

 

To purchase The Stranger You Know clickety click here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Stranger-You-Know-ebook/dp/B00CQ1D5DU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376640039&sr=1-1&keywords=the+stranger+you+know+jane+casey

 

Also available

The Kerrigan Series

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Other novels

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Once again my Thanks to Jane Casey and to Hayley!

Happy Reading Folks!

Meet Martine Mcdonagh…..I Love her books!

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I was lucky enough to “meet” Martine on Twitter, she is a lovely lady and I have read both of her wonderful books, After Phoenix and I Have Waited You Have Come. Reviews will follow but she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me and here is what she had to say.

 

After Phoenix is a very heartwarming AND heartfelt look at the effects of grief. Was it difficult to write and was much research involved ?

The challenges involved in writing After Phoenix were mostly on the technical side. My first novel, I Have Waited, is written pretty much from a single viewpoint narrative in the present tense and is deliberately almost unrelentingly bleak, a tone which suited the protagonist’s character. After Phoenix is the story of family relationships before and after a personal tragedy, set in England in 1973/74. It seems to me that one of the ways we cope with deep emotional stress such as grief, depression, anger or fear is to alleviate it with humour, and so the biggest challenge in writing this novel was the injection of humour into a fairly horrifying situation.

Writing from three different viewpoints in a rolling, overlapping narrative in the third person past tense also presented a number of challenges, particularly in terms of creating convincing characters with recognisably different voices. But this was necessary I think in order to best show how events are reacted to and remembered differently by each character.

In some ways this novel is an exploration of my own grieving process in that I wrote the first draft of this novel about six months after the death of my father and came back to it some years later after the death of a friend. In terms of research, I had read about the Kubler-Ross theory on the different stages of grieving and while some of it rang true, it felt a little too prescriptive or even formulaic when applied to real life experience. Most of the research for this novel centred around padding out or correcting my own memories of the time. My father worked at the hospital featured in the book and we lived in the staff houses there in a fairly isolated community two miles from the nearest village. Given the associated stigmas, it seems to me that mental health was the one area of the NHS that could be dismantled in the 1980s without too much public outcry. Now that many of these institutions have been dismantled in a move sold to the public as a progressive development in the treatment of mental health issues, it felt important to me to highlight the benefits of the system when it was perhaps at its best.

I also spent many hours in the British Library archives reading issues of Jackie magazine and the national and local press. That was the fun bit.

 

I Have Waited You Have Come is post apocalyptic but again touches very much on human nature. A bit of a cliché question, but where did the idea come from?

IHW is the result of a lot of different ideas all converging into one story. First I wanted to write about an unstable female character because I feel female monsters are a little bit neglected in literature, particularly now that publishing is so marketing driven and the tendency is towards presenting female characters in a way that a predominantly feminine readership can ‘identify with.’ Nabokov once described the need to identify with fictional characters as puerile. Discuss!

I also wanted to write from the point of view of an unreliable narrator and this seemed to fit quite nicely with the above.

I wanted to write about climate change, a subject which at the time was being handled in a mostly trivial, superficial way in the press, and to make it as frightening a prospect as it seems to be in reality. My interest was not so much in how climate change might affect life in general, although I had to do a lot of research into this, but how those effects might impact on the psychology of individuals, and in particular on one individual who is not overly stable at the outset in any case.

 

The two books are very different entities. Do you have a favourite?

Well for me they aren’t all that different. Besides all the obvious technical differences there are definite shared themes – the clearest one being the exploration of human response to extreme circumstances – and for me both books came from the same place so there’s a sense of development from one to the other that connects them.

I like and dislike them both equally. One thing I like about both is that they avoid sentimentality. People seem to like sentimentality in fiction, but I can’t bear it.

 

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I currently have two novels at second draft stage. They’ve been engaged in a kind of leapfrog race for the past few years, but now one seems to be winning so I’ll stick with it now until it’s finished before I go back to the other. I’m too superstitious (or cynical, more like) to say much about it, but it bears a certain family resemblance to the others in that it’s concerned with the impact of the bad behaviour of one character on a number of others. I’ll try and pad it out a bit or that could prove to be a massive spoiler.

Technically it’s different again, a bit more complicated in terms of structure with a number of characters and locations, and the principal narrator is a 21 year-old male. It’s set in the present. The title’s quite good; I think I’ll stick with it but there’s no copyright in title’s so I won’t say what it is.

 

Favourite place to read?

Anywhere really. Reading outside if it’s warm, on a bench or on the beach, is great. I’m in Paris at the moment and there are loads of great places to read. I love it that you can walk into the Jardin du Luxembourg on a Sunday afternoon and it’s full of people sitting on their own in the shade with their feet up, reading.

 

Favourite holiday destination?

I travel a lot but I’m not much of a one for holidays, mainly because I usually travel on my own and often to write. I don’t much enjoy sitting around doing nothing (except when I’m supposed to be writing). My favourite place to go walking is Edale in the Peak District and Paris is a great place for just wandering about. Next month I’m off to Brazil to do some research. I don’t have much money but years of work booking tours for bands has made me good at finding cheap tickets and places to stay, and as my son (who lives in California) says, I may as well be broke there as here.

 

Healthy eating or CHIPS?

Healthy eating AND chips. Always. I gave up eating sugar last September because I used to consume excessive amounts of chocolate and cake. But I will never, ever stop eating chips.

 

Thanks Martine!

Find out more about Martine here : http://martinemcdonagh.com/

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

 

Reviews

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After Phoenix is a family drama, set against the backdrop of 1970′s Britain and tells the story of one family dealing with the loss of a loved one. After Phoenix dies, each member of the family deals with their grief in different ways – and you will feel for them every step of the way, sometimes understanding, sometimes not, the steps they take to bring their lives back into some sort of order. A very real examination of grief, and in a way redemption, this story is absorbing and well written. Heart wrenching and life affirming in equal measure, the author has managed to give real insight whilst still being entertaining and making you want to turn the pages – your heart will ache but it will also laugh..and what more, really, can you ask for from a novel? I’ll allow you to read for yourself how each family member deals with their trauma, you need to take this journey with them to really get the best out of it – anyone who has ever lost someone special will see parts of themselves in there I guarantee it. Personally my reading heart was with Penny, and her determination to just be, yours may end up going elsewhere – but you will find yourself completely in their world and hoping against hope that ultimately all will be fine.  My huge thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book – I loved it. I shall be reading more. Hopefully very soon.

If you would like to read After Phoenix clickety click here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=after%20phoenix&sprefix=after+phoen%2Cstripbooks%2C192&rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3Aafter%20phoenix&ajr=2

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“I Have waited and You have Come” from Martine Mcdonagh is a little gem of a tale that absorbed me into its pages and kept me up last night…groan…caffeine required!

Set in a Post Apocalyptic world, we follow Rachel who fends for herself and spends as little time as possible in the company of other survivors. Then she seemingly attracts a stalker, someone who invades her solitary existence…and everything changes.

This is very much a character driven novel. The relationship between Rachel and Jez is intriguingly difficult to contemplate – exactly who is stalking who? Ms Mcdonagh has done a terrific job of exploring the nature of obsession – and the world in which these characters reside make that all the more disturbing. I was wondering a lot of the way through how much was simply inside Rachel’s head – and it is mostly her story although we do hear from Jez through the form of diary entries. Her mental state, already fragile at the beginning of the story seemingly deteriorates as time goes on and its compelling stuff. Very clever indeed.

Yes the Post Apocalyptic part of the tale is well drawn  – but its not really the point. The characters are the point. I really enjoyed this book – it did disturb me. I’m sure that was the intention. Now I have read both of this authors books (After Phoenix, a study in grief, is also superb) so I await her next with bated breathe. Happy Reading Folks!

If you would like to read “I have Waited” clickety click here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=i+have+waited+and+you+have+come&sprefix=i+have+wait%2Cstripbooks%2C136&rh=n%3A266239%2Ck%3Ai+have+waited+and+you+have+come&ajr=2

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Pitfalls of Book Reviewing. And the Joys.

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So since I started on this wonderful journey of mine into the world of book blogging and reviewing I have had a brilliant time.  I have been very lucky – I have “met” some lovely people, authors, publicists, editors, other bloggers and publishers all who have the same love of a good book as I do and together we get the best of the best out there for people to enjoy. But the job that I do for love not money can have its negative sides. I have been lucky enough to avoid that – others have not. So lets talk about it a little.

When an author or publisher offers you their book for review, they are looking for honest feedback.  At least thats what we are told – and 99.9% of the time that is actually the case. A bad review from a blogger who has not enjoyed your book is accepted with good grace and the understanding that not everyone will love what you write. Occasionally however reviewers can face a harsh backlash when they admit, sometimes in strong terms, that the book was not at all to their taste. Two blogger friends of mine have suffered that lately. One to the extent that the author of the novel managed to involve another author, well known in the world of books, whose fans made some very nasty comments. Ultimately she had to close her review to feedback, such was the stress being caused. Another lovely blogger friend of mine recently dared to suggest that a book she had read needed better editing and proof reading. The story itself she said, was actually good…but the reading experience suffered because of mistakes and errors in the script. The resulting backlash was way out of proportion to the review written, in this readers opinion. Yet more stress was caused and for what reason – no good one that I can see. Heck the top authors in the world, the ones who sell millions suffer from the occasional bad review – it can’t be nice to have your “baby” critisized of course it can’t. But is that not the risk you take when putting a piece of yourself out there for the world to see? And writers who do this do themselves no favours – the blogging community I’ve found is a tight knit one. We talk to each other and not just in public – and there IS a difference between engaging in active debate with a reviewer and actual abuse. One is fine, warranted even, the other is not. And those authors who resort to insults and personal attacks will find very quickly that they have trouble getting a reviewer to accept their novel…hurt one you hurt us all. Because we are not in paid employment – we do this for the love of a good book and the genuine wish to help authors and those in the book world get the word out there about the best reading experiences available. AND the worst…which brings me nicely onto a personal problem that I have…

 

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I HATE writing bad reviews. I dislike it so much that I rarely do so – If I don’t like a book it disappears into the ether never to be heard from again. I know that reviewing a book I’ve disliked should be part of the process but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I called my site Liz LOVES books for a reason – most of the books you find reviewed on my site, will indeed be the books I have loved. Thats not to say I won’t give the negative side of a book for people to be aware of reasons why it might not be for THEM. For example, I warned against the strong content in “The Troop” for those of a delicate nature, and my latest review for “Love Club”  made it clear that if you are not into heavy sexual content it may not be for you. My only other bad review is for a novel from an author who is well loved who I feel has been letting her readers down. But I have to feel VERY strongly about a novel to say its awful – because sometimes I think, maybe its just me! Its not that I’ve never disliked a book…its more that I feel there are plenty of people to do that sort of thing and I very much prefer to be about the love. Because I LOVE books – I promise you that the majority of books reviewed on Liz Loves Books are ones that are worth your attention – but there are no guarantee’s that you will love them as I do. We all read differently. So bad reviews – a pitfall of reviewing for this particular blogger. I am sure I will get better at it…give me time folks!

 

So there you go. I will continue to love what I do and love what I read (most of the time) and I hope that the effort is appreciated – because I appreciate the effort made by every single author out there to give us a book we will love – you rock guys!

 

Happy Reading Folks.

Books I WISH were movies…..Or TV Shows.

So, a little while ago I talked about those books that had been made into Films or Television shows and which ones I felt worked and which ones did not. Now I’m going to take a look at a few books I WISH they would snap up and do something with.  I guess its difficult to pick…after all not everything can be as successful as Game of Thrones or Twilight.

 

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Lets start with this little gem I read recently from Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.  A brilliant adventure, with witty characters who, I’m guessing, would end up looking beautiful on screen this is perfect film material. In fact I would not be at all surprised to see it in movie form at some point in the future – Sadly I think George Clooney is becoming a little long in the tooth to play Nick Fox because in his younger years for me he would have been spot on perfect. The nice thing about this novel is there are going to be more starring Fox and O’Hare so in my mind it would probably work just as well as a tv series – following on in the footsteps of such shows as Leverage and White Collar I’m sure it would be extremely popular. I have not yet cast Ms O’Hare in my head…so if anyone else has read it…you tell me!

 

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Another recent read for me (see coming soon for review) and this one would definitely make an amazing movie. A game of chance (or is it?) lots of wonderfully intricate characters and a mystery to boot, I can see it visually with no difficulty at all. I imagine the ambience of the movie to be something like “The Sixth Sense” all dark shadows and subtle clues to the outcome, if done properly it would be truly amazing. I can see it appealing to a wide audience as a character driven mystery piece and the backdrop of University life is a perfect setting. If I ruled the world…..

 

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Lets move on. Tv series anyone? Well, Neil White’s novels starring Reporter Jack and Police Officer Laura would be a terrific serial show. You will be able to learn more about Mr White during favourite authors week and again towards the end of September when his latest standalone novel “Next to Die” is released. I’m reading it at the moment, yes I can see that being a film as well. But I digress..back to the point. I can see this being great because there are some terrific stories involved here already, and I imagine it would be easy for script writers to add their own spin for future tales. Tv shows work well when you have two terrific main protagonists who also make the perfect partnership – each bringing something to the whole and having the ability to be people you relate to and care about. The relationship that exists between the pair would also translate well to screen…I keep changing my mind on the casting for this particular imaginary adaptation – perhaps I need more of their story to be sure…over to you Mr White.

 

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There are oh so many I could go on about but for my final choices I have gone with one for the television and one for the film medium. Lets start with Jane Casey’s terrific “Maeve Kerrigan” books. A strong, independent and yet quirky female lead, backed up by many weird and wonderful characters…yes I DO want to see Derwent on my television screen and no I have no idea who would bring the most to the role – this would make what a terrific television series. Mainly because it could be both light hearted and witty (Maeve does get herself into some scrapes) yet dark and really quite terrifying if the tales are told properly. Again if I ruled the world…

Moving on to The Straw Men trilogy from Michael Marshall – as a trilogy it would make a marvellous set of films. Yes you WOULD have to be 18+ to watch them – no sanitising or it would not work – but if you like films such as “Seven” and “The Silence of the Lambs” then you would love a movie, cleverly done, of “The Straw Men” Again characters are key – The casting of Ward Hopkins, John Zandt and The Upright Man would be key to making this “pop” as I call it – but if they got that right this would be scary yet fun….a serial killer thriller with heart.

 

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So over to you. Tell me do – which books would you LOVE to see turned into terrific movies or television shows. Classics that have been missed perhaps – or that next great show that is going to conquer the world…Game of Thrones is a phenomenon – can you pick the next great thing?

Casting is key. In all.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

Available Now..Moon in a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier.

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You can now get hold of a copy of this wonderful quirky little novel, “Moon in a Dead Eye” by Pascal Garnier so I thought I would tell you a little bit more about it and re-post the review.

The Author

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon. Gallic has published The Panda TheoryHow’s the Pain?The A26 and Moon in a Dead Eye, with more to come in 2014.

 

Here you can find Pascal Garnier in his own words: http://gallicbooks.com/pascal-garnier-in-his-own-words/

 

Review

A short but beautiful and quirky read, “Moon in a Dead Eye” follows a group of elderly people as they move into a gated community, hoping for the good life in the sun. Unfortunately it doesnt quite live up to expectations – as a new build there are only two couples and one single lady living there – and the social activities advertised are not forthcoming as hoped. A social secretary finally arrives and things begin to look up. But of course, with a tight knit group such as this there are always going to be unseen tensions…

I adored this book but I am finding it quite difficult to say why exactly. It was just, well, GOOD! It kind of meanders along as you get to know each individual person and their foibles, and a lot of the book is really just how they settle in, react to each other and to their new surroundings and what they do to pass the time. The author however somehow manages to impart a sense of menace….like something is hovering just beneath the surface that you can’t quite put your finger on. Ok so the caretaker is a somewhat sinister character but that in and of itself is not all of it. So I’d say its clever writing. Pascal Garnier definitely had an eye to the ironic…and he also managed a fair bit of humour.. still you felt all the way through that perhaps something was coming.

Was something coming? Well you will have to read it to find out. And I would say do so if you want something a little different and unexpected, but also purely for the genius of the writing. The turn of phrase and the way it flows is terrific. Perhaps not a book I would normally have picked up I am grateful to the publisher for sending me a copy to review. Otherwise I might have missed out and that would NEVER do.

Information and review copy thanks Sophie Goodfellow and Gallic Books

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Coming Next Week to Liz Loves Books.

So here we are at yet ANOTHER weekend – where does the time go? Christmas soon. No lets not think about that..

So its been a wonderful week for me on the blog, some great author chats and of course The Humans. No idea how many people that book will touch in its lifetime but I’m guessing the numbers will be large…

Anyway onwards and upwards, lets see what I have for you next week. Hopefully another terrific time and some booky book stuff to keep you happy.

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On Monday to celebrate its release I shall be telling you a bit more about “Moon in a Dead Eye” from Pascal Garnier, a wonderfully quirky little novel and you can find out a little bit more about the author along with an extended review of the book and why I loved it.

 

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On Tuesday you can read all about the “Books I wish were movies”. A kind of a follow up piece to some recent articles I wrote about books that then become television shows and movies, this will tell you about the ones that I think SHOULD be converted to visual format. I will include some television talk as well – some books just lend themselves to being terrific television series don’t they? I often wonder why some of them have not been snatched up already….perhaps there will be some here that are already lurking in that netherworld called “development hell” and we don’t know it yet….

 

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On Wednesday I will be talking about Book reviewing. Blogging. “The Pitfalls of Reviewing” is the working title of this article. I have had a wonderful time since starting my blog and I have only been involved with the most wonderful of people – other bloggers, authors, publicists, publishers – all of them terrifically entertaining and funny people who have the same great love of books that I have. Some of my fellow bloggers have not been so lucky all the time..so I shall talk a little about that and also about my feelings about writing bad reviews. Yes I know it should be done…I have an aversion to it and will try and put into words why that is.

 

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On Thursday you can find out more about a lovely lady and terrific writer Martine Mcdonagh. I was lucky enough to “meet” her during the initial stages of my blogging life and I have read and enjoyed both of her wonderful but extremely different books. Find out more about them and also there will be a Q&A with Martine herself where she will talk about writing. And stuff. Look out for that one!

 

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On Friday its all about Kerrigan! Jane Casey writes this series of books – A series I am extremely fond of it has to be said. Maeve Kerrigan is a fantastic quirky character and she has enough tremendously terrific sidekicks to make every single novel in the series an absolute joy to read. Oh and the mysteries are always beautifully mysterious as well. Find out more about the books and the author herself as she joins me for a Q&A. You don’t want to miss this one folks, especially if you have not met Maeve before….

 

So thats your lot. Hopefully there will be something there to keep you all happy. Once again I am looking forward to the week.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Book Comparisons in the World Of Publishing…My thoughts.

So. We’ve all seen this on books whilst perusing the shelves of bookshops to find our next great read… “If you love *random popular author* you will LOVE this” or more directly “This Years *random extremely popular book* ”  Its a great way of pulling readers in…is it not? Well. Yes. And No. I thought I’d talk a little bit today about my thoughts on the matter and from a personal reading point of view what might work on me when I am purchasing a novel and what might send me running in the opposite direction as fast as my little legs can carry me. Of course every reader is different – so there are no hard and fast rules and this blathering is simply my own personal little foibles coming to the fore.

In my mind there are 2 types of comparison when it comes to promoting a book. The Direct comparison to a particularly well known and popular novel and the General comparison to a particularly well known and popular author. You could also look at  Bloggers comparisons where we bloggers and reviewers may refer to another book or author to get our point across when writing a review. So lets have a look.

I’ll start with the one that is more likely to work on me. That would be the “General” comparison. If a book tells me I might like it if I like Val Mcdermid (which of course I do!) it tells me a certain something about the genre the book is in, what type of tale I might expect and gives me a good general feeling about whether its for me. That along with the “blurb” about the plot gives a great indication of whether or not I should spend my hard earned cash. Of course it doesnt necessarily mean that I will love the book – or that the author has written one anywhere close to being as good as Ms Mcdermid’s – but as a shove in the right direction I might pay attention. There is one exception to this – and I dare say every reader has at least one – if you attempt to tell me that a book is as good as Stephen King or like his, then unless I’ve got a recommendation from a fellow King lover that it is indeed worth my attention I’m going to back away quickly. NOTHING is “like” Mr King or even close to being as good. Never has been for me and I did at one time buy books that had this claim. I was invariably disappointed.  Having said that, of course that one is extremely personal to me – so isnt really an actual indication of anything! The next reader will go “ooh I quite like Stephen King so I’ll try it”….

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So lets move on to “Direct” comparisons. I actually hate these. I’m not saying at all that it doesnt work when getting readers to purchase…it just doesnt work on me. When I see a direct comparison I will not necessarily AVOID the book but I will be wary. Again in this situation I turn to fellow readers and bloggers and those publishers and publicists that I trust and have never let me down (Yes Kate at Harper Collins, Sophie Goodfellow and Sam Eades I AM looking at you!)  – is this book going to disappoint me because I LOVED the book its being compared to? Or is it a fair comparison. And of course its difficult…because people read differently! My own personal opinion is that it does neither book any favours to be compared to each other in such a direct way….expectations can be raised to the point that an author, especially if they are publishing their debut, has no real chance of meeting them. Equally the other way happens. You loved Gone Girl. You don’t think anything will strike you the same way. So you avoid books that are tagged as being “as good as,this years” simply to avoid disappointment. And yet…sometimes…the book is better.  Another problem with direct comparisons is the expectation of a certain outcome to the novel. Gone Girl is a great example to use here so I will talk a little bit about it. WARNING – IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ GONE GIRL ITS POSSIBLE WHAT I’M ABOUT TO SAY MAY SPOIL IT. LOOK AWAY NOW. Next bold capitals will tell you its safe to return!

 

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So. How many times have you seen “THIS YEAR’S GONE GIRL” on a novel? Or have read the “soundbites” on a book and seen that Gone Girl is tagged. Its been a thing this year it has to be said. And what do I IMMEDIATELY think? I think…Unreliable Narrator – nothing new to be found here. Move along. I EXPECT that the person telling the story is lying. That any twist in the tale of a book that is being compared to Gone Girl will invariably at its heart have a character who is not being honest with us, the readers  A direct comparison of this nature CAN completely and utterly spoil what the author is trying to achieve. Often a book is better written than GG. And the characters in them are not actually liars. In fact on occasion there is absolutely no real comparison to be made aside from very small ones. One book that was compared to Gone Girl recently was amazingly good – and the only similarity I could find was that it told a story from the point of view of the two people involved in a marriage. The only books I have read that have the “Gone Girl” tag are the ones that have been recommended to me by the good folks I mentioned earlier. If I randomly see it on a novel in a shop I’m not buying it. Sorry!

 

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SAFE TO RETURN NOW…COME BACK COME BACK!

So there we go. I think General Comparisons can be helpful. I think Direct Comparisons can be difficult to get right. If I were a marketing guru (which I blatantly am not!) I would think very carefully before making a direct comparison and be very very sure about what I was trying to achieve. You may win but you may lose out by using this tool. One readers opinion….

To finish a quick word about bloggers using other novels to make their point. This can be very useful – certainly if Raven of Raven Crime Reads http://ravencrimereads.wordpress.com/  amongst others tells me I will like a book because I liked another I’m going to pay close attention. There are other bloggers and reviewers I follow who I would trust on that as well – so certainly comparisons can be useful in the world of reviewing – if you follow a certain reviewer and find that they point you in the right directions then by all means listen to what they have to say. I hope that I can achieve this for people following my blog and general blatherings – but when you are reading it in a publicity release or when they are being used to market a novel then I would say – take some time to consider YOUR own views on this subject, what works for you and stick with it!

Comparisons are not the root of all evil – but they CAN be misleading!

 

Happy Reading Folks!