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!

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…….I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.

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The buzz in the book world was huge about this one – so I have to say I did approach it with some trepidation. Occasionally books that receive a lot of hype can be disappointing but that is absolutely not the case here. For me personally it more than lived up to the hype  – in fact I would say its probably one of the best books I have ever read for sheer scope and scale – and also simply as one of those books you cannot put down no matter how hard you try! A review will follow shortly but first, lets find out a bit more about the author and the journey….

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Terry trained as a journalist working on broadsheet newspapers and producing a national current affairs radio programme in Australia before turning to screenwriting.

With George Miller, he wrote the screenplay for Road Warrior/Mad Max 2 (which I loved!) He co-produced and wrote Dead Calm, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and a large number of TV movies and mini-series – including Bodyline and Bangkok Hilton – two of which received international Emmy nominations. A personal note, Bangkok Hilton is an amazing mini series about drug smuggling abroad and the consequences of being caught with drugs in certain countries. I would highly recommend watching this if you have not done so already! It still stands up today for me as one of the best series I have watched.

He has won over twenty film or television awards. Further credits include Payback with Mel Gibson, From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, and Vertical Limit with Chris O’Donnell. He has also done un-credited writing on a host of other movies including Reign of Fire, Cliffhanger and Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster.

Its hardly surprising considering the sheer depth of experience then that Mr Hayes has written a masterful thriller…..

 

Synopsis

 

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.
But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.
What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

 

Review

In some ways this may end up being a fairly simplistic review in comparison to others I have read about this wonderful novel. However for me, this book was very much about the journey I found within its pages – hooked from the very first paragraph I barely looked out on the world again until I was done. For me, as a book lover, blogger and a person who just wants to send your way the very best stories I find out there, this says more than any in depth critique of “I am Pilgrim” could achieve. I do have more to say of course – but that is the long and the short of it fellow readers.

Firstly, what struck me when I received my copy was the sheer size of the book. That excited me – nowadays its rare to find a book that can hold your attention over so many pages – authors don’t tend to write them. Now of course, there is nothing wrong with a book of any size as long as you ENJOY it but I have always been a lover of stories that perhaps give you that little bit more. Its difficult to achieve but Terry Hayes has done so. There is a reason why “The Stand” by Stephen King is still my number 1 book of all time – it, like Pilgrim, is an absorbing, exciting, heart stopping tale with heart that doesnt end in a flash but gives you greater insight and a longer period of time over which to enjoy it. If you, like me, appreciate that sort of thing then this book is definitely for you.

Following “Pilgrim” on his journey was without doubt one of my favourite reading experiences ever. The sheer scale of the story will astound you – as you learn about his background, the things he achieved or perhaps didnt, you will be enthralled and totally caught up in the moment. I have seen reviewers say that it was obviously written with an eye to a blockbuster movie – well I can see their point, especially given the author’s background – but actually I disagree. Its all about the story….written in a way that will keep you READING – it wasnt until I was done with it that I cast it in my head (yes, yes I do that with everything!) during the actual time spent within its pages, a movie was the last thing on my mind. Starting off as a murder mystery it turns into something else altogether – a chase across continents to stop an atrocity and to catch an evil man. Part crime mystery, mostly enthralling spy thriller with an opponent the like of which you may think y0u’ve seen before but havent – its heart stoppingly good. Not since Nelson De Mille’s “The Lion” who appeared in some of the John Corey books will you find a “terrorist” as intriguing as this one. And just as intriguing is the man trying to catch him…a man I still don’t truly know.

Its clever. Its exciting. It is never dull and always unexpected. It has more than one story – you will get an awful lot for your money here. Apart from that I say nothing. If you want an in depth plot analysis you will need to look elsewhere – it won’t be hard, this book has touched many – I will end by saying that this is a must read for anyone who simply loves books. And reading. And finding those stories that will always stay with you and you will read again. Will it knock any of my “top ten reads of all time” down a space on my list? Well you’ll have to wait and see. My Top Ten Books is a blogpost that will appear later in the year!

 

Transworld books brought us this story  – you can follow them on Twitter here. https://twitter.com/TransworldBooks

If you would like to grab yourself a copy of I Am Pilgrim clickety click here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Am-Pilgrim-Terry-Hayes/dp/0593064941/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375955820&sr=1-1

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Precious Thing by Colette Mcbeth. Loved it. You will as well.

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A little while ago I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of “Precious Thing” – when I wrote my “Twisty Tales” article (link can be found under “Articles”) I mentioned this one briefly and promised to return to it. So here we are. Precious Thing is a terrific page turner, an engrossing read and a clever little tale.

Colette Mcbeth herself kindly offered to answer a few questions for me and here is what she had to say.

 

Did you know the outcome from the start or did it evolve as Rachel told her story?

I always knew part of the ending which was supposed to be the final twist but then as I was writing the second draft I began thinking it was all a bit too neat. That’s when I came up with the final outcome.

 

Was it always going to be written through Rachel’s eyes or did you consider at any point giving Clara her own say?

It’s key to the story that we see everything from Rachel’s perspective. I did toy with giving Clara a few chapters but nothing more than that. I’m glad I didn’t.

 

Do you have a favourite “peripheral” character from the book?

Robbie the news editor! I should say I have never had a news editor like that, but you do hear stories. He’d have been a nightmare to work for.

 

Was Precious Thing a lot of fun to write?

The first draft was hard work, it’s definitely not my favourite part of the process. The second and third drafts were where it came to life, you get those moments when you can see it all slotting in to place, or you find yourself doing something mundane like cooking dinner, hanging out the washing and another twist pops up in your head. That is great fun. There’s hardly any violence in Precious Thing but certain scenes were quite emotionally draining to write. You live in the character’s head and in some chapters that was a disturbing place to be.

 

Have you cast the film in your head? As a reader I always do that – I wondered if writers suffer from that as well

Of course! You’re always trying to visualise your characters so fantasy casting can be a great help. I’d love Andrea Riseborough to play Rachel, I think she’d be brilliant, and we both grew up in the same street in Whitley Bay, directly opposite each other in fact.

 

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

It’s the story of two women who were both attacked by the same man years apart. Melody survived but feels dead inside, Eve was killed. When her body is found police connect the cases and Melody embarks on a mission to get to know the dead woman. But the more she finds out about her ‘friend’ the more she realises Eve is the only person who can teach her how to live again.

 

Thank you so much Colette. I shall very much look forward to the next book.

 

Review

 

First of all a huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Rachel and Clara meet at school and form an unshakeable bond. Best friends, they know everything there is to know about each other…or do they? Years later Rachel is a successful tv reporter with a loving boyfriend and a great life, while Clara has not had such a happy time of it. When Clara goes missing Rachel begins to question everything she thought she knew about her best friend…..

I loved this very much. The story is told by Rachel in the form of a letter, or diary if you like, to Clara and has a taut, expressive narrative that is not only terrifically compelling but is also quite dark in its tone – as Rachel hovers between obsessive worry about where Clara might be and slow forming terror as she comes to realise the horrific possibilities, you are drawn right into that place and time with her. Slowly revealing the course of their friendship from the day Rachel sat down next to Clara in the classroom and leading us up to present day you will never be quite sure what the outcome might be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I DO love a clever book. This was clever and then some. Sadly I can’t say very much because its difficult to tell you WHY it was so clever without giving anything away – And I am certainly not going to do that so you will just have to trust me fellow readers, it IS extremely clever. Intelligently written, almost poetic prose in places which changes depending on Rachel’s mood – I love the slight bitchiness that sometimes enters her “voice” – if you love a good twisty tale that you really can get your teeth into then this one is certainly for you.

Brilliantly done from Ms Mcbeth I can’t wait to find out what she has in store for us in the future.

You can follow Colette McBeth on Twitter here https://twitter.com/colettemcbeth

If you would like to read the book clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Precious-Thing-ebook/dp/B00C74SKSG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375864783&sr=1-1&keywords=precious+thing

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

Yes Yes Liz STILL currently Loves…The Humans by Matt Haig

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So a few weeks have passed and I wanted to return for a moment to “The Humans” by Matt Haig. Anyone who has followed my story and its links to this wonderful novel may be interested to hear an update – and it gives me an excuse to talk once again about the wonderful story and offer anyone who hasnt yet read it another chance to read my review.  Also to hear from some of the other people (some close to me) who have read it and their thoughts.

So things are much improved in my life – and that improvement started with that one long night, when I was at my lowest and I picked up “The Humans” with the thought that it might be a fun, light hearted read that could pull me out of the darker feelings I was having. It ended up doing so much more than that – I have said previously that this book saved my life and it did. As “Andrew” went on his journey and discovered the worthwhile side of humanity, so did I. Depression is difficult to conquer but you can wrestle it under control. With help and love and understanding from those around you, those demons can be banished. Something I’ve been learning and its been a life affirming journey. This book was and is a huge part of that. And hell, its ENTERTAINING. Highly so.  If you havent read it then please do…whether it looks like your “type” of book or not. It won’t disappoint you. I can promise you that hand on heart.

Mr Haig has been having a bit of a nasty time of it of late. On Twitter and in various places he’s suffered some rather nasty asides…because he speaks up about the issues surrounding Depression. He’s not afraid to say it how it is or to point out how debilitating it can be…and occasionally fatal. He talks about his own experiences in an effort to help others. And trust me thats not easy – since I started this understanding of mine of what I suffer and how it affects me and those around me I have also tried to be fairly honest and open about whats what. Heck I find it hard and I’m just Liz sat around doing some book reviewing (And I love being a reviewer because I LOVE books!)  – I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for someone with an increasingly large public profile. So I’m going to take this opportunity to say Thank You. And please don’t stop. Its important. To people like me.

So here are a few things that a few people had to say about The Humans. I’m going to start with my lovely daughter Melissa who says it better than I could say. My heart and soul. The girl who was teaching in China and when she realised I was in trouble was on the first plane home without a thought and hasnt left me since. Following her a few others. To finish a good friend on Twitter – Karen. Her story may break your heart….

 

Melissa Lovely Daughter. Human.   https://twitter.com/melissabarnsley

For me and my Family “The Humans” has been much more than just a book. It has been a guide, a manual of sorts, to lead us through some difficult times and direct us over to the other side. The fine balance between comedy, misery and childlike wonder achieved within its pages is a style I have rarely come across (I would liken the narration to that of “The Curious Incident of The dog in the Nightime although of course here we are talking aliens not autism , both offer a fresh perspective on reality). When reading you will find yourself battling inner turmoil, coming to care for the protagonist as you watch him learn the beauty of Human error and perhaps discovering this beauty for yourself.  Matt Haig has written more than words – he has given us a piece of himself, something that very few authors manage and many choose not to do, but something that makes us readers eternally grateful. So thanks Matt: thank you for sharing this part of yourself and rest assured that it will reach the minds of many.

 

Karl Herring. Great Friend. Human.   https://twitter.com/shads616

The Humans was an insightful and thought provoking perspective on human behaviour. I found the main characters journey to be truthful and relatable. It was a breath of fresh air to read someones honest thoughts on how humans treat each other and what we truly find to be important in a world where we destroy so much of what we are told is worth while. it was a book that I fell in love with and that will stay with me for a very, very long time.

 

Georgina Gilmer. Better known to us as “Aunty Gorg”  – Harry couldnt manage “George” when he was little! Great Friend. Human.

 

When Liz reccomended The Humans to me I was more than happy to give it a go; I have always been an avid reader with a wide taste in genre. Boy was I not disappointed! The story was so refreshing, and believable, I found myself hooked and even whilst at work I would find myself looking forward to my break and finding out what the main character would do next. I loved how the book addressed issues such as relationships within familes and problems in our society, dealing with very raw, very human feelings but still having that “sci-fi, fantasy” feel; keeping the story light but relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and take my hat off to Matt Haig. Would recommend it to everyone, and infact already do!

 

Twitter friend. Blogger. Bookshelf Butterfly. Human. https://twitter.com/booksbutterfly

I really enjoyed The Humans because the story was so honest and meaningful. The lead character was so endearing and his journey is utterly heartwarming. But other than that the story was also very clever, funny and original. All these things together, for me, made this an unforgettable read.

 

Karen. Twitter Friend. Great reader. Human. https://twitter.com/karlou

Last August my brother committed suicide. In the dark days and weeks immediately after his death I read almost incessantly. I couldn’t sleep because when I closed my eyes all I could see was his body (I had to go to the mortuary with my father to formally identify his body). I read so I could bear the raw grief ripping at my heart. I believe that it’s thanks to books I survived those days, I’m not sure how I’d have coped without books giving me a respite from my at times overwhelming reality. The Humans wasn’t published then but I wish it had been. With my grief not being a linear process there are days when I am hit again with an almost unbearable sadness. I know that on those days I will turn once more to The Humans for within its pages I am reminded that pain is necessary to appreciate the best life has to offer and to quote from the book ” to keep the sun above me”. I don’t ever feel suicidal but there are times when I question what it means to live, reading The Humans reminds me.
Thank you everyone. A heartfelt thanks.

 

Me. Liz. Blogger. Kind of Human. My original review.

So we come to “The Humans”. Anyone who has read my blogpost “How a book speaks to you”  will know that this book is now a very big part of my life. One I will read again. One I will use to get me through the tough stuff. And isnt that amazing? And it could work for you…but lets leave that behind us for now and talk about the book as a book. As entertainment, as fiction as an amazing read and one that will absorb you entirely into its pages. Because it will. This story will amaze you. It will touch your soul no matter where you are in life. It will, I promise. Maths Professor Andrew Martin makes a miraculous breakthrough. But someone is watching…someone who thinks that we are not ready for such things. And they decide to put a stop to it. However as in life, these things don’t ALWAY’S turn out how you have planned them. “Andrew”, instead of carrying out the things he is supposed to be doing, ends up entangled into life. With humans. And their foibles. And despite his efforts to continue on his mission these pesky human people with their quirks and their feelings and their stuff just keep getting in the way…and so begins a journey of discovery. An awesome, wonderous journey of discovery. And peanut butter. Well, who DOESNT love peanut butter? Oh and don’t forget Newton the Dog. Very important stuff don’t you know! Witty and insightful and brilliantly written in a way that makes it easy to love, Matt Haig has given the world something. He has certainly given people like me something miraculous – my faith in the human race is somewhat restored. And if you know me in real life you understand what a gift that is. Still, even just as a random book you pick up because you fancy it suddenly, its pretty darn good. So read it. Not everyone will love it – we are all different – but don’t hesitate to give it a go because if you don’t I promise you – you are missing something,well, super cool. And we all need a bit of that in our lives. And I give you this. Or rather Matt Haig does. Your life will have 25,000 days in it. Make sure you remember some of them.

 

Follow Matt Haig on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/matthaig1

If you have not yet read the Humans and would like to clickety click here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Humans-Matt-Haig/dp/0857868756/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374844776&sr=1-1&keywords=matt+haig

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 


												

Lie Still by Julia Heaberlin. LOVE those Texas Women!

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So today its all about “Lie Still” a wonderful mystery thriller that is now available for all you lovely readers to enjoy. Characters are key here – you too will love them I promise. Julia Heaberlin kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me….lets see what she had to say.

 

I have to say I loved those Texas women – which one was your favourite?

Letty, Letty, Letty. She just makes me laugh. I have this policy about people: As long as they make life more entertaining, I can forgive a lot, and Letty falls into that camp. You gotta love a 300-pound ex-pageant queen on a hot dog and banana diet who carries an assault rifle in the trunk of her car. I realize she is almost a cartoon. Almost.

 

Did you always know the ultimate resolution or did the story evolve as you wrote?

I usually don’t know the end; I start a book with a simple idea and let the characters take me on a twisty road. I like to weave many threads and then pull them together in the final pages. One of my primary goals is for readers not to know where it’s going, and it helps if I don’t, either!

 

Emily hides a violent secret – was it a difficult subject to tackle as sensitively as you did?

Yes and no. I never expected when I sat down to write that a date rape would be at the heart of my protagonist, but page after page, she told me it was. It didn’t define her, but it colored the way she viewed our sometimes dangerous world. And once I was on board, I really wanted to write something that I think is rarer in this male-dominated thriller world: a female protagonist who is a victim of a crime, the hero of the story and the primary voice. In books, you don’t usually hear from female crime victims years after the fact; the crime is often a prop to get the story started.  I wanted Emily to be talking for all the many tough women out there who have emotional scars from an experience like this and move on.

 

Do you prefer e-book reading or reading a physical book?

Yikes, you should see my bedroom. Every surface covered with books to read. My bookshelves are overflowing with ones I can’t part with. For me, it will always be the physical book. I have an immediate dislike for any house where I walk in and can’t immediately see books. It’s like a museum with blank walls.

 

Favourite thing to do when not writing?

Watching my son pitch for the last 15 years. We experienced so many of the same things when it comes to our two passions (pitching and writing). In both, there is so much rejection and failure and then moments of bliss that make up for it. Being there for his moments of bliss on and off the field far outweigh anything else in my life.

 

Thank you Julia!

Find out more about Julia here: http://juliaheaberlin.com/

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

 

Review

 

First of all thank you to the publisher for the advanced copy of this novel via netgalley.

Emily is desperately trying to leave a violent past behind her and escape a stalker who has haunted her for years. Pregnant with her first child she and her Husband move to Clairmont, Texas. Hoping for a new start Emily finds herself thrust into the heart of a group of Texas women, all of whom have secrets – run by their “Queen” Caroline Warwick, who may also be hiding secrets of her own. When Caroline disappears Emily finds herself having to unravel the threads of her past, as well as her present in order to save herself.

I loved the way this novel was written. It was kind of messy like Emily herself but in a very good way….as she unravels things YOU unravel things and the story has many twists and turns along the way. Cleverly released information in small doses makes you turn the pages all the faster to find out who is hiding what and why – and the characters are not always what they appear to be. Emily herself reveals her own secrets along the way – she hides from herself as much as from anyone and this makes her a very well drawn character. The Texas women are all intriguing – hey and annoying in equal measure – their “voices” will speak to you, I could almost hear them as I read. And the final resolution will not disappoint…

This novel also tackles some serious subjects head on and in a realistic and I think quite important way..the second book I have come across recently that does so. This gives it an edge over a standard mystery thriller and for that reason as well as the fact that its a great story  I would highly recommend it.

 

To Purchase Lie Still clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lie-Still-ebook/dp/B00CR6MNFU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375686289&sr=1-1&keywords=lie+still+julia+heaberlin

 

Also Available:

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Synopsis

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE?

That’s the question torturing child psychologist Tommie McCloud after she opens a stranger’s letter only days after burying her father. The woman claims that Tommie is her child, kidnapped thirty-two years ago. Suddenly, a deeply rooted Texas girl finds herself linked to a horrific past: the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of an Oklahoma beauty queen and the kidnapping of a little girl named Adriana. With everything she has ever believed in question and a stalker determined to stop her, Tommie must discover the truth about her family’s secrets and the girl who vanished.

To purchase clickety click here : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Playing-Dead-Julia-Heaberlin/dp/0571287689/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

 

Happy Reading Folks!