Indie Authors Week – Sharon Sant.

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So the final day of Indie Authors week is upon us and today you can hear from the lovely (if a little Wicked!) Sharon Sant, author of the Sky Song Trilogy and Runners. As before I posed the same questions to Sharon and here is what she had to say.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always made up stories. I’m not sure if that’s the same thing! I remember reading books even as a youngster and thinking how amazing it would be to make other people feel the way they made me feel, but the conscious desire to become a writer didn’t come until much later on, when I was in my teens, and even then I didn’t imagine I was capable of it.

How difficult is it to get your books out there?

Incredibly. I push myself to work long hours – a typical weekday sees me get up at 6am to get the kids to school, go to my day job myself, come home, do the evening meal and then get the kids to bed at around 9.30 when I start to work on my books until around midnight. I have a couple of days a week off from the day job and I spend the majority of those writing too. I’ve been working to this schedule since January when I first released Sky Song. In the beginning most of the time I set aside for writing was spent actually writing, but now, only a tiny proportion of that is spent writing new books, and the majority of it is spent promoting the ones I have already released.  I’m not saying this to bleat about it – it’s something I love doing and I think it’s worth the sacrifices – but to illustrate the level of commitment you need to show to make any headway in a publishing world that has new authors coming out of its proverbial ears. The marketplace is saturated with authors as talented and committed as you are, you just need to keep your eyes on your own lane and keep running and hope that you can cross the finish line alongside the best of them.  And even with all that work, I still don’t envisage a day in the near future where I’ll be earning enough from writing to match even my part-time salary so that I can quit the day job.

How important are book bloggers and reviewers when it comes to attracting readers?

To be frank, they’re an author’s best friend and a valuable connection between writers and readers.  Without book bloggers and reviewers, I might as well just leave my books on my hard drive and settle down to a nightly Coronation Street Omnibus.  I’ll be honest about sales too – a lot of the time you don’t really see a huge increase in sales after one good review, but what I think happens is that if you keep getting them across different sites then people will start to remember you, and then they’ll take notice the next time you pop up and maybe take an interest, and then maybe even check out your book.  My good friend Mel Sherratt made a lovely analogy for this; she said it’s like spreading a breadcrumb trail across the internet for people to find you.  The more breadcrumbs you leave out, the more likely it is that someone will end up at your door. So, for that to work, we need to be seen in as many places as possible. That’s what the growing army of fantastic book bloggers helps us to do. For readers, book blogger sites are the go-to sites for book info after the book merchants themselves; readers know that they can trust the opinions expressed by the people who run these sites as they’re passionate about literature.  Even big publishing houses realise their value, so quite often you’ll get a mix of reviews on any given site for both traditionally published and indie published books. From an indie’s perspective, this is a fantastic place to be seen.
ALSO: give me a short “me” paragraph telling me about you – perhaps hobbies or interests outside of writing.

Now you’ll find that I’m not quite as literary as I would like to pretend! I love cult TV shows and films, the geekier or cheesier the better!  I have a particular obsession with BBC’s Merlin, which ended last year and I’m still not over that! I love music and any chance I get to watch a live band I will, though it’s not as often these days as I would like. It goes without saying that I read a huge amount. I also run, again, probably not as often as I’d like – last year I ran the Stafford half marathon to raise money for my niece, who has cerebral palsy, to have an operation in the US that would help her to walk. Afterwards I said that I would keep up my training and do it again for another charity, but good intentions went out of the window! I also love travelling (when money allows), socialising, going to the theatre, eating out (a lot of eating out!) and generally living life to the full.

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You know I used to be stupid enough to think that the YA genre was just for Young Adults quite literally – and sadly I am no longer one of them. Then someone forced me to read “The Hunger Games” and I thought, well, lets just hang on a minute…since then I have devoured many many YA novels, mostly completely briliant, occasionally oh so terribly bad. This one comes under the “completely brilliant” category it has to be said. Jacob wakes up one night to find a stranger in his bedroom (and a stranger stranger you are unlikely to meet!) telling him all sorts of weird and wonderful things about his true identity.It seems that he is from quite a long way away. So starts his adventure and what an adventure it is. I’ll leave it at that. No really, you need know nothing else – except if you choose to read this book you will be oh so very far away from that land called “disappointed”. Enjoy.

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Once again the wonderful Mr Jack Croxall provides the following review for Runners.

 

Runners begins with teenage Elijah and a band of other tearaways (or Runners) struggling to get by in the ruins of an old house. The group dynamic, with its varied mix of personalities and ages, is fascinating from the off and the snippets of information concerning how the novel’s dystopian world came to be such a wreck are intriguing to say the least.

Of course, the group’s situation quickly becomes about more than merely feeding themselves and Elijah and his friends soon find themselves stuck in a dismal situation engineered in no small part by the sinister Mr Braithwaite. On top of this, a chance discovery in a mysterious woodland (an exciting interpretation of a hypothesised spatial phenomenon) catapults them right into the heart of an even bigger menace and, by the end of the book, the numerous plot threads really do intertwine beautifully.

The book’s crumbling world, with such bleak scenery as dilapidated windmills, sparse marketplaces and grim work camps, is exquisitely described by the author and this is one of those novels that really pulls you into the setting, making you feel as though you’re right there with Elijah and the other Runners as they deal with the torrent of problems that come their way. It’s lucky, then, that Elijah is such a well-crafted character and sharing time with him is something you will certainly look forward to doing, despite the bleak nature of the book’s world.

Other characters deserve a mention too, teenage girls Rosa and Sky seem poles apart but are both utterly mesmerising and it’s testament to the author’s writing that you care so much about secondary characters, even with so much else going on.

Runners is exactly the sort of novel a YA title should be; engrossing, thought-provoking and brimming with grizzly situations that develop in a realistic manner.

To find out more about Sharon click here. http://sharonsant.com/

To follow her on Twitter click here https://twitter.com/SharonSant

To purchase Sky Song clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sky-Song-trilogy-ebook/dp/B00B0CQWV8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374797653&sr=1-1&keywords=sky+song

To purchase Runners clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Runners-ebook/dp/B00DD5TNJI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374797699&sr=1-1&keywords=runners+sharon+sant

Thank you Sharon!

Well that brings us to the end of Indie Author week but its been so popular I will be doing it again sometime later this year. Keep an eye out!

Next week on the blog you will be able to read a diary from a first time visitor to Harrogate, my good friend Steph. Also there will be an article about those twisty turny tales we all love and later in the week you can find out about the 6 books that made me cry. Have a great weekend.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Indie Author Week……..Terry Tyler.

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Today on Indie Author week meet Terry Tyler, who I affectionately refer to as “Queen of the Coffee Cups” and a lovely lady who also happens to be a terrific writer. As with previous posts I posed the same questions to Terry and here is what she had to say.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No.  I used to write stories alot as a child, and in my 20s, but I haven’t always wanted to be a writer as such, I just liked writing stuff, as opposed to drawing stuff or sewing stuff or cooking stuff, I suppose!  I can’t pretend it was a major yearning or obsession.  I wrote my first novel 20 years ago; I wasn’t working at the time and I just thought, I wonder if I could write a novel.  I discovered I could!  I’ve always written stuff to amuse my friends, though.  I’ve got stacks of daft sketches and funny poems and articles knocking around.  Of course, once I’d written the first novel I had those ‘getting published and becoming an internationally best-selling author’ fantasies like we all do, but I think there’s a big difference between wanting to write, and wanting to ‘be a writer’.

How difficult is it to get your books out there?

Very.  Is that enough?!  Oh, okay, I suppose you want me to elaborate!  It’s all about realising that you have to spend a lot of time on it – time that before you self-published you might have spent watching telly or in the pub or whatever.  You have to try different things, not plug away at things that don’t work, think ‘outside the box’, research, have a bit of initiative.  It gets harder and harder all the time – there must be 10 times as many self published books out there now as when I started.

How important are book bloggers and reviewers when it comes to attracting readers?

I’d just like to say that book bloggers are totally wonderful human beings, ha ha!!  To be honest I don’t know how important they are in attracting readers, as I don’t know where most of my sales come from.  I would expect they contribute a lot, though.  I remember once, a while back, Maria Savva interviewing me on her blog about my first book, You Wish, and the sales rocketed for the few days after she posted it.  Few things sell a book better than marvellous reviews – and the ones from book bloggers tend to be of a very valuable quality, because you give a little of the story and discuss its strengths and weaknesses in such a way that someone like me who reads a book for enjoyment only probably wouldn’t!  Book bloggers and reviewers – we love you, and sing your praises long and loud!

ALSO: give me a short “me” paragraph telling me about you – perhaps hobbies or interests outside of writing.

I don’t really have any hobbies as such.  Writing is what I do.  When I’m not writing I like to go for long walks, though I don’t do so very often.  I like visiting places of historic interest, but I hardly ever do that, either.  Mostly, though, my relaxation tends to involve a bed, some pillows, and a crime/historical drama/thriller TV series.  Most evenings I spend half an hour sitting in the back porch and smoking tabs whilst playing backgammon on my Nexus 7 – does that count as a hobby??!!

 

 

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I’ll be honest – I would never have picked this book up if I hadnt “met” the author on Twitter and found her to be a lovely person – its not really my sort of thing. Or so I imagined. Well I was wrong. It was wonderful – a great day’s reading. Five women and a “Wishing stone” form the basis for this story, Ruth having obtained the stone by nefarious means finds herself in all sorts of trouble! Its insightful writing and it has a great style – you immediately feel comfortable with the prose. The leading ladies are women you can relate too – My favourite was Petra but they all have everyday issues and worries. There are some twisty turns and it may not turn out quite how you expect. Lovely. I’d better get Ms Tylers other books pronto!

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This review comes from a previous contributor to this week – Mr Jack Croxall

We’ve all fantasised about being rocks stars; the bellowing roar of an arena filled with thousands of adoring fans, smashing up expensive guitars on stage, epic champagne-fuelled parties – surely it’s the dream existence? Well, in Terry Tyler’s Dream On, a group of wannabe rockers realise the music scene isn’t all glitz and glamour.

Having spent a large proportion of my formative years playing guitar in a small-time band, I immediately identified with central character and band member, Dave; his lusting over Gibson Les Paul’s and recurring daydreams of playing Wembley are very reminiscent of my (and I’m sure many others) mindset when I was practicing dodgy chords in my teenage bedroom.

Throughout the novel, the grimy side of the music industry is portrayed perfectly and the pressures of ‘real’ life versus musical ambition is an enthralling theme, transmitted through some excellent writing.

Of course, this isn’t just a novel for wannabe rockers, the characters are written superbly and there will almost certainly be at least one any reader can identify with. The book also has some excellent funny moments too; so often comedy in books falls short of the mark but not here.

Overall, a brilliant read – give it a try, you won’t be sorry you did!

Also available by Terry Tyler: Nobody’s Fault. The Other Side. Full Circle.

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To find out more about Terry click here. http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/

To follow her on Twitter click here. https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4

To purchase any of her amazing books clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1374736301&sr=1-2-ent

Thanks Terry! Tomorrow to finish off Indie Authors week the lovely Sharon Sant, author of the Sky Song Trilogy and Runners. Happy reading folks!

 

Indie Author Week – Simon Jenner.

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Today our Indie Author week is all about Mr Simon Jenner – author of the brilliantly entertaining Ethan Justice series of books (reviews later)  and yet another all round nice guy. As with Mr Croxall yesterday I asked Simon the same series of questions. Here is what he has to tell us.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I always enjoyed writing stories at school but mostly I think I just wanted to shock my English teachers by pushing the boundaries.  I started to write my first novel when I was eighteen and so have definitely always been attracted to creative writing.  Unfortunately I have never been good at seeing tasks to their conclusion and the minute boredom set in I dropped the project and moved on to my next ‘big thing’.  This pattern was repeated over and over again during which time I began at least fifteen novels that were never completed.  At the ripe old age of 48, my 10 year old son asked me to write him a story about some mystical animals he had drawn pictures of, and this fun exercise seemed to rejuvenate my creative juices. I actually had it printed as a book for him using the wonders of Print-On Demand and seeing the finished  object was so satisfying that I’ve not been able to stop writing since. Better late than never.

How difficult is it to get your books out there?

In a word ‘Hell’.  Self-publishing has leveled the playing field somewhat but it is a double-edged sword. It is easy enough to hit ‘Publish’, but it’s also easy for every other writer out there which makes the playing field immense. When I self-published my first book, I thought having written it and then having it edited and formatted meant the work was done. Amazon’s huge marketing machine would do the rest, surely? Unfortunately not.  The realisation that marketing is harder and more time consuming than the creative process is a hard pill to swallow and the work required to get the word out is not to be underestimated.  There are so many avenues to investigate, to try, to tweak, to move on from. Where are the readers who might like my books? Who do they listen to for their book recommendations? How can I reach them? It’s a needle in a haystack and I’ve barely scratched the surface despite a lot of time trying! Still I’ve met some great people along the way so that’s the upside and it makes the world of trying to write for a living a less lonely place.

How important are book bloggers and reviewers when it comes to attracting readers?

They couldn’t be more important.   For an indie author (without a budget) to make an impression he/she needs the assistance of anyone willing to spread the word.  The fact that book bloggers and reviewers are willing to invest their precious time in reading and sharing their opinions still amazes me and I couldn’t be more grateful. With so many books for readers to choose from, discoverability is a huge problem for indie authors so this is where book bloggers really help out. By getting the word out to their followers who trust their opinions, there is hope for the author that their book will not just sit collecting dust on the virtual book shelves. Reviews are also a key factor in a reader’s decision making process, especially for indie authors, so bloggers and customers leaving reviews can make all the difference as to whether a reader takes a chance on a book or not. To anyone reading this, please make an indie author’s day and leave a review after reading their book!

A short “me” paragraph telling me about you – perhaps hobbies or interests outside of writing.

Childhood: at 8 years old, I was shipped off to boarding school – was I that bad as a child? You’d have to ask my parents, although I did burn down the house (accidentally) and fracture my skull by jumping on a car as a teenager. I hope my son is not as wayward.

Work: I trained as a Civil Engineer, then got made redundant. I qualified as an accountant, then got bored so set up my own accountancy firm – why? Who knows. I started writing seriously – ie, I now finish books – and love it, so please check out my books, shameless I know.

Spare time: who has any? When I’m looking for inspiration to work harder, I’m an avid tennis fan. When I’m looking for creative inspiration, I’m a huge movie fan. I did take up karate aged 40, but it turns out that was too old, so now I just coach my son. Other than that, I enjoy time with my family, the odd bit of DIY and putting the world to rights over a glass of wine.

Learn more about Simon here : http://simonjenner.com/

Follow him on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/simonrjenner

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One of my blogposts talked about Genre Reading and getting out of your comfort zone, and occasionally trying something a bit different. Well thats what I did with “Ethan Justice” a novel that perhaps I would not have picked up in the ordinary course of things but now I have I’m glad I did. It was one of those enjoyable books that kind of flows over you, pulling you along with it and when you are finally done you realise you’ve had a great time! John Smith, pretty much living off his parents and basically drifting from day to day, suddenly finds himself having to reassess his life. Then a night of drunken debauchery with a high class prostitute sends him tumbling into a whole new world – one of shadowy goverment agencies, pyschotic killers and well, just general mayhem.

The writer has a great style – it took me  a few pages but then it kicked into high gear and we were off. The only time you hear a “first person” side is from the most evil of the characters…so evil you will LOVE him and that is a clever tactic that works really well within the context of the rest of the novel. Savannah the stereotypical “hooker with a heart of gold” turns out to be perhaps less stereotypical than you would expect and John Smith – yes you heard me, and yes that humour is worked well into the book – is interesting and engaging. I’m not sure what genre you could put it in safely – a lot goes on in this book and its all highly entertaining – spy thriller might be the closest I could come but really its just terrific fun and if you’ve got a rather boring Sunday ahead, this would be the perfect solution.

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Relentless, the next in the Ethan Justice series of books started off great and then just got better and better. If anything I liked it better than the first one (always a good sign for things to come!) and once more we have a terrific adventure, peppered with humour, drama and of course a dark side…

This instalment finds Ethan and Savannah investigating a missing person and an underage sex ring and finding themselves in all kinds of trouble as usual. Once again Ethan finds himself facing a psychopath of epic proportions and in a deadly battle it is unclear which of them will emerge victorious…

I really enjoyed this yet again – although I’m going to have to have words with Mr Jenner if he persists in writing stuff that keeps me up all night – it was worth the rather accident prone day that followed whilst I wandered around sleepy eyed. Some dark yet current topics were covered in this novel, I would say in a realistic way. I love both Ethan and Savannah – a dynamic duo if ever there was one. Fast paced and unpredictable with a few twists in the tale its perfect summer reading. The bad guy is terrifically bad, the good guy is rather inept at times which makes for some highly hilarious moments and I look forward greatly to many more adventures.

If you would like to purchase Ethan Justice clickety click here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ethan-Justice-Origins-ebook/dp/B0087S6AA6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374654032&sr=1-2

If you have been clever enough to read that one already then clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ethan-Justice-Relentless-ebook/dp/B00DSDLYOM/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374654032&sr=1-3

Thank you kindly to Mr Jenner for taking part. Tomorrow you can hear from Terry Tyler – Coffee Cup Queen, lovely lady and amazing writer.

Happy Reading folks!

 

Indie Author Week – Jack Croxall

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Meet Jack Croxall – author of the wonderfully inventive “Tethers” (review a bit later!)  and all round nice guy. This week I’ve asked all my lovely Indie Authors who are taking part the same questions…Here is what Jack had to say about publishing and other stuff…..

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

As soon as I read His Dark materials by Philip Pullman, (I think I was about fifteen) I wanted to be a writer. To create worlds like that and inspire vivid emotions in people is something I want to devote my life to trying to achieve. I’ve actually written a whole article on this very subject before!

 

How difficult is it to get your books out there?

It’s funny, as a first time author, I thought that, once Tethers was available on Amazon it was out there. How wrong I was! In reality, once your book is published, that’s when the real work begins. You have to get people reading your stuff any way you can, and that means free copies, giveaways, review copies etc, but also, you need to showcase your writing on other platforms. I write a lot of freelance articles and I also run a bookish blog (www.jackcroxall.co.uk). Whilst I love doing it regardless, I do hope that if people enjoy my writing, they might just look into my books as well.


How important are book bloggers and reviewers when it comes to attracting readers?

The online bookish community has been by far and away my most valuable marketing asset. After I released Tethers I found lots of lovely book bloggers who were willing to write honest reviews in exchange for a free copy, and hence spotlight my book to their extended network. On top of that, friends of online friends were also able to help me to achieve coverage for my novel that I wouldn’t have believed possible: features in local magazines, newspapers, BBC Radio appearances and even a review on the huge and most excellent website, MuggleNet. In short, any promotional success I have is really their success!

ALSO: give me a short “me” paragraph telling me about you – perhaps hobbies or interests outside of writing.

Gosh, I’m so used to writing about Karl and Esther that a ‘Me’ paragraph has caught me a bit off guard! Let’s see, well, I live in rural Nottinghamshire with my chocolate Labrador Archie. I like doing outdoorsy things, and obviously reading as well. I suppose my main hobby is playing the guitar, though – I play my six string without fail every day. I’ve been tinkering since I was about fourteen, and even went through a Rock phase in my late teens where I played a few gigs in a local band. Needless to say, we never took off!

 

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Review

So, my latest foray into the world of YA fiction, brought me here, to the Victorian setting of “Tethers”, an absolute gem of a tale, not only to read for yourself but as a story to read to others. In it we meet Karl and Esther, two friends who find themselves on a grand adventure having discovered a notebook with strange notations and a mysterious gemstone. Chased by those with nefarious purposes they embark on a journey to find a missing girl, and to discover the true nature of the gem..with some help from a glorious cast of supporting characters. This journey forms the basis for the book. I loved it I have to say – I may have been saying that in a lot of my reviews lately but it just goes to show that I’m picking the right books from the myriad of choice I have open to me. What I loved: Karl and Esther are terrific. Esther is a girl after my own heart with her flashes of temper and great insight. Karl, a little calmer, more likely to look before he leaps, is the perfect counterpart and they compliment each other beautifully. The story itself is well imagined, paced just right and has a real sense of place and time. I can’t actually find fault with it..if you want a negative – here’s one. It was over too quickly! Hoping the second in the series is not far away. I look forward to meeting Karl and Esther again.

 

If you fancy giving Tethers a go – and you should – clicky click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tethers-Jack-Croxall/dp/1484959833/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1374565490&sr=1-1

Available as paperback or Kindle download – so all readers should be happy. Thanks Jack!

 

Tomorrow Simon Jenner will be with us – author of the Ethan Justice novels and another terrific person to know. Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves……Dead Line by Chris Ewan.

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Coming 1st August from Faber & Faber

Having loved “Safe House” I was very much looking forward to this novel from Mr Ewan and I was very excited to receive a copy from Netgalley – thank you kindly.

Daniel Trent works in the dangerous field of hostage negotiation…along with his fiancee Aimee. When Aimee goes missing herself, Trent has a good idea of who is responsible…but then his chief suspect is kidnapped and so begins a desperate search for answers. Can Trent save the kidnap victim and find Aimee?

Well what can I say…fast paced and amazingly addictive this novel rushes you headlong into Daniel Trent’s world and what a world it is. Cleverly strung out, my desire to find out what happened to Aimee soon matched Trents own…and I breathlessy followed him through all the twists and turns of the story to the final resolution – and that resolution my reading friends was clever, unexpected and brilliant.

I adored Trent as a character. Single minded, hell bent on the destruction of anyone who gets in his way no matter the consequences made me add him to my list of “literary characters I’d certainly marry”…in fact perhaps a future blog piece can talk about all those guys – he’ll be somewhere near the top. The rest of the characters played their part admirably – trust no-one would be my advice and even then you’ll be surprised at what happens. My favourite character by far was…ok I’m not going to tell you. You tell me when you get a chance to read it and we’ll compare notes! No spoilers here.

I adore a good page turner and this novel certainly falls into that category. There are rare restful moments – make the most of them because shortly you’ll be on that rollercoaster again. Don’t fall off! Enjoy. Happy Reading Folks!

Find out more about Chris Ewan here : http://chrisewan.com/

Follow him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/chrisewan

 

Liz Loves Indie Authors…..Its Indie Author Week!

Just a very quick post this morning to kick off Indie Authors week….those unsung heroes of the book world who provide us with great storytelling but are often overlooked by mainstream readers. This week we will hear from a few of them about writing, publishing and the general mayhem that comes with it all. Personally I adore discovering those little gems that are not immediately in the public eye – perhaps during this week you will find some too! Happy Reading folks!

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Liz Currently Loves…..A Serpentine Affair by Tina Seskis

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Anyone who read my review of Tina Seskis’ first book “One Step Too Far” (if not see here http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/liz-currently-loves-a-step-too-far-by-tina-seskis/ )  will know I was dying to get my hands on “A Serpentine Affair” so I was very excited to receive a copy via NetGalley – thank you so much, I’m not sure I would have survived my chronic impatience!

This tale follows seven friends at their annual reunion – this time a picnic on the banks of the Serpentine. Friends for over 25 years, they are all in a sense hanging on to the relationships formed in their younger years, despite there being undercurrents of hostility  and a huge backlog of undeclared resentment. They all secretly wonder why they all still attend these functions – but attend them they do. This one is destined for disaster and through real time and flashback we get the story of their lives…and their friendship.

This is brilliantly done. Slowly but surely leading us through the events that have lead up to the picnic, we discover many hidden depths to the relationships and oh so many twists and turns in the lives of these seven fantastic women! You won’t like all of them. You might not like ANY of them. If you are like me you will love each one and equally be frustrated at what they get up too – oh how many things could have been different if only words had come out of mouths at any of several points in their existence. But of course thats life isnt it?

I love the authors writing style – it flows so well and is imaginative and emotive. Her storytelling skills are second to none – often a follow up novel to one you have loved is a disappointment but not here. I was enthralled, unreachable while I was immersed in the story and immersed I was. The “time slips” are perfectly executed – done in “no particular order”  they ensure that the developing tale stays right on track…and keeps you turning those pages.

Now “One Step Too Far” was marketed on the marvellous twist in the tale that no-one I know has so far worked out. With “A Serpentine Affair” Ms Seskis  has gone down an equally compelling route. The twists come during the course of the story – with all the different events marking the run of the friendship you are never really sure who has been doing what to who and why until she tells you. And saving the best for last, you will not be sure at all about what actually happened that night on the banks of the Serpentine until the very last few words. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Clear your reading Diary for August!

All in all it is a story of friendship – of the hidden depths that all such relationships have – of the resentments that lie hidden and often buried by time. Realistic – with of course dramatic license to ensure a terrific read – I’m now wondering how many of my friends look at me occasionally and mutter under their breath about some faux pas I have made – Hmm. Friendships are the most important relationships you will form in your life – they are just as difficult to upkeep as any marriage – this novel looks at that. I loved it. Sigh. How long am I going to have to wait for more? Yep. I feel that old chronic impatience coming on once again…. Happy Reading Folks!

Find out more about Tina Seskis here : http://tinaseskis.com/

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

 

A break from the movies….Lets talk Bunnies!

So, today has arrived and for weeks it has been referred to as “Bunny Day” by everyone in our household. A few weeks ago my lovely daughter Mel went to an animal sanctuary for a visit. Later that day and ongoing I was bombarded with many “I want a bunny” texts and after some discussion, Willow was purchased and today is the day we brought her home. Now this is a book blog – so in a moment I will talk Rabbits and Books. But first….meet the newest member of our family!  Isnt she just the cutest thing ever? Going to be a very popular addition to our little family unit!

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So. Books about bunnies. Well the first one that sprang to mind of course was Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit. I remember being read The Tale Of Peter Rabbit at bedtime when I was younger – and of course all of Ms Potter’s other magical animal stories – and they have endured for generations and will for many generations to come. Peter was a naughty rabbit and got into all sorts of trouble! Here’s hoping that Willow is a bit better behaved….but I have been inspired to dig out all my old copies of those much loved tales to read to Harry and Tristan – both of whom will adore them.

 

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A slightly darker bunny tale is that of Richard Adams “Watership Down”. Another book I remember well from my teenage years, it was perhaps one of the first books to make me cry. The rabbits that inhabit the world of Watership Down may as well be people – you react to them as if they were, you feel for them as if they were – and this is another classic story that will endure for years. My tattered copy of this book is in my safety box in the attic – when my boys are older they as well will be introduced to this wonderful book.

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So there we go. Short but sweet. Bunnies and books. Do you have a favourite childrens tale involving Bunnies? Do tell. Happy Reading Folks!

If you would like to follow Mel on Twitter I’m sure that you will also be following Willow. https://twitter.com/melissabarnsley

Books….Then come the movies Part 3: HARRY POTTER!

So there is no way on earth that we can have a week on movies and the books that inspired them without mentioning Mr Harry Potter. The creation of J K Rowling, Harry is now a worldwide phenomenon and it will endure for generations to come, I have no doubt! Admittedly my knowledge in this area is basic – I know lots of people will shout at me but I have never sat down and properly read the books – and the movies have been watched with half an eye with my young boys who of course adore all things Potter! However I’m lucky. My good friend Victoria is what is affectionately known as a Potterhead – so I will hand over to her and she will tell you about all things Potter! (No Victoria I DIDNT edit – your enthusiasm shines!)

Thanks Victoria. To see more of Victoria’s reviews click here : https://victorialovesbooks.wordpress.com/

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This may possibly be my most favourite subject.
Harry Potter is a series that WILL live on forever. JK Rowling is a genius. Nobody can deny this, wether you love or hate her, she managed to write a series of books that got the world, yes world, reading!
Kids that didn’t read started reading, and some of those are huge 500 + page books, adults started to read it also to find out what all the fuss was about.
Kids and adults alike then camped out in order to get their hands on the latest book. How often does this happen? Especially when it comes to kids books!

It’s not often. And how often do you come across a book, let alone series of books, that adults love and enjoy as much as the children.

The reason Harry Potter will live on forever is because of the fan base, the Potterheads, are the most loyal fans there are. We re-read avidly and as we grow up, we then read to our children and the magic of Harry Potter starts all over again for the next generation.

So as a huge bookworm, I’ve always absolutely hated any film adaptions that are made. I’ve sat there and moaned about parts missed or parts that aren’t portrayed right to how I saw it in my head. I’ve even been known to be so angry with certain film adaptions (The Time Traveler’s Wife) that I had to throw it it the bin!

But…. With Harry Potter I adore the films as much as I do the books. Why is that? The films do vary massively to the books yet I’m willing to accept this and still love them.

The detail in the films really are quite outstanding, in EVERY way! The ideas Rowling sets in your head whilst reading really do come alive on the screen. Each character looks exactly like what you expect, it’s incredible. The scenes are set perfectly, but, the castle is surely the most magical. As is the great hall, it’s absolutely spot on.

Now of course the films aren’t exactly perfect when it comes to what we greedily take from the books, but if we are really honest with ourselves, if they didn’t edit things out we would be sat in the cinema for 12 + hours (yes! I hear you Potterheads we would of managed that no problem, but its those muggles, you can’t deny them a little magic!) So of course in order to get them onto the big screen they of course have to do LOTS of editing, which does unfortunately mean we lose some of the best bits!

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What we miss from the books is that the Dursley’s actually treated Harry a lot worse. They sent him the most pathetic Christmas presents, we all remember that year with the dirty sock! (That’s if you read the books).
We don’t get to see the time that Dobby decorated the Room of Requirement in hundreds of Baubles with the caption “have a Harry Christmas” (a personal favourite), or just how big a part Dobby actually plays in the books. He is rarely seen in the films, compared to the books but actually plays a huge part in Harry’s school life, it wasn’t Neville who gave Harry the Jellyweed in Goblet of Fire it was our lovely Dobby. We never even get to meet Winky in the films another BIG part in Goblet of Fire, which is actually so far from the book it’s unbelievable, she is a drunk and sobbing mess. Which then gets Hermione setting up S.P.E.W (no I’m not telling you what that stands for read the books!).
We never fully appreciate Harry’s sarcasm in the films something I find quite sad as its really rather brilliant to Read and inagine. His and Ron’s humour shines through within the book and although we see snippets of this in the films I sometimes feel we could of seen more.
Harry really is an angry little teenager too, we can’t blame him his had such an awful start in life. But of course the books are always so much more detailed and we are told exactly how he is feeling at every stage, whereas in the films we have to work it out for ourselves by how he looks or by what he says.
Hermione’s character is portrayed really well in the films and I wouldn’t say there is too much that is massively different, of course there are some. Hermione is not only a geek, bookworm, nerd, teachers pet, whatever you can think of, she goes out of her way to help people. Remember Hagrid and Buckbeak’s dilemma in Prisoner of Azkaban? Well in the books Hermione goes out of her way to research and spend all of her time getting Hagrid ready to face the “jury”. As well as doing all her work and trying to get to two classes at one time! Lets also not forget those boys wouldn’t of survived without Hermoine and her books.

The relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is really very special and although we do see this in the films, what we get from the books is something so much more. It really is remarkable just how much Dumbledore loves Harry.
It’s the same with a lot of the older characters take for example Mrs Weasley, she really does take Harry on as another son. Another brilliant example of this is, in the Goblet of Fire when the tournament starts, members of the champions families come to wish them luck and Harry has no-one, well in the book it’s Mrs Weasley and Charlie Weasley who are there to support Harry.

We never truly get to know Lockhart (Chamber of Secrets) through the film either. He was self obsessed, arrogant, egotistical and had us being sick in our mouths, yet we loved to hate him. He organised a dwarf dressed as Cupid to follow the kids round the school reading aloud Valentines notes. Poor Harry was rugby tackled to the floor and sat on by him. Missed that in the film didn’t you?
He also pops up in the Order of the Phoenix book, no really he does, see that doesn’t happen in the film either. (Not telling you! Nope, you will have to read them).

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With my favourite book The Half Blood Prince we see Harry spending a lot of time with Dumbledore, which is possibly why it’s my favourite. Even though we sadly lose him (I cried for hours) it’s brilliant to spend so much time with him in the books and gain more knowledge of him. We all remember the part where Harry uses a spell from the Half Blood Prince’s book/film and causes Draco to become really hurt. Well in the book Ginny DOES NOT HELP HIM! He hides it alone. We also don’t see anything that Draco is up to with birds and cupboards in the book, because well, we only ever follow Harry around.

The last two films are very special and I can see why they did it (money) but I also am so pleased they did two because it allowed more of the book to be shown than in earlier books when HUGE chunks were just missing. (Read the end to Goblet Of Fire and you will see just how different it is).
They were different and they missed parts out that still to this day really upset me, for example, when Harry saves the day and all is well, he goes back to Dumbledore’s office and Dumbledore’s portrait is there and has tears down running down his face, and Harry asks him more questions, he then, (and this is the most important) FIXES HIS WAND! I was furious they didn’t do this in the film because that wand was part of Harry. He also tells Dumberdore that he is putting the Elder Wand back where it belongs, but in the film he snaps it and throws it!!!!!!
Let’s also highlight that once Harry comes back to “life” he doesn’t run from Voldemort, he hides under the invisibility cloak whilst Neville is causing a commotion, then starts firing jinxes and curses at any death eater he can whilst trying to find Voldemort. He finds him in the great hall and reveals himself. He and Voldemort then face each other and Harry explains EVERYTHING. He then finishes Voldemort once and for all. The epilogue is pretty fantastic though and ended how it should of so I was very pleased with that.

The books are so detailed and so epic that you really feel as though you are living the story. Nothing will ever come close to them and I don’t imagine we will ever discover anything that will top Harry Potter.

The films although are different and lacking the detail that only books can portray, they are still absolutely magical and bring the story to life that little bit more. The films also help to bring more people to the books (I hope) because anyone who watches them and hasn’t read them, if they like them and it makes them slightly interested in giving the books ago then what does it matter too much if the films are different? Because by making the films they are allowing a wider audience to become part of the Wizarding world and allowing those that don’t read to fall in love with Harry also.

The films are also brilliant for those who maybe haven’t got time to re-read them when they want, but want to go back into Harry’s world and can by watching the movie.

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The films are so enjoyable and I love them dearly but I urge anyone who has only watched the films and never read the books to go out and read the books. They are truly magnificent and so incredibly detailed more than the films ever could be.

So I honestly love the films, yes they miss out my favourite parts or in some of the films, vital parts, but they are REALLY good and I wouldn’t have them changed. I like to think of them as a refresher of the books.

I really could of gone on and on some more (don’t groan!) but I must dash as I have a Potions Lesson with Snape (now you can groan)

 

 

Liz Currently Loves……What Lies Within by Tom Vowler.

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Tom Vowler’s “What Lies Within” is a superb debut novel. Suspensful, emotional and brilliant it has been pegged as a “psychological thriller” but it is so much more than that.

Anna lives in a remote Devon farmhouse with her husband and two children, they are surrounded by natural beauty and live a relaxing life. When a prisoner escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison that freedom is threatened and Anna feels increasingly isolated. Meanwhile a young and idealistic teacher suffers a brutal attack and her life changes forever. As the two stories come together, the question is asked…what is the TRUE meaning of family.

This book will get you from its first page and won’t let you go until you are done. With superb writing and a gripping story intertwined with a sensitive yet realistic look at the aftermath of violence, this is truly a remarkable novel. Yes it is a thriller and a mystery but it is also an extraordinarily truthful look at how events can shape a life. The age old question “nature versus nurture” is embedded in its pages and it will have you considering those things that have shaped your own life. Some of the events in this book spoke directly to my heart in ways that I cannot put into words…I found it hauntingly beautiful.

The tension builds slowly but surely as we see events unfold through Anna’s eyes – she is a character of extreme depth, you will feel you have only scratched the surface even when the tale is done. Her husband and children are equally compelling – I don’t want to say too much, this is a story best read cold to get the full impact – but I WILL say that rarely will you see such a well drawn fictional family in any novel. What Lies Within is right – none of us can know the depth of another persons feelings, even those closest to us, or understand entirely what is at the heart of them – how often in reality can we even say we know those things about ourselves? What Mr Vowler has achieved here is a rare thing…a crime and mystery novel with total heart and soul. Thats the best way I can think of to put it. Sometimes words are not enough. Read it. You’ll see. As I did I’m sure you will add Mr Vowler to your list of must read authors. Certainly I am very excited to find out what he has in store for us next.

Find out more about Tom Vowler here http://www.tomvowler.co.uk/

Follow him on Twitter here  https://twitter.com/tom_vowler