27 Jun 2016

Auithor Interview / Barbara Venkataraman

Books 1-3 of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Series! Including:

"Death by Didgeridoo"-Winner of the Indie Book of the Day award. Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit.

"The Case of the Killer Divorce"-Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It's business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie's client becomes the prime suspect. When she can't untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client's name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.

"Peril in the Park"-There's big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn's boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can't figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author, Barbara Venkataraman, is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.


She is the author of: The Jamie Quinn mysteries; "Teatime with Mrs. Grammar person", "The Fight for Magicallus," a children's fantasy; a humorous short story entitled, "If You'd Just Listened to Me in the First Place"; and two books of humorous essays: "I'm Not Talking about You, Of Course" and "A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities," which are part of the "Quirky Essays for Quirky People" series. Both books of humorous essays won the prestigious "Indie Book of the Day" award.

Coming soon, "Jeopardy in July"--the next Jamie Quinn mystery!


AUTHOR INTERVIEW




1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

I don’t know if anyone would want to work with me--my mind works in mysterious ways, lol! I do love humor writers like Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen, and Mary Roach and I’d be thrilled to have a chat with them about writing, maybe trade ideas.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

More haphazard than I care to admit. I work at my desk at home with my two lazy dogs sleeping behind me. I write the blurb for a mystery first and then I list who’s who and make a rough outline. I research topics I will be using in the book, like Northern Hairy-Nosed wombats or poisonous plants of Florida, and then cut and paste the research at the bottom of the document so I can refer to it as I write. I find photos online and in magazines of what I think my characters look like and then I paste those into the document as well. I write short chapters and every time I finish one, I email it to my “reading girls” for their input. Knowing they are waiting for the next chapter motivates me to keep writing.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

Staying focused. I can find a million distractions and when I run out of those, I go looking for snacks. I need a babysitter...

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
I first started writing in second grade when I wrote a poem about ducks. I have been scribbling down ideas and short stories (and bad poems) ever since.  

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Funny story—a few years ago, I was trying to learn how to play a didgeridoo (a large Aborigine wind instrument) when I accidentally dropped it and broke the glass top of a dresser. That's when I realized: You could kill someone with this thing. Later on, my husband found me swinging the didgeridoo around like some weird Ninja warrior and he looked a bit worried, but I assured him I was just doing research. From then on, I couldn't stop thinking about how someone could get killed with a didgeridoo: Who was this person? Why would they even have a didgeridoo? How could the wrong person be blamed for the murder? Why would there be more than one person who wanted the victim dead? Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces slowly came together to become my first cozy mystery: "Death by Didgeridoo".

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

I’ve been through a lot of stages. I went through my sci-fi/fantasy stage, my Russian Lit stage, my South American Lit stage, my chick-lit stage, and my decade of mysteries. I have to admit that I read the Harry Potter series more than once and that my 11-year-old son and I had to buy 2 copies of each book because we couldn’t wait for the other to finish. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline; “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore”, by Robin Sloan, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce, and “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves”, by Karen Joy Fowler. 

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Everyone has to start somewhere and it’s unrealistic to think that you could sit down at a piano for the first time and play Mozart. Likewise, it’s unrealistic to think you could master the craft of writing without practice, practice, practice. Read books on how to write, take classes, copy a few pages from your favorite book and then try to emulate the author’s writing style as an exercise. Read bad books and analyze what’s wrong with them and, above all, give yourself the freedom to learn. Write copiously, write badly and then try to find the kernel of good writing in the mess and work with it. Sometimes you have to write ten pages to end up with a few good paragraphs. It’s worth it.
Continue reading Auithor Interview / Barbara Venkataraman

22 Jun 2016

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Book Review / The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

To avoid spoilers, below is the description for book 1 in this series.  This is book 2. 

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.


Published:     27th January 2015
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2, The Bone Season
Source:  Owned

MY REVIEW

There is so much I want to tell you about this series but I just can't as it is book 2 but what I will say is that this series is fast becoming being added to my list of favourite series of all time.  It's on the pending pile as I will always reserve judgment until I have read the final book in a series before making a definitive tick in the box.  I can see for this series the final book is going to be a long way off.  Book 3 is not due to come out until 2017 and it looks like there is a new book every two years, not to mention it looks like there are going to be seven books in this series.  I'm in for a bit of a wait but judging by how much I enjoyed this I am sure it will be worth the wait!

What I liked the most about this book  would have to be the same reasons that I gave for the first book.  In this book we learn a little bit more about this world and how things work.  The descriptions and depths in the characters are so well done and so detailed.  Character progression in this book was really interesting for me in this book as you have the same characters that were in the first book but as the story has moved on so have the characters and so have the way they react to things, living and learning.

If you are a fan of books like the Mortal Instruments series, you need to give this series a go.  It's so addicting!!



Continue reading Book Review / The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

20 Jun 2016

Author Interview / Jaime Raven






 Women always uncover the truth . . .

Three years and eleven months. That's how long Lizzie Wells has been banged up inside Holloway prison, serving time for a crime she didn’t commit.

Six months. That's how long it’s taken Lizzie to fall in love with her fellow inmate, Scar.

Now they are both finally free and, together, they are about to embark on a vengeful search to find those who framed Lizzie . . . and to make them pay.

THE BUSINESS MAN. THE COPPER. THE MADAM.



The first of two books for Avon/Harper Collins. The second - THE ALIBI - will be published in January. The second book is set in London and features a female crime reporter

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I’m actually a huge fan of Jessie Keane. I like her hard hitting, gritty novels and the way her characters really come to life on the pages. Also, I was born and raised in South London and my working class family were familiar with the local villains who ran the criminal operations. I’m sure that if I worked with Jessie we could come up with a few cracking yarns about the reprobates who inhabit the London underworld

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I have an office at my home in Southampton but I actually can’t stand writing in there. I much prefer going out to local coffee shops. I really don’t mind the noise around me because I can tune it out once I get going. Most mornings I walk into the town centre and spend a couple of hours writing, drinking Americanos and scoffing cakes – and I always write in longhand first. Then once I get home I’ll type it into the computer. 
 
What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Firstly it’s coming up with the idea. That’s always the hardest part because with so many books being published every year it’s very hard to identify an original premise. Secondly it’s the title. This is something I really struggle with because whenever I come up with title I discover that one or more authors have beaten me to it. Fortunately, there’s no copyright in titles, but it is nice to have one that isn’t already out there.

When and why did you first start writing?
I first started writing while at school. At the age of fifteen I wrote my first novel about thieves stealing a priceless painting from a museum in Amsterdam. But quite honestly it was terrible and so I never bothered to send it to a publisher. Maybe one day I’ll resurrect the idea and turn it into a novel!

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I live in Southampton where THE MADAM is set. One day in the local evening newspaper I read about a prostitute who had been arrested in the city. It gave birth to the idea of developing a story around a prostitute. I started to think about how vulnerable prostitutes are and from there I came up the character of Lizzie Wells, a prostitute who is wrongly convicted of a crime she didn’t commit. She spends almost four years in prison and on her release she sets out to get revenge on the people who framed her.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I do read an awful lot. Currently I’m reading the While my eyes were closed, by Linda Green. Before that it was The Missing, by CL Taylor. I enjoy reading crime novels and at the same time I like to see what competition I’m up against. It’s a fact that THE MADAM will have to compete against a lot of terrific, well-written books. 
 
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
My advice would be to keep at it no matter how many times you’re knocked back. Being rejected by agents and publishers is part of the process. And you should always remember that all views expressed are subjective. What one agent or publisher dislikes another will think is terrific. Just keep writing and with a bit of luck you’ll get where you want to be.
Continue reading Author Interview / Jaime Raven

15 Jun 2016

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Book Review / The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.


Published:     20th August 2013
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, The Bone Season
Source:  Owned

MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...   Honestly, I loved pretty much all of this book.  I wasn't sure what to expect when going into it.  Was it going to be scary?  Was it going to be fast paced?  This was one of those impulse purchases this year and had been sitting on my shelf for a while so I thought I would finally give it a go.  What I loved the most was the world and the amount of detail Samantha Shannon went into when describing every little aspect of it.  It felt like I was right there watching things as they unfold, I could imagine what everything looked like and felt like.  When starting this book I did think that maybe this might be a 'typical easy read' but it is far from that.  This story goes really in depth in both the storyline and the characters and I couldn't help but love reading this.  I can't wait to move onto book 2!

What I didn't like about this story...  If I had to be picky, the story could have been more fast paced than what it was.  It was quite a long book at just over 450 pages and it took me ages to read.  I started reading it at the end of May (around the 30th) and have only just finished it this morning (15th June) so it did take a while but that said it was definitely worth it!




Continue reading Book Review / The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

12 Jun 2016

Month in Review / May 2016

As you can tell from the time of the month of June this post is going up that the month of May and the start of the month of June have been absolutely crazy for me.  I am currently in the process of unexpectedly having to move house.  I currently rent and learned recently that the house I am living with is being sold so I have to move.  Needless to say, it has been an extremely stressful time but let's say that things are looking good and I hope to be moving at the beginning of July.

Something that I have come to learn about myself is that when I am stressed, tired and busy trying to pack up my entire house there is no way I can read, which is something that I was not aware of myself until now.  For the past few weeks I have loved nothing more than relaxing as and when I can in front of the TV catching up on shows I have missed and watching movies.  That said, I did read four books in May, four of which were pretty great reads. 

My favourite of the month has to be a split between Flawed and Off the Page.  With Off the Page (which is the second book in this duology/series) I loved going back into this world and finding out what happens next.  This was such fun to read.  With Flawed, firstly, I absolutely adore Cecelia Ahern so I was so excited about this one.  I loved the fact this book has such a great message to learn - just because someone is flawed it doesn't mean that you should punish them for it.  Such a great read. 

I did DNF (did not finish) one book in the month of May and that was book 2 in the Balefire Series, A Circle of Ashes.  Honestly, I just wasn't feeling the story.  I enjoyed reading the first book but it didn't grab me.  I think this was more a case of wrong book wrong time rather than the book was bad.  I plan to pick this one up again, maybe more when it gets to winter (that's another thing I've learned about myself - the weather does tend to dictate what I am in the mood to read).

I hope you have all had a great month of May (even though it seems like ages ago now!) and that you are well into a great reading month of June. :-)


BOOKS READ


BOOKS RECEIVED

SOLDIERS WIVES (Book 1)  SOLDIERS' DAUGHTERS (Book 2) CIVVY STREET (Book 3)

This page-turning soap opera interweaves the stories of three women trying to get to grips with military life.

Chrissie, orphaned young, finds solace in her career as a medic in the regiment, but will love for a married man prove her undoing?

Maddy, a brilliant Oxford graduate, is bogged down with a fretful baby and a super-ambitious officer husband. Will she be able to stand life as a regimental wife?

And Jenna - glamorous, bad girl Jenna, who doesn't believe in rules and regulations. Will she destroy her husband's career? Or will it destroy her?



NINA IS NOT OK
Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…



DANGER SWEETHEART
Blake Tarbell has a town to save. Rich, carefree, and used to the Vegas party lifestyle, Blake is thrown for a curve when his former cocktail-waitress mother pleads he go back to her roots to save the town she grew up in. Blake's used to using money to solve his problems, but when he arrives in Sweetheart, North Dakota, this city boy has to trade in his high-priced shoes for a pair of cowboy boots...and he's about to get a little help from the loveliest lady in town...

Natalie Lane's got no time for newbies. The prettiest gal to ever put on a pair of work gloves, there's nothing she can't do to keep a farm up and running. But when a handsome city-slicker rolls into town with nothing but bad farmer's instincts and good intentions, Natalie's heartstrings are pulled. She's about to teach him a thing or two about how to survive in Sweetheart. And he's about to teach her a thing or two about love...


AND I DARKEN
No one expects a princess to be brutal.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


WOLF HOLLOW
Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

THE NEARNESS OF YOU
Falling in love isn't a choice...

Since the moment they met, Ryan and Taylor have shared an unspoken bond. Taylor's drawn to Ryan more strongly than she thought possible and for some reason only he seems able to lift her out of the darkness in her past.

But Ryan is with Marcy - her best friend.

Marcy stood by Taylor when everything else had fallen apart, and Taylor refuses to risk their friendship now. Somehow she needs to resist what she's feeling. Yet, when Marcy leaves for a few weeks just as Ryan moves in to their shared flat, the tension grows to unbearable proportions. As the line between right and wrong becomes blurred, Taylor will have to decide whether she can - or should - turn away from what might be the love of her life.
 

NEARLY ALWAYS  
Lucy Bailey is not a girl to take no for an answer. When she asks her friend Billy Wellington to help her rescue a stray dog, she has no idea of the potential repercussions. A serious crime is committed while Billy is absent from the children's home where he lives and, when suspicion falls on him, the police decide that the safest thing for everybody is to lock him away in a mental institution.

Lucy refuses to believe that Billy has done anything wrong, and enlists her cool-headed teenage brother Arnold to help. DI Daniel Earnshawe, who has his own doubts about the police's conclusions, turns out to be unexpectedly helpful, and Billy has someone else on his side too: Helen Durkin, a beautiful, damaged girl who has been seeking to make amends for her past.

With so many daring and resourceful people battling on his behalf, it looks as though Billy's freedom will soon be won - before an unexpected development sees Arnold too fall foul of the law. Refusing to give up hope of winning freedom for them, Lucy chases up the few remaining clues while Daniel and Helen resort to an alternative form of justice . . .

 

Continue reading Month in Review / May 2016