22 Jul 2016

Author Interview / Debbie Howells


 From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover's past.

"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . ."

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose--and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April's name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.


Credit: The Beauty of The End by Debbie Howells is published by Pan, priced £7.99
  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

Jojo Moyes or Rosamund Lupton. Their characters are completely believable and they make you feel the emotions they write.


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

I get up early and walk my dog, then try to start writing around 8am. This involves much procrastination before I get down to actually working, but then I’ll keep writing until I need a break – usually early afternoon in the form of another dog walk.

When I’m really immersed, I’ll write into the evening, and even get up in the night for two or three hours.

I write either at my kitchen table or from a big, comfy sofa. Both rooms have big windows and views of trees and sky – I need to be alone and it needs to be quiet. I’ve tried writing in caf├ęs but there are too many distractions!

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

The part where I’m trying to plot the twists and turns that keep the reader turning the pages. Sometimes it feels like my brain is tied in knots. It’s usually all in my head where it makes perfect sense, but translating it into words in a time frame that makes
sense to the reader can be a challenge!

4.  When and why did you first start writing?

I loved writing at school – it’s fair to say, more than anything else. Over the years, I’ve started several novels, only to give up after a few chapters, which invariably – and rightly - ended up in the bin. Then a few years ago, I started writing more seriously. I was running my own wedding floristry business and it was the most hectic summer I’d ever known. I gave myself Mondays off, so I’d sit in the garden and write, as an escape. I finished my first novel and submitted it to agents. It was rejected, but I had enough positive feedback to encourage me to keep writing.

In all, I wrote 3 novels which were all commercial women’s fiction. The third, Wildflowers, caught the eye of 6 agents who all ultimately rejected it. I self-published all of them and they all sold quite well, but it was at that point I knew, that if I wanted a traditional publishing deal, I was going to have to write something different.

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

The Bones of You came from a combination of ideas. I had this narcissistic character in my head who refused to go away and who I felt compelled to write about. It coincided with a time where suddenly I became aware of the issue of emotional abuse. I couldn’t believe how invisible it was and the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to write about it. I had the idea also, of telling Rosie’s story as her life flashed before her eyes.

All these came together as I started to write.

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

I love to read - my one complaint is that I don’t have enough time for it! As a published author, I often get sent books so my to-read pile is huge. At the moment I’m reading Cathy Rentzenbrink’s The Last Act of Love.

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

I think when you start, it can feel daunting. I used to read other writers’ stories to publication – they were like fairytales that had come true… I kept reminding myself that however unlikely it seemed that I’d ever be published, it wasn’t impossible and I kept writing - through all the rejections – and there were many. It took several years, but that’s often the way.

Rejection is a fact of life for most writers. By agents, then maybe by publishers, too. Take it on the chin, revise, write another book. It’s the only way forward.

Even when the doubts set in, when you don’t think anything you write will ever be good enough, keep writing. It’s a subjective business. Not everyone likes every book. And you learn with everything you write.
There are two things I read quite early on, that stayed with me. The first was that the writers who get published are the ones who don’t give up – it sounds obvious but it’s true. The second is, not to write with an axe to grind, but to write with love.



Continue reading Author Interview / Debbie Howells

21 Jul 2016

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Blog Tour Book Review / The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

**Take a trip to the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where a very special little cookbook shop is about to open its doors…**

In the beginning…

Kitty Cartwright has always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks are her life, and there isn’t an issue that ‘Cooking with Aspic’ can’t fix. Her only wish is that she had a book entitled ‘Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You’.

Forty years later…

On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world – and no amount of aspic will stand in her way.

But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision. One thing’s for sure: she’s about to find out…





Published:     14th July 2016
Publisher:  Avon
Goodreads :  Click here 

Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

What I loved about this story...
The best part of this story for me was the character of Della.  We see her at the beginning of the story having lost her mum and dealing with the aftermath, including inheriting her mother's cookbook collection (900 + of them) (at her choice) and deciding what to do next.   The more the story goes on the more I watched Della become her own person, finding happiness that had seemed to have eluded her in recent years.  This is definately one of those 'feel good' reads that you can definately take down to the beach or pool or whever you fancy.  Just sit back, relax and enjoy the story - I certainly did!

What I didn't like about this story...
Now,  this is not a reflection on the writing or the author or anything of that sort  I really did enjoy the story.  It was just that there were a few characters that I really disliked and really 'rubbed me the wrong way' so to speak.  One in particular was Della's husband who always seemed a bit shify , never supprtive, mostly always negative and seemed to always want to have things his way.  A few other characters that I really didn't like were Della's family, in particular her brother and sister-in-law. I really did feel sorry for Della having to deal with them.

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

18 Jul 2016

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Book Review / Me Before You by Jojo Moyes



Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.




Published:     5th January 2012
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Me Before You
Source:  Owned Copy

 
MY REVIEW

I have had this book on my TBR for years!  It's funny how a book can stay on a shelf for absolutely ages but the minute you hear the movie of it is coming out you have to read it.  This is one of those cases for me and I am so glad that I did pick it up!  For me, the best part of this story was the character progression of Will and Lou.  You see Will at the beginning already defeated, wanting to give up and push everyone away and you see Lou sort of at a dead end, not really knowing what to do next when she stumbles into becoming Will's carer.  The dynamic between Will and Lou is entertaining and heartbreaking to read.  As the story goes in you see both characters change in ways they never expected and certainly I never expected.  And the ending... full of emotion.  Without giving away spoilers, that was a very emotional read.  





Continue reading Book Review / Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

11 Jul 2016

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Book Review / Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


Published:     24th July 2012
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Something Strange and Deadly
Source:  Owned Copy

MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  This was a very interesting read for me.  Although, for reasons I will give below, I didn't get on very well with this book the element that I did enjoy a lot and the main reason I carried on reading until the end was the mix of history and zombies.  It was a very weird mix.  On the one hand you are in this world (can't remember what time period but I would guess around the 1870s) and on the other hand you have these zombies that are terrorising the living.  This was something new to me and one that I found funny in places and also quite creepy in other places.

What I didn't like about this book...  Honestly, I just could not get into it.  Despite enjoying the zombie olden days feel to the story, I really didn't feel much for the characters, especially the main character Eleanor.  Bearing in mind that she is 16 years old in a world where she is not allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone, she seems to be able to pretty much anything she pleases.  That confused me.  One other aspect of this story that completely confused me was the fact that Eleanor's brother goes missing in the beginning of the book and her main aim is to find her brother and help him.  That all seems to be forgotten not very long into the book and not mentioned much until nearer the end of the book.  I had expected more of a 'I need to find my brother' type of story but it wasn't. 

That being said, I think this was a lot more to do with my reading tastes and my mood at the time rather rather than the writing, which was really good.  I don't think I will be continuing on with this series but will look out for more work by this author.   




Continue reading Book Review / Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

6 Jul 2016

Author Interview / Saskia de Coster



In a Flemish housing estate on top of a mountain lives the Vandersanden family. The neurotic, aristocratic Mieke combs her carpets while keeping a close eye on her family and her neighbours. Her husband, the self-made man Stefaan, is building up a career in a pharmaceutical company that is threatened by scandal. Daughter Sarah, overprotected by her parents and curious for the real life, is finding her own path, much like the rest of her generation. Will Sarah become the victim of the big family secret, or will she succeed in breaking an old pattern?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Virginia Woolf is very important to me. Hence the title of my book 'Me and We', a quote of hers. I would love to work with Virginia Woolf. Or rather: I would just sit at her feet and watch her write, follow her process of writing and especially rewriting as that is the most fruitful way of learning. I imagine her crammed in a tiny sofa, with a writing board on her lap, chain-smoking and thinking. Without the internet! 

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
As I not only write novels but am also involved in a lot of projects with visual artists and musicians, my days are not very much alike. When I am working on a novel, I am very hard on myself and disciplined. The last month of finishing a manuscript looks like this: I get up very early (around 6 o'clock) as I can't get much sleep, I start writing immediately, with the help of strong coffee, then around 10 I eat and drink and then continue writing. In the afternoon, I usually go running then eat something and continue working till late I get to sleep around midnight. 
3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The hardest part is the part you always want to skip: the moment you realize you are not there yet. In fact, you realize that you need to cut out a passage or character that you really love. In other words, he moment of killing your darlings.
4.  When and why did you first start writing?
As a child, I was so fond of statues and I remade them myself, with paper and clay etc. I started remaking the original. It made me realize I wanted not only to copy the world, but make it mine. 

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
We and Me is a family novel, set in Flanders in an upper class family. I researched the theme for eighteen years, that is to say: I spent my entire childhood in such an environment and based my novel loosely on that experience. For a long time, I thought I was a very independent individual, until the moment I heard myself say something and it was as if my mother was speaking through my mouth, although we have often disagreed. it made me realize that there is not only a 'me' but also a 'we' that we all make part of, inevitably.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I think every author should be a reader, as you try to write the book you as a reader would love to read. At least, that's how I see it. I just finished Chris Kraus' I love Dick, Han Kangs The vegetarian and Emma Clines The Girls. And was recently also very impressed by Adam Johnson collection of stories and especially Hilary Mantels autobiography.

Continue reading Author Interview / Saskia de Coster

5 Jul 2016

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Book Review / The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


Published:     17th May 2016
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  I really enjoyed this book.  I was still in a summery read type of mood and I have to be honest and say that the cover looked summery so I thought I would pick it up!  However, this story was far from summery but I did enjoy reading it.   What I loved the most about this book was the depth in the characters, especially Mallory and Rider.  You have two characters who have been through a lot in such a short space of time.  The depth in the friendship between Mallory and Rider was the main reason I kept reading.  Despite everything their friendship was never forgotten and in some cases it seemed like they picked right up where they left off when they met each other again at Mallory's new school. 

What I didn't like about this book... There was a lot going on in this book.  You have Mallory and her problems, Rider and his problems, the whole Mallory and Rider thing, the Rider's girlfriend before Mallory thing, Mallory and Rider's past, Mallory's best friend's problems etc etc.  You have a lot of story lines going on in such a short space of time.  I would say that the best friend story is something I would love to read more about, maybe the next book???   


Continue reading Book Review / The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

3 Jul 2016

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Book Review / We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

To avoid spoilers, as this is book 3 in a trilogy below is the description of book 1.  For a link to the Goodreads page for this book, please see below.

Belly measures her life in summers. 

Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. 

They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. 

But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


Published:     26th April 2011
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Summer
Source:  Owned



REVIEW

Have you ever read a trilogy and wished that it had finished at book 2?  Unfortunately this was that book for me.  It's not that its a bad book, it was really good and really fun to read but it was that love triangle that I found drawn out and irritating.  Its more my personal preference than a reflection on the author I should add.  I have a love hate relationship with love triangles in stories.  In the right circumstance it could be really good but in this case you had Belly who was in love with one but in a relationship with the other.  To me that didn't make sense.  Why be in a relationship with someone if you are in love with someone else?  And, in that relationship if someone does something unforgivable do you take them back straight away, all forgiven?  I certainly wouldn't.  Needless to say, there were some decisions made in this book by certain characters that I definitely disagreed with!

But apart from that, this was a really fun read but I think when I re-read this trilogy again (which I definitely will do) I might skip this last book. 


 
Continue reading Book Review / We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

30 Jun 2016

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Book Review / It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

To avoid spoilers, below is the description for book 1 in this trilogy.  A Goodreads link for this book is below.

Belly measures her life in summers. 

Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. 

They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. 

But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


Published:     27th April 2010
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Summer
Source:  Owned



REVIEW

What I liked about this book...    OK, so this trilogy is turning out to be a lot more sadder than I thought.  As this is book 2 in a trilogy, I won't go into too much detail as to why but what I will say is that the character development in this book is what made it for me.  There is this event that happened after the last summer and all the characters are now coming to terms with this and watching them try and find their way in this book was the best part for me.  If I had to pick a favourite character, in this book I would have to say Conrad.  The way he deals with issues are more complicated than we are led to believe at the beginning of the story. 

What I didn't like about this book...  Honestly, I would have to say it is that love triangle again as mentioned in my review of book 1 but to avoid spoilers all I will say is that I wished she would make up her mind!
Continue reading Book Review / It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

29 Jun 2016

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Book Review / The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han




Belly measures her life in summers. 

Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. 

They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between.

But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.



Published:     5th May 2009
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Summer
Source:  Owned

 MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  This book really surprised me.  The weather here in England is getting warm (and yes it does rain a lot too lol!) so I was really in the mood for reading a summery style book and this series had been on my list of things to get to for far too long now.  I decided to pick it up.  I am so glad that I did.  This was exactly what I wanted and a lot more.  

This book is not all it seems to me.  Yes it does have the story of Belly and her two friends who she has known since a child, Jeremiah and Conrad.  Yes there is a love triangle but for me that was only part of the story.  You have other characters as well that made the story for me and those were the parents, Belly's mum and Jeremiah and Conrad's mum both of whom are at the summer house for the entire summer and there's a secret they have been hiding.  That part of the story was the part I was more interested in reading about and following how the characters reacted when they found out this secret. 

What I didn't like about this book...  Although I did really enjoy reading this book I did find the love triangle a bit annoying at times.  It seemed like Belly could not make up her mind what she wanted to do and found that Jeremiah and Conrad were being played at times.  I am very interested to know what is going to happen in the next books.  Does she make up her mind and stop stringing on Jeremiah and Conrad? 

Continue reading Book Review / The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

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