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Archive for December, 2017

Out with the old year….

2017 has been a wonderful year for books, I’ve been truly spoiled with some excellent reads and some exciting moments.  I’ve had some quotes used for publicity materials and even had a quote featured in a book!  I was also touched and honoured to have been mentioned in the acknowledgements at the back of a book, these things are so immensely amazing and I still get a giddy feeling when I think about them.
I’ve also been so very lucky that authors have sent me some beautiful signed copies of their books to cherish.  For me, this is one of the greatest honours of being a book blogger, each signed copy takes up a special place in my heart as well as on my bookshelf (away from sticky wee fingers) and is lovingly adored.  Another blogging highlight this year was my nomination in the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and subsequent award as a “Hidden Gem” alongside two amazing bloggers, I can’t think two better blogs to be ranked behind than Gordon at http://grabthisbook.net/ and Jo at https://mychestnutreadingtree.wordpress.com/.

This has also been a fantastic year for friendships.  Through the wonderful community of bloggers I have found some exceptionally special friends who never fail to brighten my day with silly gifs, heart warming comments and giggles in abundance.  They have also been an invaluable source of advice and inspiration as well as leading me to find some of the best books I’ve read this year!  I shan’t name names here but those who have been supportive and brilliant know who they are and I am forever grateful for their friendship.

So, what will 2018 bring for The Quiet Knitter?  Well going forward I’ve decided to shake things up a little.  From now on, I would like to focus more in indie books, I’ve discovered so many wonderful books through my Friday feature Celebrating Indie Publishing and I would love to be able to continue this next year, so if you have a book coming out next year from an independent press or you’re self publishing then please get in touch!  I won’t be ignoring books from other sources, I still love my mainstream fiction and will still be buying more books that I can store in my home and will still be excitedly following my favourite authors.

2018 will also see some exciting new books and reviews coming from my place on the review panel for First Monday Crime so watch this space for updates!

So….that leads me to round off 2017 by saying thank you to all who have supported The Quiet Knitter this year, thank you for sharing reviews, commenting on reviews and generally being the wee smashers that you all are!  (You are all wee smashers in my eyes, even the grumpy, argumentative ones amongst you that will swear blind that you’re not….I know who you are.)
Most bloggers have been so good at listing their top books this year, highlighting which ones were their favourites and which were worthy of mention, and when I started this post I really did think that I might be able to do that, but on reflection I think it’s fair to point out here that most of the books that I’ve read this year were read because I wanted to read them, so in a way they are all brilliant….they are all worthy of accolades and love because they stood out enough for me to pick them up in the first place……you’re not buying this are you?  You’re not falling for my cop out….right ok, so…..here goes I guess…some of my favourite reads from 2017 (in no particular order and in no way does this mean that I didn’t love ALL THE BOOKS):

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

The Walls Came Down by Ewa Dodd

Christmas in St Ives by Miranda Dickinson

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

Punch by Barbara Henderson

Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury

Little White Lies and Butterflies by Suzie Tullett

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell

Death of A Devil by Derek Farrell

Sealskin by Su Bristow

37 Hours by J.F. Kirwan

In Deep Water by Sam Blake

Fir For Luck by Barbara Henderson

Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day

Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

Hitler’s Forgotten Children by Ingrid Von Oelhafen and Tim Tate

Treacherous Strand by Andrea Carter

The Constant Soldier by William Ryan

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Long Shot by Jack Steele

Girl Zero by A.A. Dhand

Sleeper by J.D. Fennell

A Boy Made of Snow by Chloe Mayer

Freefall by Adam Hamdy

The Little Theatre by The Sea by Rosanna Ley

Finding Alison by Deirdre Eustace

The Beast on The Broch by John K. Fulton

Blood Tide by Claire McGowan

Summary Justice by John Fairfax

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

Blue Gold by David Barker

Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell

The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett

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As we close out the year and look forward to the approaching New Year, I wanted to round up all of the posts I’ve been lucky enough to feature from independent publishers and authors this year.  There have been so many brilliant books, wonderful authors and lovely publishers who have been part of my Friday feature and I cannot begin to thank them enough for entrusting me with their books and tales, it’s an honour to be asked to review any book and I always feel so privileged.

I’ve recapped the posts from Urbane Publications, Orenda Books and No Exit Press so far, and due to flu I’ve not had a chance to pull together the posts for the other publishers who have been part of Celebrating Indie Publishing yet, but here goes!  A huge end of year round up of Indie Publishing on The Quiet Knitter.

Bloodhound Books:

Review of Death Parts Us & Author Feature with Alex Walters

Review of End of Lies by Andrew Barrett

Bombshell Books:

Review of The Trouble With Words & Author Feature with Suzie Tullett

Elliott & Thompson:

Review of The Classic FM Musical Treasury by Tim Lihoreau

Review of Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones

Review of Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing by Richard Smyth

Review of Hitler’s Forgotten Children by Ingrid Von Oelhafen and Tim Tate

Review of Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall

Review of Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People by Julia Boyd

Review of What’s Your Bias? The Surprising Science of Why We Vote the Way We Do by Lee De-Wit

Review of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones

Cranachan Books:

Review of Fir For Luck & Author Feature with Barbara Henderson

Review of The Beast on The Broch & Author Feature with John K. Fulton

Review The Revenge of Tirpitz & Author Feature with Michelle Sloan

Review Buy Buy Baby & Author Feature with Helen MacKinven

Review Charlie’s Promise & Author Feature with Annemarie Allan

Review Nailing Jess by Triona Scully

Review Punch by Barbara Henderson

The Dome Press:

Review Sleeper & Author Feature with J.D. Fennell

Black and White Publishing:

Review The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin

Modern Books:

Review De/Cipher: The Greatest Codes by Mark Frary

Review Literary Wonderlands Edited by Laura Miller

 

And not forgetting the wonderful authors who have been involved:

Anne Goodwin

Review of Underneath & Author Feature

Carol Cooper

Review of Hampstead Fever & Author Feature

Clare Daly

Review of Our Destiny is Blood & Author Feature

Ray Britain

Review of The Last Thread & Author Feature 

 

Wow, what a year it’s been!  I can honestly say that I’ve discovered some absolutely brilliant books this year, some were ones that I might not have noticed if I had not been making such an effort to read more indie books – just shows you, there are hidden gems out there, you just have to open your eyes to the possibilities of brilliance!

Thank you authors, publishers, readers, bloggers, everyone who has taken time to read my Celebrating Indie Publishing feature, everyone who has commented on the posts, your support this year has been immense and I definitely would not have managed this without you all.

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As the countdown to 2018 ticks merrily on,  I thought I would extend my Celebrating Indie Publishing round up of the brilliant books and authors who have taken part in this feature by recapping the fantastic books by No Exit Press that I’ve had the privilege of reading this year.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous posts, it really has been an honour to work with some amazing publishers and authors this year, and without them this feature would never have been possible!   I’d like to take a wee moment to say “Thank You” to each of the publishers and authors who have taken part in this feature, who have kindly filled in the Q&A form that I sent out, have written guest posts or have kindly sent copies of books for me to read and review – your support has been invaluable and I truly appreciate you all!

Here’s some of the books from No Exit Press that have featured on The Quiet Knitter this year:

 

Reviews of each book can be found by following these links (there are also author features with Howard Linskey and Leigh Russell with the reviews of their books):

Hunting The Hangman by Howard Linskey
The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet
Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

 

I have been lucky enough to read more than these books by No Exit Press this year, some of them have been regular reads or ones that were part of blog tours … and there are one or two on my radar to read during my January break from blogging.  These guys are bringing some amazing books to readers, check out their website for details of what’s coming up!

I hope that Celebrating Indie Publishing has helped you find some great new books to try this year, or perhaps opened your eyes to other books that you might have missed. It’s certainly been a blast for me and I’ve loved every moment of it!

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I am so excited to be part of Urbane Publications 12 Days Of Christmas blog tour, and today I have a review to share with you of The Man Who Played with Trains by Richard Whittle.  Richard has also taken some time out to answer a few questions about his book, his reading and the road to publication, so sit back and enjoy!


Book Feature:

Description:

Cover 9781911331032(1).jpg

A gripping thriller for fans of Martin Cruz Smith, Jack Higgins and Robert Harris

Mining engineer John Spargo is distraught when his mother is attacked in her home and later dies from her injuries. He also discovers her home has been thoroughly searched.

Determined to track down her killer and discover the truth behind her death, John finds a connection between his late father’s wartime mine and the wreck of a U-Boat. The connection deepens when he discovers the diaries of the U-Boat captain and a wartime mission to spirit Göring to safety along with a fortune in stolen art. When John’s daughter Jez is kidnapped, he is contacted by a mysterious consortium. Her life hangs in the balance unless he can find the stolen art.
What is the link with his father’s abandoned mine? Who was the U-Boat captain? Did he survive and hide Göring’s treasures? John races against time to discover the truth…and in doing so may unearth secrets that were better left buried…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

One look at the description of this book was all it took for my interest to be piqued, I love WWII thrillers and anything that involves a bit of espionage, secrets and danger is always going to grab me!

Set over two timelines, The Man Who Played With Trains is a very cleverly written novel.  There is the story of John Spargo set in the present day, the tragic death of his mother following a horrific attack in her home has left him utterly distraught.  And whilst he is putting her affairs in order and sorting through her belongings he discovers a collection of journals written in German.  But this is only the beginning of the problems for John, his daughter is kidnapped and he must work out who killed his mother and why as well as find his daughter Jez.
Running parallel to this is the story of Theodore Volker, a German U-boat captain during WWII.  Theodore is a good man and good captain, he cares about his crew and doesn’t hold back when speaking his mind.  On his way home to be reunited with his young son he meets a stranger on a train who recruits him for a secret mission in the UK.

The writing is brilliant, you get a great sense of the settings and the characters with the great descriptions.  Although I initially felt more drawn to Theodore’s story, as the pace picked up I found that my attention was being drawn back to John in current day, and despite this being quite a hefty read it’s thrilling and exciting right the way through.  I particularity enjoyed seeing how the two timelines ran alongside each other, and it made this a very enjoyable read.  The plotting is clever and well thought out, its apparent from the details woven into the story that time and care has been taken to ensure that readers get a feeling of authenticity and feel immersed in the story.

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers!

You can buy a copy of The Man Who Played With Trains via:

Amazon UK
Urbane Publications


Author Feature

Richard Whittle

Richard Whittle believes that he discovered the power of the novel and his love of writing at the age of eleven when he read Paul Gallico’s The Snow Goose and Jenny. On his overseas trips many years later he armed himself with an excess-baggage mix of paperbacks that did not include crime novels – as an ex-policeman he had vowed never to read them, let alone write them. Now, years later, he no longer feels that way. His central characters, people like you and me, find that they have been dragged into situations beyond their control and from which there seems little chance of escape. For them, crimes are most definitely involved.

Richard has been a policeman, a police marksman and police motorcyclist, a diesel engine tester, professional engineering geologist and Chartered Engineer. He has worked in civil engineering, geothermal energy, nuclear and mining industries in seventeen countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas and is able to draw on a wealth of personal experiences. Well known in his field as a technical writer, he spent time as a book reviewer for technical journals and regularly contributed to professional publications.

As a spare-time novelist he had several short stories published. In 2002, writing as Alan Frost, he was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award. More recently, his self-published novel, Playpits Park, has been downloaded as an eBook more than 4000 times.
Richard has been a trustee of a Scottish Charitable Organisation, acting first as its project manager and then its technical advisor. He now writes full time. He currently lives in the Scottish Borders, not too far away from Edinburgh.

 

For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

I have been a policeman, diesel engine tester, mature student, engineer and geologist. As a geologist I often worked alone in godforsaken places, usually with nothing to do in the evenings except eat, drink and read. The drinking, I promise you, was modest. But the reading was not. Before leaving Heathrow or Gatwick I armed myself with paperbacks. After a while I started to fill my spare field notebooks with short stories (I even got two of the stories published).

Never, ever, did I think I had a story in me that had to come out. My work gave me so many ready-made backdrops: lost and alone in hundreds of square miles of forest in Canada (and there were bears!); having my passport seized in the airport of a Central African Republic, then taken at gunpoint and locked in a small room.

So, I had the scenery. What I needed now were characters and situations. That wasn’t too difficult. During my years in the police I’d come across plenty of those.

The Man Who Played Trains is a novel in two interwoven parts. One part, a contemporary story set in the north of Scotland, starts with an apparently pointless murder. The other, set in wartime Germany, is a tale of conspiracy and intrigue that the reader will guess is backstory to the Scottish murder, but (hopefully) is at a loss to know how or why. The two tales come together gradually.

 

 Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

It was a very long journey. The idea for The Man Who Played Trains came to me years ago. I knew the story I wanted to write and I spent long hours researching the German side of it, mostly in libraries. My big problem was that I didn’t know how best to present it. Then, as so often happens, the day job got in the way and I put away all my notes. Perhaps, one day, I would have time to write it…

My first published novel, Playpits Park, is around 80% flashback. The contemporary story moves seamlessly (so I’m told) into the past and back out again. It was an unsuitable format for The Man Who Played Trains. Finally I plumped for two separate, interlinked stories.

This might sound as if I decided what to write, wrote it, and then got published. As all writers will tell you, that isn’t the way it works. Several times over the years I became so discouraged by multiple rejections that I stopped submitting my work to agents and publishers. That does not mean I stopped writing, rewriting and editing. My hard drives and backups are a nightmare of novels and parts of novels – a digital attic of good stuff, bad stuff and indifferent stuff.

In 2016, Matthew Smith at independent publisher Urbane Publications, agreed to publish The Man Who Played Trains. I rewrote it for the umpteenth time and submitted it to the amazing Matthew.

 

 What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

I have just read Stephanie Merrit’s five novels written under her pen name S J Parris. The novels are well-written and well-plotted. I have Michael Connelly’s latest in my to-read pile, and Robert Harris’s Munich. Also, I have just received a parcel of books from Urbane, so I have plenty to go on with. Recommended reads? Any novels by Kate Atkinson, S G Maclean, John Grisham, Kazuo Ishiguru.

 

What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

Jennie, by Paul Gallico. It made me realise how emotionally powerful writing could be. I also discovered John Wyndham’s SF novels and read them all. The children’s section librarians eventually gave in and let me take out adult books. Well, I’m sure you know what I mean.

My father bought a large set of encyclopaedias and I remember spending weeks paging through them, reading every entry that interested me (how weird is that?)

Because I am basically a techie person, when I was young I read as many technical and scientific books as I did novels.

 

What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

Seeing 5-star reviews coming up on Amazon! I like to think that I write for myself rather than for readers, but in reality that is not true. The story is for me; the many rewrites and edits are for the reader. I know reviews aren’t everything, but positive ones are so encouraging. It means I have got things right.

 

 Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

Probably my greatest source of encouragement was Simon King, at the time a director at Random House. An early novel I submitted to the publisher attracted a personal reply, along with his red-penned edit of the first few pages. The two-page letter accompanying the returned typescript ended with ‘You will get published. It may take you some time‘.

Further encouragement came a few years later when I submitted a different novel, under a pseudonym, to the Crime Writers Association and was shortlisted for their Debut Dagger Award. At the award ceremony Ian Rankin presented me with a runner-up prize and said ‘Just keep writing…‘ No doubt this was oft-said advice to budding writers – but it was just what I needed to hear at the time.

 

Social Medial Links

Urbane: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/richard-whittle/

Amazon: https://goo.gl/a4lWwY

Richard’s blog:  https://playpitspark.wordpress.com/

Richard’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/richard1whittle

Richard’s Facebook:  http://bit.ly/2xolpZB

 

urbanechristmas

 

 

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I’m nattering about 3 recommended reads from 2017 with the gorgeous Emma over on damppebbles today!

damppebbles.com

When I started damppebbles in January 2016 the one thing I didn’t expect was to make some incredibly good friends.  I wasn’t aware of the community of like-minded individuals whose love of books holds friendships strong like glue.  From blogging, I have made some very dear friends but there are two ladies I can always count on to make me smile when I’m in a grump or to help me out with a tricky blog based question or advice.  Two stupendously good blogger friends and I am thrilled to have them both feature on the damppebbles, one today and one tomorrow.

First up is the gorgeous Kate Noble of The Quiet Knitter who has absolutely no idea exactly how good she is at this blogging lark and how much we all appreciate her.  Kate’s blog (obviously) is one of my favourites so if you haven’t discovered The Quiet Knitter yet then…

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As the year draws to a close and Christmas looms ever closer I thought I would extend my Celebrating Indie Publishing round up of the brilliant books and authors who have taken part in this feature  by showcasing the fantastic books by Orenda Books that I’ve had the privilege of reading this year.

As I said last time, it really has been an honour to work with some amazing publishers and authors this year, and without them this feature would never have been possible!   I’d like to take a wee moment to say “Thank You” to each of the publishers and authors who have taken part in this feature, who have kindly filled in the Q&A form that I sent out, have written guest posts or have kindly sent copies of books for me to read and review – your support has been invaluable and I truly appreciate you all!

Here’s some of the books from Orenda Books  that have featured on The Quiet Knitter this year:

Reviews of each book can be found by following these links:

Maria in The Moon by Louise Beech

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson 

Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

I have been lucky enough to read more than these books by Orenda Books this year, some of them have been regular reads or ones that were part of blog tours … If you want to see a full list of the Orenda titles then just use the search function at the top of the page and enter “orenda” and it will bring up a mammoth list for your enjoyment. Sealskin and Exquisite were just two of the books read this year that took my breath away and ones I cannot recommend highly enough!  Also, check out the Dark Iceland series written by Ragnar Jónasson, that is an author who’s name you don’t want to forget in a hurry!  And while we’re on the topic….why not add Steph Broadribb, Michael J Malone, Antti Tuomainen, Thomas Enger, Johana Gustawsson, Matt Wesolowski…..erm well ok, all the authors at Orenda Books to your watch list, these are some incredibly talented people who are absolutely awesome!

I hope that Celebrating Indie Publishing has helped you find some great new books to try this year, or perhaps opened your eyes to other books that you might have missed. It’s certainly been a blast for me and I’ve loved every moment of it!

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** My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Love can drive you crazy… in more ways than one!

When Abby met Simon, it was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime.

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later Abby’s world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together. She’s just not sure where to start.

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby’s mind that are put to the test!

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by this book, there’s certainly a lot more to it than meets the eye and I might have let it pass me by if it hadn’t been for one my favourite bloggers bringing it to my attention.

The central character Abby is one that I think many readers will like, she has a wonderful sense of humour and the situation that she finds herself in makes for an interesting and thought provoking read.
Having discovered that her husband has cheated on her she is understandably crushed, she struggles to control her emotions and it takes the friendship of her fellow teachers Melissa and Brad to help her pull through.  Her flirtations with Brad are something she feels are harmless, and whether they are intended to make her husband Simon jealous, or just to make her feel a little better about herself, I couldn’t decide.

What I hadn’t expected was the journey into Abby’s mind, learning how she deals with the anger and frustrations of what Simon has done (as well as “the other woman”), watching her attempts at flirting with Brad gives the readers the notion that deep down she is still in love with her husband, but she needs to decide if she can forgive and forget or whether to end things with him.

This is quite a thought provoking read, and one that has wit and charm sprinkled throughout.  The plot is interesting, the characters are well created and although some are not the most likeable in some instances, I do think that this is still an impressive debut novel and I would be keen to read more from this author.

You can buy a copy of Crazy Over You via

Amazon UK

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