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Archive for August, 2018

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you to join me today to celebrate indie publishing with Saira Viola, her novel Crack Apple and Pop was published by Fahrenheit Press in June 2018, and has been the book of the moment with a great blog tour with damppebbles this week.

 

Description:

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Tony is a handsome young boxer is forced into a life of crime after suffering a vicious blow in the ring.

Seduced by the glitz and glamour of London and mentored by charismatic gang lord Don March he rises rapidly up the crime ladder until he spies an opportunity to start a semi-legit Natural Highs business.

Bankrolled by an eccentric British dandy and accompanied by a cast of starry misfits including a 3ft tall blue-haired money man, an Etonian drug mule, two dominatrix debt collectors, a dodgy lawyer and a host of demi-celebs, Tony carves out a roll for himself in a city where money creates its’ own morality.

All seems to be going well until in the shadows, a Bollywood mobster threatens to derail their plans.

Chaos ensues, of course it does – wonderful, beautiful, visceral chaos.

The deft wit of Hammett meets the vivid poetics of Chandler: Crack Apple and Pop is slick smart and razor sharp. A gritty and sometimes metafictive slice of London noir.

A city of artful dodgers, yardie gangsters, kinky aristos, cocaine dusted starlets and social thrill seekers where everyone’s hustling and everyone’s getting high.
Whether it’s law, finance, the music biz, or the boxing ring: money is king. And only the ones prepared to risk everything will survive…

You can buy a copy of Crack, Apple & Pop via:

Fahrenheit Press

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Author Feature: Saira Viola.jpg

Saira Viola is an acclaimed novelist, poet, and song lyricist. From her early poetic experimentation with language, image and sound (a technique she has dubbed sonic scatterscript) to her novelistic ventures into the dark, absurd world of contemporary crime fiction, Viola’s work pulses with iconoclastic brio that mischievously blasts the golden calves of our times. Literary Heavyweight Benjamin Zephaniah, has praised her ‘twisted beautiful imagination,’ and polymathic genius, Heathcote Williams (RIP) her ‘hypnotic explosive’, writing style. Twice Nominated for Best of The Net 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee 2017 Rascal Magazine. Viola’s poetry collection Flowers of War debuted at the New York Poetry Festival and published by UB Press. Novels Jukebox (Fahrenheit Press) Crack Apple and Pop (Fahrenheit Press) Viola is a regular contributor to counterculture magazines Gonzo Today and International Times.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author ?

The sense of the unknown. You can go anywhere your imagination, and your memories take you.  A little bit of truth dust and boom: You open the doors to different worlds and immerse yourself in the lives of the characters you’re creating  or characters triggered by history,  real people, lurid dreams. Even labels for cat food in supermarket aisles can spark a train of  thought in your mind leading to a  potential story .

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author ?

The horror of sometimes  feeling like a naked trapeze artist balancing a coke bottle on your  head. Fizz fizz pop! You drop -with absolutely nothing to say.

If you could have written any book what would it be about and why ?

Not a book but :

I  wish I’d written, and choreographed the Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky or Marvin Gaye’s sublime classic What’s Going On?

How do you spend your time when not writing?

I’m  always writing unless I’m sleeping when I’m dreaming in cinematic stories!  Much of my work has a visceral, rhythmic feel, and lucid dreams can play a part  in the writing  process. Although dreams tend to be imagistic, a dream can creep into my conscience, and materialize  a line, a sentence, and even a chapter. It seems that everything I do revolves around writing. Even when I’ve volunteered for social causes,  I find myself writing: I have worked as a volunteer helping young adults to read and am part of a grassroots initiative providing books to prisons, reform schools, orphanages, mobile libraries, and  pop up libraries in socially deprived  neighbourhoods. And for years I have been writing  letters to prison inmates for Amnesty International .

Do you have a set routine for writing- rituals you have to observe ?

No. No rituals of any kind.  I snatch whatever time I can, and scribble away.
Writing where I can when I can . Right now I’m  sofa -slumming so I write perched on  a cushion  laboriously punching words onto my phone.  In between subway stops, waiting in hospital corridors (surprisingly tranquil) hoofing to grocery stores. Anywhere -everywhere.  It’s not ideal, and Virginia Woolf’s famous quote from her essay A Room of One’s Own still resonates but I’m making good progress.

What’s on the horizon ?

I’m currently writing the closing chapters of a new novel American Scandal . It’s a crime story set in Los Angeles featuring an all female punk band, and a fast -thinking mean- mouthed  street-smart female mobster, and entertainment  impresario. The book looks at the ugliness lurking behind the celebrity fuelled New Age posturing, and post modern spangle. Some of the characters struggle for identity, and there is an eruption of racism that threatens the fairy tale promise of the American Dream .  Everyone’s making deals, and payoffs . Venal reaming makes the world go round. Whether it’s law, sex, or money they all  hunger for their fifteen minutes- but riches, and status- changing fame always come at a price.

Any pearls of wisdom for your readers?

Ha! Wisdom comes from experience, not interviews. Just pray your liver holds out!

What’s your current book about and why should we read it ?

Crack Apple and Pop (published by Fahrenheit 13 an impress of Fahrenheit Press) is a prime slice of Brit  Noir.  A crime story set in the glitzy streets of London.  A city of artful dodgers, yardie gangsters, kinky aristos, cocaine -dusted starlets, demi -celebs, and social thrill seekers where everyone’s hustling, and everyone’s getting high. A city where money creates its’ own morality.  It may intrigue, disgust, and shock ! Like discovering a bleeding  pinkie  in a velvet -ribbed chocolate box.  Lurking beneath the flashy real estate,  high end boutiques and bright lights are some of the most debauched,  dangerous and dirty  parts of subterranean London . The novel offers a back stage pass to the sleazy machinations of the city’s connivers puppeteers and fixers. Reading about it imminently more fun than living it!

 

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sairaviola

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saira.viola/

Website: http://sairaviola.net/

Amazon Author Page

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** My thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Your life is in his hands.

In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness of your living room. As soon as you get home, he will kill you – hang you by the neck – and make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

He knows your darkest secrets.
The police are running out of time. DCI Matilda Darke is facing her worst nightmare: a serial killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice, whose campaign of violence is spreading fear throughout the city.

And he is closer than you think.
As the body count rises, Matilda is personally targeted and even her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This was a series that I discovered mid way through thanks to a brilliant friend, Kate over at Bibliophile Book Club has raved about this series and actually starred in one of the books, though I hasten to add, it was only her name and not her actions.

DCI Matilda Darke is pitted against a serial killer who is on a mission to serve punishment to criminals who have tried to forget their murky pasts and move on with their lives. This killer is ruthless, dangerous and one that really makes Darke’s team work for clues about his identity, he always seems to be one step ahead, taunting the police with knowledge they don’t seem to have been aware of.

I have to admit, the sound of this killer had me chilled to the bone and the frantic pacing of the plot gave a wonderfully thrilling edge to this read and made it almost impossible to put it down. Clever use of narration for different perspectives gives readers a glimpse into the minds of the victims, something that makes this book stand out.

Wood is an author that I will be sure to keep a watchful eye out for. His style of writing is punchy, exciting and thrilling. The characters are so multidimensional and draw emotion from the reader so easily, it’s hard not to connect with various aspects of the plot or the plights of certain characters. As for the unveiling of the mystery killer … completely floored! I didn’t see it coming, and that made it much more shocking! I salute you Mr Wood, and look forward to reading your next book!

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** My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews.  But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

My Thoughts & Review:

I am a huge fan of stories with a setting in WWII, and so when this book popped up on my radar I instantly added it to the ever growing list of books I’d like to read. It is part of a set by the publisher of “Hands on History” books, an entertaining and enjoyable way of bringing historical tales to the hands of children. The other books in the series look just as promising and I have already added these to my mountainous list to buy.

Leo’s War is set in Italy during the Italian Campaign of WWII, where many people took measures to rise up against the Fascists and Nazis. One such person who made it a mission to subvert the ruling forces was Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a man that would have a pivotal role in the life of young Leo and his sister Ruby.
One night Leo’s mother is arrested at their home, and being like any young adventurous hero, Leo takes the decision to head to Rome with is disabled sister to seek safety and the mysterious Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. All he has is a name, a location and tune to whistle … what could possibly go wrong? As the youngsters make their way under the cover of darkness, they have little idea of how truly dangerous their journey could be or who they might encounter.
Eventually they do reach Rome and make contact with the Monsignor, what then follows is a tense and often anxious ride to the end of the war in Italy.

Leo is a character that I think many readers will take an instant liking to, his personality is such that it’s hard not to. He has a kind heart and loves his mother and sister dearly, his main concern throughout is the safety of those around him and not once takes a moment to think for himself, quite commendable really. He does at times struggle with the decisions that other characters make, not able to perhaps see “the bigger picture”, his youthful naivety colouring his thinking. He takes to helping those who need to escape without a second thought, and some of the scrapes he gets into are enough to have you gasping in horror or chuckling in admiration. But as much as I adored Leo, I have to admit that Ruby was the one that stole my heart, something about her just made dazzle me. Whether it was her determination to be heard or perhaps just the stories she told, she really brought out a side of characters in this book that made them more human, more real. I cannot ramble this far and not mention the wonderfully cunning yet sneaky Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a truly remarkable man for what he did to help those in desperate need. His actions saved so many lives and the depiction of him in Leo’s War makes him such a easy character to connect with.

The writing is fantastic, the pace of the story is such that no matter how many times you say “just one more chapter”, you will end up racing through the book eager to see what happens next. The language used throughout makes this suitable for children and teenagers, as well as grown ups.
It’s an exiting and enjoyable read that educates on an aspect of WWII that many might not have much knowledge about, and more importantly it highlights the work of a truly remarkable figure from history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Absolutely cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I cannot wait to see what the other books in the Hands on History series are like!

You can buy a copy of Leo’s War via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository
Poolbeg
Easons

 

There is a giveaway running on this blog tour, the prize is a £30.00 Amazon gift voucher (this is however only open to UK entries).

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link

 

About the Author:

 Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.patriciamurphyonline.com

Twitter: @_PatriciaMurphy

Facebook – h https://www.facebook.com/Leos-War-Irelands-Secret-World-War-2-Hero-714055598929732

Facebook  –  https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/

 

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing is a book that came to be via a family member, a book that appealed to her and she wanted to pass it on to a fellow craft fanatic and reader.


Book Feature:

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** My thanks to the awesome Nicolpops* for my copy of this book **

Description:

This chic-lit debut is a must for knitters and crafters alike.

Claire can’t understand why her life, and her knitting, has suddenly started to unravel. Her new friend, Adrian, owner of the local wool shop Oddballs offers to help tame her woolly woes, and offers further support as she tries to get the other parts of her life back on track – one aspect being, her love life…

This humorous yarn is for the perfect antidote to cold, winter nights, and a how-to guide for online dating.

My Thoughts & Review:

When my brother’s partner sent me a message to say that she’d picked up a copy of this book in the wool shop that she works in I was intrigued, why was a wool shop selling a book? But the best part of her message was did I want to read the book after her!

Unravelled is a lovely story centred around a young woman named Claire who is at a stage in life where things have started to go wrong, a fork in the road in a way. Having just got out of a relationship that really wasn’t right for her, she is struggling to adjust to life as a singleton and looks for her closest friend for advice. At least she still has her job and her knitting, the two things in her life that she can depend on … or at least she could until her knitting started to let her down. Her purls and knits no longer work, her yarn doesn’t weave the way that it should and the skill she once was so proud of seems to have deserted her.

A chance meeting in a bookshop changes things for her, a new friendship opens a world of possibilities for her, but it takes time for her to embrace the changes and open her heart and eyes.

The writing is enjoyable and laugh out loud humorous, it’s the sort of book that you can curl up with and happily while away the hours.
Delightfully colourful characters make this quite a quirky read, and I have to say, I’ve never encountered a knitting group quite like those ladies, but I would absolutely love to spend a few hours and cuppas with them! This coupled with the descriptions of the wool shop and various knitting projects really had me itching to cast on my next project!

At the heart of this book is a love story and as is the way with life, things never run smoothly. I found that I became frustrated with the actions and thoughts of some characters, but this is a reflection of the skill of the author, creating personalities that a reader can connect with, become so invested in, that they feel the desire to shake the characters for not seeing what’s infront of them.

Unravelled really is a great book, and perfect for the wool addict and craft fanatic.

You can buy a copy of Unravelled via:

Hall Good Books (publisher)
Amazon UK

Author Feature:

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Author image and bio courtesy of author’s blog

 

 

Briony Marshall is an up and coming author from the West Midlands in the UK. She is a graduate from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Creative & Professional Writing with English. Briony currently lives at home with her Mom, Dad and boyfriend. When Briony is not writing she’s knitting and when she’s not knitting she’s drinking coffee. Her debut novel is to be published in 2017 and Briony looks forward to the adventures this will bring.

 

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

The fact that I can unleash my creativity in a way that I feel truly satisfied. I’ve been a story teller ever since I was a little girl and I love it. The fact I now get to share my stories with the world is an amazing feeling!

 What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

Writer’s Block. I suppose this is a common answer for many authors. But for me, balancing the day job and the author life can be testing as it is, but there is nothing more infuriating than a looming deadline, a very tight, very specific writing schedule and a huge bout of writer’s block! Having a blank mind and just staring at a clean page is so daunting, I’d say that is my least favourite thing.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Aww, this is such a difficult question for me, there’s so many to choose from! If I could only choose one it would have to be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; the glamour, the period, the feel of that story, the plot itself. I remember reading that book so vividly, especially my reactions when reading certain parts. I’ll never forget it. That book may be small, but it is mighty!

(P.S: I also think The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson are works of art. Oh and if I’d be sticking within my own “genre” The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella without a doubt, to me she is a Queen! As is Marian Keyes whilst we’re at it. Okay, I’ll stop now, promise!)

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I am an avid knitter and crocheter, so I’ll most likely be creating something woolly and wonderful. However, with our recent bout of sunny weather I’ve been more inclined to put down the needles and hook in favour of a book. I love reading chick lit or anything with a good plot twist. I’m currently reading Nevermind from the Patrick Melrose series by Edmund St Aubryn and loving it. His use of imagery is incredible.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

My most productive time of the day is before lunch and a good breakfast is also a  great start for productivity! So on a good writing day I’ll probably be the first one up and about. I also need silence to write, so I’ve been taking full advantage of the beautiful mornings we’ve been having and writing in the garden. I always like to write with a coffee to hand too. A lot of my rituals centralise around food and drink, don’t they?!

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

I  recently sent off the synopsis for book two to my publisher, so all being well I’ll be starting work on that any day now. Besides that I have plenty more novel ideas in mind, both with and without wool, so watch this space!

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it? 

Unravelled is my debut novel and was my baby for over ten years! It’s a hybrid fiction crossing together the genres of; chick lit, romance, comedy and knitting fiction! It’s the story of boy meets girl with a unique twist and a “will they, won’t they” plot that will keep you guessing until the very end. I feel like everyone has got a little bit of a Claire inside of them, so I feel it’s a very relatable tale that can give a reader that feel good factor.

If you’re looking for a cutesy read to make you giggle and feel all fuzzy inside, Unravelled is the novel for you!

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 

Love who you are. No one else can tell you how you should feel or act, that’s all down to you. Embrace it and smile!

 

Social Media Links:

Blog: https://brionymarshallauthor.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/brionywrites
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymarshallauthor/

 

A huge thank you to Briony for taking part today and sharing a little about herself, it’s always lovely getting to know more about authors and their writing processes. How exciting about book two, looking forward to hearing more about that  (and even better if it contains wool!).

 

 

 

*Nicolpops is a family member and not connected to the author or publisher in any way.  She is also an amazing illustrator, please do check out her website!

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C. Wilson, I am thrilled to be able to share a post about including time slip elements in novels.

 

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Description:

The fireplace hadn’t looked like a time-portal.
All Kate had wanted was a fun, relaxing day out, watching the knights jousting at Nottingham Castle. What she ended up with was something quite different.
Transported in a heartbeat from 2011 to 1485, how will Kate handle life at the Ricardian court? Even more importantly, how will she cope when she catches the eye of the king himself?

You can buy a copy of The Last Plantagenet via Amazon

 

This is the first time I’ve tried incorporating a timeslip element into my writing, but I don’t think it will be the last. In The Last Plantagenet?, Kate ends up slipping from 2011 to 1485, with the majority of the tale set in the latter timeframe. To make things slightly easier for me, as a first-time time-traveller, I decided to reduce the amount of back-and-forth, so I wouldn’t get myself (or any future readers!) confused. I’ve read some great examples where characters have hints of timeslip in each chapter, or move between times, but it was too great a challenge straight away.

The biggest challenge for me was finding a way to demonstrate that modern life was intruding in Kate’s 1485 reality, without it sounding too contrived, and happily, the answer came out of a conversation at writing group, and fitted perfectly both with the medieval elements, and 2011’s story. I can’t go giving away what it is here though, can I?

Apart from that, I really wanted to make sure I got my timings right in 1485. I have a book detailing Richard’s last 100 days, showing where he was on each of those days, when he was travelling, and what he was up to. Helpfully, being a king, that was recorded in good detail, but I still managed to get myself in a muddle on one day, which managed to have three mornings and two evenings! My poor characters didn’t have a clue what they were doing, constantly waking up and going to bed, without any change in day! Clearly time-travel wasn’t a problem, just spending a whole day in a single time-zone, and basic counting… Once this was cracked though, having the outline of where the court was each day made plotting the tale easier, having that skeleton to hang my story on. Somehow, having the fantasy element of timeslip included, made me even more concerned that I was getting the history right. So, when Richard III went on a hunting trip, practically a holiday, just days before Bosworth, that’s exactly where his court went in The Last Plantagenet? It also gave me the perfect opportunity to reference one of my favourite ever films, the magnificent Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, so I could hardly ignore that.

Moving forwards, I’ve decided to have another go at timeslip, but this time, to build more of the back-and-forth element into it. For this, I think a LOT of plotting will be required, to make sure the timelines match up. I’m anticipating plenty of post-it notes, timelines on long sheets of paper, and breaking my rule of a lifetime and working in silence for a change. I’ll let you know how it goes!

About the Author:

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon

Social Media Links:

Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

 

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Barbara Henderson’s latest novel Wilderness Wars, an eco thriller set on a Scottish island. And if this wasn’t brilliant enough, Barbara has also written a guest piece for today’s stop on the tour “The Supernatural in Wilderness Wars”.

Wilderness Wars Ebook Cover with Quote

** My thanks to the lovely folks at Cranachan Books and Barbara Henderson for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take par in the blog tour **

 

Description:

What if nature fights back?

Still in a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.
And, far in the distance, a misty outline.
Skelsay.
Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.
And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em, and her friend Zac, realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can Em and Zac persuade the adults to believe it before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit to being a huge fan of Barbara Henderson’s writing, I have been since I read her first book Fir for Luck. There’s a richness in the words that she skillfully weaves together to paint a vivid picture of the story playing out before your eyes.
Like in each of her books, strong characters come to life from the pages and lead readers on a merry adventure through the book.

Em is a young lass who has moved with her family, and several other people to an uninhabited island named Skelsay with the plan of building a luxury hotel and holiday resort. Immediately I felt a connection with Em, something about this feisty young girl made my heart soar with pride. She’s not too happy about the family’s move, she wanted to stay in Glasgow, not move to a remote island, especially not to cramped living quarters or being cooped up with her annoying little brother so much. There’s something in Em’s personality that readers will be able to connect with, she struggles to comprehend the adult world and the decisions they make at times. Whilst she’s not an adult, she does have the makings of a mature head on her young shoulders, demonstrating that she can understand the importance of doing or saying the right thing at times.

As you might expect from the description of the book, the atmospheric setting plays a very important part in the tale. The vivid imagery conjures a bleak yet intriguing landscape and as the construction work gets underway, it’s not hard to envision the various changes to the surroundings. The way that nature takes on a sinister edge makes this such a gripping read, is the wilderness really turning on the construction workers and their families? Is this all in the imagination of Em and her new friend Zac?

The plotting is exciting and the intrigue interwoven throughout makes this the sort of book that you want to race through to find out how it’s all going to come together, find out what lies ahead. It’s a truly remarkable novel and one that I would heartily recommend to readers old and young.

You can buy a copy of Wilderness Wars via:

Cranachan Publishing
Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

Guest post by Barbara Henderson:

Unbelievable!

A supernatural eco-thriller? For children?

It’s not the genre that would spring to mind when scanning through the 9-12 Market, the readership most likely to read and enjoy my books. Does it need a supernatural element at all?

For large chunks of Wilderness Wars, nothing supernatural happens at all – The workforce moves to the island and spend time setting themselves up as a community: tidying and arranging and organising their lives. Beginning to form a routine. The mishaps and accidents, at the beginning at least, feel utterly commonplace, as if the islanders are simply beset by a little bit of bad luck.

But bad luck on its own does not make for a compelling story. It’s simply not enough. Barry Cunningham, the publisher who famously gave a wee manuscript called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone its first break, has said that the single most important feature he looks for in a story is ‘a formidable opponent’.

There are one or two characters who might fall into this category, but the core idea of the novel ‘What if nature fights back’ requires that the wilderness itself become the opponent, the threat, the one who has it in for my characters.

It is a formidable enemy: Weather, land, sea, plants and creatures unite in my book in a single purpose: to force the tiny workforce of construction workers and their families off this island once and for all. This requires a considerable jump in the imagination: I am asking the reader to suspend their disbelief, and to accept that the whole of the natural world can co-ordinate itself to fight back, to draw the line, and to say: this far and no further.

And yet, is a simple enough concept, and one that readers, so far, have engaged with pretty readily. Just like in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, where the liquid turns a range of colours and the transformation into the monster simply happens. Readers aren’t giving scientific facts: they are given an outcome, and the outcome is the only thing which matters.

The only other flash of the supernatural in Wilderness Wars is Em’s vision. She has a vivid dream of the worst possible outcome, if the adults do not agree to leave the island. Step by step, the various of her vision appear in real life, and she now understands the inevitable destruction which awaits. It sets up the final climax of the novel, a life and death sort of jeopardy which, I hope, propels the reader forward.

Without the supernatural component, it would be a story of predictable morality: look after your environment, respect the wilderness. Yawn, yah-de-yah – a lecture book with no drama.

On the other hand, with the terrifying concept that you have incurred the wrath of the whole natural world around you, it becomes a tense survival story, a chase, a war. There are battle lines and strategies, and ultimately, a final showdown. It delivers all the lessons and provokes all the thinking the boring version would, but subtly hidden within A BARRAGE OF DRAMATIC LIFE AND DEATH ACTION.

I know which version I’d rather read!

 

About the Author: rpt

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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** My thanks to the folks at HarperCollins for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

My Thoughts & Review:

Billed as being a book that fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale might like, this is step into a dystopian America in the not too distant future. A future that sees the freedom of speech severely restricted for those possessing XX chromosomes. Females are fitted with a device that counts the words they use, but they are limited to 100 words per day. The penalty for exceeding this limit is severe and acts as a deterrent for most, a thousand volts of electricity jolting through the veins the consequence.

Jean McClellan is one of the women who wears a counter and is becoming increasingly frustrated and angered by the regime. She worries about the sort of world that her young daughter is growing up in, she worries for the indoctrination of her eldest son, but the most alarming thing is the acceptance of the silence.

The very idea of limiting communication highlights just how important language is. By implementing a means of controlling the use of language, the powers that be are effectively silencing those who disagree with their ethics and methods. Removing women from the workforce, limiting their access to funds and electronics almost returns them to a pre 1950 state, women being the ones who remain at home to raise a family and run the household, regardless of the fact that many of the women held respected positions within society prior to the current administration being in place.

Characterisation is what really made this book stand out for me. Jean never really believed in what the Pure Society spouted. Her place was in the lab working on a cure for aphasia (impairment of the brain impacting on the ability to speak or use language). Her work was important to her and she loved what she did. The introduction of the daily word counters means she has to choose her words wisely, pick which conversations are worth taking part in and when it is wise to defer to her husband to ‘have a word’ with their sons. Her determination to be heard was brilliant, and I think many readers will feel a connection with her and begin to think about what action they might take if in the same position.

Such a powerful and thought provoking read, it’s one that stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

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As it’s Friday I am delighted to share another post with you to celebrate independent publishing.  Today’s post features a book that is so different from any other I’ve read recently.  The book in question is Orchard View by Deborah Miles, and Deborah has kindly taken some time out to answer some questions about the ups and downs of being an author.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house.

Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace.

“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision.

But had they?

His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Orchard View intrigued me from the moment I heard about it, the book suggested a puzzling mystery and a tale quite different.

Have you ever read a book where the setting has felt like a character in the story? It seems to take on a persona that comes to life through the narrative? Well in this book, the house at the centre of the tale, Orchard View takes on a leading role. Interestingly readers get to “hear” the thoughts of the house as various events take place over the years and this really adds something different to the book and made it stand out to me. The old saying “if these walls could talk” really comes into play when you see the house wishing it could speak up about the bones that are discovered early on in the story.

The story is told through a series of recollections of the inhabitants of the house and those connected with it. The really interesting part for me was that the house seemed to have strong opinions of the people and most definitely a favourite family. To keep the stories linked, Miles uses the voice of the house and the presence of the neighbour next door, so that no matter what year it is in the story and which residents are staying in the house there is always something to connect them.
It’s pretty true that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and you might not always know your neighbours as well as you might think, and this book really reinforces that notion.

It’s quite hard to review this book without giving anything away, there are things I would love to point out about characters or the way that the plot weaves together but that might inadvertently give something away! I will say that the characters are well thought up and there may or may not be ones that get under your skin, have you wanting to shout and have you wondering about them. This is the sort of read that I found impossible to put down and once I’d finished reading it, it was still running through my head.

You can buy a copy of Orchard View via Amazon UK

 

 

Author Feature:

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Author bio & image courtesy of Amazon UK

Deborah Miles is married with three grown-up children and lives in Kent.

She has worked in banking, tourism, education and social services, and has hosted international students for over 30 years.

Her interests include: genealogy, self-improvement, home computing, web design, D.I.Y/gardening, pen friends and writing.

Deborah is independently published and created the imprint Against the Flow Press for her first novel, Orchard View.

Deborah always enjoys hearing from readers!

 

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I find writing can be very therapeutic. It’s great to get my frustrations down on paper and then turn them into fiction that others might enjoy reading. I love creating my characters, and sometimes I get so attached to them that I change the storyline for them.  I also love finding ways to kill them, and my Google search history is quite alarming!

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

I have a story in my head at the minute, but current events in my personal life are preventing me from sitting down and writing it, and what I have got down on paper so far, is not what I wanted to write. I’ve got a couple of issues with the plausibility of the story. I have discussed my storyline with a solicitor friend, and she came up with a completely different, legal way of achieving what I wanted to do in the story, but somehow that isn’t working for me. I feel like I’m banging my head at a brick wall, trying to get the story written the way I want to write it.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Ask me this question on another day, and you’d probably get a different answer. Today it would be Donna Siggers’ novel Broken. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and some scenes and characters are still playing on my mind.  It’s the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait for Part 2. I considered answering A Good Night’s Sleep by Stefanie Simpson, but despite it being one of the best indie books I’ve read, it’s a tad racy for my pen.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I was recently given a Fitbit, and spend a lot of time walking on the spot whilst reading ebooks on my tablet. It looks silly as it sounds, and I don’t really like anyone in the room while I’m doing it, but I’ve lost 11lbs so far so that’s got to be good for me.  When not writing, I review books on my blog, againsttheflowpress.blogspot.co.uk. I am currently enjoying novels by other indie authors, but I read traditionally published books too.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I suppose I would have to answer ‘yes’ to this question. I like a calm, neat and tidy area to work in. Ideally I want to be on my own in the house. Even the cat can be a distraction! The room I work in is also important. Last year I moved my desktop into the den at the front of the house, but found I didn’t like that room. It felt wrong and stifled my creativity. So I moved it back, and immediately felt my creative juices flow again. I must have my housework jobs and other tasks done before I can sit down to write. I suppose that is my way of clearing my mind of any potential interrupting thoughts.

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

My next book has a working title of The Legacy. I am writing the back-story for the deceased at the minute.  Basically it’s about greedy relatives expecting an inheritance. There are a number of murders committed by someone who hopes to increase their share of the estate and a twist of the tale at the end. In Orchard View, I tell readers upfront who the killer is, but I haven’t decided yet whether or not to reveal the identity of the killer at the beginning this time.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it? 

My debut novel is called Orchard View. Without giving too much away, it tells the story of a house and its various occupants from 1960 through to 1996. Orchard View is the name of the house and I see the house with strong female characteristics – maternal, nurturing and protective. She has her own voice in the story, and comments on some of the situations that occur. The story begins in 1996 when the current owner, a builder, finds some human bones in the garden.  We learn quite quickly the identity of the killer, and what happens to the builder, and others, as a consequence of his find. I don’t think it’s too dark, but it does underline that we do not know our neighbours as well as we might think!

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 

Consider reading something by an indie author. There are some truly gifted writers out there who are not traditionally published. And, if you like what you read, then help them out by leaving a review, or at the very least a rating.

 

Social Media Links:

Blog: http://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahMiles7
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/againsttheflowpress/

 

A huge thank you to Deborah for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing and sharing her thoughts about writing. I have to admit, I have been known to march on the spot when I’m doing the ironing or cooking, although I’ve not tried it whilst reading … yet!

 

 

 

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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

Harriet has begun to despair of her life.

With a failed relationship behind her, a business on the rocks and a flat that’s falling apart around her ears, she could really use some luck.

Elena Banbury, née Guseva, an elderly but imposing Russian woman who is Harriet’s neighbour and landlady, frequently entertains the punters at Harriet’s jewellery stall with tales of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the treasures of Fabergé. But Harriet sometimes feels, guiltily, that she could do without the endless errands that seem to fall to her as Elena’s friend.

Then, unexpectedly, when Elena dies, she leaves all her worldly goods to a grateful Harriet. In time, however, it becomes clear that others are shocked by Harriet’s good luck, too. Shocked… and very, very unhappy.

Challenged in court by Elena’s family who live in Berlin, Harriet is forced to give up her inheritance and long-dreamed-of plans for a new business, and start her life again. But with her reputation in tatters and the memory of Elena tainted, Harriet knows a great injustice has been done.

Against the advice of her friends, family and lawyers, Harriet sets off on her own, very singular journey to Berlin.

In the weeks that follow she meets rich and poor, the glamorous and the criminal, the honest and the secretive, and begins to see that perhaps she has something to learn from them all. Something to learn about herself, and something to learn about her priorities.

She knows she has to fight for justice. But, when she meets the scholarly, perceptive Neil, who generously tries to help Harriet in her mission, but who is struggling with a complicated marriage, she must also decide if she’ll fight for love, too.

My Thoughts & Review:

A Single Journey is a character drive novel that weaves together tales from differing timelines. The book opens in 1933 with Elena and her mother fleeing Paris, fearing the dangerous Russians who had already killed her father, before moving to modern day London where readers meet Harriet.

Elena from the epilogue became an old woman that delighted and entertained the customers at Harriet’s jewellery stall, helping to turn curious glances at pieces into sales, or making sure that prices left Harriet a little room for profit. Elena’s tales from her Russian childhood often making for a fascinating back story on a piece of jewellery for sale.  Sadly, it’s only upon Elena’s death that Harriet finds out more about this woman she knew of as her landlord and friend, not realising just how much she had meant to her.
Harriet inherits Elena’s estate which is a huge surprise for her and those around her, but Elena’s family in Berlin are not happy about this turn of events and soon take matters to court, forcing Harriet to give up the inheritance.
Picking up the pieces of her life after this humiliation, Harriet heads off to Berlin, chasing a mystery. And what she discovers changes how she sees things, her determination to see justice done and do the right thing leads her out of her comfort zone but it makes for an interesting read.

The historical details woven throughout the tales certainly make this quite an intriguing read and I have to admit to being fascinated by some of the things I read. The harrowing
events make for compelling reading.
Well defined characters really help readers get a good grasp on the plot, and whilst there are numerous characters, the author has taken the time to ensure that they stand out to the reader. You get a good feel for the personalities that are part of this book, which I think makes this such an enthralling read.
Pace wise, I would say that this is more of a “slow burn” type read, but it works well with the mystery element of the plot.

You can buy a copy of A Single Journey via Amazon UK

 

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Welcome along to another Friday here on The Quiet Knitter, and I am delighted to share an author feature with you! The author in the spotlight today is the lovely Kate Vane, so grab a cuppa and join us for a wee chat!


Author Feature:

kate vane author image

Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

 

 

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I feel like I’m always learning. With each new book I’m asking a question – a series of questions – which I can’t yet answer. Whether it’s research, or craft, or the mysterious world of the imagination, it’s curiosity that drives me.

I also enjoy developing business skills as an indie author. I actually like tinkering with spreadsheets and data and finding my way round new software!

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

I love the freedom and independence of being indie but it can also be a burden. It means you’re responsible for everything and don’t have colleagues to fall back on. Having said that there’s a great indie author community online and I get buoyed up by the fantastic book bloggers who I’ve got to know both as a reader and an author.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

That’s hard! Ruth Rendell’s Barbara Vine novels were a big influence on me when I started writing. In terms of recent novels, I’d be very happy if I could write something like London Rules by Mick Herron. I love the combination of strong characterisation, twisty plot, dark humour and sharp observation of contemporary events. And he writes beautiful prose as well.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I love gardening. We have a small pond and some bird feeders – and a few untidy areas – to encourage wildlife. I also like walking. We’re lucky to live right by the coastal path in South Devon.

Other than that, it’s mainly reading, audiobooks, podcasts and the occasional TV box set!

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I don’t go in for rituals but I think routine is good. It gets you in the right frame of mind. I like to be up early and to write first thing. I try not to go online until my morning break, and then I go back to writing.

After lunch I generally do other tasks – writing blog posts, reviewing, marketing etc. Depending on what else I’m doing, I may do a second stint of creative work late afternoon or early evening.

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

I used to be superstitious about discussing work in progress but I suppose after four novels I can be more confident that I’ll finish what I start! My main project is the first novel in a series, which features two minor characters from Brand New Friend.

Tilda Green is an activist news blogger, and Freddie Stone is an old-school crime reporter. I thought they would make a great combination with their contrasting interests, strengths – and of course flaws!

In the new novel a murder which provokes a vocal online response but leaves a community saying nothing leads them to join forces to work on the story.

I’ve also got a back-burner project – a humorous mystery novel set near my home, in Torquay. It’s fun to work on and gives me a break from the other book which is much grittier.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 

I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro technique – where you do work in timed sprints. I’ve also started timing my social media use. If the clock is ticking while you’re on Twitter or whatever, you soon decide whether that article on what a commentator you’ve never heard of said about a random celebrity’s response to a politician’s Instagram feed is really a good use of your precious minutes or just an excuse to avoid working!

 

A huge thank you to Kate for joining me today, it was wonderful to get an insight into her writing process and find out more about her new book (which I will have to add to my groaning mountain of books to read). I love the idea of writing in timed sprints and have seen it used to good effect by academics (namely my sister in law), wonder if that might work with writing reviews!?

 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook: /k8vane

 

 

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

Wherever Paolo went, Claire had got there first. The gigs, the parties, the enigmatic artist he was sure he was in love with. He would never have joined the group if it hadn’t been for Claire. And maybe, if he hadn’t, no one would have died.

Journalist Paolo Bennett learns that Mark, an animal rights activist he knew as a student in the 80s, has been exposed as a former undercover cop. A news blog claims Mark was the fabled spy who never went back, who liked his new life better than his own.

Paolo wants the truth. He wants the story. Despite everything, he wants to believe his friend. But Mark isn’t making it easy for him, disappearing just as everyone wants answers.

Was their group linked to a death on campus, one the police were strangely reluctant to investigate? Why is Mark’s police handler lying dead in his garden?

And why does Paolo suspect, even now, that Claire knows more than he does?

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/brandnewfriend

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