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Celebrating Indie Publishing today sees The Quiet Knitter link up with Random Things Tours and Orenda Books, joining the blog tour for the latest publication by the indie publisher. Beton Rouge is the second book in the Chastity Riley series by Simone Buchholz and was published in ebook in December 2018, paperback publication is set for February 2019.

** My thanks to Orenda Books for my review copy of this book, and Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

Description:

On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.

Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.

A smart, dark, probing thriller, full of all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the very best noir, Beton Rouge is both a classic whodunit and a scintillating expose of society, by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

My Thoughts:

Following the success of book one of the series, Dark Night, Simone Buchholz is back with the second offering in the German Noir series. Translation by Rachel Ward is once again on top form, none of the nuances of the German language feel that they have been lost in translation, making this feel like a wonderful cultural exploration as well as gritty crime thriller.

So Chastity Riley is back, and I am thrilled to see that she hasn’t changed between the books. There’s something so rich and entertaining about this character, her acerbic wit and and sharp tongue making for some wonderful exchanges between characters and internal monologues.

Not only is characterisation strong in this book, the plotting is superb. Buchholz leads her on a journey through the pages that twists and weaves expertly into the darkness of an individual who is hellbent on making a point with the torture and caging of two men. What is the motive behind these disturbing actions? Who is the unknown assailant carrying out these acts? What connects the victims? And how does it all tie in with the hit and run that Chastity Riley discovers in the opening chapter of the book?
The way that the strands of the plot pull together, coupled with short chapters and punchy writing, makes this a quick read. I found that I read this in one evening, racing through the pages to make connections and find out the links between the cases and the identity of the of the menacing figure obscured by the shadows.

Dark Night, the first book of the series was published in 2018. For those who are new to the series, you could read this straightaway, but I do think to get a better grasp of the protagonist and her motivations, her relationships with some of the characters, this is a series that merits being read in order. The writing is vividly detailed, readers can “see” the scenes that Chastity and partner Ivo witness, they get a great sense of the emotions that Chastity experiences, and feel immersed fully in the story.
The cover image of the book is simple but effective, giving readers a fantastic visual prompt, just such a powerful image and one that works perfectly with the writing.

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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 Roz White, so grab a cuppa and join us for a wee chat!

Roz has written several books, including a Steampunk Phantasy (book two is currently in progress) and the Sisterhood series which follows the lives of five transwomen. The Sisterhood is the first book of the series and was published in 2015, you can purchase a digital copy via Amazon UK.


Author image & bio from Amazon

Author Feature:

I’ve been writing stories since my earliest memories: my first masterpiece was two pages of foolscap – with illustrations – about a television programme of the time, and contained more uses of the word “then” than any other. I’d like to think I’ve improved just a little since then; after all, I was only about five.
So, where to really begin? I’m already in my fifties, although I’ve no idea when that happened! I’m British, English by birth and currently Scottish by residence: I’ve been here for over fourteen years now. Until the start of 2018 I lived on a remote island that requires me to commute by ferry for the day job – one of the best journeys to and from work in the world, surely! My output over the last twenty years or so has included over a dozen novels and a handful of non-fiction texts, the latter being well-known in their academic field – something of a boasting point, I’m afraid! There have also been magazine articles and short stories scattered here and there. Some are on here under the pen-name of H. A. Douglas.
Now, I live in Invergordon, and work out of Inverness. I have lost my ferry-time along with a great deal else (long story, but it’ll make it into a book one day), so now Sunday tends to be Writing Day, and I can take all day, too.
However… if you look for some of these other books under my name, you won’t find them, and here we come to the part of this biography that, for all my years of dealing with it, I still don’t seem to have any proper sort of handle on.
I am transgendered. There, I said it! I am biologically male, psychologically feeling more and more female (whatever that means, but it feels that way to me) as the years go by. My writing allows me a useful window to explore this side of me, and undoubtedly helps keep me close to some semblance of sanity. My family (I’m married with children) are aware of this side of me, and have accepted it without question since the Great Secret coming out – for which I am incredibly, totally, grateful.
I have been full-time and in transition since March 2017. It’s a long process with a lot of waiting and far too much NHS Gate-keeping, Jumping Through Hoops and so forth.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
Telling stories! It’s something I’ve always done, ever since my earliest years – even pre-school. My second favourite thing is the assembling of all the separate chapters and seeing the whole thing finally come together.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  
Not making any money from it! In all seriousness, that’s the Big Thing: I’d love to make a living doing this, and it hurts like anything that I don’t seem able to. On a good month, my royalties from my 20+ books might, if I’m lucky, buy me a bottle of cheap plonk…

If you could have written any book what would it be and why? 
Ooh, tricky! The thing is, if I had written them, then they wouldn’t be that book anymore, would they! Films are worse: I often sit watching them and think “it’s not what I’d have put in – what about this, or that, that’s barely even touched on?”

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing? 
Well there’s a mortgage to pay… so I work full-time, which after nearly a year involuntarily unemployed, is a relief – the bills are getting attended to again! Hobby-wise, I have too many: model railways in a number of scales and styles, wargaming and figure-painting… I love cooking, and used to brew beer too. I might get back into that if I ever have the money!

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc. 
Not really… I find silence disturbing these days, so the radio is usually on. My current circumstances have dictated that Sundays have become Writing Days, which is a luxury in itself; over Christmas, I had nearly two weeks in the family home (I am forced to live away in order to earn a living) with no real calls on my energies, and I got so much done on the current WIP!

What’s on the horizon? 
Well, my Sisterhood series rumbles on, and I am in the middle of the seventh full novel; I have a novella to revisit in the same series, and that might well grow into another novel. I am concentrating on the second in my Steampunk series right now, since in theory that’s due out first; oh, and my alter-ego H.A. Douglas, who is responsible for the Historical Fiction output, is likely to be busy this year too!

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 
Be open-minded. Try not to judge, or if you find that you have to judge, judge kindly. My Sisterhood  books deal with transgender characters (I am trans myself), and I would hope if anything that they help understand the condition a little better for those on the outside looking in

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

Well… The Challenge of Lady Ghast is my second foray into Steampunk Victoriana, and is due out this year – a mad romp through Vaguely Victorian England! The latest Sisterhood novel, Changes, follows my group of five transwomen as they forge friendships and try to help each other through life’s trials. Gritty, realistic, character-driven fiction that has been very well received by all its readers so far!

A huge thank you to Roz for joining me today for a chat, it’s always an honour to welcome indie authors to share something about their writing, their habits or a sneaky glimpse into their upcoming projects! I have to admit that before today I had never heard of Steampunk Phantasy as a genre, but looking up Roz’s books has me keen to find out more and I’ve bought book one of the series for my Kindle to read soon!

As Roz mentioned above, she also writes under the name H. A. Douglas, these books are Viking based fiction, the series is The Wirhalh Trilogy, and a must read for fans of Viking era tales!

To find out more about Roz and her books, check out her author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Roz-White-1567046250194474/

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** my thanks to Orenda Books for my copy of this and to Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

Description:

What turns a boy into a killer?

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community.  As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has a relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?

My Thoughts:

When I heard that Thomas Enger had another book coming out I was eager to see if he could craft another character that would grab my attention as fully as Henning Juul and he has. In his latest thriller, Enger has brought a whole cast of characters that will haunt readers, that will get under the skin of readers and leave them questioning their motives and actions.

With a timeline that jumps between “then” and “now”, readers witness events in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim, and uncover secrets and suspicion rife in the community. A complex plot coupled with intelligent writing makes this an enthralling read and one that will pull readers in, tempting them to read another chapter, seducing them with the idea that knowledge about the dark secrets lies just ahead.
An atmospheric and often dark setting, Inborn is the sort of book that really has that something extra, that something you can’t quite put your finger on but it works so well.

The characters in this are multidimensional and whilst not always likeable, there is no denying there is a certain magnetism that emanates from them. It is impossible to read this without feeling some form of pull, needing to know more about their pasts, to know what drives them. The style of narration, hearing the voice of Even as he tries to make sense of events past and present, keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
It’s also quite interesting seeing things from the perspective of the investigating police officer, exploring the details of his private life as well as in a professional light. Without a doubt, he’s a character I would love to encounter in another book.
This all culminates in a truly thought provoking read that poses many questions to the reader, asking them what they believe, who they believe and how inexplicably connected the lives of the villagers are.

Follow the blog tour!

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Today I am thrilled to be able to share a review of a book that has recently been republished by Bloodhound Books. The book in question is A Fractured Winter by the lovely Alison Baillie, a chilling and menacing thriller that utterly grabs the reader from the outset and doesn’t let go!

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

Description:
When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide?
From the outside, Olivia seems to lead an idyllic existence with her husband and children. But when she starts receiving notes, she knows her perfect life is under threat.
She thought she’d managed to put the past behind her, but someone seems determined to reveal her secret.
Meanwhile, girls are vanishing in the area and Olivia fears for her family’s safety.
Has someone discovered the real reason she left Scotland all those years ago?
And does her secret have links to the recent disappearances?
When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide?

Fractured Winter is a compelling and suspenseful psychosocial mystery it will appeal to fans of authors like LJ Ross, Lesley Kara and Faith Martin

My Thoughts:

There are books that you start reading and hate to put down, and then there are the books that that you will read whilst cooking supper and risk burning everything because you are totally entranced by the story.

This is a tense and clever thriller that leeches a menacing chill, and that’s not just from the crisp vivid Swiss setting.
Olivia on the face of things seems to have it all, the perfect family, the perfect home, but the appearance of a sinister note on day starts a catastrophic spiral that leaves her feeling like she’s lost control of her life.  The note hints that someone knows about her past, knows the real reason she left Scotland a decade ago, and Olivia cannot bear to face that.  If this wasn’t enough, the safety of her Swiss mountain is challenged when a young girl goes missing, Sandra,  is the best friend of her young daughter which makes Olivia feel so much more connected to the disappearance.

The way that Alison Baillie writes about Olivia’s emotions makes them so tangible, as a mother I could appreciate how our main character wanted to protect her children, no matter their age, from the dangers of the world.  I could sympathise with the way that she was distressed at Sandra’s disappearance, and how it left her fraught with anxiety and drove her to be cautious about her children’s travels to and from school etc. Olivia’s worries about the sinister notes and her past are wonderfully written, readers cannot quite “see” the full details yet, but nonetheless they know that something menacing lurks in the shadows. And as we get to know Olivia more, we can understand her actions and begin to see how she has ended up in this position.

The tale of Olivia and her life in Switzerland is superbly told along side stories of two other females, Marie and Lucy.  Both Marie and Lucy have their troubles and hardships, and it’s hard not to feel some sympathy towards them when you discover the lives they lead.  Indeed, I found at one point that I was holding my breath in shock at the events as they unfolded in their stories.
Shrewdly, the way that their lives unfolded raised the question of whether it’s nature or nurture that impacts more on a person.

I have to raise my hat to Alison Baillie, A Fractured Winter really caught me off guard, there were so many different characters that I wanted to suspect, something about them just screamed untrustworthy, shifty or sneaky but I had nothing concrete to back up my suspicions … Baillie ensuring that I could not preempt where she would lead me, before revealing the moment where I gasped in shock and wanted to applaud her.

It’s fair to say that Alison Baillie has firmly taken a place on my list of authors to watch out for, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!!

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Celebrating Indie Publishing has a review from a much loved series, and as we’ve reached the third book of the series, I’m now eagerly searching online to see if there is a fourth book due!
We originally reviewed the first book of the Teacup House series in July 2018, and book two in September 2018, so I am thrilled to share our thoughts on book three now!

The Teacup House series is the work of the wonderful Hayley Scott and talented illustrator Pippa Curnick. All three books are available to purchase now from a variety of bookshops and online.


Description:
Open up the Teacup House – and meet four little rabbit heroes with big ideas! Watch out, Twitches – Stevie’s got a furry visitor.

The teacup house is turned upside down when a bouncy puppy comes to stay! Silver and Mama Bo hide in the garden, and meet a creature who needs their help.

Now it’s Twitches to the rescue…

Our Thoughts:

Before we’d finished reading book two of this series I had already ordered a copy of book three. The Twitches were fast becoming a firm favourite with my little bookworm, and she’s regularly asked for a few chapters of these books as a bedtime read, and often the go to books that have to be packed in her backpack when she visits grandparents in case they want to read a book … think it’s safe to say she loves these books!

In this outing, we meet up with Stevie just after the events of the party in The Twitches Bake a Cake, she and new best friend happily playing with the bunny family and their lovely house in the garden, when as you can guess from the book title and cover … a puppy comes along to cause havoc! This caused no end of giggles and gasps of horror as the excitable young pup bounds about the garden, investigating new smells and sights before upturning the Teacup House and the contents.

But in usual Twitch style, there is an adventure to be had, and this time it’s the turn of Mama Bo and young Silver. Although, I’m beginning to notice a trend here, Silver Twitch seems to be getting up to no end of mischief, if there’s an adventure to be on, you can guarantee she’s around or involved – my kind of heroine! Can the Twitches save the day? Will their beautiful home survive the puppy? And will Stevie finally learn that the toys aren’t what they seem?

As always, the writing is just perfection. It’s exciting, descriptive and makes for an incredibly enjoyable read. The illustrations bring the story to life, they are crisp and vivid, and match the writing so wonderfully, there’s’ something so special about being able to see some of the events in the book as you read as well as being able to imagine them.

We absoltely love this series and I cannot wait to see what Hayley writes next!

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features a review of a book that’s not yet published. It’s a book that I was extremely lucky to get an early copy of, and for that I am very grateful to Karen at Orenda Books for this.

Call Me Star Girl is the fifth book from Louise Beech, and it’s the first psychological thriller she’s written. Publication date of the ebook is 18th February 2019 and can be pre ordered now!

Description:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

A taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller, reminiscent of Play Misty for Me … from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.
Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

My Thoughts:
Everyone has a go to author, one you turn to when you need ‘that’ book, the one that will fill your heart with hope, or have your mind spiralling with the endless what-ifs and for me that author has become Louise Beech.

With a flowing writing style, I can easily be led into the worlds of her books without a second thought. Her vivid descriptions conjure the fictional settings so clearly, the characters are more than just names on pages, they become read. They take on a multidimensional feel, you become connected to them, invested in them….

Call Me Star Girl is Beech’s first foray into the dark world of psychological thrillers and I will admit, I was somewhat hesitant to delve into this. Louise Beech writes beautiful literary fiction, ones filled with human interest, brimming with emotion, characterisation and some of the most powerful writing I’ve had the pleasure of reading. But was I ready for her writing to turn dark? I put my faith in Louise and her writing and followed her into the world of murder and night-time radio.
The plotting of this novel is superb, so taut and clever. No matter how many times I tried to guess ahead or make a connection that wasn’t ready to be made, Louise craftily denied me the knowledge or threw me with some brilliant misdirection.

There’s something addictive about the way this story is told, the flicking between perspectives allows readers to see events from the view of someone else connected to it, and although we may not agree with their actions or mentality, it does give a shred of understanding to why they take the path that they do. Following events through the eyes of Stella and Elizabeth, is a startling look upon reality. The situations of past and present moulding these characters into the women they became.

As well as being a psychological thriller, this is also an exploration of the fragile nature of relationships and vulnerabilities. Delving into the fabric of what makes up the levels of relationships/connections between individuals, readers witness just how far people are willing to go to for another, what sacrifices they are willing to make and what secrets they are able to keep to protect others around them.
Watching the evolution of the relationships in this book, seeing how the power shifted, how things changed, makes for fascinating reading and does have a reader questioning how they might react in those circumstances, something intrinsically vital in Louise’s writing.

Would I recommend Call Me Star Girl? Absolutely! It’s a gripping and thrilling read, one that puts the reader on the edge of their comfort zone and asks for their trust as Louise Beech carefully and expertly leads them into the oft complex and dark world of relationships.

I raise my hat to Louise Beech for another brilliant book and word is that she’s already scribbling furiously on book number six!

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Earlier in the year I was delighted to welcome Anne Stormont to join me to chat about being an author, and share a little about her upcoming novel Settlement. Well the publication date has rolled around and I am thrilled to welcome Anne back again with a guest post titled “Proud to be Indie”.

Proud to be Indie

Settlement – the new novel by indie author Anne Stormont was published in September. In this guest post she talks not only about the book, but also about being an independent author.

“First of all I’d like to thank Kate for having me back here as a guest on her blog. I not only appreciate the opportunity to be here, but I’m also very grateful for all that she does to support independent publishing in general.

I’ve just published a new novel. It’s called Settlement. It’s the sequel to my previous book, Displacement, but it can be read as a standalone. So, of course, I’m here to give the new book a bit of a shoutout – and I will be doing that below. But I thought readers of this blog might be interested to know a bit more about independent authors and publishers and why I chose this particular route to publication. And so I thought I’d start with that.

Like my previous novels, Settlement is published by Rowan Russell Books (or RRB for short). RRB is my own imprint, my own tiny patch in the world of publishing. And I’m proud to be an indie author. In fact I love it.

My main reason for going the indie route was time. Real life and procrastination had both contributed to me not taking my writing seriously until I was in my forties – and I was in my fifties before I produced anything that was remotely ready for publication. To begin with, I did pursue the traditional route to publication for my first novel, Change of Life. I tried to get an agent. I tried to get a publisher. I got lots of ‘nice’ rejections telling me my writing was good, my story was good, but…

But, in short, what they all said was – readers of contemporary women’s fiction didn’t like books where the main characters were older than 30 – never mind 40 – and neither did they want to read about married characters or about ‘difficult issues’ such as cancer or bereavement. They also said the book would be hard to categorise as there was more than a simple romance going on in the story and would therefore be difficult to sell.

This was in 2009 and it was just as indie-publishing was beginning to become more possible and more popular. Small independent publishers were beginning to flourish. And so, too, were independent authors – that is authors who acted as their own publishers – authors who took a completely professional attitude to getting their work out there and in front of readers – authors who wanted to be in control of their work.

I was 53 and felt I couldn’t hang about any longer. If I was serious about being published, I was going to have to do it myself. And so, having hired a freelance editor, a proof-reader, and a cover designer I rewrote, polished and perfected my first book. Then in 2010 I published Change of Life. It got some great reviews and my career as a writer had begun.

Since then my learning curve has been more vertical than steep. In 2014, I took early retirement from my teaching job in order to be a full-time writer. And, supported by the same freelance team, I have now published four books – three for adults and one for children – (the children’s one was written by my alter-ego Anne McAlpine). I have a website, a Facebook author page and a loyal readership with whom I love to engage. I’m the author, the publisher, the finance controller and the publicist at RRB and I (mostly) enjoy the challenge of wearing all these hats.

Being, independent means I can write the sort of books I would want to read. But more than that, I can write the sort of books my readers want to read, and ensure those books are available to them.”

 

The New NovelSettlement Cover MEDIUM WEB (3)

So, what’s the new one all about? Here’s what the back cover says:

Settlement

Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?  Can love truly heal old wounds?

Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.

She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?

When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?

Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

If you like a complex, contemporary, grown-up romance with lots of raw emotion, dramatic and exotic settings, all mixed in with some international politics and laced with elements of a crime thriller, then this is the book for you.

A huge thank you to Anne for joining me today and sharing a little about indie publishing, I always enjoy hearing about the road to publication from authors and how it all worked out for them.
It’s also lovely to see that Settlement is now available to buy, I’ve already bought my copy and cannot wait to get reading!

Settlement is available as a paperback and as an ebook and you can buy it in bookshops or online here.

 

About the Author:

Anne Stormont writes contemporary, women’s fiction that is probably best described as literary romance. Her writing is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Her stories are for readers who enjoy a good romantic story, but who also like romance that is laced with realism and real world issues – and where the main characters may be older but not necessarily wiser.

Anne was born and grew up in Scotland where she still lives. She has travelled extensively having visited every continent except Antarctica – where she really must go considering her fondness for penguins.

Anne was a primary school teacher for over thirty years before taking early retirement in order to concentrate on her writing.

She describes herself as a subversive old bat – but she also tries to maintain a kind heart. She hopes this comes through in her writing.

Anne loves to hear from and keep in touch with her readers.

She can be found on Facebook and Twitter and you can also find out more about her, her writing, and her latest book news on her blog and on her website.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/annestormontauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/writeanne

Blog at https://putitinwriting.me

Website at https://anne-stormont.com

 

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** My thanks to Orenda Books and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

Description:

A mesmerising debut novel with echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism…

‘If Armistead Maupin were to write about a diverse group of friends in Deptford, the results might resemble this … You’ll miss these characters when they’re gone’ Paul Burston

Under their feet lies magic…

When Sam falls in love with South London thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, the mysterious world that lies beneath their feet and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

My Thoughts:

Attend is a beautifully written book that has a depth of characterisation that enables readers to form a deep and tangible connection with the main characters, especially Anne and Sam.
Both of these wonderful creations are linked by a thread that neither is aware of, the bond of friendship with Deborah. Deborah is a seemingly innocuous character, regularly regaling her new friends with tales of her life, how she came to be a seamstress and sailor, the events of her life up to that point and how she thinks that there’s something more to life, more than the eye can see. She is a character that’s hard to sum up in a few sentences, so exquisitely complex and with a history that draws the readers in, makes them need to know more about her. I don’t think I could do justice to this marvellous creation and I applaud the author for crafting such an array of personalities.

Anne was a character that I wasn’t sure what to make of initially. There’s a rawness and a vulnerability to her, her previous life as a drug user has impacted on her ability to interact with her family and loved ones. The dependency on illicit substances robbed her of many things, and trying to rebuild her life and the trust of others is a difficult and arduous struggle. Watching her find her feet through the prose was almost heartwarming at times, seeing her making decisions and reaffirming that her dependency on drugs was over made me want to cheer for her. This is a character that you really get under the skin of, the more you read about her, the greater the connection and the understanding you gain of events that have occurred.

The youngest of the main characters, is Sam. He moved to London as a means of taking control of his life, leaving the sadness of an accident from his youth behind. Having accepted his sexuality, he breaks away from a cycle of meaningless interactions when he meets Derek. Sam’s indecisive nature makes him quite an endearing character, he’s been on a path of self destruct for sometime but slowly he manages to make changes, he finds happiness and acceptance.

The threads of the story twist and weave expertly in West’s capable hands as he takes readers on a poignant and thought provoking journey.  As you may guess, characterisation was a key aspect of this book for me, I felt that I was connected, invested and genuinely cared about these characters.

Settings play an enormous part in any story, and here the way that the tunnels Deborah explored almost came alive. The smells, the damp, the darkness all became so real through the vivid descriptions. The same can be said for the details woven into the house that Deborah lives in, the unique and quirkiness of it appealed to me .
I think it’s fair to say that West Camel has really crafted a very special story, he has managed to combine a very human tale with touches of magic, adventure, history and charm. The writing is spellbinding and leave readers hungry for more.

Orenda Books are fast becoming known for publishing books that push new ideas, that challenge readers and go that bit further, and Attend is definitely one of those books. It’s a rare gem that I think will keep circling round and round in my head long after I finished reading it.


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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:

A fragile woman. An unwelcome intruder. A house full of secrets.

Faye and her husband Hugh have had a traumatic year. Wanting to start again, the couple decide to buy a large rundown property, Cross House in a village in North Yorkshire, hoping to leave the past behind them.

However, the tranquillity is soon ruined when Faye begins to awake, every night, to the sound of somebody creeping around the bedroom. She tries to explain it to Hugh, frightened for the safety of their children Aiden and Poppy, but Hugh dismisses her claims, thinking she is heading for another breakdown.

But when Faye discovers some diaries that contain secrets about the family that lived in the house before them, she starts to wonder if the intruder might be closer to home than she first thought.

Obsessed with finding answers, Faye is determined to learn about the Wentworth family, a fractured family with a tragic past.

And when she discovers that Hilary Wentworth fell to her death down the stairs in Cross House, Faye realises she is in mortal danger…


My Thoughts:

I do enjoy psychological thrillers, and have a bit of a soft spot for Yorkshire settings, there’s something about them that appeals to me and so I was really keen to read this when I that it combined a bit of a ghost story too.

Main characters Faye and Hugh buy an house in need of work as part of their “fresh start” in the countryside. They are attempting to move on with life after very difficult year, one that left Faye seriously shaken and falling apart. But far from being the new start the family so desperately needed, things soon begin to have Faye questioning whether there’s something sinister lurking in the shadows of night or if her mind is playing tricks on her.

Whilst the author details the move to the new house and the family dynamics of Faye, Hugh and their two children Aiden and Poppy, there is also a thread to the plot of Faye’s previous year, one where snippets of recollections and nightmares are mentioned. Hints are given as to something sinister and traumatic having occurred, but details are slowly drip fed to increase the tension and hook the readers in. This in part helps to spread the feeling of general unease for Faye, and as you get to know her more and understand her mental health issues, it helps to explain why she feels that someone might be watching her, and the unusual activity around Cross House.
J.A. Baker weaves a very clever tale that leaves readers wondering about what they’ve read and whether they believe it.

Cross House is a bit of an enigma for Faye, the discovery of some diaries from the previous owners of the house leave her with more questions, and this is not helped when her son returns from school saying that people have been talking about the house.

I really don’t want to say too much more about the plot, there are so many things that readers need to discover for themselves and with this is quite a gripping and fast paced read, they will soon be hooked and held captive by the plot.
It’s the sort of read that gets under your skin and leaves you feeling shivers down your spine … and maybe sleeping with the light on for a few nights.

About the Author:

J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in North East England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.

She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.

In December 2016 she was signed by Bloodhound Books who published Undercurrent. 
Her second novel, Her Dark Retreat was published in October 2017 and The Other Mother was published in December 2017. Her fourth novel, Finding Eva was published in August 2018.

J.A.Baker has four grown up children and one grandchild. She lives in a village near the river with her husband and madcap dog and when not working part time in a primary school, she spends her days trying to think up new and inventive ways of murdering people.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thewriterjude
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewriterjude
Website: http://www.jabakerauthor.com







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Hello and welcome along to another Friday post to share another brilliant offering from the world of independent publishing! Today I have a review of Around the World in 80 Words written by Paul Anthony Jones, it was published in October 2018 by Elliott and Thompson Ltd and is available to purchase now.


Book Feature:

Description:

around the world 80 days PC final.indd

From Monte Carlo to Shanghai, Bikini to Samarra, Around the World in 80 Words is a whimsical voyage through the far-flung reaches of the English language.

What makes a place so memorable that it survives for ever in a word? In this captivating round-the-world jaunt, Paul Anthony Jones reveals the intriguing stories of how 80 different places came to be immortalised in our language.

Beginning in London and heading through Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas, you’ll discover why the origins of turkeys, Brazil nuts, limericks and Panama hats aren’t quite as straightforward as you might presume. You’ll also find out what the Philippines have given to your office in-tray; what an island with more bears than people has given to your liquor cabinet; and how a tiny hamlet in Nottinghamshire became Gotham City.

Surprising and consistently entertaining, this is essential reading for armchair travellers and word nerds. Our dictionaries are full of hidden histories, tales and adventures from all over the world – if you know where to look.

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of this author ever since I discovered his book The Accidental Dictionary in 2016, and have enjoyed the books that have followed. For those who don’t know who Paul Anthony Jones is, he is the man behind @HaggardHawks on Twitter and http://www.haggardhawks.com which pulls together blogs, quizzes, newsletters, a Youtube series and details of his books full of etymological delights. I would recommend checking out the website and the Twitter page, each day there is a new forgotten word posted each day.

In this latest offering, the author takes readers on a wonderful literary journey without them having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Around the World in 80 Words informs and educates readers about the names of 80 destinations that have been absorbed into the English language, and are so commonly used that we might not give them a second thought.
I love the way that this book can be picked up and flicked through without having to follow each chapter as you would with an “ordinary” book. This is a fascinating read, and the author has evidently put a lot of time into researching the material, his passion for etymology pours from the pages and it’s almost infectious. I had no idea of the origins of phrases such as being sent to Coventry, and you can be sure that Paul Anthony Jones takes great delight in sharing this knowledge. It also leaves the reader feeling that wonderful sense of having learned something new, you almost feel like you want to attend a quiz night, just in the hopes that a question may come up so that you can use your new knowledge.

This would make the perfect stocking filler for fans of etymology, I’ve already bought a copy to wrap as a Christmas gift.

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