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Saying hello – again!

It’s been almost eighteen months since I first wrote a post entitled ‘Saying Hello’ introducing myself as the author of one novel and four children’s chapter books.

Since then, nothing, except the quiet publication of a second novel, but it has been a hell of an eighteen months.

I hesitated to write this. The easier option would be to brush aside my silence and open up this blog with a review or one of the many great writing articles I have saved from other bloggers since becoming involved in the writing world. Continue reading

Review Wednesday – The Girl Before by J P Delaney

img_1970It’s always great to read an intriguing premise, one that tells you that you have to read this book and that was how I felt when I first read the blurb for The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney.

A perfect house built by an architect who will accept nothing short of perfection, or at least his version of it. The house is available to rent but not just to anyone with the cash ( and this house is a bargain), applicants must fill in a lengthy questionnaire and be approved personally by the owner/designer Edward Monkford. And it doesn’t stop there, rules (over 200 of them) must be adhered to; no clutter, no pets, no children, very few possessions. The list goes on.

This concept sets up the initial intrigue of the story. Why would anyone agree to live under such rigid conditions? But then, Edward is an unusual and intriguing man and Jane, the latest applicant has fallen under his spell as well as that of the beautiful, minimalist house.

The story is told from two points of view and in two time-frames. As Jane moves into One Folgate Street and learns more about Edward, whose wife and son tragically died, she also begins to learn something about a former tenant, Emma. So the action Goes back and forth and we see the house with Emma and boyfriend Simon in occupancy and with Jane.

As jane delves deeper into Emma’s life (and death) it becomes apparent that there are a lot of parallels between the two women. What really happened to Emma and, Jane wonders increasingly, was Edward responsible?

The story is complex. Both women have relationships with the Ice-cold Edward, both have suffered some trauma in their past. At some point I felt that the author introduced too many angles and that maybe the creepiness of the perfect house and it’s strange owner were in danger of becoming swamped by a whole gamut of other findings and revelations that made it hard to like any of the characters.

However, the book is certainly a page turner. The narrative flows easily and the short, sharp changes in viewpoint made it a fast and satisfying read. I would usually say that I love a convoluted plot with many twists and turns but, in this case, just for once, maybe a little less would have been more, just as with the house that features so prominently in the story.

Edit, Edit or Edit?

A very clear and useful breakdown of editing in all its forms – thanks to WriteYourFirstNovel

Writing your first novel-Things you should know

Well that is true, but it’s only one type of editing, and there are three different types listed in the article. The article also noted that a novel length manuscript needed to go through all three types before it was submission ready.

Developmental Edit – better known as the content editing, story editing, structural editing or substantive editing. This edit looks at the big picture of your novel and focuses on

  • character arcs/development
  • pacing
  • story structure
  • pot holes or inconsistencies
  • strong beginning, middle and end
  • plausibility/believability
  • clear transitions
  • point of view
  • showing vs. telling
  • dialogue

Copy Edit – copy editing is the one most of us think of when we hear editor. He comes on…

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Wednesday Review – Cast Iron by Peter May

img_1969*Many thanks go to Quercus books and Netgalley for an advanced review copy of this book*

The ‘Cast Iron’ of the title refers to the term often used for an alibi when it is deemed to be beyond question. But can an alibi ever be considered so, until the case is solved?

Enzo Macleaod, forensic expert, has been involved in a bet to unravel the details of a series of cold cases that have thus far baffled investigators. The sixth case is the mystery of what happened to young Lucie Martin, who goes missing from her home one evening, her remains discovered some years later, after a long, hot summer, in the bottom of a dried up lake. The modus operandi indicates the work of a killer already behind bars but he denies involvement.

In the course of the investigation to try to identify Lucie’s killer, Enzo soon realises that there is more than one person who would prefer that  the truth never come out. His life is in danger and his family are at risk.

In the past couple of years I have read and reviewed several books by Peter May. I thought I knew his style but found this book, set in France, a little different and, to be honest, a little difficult, at first. Enzo’s complex family life had probably developed over the previous books and so, coming new to the series I found myself backtracking at first to keep the threads of his convoluted relationships clear in my mind. However, the story is a good one, well worth the effort and the investigation a solid standalone that requires no previous knowledge.

For me at least, endings are so often a bit of a let-down even after a very enjoyable rest-of-the-book, so I would also say bravo to Peter May for bringing the elements together in an ending that did not rely on sheer luck or a happy coincidence or a massive and unbelievable hunch. The twist that brings the main characters together in the crucial scene did not disappoint and left a very satisfying aftertaste to an enjoyable read.

 

 

Happy New Year, Everyone!

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It’s the eve of a new year and judging from many of the wonderful blogs I have had the privilege to read in 2016 quite a number of us will greet it gladly with anticipation of some better times in 2017.

So, to everyone, I want to wish all the very best. Here’s to hard work, strong relationships and a little luck to help us along the way, in 2017!

Happy New Year!

 

Review – The Epic Santa Chase by Lee M Winter

img_1955This book finishes up my reviews for the year. A short story first or children 9-12 years and a contemporary take on the true meaning of Christmas.

The story is fun all the way. At the end of a Nativity Play, Angus, who was cast as Joesph, and Hamish his best friend who was playing a chicken, give chase to a thief who takes off with some food donations for the poor and a bag containing Angus’ iPad! It’s an unlikely scenario, especially as they are accompanied by a Nike-trainer–wearing nun.

When Angus finally catches up with the thief, who was wearing a Santa costume at the time he committed the crime, he finds a very different situation to the one he had expected.

I wasn’t quite sure about the ending; maybe that should have played out a little differently, but the message was clear and the reading was fun.

 

Review – The Reading Group:December by Della Parker

img_1954Continuing my hunt for some nice, short reads over Christmas, I came upon this story by Della Parker. It is apparently an opener to a series of books but this is just a brief tale to introduce the characters.

I immediately liked the idea. In this story the group of six friends meet to discuss the month’s reading choice A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Fiction mirrors life as I guess it will in all the books and in this one Grace is the Girl in trouble, with the prospect of her Christmas looking decidedly unrosy. Through the course of the short story, friends rally, worries are prioritised and blessings are counted.

This is a simple, very quick read but a sweet story that made me want to know more about The Reading Group.

Free at the time of writing this review.

 

Reviews to finish up the year

So, I am three reviews short of my Goodreads Challenge and, it has been an important part of ‘getting back on track’ for me this year, to complete it.

I knew I was running short of time. Although I have several great books that I am currently reading, Christmas has meant travel from Portugal to England and Scotland  to spend time with loved ones and all the hectic activities that go along with that. There is no prolonged period in the day to read chunky novels!

Therefore I downloaded three, free, children’s books with a Christmas theme to end the year. Here is the first review:-

Winter on the Farm by Beata Noemi Balint

img_1953This book seems to appear on Amazon as The Snowman but on Goodreads as Winter on the Farm. That was confusing when trying to tie up the two.

The story is very cute. The Snowman is created on a wintry day by children out to have fun in the snow but, all too soon, is forgotten when the time comes for father to chop down a tree for Christmas. The children’s attention is diverted and the Snowman is left alone, but not for long, soon all the creatures who had lived in the fallen tree are crowding around him asking where they can live now that their home is gone.

There are a lot of themes here; the impact of humans on the environment, the changing of the seasons, loss and renewal, the circle of life, but they are presented in a way that is fun, easily understandable and never preachy.

This really is a very lovely story but there are grammatical mistakes and it is in need of a thorough edit and polish up.