Monthly Archives: November 2016

Review Wednesday – The Missing by C L Taylor

img_1899The Missing is all about family relationships gone wrong and in this story they have done so in spectacular manner. 15 year old Billy has been missing for six months leaving Dad Mark, Mum Claire and older brother Jake to wonder what has happened to him.

The family is further complicated by, Kira, Jake’s girlfriend, who lives with them. Kira has suffered abuse in the past and though Claire tries to get close to her Kira resists.

The story opens six months after Billy disappeared with a new Police Appeal to attempt to find some answers.

The story is difficult to outline other than to say that Claire is just about at the end of her tolerance and needs to know the truth good or bad. Disagreements are rife and in this volatile family atmosphere secrets begin to emerge; Billy’s true character, Kira and Jake’s relationship, the suspicion that Mark is having an affair.

Through it all Claire relies on her good friend, Liz, a fabulous character, worth her weight in gold to this book. Liz is loud and brash and often says the wrong thing,  but she is a solid friend. Some of her comments about her estranged husband Lloyd are priceless.

The ending twist took me by surprise, the author did a good job of distraction with the various other events in the story.

At the end of the book is an author’s note. She talks about the fugue state that Claire suffers and seems to have done her research well as to what happens with that phenomena in real life. She does admit she stretches that a bit to fit the plot of the book which is very honest but I must say, even before I read that end note I felt it had been overdone and didn’t help the flow of the story.

However, it is an enjoyable read. I look forward to more by this author.

 

 

Review Wednesday -Blackwater by Alison Williams

img_1898I hadn’t realised this book was a prequel when I began to read it but, no matter, it is a very interesting introduction to the characters of the novel, The Black Hours and now I am glad I have read it first.

Maggie and her daughter, Lizzie live in England back in the time when superstition and belief in witches was rife. ‘Healers’ or ‘cunning women’ were  relied on in their villages for herbal cures and for assistance in the very dangerous process of childbirth, but at the same time they were looked upon with suspicion. If some illness misfortune occurs amongst the people of the community it is all too easy to point a finger at these most vulnerable of citizens.

The story opens with three women about to pay the ultimate price for their perceived wrongdoing. Maggie, accompanied by a reluctant Lizzie, go along to attend the hanging of three (two of them mother and daughter)  not to jeer and celebrate as do most at this macabre carnival but to meet the women eye to eye, to help make them feel that they are not alone in their last moments. This duty, Maggie tells Lizzie, is just part of their job.

Life is hard for Maggie and Lizzie. The drudgery of every day life is evident and very well illustrated in the text. But things are changing, Lizzie is falling in love with just the wrong person, someone who comes from a family of huge influence in the area and the consequences for such a love match could be severe.

I really enjoyed this book, something different and insightful and much more than just a love story. I am very much looking forward to reading The Black Hours.

Review Wednesday – Isolation by Neil Randall

img_1897Monday morning for Nigel Barrowman, conscientious office worker for the District Council of Ilford, finds him at his desk and on time, as usual. It should be another very ordinary day, except in the post is an envelope addressed to Nigel and inside that envelope is a very disturbing photograph. When the news that evening reports a grisly double murder Nigel recognises the scene of the crime from the photograph and decides he must go to the police.

The authorities are quite sceptical at first and Nigel is wary that he is coming across as ‘some kind of weirdo’, a time-waster, especially when his line manager, Michael, tells the attending police officer that he is sure the photograph was just a practical joke.

Far from being a joke, Nigel’s ordinary life rapidly descends into chaos. A strange connection to ancient Native American Indian folklore becomes apparent and then almost an avalanche of accusations, missing people and murders. Most disturbing of all is that everything and everyone involved seem to link back to a dark time in Nigel’s life when he was part of a group of psychiatric patients undergoing experimental treatment.

As these characters from the past reappear in his life, Nigel struggles to separate truth from lies and deceit and fantasy.

Isolation is a disturbing story. Beginning with such an ordinary, believable and, to many I would suspect, mind-numbingly recogisable start to the working week, it becomes at first alarming but then bizarre. At one point I was thinking, no, this is too weird! But then the weirdness itself becomes intriguing, as how can the story possible pan out?

The answer is as chilling as it is sad and is left, to a certain extent, for the reader to make up their own mind.

With many thanks – I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

New Year’s Resolutions – is it Too Early?

img_1894Christmas seems to come earlier each year and I know I’m not the only one to complain about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. It’s family time. But I don’t love hearing the sounds of Jingle Bells in September, somehow it dilutes the excitement for me. I want to feel Christmassy as well as see Christmassy.

But I digress; the reason I even thought about that today is that I have most definitely been thinking about New Year Resolutions and (shock -horror!) for quite some time. I think it is because this year has been quite defining for me as an individual (rather than as a wife and mum) and having coming this far I need to consolidate my interests and ambitions in 2017 with a good, solid plan.

The img_1892main focus of that plan is my ‘writing’. And when I say writing, I mean, as many writers will recognise writing/editing/coverdesign/marketing/blogging/social media and all the other hundred things I have left out. It’s tough, but you won’t hear me complain because it’s what I want to do. However, as so many writer/bloggers advise, there are ways, ideas and plans for a writer to find their way through their own, particular maze. We all have our own strategies but, at the same time, it does help a lot to read what other authors are doing and what works best for them, even if you don’t agree.

One thing I alluded to a minute ago was the sheer diversity of this ‘job’ of writing. I wrote my first novel in a blissful haze of ignorance. It took three years and at the time I thought The End really was. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find a publisher willing to take it on, everyone has heard the dreaded rejection letter stories (and, at that point, I wasn’t even aware of self publishing) but I was confident the work was good enough and when it finally made its way in front of the right person voilà! And ah! I could sit back and contemplate my next book.

Oh-oh! How wrong I was.

So – Resolutions. They are coming into my mind thick and fast.

Resolutions about my creative writing next year – what I plan to achieve including time frames.

Resolutions about market -what I will try and what I will leave for another time.

Resolutions about reading – what I want to experience with regard to the work of favourite authors, bestselling newcomers and hidden gems. What I want to be as a reviewer.

In later posts, leading up to the end of the year I will say a little more about the decisions I make and maybe it wil be interesting to report in 2017 which resolutions have turned out to be the best.

img_1893Of course, on New Years Eve things will be different. I am planning to spend that holiday with my children and little grandchildren and then all the resolutions in my mind will revolve around them.

Goodreads Giveaway for Kellie at Come-alive Cottage

Today I would like to you invite you to take a look at my Goodreads Giveaway for

Christmas at Come-alive Cottage

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Please click the image to be taken to the giveaway.

This is the fourth book in my Come-alive Cottage series but each works very well as a stand alone story.

This chapter book is about 50 pages long and illustrated throughout with fun line drawings.

Here is the blurb:-

img_0378On Christmas Eve, Aunt Kitty has a special wish-come-true spell to make for Kellie. But when a whole glass of her greenish, orangish, purplish, brownish, reddish, yellowish spell-mixture is accidentally spilled into the pot, everything starts to go wrong! Can Aunt kitty put everything right in time for Christmas Day?

And here is what some kind people have had to say:-

Christmas at Come-alive Cottage is a book of madcap adventures, spells gone crazy, lovable witches, laughs, fun… Highly recommended to anyone looking for children’s books with a lot of fun and without zombies/ the Undead/ farts/ burps.
Gita Reddy – Goodreads reader

img_0410A perfect story for a perfect Christmas day and I hope this review encourages parents to get the book and read it to their children. Debra Jenkins -Goodreads reader.

 

 

 

Christmas at Come-alive Cottage is available in paperback at Amazon

http://getbook.at/christmasat

if you would like a free ecopy in the run up to Christmas please message me.

Any reviews would be most gratefully received!

Many thanks.

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Netgalley For Newbies – Help!

img_1891I have just finished reading my first book for Netgalley and feel a bit like I did when I finished writing my first novel, glad to have completed this goal but wondering what I should do next?

The book I read was offered for download with no requirement for approval from the publisher. It sounded like a good read and, as I am a new blogger and also new to Netgalley, I am prepared that it may take a while to build up relationships with publishers and be accepted as a reader. Therefore I gladly went for this book to get me started and a review ‘under my belt’

Now that the book is read and, going back to my dashboard, I have the option to Give Feedback. Within that section are two fields, one for notes to the publisher and one for the review itself.

I have a few questions:-

  • In the notes to publisher, what kind of things might you mention? Typos? Cover suitability?
  • Is the review exactly the same as the one you will post on your blog and other platforms or a shortened, more concise, version?
  • What order do you post in?  This particular book is to be published in January 2017 but there is no guidance about when the review should be posted on Netgalley and, if immediately, should I hold off from posting on my blog and Goodreads until nearer the publication date?
  • Any other tips from you experts out there?

I have googled etc but thought that a post to all you Professional Readers might address my questions more fully and the answers could be useful for anyone else who is thinking of giving Netgalley a try.

Once I have been with Netgalley for a few months I will post about my experience for others to see the results. Also, from a writer’s point of view, I am interested to learn how many Indies are taking their work there and if they feel the early exposure for their books was worth the cost.

Look forward to your comments! 😊

 

 

Review Wednesday – Looking Good Dead by Peter James

img_1890Having enjoyed the first in the Roy Grace series (apart from the ending -which is a pretty big part!) I wanted to give this series a second try. I did warm to Roy Grace in the first book and very much enjoyed the story.

In Looking Good Dead the story again gets off to a very good start. Tom Bryce, struggling with his business and his wife’s spending habits, has enough to worry about without having to put up with a loudmouth yapping into his mobile on his commuter train ride home. When the guy leaves a CD on his seat, Tom, too disinterested to give chase, picks it up and and shoves it in his bag. Only later when he idly decides to check out the CD does he find he is viewing what appears to be a snuff movie. Then the threats start.

Roy Grace is called in. His background story (wife disappeared some years ago and has never been found) moves along nicely with a date in the offing and the age-old problem of what to wear.

The story proceeds at a good pace as Tom Bryce gets more desperate to protect himself and his family.

There is some mention of Grace’s faith in pyschics to help with the investigation but this time not to the point of it being a cop out – phew! An enjoyable story.

Review Wednesday – Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

img_1889I have never read anything by Jeffrey Archer before but this book was offered free on Audible and I was glad that I gave it a try.

Young Harry Clifton is a gifted with  beautiful singing voice that wins him a scholarship to a school where he mixes with other boys ‘above his station’. Meanwhile Harry’s clever and resourceful mother works hard to provide him with the extra clothes and books required at the school, struggling always to make ends meet.

At school Harry gets to know Giles Barrington a boy who has been born into privilege and the unlikely pair become firm friends. But there is much more to the history of these two young boys, questions of parentage and the real story of how Harry’s father died, tie the two famillies together.

This book takes Harry through to the Second World War and his determination to sign up.

I knew this was the first book in a series but was rather surprised when it abruptly stopped on quite a cliffhanger. A bit naughty, I think. But I will continue on with the story when I get the opportunity.

This is the first book in the Clifton Chronicles.

Review Wednesday – A Most Reluctant Princess by Jean M Cogdell

img_1888A super little story for young children about what they might like to ‘be’ when they grow up. Knowing that she can’t really be a princess there are lots of other choices and here we have them in rhyme, page by page, astronaut, teacher, doctor, baker artist and lots more.

Each page is dedicated to a different ‘occupation’  with our Reluctant Princess dressed appropriately for each job. Great fun; my granddaughter who is beginning to read enjoyed guessing the roles from the illustrations or sounding out the words.

As usual, I bought this book for my Kindle Paperwhite and so illustrations have to be clear. They are – and also quite adorable.

One point -both illustrations and text did not ‘centre’ on my kindle but were rather ‘ squashed’ to the top left of the page which was a shame. Other reviewers haven’t mentioned this so maybe it’s just my device.

All in all a very sweet little book that I am sure young children will love.

Review Wednesday – Three Blind Mice by Albert Jack

img_1885This is a super little book that trawls through the history behind some of our most well known nursery rhymes to discover their meanings and origins.

I knew the stories behind some of them but Albert Jack seems to have really done his homework to offer alternative origins and sometimes more than one possible meaning.

A lot of the rhymes go back to Tudor times and earlier; The Dissolution of the Monastaries, The Black Death, The Gunpowder Plot. Bloody Mary is the ‘farmer’s wife’ who cuts of the tails of her dissenters.

It’s always difficult with books such as this to know how accurately dates etc are, unless you at willing to cross-reference but neverthess a fascinating, short read for anyone who wants an interesting break from longer books. And, incidentally, if you like horror you would be hard pushed to find anything much worse than the things we English did to those who opposed the monarch in days of olde!