Wednesday Review- All the Little Children by Jo Furniss

All The Little Children starts right in with the action. Marlene and sister-in-law Joni are out for a camping trip with their kids and one of the children’s classmates. They’re a mixed bunch in age and personality and it is immediately clear that the outdoor life is not one they are used to.
Nevertheless the kids show some enthusiasm when they set off on a hunt for wood for the campfire.
The first sign of the coming problem is the arrival of a friendly and unaccompanied dog, ‘Horatio’ who Marlene takes back to camp until the owner can be found. Peter, the classmate, shins up a tall tree, despite Marlene’s protests, and reports a more disturbing discovery. He says that all he can see for miles around is fires ‘like volcanoes’.
As they cannot see for themselves neither Marlene nor Joni know what to make of Peters claim, but they are soon to find out that the problems they will face are much, much worse.

I hadn’t realised this was a dystopian novel when I started the book, but the signs are everywhere that something significant has happened beyond the sheltered confines of their isolated camping spot.
What follows is the efforts of this unlikely group to discover what has happened to the people in the surrounding countryside, and to make contact with any other survivors.

I have to say that, for me, on this occasion, the idea behind the story was more compelling than the course the story eventually takes. Marlene is not easy to like, and this part, her personality, was hard to get past, though I really wanted to be behind her in her struggle. The problem is that she is at the camp to bond with her kids, as if it is just another tick on her to-do list. She is a business woman who feels that her dedication to her work is misunderstood. Marlene didn’t need to be this way for the storyline, and I felt that it made her much less easy to get behind in her new role as leader of the pack of survivors.
There are some cruel twists and while this would never be a credible story without some of the cast falling victim to the circumstances, I felt that maybe there were a couple (or three) poor choices in there.

All The Little Children is a fluent and well written book, but this one was not entirely for me.

 

 

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Review Wednesday -Just an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin

Imogen is fifty when her husband of over twenty-five years announces he has found himself a new and younger woman; a fast-tracker, as Imogen dubs her. This is a girl who is out to get man who has already established himself and made money, rather than marry someone of her own age and have to struggle their way to the top together.
Not only does Imogen lose her husband, she is left with no choice but to move from the family home and re-jig her life completely. It’s a daunting task; the children have flown the nest and she hasn’t worked in years.
Alone in her new little home on the edge of Epping Forest Imogen browses the local newspaper and comes across an ad from an employment agency. She telephones, makes an appointment, cobbles together something to wear and, for the first time in a very long time, compiles a CV.
The adventure begins.
From here the story takes Imogen to her interview, where Mr Jenkins ( call me Andrew) invites her to talk him through all the jobs, and there are quite a few, that she has previously undertaken.
Each chapter then describes unlikely and varied forms of employment. There is a lot of humour in the writing, but also some pathos too.
I won’t reveal the ending but, though it came as no surprise, it was just what was needed for this story, with a little comeuppance for the dastardly husband thrown in.

Reading a book like Just an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin reminds me that I should do this more often -I love thrillers and dark stories but a little lightheartedness, occasionally, goes a very long way.

Where Writers Get Stuck: Marketing

Some great marketing tips and encouragement here from Allison Maruska!

Allison Maruska

Before I get started on today’s topic, I want to express a huge thank you to everyone who supported my fundraiser for Houston disaster relief or gave directly to an organization that will help people in need. We are seeing the best of America coming through every day, and if there’s a silver lining to everything that’s happened there, I think that’s it.

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Now, it’s time for the super secret post you’ve all been waiting for. Remember this Twitter poll?

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It launched this whole mini-series on where writers get stuck. Be sure to check out planning, drafting, editing and revising, and querying or publishing if those are your personal struggles. While the poll was live, this comment happened:

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So, to wrap up this series, let’s talk marketing! Is everyone excited??

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I know. I can’t fake it very well. But stick with me. It’ll be worth it.

Marketing…

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Review Wednesday – Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

The opening lines of a book are so important; for me, even more so when the book is an audio book; it really needs to pull me in. There have been mixed reactions to Unravelling Oliver but even those who were disappointed by the story seem to agree on one thing, it has a great opening line.
I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her …. She didn’t even seemed to be surprised. I was surprised. I hadn’t planned to do it.
Oliver has hit his wife. His is the opening viewpoint, as he discusses with cool detachment his own feelings about the event. There was an immediate and chilling insight, for me, as the reader, that there was something very wrong with this man.
The story proceeds through several viewpoints, some I enjoyed more than others but all were very distinct and if you are listening rather than reading, recognisable with excellent narrators throughout.
Oliver is telling his story, from his strange and unhappy childhood, which certainly has had a massive effect on his psyche, to the present day. Despite a singularly unusual upbringing Oliver is a successful man, that is, he is a successful author who writes children’s books under a pen name and has enjoyed fame and fortune which includes radio and television interviews. Oliver met his wife, Alice, through his writing, when the two began to work together, her as an illustrator of his stories, but Alice has always eschewed the fame part of their success.
Unravelling Oliver is a perfect title for this book. Once the reader has taken in the shocking situation at the beginning of the story we go back, hearing the viewpoints of friends and relatives as we unpick the layers of the story and find the truth. Why did Oliver show this sudden and tragic violence toward his wife? What caused this golden personality to fall so far?
I enjoyed Unravelling Oliver, the writing is interesting and assured and the often convoluted aspects of the story were all tied in nicely. Some viewpoints were more interesting than others, but each one moved the story further toward its conclusion. This book is not a thriller and, at times, I felt that the author wanted to redeem Oliver, to show his regret and his admittance (if only to himself) of his failings. That part didn’t work for so well for me.
As a study of a man, shaped by his own early circumstances, and rendered unable to care for anyone but himself to the extent that he will go to any lengths to better protect his chosen lifestyle, it is a book I will remember.

Late Home… Again.

So… she strolls in at 11.30pm as if I she has no idea I would be waiting, toe-tapping, wondering where the hell was, worrying about her.

She treats this place like a hotel, wouldn’t dream of explaining where she has been or what she has been up to. No point in asking; as usual, she strolls into the kitchen and starts rummaging around, complaining that she’s hungry.

I tell her she should get home at a decent hour if she wants to eat. She says, no matter, she’ll go out again and pick something up. I say,

No way, not at this hour, my girl! It’s bedtime and you know it…

and that’s it… she flies off the handle, marches into the bathroom and starts throwing things around. My precious ornaments are smashed on the floor and does she care?
I tell her to stop that, she needs to respect my things. She expects a comfortable home life, would it be too much to ask for her to occasionally consider my feelings?
I say I am so angry I can hardly speak to her. I say we can talk about this again in the morning and I go to bed, furious.

I wake first, realise she’s not up yet and, me being me, I go check on her.
There she is, curled up in the handbasin, as if geckos wouldn’t melt in her mouth. I say,

Good morning, Cleo and she stretches.

All is forgiven.

Life with my cat.

Hungry!

Miss Adorable

The Damage. ☹️

A New Book Out at Last!


At last, I am very happy and proud to announce the release of the third novel in my Berriwood Series.

Dirty Work will be available on Amazon tomorrow!

Each book in the series is a standalone novel; the link being the Cornish village and its characters.

This is a psychological drama with murder at its heart. Don’t be fooled by the pretty village of Berriwood; dark things can happen!

 

 

Here is a little bit about it:-

A shallow grave.

A body to find.

But no one is looking…

Caroline Duke and her sister-in-law Marcie lead very different lives, but blood is thicker than water; they are close, they share things.
Husband troubles.
Marcie has everything she could possibly want, funded by Nathan’s high-powered city job. She pays for her privileged position in lonely days and nights, while her husband works away.
Caroline is struggling with two jobs and out-of-work Pete, who brings in no money at all. He is never home either. He spends his evenings in bars and clubs and the occasional ditch.
But everything in the Duke family is set to change. And for the better. Pete declares he has given up drinking for good and is getting a job. Nathan announces his intention to work less, spend more time with Marcie.
A birthday dinner should be the perfect occasion to bring the four together. But when is a party not a party? When someone ends up dead.

i would be very grateful for any likes or shares.

Review Wednesday – Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza continues with his winning formula in this latest in the Erika Foster series. Last Breath is a breathtaking read, fast and furious as the race is on to find a serial killer who disposes of his victims in the town’s dumpsters.

This is a difficult one to say much about without spoilers but what I can say without giving anything away is that I enjoyed knowing the identity of the killer before the end of the book, seeing the twisted logic and also the costly mistakes. For me, this is a very effective way of story telling when I can see both sides and ultimately observe as the world’s of the killer and police collide.

If anything I think this is my favourite of the series so far. Erika is becoming a little more human after her past tragedy and her relationships within the force continue to develop. I particularly like Moss who is an intelligent and loyal member of the team. Erika is in conflict with her superiors as usual, but then she wouldn’t be Erika without a little bit of her headstrong, the rules don’t apply to me, style.

Thoroughly enjoyable.