Audiobook Review – The Vanishing Witch By Karen Maitland

I picked this up as part of a two for one offer so was not sure what to expect other than it sounded interesting from the blurb…

The Goodreads blurb says about the book…

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

First, let’s deal with the facts

I really enjoyed this book, first, the narrator, though many of the characters were female the actor reading the book was able to perform each part in a way which allowed you to differentiate between them and not be distracted by the fact it was a man. He read it was enough passion to draw you into the story without distracting from the actual words and I have to say that is something I am discovering to be incredibly important when coming to audiobooks and have already changed my mind about buying some books based on listening to a sample of the narrator’s voice.

I love the overall all story, which I am not going to spoil by telling you, let us just say it is a nice tale of witchcraft. lust and murder. The balance between historical influence and plot is nicely done, I especially like the snippets of witch lore at the beginning of the chapters. The perspective switches from one character to another as you go through the chapters but at no point do you feel like it is repetitive as it can be telling a story from multiple viewpoints, the fact that the speaker is named at the start of each chapter also aids in keeping the story straight.

So the score, part of my wants to give it full marks, but there is something which holds me back, I think it is in part pacing, there are periods where the story moves slower, then you reach the end and it seems to fly through complex revelations, there is a lack of resolution regarding certain characters, which though not affecting the storyline you do wish you had more knowledge of their fates. I decided, in the end, to log it as a four on Goodreads but for this blog, I am going for 4.5 stars out of 5 and would recommend this in audiobook form.

 

Let’s Talk Clothes!

Okay so you are lucky enough to have got a place at a signing event, you have the books, the swag and are ready, so what is left? Well, what are you going to wear?

So the night do is usually easier, it is normally formal and many times has a theme to help you decide on your outfit this was me with my daughter at the Leeds Event last year…

But it can get expensive, as you start attending more events you will meet up with the same people numerous times which means you cannot invest in one little black dress and re-wear it.  On the other hand, unless the day job pays really well or you have hit the jackpot with a best-selling novel you probably don’t want to be buying new dresses every few months that you can only wear the once or at least only once for now and then put to be rotated in a wardrobe. So the alternative as I have been looking into is eBay,  as I mentioned on Sunday I have found it to be a treasure trove of dresses bought for weddings, cruises and other suave social occasions that one has the excuse to dress up for. Worn once or twice these end up going for a fraction of the price of the new dress, likewise new clothes with tags show up in abundance, I am guessing like some of the clothes in my wardrobe these are bought but don’t fit and kept with the intention of fitting them one day or they just don’t get round to returning them within the correct time frame.

However, it is not just the ball/evening dress you have to consider, let’s start with travelling, you obviously need something comfortable but also some thing that will make the right impression at the hotel when you show up, then the evening prior to the signing you will need to eat, probably meet a few of the other authors in the bar or just hang out with them.

Then the big one your signing outfit, now I am pretty sure smart casual is the standard, it has to be comfortable enough to wear all day and practical, you don’t want to wear linen and look all crumpled after five minutes. There is though a secondary consideration, and that is your brand, does the way you dress reflect your work and personality? I am not for one second suggesting fancy dress, but if you write medieval fantasy would your readers really expect to see you in a floral, floaty dress. just as you work to bring your image together in terms of covers complementing each other, business cards matching other PR materials then you want to present an image of yourself that will both stick and be engaging. In some ways, it seems to me that it is almost like creating your own personal work uniform, it is the clothing you wear to put you in author mode when you are public.

I have bright purple hair, or to be fair this week it is the end of a dye cycle so it is more a mix of lilac and grey, so I am not what you would consider to be conventional, however, being plus size I am also acutely aware that not all clothes suit me or look good on me,  I am also aware that some of the things I might like the idea of wearing would not fit with my writing. While I am not saying that you should role play your characters I do think common sense comes into play, I write medieval fantasy, wearing Steampunk style clothes would possibly send confusing messages even though I love the style.

So what am I going to wear? For me I think it is looking like trousers suits with shirts or blouses, I like the idea of the traditional tweedy look against my purple hair, it allows me to show my personality with my hair but the suit gives a level of professionalism, and, rather than go for plain black, the idea of the tweed or possibly brown pinstripe appeals because it is the twist on the expected.

Of course, I don’t rule out the thought that I am over thinking this, but for me, I like the idea of having separate mix and match type items for wearing to signings.

Lazy Sunday #45 & Vlog Time #105 – Swag Tales

I am late once again , a whole day this time and you will notice that the Vlog is also a couple of days late, if you follow me on other social media you might have spotted me in Leeds a few times over the last week or so, this was as my dad was in hospital there which has of course meant you have not heard from me. He is home now and hopefully will manage to stay there, but, you never know these parents are as hard to keep an eye on as toddlers, always up to mischief the minute you turn your eyes away from them.

I just finished watching Season our of Game of Thrones, I wish I had started it earlier so I could have got involved more in discussions about it as it went along but I am determined to be completely up to date ready for the final season so I don’t have to quick scroll past posts on FB, as it stands at the minute I am supporting the Mother of Dragons of course lol. So let’s get on with what we are here for…blogs!

  1. First up is a blog I have been following for quite a while and love, having a son a similar age I can relate to a lot of the things she posts, love her lego hacks here though I just generally avoid lego lol but we also love playing board games and the monster is a monopoly master http://www.chiswickmum.com/2017/07/29/lego_hacks/
  2. Next up is one that hits close to home because I remember with my grandma there were times where it felt like the woman I had known had left before her body left but at others she wuld tell me stories of her childhood, though she was never quite sure who I was at times, she knew I was related she just lost track of how https://jmgoyder.com/2017/07/29/a-person-with-dementia-is-not-a-person-who-is-dead-and-gone/
  3. The next two posts are related, both deal with how a story comes to life, this post by the lovely Stephanie discusses how her novel came to life for her https://stephanie-hurt.com/2017/07/29/when-you-dream/
  4. The last one shows more of the process, how an idea comes to you but then you are left with the question of what that idea should be turned into

 

 

Book Review – The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

This was a book I bought purely based on the blurb…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing. You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

****

‘How well do we ever know those around us? THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR will keep you glued to the pages in search of the answer. Even then, you’ll never guess the truth…until it’s too late’ LISA GARDNER

‘I thought the read-it-in-one-sitting thing was a cliche. Not any more’ LINWOOD BARCLAY

‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

***The Sunday Times bestseller***

PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF ALMOST ANYTHING.

‘2016’s most talked-about new thriller’ Stylist

‘A twisty, utterly riveting tale that will send readers on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions. Shocking revelations kept me turning the pages like a madwoman’ TESS GERRITSEN

As you can see this book sounds amazing and has some high profile writers championing it, the blurb fascinated me, but I was dubious, generally I find very few books live up to their hype.

I am going to confess half a dozen pages in I nearly ditched the book. It was something about the style it was written in, if felt a little stilted, disjointed but I was intrigued enough to give it a little longer and I am so glad I did. The style fits the story perfectly, as the storyline unfolds you understand more why the disconnect and slight disjointedness is completely appropriate. I hate spoiling stories so I am going to be really careful here because the plot twists are a total delight, but if you just go from the blurb as I did when I decided to read it the whole idea of worrying about what could be found in your own home is something I have considered before. Okay, I amy have been joking when I have said previously that if anyone ever checks my google search history I would be in trouble but think about it, if something tragic happened what do you have on yours or what books and films do you have in your house that someone could read a different meaning into? Scary isn’t it.

I read this book in a few days, a very rare thing for me these days, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it, I whole heartedly give this book 5 out of 5 stars and say if you pick it up, and struggle in those first few pages as I did, stick at it!

Live Event Catch Up!!!!

Hi guys, so I decided today I would post a quick round up of the events I am signed up for over the next couple of years so far! Now I know with a few of these it might seem like they are so far away but people have to book time off work, save up and lets face it find the perfect dress for the evening do lol. Even if you cannot make it to an event then I highly recommend joining the FB groups, there are loads of cool things and giveaways going on in these groups so it is worth the time to pop in and visit them.

First before I start a couple of weeks ago I did the Thirty question challenge you can read my answers here but the wonderful #Darker author Joey Paul has taken up the gauntlet and you can read her answers to the question by clicking here.

So let’s begin and take the events in order…

The Darker Side of Fiction

Hosted by the wonderful Hourglass Events Ladies Jo & Rachel

There is a promotion running at the minute on remaining tickets…

***Summer Mayhem Competition ***

Do you want to win an Amazon Gift Card?!

This is our last offer before the Darker Side of Fiction Event on the 7th October!!
So we KNOW you love reading crime, horror, fantasy, thriller, sci-fi , paranormal and dystopian books which means you’ll want to win the £15 Amazon voucher we are giving away!!!
All you need to do is buy your Darker ticket before midnight on Tuesday 29th August and be entered into this fabulous prize draw.
You know there’s always room for a few more signed books 😈

Just click the Ticket Link
https://thedarkersideoffiction2017.eventbrite.co.uk/

You can join the FB group here and I am going to be hosting a takeover there on Wednesday evening 19th July from 9pm BST

The End of Year Indie Masquerade Party

This one is not a signing but a party to celebrate all things Indie, it is open for readers, authors and bloggers and has been organised by the amazing C.A. Bell you can find out more here in the FB group and apply for tickets, I would say if you want to come book sooner rather than later it is being held in Birmingham on 25th November 2017

Leeds Author Event 2018

Again hosted by the lovely Hourglass Events ladies on Saturday, 3 March 2018 from 10:00 to 23:30

You can get tickets and find details of the evening event here  

The FB group can be found here  I will be doing a page takeover there this Thursday 20th July at 10pm

Shenanigans West Midlands Signing 2018

Hosted by the delightful Maria Lazarou This event will be held in Telford on 14th April 2018, tickets go on sale later this month and if you would like to find out more then the place to find out more is the FB group here

The Heart Of Sheffield Signing Event 2019

Hosted by the fabulous Yvonne and Helen this is a new new signing event and the first they have hosted though it is lining up to be a fantastic event. You can find out more booking details here and keep track of things at the FB group here and there is a prize draw running until the end of this month for people buying tickets

 

There maybe one or two more things in the pipeline that I cannot talk about yet and I prmoise to go into events in a lot more detail in weeks to come.

 

Book Review – Hallowe’en Party By Agatha Christie

I have to be honest I struggled to find a copy of the cover to my edition but finally…

Let’s begin as normal with the Goodreads blurb…

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples… At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…

This book is a little darker than some of the other Agatha Christie books, it also is one of the few that breaks from her formulaic narratives and places the characters in a slightly different position to the normal you would expect. I confess Agatha Christie is a master at blindsiding you at times not always keeping the villain hidden but sometimes the motive or the people who are in collusion are the twists that come unexpectedly. This is one of those cases, you think you have a good idea about half way through about the guilty parties you are right to a point but it is the extra layers that make this a stand out for me in terms of her books. I make no secret of the fact I love Poirot but I also appreciate that for some the books are too quaint and tame, they lack the sex, gore and violence of modern books (my own included)  but they are nonetheless still wonderfully crafted tales and still worthy of reading.

So onto a score well it has to be 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

Book Review – The Surgeon By Tess Gerritson

Confession this was a reread…

Sorry for the quality of the picture, I always try to find a picture of the cover I have on my book, so on with the Goodreads blurb…

In Boston, there’s a killer on the loose. A killer who targets lone women, who breaks into their apartments and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician – a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them.

But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli begin their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful medic with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape and attempted murder but she shot her attacker dead. Now she is being targeted by the new killer who seems to know all about her past, her work, and where she lives.

The man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her…

The fact I decided to reread this does give you a clue I enjoyed it, though to be fair my book piles are all messed up so I may reread a lot over the coming months. This is the first book in the Rizzoli & Isles series though we do not actually meet Isles at this point. I had forgotten how little we actually get to know about Rizzoli in this book and went into it with knowledge gained from the rest of the series and influenced by the TV series and I have to say it does actually change the reading. This first meeting with Rizzoli she is brash, reactive and a little bit of a stereotype, she reminds me of Cagney from the Cagney & Lacey TV series, I think this is in part because other than the victims she is the only female character and is made to look harder as a result. I really did believe when I picked this book up I would award it a five, I am sure that is what I would have probably done after the initial read but in this read through there were issues.

The book is supposed to be the first in a series centred around two characters, yet we only meet one of them, I can forgive this because I would assume when the author first wrote this she possibly did not know she would make it a series and involved the second female character, however for the first part of this book Rizzoli is almost a secondary character and almost treated like the bitchy woman scorned in some places. The interactions with Rizzoli and many of her colleagues are quite clichéd, though I appreciate it is realistic that a woman cop has to work harder to prove herself  certain aspects such as the tampax in the water bottle I would hope would be outdated with improvements to workplace equal rights laws, but to be fair I cannot comment to whether this would be factually true. Overall I still enjoyed it and I know I loved it the first time round, I cannot decide if you would enjoy this more going into it with the knowledge from the TV series or not, I think it may spoil the story but give the character more depth.

I had to stop to think about the score I would give this and decided that I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars, it will be interesting to reread more of this series.

Looking towards the future!

Over the last couple of months while I have been suffering from lethargy in terms of posting I have been working away behind the scenes and I thought today I would take the chance to fill you in on some of what is going on in the background.

The first thing is I have signed up for a course on Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry it is a free 4 week course, just 3 hours a week. you might wonder why I would take on doing extra study when I am already snowed under and I am not gaining a qualification from it but I am looking at it as a chance to gain knowledge which may be useful going forward. We all know in this Internet age that cyber-piracy is something many authors are coming up against, work plagiarised or republished on pirate sites where they are given away for free, and while some will argue that gaining readers this way is a counterbalance to the loss of earning on that book, for others it is a loss they cannot afford. We all write the copyright notice at the front of our books but how much of it do we understand, what actual rights we have and protections are offered by it. If you are interested you can find more details here.

The other thing I have been looking into is publishing options, it was brought up on FB a couple of weeks ago that there were other options for print on demand other than KDP and Createspace, so I took a little time to look into it. The most popular way is the use Createspace however I have found a suggestion that long term it may be best to use a combination of Createspace and Ingram Sparks, you can read the article I found helpful here. The trilogy I am working on at the minute will remain on Createspace as setting up the other requires money to invest in buying ISBN numbers but I have begun the process of getting ready for this for future series. When you buy the block of numbers you register them to an imprint name and I have decided to go with Raven’s Rest Press, I have set up an email, FB and Twitter to grab the name there, I will be adding the logo to my other books and I would not be averse to perhaps collaborating with other indie authors who want to publish under the name and help promote each others work. I am not going to  go too much into things here as obviously I am still setting it all up but I will keep you up to date with my experiences. Right off to the day job now after all until the books start selling I have to fund the present as well as investing in my future.