Book Review – Attic Of The Mind by Hemmie Martin

This is a book I picked up at #Darker2017 and was looking forward to reading…

As Always we start with the Goodreads blurb…

The time is right for Lilith Fields to seek revenge. Twenty-five years have passed since the sadistic abuser tortured the patients of the psychiatric ward, and now Lily has decided he must meet his final judgment. As her plan unfolds she discovers she is not the only one with a dark secret. Now, only time will tell if Lily’s demons will be vanquished, and just how many people are really involved.

The first thing I need to comment on is the size, and let me state this is not something that I consider as part of the review just personal preference, I print my books as 5 x 8 inches, this book is printed in 6 x 9 inches. I picked up a couple of books this size when I was at #Darker and I think it is partly to do with which formatting and printing services the author uses, while it does not make a great deal of difference and it will not stop me buying a book I really want to read I do find them quite cumbersome to hold. While they are closer in size to a hardback they do not have the rigidity and flap around in your hands, like I say this is personal preference but has also been interesting to me as a writer because I did at one point contemplate printing in this size so I would be interested if anyone has any feedback on that.

So onto the book itself, I loved the story. Every character you meet has their own secrets and flaws, it is hard to really judge any of them morally as this book challenges the reader to judge cause and effect, where the line between retribution and revenge lies. It is hard to feel real empathy with any of these characters, even the enigmatic Lilith is difficult to pity, this does not take away from the enjoyment of the book, it makes them more real, more lifelike.

I like to be careful not to give away spoilers however it becomes apparent very quickly who the main antagonist is, the former charge nurse Finlay Walker, if I had to pick up on one thing to criticise it would be his back story. Part way through we are given a brief insight to his childhood, I think I would like to have seen this avenue developed a little more, while it is not necessary to the plot in some ways the fact it was introduced does raise the question of if there is more to know, there is the potential for a prequel or a spin-off regarding the past and the influence other characters may have had on the overall outcome of this story.

As I have stated before it is hard sometimes judging a book by an author you have met, liked and you respect but in this case it is easy, the book was an excellent read that I have no problem recommending to anyone who is interested in dark, psychological dramas, there are twists and turns and just when you think you know where you are with everyone you can still find yourself falling down another rabbit-hole. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.

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Lazy Sunday #48

Afternoon, you wonderful people.

I am sat here at my desk right now coffee in hand attempting to defrost.

You know I had to get the selfie from Snapchat after all we all love unicorns. Today has been a busy day, I went down to my daughters to bleach her hair ready to attempt a colour tomorrow then when we left there the monster and I headed to a local park Pokemon hunting. First, let me say that the reason he is only just on the Pokemon Go app is that it was not available for my Windows phone so the minute I got a new android phone it was one of the first things he asked me to do. Secondly, let me point out that while this may be a fun thing to do in the Summer chasing imaginary creatures round a park in the cold is not so much fun. My journeys to work and back now involve my being logged into the game to get distance to hatch eggs and to spin discs every time I pass certain buildings to get him balls to catch these creatures with, I don’t really mind that much because it is not as if I have to go out of my way but it is annoying that it is a drain on my battery and I can’t listen to my podcasts at the same time. The good thing is of course that it gets kids outside and exercising and in our case, by default, it means more exercise for me especially on a Sunday when I am prone to be a little sedate. It is also something we can do together though I can only name a handful of the creatures we have caught.

 

It is now evening I am afraid I got distracted chatting to a friend. My #NanoWriMo stats have not changed since last week, a combination of overtime and illness on top of normal work had a detrimental effect on my focus and I now need to write around 2.5k a day to hit target. It is still possible, I have a week off work at the end of the month so I can make up some words there hopefully.

I have quite a few different things going on in my head at the minute to deal with as well as writing so I am struggling to keep my focus on sitting and getting the right thoughts down. Right now writing wise things are going well, but I think sometimes when one aspect of your life is improving it does make you look at other areas that maybe are not doing quite as well, there are aspects of my life I would like to change but for now they will have to wait, I have far too much going on in other areas that I am excited about.

Lazy Sunday #47

Hello, been a while since we sat and had a chat like this but got to be honest things have been crazy here the last month. First, I had an amazing weekend at #Darker in Peterborough, which I have told you all about, then we had a two week delay awaiting the delivery of my grandson, he certainly made hard work of coming into the world. Family, obviously, came first for the next couple of weeks trying to help out my daughter and her partner as much as possible.

We arrive at the first of November and I start #NanoWriMo. I write for one day, yes, you heard me right, one day, before my grandson caused more drama and had a day in hospital. I am not going to go into details too much but let’s just say that a swollen head is enough to give parents and grandparents alike near nervous breakdowns.

So today I take up my #NanoWriMo baton once more and need to play catch up so here are my current stats…

Words written – 1667

Words that should be written by the end of today – 8,335

Words in deficit – 6668

Number of words needed daily to finish on target  – 1880

As you can see not a total disaster as such yet, I am going to update you twice a week, once on a Wednesday, from a purely writing standpoint, and this post on a Sunday, about the actual issues or benefits of fitting this into everyday life. I had signed up for #NanoWriMo once before, but then other things got in the way and I never even started, as I have been struggling to get back into work mode I thought this year was the perfect time to give it a go as a means to getting back to daily writing. I can already see certain days will be easier than others for me, I am probably better off on days where I can work during the day rather than evenings. I have realised if I come home tired that I find it harder to write, and if I am foolish enough to have a bath to unwind after a stressful day, well I can write off any writing at all for that evening, because the most stressful thing I am likely to do is turn the page of a book or hit play on the remote control.

The one piece of advice I would give anyone doing Nano is, don’t get too hung up comparing the number of words you have written to anyone elses. I know people who post their word counts every day, people who hit the target well before anyone else, the thing is everyone works at their own pace. I could sit and type out the menu for our local chinese over and over again and hit a word count target, the fact is, that does not make a book. You aim to hit the targets to help yourself become more productive in terms of writing daily and  to improve your own writing habits but the thing that really matters is the quality of the story you are telling. The grammar etc, yes that will all be sorted in the editing but while people can generally overlook a stray comma or two, they will not forgive a weak plot or storyline. Focus on your own story and though of course we all look at others word counts (let’s face it I just shared mine) the thing is to remember that as long as you are doing the bet you can working in your life then you don’t need to worry about anything else.

Are you doing #NanoWriMo this year? How do you feel seeing the word counts posted all over social media?

#Darker Reflections – Part Three

I had a quick shower and washed my hair then removed the last traces of the days make up, then quickly applied the evening war paint and did my hair, then disaster. I had not tried my dress on with the bra I intended to wear with it and had not allowed for the v being deeper than the bra allowed for. I tried pinning the dress but it just wasn’t possible, luckily in one respect the bra I wore during the day did actually fit in the dress, unfortunately it did not offer a huge amount of support and the dress was a little looser around the chest than I remembered.

At the end of the day I had three choices to hide in my room for the rest of the evening, to wear the outfit I had worn during the day and look completely out of place or to bite the bullet and hope the dress stayed in place.

I reached the bar and was glad to see others totally glammed up as well, I was complemented on my dress numerous times and started to feel more relaxed. There was a photographer there as there was at Leeds last year but these were far better in that they set up a backdrop instead of just a white screen and we all piled in for a group photo.

It seemed like we had barely been to the bar before the doors opened and there was a call for us to be seated, this was where I got really nervous, I had no idea who I would be sat with but I could not have asked for a better group, the whole table chatted, swapped stories and generally laughed our way through a delicious meal.

By the time the food was cleared several people left for and early night, it had been a long day already but I am thrilled I managed to hang on another hour or so and join the others on the dance floor, while carefully ensuring I didn’t fall out of my dress. In truth, there is only this photo that ended up a little risqué taken by the delightful Chris Turnbull, let me say it did cause a few comments when he tagged me in it and it appeared on my FB page and although the photo looks like I am barely in the dress let me assure you it really was angle the photo was taken at.

After hitting the dance floor and a lot of photos where you can see us all becoming increasingly dishevelled by our exploits I decided to call it a night exhilarated but exhausted. The smile still plastered across my face.

The journey home was even worse than the one going, trains cancelled the ones after packed, I was pleased to at least have a travelling companion in one of the lovely ladies, Nadia, who I had met previously at the Leeds ticket launch. When I eventually reached home I was shattered by still on a high from the whole weekend.

The high remained in place as I spent the next couple of days catching up on all the tags and notifications, it remained right up until Wednesday when I was forced to return to reality and the day job, it was a determined crash back down to earth.

For a day or two I really felt quite despondent, but then began to think about the overall experience, the fact is if anything that slump has made me even more determined to be able to quit the day job and make a career from writing. I could not have asked for a better experience for my first signing event, I have made so many new friends and know that I can handle anything thrown at me now. Yes, I made a few mistakes in terms of budgeting for the event, leaving things until the last minute but I have learnt so much from this experience and would highly recommend other authors to take a chance and get involved in these types of events, roll on March when we get to do it all over again in Leeds.

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Book Review – Retail Stole My Life: The Bitter Rants Of A Supermarket Worker By Rob Gonzo

I need to give a shout out to my friend Mandy who pointed me towards this book…

First the Goodreads blurb…

This book dishes the true dirt on working in a supermarket – from the bizarre customers you will meet to the managers you will learn to loathe. Best of all, you can read it for free using the kindle unlimited app for Iphone, Android and Windows. Own your copy today.

First let’s talk about the blurb because, to be honest, if I had come across this book with that blurb I would not have read it, as it was it was recommended to me so I thought let’s give it a go.

If you have ever worked in retail you are going to chuckle through this book, in fact if you have ever worked in any job where you are under a manager you are going to find bits that apply to you no matter what your job is, the interview process made me laugh and remember my own, which was not dissimilar. As many of you know I work in a supermarket as my day job so the book should have been a huge hit with me, and it was to a point. In many aspects, the book did not go far enough, not sure if it was through fear of being identified or the worry that no one would believe some of the more colourful tales that most retail workers could tell.  I have commented before if I wrote a book about my personal experiences that people would dismiss them as being too far-fetched to be true. So while this book was amusing and did make me laugh it could have gone further.

My second issue with this is something I hate bringing up, but I have to, none of us are perfect, and I can forgive a few grammatical errors, I can even forgive the occasional typo but there are a few spelling mistakes in this book which as it is fairly short I would have expected to be picked up on. I feel I have to bring this up because firstly they are obvious and secondly because if I am suggesting you spend your money on something I have to be honest.

I struggled to decide on a score for this because I did enjoy it but I have to be honest and consider it in terms of what it is and my expectations, in the end, I decided that 3.5 out of 5 is a fair score (though as I mark up on Goodreads because they do not give half score options it will get a 4 there). The book has potential and I do believe the author has talent and an excellent conversational style of narration, I just needed it to go further and be run through a good spell checker or even the free Grammarly program (which I do now use).

Book Review – The Debt & The Doormat By Laura Bernard

So this is another book by an author I have become friends with on FB and will be seeing in Leeds in March so once more I was nervous when I started reading…

The Goodreads blurb says…

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of university. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart.

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates. There’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan.

Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over.

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

The truth is I don’t really read a lot of Chick Lit these days, in my early twenties I would read a lot more than I do now (if only there were more hours in the day) so I would alternate the genres I read, one serious book usually fantasy or historical, you know the type things that require concentration, then I would read something lighter, chick lit or comedy.

I have to be honest I picked this up, read the first couple of pages and was not sure I was really going to enjoy this but hands up, I was wrong! Once I got into it I was hooked, I don’t normally read on my breaks at work but this book made me anti-social and two nights running caused me to be laying in the bath long after the water had got cold. If I was going to be super critical I would question whether the main character Poppy needed to have quite so many incidents happen to her in one book, it did push it to the bounds of believability that one person could be that unlucky but in this genre it is pretty normal to go for exaggerated plot lines.

The only real fault I have with this book was at times the timeline got a little confusing, one minute you are jumping forward hours while another it is weeks with no real distinction, a couple of times I did find myself having to backtrack a little to just check how long had passed but overall this is right up there with the books I loved by Freya North and Sophia Kinsella and I will definitely be checking out the next in the series.

So the scores on the doors, well on Goodreads they do not allow for half marks so I will, of course, markup but here on my blog it is a 4.5 out of 5 stars just losing half a point for the fact I had to step out of the moment to check on time frames occasionally otherwise it would have been full marks.

Book Review – My Love Forever (The Night Movers Vampire #1) by Helen Bright

Okay I am going to put a disclaimer here that I am friends with this author on FB, I am also going to say that I hate reading books by people I like as people because it is horrible to face the fact you might not like what they have written, but I promise you this will still be an impartial review, I am nothing but honest and will admit if I had really hated it I would have just pretended to have not read it yet and said nothing, so with all that said let’s get to it…

We begin with the Goodreads blurb as always…

Alex knew Julia was meant to be his when he saw her fourteen years ago with her father at a party thrown by his company Night Movers.
She was a young innocent eighteen year old and off to university shortly, so he decided to let her live a little before he made her his. After all he was a nine hundred and fifty year old vampire living and working in his company, alongside the humans he employed in modern day Yorkshire. He had waited this long to find love so he could wait a little longer.

Not quite a year later Julia is engaged and later married.
Alex thought his chance at love with Julia was gone.

Fourteen years on and a terrible accident leaves Julia with a devastating tragedy that no parent should have to go through, and her marriage breaks down.
Julia then finds herself back home in Yorkshire and applying for a Job with Night Movers.
Will Alex convince Julia to be his after all she has been through? And can she accept the fact that he is a born immortal vampire?

Gina has sacrificed her happiness to stay in a loveless marriage for the sake of her family for many years. But now they are grown and she’s still unhappy but won’t leave because she feels like a failure.
Nik, a vampire and co-owner of night movers is in love with Gina, but she lacks confidence in herself and can never accept that someone like Nik could love her.
Will Nik convince her that she’s all he needs?
This new paranormal romance takes you to the village of Barrowfield where the Night Movers transport company, owned by three vampires is based.
Sadness, humour, friendship, love and sex, makes this series a must read for fans who like their paranormal romance with extra bite.
Due to adult content this book should only be read by persons aged 18 or over.

So as you see a vampire story, so we have worry number one, as my daughter would say I am a vampire snob, I love the Anne Rice and Brom Stoker style of classic vampire, so I was a little worried how I would fair with this story right from the beginning but actually I really enjoyed this, the author creates a mythology for her vampires backgrounds, while not exactly an origin tale for the species she begins intertwining a historical element I hope will be revisited and explored later at a further time within the series.

She quickly develops the personalities of the main characters and with the clever use of humour, she allows you to connect with them as individuals. Of course, there are characters you warm to more, and I have to say that I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series in the hope the character and plot development continues and we see each of the vampires receive their own lead role in a book. I love the setting, again I was nervous about a rural setting for this in terms of the credibility for a vampire living there long term but this is again dealt with plausibly within the plot.

The final thing to discuss is, of course, the adult content, and although I still have a few personal reservations about vampires having sex, the scenes themselves are incredibly well written and realistically written also, the only possible worry is certain scenes are so well written that it makes you wonder if the author is writing from personal experience which is fine with an author you are never likely to meet and slightly different with one you are seeing in a few weeks.

So I think you can tell I loved this book, despite all my reservations, the facts that counted against it before I started reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I recommended it to my daughter and downloaded the rest via Kindle Unlimited. I am going to start leaving links for the books of fellow Indie Authors after the scores to make it easier for you if you want to check them out after. So I guess we need a score, I could hardly put this down so it gets the full 5 out of 5 stars and a hearty recommendation for anyone looking for a great paranormal romance to read.

You can find the book here

If you would like to learn more about the author then you can find her on FB here and be sure to say hello, she is lovely.

Free Today!!!!!!

 

 

****48hr Flash Freebie****

Chance to grab a great beach read in time for your holidays and even better it is free!

If you are coming along to one of the signings this is a great introduction to the way my mind works before delving into the darkness of my novels.

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.

 

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!