J is for jester – #AtoZChallenge

jester

[jes-ter]
noun

1.

a person who is given to witticisms, jokes, and pranks.

2.

a professional fool or clown, especially at a medieval court.
Let’s start the timer…
My initial thought when I think of the jester is to think of Harley Quinn and the Joker, probably because I only just re-watched Suicide Squad a few days ago but when I consider the actual definition I am reminded of a book I once read though I cannot remember the title. When you first think of the medieval court jester I think it is easy to dismiss them as fools, weaklings, people of no consequence but when you actually think about it logically they really were in an incredibly dangerous and potentially powerful position.
Think about it they had more access to the monarch than probably anyone else, they could hang around without raising suspicion after all their job was to be there at their masters beck and call, to amuse him whenever he saw fit, and because they would often be of small stature, possibly with impediments or deformities, either physical or mental, that would have held them back in life. In the book I read the jester was a dwarf if I remember correctly but incredibly intelligent and used his position to manipulate the King’s opinion on his courtiers, of course it had to be done carefully mock the wrong person who had too much power and there may be repercussions but do it in such a way as to make the person look bad if they react to the jester and subtle undermining of a person’s character can be achieved.
Got distracted and the timer has gone off but going to leave it short as I am behind on these posts.

I is for insane – #AtoZChallenge

insane

[in-seyn]
adjective

1.

not sane; not of sound mind; mentally deranged.

2.

of, relating to, or characteristic of a person who is mentally deranged:

insane actions; an insane asylum.

3.

utterly senseless:

an insane plan.
And the timer begins…
I think I am insane for taking one this challenge every April, don’t get me wrong I love it but is always seems that things crop up when I try, this is probably why I don’t try doing Nano in November. Insanity is a perfect subject for me I remember first seeing this info-graphic which I am going to insert here…
now you can obviously see why this made me stop and contemplate so many of the things you could be committed for let’s start with the first, being kicked by a horse! I totally get that if you are kicked in the head by the horse it could cause some form of brain damage but what if the horse kicked you and broke your leg, then clipped your head as you fell down but did not actually do any damage to your head do you still get locked up? Does it make a difference what you were doing to the horse when it kicks you? You can imagine for the writer side of me the endless possibilities each of the ‘reasons’ above. Many of them of course were aimed at women but I imagine that a few young men may have also ended up confined should they fail to live up to their families wishes.
My ex’s mum worked in an asylum a few years ago, a place which is now closed down, but she always said it was so sad that there were women there who were institutionalised by their years spent shut away, usually on the orders of their families for falling in love with the wrong people, getting caught having sex outside marriage and having children out of wedlock. I have an idea in my head for a story involving an asylum and a rich family which I would love to write at some point.
What is surprising is how many of the reasons that a man could probably be committed involve trauma, I know your normal hospital would not have been equipped to deal with brain damage or mental illness but you wonder how shutting someone away with depression or shell shock, in an institution full of people with serious mental illness (though of course many would not have the sort of diagnosed conditions we know of today) could eve hope to lead to their recovery.
Personally I would have been committed on numerous counts, let’s just mention the novel reading and as the timer is going leave you to imagine the others lol.
Leave a comment below for which you are most likely to be committed for is you dare!

E is for espionage – #AtoZChallenge

espionage

[es-pee-uh-nahzh, -nij, es-pee-uhnahzh]
noun

1.

the act or practice of spying.

2.

the use of spies by a government to discover the military and political secrets of other nations.

3.

the use of spies by a corporation or the like to acquire the plans, technical knowledge, etc., of a competitor:

industrial espionage.
I am afraid you will definitely be getting a couple of days for the next few weeks until I catch up on my blog posts so without further ado lets start the timer…
When I think of a spy I automatically think James Bond, technically when you think about it he is rather crap as a spy, everyone knows who he is. The idea of the spy is that he is supposed to perform covert operations not walk in announcing his presence with a calling card, but then again the bad guys may as well be walking round with flashing arrows above their heads advertising walking evil. That does not mean I don’t love watching Bond films for all their failings, I love the gadgets as well the pens that double as hypodermic needles, briefcases where the blade sticks out if you push one lock one way but gases everyone if the push the other.  I love the film the Kingsman for similar reasons though that has the added advantage of Colin Firth.
Now Colin Firth’s character is easier to see as a spy in some ways charming, a quintessential English eccentric who it would be impossible to believe actually capable of fooling anyone. Another E word there eccentric, it always seems to be linked to English or British people, usually of a certain class, but why is it the we Brits affectionately label our stranger countrymen as eccentric rather than freaks or weirdo’s? do other countries have eccentrics or are they more damning? Is it the potential for harming others that turn the eccentric into a threat and therefore something more sinister?
When you think of the films that portray what it is to be British over the last few decades they tend to be grimy violent films filled with drugs and violence or filled with middle and upper class ‘characters’ usually loveable failures, think Bridget Jones, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and one of my favourites, which brings us back to Colin Firth again, Love Actually. I was going to post a link here but had to come back and alter it when I realised I couldn’t find one. I love the fact that mainly they were happy endings to the stories but can’t help wondering if the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman story would have had a happy ending, because in my head at the end of the first film they didn’t, they were the one couple who did not make it and the sad passing of Rickman left a gap that could not be filled. Any way time is more or less up mainly as I got distracted once again, in comments tell me do you think the Thompson/Rickman Love Actually marriage could have had a happy ending in the sequel?

Book Review – Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination By Helen Fielding

I think this is actually an interesting contrast to my last book review…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

At the close of the last millennium, Helen Fielding debuted the irrepressible (and blockbuster-bestselling) Bridget Jones. Now, Fielding gives us a sensational new heroine for a new era…Move over 007, a stunning, sexy-and decidedly female-new player has entered the world of international espionage. Her name is Olivia Joules (that’s “J.O.U.L.E.S. the unit of kinetic energy”) and she’s ready to take America by storm with charm, style, and her infamous Overactive Imagination.

How could a girl not be drawn to the alluring, powerful Pierre Ferramo-he of the hooded eyes, impeccable taste, unimaginable wealth, exotic international homes, and dubious French accent? Could Ferramo really be a major terrorist bent on the Western world’s destruction, hiding behind a smokescreen of fine wines, yachts, and actresses slash models? Or is it all just a product of Olivia Joules’s overactive imagination?

Join Olivia in her heart-stopping, hilarious, nerve-frazzling quest from hip hotel to eco-lodge to underwater cave, by light aircraft, speedboat, helicopter, and horse, in this witty, contemporary, and utterly unputdownable novel deluxe.

It may seen ironic that the last book I reviewed I complained about the plot being too far fetched but while the other die so within the thriller genre here in Rom-Com/Chick-Lit it works perfectly, the author mocks the very absurdity of the plots within the actual title, but here mixed with comedy it works brilliantly. The Bridget Jones author manages to create another cast of characters that grab the imagination though I have to say the lesser characters are less rounded than in the first Bridget Jones book, however it is not really an issue, as unlike those others, these are not likely to feature again. I did really enjoy this book, it is fun and an easy read which provides perfect escapism, it is definitely the perfect holiday read, there is a but though!

I was happily engrossed in this book until I noticed that I was running out of pages and seemed a long way from the story being resolved. The action in the last section of the book seems a little hurried and lacking in the detail and atmosphere building of the earlier sections, it is almost as if she was busy writing a great book and then it was pointed out she was reaching her word quota and had to finish it off quickly. I am not sure if the answer would have been to leave the last section for a next book and build up the previous action to the climax of this one or to just have risked making this one longer, I certainly would be happy to see Olivia have more adventures but only the author knows what her intentions are in that regard.

So to scores up until that last bit this would have had the perfect score but because I felt the last bit was on diet rations it gets 4.5 starts out of 5.

Book Review – Call After Midnight By Tess Gerritsen

This book is a stand alone novel and not part of the Rizzoli & Isles series

As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

THEY’D SAID HER HUSBAND WAS DEAD … SO WHY WAS SHE SURE HE WAS STILL ALIVE?

A ringing phone in the middle of the night shakes newlywed Sarah Fontaine awake. Expecting her husband’s call from London she hears instead an unfamiliar voice. Nick O’Hara from the US State Department is calling with devastating news: Geoffrey Fontaine, Sarah’s husband of two months, died in a hotel fire … in Berlin.

Convinced her husband is still alive, Sarah forces a confrontation with Nick that finds them crisscrossing Europe on a desperate search for Geoffrey. Trying to stay one heartbeat ahead of a dangerous killer, they become quarry in the clandestine world of international espionage, risking everything for answers that may prove fatal.

When you love a series by someone you can find their stand alone novels lacking, however I have read a couple of others which I had really enjoyed so I was optimistic about this one.  Sadly for me this book was a bit of a flop, the plot is a little implausible, well more than a little to be honest, but more than that the characters themselves just do not ring true.  Had it remained steadfastly a thriller, spy drama it might have been more engaging but the sub plot of a romance between the two main characters just makes it so hard to believe. We are asked to believe that the grieving widow, whose reaction to her husbands summons is to jump straight on a plane can fall in love with another man within a few weeks. I accept her husband is not who he pretends to be, nor does it turn out they had the happy marriage she thought they had but the reallocation of affections is too swift without the soul searching one would expect.

The pacing is fast and furious, in places a little too fast as you barely get time to get a real feel for places and situations before we are torn away to the next, I do love Tess Gerritsons books but for me this one just did not grab me the way her others have,

So time for a score and I hate having to give this score but I have to be fair so I award it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Book Review – The Children Of Witches By Sherri Smith

I picked this book up in a charity box and confess it was the title that grabbed my attention…

9211533

As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

When rumours of witchcraft sweep through the town, Anna’s son, Manfred, who does not communicate like other children, is seized by those who use him to pursue their own agenda. As innocent townsfolk are accused, a climate of fear prevails. No one is safe – and Manfred is at the heart of the terror.

I confess I did not really pay much attention to the blurb when I picked the book up, I had just done my shopping after finishing the day job and was having a flick through a trolley full of books we had, donations for which went to our local charity, I spotted it thought it looked interesting and grabbed it, throwing my donation into the tub. The actual blurb on the book is longer than the Goodreads one and plays a lot more on the witchcraft aspects of the story. I was really looking forward to it and it has some really good point it also has faults though.

The story is based on real events and at times I did question if it would have been better as a factual examination of the events or as taking it further and going for pure fiction. The story in some ways is reminiscent of the Salem witch trial, the way that it is the children who accuse and that they are encouraged to greater and greater accusations, the way the accusations are made and the way the villagers react to them is intriguing, as is the initial introduction of the Church into the mix however for me this was where the story became a little sluggish. There seemed, and maybe it is because I am not religious myself to be too much of the church at times and not enough of the family, I really cannot put my finger on what exactly the problem was because I understand with the plot where it was going but at times getting there felt like wading through treacle in wellies, which is a shame because the conclusion of the aspect of the story was really good. I was not really that taken by they end of the story overall, but to be fair because of the characters involved, even without having a real story it related to I do not think this was ever going to be a happily ever after story, I would like to have had more about the other characters on the periphery and how their lives were effected by the conclusion of the story. Do not get me wrong I enjoyed it and this is a good book in many ways but I do think it could have been an amazing book if it had explored the broader consequences rather than such a small character focus group.

So a score, I debated this but am going to go for three and a half stars out of five.

gold-stars-3-5

Lazy Sunday #30 (I know it’s Monday but it seems it did not publish despite me hitting the button!)

Good morning, I am trying to get back into the habit of posting this earlier in the day once again, however I keep getting distracted by Roger Federer bending over in front of me, and no don’t worry I am not delusional just watching the Australian open final as I write this so if you do not get it till after lunch it is his fault. I am a huge an of Federer, in an age where so many sports stars have become arrogant he remains a gent, there are no tabloid front pages of tantrums, affairs or drug scandals, I think he should be the sporting hero we show as a an example to children of what you should aspire to and though I am not a fan of Rafa Nadal I have to say this match has been a Tennis master-class.

So I haven’t spent much time this week at the computer again but I do need to seriously get stuck in to the various projects I am working on and that also means getting my routine back in place as far a blogging and everything else. I find once I start neglecting one aspect of my writing I neglect all, the slippery slope is very steep for me, so today I will be working on the newsletter for Wednesday, and don’t forget if you choose to sign up whether here, via FB or my website every month when you open the newsletter you are entered in a prize draw for that month, the prize changes each month and is announced in the newsletter. So let’s get on with a few blogs for this week…

  1. I can honestly say I have never considered writing nonfiction, I read lots, especially true crime but writing it always seemed so much like hard work to me, all that research and fact checking and then trying to make it different to all the other books on the same subject, So when I spotted this post on a blog I follow I thought hmmm this might be an interesting journey to follow, it might not be to everyones taste but I am in on seeing how he does in this class https://thevelveteenmaraca.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/serious-nonfiction/
  2. So, you have written a book, think the hard work is done, think again, it is only just beginning! Actually persuading people to read your book is tough, you give the ebook away in promotions it sits on kindles untouched but even if people read it getting them to leave that all important review is even harder. While I am not sure the classes are right for me I do think the articles on this blog are always well worth a read https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-sell-your-book-first-what-is-it/
  3. Next up is one that made me stop and think, about friendship, what it means and when it is not really friendship but something else which is hard to define, and how sometimes the only option we have for our own sanity is to walk away from a situation, I confess I have had some myself where I really should have followed her example in taking the practical steps a lot sooner than I did https://blessedwithastarontheforehead.com/2017/01/28/a-real-friend-knows-when-it-is-time-to-let-go-of-the-friendship/
  4. The next one is a photo blog, I love to travel but don’t get to do as much as I would like, damn that bank account lol but I do get to see places through the eyes of others here on WordPress and it is not only the sunny days that can give you a taste of a new location https://briangaynorphotography.com/2017/01/28/the-shroud-of-the-city/
  5. And lastly we go full circle, I talk about how for me to be more productive I must be busier and more organised for others the opposite is true but I love this description of being called back by the muse, I also fell in lose with one of my characters but not saying which one lol https://artistpath.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/enchanted/

As you may guess from the fact this is landing in your inboxes after one pm the tennis went to a fifth set, Roger distracted my by being awesome and he won so I am rather happy about that. off now to top up the coffee and update the website before cleaning the bathroom, what glamorous lives we authors lead!

Book Review – Doctor Who; Time Lord Fairy Tales By Justin Richards

I did wonder if I had already done this one but apparently not…

25361904

Goodreads says…

WE ARE ALL STORIES, IN THE END…

Fifteen tales of ancient wonder and mystery, passed down through generations of Time Lords.

Dark, beautiful and twisted, these stories are filled with nightmarish terrors and heroic triumphs, from across all of time and space.

There are times when you get incredibly excited about a book and for me this was one of them, I thought it would be a fun read and was looking forward to some unique fairy stories, however what you actually get is mainly a twist on traditional fairy tales. Now don’t get me wrong they are well written, entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I think the problem is it was not quite what I expected. I would love them to have taken things further and made the tales more alien. I think one issue is also who the book is aimed at, while I enjoyed it I am not so sure the monster would have understood everything in it, Doctor Who is a family show and although this is certainly not an adult book it is certainly aimed at older readers. I think my favourite story was Cinderella and the Magic Box, and one other good aspect of this book is it does feature a mix of new and classic Doctors.

So it needs a score and I am going to give it 4 out of 5 stars, good but not quite great.

4stars

Book Review – Me and the Fat Man By Julie Myerson

It has been a while but I do have a pile of books waiting t be reviewed so lets start the new year with getting back to it…

758687

And as always we begin with the blurb taken from Goodreads…

An unlikely romance, a psychological mystery, an erotic thriller–Me and the Fat Man is all and none of the above, eluding categorization as skillfully as it limns its characters’ desperate, love-starved lives. In Julie Myerson’s third novel, Amy waits tables in a small English city and in her spare time turns tricks for reasons she can’t quite articulate, even to herself. She’s married, but without love or lust or much of anything else. “I like you because you don’t expect anything,” her husband tells her when they first meet. An orphan born in Greece, Amy grew up in a foster home that was “creepy and electric,” where she was treated with ostensible fairness but always made to feel just how lucky she was that they took her in. “What’s flesh and blood? Not blood and string and fat like on a joint of meat, but just this person smiling and smiling at the stupidest things about you,” she muses, and thinks, “I’d have given anything for that.”

Then a stranger named Harris walks into the restaurant and promises to give Amy back her past, claiming to have known her mother. Slowly he draws Amy into his life and introduces her to Gary, the gentle fat man of the title. Prompted by Harris, the two find themselves in an affair; what’s surprising is that they fall in love, the last thing either of their lives has led them to expect. But Gary has secrets of his own, and is strangely in Harris’s thrall. The key to both of their pasts lies on the Greek island of Eknos, where Amy’s life comes spiraling together in a way that seems both improbable and true–like everything else in this novel, from its offbeat eroticism to the painful physicality of its prose. Me and the Fat Man is bleak and magical in equal measure. –Mary Park

I did not actually buy this book, it was one which came free with a newspaper and if I am honest I did not have high expectations. The story is a very strange one, none of the main characters are ones you feel sympathy for, in fact it is easier to dislike them which makes sticking with the story quite hard at times. It is a very strange plot in many ways with the real interesting elements not coming in until you are over half way through the book, to be honest several times I came close to putting it down, and if you are looking for a happily ever after or even just a definite ending this is not the book for you. It is well written and some of the descriptive passages are brilliant at evoking the places and events, it really does come down to whether you feel the need to relate to characters.

I did sort of enjoy it but felt at the end I was left wanting more answers, it was a little like catching a glimpse of something happening through frosted glass, you get the gist but feel the details are lacking, without giving away spoilers I feel like there was so much more to tell at the end. Deciding on the score for this one was hard because in places it is engaging where as at others it is hard work finally I decided on 3.5 stars out of 5, maybe I would not recommend rushing out to buy it but if you come across it then it is worth picking it up and giving it a go.

gold-stars-3-5

Welcome To The Dark side With DM Wolfenden

Today I am lucky to be able to share a Q & A with my fellow Darker signing author DM Wolfenden, she is into Vampire’s, Werewoves and Zombies and taking readers on a walk into the darer side of fiction so without further ado lets get to the questions…

dmwolfendenlogo

1)      When did you first decide you wanted to publish your work? What was the reaction of your nearest and dearest?

2013 I decided I would go ahead and write. When I told my family they were shocked, they knew I had a crazy imagination but never thought I would put pen to paper.

2)     Do you have a writing routine? Do you find you need to write at set times in a fixed place or is it a case of fitting it in around daily life?

I have a hectic lifestyle, I work away for 6 months of the year and when I am home there is a lot of catching up to do (as you can imagine), I write whenever I get a spare hour or two.

3)     Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, and as a bonus give us the name of the song that would be the perfect theme music to it?

My latest release is a collection of short stories; they are all dark and have an element of mystery about them.  The perfect song would be Cry Little Sister would probably fit well with the most of the stories.

4)     Where was your first signing event and how did you feel in the run up to it?

I haven’t been to an event yet, 2017 will be my first.

5)     Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, even if only loosely? And if so do they know it is them?

I hope not, they are evil little …

6)      Now a bit of a silly one, as frequently seen on FB, the zombie apocalypse has begun, stick your hands out and tell us which two items you grab, and how you are going to use them to fight off the starving hordes.

Rather embarrassing, first thing is a jar of Vaseline (I’ve just had a Zombie tattoo, honest). Maybe I could smear all over myself and be too slippery for them. Second is my Frankenstein bobble head. Let’s face it, I’m dead.

7)     If you could see any celebrity reading one of your books who would it be?

Quentin Tarantino, he is so talented. Love him

8)     What is the last sentence you wrote in your current WIP?

“You need help, you need to sort your anger issues out. If you don’t we won’t survive.”

The knife clattered in the sink. “I promise I’ll see someone, babe.”

You better had, I won’t do this again. “Okay,” she said and walked away.

9) How do you celebrate finishing the final draft of a manuscript?’

I celebrate by sending of to an editor then sit there biting my nails.

10)  Do you have a secret talent or claim to fame you are willing to share?

Yes I was on the grassy knoll.

11)  If your books were going to be made into films do you have any ideas in your head who you would like to see play any of your characters?

It would actually be my short story, Carly. She is one bad arse. I love Jessica Messenger and Helena Bonham Carter to play the two female roles. For other books they would include Tom Cruise, Anotiono Banderas, Johnny Depp and Quentin Tarantino. (psst, I’m bigging you up here Quentin, call me).

12) What one piece of advice would you give to anyone sat at home, finished manuscript in front of them, debating hitting that publish button?

First of all I would say, get beta readers on it, if they love it, you are halfway there.

 If you would like to find out more about DM Wolfenden then hit the links below…
behindblueeyeshrnot-all-trouble-comes-in-twos