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 – Telling Tales By Alan Bennett

I have to say I challenge anyone who has heard his voice not to read this and hear him talking to you…

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As usual begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Ten childhood snapshots from the master of the monologue Alan Bennett recalls his childhood in a sequence of talks that are funny, touching and told in his unique style. Hampered, as he sees it, by a family that never manages to be quite like other families he recounts his early years in Leeds a place where one learned early on the quite useful lesson that life is generally something that happens elsewhere: there is hiking every Sunday, trips into town and teas in cafes. Its an ordinary childhood, Bennetts father a butcher, his mother a reader of womens magazines who dreams of coffee mornings and cocktail parties and life down south. He re-lives family crises, early pieties and the lost tradition of musical evenings round the piano, all these tales told with that wry observation and ironic understatement that has earned Alan Bennett a place in the forefront of contemporary writing.

Even though his childhood in Leeds took place decades before my own I can still relate to much of what he was saying, I grew up on the outskirts of Leeds in a mining village and to be honest it always felt like you went back a decade or two from the city centre. But the truth is that even for those who grew up in other areas there will be elements from their own childhood they recognise, after all we all have those certain characters in our childhood that make their mark one way or another. Though it is written about a specific area the language is not dialectically difficult, and as I said in the opening if you have heard Alan Bennett’s voice it is impossible to read this without your head creating the illusion of him narrating it to you.  It is also interesting reading the introduction the understand more about his reasons for choosing to use this medium to relate his personal stories. It is a slim book and can be read in one night and makes a refreshing change to some of the ‘celebrity’ memoirs that are three hundred volumes of drivel., it is a testament to Bennett’s genius that he can select out a few memories that give you such an in-depth understanding into his childhood without needing a whole book.

And for the score, well it has to be five out of five stars.

Gold star

Lazy Sunday #32

Well thankfully the threatened snow has not shown it’s face here, it is bad enough that it is freezing, and I would not mind snow so much if it was the lovely white fluffy stuff you see on postcards but here in Huddersfield it almost seems to fall as slush and just gets you cold, wet and dirty. Today I am hoping to get a few blog posts under my belt, and get some writing done so you will forgive me for keeping the chatty part of the post brief, plus I am nearly at the bottom of my mocha and need to go make another coffee, so without further ado…

  1. I don’t know if it because I am not good enough or simply I do not have a big enough readership to have had to worry about these but in this post the lovely Stephanie Hurt talks about the sort of scam that could very well catch a lot of new authors out, after all we all want that big break https://stephanie-hurt.com/2017/02/09/writer-beware/
  2. If you are in the UK you know over the last couple of weeks there has been a huge panic due to the unusual weather in Spain and the effect that has had on the lettuce marker, however hopefully these photos will show it should be short lived before normal service is resumed, I also love the fact that for Irene it is Almond trees that signify spring whereas as for my it is the cherry blossom but both are very similar to look at https://irenedesign2011.com/2017/02/10/spring-is-arrived-in-spain-10-photos/
  3. I love doing crafty things I keep a journal though I realised lately I have fallen into a habit of just scrawling a few lines and decorating only with a couple of bought stickers so I need to up my game, though I don’t crochet I have been known to knit and cross stitch, and I have re-appropriated the odd bit of furniture, infact I have a large box in which I store jewellery which was once a bathroom cabinet before I decoupaged it so you should understand why I loved this post https://quotidiandose.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/crafty-author-mfrwauthor/
  4. Next up is a book review, and though I am intrigued by the actual book it is more the content of the review and that question of how much to reveal in a review. I have sat in tears as I read the memoir of a child abused by a parent, or someone who has survived terrible assaults and I think why didn’t someone warn me I would need tissues but then I think if they had would it have changed my interpretation of the book, would preparing me for the worst somehow numb me to it, maybe in comments yuo can answer when the subject is real and emotive do you want foreknowledge? https://booksandbowelmovements.com/2017/02/11/nobody-warned-me/
  5. On Tuesday Valentine’s day once again raises it’s head with a shower of rose petals and discarded chocolate wrappers, and I am still single so no romantic meals for me but I have to say I have always been someone who can actually cope quite well being single. I would rather be alone than in the wrong relationship, I have never felt I needed someone else to complete me, okay there might be someone out there, this mythical ‘the one’ who might change my mind but I am a firm believer that people come in and out of our lives for different reasons at different times, and if you like yourself the times inbetween are just as awesome as those involving others, don’t get me wrong I miss the physical affection occasionally but not enough to settle for just anyone so I always find Sandra’s single life posts interesting https://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/7-steps-to-being-successfully-single-and-happy-being-single-icbsd/

That’s it for today as my daughter keeps distracting me with silly messages so I am going to go get ‘stuff’ done lol have a good week all of you and remember being alone on Valentines does not mean you are not loved or worthy of love xxxx

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…

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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.

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Lazy Sunday #31

Well it has once again been a bit of a lazy week though in some respects I have been making strides forward in the back ground, first let me invite you to join me in my very first Facebook page take over. Wednesday evening I will be taking over the Hourglass Events Leeds 2018 page which you can find here, I shall be hosting there live from 9pm GMT and doing a give away or two, it is a group so you will need to join in advance to be sure not to miss out but given the fact there are numerous awesome authors on there trust me it is worth it, plus you might just get the chance to grab offers from others between now and the event. I will be doing another next month as well on the Darker Side page and will provide more details nearer the time.

So you will have already seen my Resolutions post this morning so this afternoon lets settle down with a coffee and read a few post dinner blogs…

  1. The first post I am sharing is about a love of mine I can no longer indulge in and that is wearing heels! This form of footwear has become rather contentious, okay they are not really good for your foot but they do look good, and the feminists argue we should not be forced to wear them , which I totally agree with but neither should we be judged for wanting to, I love a nice pair of heels, they look pretty and make me feel even more fabulous, and it is never for someone else I have worn them (well okay there may have been the odd occasion but lets not go there lol) but for how they make me feel. I cannot wear them at the minute a combination of weight and my bad back but if I could I would probably want all the pairs featured but especially the red boots https://valentinaexpressions.com/2017/02/04/feet-in-short-trunks-valentina-cirasola-designer/
  2. The second blog I want to share today is one I have shared before because of their art, today I am sharing it because I love the fact they have been gracious enough to share a little glimpse into their life and I have to say I can imagine sitting there with notebook in hand and writing the most glorious poetry, some vistas are just inspirational https://paintdigi.com/2017/02/04/photos-of-my-country-2/
  3. I am a huge Instagram fan, though with me phone it is a nightmare keeping up with posts, I tend to try to catch up via the computer at least once a day so that I can return some of the likes from friends on posts my phone might decide I don’t need to see, but the other thing I enjoy is seeing the way different types of creative art is shared, be it music, art, or poetry, so I loved this post which shares some of the poetry accounts they have come across  https://christinastrigas.com/2017/02/03/top-10-instagram-poets-i-cant-stop-reading-in-february-2017/
  4. Next up is a post from a lovely lady who also happens to be an amazing poet and uses Instagram herself to share her words, this post however is about her camera and is something I relate to, I too find lately I do not take my big camera out as much, relying instead on the camera on my phone and sometimes am gutted at the images I have missed https://lucywilliamspoetry.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/lucys-diary-04022017/
  5. The final one today is a writing post, the post initially caught my attention because of the idea of music transporting us but then as I read on I found so much of this post resonated with me that I wanted to share it here https://amandamblake.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/anywhere-but-here/

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

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

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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

269 Days To Darker

I am thrilled to announce that it became official this week that The Darker Side of Fiction will be an annual event to be held in Peterborough. While there is of course no guarantee I will be invited back each year I can see me attending on a regular basis even if only as a guest, I love the fact Hourglass not only were willing to take a chance on me personally but that they work tirelessly to support and promote independent authors and give them chances they would struggle to achieve on their own.

I have done small signing event in my friends shop, I have done an on-line book launch but proper signing events are very hard to organise, I believe it is possible to arrange to do them in your local Waterstones but like everything it costs, and of course so does this but here is the big difference. You publish your first couple of books but are still struggling to make your voice heard and get your books read, all those people that promised reviews somehow never quite got round for it so you and trapped in the undercurrent of Amazon’s logistics, so how do you make you voice hear, get your work seen, well in steps an angel or in this case a couple of angels.

Hourglass events is run by Jo and Rachel, and they decided to combine their events business with a love of reading and create first the Leeds event then the Darker event, this gives smaller authors like myself the chance to sign alongside others with established followings, it provides the possibility of reaching a wider audience, that someone looking at the next stall might pick up your book and decide it looks interesting and worth taking a chance on. Kindle give-aways are great for getting you book onto peoples kindles what they can’t do is get that person to actually read it and post a review if they enjoy it, someone picking up a print version and investing their own money is more likely to at least read it, the review well that can come down to numerous other factors but you do stand a higher chance if they loved it.

I would really encourage anyone who gets the chance to go along to one of these book signing events, they are a fairly cheap way to pass a few hours, and even if you don’t by a stack of books you get the chance to meet new authors, get their cards and follow them on social media so you can find out more about them and maybe buy the books at a later date, but more than anything give them the support to continue following their dreams in an industry where so often you can be left feeling like you have banged your head against a million walls.

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…

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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.

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Lazy Sunday #28

I want to say this is the first Sunday of 2017 but technically it is the second however as you got a vlog then it is the first Lazy Sunday. So have you got your coffee ready? For most of the posts this week you will notice the theme is resolutions, you can read my post here but I just want to take a minute to talk about why I make resolutions each year. I am later than usual publishing this but I went out last night so am slow getting my thoughts together today lol.

If you have followed me for a while you know each year I post a set of resolutions at the start of the year and then follow them through to differing degrees of success. Last year I was terrible at doing a monthly update, this did not actually mean all the resolutions failed, for example Ascension and Voices were both published. for me the actual act of writing my resolutions post is a way of actively focusing my mind on what I want to achieve in the coming year, both personally and professionally, the updates allow me to see whether I am on track. It is worth noting that missing out on writing the updates does not mean things are not going well but rather sometimes I feel that there is nothing new to add to a previous month although I am still moving in the right direction. for many of us our lives are so busy that giving ourselves targets and reference points we can refer back to helps us maintain a focus on some aspects that it is easy to lose in the chaos of everyday existence. Making time to exercise seems like something that would seem simple but until it becomes an established part of a routine it is easy to neglect, having told the world you intend to do it can be the motivation needed to make it happen.

Enough of me anyway and onto some blogs…

  1. The first lot of Resolutions come from Emmy Leigh I especially love the one about creating an environment in which all can flourish, I frequently find myself getting stressed trying to balance everyday house work etc against writing time and need to find a better balance https://emmyleigh.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/new-year-again/
  2. The next one really does embrace the idea of learning from each experience and moving forward https://blessedwithastarontheforehead.com/2017/01/02/new-year-time-to-renew-and-redo/
  3. The final lot of Resolutions is from Ellie and are quite similar to some of mine I love the idea of an office but until I move one day that is not an option https://quotidiandose.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/new-year-new-plan/
  4.  There is going to be another Annual Bloggers Bash  in London this year and they are running a competition to help fund it, I have the date pencilled into my diary and am hoping to be able to attend this year http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/01/01/the-big-bash-competition-2017/
  5. And the final blog for this week is one I hope you will all follow, not only as I am one of the signing authors at two of their forthcoming events but also I hope to be at many more https://hourglassevents.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/2017-the-year-for-darker/

That is it for this week hope you enjoy xxx

Resolutions 2017

As you will be aware if you have joined me here the last few New Years I like to make resolutions, mainly in the blind hope I might stick to at least one or two of them and this year is no different, well no that’s not true because actually it is. The resolutions I am making this year are split into two categories, writing and personal, and I am going to do half a dozen of each, then update you  on my progress monthly/

01)  Lose weight, yup this old chestnut again, I lost a stone and a half in the second half of last year so just set up a fresh spread sheet and new targets, while I know I have a lot more weight to lose than my target weight I am simply being realistic about losing weight in a healthy way.

I don’t want to diet as such, I enjoy food too much but it is more about eating habits and portion control, after all a little of what you want does you good lol. so this is the chart I will be using at the minute the whole year is shown as a red line, which you will hopefully see begin to incline week after week.

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02) Publish the remaining two parts of the Queen of Ages trilogy

I already have both out lined and know the overall story arc, it is strange because as excited as I am to begin work on them I am also a little reluctant to finish the story as I have lived with these characters in my head for so long while I plucked up the courage to share them.

03) Exercise more

I pay for a gym membership but at the minute have been using it to go swimming once a week, I am determined that I am going to up that to at least twice a week plus use my Fitbit, I was using it frequently but then I accidentally misplaced it then struggled to get it working properly again but hopefully that is resolved. The online dashboard app does not allow a month view rather it does four weekly so the evidence I shall show will be the four weeks prior to updates. I have it set for 10k steps per day but honestly that never happens I might manage one or two days a week so I am going to aim for a weekly target of 45k per week initially hopefully that number will go up and you will see my weekly average increase each week as I get fitter. As you can see I have not used it for a few weeks so it does allow for a fresh start stats wise.

 

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04) Blog at least four times a week

I tend to be quite hit and miss with blogging, either managing daily blogs or going weeks without a post. the only reason for this is poor time management. Most blog posts are around 500 words which takes only half an hour to write. The only blog post I do that I need to live post is the Lazy Sunday post, all others can be done in advance and scheduled, including the weekly vlog.

05) Get out more

Since I split with the monster’s dad I have really gone out very little, that is partly through choice and not feeling like it due to the things that have been going on in my life but also the practicalities of being a single parent, but if I am going to consider meeting someone and having a relationship it might help if I actually leave the house lol, chatting on line or texting is fine but I miss going for meals, going to the theatre or cinema, and of course I don’t actually need a partner to do these things I can go with friends or even on my own but whoever I go with this year am determined to have one night out a month and one coffee meeting with a friend each month.

06) Write every day

I have lots of targets set for myself this year, and if I want to achieve everything I want to get done I will have to not only hit them but realistically hit them ahead of target. I have downloaded the writing tracker so brilliantly crafted by Jamie again this year and she has added the ability to add monthly targets as well which will make it so much easier to keep track of where and when I am struggling.

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07) Work on my self belief

This is one you cannot track on a spreadsheet or by hitting targets it is something within which I need to work on. I constantly second guess myself instead of going with my gut reactions. I also find it hard to take compliments, I may smile and say the right thing at the time but after I question what every comment could mean how it could be interpreted a different way. This is one thing in which the old cliché of fake it till you make it might actually apply but I also think it is something I need to work on from the inside.

08)  Time management

I have touched on this in my other resolutions but I want to elaborate, I know there are enough hours in the day to achieve all I want to but too often I get distracted. I want to set up proper working hours where I focus purely on writing, mainly while the monster is at school. I am trying to find my receipt in the folders for the freedom app which is a great way of stopping you get distracted by other online apps.

09) Update my wardrobe

Now obviously as I lose weight I will be buying new clothes but that is not what I actually mean, I want to work on an image change to go with the transition from someone with a day job who writes to an writer who works a few hours at a day job.

10)  Publish the newsletter each month

I have a horrible habit of leaving the newsletter until the next minute then not getting it done at all, I am determined that the first day of every month if you have signed up for the newsletter it will be in your inbox at some point that day preferably in the morning.

11) Work out what I want in my personal life

This might sound strange but actually it is not, I have lived on my own for quite a while, I am used to having my own space, doing things my own way, so the question is going forward if I meet someone what am I willing to give up or settle for. For example part of me would love someone to curl up with on a night when I fall asleep but I also want to be free to come and go as I please and not to have to answer to anyone. I have enough picking up after a child, two cats and a dog, I don’t want to have to pick up after another person, so you have to question what another person would be wiling to contribute to a house hold. The real answer is of course that compromise is required, for me I have to work out where I am willing to compromise and what the deal breakers would be and of course the fact is these types of things do not just effect me so I have to be doubly sure before I considered letting anyone meet the monster.

12) Keep my website up to date

I have been terrible at posting to the website, it goes months without being updated, which when you consider I pay for it is ridiculous. Admittedly the website is more of a one stop shop, it has links to all my books, photos, newsletter sign up, news and events. It also has a link back to here for those wanting to know me more as a person, I am determined to keep updating it with a weekly post but also to promote it as much as I do the blog and my other sites.

 

So that is my dozen resolutions for 2017, have you made any, if so let me know in comments what they are if you wish to share.