My Review of Queen of Trial and Sorrow by Susan Appleyard #RBRT #FridayReads

Queen of Trial and Sorrow by [Appleyard, Susan]

 

I was given this book by the author as  a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT in exchange for a fair review.

 I gave Queen of Trial and Sorrow  4* out of 5*

 Book Description:

A B.R.A.G. Medallion winner, this is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of King Edward IV and the mother of the Princes in the Tower. As an impoverished widow, she was wooed and won by the handsome young king and believed her dreams had come true. But she was soon swept up in the War of the Roses, enduring hardship and danger as her husband struggled to keep his throne. When he died Elizabeth was unable to protect her family against the ruthless ambitions of the man he trusted above all others. It was the king’s brothers, the unstable Duke of Clarence and the loyal Duke of Gloucester, who would prove to be Elizabeth’s most dangerous enemies.

My Review:

 I really liked this novel. I like the author’s style of writing; told in first person point of view from Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth, it is almost as though she is holding a one-way conversation with the reader. Although I found it a compact and exacting read that took a lot of concentration (I am a very slow reader) I enjoyed this interpretation of  Elizabeth Woodville’s life in Queen of Trial and Sorrow.  Every emotion resonates through each chapter and throughout all the years that we are following her; the happiness, the sadness, the fears and apprehensions. The main plot of her time, before, during  and after the Court years is threaded through with subplots of intrigues and politics.

There is no doubt whatsoever that an enormous amount of research has preceded the writing of this book; it’s a fascinating account of the era.

 The characters are multi-layered and some were ever-changing as time went by depending on the intrigues and striving for personal gains.  Both those characters who are portrayed as good and those shown as wickedly self serving are plausible; their actions believable – if at times inconceivably cruel or dangerous.

 The dialogue was written as I imagined was spoken at the time; the syntax and the language rang true to that period for me. And it was easy to follow which character was speaking even without the dialogue tags.

 The descriptions of the settings; the buildings and the places the characters moved around in, the clothes, the ceremonies were all very evocative. The only  problem  I had was that sometimes I felt these descriptions were a little laboured and ‘heavy’. I would have preferred a lighter touch; I thought these sections slowed the story down

However, this is a very small objection and I’m sure anyone who loves to read historical  novels will love Queen of Trial and Sorrow . I have no hesitation at all in recommended this book by Susan Appleyard

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2qGE6EB

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2pGiV77

 

 

 

My Review of Blind Side by Jennie Ensor for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

#RBRT Review Team

 

blind side

I was given this book by the author as a member of #RBRT in return for an honest review

 I gave Blind Side 4*out of 5*

The Blurb:

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

My Review:

I liked this book. Jennie Ensor writes in an easy to read style and, after an initial fairly slow start, the book flows with various story lines interwoven so I was soon absorbed. And, although Blind Side can be seen as a romance novel it is much more than that; the story reveals the darker side of relationships, of life in a contemporary world, of remorse and self-reproach, secrets and lies, of disappointments and  regrets

The author has obviously researched into both the political, societal and historical backgrounds for the fairly recent settings that the characters move in and this is equally dark. And so realistic; I love when there is such a good sense of place.  Here the background reflects some of the underlying themes of racism, terrorism, immigration. Chilling stuff!

And against this there is the personal turmoil of the characters. Well played out, with enough tension and suspense to keep the reader on their toes.

The main characters are well portrayed with many levels to their personalities. I liked the protagonist, Georgie; despite the fact that I first thought her shown to be quite cold. The character is well rounded and the author gives her a history that explains much about her actions in the story; her fears, her suspicions, her obsession, her need to trust in Nikolai.  This character is also well written and given a past life that shocks. Despite not understanding his motives at first (and it took me a while to get used to the way the dialogue is written for him) I liked Nikolai. And then, the character of Julian; initially seemingly naive and harmless (in an obsequious way, I thought) but is ultimately shown to be less than the friend first portrayed.

 Told mainly from the point of view of the protagonist it would be easy to see the plot only from her side of things but the author manages to insert enough external detail, away from Georgie, to give more depth to the story.

There were a few parts of the plot that slowed the story (only a few though) and I found it trailed off a little at the end but, as I’ve said, I enjoyed Blind Side.  All in all, it’s a good debut novel from Jennie Ensor and one I would recommend. I look forward, with anticipation, to further offerings from this author..

LInks:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2naq5Mw

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2mK697y

jan

 

remember-no-more

REMEMBER NO MORE

 BY JAN NEWTON

Genre: Crime

Series: A DS Kite Mystery # 1

Release Date:  16 March 2017

Publisher: Honno Press

A DS Kite novel – a city detective joins the mid-Wales force
bringing new insights and ruffling country feathers

Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads.  Her husband’s desire for a different life takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a clean slate for them both. On her first day at Builth Wells police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of an investigation into a suspicious death in a remote farming community.

Back in Manchester, Stephen Collins is set free from HMP Strangeways.  Bible in hand he makes his way to mid-Wales, the scene of the heinous crime for which he was imprisoned, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.

The twists and turns of the investigation into solicitor Gareth Watkin’s death force

DS Kite to confront her own demons as well as those of her rural community and, ultimately, to uncover the lengths to which we’ll go to protect our families…

My Review:

This is a plot with many twists and turns. The depths of the historic layers are slowly revealed alongside the introduction of the protagonist, Detective Sergeant Julie Kite and her struggles in both her work and home life. I loved the author’s ability to balance  – and juggle – both, and to keep the reader interested throughout the story. For me the genre of crime fiction can only work if there are false leads, clues that baffle or can give a ‘eureka’ moment. Remember No More does all these.

 The story is told from an omniscient point of view, weighted mostly from the protagonist’s viewpoint and this works, as I have the feeling we will be hearing more from DS Kite. But there is also an insight to the other characters and this adds depth to the them; to their struggles, their loyalties, their place in both the community and their families. The characters are well rounded and it is easy to empathise with some of them – and to recognise the weakness and malevolence in others. 

 The dialogue works well, differentiating the Welsh born characters and contrasting with the accent of Julie Kite and other Northern England characters. The internal dialogue gives greater perception to them all. I liked the slow internal acceptance of the protagonist’s change of life and work situation from Northern England to Wales.

I think one of the great strengths in the author’s writing is the descriptions of the settings. If I can’t picture the world the characters live in, it doesn’t work for me. Jan Newton  bases her book in mid Wales. The details are authentic and give a tangible sense of place. I admired  her ability to bring the sense of place alive. I was immediately drawn in by a very early description: ” the road was hemmed in either side by reeds and grasses, which had been bleached by the winter’s snow and were still untouched by the spring sunshine…”.And later, “the car rattled over a cattle grid and a vista of villages and isolated farms opened up below them as the road hair-pinned to the right, before descending along the edge of a steep valley. the tops of the hills were the pale browns of moorland, but the valley bottoms were already lush with meadows and hedges.” Good stuff!!

If I had any reservations about the story it would be about the relationship between the protagonist and her husband. But this is only because I wanted to know the background of their marriage. Perhaps this is just the author being enigmatic; maybe this is something to be revealed in the next story of DS Julie Kite. 

A couple of last mentions; I love the cover, the image is wonderful, I feel it is the scene that the buzzard sees in the Prologue. Oh, I do like prologues!

 I enjoyed reading Remember No More. It’s an extremely good debut novel and I do hope this is not the last we hear of DS Julie Kite and her collegues. 

This is  a book I have no hesitation in recommending to any reader who enjoys a good strong crime mystery.

I’ve also interviewed Jan. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2oBcgHY

 BUY LINKS

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781909983564

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Remember-No-More-Jan-Newton/dp/190998356X/

https://www.amazon.com/Remember-No-More-Jan-Newton/dp/190998356X/

https://wordery.com/remember-no-more-jan-newton-9781909983564

 jan_newton_allen_raine_winner_2014 sm

ABOUT JAN NEWTON

Jan grew up in Manchester and Derbyshire, spending her formative years on the back of a pony, exploring the hills and moorland around her home.  She lived and worked in London and Buckinghamshire for 19 years until moving to Wales in 2005, where she learnt to speak fluent Welsh. Jan has won several writing competitions, including the Allen Raine Short Story competition, the WI Lady Denman Cup, and the Oriel Davies Gallery competition for nature-writing. She has been published in New Welsh Review.

A WORD FROM JAN NEWTON

I wrote my first novel when I was seven, all about the adventures of a little green one-legged spaceman, who crash-landed his tiny ship in my north Manchester suburb.   We had plenty of adventures, Fred and me, filling fourteen Lancashire Education Committee exercise books and earning me two gold stars in the process.  But when I was eight, a rotund Welsh Mountain Pony by the name of Pixie trotted into my life, and writing was immediately relegated in favour of all things equine. 

It took more years than I care to admit for me to resume my writing career.  In 2005 we moved to gloriously inspiring mid Wales.  In 2009 I stumbled across an Open University creative writing module and the rest, as they say, is history.  After completing my OU degree, I fulfilled a lifetime ambition and enrolled on an MA course at Swansea University.  The whole experience was magical.  It was like being taken by the hand and led back to a place where my imagination could run riot.

I began by writing short stories, which I love, but I always feel disappointed when I have to say goodbye to my characters so soon, and so the next challenge was to attempt a novel.   It’s been a fantastic experience, from its shaky start in a brand new exercise book, but now, finally, I have my second novel.  I still have a horse – this one’s been with me for over twenty years – but these days I seem to be able to allow the two obsessions – books and horses – to run side by side.

Twitter:  @janmaesygroes

Blog:  https://jannewton.wordpress.com

Website:  www.jannewton.net

 GIVEAWAY

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017222/?

jan

 

 

 

My Review of Bully Boy Blue: A dark psychological suspense thriller by John Nicholl #crime #FridayReads

Bully Boy Blue: A dark psychological suspense thriller by [Nicholl, John]

I received an ARC of Bully Boy Blue from the author in return for an honest review.

The Blurb:

Every aspect of Kathy’s life is dominated by her abusive bully boy husband. Now she’s pregnant and in fear for her life. Can she ever escape him?

A gripping page-turner of a psychological thriller packed with suspense. Discover John Nicholl’s chilling new short story today

My review:

 The Blurb says it all… and more. The desperation, the ability to deceive, the reality of not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. Hidden truths. 

This is a novella; yet the shortness of the story does not detract from its chilling quality. The portrayal of both the characters in the book are frighteningly real and disturbing; the husband who convinces the outside world that he is a caring, long-suffering man with an unstable wife, the tense, oppressed wife, yearning to escape yet fearful.

 To say I loved this book might seem odd  but I love this author’s writing. His style is rich in both a sense of place and in his portrayal of the characters. Both the spoken and inner  dialogue is realistic and  draws the reader in.

I can’t recommend Bully Boy Blue highly enough for the above reasons

 I’ve also included an interview I had with John some while ago: 

john nicholls

 

May I start by asking you why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I guess that given my career in law enforcement and child protection, psychological thrillers chose me. I’d like to write something light, funny and life affirming, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

And how long have you been writing?

I wrote a multi agency child protection guide and articles for newspapers and a national social work magazine during my career, but ‘White is the coldest colour’ was my first novel. I began writing fiction about five years ago.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I wrote ‘White is the coldest colour’ with the primary intention of producing an entertaining and original psychological suspense thriller. However, I also hoped it would play a small part in raising awareness of the risks posed by sexual predators. Reader feedback suggests I went some way towards achieving those ends. ‘When evil calls your name,’  the sequel, addresses domestic physical and psychological violence towards women, within the context of the story. Again, I hope it raises awareness of the problem to some extent.

white

 John hasn’t said a lot about his books so I’m adding the next few lines myself. This is the blurb on Amazon for White is the coldest colour:  “The Mailer family are oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage. 
Fifty-eight year old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic predatory paedophile employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters. 
Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality.

The book includes content that some readers may find disturbing from the start. It is dedicated to survivors everywhere.”

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book? 

I spent twenty years as a social worker, which was all the research I needed. My books are entirely fictional, but they draw heavily on my professional experiences. I worked with some amazing people, some of whom have contributed to the characters I’ve created.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I like to get inside the characters’s heads, and to portray their thoughts and feelings in addition to their actions.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

In many ways, writing ‘White is the coldest colour’ was cathartic, but it brought back some memories which were perhaps best left in the past.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? 

Everyone has the right to live free of the fear of oppression and violence. I think those are the key principles underpinning my novels. Both of my first two books address important social issues, and talk about subjects many in society would prefer to ignore.

And, here again, I add the blurb on John’s second book: When Evil Calls Your Name: 

“When twenty-nine-year-old Cynthia Galbraith struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past and the realities of prison life, a prison counsellor persuades her to write a personal journal exploring the events that led to a life sentence for murder. 
Although unconvinced at first, Cynthia finally decides she has all the time in the world and very little, if anything, to lose. She begins writing and holds back nothing: sharing the thoughts she hadn’t dare vocalise, the things that keep her awake at night and haunt her waking hours.”

What inspires you?

Family, spirituality, justice, beauty, travel, art, great writing, yoga and so much more.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’ve been unbelievably lucky, in that the success of my first novel has enabled me to write full time. Now all I have to do is to keep writing books people want to read. I suspect that’s going to prove to be a lot easier said than done.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I tarred roads, emptied bins, and worked as a kitchen porter before moving on to police and social work. Once I qualified as a social worker, I worked for two social services departments, the child guidance service, and the NSPCC.  I’ve also lectured on child protection at several colleges and universities. I like to think my woking life has helped introduce an air of realism to my writing.

How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

The more reading options open to people the better. Ebooks are relatively cheap and accessible, and that has to be a good thing. The publishing world is changing fast, enabling writers to self publish, if they so wish, and to let potential readers decide if their work is worth buying. I’ve chosen to remain independent despite contact offers from three publishers, and I would encourage anyone considering writing a book to give it a go. It’s never been easier to get your writing out there in front of the public.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

I believe that reading will always be a major pastime, although the introduction as alternatives like audio books gives people a viable alternative.Both my books were recently produced as audio books, and I have to admit that I was both surprised and impressed by the additional dimensions the narrators brought to the text.

Find John here:

http://bit.ly/29s3BAq

http://amzn.to/29CN2qh

https://twitter.com/nicholl06

http://bit.ly/29BhTAt

Buying Links: Amazon.co.uk:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29tXtsO

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29Bfy8G

Bully Boy Blue: http://amzn.to/2oc0abZ

Amazon.com:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29x73Nf

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29sIcfR

Bully Boy Blue: http://amzn.to/2oaVjYs

 

Today With Jan Newton.

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Introducing Jan Newton with her debut novel to be published by Honno in March 2017. Jan grew up in Manchester and Derbyshire and spent almost twenty years in the Chilterns before moving to mid Wales in 2005. She has worked as a bilingual secretary in a German chemical company, as an accountant in a BMW garage and a GP practice and as a Teaching Assistant in the Welsh stream of a primary school, but now she has finally been able to return to her first love, writing.

She graduated from Swansea University with a Masters degree in Creative Writing in 2015 and has won the Allen Raine Short Story Competition, the WI’s Lady Denman Cup competition, the Lancashire and North West Magazine’s prize for humorous short stories and the Oriel Davies Gallery’s prize for nature writing. Remember No More  is her first novel.

The Blurb for Remember No More 

Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s new job takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to a new life in tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a new start for them both. On her first day at Builth Wells police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of a murder investigation in a remote farming community. At the same time, Stephen Collins is set free from HMP Strangeways. He immediately makes his way back to mid-Wales, the scene of his heinous crime, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.

The twists and turns of the investigation into the death of solicitor Gareth Watkin force DS Kite to confront her own demons alongside those of her new community and the lengths to which we’ll go to protect our families.

 Hi Jan, I’m really pleased to be chatting with you today. These must be exciting times for you?.

 Hi Judith, Lovely to be here. And yes, I’m thrilled to be having my novel published with.Honno.

 Tell us, Jam, how did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

Having moved around the country I’m interested in the theme of ‘fitting in’, and the fact that there are different cultures and groupings in new places, but there are also other ways in which we can move into new, untested territory.  Remember No More investigates some of these – Julie Kite moves to Wales, but she is also entering a new phase in her marriage and in her work relationships.  Other characters have new situations to deal with in their lives.  This theme of being somewhere new and different intrigues me.

So why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I have always loved crime fiction and its adaption for television.  The best tv series, for me, combine fabulous production values and a sense of place – this is what I’m attempting to do in Remember No More.  I love the fact that writing crime fiction allows an author to comment on contemporary life – it’s all about life and death, the human condition.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

The story goes that it was much easier to teach me to read than to walk.  I could read before I went to primary school.  The Headmaster interviewed each child before they started in the infants, and when he ran out of reading cards, apparently, he asked me to read a story from The Telegraph.  I have always been a voracious reader.  I read every Enid Blyton and adored Swallows and Amazons, Black Beauty, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bobbsey Twins – anything I could get my hands on.

How long have you been writing?

I was at primary school when I wrote my first novel, at the age of seven.  It was all about a little one-legged spaceman who crash-landed his spaceship (fortuitously for me) in my own suburb of north Manchester.  My teacher, Mrs Richmond, was very encouraging.  She baulked only slightly as she handed me my fourteenth Lancashire Education Committee exercise book in as many days.  Then, with the arrival of a Welsh Mountain Pony by the name of Pixie the following year, my passion turned to horses.  It was a very long time before I took up writing again, in 2008, with an Open University creative writing module.  Once I’d finished the OU degree I was lucky enough to go to Swansea University to do a Masters in Creative Writing, graduating in 2015.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

I’ve always felt that storytelling brings people together – whether on a family level, where parents read to their children, or on a much larger scale.  Charles Dickens, for instance, had the nation gripped with his serialisations, and JK Rowling (a good old-fashioned storyteller herself) captivated a generation of children with her Harry Potter novels.  In the age of the computer game and the soundbite it’s heartening to see that children can still escape into a good book and spend time there, using their imaginations.

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

I’m at my happiest in the great outdoors.  I grew up on the edge of the Peak District and spent every spare hour on a horse.  Remember No More is set in the same sort of vast, landscape, in mid Wales.  People are important in areas like this.  They may be few in number, but they are a real community and I have tried to depict that closeness which is, sadly, so rare in our frenetic world.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, text, outdoor and water

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

My main aim was to introduce my little part of mid Wales and to give a flavour of what it’s like to be an incomer.  I wanted to show the differences and similarities, the wonderful people and the scenery – as well as solving the crime, of course.  I hope people may want to come and see it for themselves.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

People.  I’m an inveterate people-watcher.  I love the way people interact, their relationships, strengths and weaknesses.  Place is very important too.  Certain places have had a huge influence on me, particularly Manchester and the Derbyshire where I grew up, but also mid Wales where we have lived for almost 12 years.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Starting it.  I didn’t know if I would be able to write a full-length novel.  I was writing short stories and nature writing – essay length pieces – so sustaining it, not paring down to basics was interesting.   I also found editing a challenge.  When I write short stories, they tend to arrive fully-formed and it’s just a case of writing them down, but to edit over and over requires a certain amount of patience and fortitude.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoyed staying with my characters for such a long time.  I’ve always felt with short stories, that you go to so much trouble with your characters, to get to know them, to understand them, and then a mere few thousand words later they’re gone.  It was a treat to be able to allow them room to grow.

Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers?  

I’ve used a smattering of Welsh words in the book.  This area of Wales doesn’t have a high percentage of Welsh speakers, but I worked as a teaching assistant in the Welsh unit of the primary school in Builth Wells and can confirm that the language is very much alive and well.  I wanted to give a flavour of the language, to show that it is still very important.

What inspires you?

All sorts of things inspire me.  The scenery in mid Wales is stunning.  It’s hard not to be inspired by the hills and valleys of Powys or the Ceredigion coast.  People too are a great source of inspiration; they’re capable of so many amazing things.  I’m also an inveterate people-watcher and eavesdropper, which can lead to tricky situations, but can also result in stories and even novels, with a little imagination and a huge amount of poetic licence.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

I’ve been very lucky.  Until I was eleven, we lived in Manchester, which I still think is the best city in the world.  Then my father, who was a television cameraman, decided he wanted to take on a run-down farm on the Cheshire/Derbyshire border.  We found ourselves in 30 acres and with half a dozen horses.  I was never indoors.  Fortunately, life has come full circle and we live on a smallholding in the Welsh hills, with an aged horse and a small but very bossy goat.

Who are some of your favourite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

I have always loved Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen –  Hardy for his ability to paint a scene, to put the reader into Casterbridge or on Egdon Heath and Austen for her wit and her deep understanding of what it is to be human.  Alan Bennett is an absolute genius, as was Victoria Wood, both of whom manage to tread the extremely fine line between humour and pathos so brilliantly.  I suppose these two, along with Ann Cleeves and Ian Rankin, are the writers who have influenced me the most – Bennett and Wood for their absolute attention to detail and Cleeves and Rankin for their ability to tell a gripping tale.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  

I think my love of reading has been incredibly useful.  For me, nothing beats that feeling when I have to stop and re-read something which has been said so brilliantly it takes my breath away.  Then I have to work out how it’s done, which words have been chosen and why.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I would love to be a full-time writer.  I need much more discipline to do that, and to get over the feeling that it’s not a ‘proper’ job.  I find that because people assume it’s a hobby, there are so many demands on my time.  I’m hoping that 2017 is the year that I can persuade myself I’m a writer.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve had a variety of jobs.  I qualified initially as a bilingual secretary and worked for a German chemical company.  I’ve also worked as accounts manager in a BMW garage, fund-holding manager in a GP practice and teaching assistant in the Welsh unit of a primary school.

I’ve been married to Mervyn for over thirty years.  He has supported everything I’ve ever wanted to do – from playing flugel in a brass band to studying (two degrees with the Open University and a masters with Swansea University) to becoming a writer.  I think he hopes I might have stopped wanting to learn now, but I’m not sure I know how to stop.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

I would be so pleased if people wanted to explore mid Wales as a result of reading the book.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I still prefer to read print books.  There’s nothing quite like the smell and feel of a new book, or the sound of turning the pages.  I do read ebooks, but for me it’s much harder to escape into them, with e-mail notifications pinging up every couple of minutes.  Having said that, if more people read because of ebooks then that can only be a good thing.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

I think people will always read.  I do wonder whether we’ll go back to reading in instalments, as we did in Dickens’ day, waiting for the next chapter to be published.  People seem so short of time this may be an option in the future.  I worry that we are becoming so celebrity-obsessed that the quality of what makes it to publication may suffer, but I just can’t imagine a world without books or without writers and readers.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

I was very fortunate.  I was on a course at Ty Newydd in Llanystumdwy in 2013 and one of the tutors, Janet Thomas, told me that Honno were interested in crime fiction.  I sent them the first few hundred words and then the first few chapters and they offered me a contract.  They have been absolutely brilliant, helping me with every aspect of publication.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

As far as I know there isn’t much crime fiction based in mid Wales.  I hope the location will help it to be memorable.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

When I write, it’s as though I’m there, in the story with the characters, so in that respect it’s intuitive.  Later, when I edit and make sure it makes sense, the logic kicks in.  I do think this balance might be different for different types of writing though.  I’ve found that writing a crime novel requires more up-front logic than writing short stories, for example.

 What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I’ve still a lot to learn about the promotional side of things.  I’m not a life and soul of the party sort of person and find it quite difficult to promote myself.  I have to say though, that it does make me think about my writing in a different way.  It’s lovely to sit on my own in splendid isolation and write, but it’s even nicer to think that people may want to read what I’ve written.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I do like to read crime fiction – Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin, Phil Rickman, Val McDermid, for example, but I also love good non-fiction.  Kathleen Jamie is a favourite, as, of course is Alan Bennett.  His diaries are sheer escapism for me – a social history of Britain seen through the eyes of a remarkable writer.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on two novels.  One is based in the north of England and the other is the second Kite novel, a sequel to Remember No More.  I’m also working on a collection of nature writing essays, mostly based here in mid Wales, which I’m hoping to publish eventually.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I would love to write a sit com or a really good radio play.  There’s such skill involved in plays for radio.  I may be some time

 I’m sure one day we’ll be listening to a Jan Newton play on Radio Four. Good luck with all your writing and thank you for being here today, Jan. 

Thank you for for inviting me, Judith,it’s been fun.

That’s all for today, everyone.  Please see below all the links to find Jan and her book, Remember No More. 

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2k1kGJx

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2jqC7CB

Honno: http://bit.ly/2jqDilL

 Connect with Jan at:

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jan.newton.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/janmaesygroes

My Review of The Body In The Snow: A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery (Bebe Bollinger Murder Mysteries Book 1) by Christoph Fischer #bookreview

The Body In The Snow: A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery (Bebe Bollinger Murder Mysteries Book 1) by [Fischer, Christoph]

Book Description

Fading celebrity Bebe Bollinger is on the wrong side of fifty and dreaming of a return to the limelight. When a TV show offers the chance of a comeback, Bebe grabs it with both hands – not even a lazy agent, her embarrassing daughter, irritating neighbours or a catastrophic snowfall will derail her moment of glory. But when a body is found in her sleepy Welsh hamlet, scandal threatens.
Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper has a string of unsolved cases to her name. Her girlfriend left her and she’s a fish out of water in rural West Wales. Things couldn’t get much worse – until the case of the Body in The Snow lands in her lap.

Can Beth solve the case and save her career and can Bebe make her comeback? All will be revealed in this light-hearted, cosy murder mystery by best-selling and award winning historical and crime fiction novelist Christoph Fischer.

 

 My Review

Set against the background of a snowbound country lane in the small, isolated hamlet of Llangurrey in Wales   The Body In The Snow is a fun, easy read with a  plot that has has many twists and turns and a whole host of suspects, each carrying their own motives for the murder. A little slow in parts, especially at the beginning but still entertaining.

I loved the Prologue.

There is a a small interesting group of characters gathered together; neighbours, the divorced and rather’common’ (in Bebe’s eyes) neighbour,  Dora , prosaic Ian and controlling Christine; Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper whose outward demeanour hides a whole host of insecurities (I actually loved this character) and the  protagonist,  Bebe Bolinger, an ageing singer  with a huge ego, struggling to make a comeback and having to cope with her challenging and gossipy daughter,Helena. There is nice interaction between Bebe and Beth Cooper.

The chapters are mostly divided into each character’s point of view and told by an omniscient narrator (I always I like this method), although sometimes the chapters are sub-divided to include them all, which, as far as I’m concerned worked okay

I liked Bebe;  nicely rounded, with many amusing quirks but I did find both her  dialogue and internal dialogue too full of the name dropping of celebrities which I found distracting. The other characters are well portrayed and their  dialogue differentiates them well even when there are no tags.

On reflection I think I would have preferred a lot of the background of the characters to have been in flashback, perhaps in a change of tense, to differentiate the time. Some of the explanation of their previous lives came over a little like telling; interesting but detracted from the present story

The settings are well described, especially of Llangurrey , giving a good sense of place. This is especially so in the Prologue, when the murder takes place

The Body In The Snow is a good read but, to my mind, needs one more, tighter, edit to make this book even more enjoyable. 

I looked up the definition of a cosy mystery. “Cosy mysteries are a sub genre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.”  The Body In The Snow fits perfectly into this genre.

Buying  Links:

Amazon.co.uk:http://amzn.to/2hW0Yzg

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2iMXdvm

 

 

My Review of 40 Days 40 Nights: A dark, disturbing, detective mystery (Sgt Major Crane crime thrillers Book 2) #FridayReads by Wendy Cartmell

40-days

Book Description: 

An evil game is in play… does Crane know the rules? 
What could be simpler than keeping Team GB safe as they make their final preparations for the Olympic Games on Aldershot Garrison? But when the body of a soldier is discovered and supplies start disappearing, Military Police Detective Sgt Major Tom Crane knows that an altogether more sinister game is in play. As time ticks down, no one knows who the next target will be,or who the player is. But he’s there, hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks… 
  
A gripping police procedural in the vein of traditional detective mysteries from the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, Steps to Heaven. If you love Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone, Peter James’ Roy Grace, Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks, Ruth Rendall’s Inspector Wexford, Elizabeth George’s DI Lindley and Ian Rankin’s Rebus you will be gripped by the Sgt Major Crane crime novels. 

 Recommendations:
 
It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up John Paul Davis Author and Broadcaster. 
This was an excellent read and I can honestly recommend this. It is different, exciting and I enjoyed every minute spent reading this novel. Faith Mortimer, Author
Wendy Cartmell’s brilliant writing had me completely engrossed and fact and artistic licence blended perfectly Sharon Joan-Figurola

 My Review.

 This is the second novel I’ve read by Wendy Cartmell. (I still haven’t read the first in the series, Steps to Heaven! – http://amzn.to/2ijsDGv). The novel I read was  Basic Element (Crane and Anderson Book 2 ) which I reviewed for  #BrookCottageBookTours:   http://bit.ly/2hZNHE9.

As I said then Wendy Cartmell has a clear writing style and although 40 Days 40 Nights has another complex plot that, it’s an enjoyable and easy read. By writing the story in the present tense the author succeeds in bringing everything into the moment; the reader lives alongside the characters as the plot unfolds.

And, as with  Basic Element, it can be read as a stand alone book.   

The research for this book shines throughout; from the viewpoint of Crane and the hierarchy of the military forces, the old Gurkha, Padam Gurung, homeless and desperate, and the Muslim antagonist and his quotes and beliefs from the Qur’an (trying not to give spoilers here).

And woven into the plot is Crane’s home life; the imminent birth of his first child, the stress of his wife’s, Tina’s, health problems and his uncertainty of his future in the army. 

 All the characters are rounded, three dimensional and believable; as true in this book with their personalities, habits, characteristics as they were in Basic Element. The supporting characters,  Sergeants Billy Williams and Kim Weston, Detective Inspector Derek Anderson, are as consistent and  likeable (except for Crane’s immediate superior,Captain Edwards, who the author successfully portrays as an unimaginative stickler for the rules)

 The dialogue is natural and believable and it’s easy to follow who is speaking, even without dialogue tags.An interesting point here; the Muslim antagonist directly speaks to the reader, using the second point of view, the ‘You’, which adds to the tension of his role and his intentions.

 One of the author’s strengths in the book is giving a sense of place wherever the action is set, whether indoors or outside; the descriptions are evocative and easy to imagine.

As you have probably guessed I thoroughly enjoyed 40 Days 40 Nights and would recommend the book to anyone who likes a good murder mystery with a political and military overtone.

 Buying Links:

 Amazon.co.uk:http://amzn.to/2iXS2pL

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2iLrtV2