Saturday, 21 May 2016

My Husband's Wife - Jane Corry : Author Guest Post & Giveaway



My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

Published by Penguin

ebook - 26 May 2016  :  Paperback 25 August 2016


I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for My Husband's Wife. I'm currently reading this and whilst I had intended to have a review alongside this guest post, I haven't quite finished it.  I am very much enjoying it though and my review will appear shortly.  In the meantime I have a guest post from the author on tips and habits of a writer, which I hope you enjoy.  There is also a giveaway for a new paperback proof copy (details at the end of this post).


TIPS AND HABITS OF A WRITER 

Jane Corry 


'Please don't come in,' I said this morning to my husband when he opened the study door.

No. I wasn't hiding anything. Or making any secret phone calls. The fact is that like many writers, I cannot cope with any interruption . Even a quick phone call can stop the flow and take away the idea which was about to hit the page.

And that's one of my first tips. If you can, find a place to write which will give you privacy. It might be a regular seat in the library or even a park bench. I have a friend who writes in his allotment shed. And another who writes in her beach hut. Although I'm lucky enough to have a study, I also write a great deal on the train. The most important thing is to have some quiet time to yourself so you can concentrate.

Personally, I far prefer to write on the keyboard rather than with pen and paper. That's because I trained as a journalist and am so used to typing that nothing else will do. This leads to another tip. Always back up your work either on a memory stick or by sending it as an attachment to your own email address. This way, if something awful happened, you should be able to retrieve it from any other computer.

Perhaps because of my journalist background, my fiction is usually based on something that I know. 'My Husband's Wife' for example, was inspired both by my time as a writer in residence of a high security prison and also by my remarriage. So another important tip which I'd like to pass on, is to write about what you know. Or about what you're fascinated by. This might take some research but it's amazing how a fact or figure or a chance comment during this homework' can really help with the plot. For example, I discovered that it is perfectly possible for a lawyer to be alone with a criminal in prison. This played its part in my novel!

When I'm writing a book, I always aim for 2000 to 3000 words a day. This keeps the story alive in my head. I write in the morning when I'm fresh and then read it back in the afternoon. It might take me 4 to 5 months to complete a first draft but then I will revise the novel several times. I will check it for plot consistency; realistic characterisation; dialogue that sounds right and pushes the story along; setting and also viewpoint. In other words, which of the characters is telling the story? I then read the novel out loud from the printed page rather than the screen. It's amazing how much more you can pick up that way.

Often I use a picture board when I will cut out pics from magazines that remind me of my characters. This can really help when describing my hero or heroine. Not to mention the baddies!

To keep the pace going, I make sure that every character has a problem to solve. Without a problem, there is no story ! I also end each chapter with a cliffhanger. In other words, I try to create a tense situation that makes the reader rush onto the next chapter in order to see what happens.

Finally it's very important for a writer to read. I tend to avoid other novels in my genre because I want to concentrate on my own story. But I always have a book on the go and usually read a chapter every night. Just as an actor needs to go to the cinema to see how others do it, so do writers need to read other people's works.

For me, the pleasure of writing is that first draft when the story is taking shape. I see it as beginning with a lump of clay that needs to be moulded and twisted over and over again until you feel you've done your very best. Good luck with your own writing. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy 'My Husband's Wife'.







About the book:



FIRST COMES LOVE. THEN COMES MARRIAGE. THEN COMES MURDER...

'A blockbuster of a psychological thriller. My head's still spinning from all the twists!' Mark Edwards

'This thrilling page-turner kept me guessing till the very end' Katerina Diamond, bestselling author of THE TEACHER

When lawyer Lily marries Ed, she's determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind.

But then she meets Joe. A convicted murderer who reminds Lily of someone she once knew, and who she becomes obsessed with freeing.

But is he really innocent?

And who is she to judge?

Perfect for readers of Liane Moriarty, C. L. Taylor and Clare Mackintosh, get hooked on the story that everyone's talking about.



GIVEAWAY

I have a duplicate copy to give away.  To win a new paperback uncorrected proof copy of My Husband's Wife, just leave a comment on this post (please make sure that you let me know how I can contact you if you win, a Twitter name would be fine). The giveaway is open until midnight on Sunday 22 May 2016 and I will pick a winner at random on Monday 23rd.  Sorry, but for postage costs, I can only post to the UK. Good luck! 


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Guest Post by Aimee Alexander - "Should Readers Contact Authors"?

I'm delighted to welcome author Aimee Alexander to My Reading Corner. Aimee's novel, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar was published in ebook and paperback on 26 April 2016 by Lake Union Publishing.  I have a copy of this to read, just as soon as I can fit it in to my reading schedule and a review will follow.  In the meantime, I have a guest post from Aimee which I hope you enjoy. 





Should Readers Contact Authors?


When I started writing, social media didn't exist. If a reader wanted to get in touch they had to write to me via my publisher. Needless to say, not many undertook this task. And to be honest, I didn't expect them to.

I wrote four novels of women’s fiction. Then the characters coming to my mind changed. I began to hear the dialogue of teenagers. I began to feel their passion. So powerful were their voices that I had to stop what I was doing and pay attention. Without ever planning to, I found myself writing Young Adult fiction.

Social media had arrived by then and I took to Facebook and Twitter primarily to understand my new audience. I didn't expect social media to change my writing career.

When And By The Way, the first of my YA trilogy, The Butterfly Novels, was published, readers began to react on social media. This was something entirely new and unexpected. Teenage girls were sharing the love either publicly or through direct messages. 

They wanted to let me know how they had connected with the books, in particular with specific characters. Many asked if the novels were going to be made into movies and requested to act in them. But the most touching to me were the teenagers who said they learned how to deal with issues in their lives or the lives of their friends by reading how a character coped with the same situation in the book. 

I cannot overemphasize how much this has meant to me, to hear the personal reaction of readers to my words. I write in a vacuum. I write what comes to me with no clue if anyone will want to read it or not. When people make the effort to get in touch to share their personal response, it reminds me of why I’m writing. If I can touch people, that is it.

I decided that young readers were the best audience in the world. Then, while continuing to write for them, I got the rights back to my women's fiction novels. The self-publishing revolution was happening and, attracted by a global audience, I took the plunge.

I reinvented myself and began to self-publish under the name Aimee Alexander (my children's names combined). That was when I learned that thanks to social media, adult readers can be just as responsive as teenage ones! 

I had self-published three novels when Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon got in touch, last August. They had picked up on the popularity of the novels and were offering to publish one of them, The Accidental Life Of Greg Millar. Giving their clout as a publisher, I jumped at the offer. ‘Greg Millar’ as I affectionately call it has just been republished by them and is doing very nicely. 

I would like to say that I have no doubt whatsoever that one of the reasons that Lake Union Publishing published ‘Greg Millar’ was because of reader response. How do I know this? Because they told me. The number of good reviews on Amazon prompted to them to read the book. 

Reader response warms my heart. One – lovely – woman is in touch through DM on Twitter sharing her reaction to ‘Greg Millar’ – as she reads it. It is so wonderful being included in her predictions, her surprises, her personal response. It’s like going on a new delightful journey as a writer. I can see different ways the novel could have gone – a real Sliding Doors experience.

And so I would say to any reader thinking of getting in touch with an author, do it. You will probably thrill them, motivate them, inspire them. I’m sure there are authors out there who will prove an exception to that rule but that is their loss. As a guide, I imagine that any author on social media would welcome his or her readers getting in touch. 

Personally, I would like to thank all the readers who have shared their response to my words both personally and via reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It means so incredibly much – in so many ways. A gracious thank you to you all. 






About the book:


Lucy Arigho’s first encounter with Greg Millar is far from promising, but she soon realises he possesses a charm that is impossible to resist. Just eight whirlwind weeks after their first meeting, level-headed career girl Lucy is seriously considering his pleas to marry him and asking herself if she could really be stepmother material.


But before Lucy can make a final decision about becoming part of Greg’s world, events plunge her right into it. On holiday in the South of France, things start to unravel. Her future stepchildren won’t accept her, the interfering nanny resents her, and they’re stuck in a heat wave that won’t let up. And then there’s Greg. His behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre and Lucy begins to wonder whether his larger-than-life personality hides something darker— and whether she knows him at all.



About the author:

Denise Deegan is a bestselling Irish author. She writes YA fiction under her own name and Women’s Fiction under the pen name Aimee Alexander. Her latest novel, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar is available from amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/24x3kGu and amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1STsRz4 


Visit her blog on: https://aimeealexander.com/ 



Denise with her agent, Deborah Warren, from the East West Literary Agency 




Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Secret Wife - Gill Paul : Cover Reveal

This is a book that I am really excited for and very much looking forward to reading.  I LOVED Gill Paul's last book, 'No Place for a Lady'  (it was one of my Top Reads of 2015)  and when I heard that a new book was being published this year, it went straight onto my wishlist.


This is it .... the cover for The Secret Wife - isn't it stunning.





  Published by Avon
 25th August 2016


A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries . . .

1914

Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with injured cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .

2016

Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation forces her to flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to an extraordinary, long-buried family secret ....

Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience



Friday, 6 May 2016

Distress Signals - Catherine Ryan Howard: Author Guest Post and Review


Published by Corvus 

ebook and paperback: 5 May 2016


Distress Signals was published yesterday.  I've been following the tweets and posts about this book for some months and was delighted to be offered a review copy by the publisher. I'm a huge fan of cruising holidays and the intriguing storyline, combined with the thriller element very much appealed.

I'm delighted to welcome Catherine to the blog with a guest post. My review of Distress Signals is at the end of the post.


REAL LIFE RESEARCH

Catherine Ryan Howard


I absolutely agree that you should write what you know. But I don’t think this necessarily means that you should only write you know about, i.e. doctors should write medical thrillers, lawyers should write legal thrillers, I should write a productivity guide for procrastinators called Tomorrow’s Another Day: Why You Shouldn’t Start Anything Until It’s Already Too Late… Instead, I take it to mean write whatever the hell you want, but use what you know as much as you can in it.

In my debut thriller Distress Signals, Adam’s girlfriend Sarah fails to return home from a Barcelona business trip. Days later, her passport arrives at the home they share with a note stuck inside that says ‘I’m sorry – S.’ The logo on it helps Adam trace Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate, and to a man whose wife disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. There is also a character, Corinne, who is working aboard the ship as a cabin attendant. Now, I’ve never worked on a cruise ship – but I have been a housekeeping inspector in a 2,000+ room resort hotel. The principles of running two such “rooms” departments are essentially the same, so I used my housekeeping experience to lend her role some authenticity. 




Furthermore, I used to be a campsite courier, and couriers – like cruise ship workers – live where they work. One thing people might not know about couriers is that everything they have, i.e. the tents they live in, the pots and pans they cook with, the beds they sleep on, etc. were more than likely all already used by customers until the company decided they’d had enough wear and tear and couldn’t be used by them any longer. At that point, the couriers get them. This was another detail I wove into Corinne’s life on the Celebrate, writing about how the pancake-flat pillows in the crew cabins and the patio furniture out by the crew pool were “crew-grade”. Again, I used what I did know to add authenticity to something I hadn’t first hand experience of myself.

Sometimes your knowledge and your story line up perfectly in a happy accident. Before I went back to college full-time, I used to go to Nice, France for a few weeks every October/November, when the tourists had left, the sun had gone cold and the rents on holiday apartments had plummeted. Initially, the entire second half of Distress Signals took place exclusively on the ship itself. But one day, on a trip to Villefranche, a stunning little village in the sheltered bay just east of Nice, I noticed something: enormous cruise ships a mile or so offshore, running little boats (tenders) to and from the dock there. They were on a “port day”, coming ashore and taking buses and trains to Nice. I knew Nice, and I knew Villefranche. The decision came easily: the Celebrate would stop here too.




The danger with using what you know, of course, is that you’ll be tempted to use too much of it. Once upon a time I worked in an auctioneers’ office, and one of my tasks soon after I started was to write a brochure outlining our property management service. My boss came back to me and said, ‘This is all great, Catherine… But we don’t want to tell them everything they need to know to do it themselves.’ I’d outlined our service in such detail that I’d essentially written a manual. (Oops!) In the early drafts of Distress Signals, I did the same kind of thing. On a morning when we follow Corinne to work aboard the ship, the reader essentially got a step-by-step account of a day in the life in a housekeeper. (The most riveting subject, I’m sure you’ll agree!) My editor made me cut it right down – and rightly so! 


It’s all about striking a balance. I love to learn about a part of the world, an industry or an environment I knew nothing about before, but story is king. Your research can’t get in the way of it.


About the book:

Did she leave, or was she taken? The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads 'I'm sorry - S' sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her. Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground...


My Review

Adam and Sarah have been together for over 10 years. Adam's ambition is to be a writer and whilst he has been pursuing this dream Sarah has been the breadwinner. It’s been a struggle but finally life is looking better. Adam has a film studio interested in his script but it needs some editing. Sarah tells him that she has to go to Barcelona for a work conference for a few days, instead of going with her Adam stays home to work. He sees her off at the airport, goes home and waits for Sarah to contact him, and waits……and waits.

It is actually quite believable that you wouldn’t be too alarmed for a day or so - you'd tell yourself that Sarah might have lost her phone, or it's out of charge. It’s a little surprising that she can’t get in contact at all but maybe she really is genuinely so busy at this conference. Its only as the days pass that Adam becomes increasingly more concerned. He then discovers something that completely rocks his world.

Distress Signals is Catherine Ryan Howard’s debut thriller and it really is very different. For one thing, a cruise ship is a major character in the story. In-between the main chapters of Adam’s efforts to find Sarah, we hear the story of a young French boy, Romain and follow him through the late 1980/early 1990s. There is something quite sad but disturbing about him and I wondered how he connected to the story?

As well as the thriller element, the book gives insight into the life of a crew member on a cruise ship. One such crew member featuring here is Corinne, one of the cabin attendants. She is older than many of her colleagues and you can feel her weariness through the pages. As a cruise passenger, I’ve seen at first-hand how hard the crew work and what long hours they do and so I had a great deal of sympathy for Corrine. However there is a mystery surrounding her which adds another element of suspense to the story and again, her connection will keep you wondering. One very interesting fact included in the story which I wasn’t aware of, was concerning the maritime law and international waters – any investigation into a death or disappearance on a ship is the responsibility of the country where the ship is registered unless an American citizen is involved and then the FBI automatically has jurisdiction. In this story, the cruise company, Blue Wave, take full advantage of this maritime law and do their very best to best to hush up any incidents.

The reader can feel Adam’s frustration with the lack of assistance from the Irish Garda. Because Sarah was an adult she was not considered to be ‘at risk’ and the feeling was that she had chosen to disappear. Even when they were faced with evidence showing that there were suspicious circumstances, not much help was forthcoming and it was down to Adam to make his own investigations.  I liked Adam. He was an unremarkable man caught up in a remarkable set of circumstances and his efforts put the Garda to shame.

The author writes confidently, her characters are believable and her writing style generally is very readable. The various threads to the story are suspenseful in their own right and all the way through I was trying to guess how they tied in. I thought I had worked it out but then another twist would appear and throw me off course. Every time I had to put the book down, I was keen to get back to it which for me, always makes for an enjoyable read. For a debut thriller this was very good indeed and I would certainly like to read more by Catherine Ryan Howard.


My thanks to the publisher Corvus for the paperback copy to review. 


About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.

You can read the first 3 chapters of Distress Signals by following this link 

You can read more about the book with this link http://www.DistressSignalsBook.com
















Monday, 2 May 2016

The Evolution of Fear - Paul E. Hardisty



The Evolution of Fear by Paul E. Hardisty

Published by Orenda Books

ebook and paperback available 5 May 2016


I'm thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Evolution of Fear. Having read and reviewed the first book in the Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying last year, I just had to read the sequel. 

My review is below, but first I have an extract of the first chapter, just to tempt you......

*1*

No Difference the Instrument 


30th October 1994: North coast of Cornwall, United Kingdom


It was a good place to hide. From almost any vantage the cottage was invisible. Notched into a wooded draw at the top of the bluff, accessible only on foot, the place looked as cold and dead as the Devonian slate and mudstone cliffs from which it was made. Forty minutes now he’d been watching the place, as dusk faded and night came, but he’d seen no one, nothing to suggest danger. Just the crash of the waves on the shingle beach below, the whip of wind through the trees. 

Claymore Straker shivered, pulled up his collar and watched the storm come in off the Irish Sea. Rain clouds scuttled overhead, low and fast, moving inland over the gorse and the stunted, wind-bent trees. The first drops touched his face, the cold fingertips of a ten-hour corpse. Winter was coming, and he was a fugitive.

Eight and a half weeks he’d been here, anchored into the cliffside, staring out at the grey solitude of the sea, watching the depressions deepen. Fifty-nine days, one thousand, four hundred and twenty-two hours not knowing where she was, not knowing if she was alive or dead, uncertainty burning away the very fibre of him. And today he’d cracked. He’d succumbed to worry and fear and he’d walked all the way to Crackington Haven, fifteen miles across the national park. Defying Crowbar’s orders, he’d gone into the village, found a public phone, and he’d made a call. Just one. And now he was more worried than ever.

Clay hefted his bug-out bag onto his shoulders and started towards the cottage. The path tunnelled down through a tangle of wind-shaped scrub, the branches closing over him as he went. Hands reached out from the darkness, snatched at his clothes. A thorn caught his cheek, nicked open the skin under his left eye. He cursed, bent low and followed the track as it swung back towards the cliffs. By the time he emerged from the thicket, the rain was coming hard and flat, squalling over the bluffs. He raised his stump over his eyes, trying to shield his face from the icy darts. There was the dark outline of the slate roof, the chimney pot just visible, the low stone wall that enclosed the small courtyard.

He had just moved into open ground when the clouds broke. Moonlight bathed the cliffline like a parachute flare. And there, just outside the cottage door, the back-lit silhouettes of two men.

Clay stopped dead. A gust raked through the scrub, a loud tearing as a sheet of rain whipped over the bluff. The men were only metres away, blurs in the slanting rain. They were looking straight at him. Seconds passed, slowing to the tick of insect wings in a childhood dream, then stalled completely in chrome-white illumination.

Surely they’d seen him.

One of the men shifted, shook the rain from his coat. A voice rose above the wind. Clay couldn’t make out the words, but the tone was calm, unhurried. As if commenting on the weather. Or the football scores. And in that moment, as the realisation came to him that perhaps these men were simply lost, walkers strayed from the park, he thought how powerful are the doubts we carry inside, how strongly we are held by these prisons we make for ourselves.

He was about to raise his hand in greeting when the two men turned away and walked the few paces to the cottage. One bent to the lock, worked it a moment, then pushed open the door. The other pulled a gun and burst inside.

It was as if a gallows door had opened beneath his feet.

Adrenaline hammered through him. He wavered a moment, then sprinted to the wall and dropped to the ground. A loud bang from inside the cottage amped out through the open door – a gunshot? A door being kicked in? Clay pulled the .45 calibre Glock G21 from under his jacket, cradled it dry in his lap, worked the action. He remembered Crowbar slamming the gun on the table the day he’d left him here. Stay put, his old platoon commander had said. I’ll come get you when things calm. Whatever you do, stay clear of town. With that bounty on your carcass, every poes from here to Cape Town will be hunting you.

Clay swallowed hard then started along the base of the stone wall, keeping low. He reached the cottage, crouched and looked seaward across the courtyard. The door was less than five metres away. It was the only way in or out. He waited, listened, but all he could hear was the pounding of the surf and the wind buffeting the cliffs, and above it all the drowning crash of his own heart.

How the hell had they found him, here of all places? Had someone recognised him in town? He’d been in and out in less than twenty minutes. Who, other than Crowbar, knew about this place? Knew he was here? Questions boiled in his mind.

But he didn’t have time to think them through. The door opened and one of the men stepped out into the rain-swept courtyard. He was short and stocky, powerfully built, and wore a black, thigh-length raincoat and a black baseball cap. He took a few steps towards the wall, shoes crunching on the gravel. They were city shoes; must have been wet through. A pistol with a long silencer hung from his left hand. He stood for a moment looking out to sea. Clay raised the G21, steadied it on the stump of his left arm and aimed for the middle of the man’s chest.

Just then, the second man stepped out into the rain. He was taller, wore a dark jacket and was bareheaded. Slung across his chest was a Heckler and Koch MP5 machine pistol. As Clay shifted his aim to take out the more heavily armed man first, the shorter man reached for his cap and pulled it off his head, slapping it against his thigh as he turned to face his companion.

Hy is nie hier,’ he shouted above the wind. ‘Nvolledige opfok.’

Clay’s heart lurched. The sound of his native tongue pierced something inside him. He’s not here, the man had said. A complete fuckup. He’d said it in Afrikaans.

Ja, maar hy was hier,’ said the taller man, looking out towards the bluff. But he was here.

The other man nodded. ‘Kan nie ver wees.’ Can’t be far.

Clay knelt behind the wall, the Glock trained on the man with the MP5. His hand was shaking. These were his countrymen, Boers by their accent, men who by their look and demeanour had in all probability fought against the communists in Angola and Southwest Africa, as he had. Their presence here, in the foresight of his gun on an autumn night on the north coast of Cornwall, seemed impossible, the ramifications a nightmare.

Clay knew he had to act quickly. He could run, disappear into the heathland, go west along the coast, give himself a head start. But they’d already managed to get this close. If he ran, they’d follow, just like they’d done with the SWAPO terrorists all those years ago, tracking them like Palaeolithic hunters, wearing them down with calloused feet, pushing them hour by hour towards the quicksand of exhaustion. It made no difference, the instrument: helicopters or spears, stones or high-powered assault rifles. Even, as he’d learned to his horror, back then during the war, the cocktails of muscle relaxants and incapacitating agents that shut down everything but your brain, suffocated you as you fell to the sea from twelve thousand feet, a silent scream drowning in your throat. Clay shuddered at the memory.

The tall man turned, looked down the track, readjusted the sling of his weapon so its muzzle pointed down, and said something to his companion that Clay could not make out. A gap opened in the clouds. Moonlight flooded the gravel courtyard again, pale as a false spring day. The two figures stood silhouetted against the hammered steel background. Clay breathed in, steadied his aim.

I did not ask you to come here, he said. I did not will this or want it in any way. I know why you are here, and I cannot let you leave. You have given me no choice. No choice.

He exhaled, squeezed the trigger.

The large-calibre slug hit the tall one between the shoulder blades, severing his spine. His legs collapsed under him and he sandbagged forward, inert, hands limp at his sides. Before the dead man’s face hit the gravel, Clay shifted left, aimed for the other target and fired again. This time to wound, to incapacitate, not to kill. The man spun right, fell to the ground. But then he was up, scrambling towards the house, his feet flailing and slipping in the gravel. Clay was about to fire again when the lights went out, the moon suddenly obscured by a thick bank of cloud. The target was gone, black on black. Clay could hear the man scrabbling on the crushed stone. He aimed low along the wall of the cottage, fired blind once, twice, aiming at the sound: deflection shooting. Slowly his night vision returned. The tall one was where he’d fallen, face down, the rain pelting his back. Otherwise, the courtyard was empty. 






Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill to save Rania and end unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit.


Oh my goodness, just how much can one man cope with!   I thought that Claymore Straker had been put through the mill in book 1, but in this, the follow on, the pace is relentless. When does he sleep!

I don't want to give away too much about the plot for fear of spoiling book 1 for those who haven't yet read it but as you will see from the extract above, this book starts with Clay holed up in a remote cottage on the Cornish coast.  Following previous events, he is a wanted man with a price on his head.  He now has to go on the run again - and find his lover, journalist Rania.  They had a break and now she has disappeared.

This story begins just a few months after the end of The Abrupt Physics of Dying with the majority of the story taking place in Cyprus.  For decades, there has been hostilities between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots following the Turkish invasion in the 1970's.  This story concerns land grabbing, the dirty dealings of both Turks and Greeks regarding building developments on important coastal areas needed for the conservation of turtles. The boom in tourism has fuelled the developer's greed and desire to build huge resorts on the very land that the turtles use for breeding.  Their numbers are dwindling and they are in danger of extinction. Rania is following a story on this which inevitably places her in grave danger.  By trying to find her, Clay is also in their sights and whilst dealing with corrupt politicians and dangerous businessmen, he has to stay one step ahead from those wanting him dead - the Medved family, as well as his nemesis - a character from the previous books Zdravko.  

I enjoyed The Abrupt Physics of Dying and gave it 4*.  This one, I have to give 5* to.  I have to admit that a lot of the detail about boats and other technical data went over my head but the author has written a fabulous action packed detailed story with such well drawn characters and deserves 5* for that alone.  Clay is not a James Bond type of superhero; both physically and mentally he struggles with his past but he is brave and loyal and fights against injustice.  There were many times in the book when I was either silently shouting at him not to do something because it wouldn't end well or holding my breath fearing for the outcome.  

One thing did strike me with both these books, they are both set in 1994 but they feel very contemporary and it is so easy to forget that you are reading a story set at a time over 20 years previously.  The only time for me this did really show was over the lack of use of mobile phones - something which we take for granted today. Although a couple of characters did seem to have mobiles, I don't recall Clay using one and instead relying on public phones or leaving notes. 

There are betrayals and dirty dealings galore in this story.  Clay didn't know who to trust and neither did I - I was constantly worrying that certain characters he was getting involved with would betray him.  

If you like your thrillers action packed with pace and suspense then I have no hesitation in recommending this one.  Although there are plenty of dead bodies which appear throughout, it's not a typical run of the mill crime thriller but more of a story of mankind's moral compass.  There are times when you have to do the right thing, even if the result brings you personal heartache and hardship. 

Finally, this could be read as a standalone but I wouldn't recommend that you do so. You would get far more out of the story if you read The Abrupt Physics of Dying first. 


My thanks to the publisher for the paperback copy to review. 


About the author:

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a cafe in Sana'a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia's national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family. His debut novel, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger, and received over 60 five-star reviews.



Website | Twitter | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Sunday, 1 May 2016

April 2016 - Books & Events

All my good intentions at keeping up the Stacking the Shelves posts each week seem to have fallen by the wayside as life has got in the way recently and, as I haven't done a post for several weeks, to try to catch up now would make for a never ending post.  Instead I'm doing a monthly wrap up post for books received and any bookish events attended which hopefully will be easier to keep up with in future.

LOADS of books came into the house and onto my Kindle during April - many ARCs from lovely publishers and authors, but also purchased books, including hardbacks, paperback and Kindle copies.  My shelves are now bulging even more and I have no idea as to when I will get round to reading all of these (my own purchased ones!) but at least I will never be short of a book to read! 

ARCs and review copies received:
  • Sunset City - Melissa Ginsburg (for blog tour) (Faber & Faber)
  • The Museum of You - Carys Bray (Hutchinson)
  • To the Bright Edge of the World - Eowyn Ivey (Tinder Press)
  • Looking for Lucy - Julie Houston 
  • Valentina - S E Lynes (Blackbird Digital Books)
  • Where Roses Never Die - Gunnar Staalesen (Orenda)
  • Epiphany Jones - Michael Grothaus (Orenda)
  • Deadly Harvest - Michael Stanley (Orenda)
  • Under a Cornish Sky - Liz Fenwick (Orion)
  • The Bitter Season - Tami Hoag (Orion)
  • Distress Signals - Catherine Ryan Howard (Atlantic)
  • The Accidental Life of Greg Millar - Aimee Alexander 


Netgalley's approved:
  • All is Not Forgotten - Wendy Walker (Harlequin/Mira)
  • The Girl Who Lied - Sue Fortin (HarperImpulse)
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware (Harvill Secker)
  • Wonder Cruise - Ursula Bloom (Corazon)

Paper Books Bought:
  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Chris Cleave
  • Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans
  • May Day Murder - Julie Wassmer (signed copy)
  • Look at Me - Sarah Duguid
  • A Savage Hunger - Claire McGowan
  • The Daughter's Secret - Eva Holland
  • The Loving Husband - Christobel Kent
  • Gone Astray - Michelle Davis
  • Fever at Dawn - Peter Gardos

The Ruby Slippers - Kier Alexander.  I just had to buy a copy of this as I recently found out that an extract from my blog review is quoted inside!

  


Kindle Purchases:
  • The Real Book Thief - Ingrid Black -  currently free (a short story account of how this author discovered that her books had been plagarised by another author). 
  • Breaking Dead - Corrie Jackson
  • A Fine House in Trinity - Lesley Kelly
  • The Undertaker's Daughter - Kate Mayfield
  • The Disappearance - Annabel Kantaria
  • Dead in Deep Water (Archer & Baines #2) - Dave Sivers
  • Evil Unseen (Archer & Baines #3) - Dave Sivers
  • The Second Chance Shoe Shop - Marcie Steele
  • Abigale Hall - Lauren A Fory
  • Cinderella Girl - Carin Gerhardsen
  • A Stranger's House - Clare Chase
  • Sleep Sister - Laura Elliott
  • The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows - Marnie Riches
  • The First Cut - Ali Knight
  • The Camera Never Lies - Tess Daly
  • Sweet Home - Carys Bray
  • A Perception of Sin - Juliet Cromwell
  • A Mother's Secret - Renita D'Silva

Won/Given
  • The Vintage Springtime Club - Beatrice Meier
  • Quick Reads 2016 - The Anniversary


Events:

I attended two brilliant events in April - the first was First Monday Crime (@1stMondayCrimeat the beginning of the month.  Supported by various organisations, including Goldsboro Books, it is currently held in the College Building of City University, near Angel tube station. This was the very first one and sponsored by Orenda Books (who supplied a great goody bag!); the authors on the panel were Elly Griffiths (author of the Ruth Galloway and Stephens and Mephisto crime series), Amanda Jennings (In Her Wake), Mary Paulson-Ellis (The Other Mrs Walker) and Leye Adenle (Easy Motion Tourist). Chaired by Barry Forshaw (Brit Noir). The next event will be on Monday 9 May. 

After the panel discussion, questions were taken from the audience and then books were available to buy and have signed.   I didn't go to the pub afterwards where the evening continued but it sounds a very sociable event and one that I shall keep an eye out for in future months. 



                           


Of course I couldn't come away empty handed and bought a couple of books which I was able to get signed.


                              






The next event was later in April at the excellent Rooftop Book Club/Crime Files Spring Thrills evening, held at Hatchette/Headline's Carmelite Building.   There were six authors attending, with two panels. Elly Griffiths (I've seen her 3 or 4 times now and I'm not stalking her, honestly!), J S Law (author of Tenacity) and Claire McGowan (author of the Paula Maguire series and another author that I have seen at a couple of previous events).  This panel was chaired by Jake Kerridge, journalist and crime fiction critic of the Daily Telegraph.









After a short break, appearing on the second panel were Sarah Hilary (whose third book in the DI Marnie Rome series 'Tastes Like Fear' has just been published), Janet Ellis (ex Blue Peter and author of The Butcher's Hook) and historical crime fiction author Antonia Hodgson (whose third book is due to be published this summer).  This panel was chaired by author, journalist and Times reviewer Antonia Senior. 





We arrived to find Rooftop goody bags waiting on our chairs - all crime thrillers due to be published later in the year and they all look excellent. Do keep an eye out for the @RooftopBookClub tweets as to when the next event is. For the price of a £10 ticket, it really is a fantastic evening.  


  

This was another opportunity to get some books signed, thank you to Sarah Hilary and JS Law.  :) 





That's all for now.  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, if you attended either of these events too or if you have read any of the books listed. 


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sunset City - Melissa Ginsburg



Sunset City by Melissa Ginsburg

Published by Faber & Faber

21 April 2016


A thrilling crime debut from a strikingly brave new voice – shades of Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, set in a vivid and unforgettable Houston, Texas. 

Twenty-two-year-old Charlotte Ford reconnects with Danielle, her best friend from high school, a few days before Danielle is found bludgeoned to death in a motel room. In the wake of the murder, Charlotte’s life unravels and she descends into the city's underbelly, where she meets the strippers, pornographers and drug dealers who surrounded Danielle in the years they were estranged.

Ginsburg’s Houston is part of a lesser known south, where the urban and rural collide gracelessly. In this shadowy world, culpability and sympathy blur in a debut novel which thrillingly brings its three female protagonists to the fore. Scary, funny and almost unbearably sad, Sunset City is written with rare grace and empathy holding you transfixed, praying for some kind of escape for Charlotte.






I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Sunset City and for my turn I have a guest post by the author, Melissa Ginsburg, who has written a piece on the relationship between the two central characters, Charlotte and Danielle.  


Who are Charlotte and Danielle? 

The friendship between Charlotte Ford and Danielle Reeves forms the heart of Sunset City. Their relationship has not been easy, and when the book begins, they have been estranged from one another for several years. 

Charlotte is 24, working as a barista at a local cafĂ© and living in the small apartment she grew up in. She’s been alone there since her mother died when Charlotte was 18. Danielle Reeves, Charlotte’s best friend from high school, has been the single most important person in Charlotte’s life, even though they’ve been out of touch. 

When they were 15 years old, they fed into each other’s needs perfectly. Danielle was charismatic, beautiful, and impulsive. She could afford to be reckless, because she came from a wealthy home and no one depended on her. That felt exciting to Charlotte, who was the caretaker for her sick mother since she was a child, and always had to be very grounded and responsible.  Charlotte was an adoring audience for Danielle, and Danielle was attracted to Charlotte’s stability. 

When Charlotte’s mother dies, Danielle is given the opportunity to be kind and generous, to be needed by someone. She steps into that role beautifully, and learns that she is capable of being a really wonderful friend. But Charlotte’s mother’s death is also the catalyst for Danielle’s drug addiction. The girls start taking the dead woman’s leftover prescriptions of Xanax and painkillers. When the drugs run out, Danielle switches to heroin. Charlotte is unable to help Danielle, though she feels responsible for exposing Danielle to drugs. Charlotte’s guilt adds fuel to her already fierce loyalty.

They helped each other and they hurt each other, because neither of them was equipped to deal with the circumstances of their lives.

Danielle is murdered a few days after the two friends meet. Charlotte feels completely unmoored without Danielle, and she goes a little nuts. I wanted Danielle’s death to devastate everyone she knew, because of the loss and because of the difficulty inherent in loving her. That difficulty doesn’t go away when somebody dies. I’m interested in that complexity, in writing and in life. Grief is not just about sadness or longing. It’s also about regret, and the realization that the distance you always hoped to bridge will never be overcome, mistakes can’t be undone. To me, that part of it is more heartbreaking than just missing someone.

Complicated, difficult people are interesting to write about, and to be around. 
Charlotte and Danielle have this very intense relationship. They care deeply about each other, but they are also both trying their best to take care of themselves and move forward, which conflicts with that loyalty. 

I wanted to explore a relationship that was intense, full of love and loyalty, but also untenable. There’s built in drama there, a doomed quality, that seems to fit with who these characters are. 




About the author:

Melissa Ginsburg was born and raised in Houston and attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the author of the poetry collection Dear Weather Ghost and two poetry chapbooks, Arbor and Double Blind. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Mississippi. Sunset City is her first novel.



Website | Twitter | Amazon UK | Goodreads


Friday, 22 April 2016

Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria - Clare Pedrick

Published by Matador

Ebook and Paperback July 2015



Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all... love. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. 

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.” 

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try. 


Author Clare Pedrick very kindly wrote a guest post for my blog last year, which you can read here, and recently Chickens Eat Pasta finally got to the top of my review list.  I'm so sorry it’s taken so long Clare! 

I think Clare could either be considered either very brave or very foolish to buy a derelict property in the Italian countryside on just one visit and without even having any kind of survey or legal work done (I'm a legal conveyancing secretary and just the very idea of buying a property in this way horrified me!) but compared to our cold and wet English weather and with no real reason to stay here, I could well understand the attraction of an Umbrian idyll. 

This is an autobiographical account of Clare's life in Italy but written as a novel, with some characters whose identities have been changed, however despite this, it still comes across as a very personal story.  In between chapters describing her integration into the Italian way of life and the work to the house, there are hints that she is leaving behind her life in San Massano - we don't know what has happened or why the change in circumstances and its only later in the book that we find out what really happens.

I really enjoyed Chickens Eat Pasta.  I became so engrossed in Clare's way of life, the problems of trying to do her work as a journalist without having a telephone or internet connection at home, the battles with bureaucracy and the problems with some of the locals and their dirty dealings. I certainly didn't envy her the harsh reality of living in a dilapidated house with no heating and with very basic amenities, however the friendships forged with some of the locals were a joy to read.  It wasn't all perfect, whilst some turned out to be wonderful friends, there were others that were scoundrels but their distinct personalities all added to the flavour of the story.  There are a lot of characters to get to grips with - I couldn't keep up with who was part of which family but I just went along with the story. 

The house is situated in a little village called San Massano, about an hour and half's train ride from Rome.  The location alone sounded idyllic but the descriptions of the food and local produce were just mouthwatering.   We don't just stay in Umbria, Clare's story also takes place in Naples and Rome - all with the same excellent sense of place and characterisation. 

This is more than just a story of renovating a property.  Its about love and friendship and making a new life.  Its a story that I very much enjoyed and would definitely recommend it.

My thanks to the author and Netgalley for the e-copy to read.


For more information, the excellent book site Tripfiction has a very interesting interview with Clare Pedrick.  


About the author:
  


Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.









Twitter - @ClarePedrick

Facebook - Chickens Eat Pasta


Troubador Publishing - Chickens Eat Pasta

Amazon UK