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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Brother Kemal by Jakob Arjouni

Brother Kemal
(translated by Anthea Bell)

This book was a little different from the things I usually get asked to review. Firstly, it is a translation, from German. Secondly, the author is sadly no longer with us, having died of pancreatic cancer, aged only 48. This is therefore, unfortunately, his last book.

Although I found the first chapter slightly slow to get started, once I'd got into the story, I was gripped. And, incidentally, once I got to the end of the book, it became clear why some of the information at the beginning of the story that felt superfluous actually needed to be there.

Private investigator Kemal Kayankaya gets involved in two investigations in the course of this novel and although one involves a missing teenager, and the other involves the protection of an author at the Frankfurt Book Fair, it's only a matter of time before the two enquiries overlap and cause chaos.

By the end of the book, I felt that I was in very good company with Kemal Kayankaya, and all the other well-conceived characters, and would have been happy if the book had gone on longer.

The story has humour, grit and suspense and I found it an interesting read. It is actually the fifth in the Kayankaya series, so there are plenty more to read if you wish!
Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.
You can find out more here.

Friday 6 December 2013

Hunting Shadows by Sheila Bugler

Hunting Shadows

This is a dark tale, and the darkness works on a number of levels. Firstly, it's about a missing child and the terrible repercussions on her family that her absence causes. But it's also dark because the main character, DI Ellen Kelly is battling to cope with the death of her own husband and the damage this has done to her family.

It also turns out that Ellen has to live with the fact that she took the law into her own hands and confronted her husband's killer. There's a lot of back story here, and I assume it will continue to be explored in future Ellen Kelly mysteries. I hope so, anyway.

Possibly one of the most moving, and disturbing, aspects of the story is that concerning Rob York, father of Molly - a previous missing child whose story had the most tragic of endings. Rob's misery, and the extremes it leads him to, become instrumental in the case, and yet another thing Ellen has to deal with on top of her family problems and the, sometimes equally serious, issues of her colleagues.

On top of this we have a twisting and turning plot, and a genuinely gripping race against time.

I recommend this book to thriller lovers, and look forward to more in the series.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Any Writing Competition Organisers Out There?

As I mentioned a while ago, I'm now writing the competitions column for Writers' Forum magazine. Every month I'll be looking for interesting competitions to share with our readers.

I'm looking for all sorts of competitions: short stories; novels; poetry; non-fiction; plays and scripts - anything that's writing related. So do get in touch if you're an organiser or judge and want to spread the word about competitions you have coming up in 2014.

As we work quite a long way ahead, I need a three month lead in time for things to be included in the column.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.

You can contact me at competitiveedge(at)writers-forum(dot)com.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Charity Event - Brother Kemal

This has just come through to me from Oldcastle Books. It looks like a great event, so do get in touch with them if you're interested.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Woman Walks Into A Bar by Rowan Coleman

Woman Walks Into A Bar

by Rowan Coleman

A while ago I did a post about Rowan Coleman releasing 'Woman Walks Into A Bar' in order to raise money for Refuge.  You can see that post here.

I've since read the book and just wanted to tell you a bit about it.

'Woman Walks Into A Bar' is the story of Sam, a woman who has survived an abusive relationship and is now looking for love again, aided and abetted by her friends and her daughter. Can she find love again, and will she need to face up to her past first?

In that sense it is a story of abuse, surviving it, and rebuilding your life. But it explored a lot of other issues tied up with abuse as well. An important theme was self esteem and all the ways this can be knocked, leading to vulnerability. I found this one of the most fascinating aspects of the story.

I also loved Sam's relationship with her daughter, Beth, and the way she watches over her - looking out for signs that she may also suffer a blow that will knock her self esteem and make her vunerable. The family relationships between these two, and Sam's own mother are delightfully drawn.

So as well as being for a great cause, this book is also a fabulous read that covers some really important issues, but still manages to be upbeat and entertaining.

As an added extra, you also get a taster of Rowan's upcoming novel The Memory Book, which looks heartbreakingly good. I can't wait to read that one!

You can find out more about 'Woman Walks Into A Bar' here.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Confessions Of An Undercover Cop by Ash Cameron

Confessions Of An Undercover Cop

This is the sixth book in the bestselling ‘confessions’ series from The Friday Project. I haven’t read any of the others yet, but I was very happy to get a chance to read this one.

‘Confessions Of An Undercover Cop’ is warm and authentic. It captures the life and work of a female police officer, starting in the 1970s, in all its hectic, challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable, glory.

The book has a good balance of light and shade. Some of Ash’s experiences were hilarious, and she isn’t scared to laugh at herself, but some of them are heartbreaking. In particular, her accounts of child protection work are not for the fainthearted.

It also gives an interesting social commentary on the times she lived and worked through. Life as a young woman making her way in the police force of the 1970s could not have been easy.

What shines through most is her love of ‘the job’ and concern for the people she served.

I recommend this to anyone who’s interested in an honest account of life as a professional working with some of the most damaged, and some of the most damaging, people you’re ever likely to hear about.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

M J Hyland Writing Course

I've been sent the following information, which may be useful to anyone who can get to Cambridge and fancies an intensive writing course. Follow the links at the bottom for more information.

Booker-nominated author- M J Hyland, will be in Cambridge at the end of the month for the Festival of Ideas - she will appear on a literary panel discussing genre and digital publishing (Oct 31st). She will then run a small writing workshop at a special festival rate. We currently have a couple of spaces available and are looking for keen writers to join the class - details below.  Writers working on short stories or novels are all welcome. 

 M J Hyland in Cambridge - Fiction Workshop 
November 2-3rd

Inspiring and transformative workshop that will bring out your very best writing. Each writer will have 2,500 words of their fiction reviewed, work-shopped and edited by M J Hyland. 

During this workshop, you'll learn every important trick. You'll find out how to write compelling fiction: how to begin, how to structure, how to build a story, how to create a strong narrative, how to write memorable and credible characters, how to write plausible dialogue, how to cure writers' block, and much more. The atmosphere will be fun and energetic, with plenty of in-class writing exercises. There will also be  practical advice to help writers polish and hone their work to publication standard.

Visit the website for more course information www.editingfirm.com or email info@editingfirm.com 
Price: £275.00 (Unique Festival of Ideas Price - usual Masterclasses £400.00)

Friday 11 October 2013

Competitive Edge

From the January 2014 issue of Writers' Forum, I'll be taking over the competition page from the wonderful Sally Quilford who has been running it for five years now. We've decided to rechristen the pages 'Competitive Edge', because that's what we're hoping to give readers of Writers' Forum through the information and competition listings.

As I prepare to take over the page, I want to hear from you!

I want to hear from people who are entering writing competitions and have something to say about them. I want to hear from people who have won or been placed in writing competitions about how they did it, and how it has helped them with their writing career. I'd particularly like to hear from people who have unusual stories. Maybe you had a story you couldn't give up on and rewrote and sent out several times before getting a win or a placing. Or maybe you had a go at a competition that took you right out of your comfort zone and ended up doing really well.

Please also feel free to get in touch with any questions you have about the subject of writing competitions. I'll try to cover as many of these on the page as possible.

I also want to hear from organisers and judges who have great competitions to promote. So please get in touch (three months in advance) if you'd like to request for your competition to be listed. I'd love to hear about any unusual or innovative competitions out there as well.

If you want to get in touch you can email the competition pages at competitiveedge(at)writers-forum(dot)com

Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

A Stitch In Time by Amanda James

A Stitch In Time

‘A Stitch In Time’ is another fabulous book from Choc Lit publishing, who are going from strength to strength at the moment.

What I liked about this one was that it’s very different from most romance stories and has a really interesting time travel twist.

The story follows Sarah Yates, a history teacher whose life has been turned upside down by circumstances she wouldn't have chosen, as she is approached by John Needler, handsome and mysterious, with a proposition that Sarah can hardly believe.

This is only the beginning of her adventures, which take her back in time to the Blitz, the time of the suffragette movement and the Old American West. In each period the historical details are created confidently, but not intrusively, and enhance the telling of the story.

‘A Stitch In Time’ has a bit of everything: a really emotional romance, lots of adventure, and quirky trips to historical times and far-flung places. All this combines to create a satisfying and gripping novel. Sarah’s story is skilfully handled so that we don’t know what the final outcome will be for her until right at the end, and it’s an outcome worth waiting for.

Overall, I found this a satisfying, enjoyable and intelligent read which I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to the author for a copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

A Jersey Kiss by Georgina Troy


A Jersey Kiss 

I’m very lucky in my writing friends, and was privileged to get a sneak preview of this book before it came out. I’m glad I did, because it was a very enjoyable read.

I loved the romance thread running through the book. The hero was the sort that readers fall for as well as heroines, and the ‘will they, won’t they?’ tension was really well done.

Add to this the dilemmas that the main character, Bea’s, friends and family bring to the story, and you’ve got a gripping novel with many strands to be brought together at the end. You’ll care about all these characters and want to know how their bit of the story turns out.

The beautiful setting of Jersey is also used to full effect in the telling of the tale. I’ve only been to Jersey once, but the various parts of the island were brought to life to such good effect that I could almost feel I was back there.

If you like your romance with a rich story full of intrigue, moral dilemmas and difficult choices, then this is the book for you.

It’s good to see that more books are planned in the ‘Jersey’ series from this author. I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading them.

You can buy a copy of A Jersey Kiss here.

Monday 9 September 2013

Cold Sacrifice by Leigh Russell


Cold Sacrifice

I was really excited to hear that Leigh Russell was writing a spin off from her Geraldine Steel series of books starring Geraldine’s sidekick DS Ian Peterson. This first book in the new series does not disappoint.

This is what the publishers have to say about the book:

When Henry's wife is stabbed to death, he pays a prostitute to give him an alibi. Her body is discovered, strangled, and the police realise they are dealing with a serial killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. While they are hunting for evidence, another prostitute is brutally murdered. On the track of a vicious killer, Ian doesn't realise he is risking the life of his young colleague, Polly.

Already established as a popular character in his own right, Ian Peterson appears in a supporting role in the first three Geraldine Steel novels. Cold Sacrifice is the start of his own career as protagonist in a brand new detective series. 

Ian Peterson certainly proves a strong enough character to carry his own series. We get to find out more about his personal life in this book, and the interplay between that and his working life provides an excellent additional angle and sets up an intriguing situation to carry over into the next book.

I was thrilled to see that Geraldine Steel got to play a cameo role in the story, and I hope that she will make further appearances in the books to come in this series.

The plot has some great twists, including one that I couldn’t work out at all. It also explores new areas in the motives for the crimes and, as ever with Leigh Russell’s work, is notable for its sensitive depiction of victims of murder.

So, overall a great read with an interesting premise and strong characters. If you’re a fan of Geraldine Steel this series is great news and will keep you going in the gaps when you’re waiting for Geraldine’s next adventure to come out.

You can find my reviews of Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel books here and here.

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

You can find out how to get hold of a copy here.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Woman Walks Into A Bar by Rowan Coleman

My lovely friend and fellow writer, Rowan Coleman, is raising money for Refuge with the release next month of 'Woman Walks Into A Bar'. Rowan is looking for as much support as possible for this project and this is what she says in her press release about it.

*no running or bungee jumping involved, just a great read!

On 10th September 2013, author Rowan Coleman is inviting women everywhere to #supportafriend and get involved in her mission to raise £10,000 for Refuge.
On this date Rowan will release her novella WOMAN WALKS INTO A BAR as an eBook and 100% of her royalties will go to the charity Refuge.

All readers have to do is to download WOMAN WALKS INTO A BAR from Amazon … and encourage as many women as they can to do the same. Simple!

When Rowan Coleman began work on her tenth novel she asked her 1500 Facebook fans if they would be willing to share their personal experiences of domestic abuse. She was shocked to discover 204 emails waiting in her inbox the following day.

So began the process of writing DEAREST ROSE, featuring a character inspired by the women Rowan spoke to. Rose, with the help of her friends, gradually finds the strength and courage to escape an abusive marriage along with her seven-year-old daughter.

DEAREST ROSE went on to win the Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read 2012, the RoNA Epic Romance Novel of the Year 2013 and was also shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2013.
To support publication and to spread the word Rowan is launching a campaign, #supportafriend, on Twitter and Facebook, encouraging women everywhere to tell us how they will support a friend on September 10th.If there’s one thing women do well, it’s friendship. Whether they bake a stressed-out work colleague a cake, give a long-distance friend a call to see how they are, or help a mum with a buggy off the bus, we’re asking the public to tweet their ideas and pictures, on the day, and to get involved with competitions and giveaways.

Please help Rowan spread the word about #supportafriend and encourage as many of us as possible to buy WOMAN WALKS INTO A BAR. We’d love you to review the book on your blog, on Amazon, on Goodreads and do anything else you can think of to help to raise the profile of the event via social media!
We are encouraging everyone to use #supportafriend and #womanwalks to try to focus activity on sales of WOMAN WALKS INTO A BAR, which is the quickest way to raise money for Refuge.

And of course the easiest way for you to support the #supportafriend campaign is to buy the book…buy two!

Published September 10th 2013; £1.59
Available for pre-order from Amazon — get yours today!
Make contact with Rowan at the following:
Twitter: @rowancoleman
using the hashtags #supportafriend and #womanwalks

You can pre-order  Woman Walks Into A Bar here.
You can read my review of Dearest Rose here.

Please support Rowan in any way you can. Thank you.

Monday 5 August 2013

The Bleiberg Project by David Khara

The Bleiberg Project

A guest review from Lady Techie

I received an e-copy of The Bleiberg Project by David Khara from Netgalley. 

I have to admit when I think about reading anything related to the Holocaust it makes me want to run the other way. Knowing everything that was done and probably not being aware of some things makes it a hard subject to digest. I have to admit this is my first foray into reading about this topic for that very reason. But, when I read the synopsis I thought this sounds really good and just maybe there is a good enough ending that I will not feel totally depressed afterwards. 

The characterization in the story was done really well. I have to admit that Jeremy Corbin, even without knowing his secret, makes it hard to like him. He is quite witty and also so darn down on himself it makes you want to avoid him. But, as the book goes on you start to become invested in his pain and hope that somewhere down the line things get better for him. Oddly enough his thoughts about Jackie Wells at first seemed a bit off to me, then as I read on I decided he is just a bit self-centered and immature and kind of thinks of her in high-school terms. Jeremy takes body blow after body blow in losses and as he deals with them throughout the book you start to see him maturing and growing and realizing how he lost more than he realized with his father.

I love reading books based in other countries, especially Europe and Eastern Europe. This book did a good job of giving me a bit of armchair travel. There was not a lot by way of describing the sites in the different places they visited when they arrived in Switzerland and made their way across to Poland but, there were enough of the descriptions that it grabbed my interest. What was really great was the tie-in to some of the rumors of some of the medical testing that happened in the camps. They were nicely woven into this book. But, my all-time favorite part of this book was Eytan Morg. I love reading about and seeing stories on television about the Kidon unit of The Mossad. Granted they are not nice people but, this was my first book that I got to read about some of what they do and what is known about their skills. It took me back to my favorite parts of NCIS and the character Ziva who was also Kidon. Eytan was larger than life and not just due to his size. He was this amazing, scarred man who didn’t allow himself to have anything other than the work he did and we find out why in The Bleiberg Project. That part of the story was riveting. Eytan’s fight scenes were awesome and jumped off the page when you read them. Interestingly enough at the beginning of the book you don’t know whose side he is on so he comes off as if he might be one of the bad guys but, he is so much more.

I just read on Goodreads that this is the start of a series and I have to say a very good start and I look forward to following this series every step of the way!
Review can also be seen along with more great information about The Bleiberg Project by David Khara here.

Friday 26 July 2013

Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies

Family Likeness

When Rosie arrives in the lives of Jonas Murrey and his two children, he can have no idea of what is to come. Because for Rosie this isn’t just about landing a new job as a babysitter; it’s an attempt to find herself in ways that will only become clear as the story progresses.

Rosie’s narrative alternates with that of a small child called Muriel who, in the 1950s, is abandoned by her mother and left to the not-so-tender mercies of the children’s home system. The two narratives are linked by a number of themes: identity and belonging; missing parents; race and genetic roots. They weave around and echo each other as the story progresses and the links between the two women and their respective situations are revealed.

As with her previous novel, 'The Ghost Of Lily Painter', Caitlin Davies has also woven in a historical strand based on reality, in this case the true story of the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle. In the novel it is seeing the portrait of Dido, a young black girl living in an aristocratic white family in the 18th Century, which leads Rosie, and Jonas’s young daughter Ella, to research and reflect on some of the issues of race, equality and identity that also feature in their own lives. By doing this the historical thread adds a different facet to the story and shines a brighter light on the central themes.

Full of intrigue and suspense this novel really does keep you guessing what its ultimate outcome will be right until the very end. Along the way it avoids taking the story in obvious directions in favour of more subtle and unexpected outcomes. A mix of compelling family story, exquisite historical detail and layers of mystery, this is a very satisfying novel indeed.

One of this summer’s must reads!

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

You can find out more and buy a copy here.

You can find my review of Caitlin’s previous novel, 'The Ghost Of Lily Painter' on Bookersatz.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Summer Of '76 by Isabel Ashdown


Summer Of 76

I’ve seen a few comments online saying that Isabel Ashdown seems to have brought about a summer heatwave through the sheer power of her book ‘Summer of ‘76’ which recreates the hot summer of 1976. Well, I read the book just before the current heatwave started and I have to say that it made me believe there was intense sunshine and an impending drought in the outside world even when it was actually raining and unseasonally chilly.

The heatwave itself is an important plot factor in the novel. Everyone is just a bit wearier, a bit tetchier and a bit more likely to fly off the handle than they might have been otherwise. This adds a feeling of edginess to the story which is very effective.

We start the story with two of the main characters back in 1971 and then move forward to 1976 and follow the story of Luke, his parents Joanna and Richard and little sister Kitty from there. As the story starts the heatwave is just beginning to make its presence felt and as the action goes on we see both the heat and the family tensions being cranked up.

The prologue hints at one of the issues that will becoming increasingly important as the story goes on. It takes the reader into the story well because it’s obvious from the start that there is a pretty big secret that is going to surface in the course of the novel.

Set on the Isle of Wight, the novel makes good use of location. The sea, the beach, the holiday camp and the surroundings generally are pivotal to the story. But there is also a feeling of the claustrophobia and isolation of living on an island and wanting to escape as Luke does throughout the story.

I loved all the characters in this book, even the ones who were largely unsympathetic, but I think my favourites were probably Luke’s sister Kitty (an expertly drawn portrayal of a young child), his old friend Martin, his new friend Gordon, and his Gran.

As well as exploring the issues of a particular family, this novel also considers the nature of family itself and comes to some intriguing conclusions that finish the novel in a satisfying way.

This is a fabulous read and I highly recommend it.

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

You can find out more and buy a copy here.

You can find my reviews of Isabel’s previous novels, Glasshopper and Hurry Up And Wait on Bookersatz.

Friday 12 July 2013

A Higher Duty by Peter Murphy


A Higher Duty

Set in the 1960s, A Higher Duty is a complex tale of law, crime, passion and ambition.

We follow the fortunes of members of Bernard Wesley’s chambers throughout the book.  In particular we meet Kenneth Gaskell, who lets his emotions get the better of him in a potentially disastrous way, and Ben Schroeder, a pupil whose background threatens to make him an outsider in the privileged world of the bar.  

The story starts with a shocking incident which resonates throughout the book, but which you will probably feel differently about before you reach the end, and along the way touches on some dark areas of human life.

The author has had a career in the law and this shows in the richness of detail about life in chambers and in court which is threaded through the book. I liked this aspect of the book, and found the details convincing and absorbing.

A large number of significant characters carry the story and a couple of times during the reading I felt that I was being pulled in too many directions and that my ability to sympathise with all the characters was in danger of being diluted. However, in the end all the strands are pulled together successfully and do need to be there.

The author pulls off a very effective job of making the reader sympathise by the end with characters who at the beginning seem wholly unsympathetic. Again, this makes for a very satisfying read.

Overall, I recommend this as a novel for those who enjoy crime and/or law stories complete with some excellent and unexpected touches.

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more and buy a copy here.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Della Galton - Ice And A Slice

I'm so pleased to have the very talented Della Galton on my blog today. I've known Della for a few years now and not only is she a brilliant writer of short stories and novels, but she's also a wonderful writing teacher and all round fantastic person.

Della is here to tell us about her new novel. Over to you, Della.

Writing for the Market – or Writing from the Heart?
Should we write for the market? Or should we write from the heart?  If anyone has ever read my book, How to Write and Sell Short Stories, you’ll know I advise doing a bit of both.
But what should you do when you’re writing a novel?  There’s so much advice out there – lots of it conflicting. After all, it’s such a huge undertaking, writing a novel.  So much time, so much energy, so much pain – pleasure too, of course!
We are told to write within a genre. Otherwise publishers won’t buy our books. We are also told to write something that has the X Factor – what’s that exactly? Most publishers or agents can’t tell you – they just say they know it when they see it.
We are told to write what we know. But also to be a bit different.  And have you noticed that a lot of those big selling books come from completely left field. Who’d have thought that a story about a guy in a boat with a tiger would be such a best seller?
My first two novels, Passing Shadows and Helter Skelter were romances and I wrote them because: a) I love writing romances, and b) I knew there was likely to be a market for them.
My third novel, Ice and a Slice, which isn’t a romance, although it has a love story within it, wasn’t written like that at all.  Here’s how it came about.
I love writing about issues - things that affect a lot of people. They crop up a lot in my work.
I have alcoholism in my family – my father is a recovering alcoholic - so it’s an issue I’m familiar with. But I didn’t want to write a dark book about it. Or not too dark anyway.  I also wanted to write about it from a woman’s perspective.  There are lots of novels that are written about alcoholism, from a woman’s perspective, but fewer that are written about women who are alcoholics themselves.
Ice and a Slice is the story of Sarah-Jane, (SJ to her friends) who discovers she can’t stop drinking.  On the surface her life is fine. She is happily married to Tom (well at least she thinks she is – he works away so much she doesn’t often see him ).  She’s also fallen out with her sister and they no longer speak. But SJ is determined to sort that out one day.
                At least her best friend, Tania, is on her side, although lately Tania is increasingly preoccupied with her own (secret) problems.  SJ feels very alone sometimes and quite scared, but it’s not as though she’s an alcoholic, is it? She doesn’t keep a bottle of vodka by her bed. She doesn’t even drink every day – well not till the evening anyway.    
                It isn’t until she seeks the help of Kit, the hunky guy at the addiction centre, that she realises things may have got a little more out of hand than she thinks. 
SJ is by far the most three dimensional character I’ve ever created. I fell in love with her from the very first chapter.  Mostly I think because she is so flawed and so human.  And yes, she is based on someone I’m close to – although I’m not telling you who J  But one of the reasons that I love this novel  so much – and I don’t say that lightly, I’m the biggest self critic around – is because it’s the one in which I think I found my true voice.
I didn’t realise it was going to happen.  In fact, after so many years of writing, I thought I’d already found my voice – and I think I have as far as short stories go – but novels are different, aren’t they?  The canvas is bigger, the pace is different – everything is different. Although I loved writing my first two novels, Passing Shadows and Helter Skelter, writing Ice and a Slice was like being in another dimension.  It was easy to write – the words flowed out of me – I didn’t have to plan what SJ would say – she just said it. Being inside her head felt like putting on a second skin.  It was an amazing feeling.  And I’ve had some amazing reactions to this novel.   Since it came out at the end of March it’s had 26 five star reviews on Amazon.co.uk and 3 five star reviews on Amazon.com. I’ve pasted the most recent one below. Not because I want to blow my own trumpet, but because I feel humbled that Ice has touched people enough to say such lovely things about it.
I've always loved Della Galton's short stories and I have to say Ice and a Slice is a writing triumph as a novel.

I loved the characters and I can honestly say from when I started reading it I could not put it down - even to go and get a G & T with ice and a slice!

This is a book you must not miss.
My book launch for Ice and a Slice is being held on Saturday 13 July at the Red Lion Pub in Sturminster Marshall. I will be there signing books between 11 and 4. If you’d like to come along I’d be delighted to see you.
If you’d prefer to read the digital version you can borrow it for free if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. Or buy it for £1.94 (less than the price of a glass of Chardonnay) by clicking here.

If you are a little bit eccentric (as I am) you might also be interested in the fact that SJ has her own Twitter account. You can follow her here.
And also her own Facebook page. You can follow that here.
Thank you for reading.
Della Galton x

Thursday 27 June 2013

Pulp The Classics

I was recently sent a review copy of this version of The Hound Of The Baskervilles from the nice people at Oldcastle Books.

I'm not going to do an actual review because I read the novel years and years ago, and it has had so much written about it over the years that I don't think I have anything to add.

I did think this little series of books was worth a mention though! I absolutely love the concept of  a range of classic novels reissued with retro pulp covers and complete with orange sprayed page edges.

As well as The Hound Of The Baskervilles, you can also find Pride And Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights and more. They'd make a great present for book lovers and collectors who already love the originals or maybe for young people discovering them for the first time.

You can find out more on the Oldcastle Books website here.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

My Future Husband by Karen Clarke

My Future Husband

by Karen Clarke

This is a wonderful, imaginative and refreshing read. It's a great romance, with some really likeable characters, and has the added intrigue of a plot including time travel which gives a very different twist on the journey to true love.

Sasha thinks her life is sorted as she plans her wedding to Pete, the only problem appearing to be the mother-in-law from hell. But that's before she meets Elliot, who arrives from the future in a flurry of electrical activity.

Sasha then has some huge obstacles to overcome as she attempts to find the right solution for herself, Pete and Elliot!

The time travel is nicely done and convincing, and the sub-plot involving Sasha's business partner Rosie, who tries to support Sasha whilst dealing with significant problems of her own, is emotional and gripping.

If you like romance that has a twist, and that poses some intresting conundrums and dilemmas, then you'll love this. It's a fun read, but it also has depth and intelligence to lift it out of ordinary.

You can buy My Future Husband here. And, don't forget, you don't need a Kindle to read it as you can download Kindle software to your computer for free.

Thursday 30 May 2013

10% Discount On Sue Moorcroft Course At Chez Castillon

Those lovely people at Chez Castillon are now offering a last minute booking discount of 10% on their upcoming course with Sue Moorcroft. Details are below.

Writing Fiction with Sue Moorcroft

Saturday 15th June – Friday 21st June 2013

Uncover the secrets of page-turning in a five-day hands-on workshop.

Chez Castillon, Castillon-la-Bataille, France

£875 per person, all inclusive. 

(Special rates are also available for retreats. Enquire for details.)

You can find out more about Chez Castillon, and the full programme for the year, here. http://chez-castillon.com/

Tuesday 28 May 2013

New Crime Writing Blog

The lovely Adrian Magson has just started a new blog and you can see it here.(It's called Writers Reign ... think about it ...)

Adrian is the very talented writer of the Harry Tate and Lucas Rocco books. So if you're interested in spies, crime, murder and other exciting goings on then this is the place for you.

You can also find short stories, information about writing generally and much more.

So pop over and have a look!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Fabulous Courses at Chez Castillon This Summer

Look at that swimming pool! Can't you just see yourself lounging next to it with a G&T in your hand after an inspiring day of writing?

You can? Excellent!

I'm very pleased to be able to tell you about some courses, with amazing tutors, coming up at Chez Castillon this summer.

Having been out there last year, I can vouch for how wonderful the place is.

Writing Fiction with Sue Moorcroft

Saturday 15th June – Friday 21st June 2013

Uncover the secrets of page-turning in a five-day hands-on workshop.

Unlock Your Inner Writer with Rowan Coleman

Saturday 27th July – Friday 2nd August 2013

An inspirational course to give you the skills to release your creativity, originate ideas, learn to structure and craft your writing.

Chez Castillon is in Castillon-la-Bataille in a very beautiful area of France near to Bordeaux and Bergerac.

The cost is £875 per person, and as well as the top-class tuition, it includes all the food you can eat and all the wine you can drink. Seriously!

And as if all that wasn't enough, I'm planning to go along to Rowan's course myself. We are intending to have *a lot* of fun,

You can find out more about Chez Castillon, and the full programme for the year, here. http://chez-castillon.com/

Monday 13 May 2013

Do you want to write ghost stories?

Ghost Stories and How to Write Them

by Kathleen McGurl

If you've ever thought about writing ghost stories for women's magazines, this book is a 'must have'. My friend Kath McGurl (also known as Womagwriter) has a really strong track record of having ghost stories published in magazines like Take A Break Fiction Feast, and here she shares some of her secrets.

The book is a great mix of stories and commentary which between them will give you all the tools you need to give it a go yourself.

Written in a chatty no-nonsense style, this book is highly recommended.

You can buy the book for Kindle here.

Friday 26 April 2013

The Drowning Of Arthur Braxton

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

I had a sneak preview of this book a few weeks ago (thank you, Caroline!) and I totally loved it. It’s taken me a while to get round to doing a review – mainly because I was worried about not doing it justice. Because this is a fabulous book, and just like Caroline’s previous novels it has a spirit and an essence that are both unique and beautiful.

Inextricably combined in this story are a wonderful sense of place, and some amazing characters. It really is like entering into another a world, a world that won’t let you go until it has finished telling you what it wants you to know.

To cover place first, the setting is inspired by the Victoria Baths in Manchester, but Caroline has moved them to North Wales! The swimming bath setting adds to the novel on a number of levels. Firstly it provides the water (real or unreal) that drives a lot of the narrative and is symbolic of transformation, redemption and healing, but the building also holds the characters in a kind of cocoon making incursions from the outside world seem more significant. (You can read a note from Caroline about the real Victoria Baths right at the end of the book.)

I also love the little snippets of ‘real life’ news and weather forecasts that intersperse the chapters, like this:

‘Flintshire, Wrexham, Denbighshire, the Wirral and Greater Manchester are also subject to heavy rain warnings. With this level of rainfall continuing throughout today and condi­tions expected to worsen, the Met Office said it would be likely to extend its warnings into next week. So, looks like we best get building our arks. And back to the studio . . .’

They ground the narrative to the real world, whilst at the same time, making it more other-worldly.

Arthur Braxton is a likeable character and easy to empathise with. Choosing an adolescent male voice with which to narrate was a bold move, but it really pays off and Arthur’s world of FaceBook mishaps and family misery feel very authentic. And as he is sucked more deeply into the world of the baths and its inhabitants, we experience all the associated sensations and emotions with him.

For me though, the voice of Laurel, the female character who begins to narrate the book is equally strong and in many ways it feels like it’s as much her story as it is Arthur’s. In fact, the balance between the two main points of view proves ultimately both effective and heartbreaking.

If you’ve read any of Caroline’s previous books you’ll know to expect beautiful use of language, a unique world view and a moving emotional journey. If you haven’t, come to it fresh and prepare to be blown away!

You can read my reviews of Caroline’s previous books here.

You can buy The Drowning Of Arthur Braxton here.