Zenka by Alison Brodie #review @alisonbrodie2

ZENKA by [Brodie, Alison]

I’d like to start by thanking the author for asking me if I’d be interested in reading her book. I haven’t read anything by her previously but had read very good reviews of her last novel, Brake Failure, so accepted her kind offer. Today is publication day and if you like the sound of the book, you can order a copy online here: Zenka. At the time of writing this, it is only 99p for Kindle.

First of all, what’s the book about?

Devious, ruthless, and loyal.

Zenka is a capricious Hungarian with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will make Nicholas into the sort of son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?

Now I have to be honest and say I really wasn’t sure if I would like this book but bloggers I respect, such as Anne Williams at Being Anne, always spoke so highly of Alison’s writing that I agreed to give it a go. I said to Alison that if it wasn’t for me I would be honest and tell her and she could perhaps write a guest post instead. After all a book featuring a pole dancer, gangsters and guns is most certainly not my usual kind of read!

But as you can tell, since you are reading a review, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it! Alison Brodie has created some very memorable larger than life characters not just in Zenka (whose letters home made me laugh!) but also in mob leader Jack and his son, the hapless Nicholas who couldn’t be more different from Jack if he tried. There is a lot of sharp, witty dialogue throughout and plenty situations throughout the book where the term black humour can aptly be applied!

Zenka is a book I found lots of fun to read and quite fast paced as it moved from almost farcical situations that made me laugh to much more tense scenes which I read with not a little dread. I couldn’t wait to find out how it was all going to end as many twists made it very unpredictable too. Alison Brodie’s colourful and imaginative writing really brought this story to life for me. If you are looking for something a crime novel with a difference, I’d say give Zenka a try – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. And if you’d like a taste of Alison’s witty writing, have a look at this very funny guest post she wrote for me recently: How Books Can Get You Divorced

Author photo

About the author

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side.

Alison Brodie is an international best-selling author.  Her books having been published in hardback and paperback by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).

Alison has now gone “indie”.  Here are some editorial reviews for her recent books: 

BRAKE FAILURE:  “Masterpiece of humor” –Midwest Book Review

THE DOUBLE:   “Proof of her genius in writing fiction”  -San Francisco Book Review.

ZENKA will is released on 6 Nov, 2017. 

Find out more or contact Alison:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/alisonbrodie2

Website: http://alisonbrodiebooks.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35845259-zenka

Facebook PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonBrodieAuthor/

Zenka buying links

US:    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07534Y6QZ

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07534Y6QZ

Canada:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07534Y6QZ

Australia:  https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07534Y6QZ

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My Writing Tips #GuestPost by @SaraAlexi

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I’ve got a great guest post for you today from Sara Alexi. It will be particularly of interest to writers as she is sharing her writing tips. I found it really interesting as a reader too. Sara’s latest book is The Other Daughter and you can order a copy online by clicking here. You’ll find find lots more information after the guest post. 

They say that 97% of the books started are left unfinished. I can understand why that is; the process is not easy. I so often start writing a new book with such energy and enthusiasm that I am surprised, usually about one third of the way, when I suddenly run out of steam, believing every word I have written is twaddle and nonsense and I am ready to delete the lot.

What to do at this point? I could pile it up with the other 97% that will never get finished, and very often want to, but the pressure of bills needing to be paid tends to push me into finding another way of dealing with this stumbling block. 

Normally when I am writing I never read back until I get to the end but if I get this ‘third of the way in stuckness’ and I am about to give up this is the only time I do allow myself to read through the whole thing (I only read through – I have a strict rule that I must not edit at this point, otherwise I would get stuck in to the edits and the rest of book would never get written!) Reading through from the beginning at this point, but as a reader rather than a writer, tends to make me realise that that my subconscious has had a hand in what has been produced and it is not all twaddle, that I really do have something to say, a character really does have something to express. The problem was not what had been written – what was wrong was the way I was looking at it. At this point I begin to see new depths in the story and as my fingers reach for the keyboard again I often find that I am no longer in charge. I have become a conduit, the book is writing itself and I must do its bidding.

This is how the middle third often writes itself, and usually fairly quickly. As I near the end I rise up from my ferocious tap tapping and have a little panic because the story line is almost complete and the word count is way too short.

A this point I tell myself not to worry, let it be a novella, all is well in the world and I slow down, I take my time, I enjoy the final finishing stretch. I tell myself if the reader has come with me so far, so surely they will see this tale though to the end and so I indulge myself, add details, revel in the writing the conclusion and more often than not the novella I thought I was writing decides it is a novel after all as the one chapter I thought I had left to write becomes two, or two become three and I luxuriate in wrapping up all the loose ends and the protagonist makes his/her own decision as to when the story reaches its final conclusion.

So, let me try and condense the tips and tricks and ways I use to write into 10 easy to follow points. (They are in no particular order)

  • Breathe, slow down. We all rush about at such a pace that it is easy to sit down to write with the same frantic energy we use to do the weekly food shop, or rush around tiding our homes. So sit down and breathe. Pray if you pray, meditate if you don’t. Your subconscious mind knows more about what you are about to write than you do so listen to it, give it time; you are a conduit for your experiences. allow yourself to believe in yourself and let the book write itself as if in a dream.
  • Detail makes it real. Let me give you an example. If in your story you have someone cooking and they are angry you can say, ‘She was in the kitchen cooking angrily.’ Or you could say, ‘The darkened skies prevent the light from penetrating through the kitchen window and the shaded bulb cast an orange glow over the table. The flour made gossamer clouds as her fist roughly pummelled the dough, mirroring her emotions. The table rocked, one wooden leg scraping the stone flagged floor. She paused to wipe a strand of hair from her face with the back of her hand, leaving a white smudge of flour on her forehead as she snorted, breathing in the yeast filled air.’ This second version says the same thing but instead of stating it the woman’s mood is described by the sights, sounds, and smells. But also there is room for the reader to contact with the character by the introduction of an action we are all familiar with – a hand across the forehead.

 

  • When you get stuck look at yourself. Are you trying too hard? If so have you forgotten to breathe? Trust your subconscious, your brain knows what to write. Take a walk and remember that this story is not for you, and once written it has nothing to do with you any more. It belongs to the readers and it is they who need it. Give up your ego, give up your belief that you and your writing ‘should be better than it is’ and return and write.
  • If it all goes wrong, celebrate. Take up your pen and seize the moment to observe yourself, how are you responding to the belief that it is ‘all going wrong’. What is your heart doing, does your pulse beat in your ear, your temple? Is one leg jittering? Have you turned to stuffing sweets or crisps in your mouth? Everything you are experiencing is detail for a possible future character, so make notes on it. You can also use this note taking in day to day life, for example when someone you have not seen for ages greets you on the street, when the man at the petrol station short changes you, every event you live through is worth observing. Note it all, take it all in and use it.

 

  • This is the most important point. Do it. Don’t just talk about it. Don’t just make plans for it. Sit down and actually do it. Writing a book does not come by magic, it happens through time at your desk. And remember your story is not an afterthought, so prioritise it, if not for you then for that one person out there that your story is going to touch – they need to read it.

 

  • Don’t read over what you have written, don’t read back. I mean it, don’t do it. Do not do it! Ensure you do not sabotage yourself by becoming lost in editing before the final word has been written. You can read the last paragraph you wrote to know where you are, but unless you find yourself thinking of deleting the lot, then perhaps you can break this rule, but otherwise no editing, for me that is forbidden. Move forwards, always forwards at this stage.

 

  • If you are bored writing then your reader will be bored reading. Make something happen, anything you like, anything that will entertain you. It is you story after all and you can make pretty much anything fit one way or another.

 

  • Get an editor. Do not use your sister, mum, old school teacher, best friend or spouse. Get the best editor you can afford, it makes the world of difference. If you are worried that you cannot afford an editor then put a handful of change in a jar every day you write, and by the time you have finished this will have added up.

 

  • Covers sell. No one buys the book and then looks at the cover – it is the other way around so make it good. There are lots of designers out there on the web, and it is worth getting a cover that does not look home grown.

 

  • When you have finished upload your book and make sure you celebrate. As I said 97% of books never get finished. Yours did, and that is worth celebrating whether it sells or not.

And my final suggestion is – never let a bad memory get in the way of a good memoir. Happy Writing.

Thanks for that Sara – a truly fascinating piece.

 

The Other Daughter Cover

The Other Daughter by Sara Alexi is a compelling and gritty tale, set amongst the wild moors and crooked streets of a Yorkshire Village, following one woman who finally untangles herself from the clutches of a painful past and a self-centred mother.

More than a decade after leaving home Dawn finds herself stuck in a dead-end job, in a rundown flat, while her sister has it all – the husband, children and prestigious job in sunny Australia. Their mum’s favouritism is palpable, and even as she has a terrible fall leaving Dawn to pick up the pieces, nothing Dawn does can live up to her perfect, absent sister.

But still Dawn persists with taking care of her ageing and fragile mum, until one day it begins to feel like the only thing standing between Dawn and her happiness is her mother’s continued, pitiful existence…

About the author

Sara Alexi is one of the top 150 most successful, self-published authors of all time; a prolific writer, she has written 15 books (and counting) in just four years, with book sales reaching well over half a million copies. 

Remarkably, Sara is dyslexic. At school English lessons were a time of confusion, she found that books were indecipherable hieroglyphics and she was unable to enjoy reading and writing; growing up in a time when at a time when dyslexia was not well understood and little or no support was available. And so her artistic nature was confined to painting, an art form that she loved and would take her travelling around the world.

Despite her dyslexia Sara qualified as a psychotherapist and ran her own practice in Yorkshire for many years. In a casual conversation with a client, she discovered that Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and Hans Christian Andersen were all dyslexic, and Sara’s perspective changed. The world of fiction opened to her with this shift in perception.

Sara now spends much of her time in a tiny rural village in the Peloponnese, in Greece, where she is (very slowly) renovating a ruined stone farmhouse, whilst observing the Greek way of life and absorbing the culture, enriching her vision for both writing and painting.

Sara’s ‘Greek Village Series’ is inspired by the people she has met travelling, her time spent in Greece alongside her career as a psychotherapist; her writing provides a keenly observed, compassionate insight into people, culture, and the human condition, and is set around a charming rural Greek village

 Predating the current refugee crisis in Greece by some three years, Sara’s debut novel, The Illegal Gardener, focuses on the immigration problems in Greece, and the clash of cultures that accompanies those seeking a better life in the West.

Follow Sara and find out more on her website, Twitter or Instagram

www.saraalexi.com

Twitter – @SaraAlexi 

Instagram – @sara.alexi 

Author in the Spotlight with Cassandra Parkin @cassandrajaneuk @legend_press

Cassandra Parkin

I’m very pleased to be joined by Cassandra Parkin today. Cassandra is the author of several novels with her most recent, The Winter’s Child, being published by Legend Press in September. Thank you to Imogen Harris for my copy of the book. You can order a copy of The Winter’s Child online here.  Before we get onto Cassandra’s interview, here are a  few thoughts from me about this book.

The Winter’s Child is a beautifully written book, full of haunting atmosphere. There is a definite sense of something other-wordly as you read. It would be difficult not to feel for narrator and protagonist Susannah whose son Joel has been missing for five years. It must be the most awful state of limbo to be in, not knowing what has happened and whether your child is alive or dead. I could completely understand why she was grasping at any hope that Joel would return. As the time passes, I could feel her desperation growing as her grip on reality grew more tenuous.  I don’t want to say much more about the plot as I don’t want to give too much away. There are plenty of shocks throughout the book which will have you wondering who or what you can trust. The Winter’s Child was the first book I have read from this author, though I have heard glowing praise for her previous novels. She certainly knows how to write a compelling story with characters whose actions, thoughts and feelings are believable. This book had me hooked from the first page to the last!

And now over to Cassandra. Thanks for joining me. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?

I’m a Yorkshire-based writer with Cornish roots and a passion for fairy-tales. I grew up between the city of Hull at the mouth of the Humber, and the town of Falmouth on the South coast of Cornwall – so one way or another, I’ve always lived close to water, and rivers and oceans always find their way into my books. I currently live in the East Riding with my husband, two children and two cats.

What inspired you to start writing?

The first time I set out to write a proper story was a Doctor Who fan fiction, written when I was about seven. It was a reinterpretation of the adventure State of Decay, which had vampires and castles and bats and Tom Baker and Lalla Ward and scary music, and which I was absolutely entranced / terrified by. Up until then I’d somehow thought you needed loads of specialist equipment to be a writer (a typewriter, a cool chair, a desk, a special room that nobody else was allowed into, shelves of reference books, a taste for coffee…). I had a school exercise book and a felt-tip pen and an idea. So I wrote it, and then I sat there looking at it in shock and waited for someone to tell me I’d done it wrong. It was the first time I truly realised that all I needed to write was something to write on, something to write with, and something to say.

Tell me about your journey to publication

I’ve written fiction all my life, and when I was five I had two ambitions – I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to be the Godfather and run the Mafia. Since I’m clearly not a good family man from the right part of Sicily, God knows how I thought the second one was even on the cards! And as I grew up a bit, “being a writer” started to seem about as feasible as being the Godfather. So I went to university, did a degree in English Literature, got a job in marketing, and kept writing in secret. I used to write short stories in the backs of my notebooks (boring meetings were especially good for this) and novels on my computer during my lunch-break. I did this for about fifteen years. Meanwhile, everyone who knew me was saying, “You want to be a writer. You want to be a writer. You need to stop working on marketing and become a writer” and because I’m an idiot and slow on the uptake, I just completely ignored them.

Then I wrote a collection of short stories for a group of much-beloved friends in America, as Christmas presents. Each short story was set in modern-day America, written for adults but based on their favourite fairy-tale. Then in the New Year they all ganged up on me and said I had to try and get it published. So to stop the nagging, I entered a competition for unpublished short story collections. I had no expectations of getting anywhere, but to my absolute astonishment, New World Fairy Tales won. I remember finding out while I was unpacking yoghurts in the kitchen. I burst into tears and called my mother. I think the moral of this particular fairy-tale is, always listen to your friends because they do, in fact, know best.

In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

On the last night of Hull Fair at the beginning of October, my heroine Susannah Harper visits a fortune-teller’s caravan and receives an eerily specific prediction: her son Joel, who has been missing for five years, will come back to her by Christmas Eve. As she’s drawn deeper into the world of psychics and mediums, she’s forced to confront the truth about what happened to her son. It’s a book about love and jealousy, about the things we’ll do for the people we love the most, and the ways in which even the most loving families can come apart.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I knew The Winter’s Child would be published in the run-up to Christmas, and I wanted the title to have a really strong seasonal theme. I thought about a number of possibilities, but in the end The Winter’s Child felt right. The heart of the book is the relationship between Susannah and her son Joel, and I wanted to reflect that in the title.

How do you plan to celebrate publication day?

The Winter’s Child will be officially launched at the fantastic Kardomah94 in my home city of Hull, which is the most amazing centre for the artistic community and has a beautiful theatre space where I’ll be reading from the book, and then hopefully eating cake and drinking wine with friends. After that, I’ll be going to Hull Fair to soak up the atmosphere and make myself sick by eating candy floss shortly before going on the Cyclone.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

I’m working on my next novel, Underwater Breathing, which is set on the cliffs of the East Coast. The coastline there is notoriously unstable because the cliffs are largely made of mud, and the village my story is set in is gradually falling into the sea. It’s about a teenage boy who wakes up one morning to discover his mother and sister have vanished in the night – and his father is unwilling or unable to say where they’ve gone.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

The Gracekeepers by [Logan, Kirsty]

First up has to be Kirsty Logan’s The Gracekeepers, set in a post-apocalyptic flooded world. North lives on a circus boat with her bear, while Callanish lives in the middle of the ocean and tends the graves of people lost at sea. It’s one of those books where I wanted to crawl into the pages and stay there.

Second, great big shout-out for Maria In The Moon, by fellow Hull author Louise Beech. It’s another book where flooding is an important them – it’s set during the floods that devastated the city just over ten years ago – and it’s a brutal and beautiful story of redemption.

American Gods by [Gaiman, Neil]

Finally, I’m shamefully late to the discovery that Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is a magical, rambling, tricksy and beautiful trip across America. So if you’re even later to the party than me, do get round to it as soon as you possibly can.

What are you reading just now? 

The Bastard Wonderland by [Harrison, Lee]

Right now (September 2017) I’m tearing my way through The Bastard Wonderland by Lee Harrison. I’m also counting the days until my copy of The Visitors by Catherine Burns arrives through my letterbox, because I’ve been desperate to read it since I first saw the announcement and read the description!

The Visitors: A Dark and Chilling Suspense by [Burns, Catherine]

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

I’d take a survival manual, so I could quickly make myself at home and conquer my environment and build myself a kick-ass Escape Raft. Then when I got back home, I’d go and live in the nearest library and never leave again.

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

Is it really bad that the book I’d most like to see filmed is one of mine? I’d love it if The Beach Hut could make it onto celluloid. It’s about a grown-up brother and sister, Finn and Ava, who build an illegal beach hut on a Cornish beach in the autumn, and it was inspired by Perranporth Beach (which Winston Graham also loved, and renamed Hendrawna for his Poldark series). If I could have Phillip Glenister to play the part of Donald, I’d die happy.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

I’m on Twitter as @cassandrajaneuk, and I blog at www.cassandraparkin.wordpress.com .

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

I’d be Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Her adventures have fascinated me since the very first time I read them.

The Little Village Christmas by @SueMoorcroft #review @AvonBooksUK

The Little Village Christmas: The #1 Christmas bestseller returns with the most heartwarming romance of 2017 by [Moorcroft, Sue]

I always look forward to a new Sue Moorcroft book but when this book arrived it was only September and I just couldn’t bring myself to read a Christmas book. Now that it’s November, I feel I can really get stuck into the many Christmas books on my reading list so of course, Sue Moorcroft’s was top of the list! I’d like to thank publishers Avon Books for my copy of the book (and the very sweet owl tree decoration which came with it). The Little Village Christmas is available now as an e-book and from tomorrow, you can buy the paperback version if you prefer. You can order a copy online here: The Little Village Christmas.

First of all, what’s the book about?

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

I was so pleased to find that Sue Moorcroft would be returning to the village of Middledip for this latest book, where several of her previous novels have been set. It really was like popping back to a familiar place you’ve visited on holiday. And it was great to meet up with some characters from those previous books, even if only briefly. Don’t worry if you have never read any of the other books though. They’re not a series, just have a setting in common so it is absolutely possible to read this as a standalone book.

I was commenting to a friend yesterday that one of the reasons I love Sue’s books is that she writes in a way that makes me feel that I am reading about real people, that I am among friends. Alexia, Ben, Gabe, Jodie and Carola are so realistically portrayed. They are just normal people with pretty ordinary things happening to them and reacting in a way that you could imagine yourself reacting. They are not perfect characters and are prone to moodiness, angry outbursts and making the wrong decisions. But they are also there when people need them, are able to make the best of bad situations and show love and care, just like any of us.

I do love a story about a troubled soul and in Ben and Alexia we have two troubled souls, though troubled for very different reasons. Would they be able to heal each other or would it be double trouble? I always seems to fall a little in love with Sue Moorcroft’s leading men and Ben was no exception. As a woodsman I could imagine him to be the tall, dark, handsome and strong hero you find often in romantic fiction. And he was all these but also had a gentler side caring for injured owl Barney and showing such care and compassion for his Uncle Gabe. Alexia was a wonderful character too. Despite the rather huge setback in her professional life, she got stuck into making the best of a bad situation that wasn’t of her doing. She was strong and determined not to let people down but she also did not let people walk all over her. I like a woman who knows her own mind and doesn’t go all weak and giggly in the presence of the leading man!

Sue’s books seems to me to be very true to life – life that can be messy, complicated and full of setbacks. Yet life that can also be full of surprises, love and happiness. The Little Village Christmas is another cracker of a read from an author I know I can rely on for a completely irresistible story.

 

Sue Moorcroft

Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes women’s contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes. Sue has won the Best Romantic Read Award, been nominated for a RoNA and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’.

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Website: http://www.suemoorcroft.com
Blog: http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com. 
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Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor

 

John Mayer #AuthorInTheSpotlight @johnmayerauthor @looloothie

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I’m really pleased to welcome local author John Mayer today. John is the author of the popular Parliament House series featuring Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane. You will find lots of information about the books and how to buy them below, but first let’s hear about the man behind the books.

Thanks for joining me John, would you tell me a little about yourself?

I think of myself as a life-long second class citizen. I was born in the scummy part of dockside Glasgow and soon moved down the social scale. Although I was a bright boy, I never thought I’d live very long. People around me in Glasgow in the mid-fifties and early 1960s kept getting murdered and my best friend hung himself in Barlinnie Prison when I was only 15. I walked out of school when I was 14 because I wasn’t being taught, I was being herded. I’ve always been very ambitious. When I started my apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer, it didn’t take me long to become the youngest member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in Scotland. When I walked out to become a record producer, it didn’t take me long to produce Number 1 records in the American Reggae Charts and the UK Heavy Metal Charts. But I always wanted to be a lawyer. I worked for eight years to become an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland in Parliament House. But as soon as I was in, I realised that there was quite a lot of low life in high places. I could beat these guys in court, but they always treated me like a second class citizen. What they didn’t know was that was where I felt most comfortable and just went on beating them. I’m very proud of many of those wins. I was responsible for bringing South Africa into the group of nations which applies the International Treaty Against Child Abduction and of course, I’m the first lawyer in the world to have proved that nuclear weapons are illegal under International Humanitarian Law. I’ve co-written a few law books and been published in hardback non-fiction. In 2002 I underwent a ten-week USA publicity tour on which my biggest audience was over 40 million people: to American Schools Radio. Great fun. Now I write the Parliament House Books.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always written stories. But I guess the Parliament House Books arise from a deep desire to show the world how much injustice is built into justice systems. No justice system is perfect, but the one I worked in was choc-a-bloc with prejudice, presumption, back-room deals and overall unfairness. Here’s an example. My client had her children stolen from school in the middle of the day. The kids were sold – yes, sold for money – and removed from their country of origin. That’s against about eight or nine international laws, some of which I helped write. When I got my client to the UK and a Hearing on the matter in Parliament House, the judge brought me into his Chambers and said ‘These children are better off where they are. So I’m allowing you to ask 12 questions. No more.’ When I said that was illegal and asked why he was doing this, he threatened to report me for insolence. So I asked if the 12 questions included her name and address. He went ballistic. In response I said that if I was restricted to 12 questions, then those two made a huge difference. The case was a sham and the woman was denied her children and committed suicide a year later. The lesson of that case was that injustice kills women. That case and several others are what started me writing the Parliament House Books.

Tell me about your journey to publication

Well I’ve written newspaper articles, journal articles, law books and was Scottish Legal Editor of Clinical Forensic Medicine. My non-fiction work, Nuclear Peace was published in hardback and I did publicity all over the world for that book.  Also, some of my legal writings are published in case books and will therefore last forever.So I’m no stranger to publication. However, writing fiction is a new skill for me and one which took a few years to get right. I’m very happy to say that my Amazon Reviewers think I write very well.

In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

The Trust: Dark Urban Scottish Crime Story (Parliament House Books Book 4) by [Mayer, John]

Trust. (Is that short enough?) Actually, more accurately it’s about breach of trust and how public trust can be completely destroyed and they don’t even know it until it’s too late.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The same way all of the Parliament House Books are titled. I start with one word. Such as Trial / Cycle / Order / Bones etc. Each one is a legal idea which I develop in my own creative and intellectual way into a story to which only I know the ending. That way, it’s impossible to second-guess my plots because there are no plots, plans or trickery. there’s only the story which I hope is interesting and engaging all the way to the end. I don’t write like anyone else. I just write like me.

How did you celebrate publication day?

When the first novel in the Parliament House Books titled The Trial was published, I ate a very good dinner, got drunk and went to bed. I didn’t want to see or hear any criticism; that could wait for the next day. I awoke to some encouraging early sales and later got some very good reviews.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

The House is the next book in the Parliament House Books series. I’m 40,000 words in and the story is percolating nicely in my head.

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

I’d take The Catcher in the Rye by the great J.D. Salinger. the first time I read it, I was screaming into the pages at the end.

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

I’d very much like to see my own Nuclear Peace made as a movie. I think the world needs such a movie right now. I have no idea about film stars but I do know you need one to make a hit movie.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

email:  johnmayerauthor@gmail.com

FB : @theparliamenthousebooks

Tw: @johnmayerauthor

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

I’d be a friend to Josef K in Franz Kafka’s brilliant book about injustice called The Trial. I’d be there when he was subject to illegal search and arrest, I’d know where to find him in the state’s secret jails and be able to support him in his time of need – who knows, maybe even be his lawyer!

 

 

Below, thanks to John’s wife Lizzie, are buying links and all John’s social media and contact links

THE TRUST   Amazon.com                   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0 756K8X5P

                      Amazon.co.uk                   https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp /B0756K8X5P

The Bones      Amazon.com                   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01 N7DKA2Q

The Bones      Amazon.co.uk                 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/ B01N7DKA2Q   

The Order      Amazon.com                     https://www.amazon.com/dp/B 013YKCAV4

The Order      Amazon co.uk                 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Orde r-Urban-Scottish-Crime-Parliam ent-ebook/dp/B013YKCAV4

The Trial         Amazon.com                   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00 SYZRN12

The Trial        Amazon.co.uk                  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0 0SYZRN12

The Prequels

The Cross       Amazon.com               https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00 Y4GRAUE

The Cross        Amazon.co.uk            https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B 00Y4GRAUE

The Cycle         Amazon.com            https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0 0XVOGI5S

                                                  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cycl e-second-prequel-Parliament-Ho use-ebook/dp/B00XVOGI5S

The Boots       Amazon.com           https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00 YBSXB76

                        Amazon.co.uk         https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B 00YBSXB76

All Three Prequels     Amazon.com    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06 VSSQBKM

                                   Amazon.co.uk        https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B 06VSSQBKM

BIO

John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, a war-zone where violence and poverty reigned. In 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, he decided to change his life. Aged 14 he left school because, in his opinion, he wasn’t being taught. For the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds and began to understand what more the world had to offer. He became an Apprentice engineer, and soon was teaching men twice his age. In the early 1970s his love of music led him to set up as a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a disheartening court battle with global giants, he left the business world and went back into further education at the University of Edinburgh, becoming an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. There he acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.

John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcast to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, appeared on TV and in print media.  Since retiring from the Law, John has enjoyed using his years of very colourful experience to create The Parliament House Books series.

The Trial is the first full length novel in this series. Set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is more than a nod to Franz Kafka’s book of the same title. The Trial sees crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, fight injustices so casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.The Trust is the fourth full length novel available November 3rd. Nuclear Peace, John’s non-fiction work describing the inspiring adventures of The Trident Three following shortly.

WEBSITE                         http://www.parliamenthousebooks.com/

TWITTER URL                 https://twitter.com/johnmay erauthor

FACEBOOK                     https://www.facebook.com/thep arliamenthousebooks/?fref=ts 

Author page on Goodreads     http://tinyurl.com/glay5ou

CONTACT                       johnmayerauthor@gmail.com

                                         mayer.lizzie@gmail.com

All The Colours in Between by Eva Jordan #review @evajordanwriter @urbanebooks

All The Colours In Between: The much-anticipated sequel to 183 Times A Year by [Jordan, Eva]

I was delighted to be contacted by the author to ask if I would like to read and review her latest novel as I really enjoyed her first book, 183 Times a Year. I really recommend reading that especially if you have teenage daughters! You can read my review of it here: 183 Times a Year. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this blogpost where you have the chance to win one of two signed copies of All the Colours In between or one of two ebooks.

First of all, what’s the book about?

It’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem… A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband plus a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made. Gritty but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals, and coming of age. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

I was very impressed with this follow-up to 183 Time a Year. It is set a few years after the first novel and can easily be read as a standalone book. Lizzie’s daughter Cassie and step-daughter Maisie are now in their twenties. However, they still cause their mother much concern and this is very true to life. I don’t think anyone ever stops being worried about their children no matter what their age and of course, wants the best for them. In common with many women her age, Lizzie is fast approaching the menopause with all its symptoms she may have to contend with. And of course, her parents are getting that bit older and also have health issues which come with age – something else for Lizzie to worry about. In fact, Lizzie had so much to content with I wondered how on earth she was going to cope! I felt this was a true to life portrayal of what modern women of her age have to deal with. It didn’t feel that it was unrealistic for any and all of the scenarios to be happening to one family – it’s just life.

I liked the way that the story was told from different viewpoints. As well as Lizzie, we also hear from Cassie who is struggling with something which has happened in her recent past for many reasons. If you read the book, you will see that this is a VERY topical issue indeed. Through Connor, we also get a glimpse into the thoughts of a teenage boy and thank goodness, he’s basically just a good lad, a bit obsessed with girls but who still very much loves his family. It made me smile that he was described as ‘a grunt with a hood’! There were also a couple of sections from some of the other characters’ points of view.

One of the storylines in particular is very close to home for me right now and I found it very emotional to read. I felt as though Eva Jordan had tapped into my own thoughts and feelings and expressed them so well on the page. Even if you haven’t had these particular experiences, I think you would be very hard-hearted not to be very moved by a lot of the stories contained in this book. It should definitely come with a hanky warning!

Eva Jordan has written a brilliant exploration of what it can be like to be a modern, blended, extended family. She writes with great insight, compassion and humour. The end of book was very cleverly written so as to tie up most of the storylines but leaving one big question unanswered. This was not frustrating but very intriguing and I was genuinely pleased to see not the words ‘The End’ when the book finished but ‘To Be Continued‘. I will look forward to finding out what happens to Lizzie and her family next!

My thanks to Michele Ryles and publishers Urbane for my review copy of the book. All The Colours In Between is available now  in paperback or as an ebook. Buying links are below.

BUY LINKS

URBANE PUBLICATIONS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

Eva Jordan

Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novels, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four grown-up children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. All The Colours In Between is Eva’s second novel.

 

If you want to know more you can find Eva at all the usual places. She loves to hear from readers and reviewers so please feel free to contact her.

Website: evajordanwriter.com

Twitter: @evajordanwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EvaJordanWriter/

 

GIVEAWAY

You have a chance to win one of 2 x signed paperbacks or 2 kindle ebooks of All The Colours In Between (UK only)

Click here to enter the giveaway

 

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones #review @EandTBooks @haggardhawks

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words by [Jones, Paul Anthony]

This book has a stunningly beautiful cover and you’ll find a real treasure trove of delights inside.  As someone who is fascinated by words and where they come from, this was the perfect book for me to dip in and out of.

So what’s the book about?

A whole year’s worth of linguistic curiosities, just waiting to be discovered.

Within these pages you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections in the English language.

1 January quaaltagh (n.) the first person you meet on New Year’s Day

1 April dorbellist (n.) a fool, a dull-witted dolt

12 May word-grubber (n.) someone who uses obscure or difficult words in everyday conversation

25 September theic (adj.) an excessive drinker of tea

24 December doniferous (adj.) carrying a gift

Paul Anthony Jones has unearthed a wealth of strange and forgotten words: illuminating some aspect of the day, or simply telling a cracking good yarn, each reveals a story. Written with a light touch that belies the depth of research it contains, this is both a fascinating compendium of etymology and a captivating historical miscellany. Dip into this beautiful book to be delighted and intrigued throughout the year.

I follow the author on Twitter (where he is also known as Haggard Hawks) and love reading the obscure and often forgotten words his account shares every day. It is fascinating to see what words have fallen out of use and how they were used in days gone by. It is also very amusing when the word of the day just happens to be very appropriate for current political situations. Some of the tweets during the US Presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum were positively inspired! 

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities has a word per page for each day of the year. As well as defining the word, the author has an anecdote or further explanation to go with each. There has obviously been a huge amount of research carried out in order to make this such a readable and fascinating book. To give you a flavour of the book, I’m going to look at a couple of dates and a few words. 

First of all on 5th March (yes, my birthday) the word of the day is zawn which is a fissure or cave in a coastal path. This day’s entry goes on to talk about St Piran, patron saint of Cornwall as 5th March is his feast day. I did know that but didn’t know anything else about him so that was really interesting to read. Zawn comes from the Cornish language and there is also some information about Cornish including the fact that the last native speaker died way back in 1777, much longer ago than I would have thought.

Today’s word is a cracker – xenotransplantation. This is the transplantation of non-human material into a human patient. Along with this word, we learn of one of the first such transplants in 1984 when a young girl received a baboon’s heart. Sadly she only survived for another two weeks but as we know, it is now possible for xenotransplantation to take place with pig valves often used in heart surgery.

Other words that really caught my fancy were letterling (a short letter or note – 3rd August),  lickpenny (a costly enterprise – 30th March), love-light (a romantic glimmer in a person’s eyes – used, if I recall correctly, in Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ and the word for 12th October) and brolly-hop (a parachute jump – 22nd October). It really amuses me that the quite long word breviloquent (4th Marchmeans pithy or succint, characterised by brevity of speech. There really is a huge collection of fascinating, entertaining and enlightening words in this book, just waiting to be discovered.

Now, although I may normally be theic (see above) if you’ll excuse me I’ll just have a stirrup-cup and take my leave. That’s 11th December – you’ll have to buy the book to find out exactly what that means!

My thanks to Alison Menzies and Elliot and Thompson books for sending me a copy of this book and to Kate (aka The Quiet Knitter) for recommending me to Alison. The book is available now in beautiful hardback or an an ebook. It is available in good bookshops or you can order a copy online by clicking here.