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Lost?

Little Boy Lost
DCI Anna Tate
JP Carter
General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers
Avon,

Innocence is no protection against evil… One early October afternoon, ten-year-old Jacob Rossi begins the short walk home from school. But he never makes it. Days later, DCI Anna Tate is called to the scene of a burning building, where an awful discovery has been made. A body has been found, and the label in his school blazer reads: J. Rossi. As Anna starts digging, she soon learns that a lot of people had grudges against the boy’s father. But would any of them go so far as to take his son? And is the boy’s abductor closer than she thinks? An absolutely gripping thriller for fans of Cara Hunter’s No Way Out and First Blood by Angela Marsons.

A very disturbing story. very well told and believable after previous London riots.
My husband has always pointed to the regular occurrence of riots in the UK's history, and the fact that social ills were addressed afterwards, as a reason, possibly, that unlike  most of Europe, we still have a monarchy. And have not had a real Revolution.
 I saw a play created from interviews with our last London rioters, and it is clear that a significant portion of our youth feel very disenfranchised. And the increase in knife crime in 2019 emphasises this.
So the social unrest that is The background to this story is a viable a believable extrapolation.
I am not sure if Chloe's back story added a great deal apart from muddling stories up. I would have left it out. Its riot experience was enough.
And the final twist was one I never saw coming. Excellent.

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Who lives next door?

The Neighbours Book Cover The Neighbours
by Nicola Gill
General Fiction (Adult) , Women's Fiction
Avon Books
Pub Date 6 Feb 2020

Meet Ginny, 34, and Cassie, 55. Neighbours, and (very) unlikely friends. Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour… Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards? Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that bad neighbours could become good friends… A funny, honest and moving exploration of life, love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties… and beyond. Perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare and Ruth Jones’s Never Greener.

This is an interesting book as it defies the commonly promulgated idea that we don't know, or care about, or neighbors in London. My personal experience is that this is not true. 
In London, we live in small communities, towns if you will, where, when you walk out the shop owners know you, the station staff recognise you, and you always bump into, and talk with, a neighbor. True, you need to smile and say 'Hello' first and maybe join in a community activity, of which there will be lots to choose from. 
Not so in  Commuter Land. 
I lived there for 19 years and barely knew nextdoor. 
Here in London I know lots of people & even have had drinks with
the people upstairs.
That said, this is a warm story, almost sentimental, with a young person befriending the grouchy neighbor below stairs, and as such helping her turn
her life around

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Not so much a Rake – more a Beau

My Fake Rake Book Cover My Fake Rake
(The Union of the Rakes, Book 1)
Eva Leigh
Fiction, romance, historical
HarperCollins UK, Mills and Boon
January 31, 2020
384

Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to create the perfect man, to act as her suitor, and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.

To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing—albeit fake—rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…

Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future—and his heart.

This is a Regency Romance with a difference.
@ There is plenty of bawdy talk and swearing and sexual escapades occur.
The author does not pretend that all society young women are innocent or
inexperienced.
@ The young women are scientists.
They write papers that are published- though I am not sure how accurate
this is.
@There are mixed races married in respectable’ society. Again, I
would like some evidence.
But there are some excellent academic points made about
hypotheses. That they only stand until there is evidence that
they must change if evidence dictates it. And that our biases
influence our beliefs and how we explore the world and science.
And that people (The author says men) only value what
others possess…

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The spy that was

Madame Fiocca Book Cover Madame Fiocca
Suzy Henderson
adult, history, YA,
Avis Press
December 2019

A must-read gripping adventure based on the true story of Nancy Wake, Gestapo’s most wanted. Soon to be a major feature film.

February 1933: Nancy Wake is a gregarious twenty-year-old looking for adventure. Having fled her unhappy family home in Sydney, she becomes a journalist and is thrilled when she is posted to Paris. The city is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and a growing number of refugees.

Later, in the French Riviera, she uncovers more than news following a chance encounter with wealthy industrialist, Henri Fiocca. Their relationship blossoms as Hitler makes waves across Europe. While on an assignment in Vienna in 1938, she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on the street and she vows to fight for justice if ever the opportunity arises.

When Henri is called to the Front to fight, Nancy, determined to help the war effort, joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Every day she witnesses atrocities. When Paris falls, Nancy flees the German oppressors and returns to Marseille.

A chance encounter with a British officer draws Nancy into the heart of the Garrow escape network, despite Henri’s reservations. Soon she finds herself caught in a deadly game of espionage.

As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, neighbours denounce neighbours. When the enemy closes in, Nancy and Henri face an impossible choice. Has she done more harm than good?

Based on a true story, Madame Fiocca weaves an extraordinary tale of survival and redemption in wartime.

Interview The story of the Book

Suzy Henderson – and Madame Fiocca

Q: Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

Nancy was, like so many of her generation, amazing, determined, and an exceptionally strong spirit. When I first read about her, some years ago, I was quite amazed, just as I was when reading about all of the women who joined the Special Operation’s Executive to carry out clandestine work in enemy territory during WW2. All of the biographies and news articles portrayed her as this fierce Guerrilla fighter and I marvelled at how brave she was, and how dangerous the work was. How cruel war is. But then I went digging and uncovered more of the real Nancy. What I discovered both saddened and amazed me and I was entranced. The main points most people know about her are that she joined SOE, dropped into France, fought and led thousands of Maquisards into battle against the Germans. Half true. I wanted to show her other side, her feminine side and her life before the war. No other novel to date has done that.

Q: How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Deciding what to write about is a good question! I read widely, and my main interest lies in the WW2 period. I’m still not sure why that is, but that’s how it is. So, I retain all relevant newspaper articles for my own interest, as one never knows whether they’ll provide a glimmer of inspiration one day. If a story or a person piques my interest, I will note that down. For me, the process involves making notes, physical or mental, as I go along. Sometimes an idea pops up and it’s something I can make a story from. Sometimes, as in the case of my last two books, the inspiration came from real people and real events.

Q: How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

Research can be so lengthy, but I feel it’s a much longer process with the first book. My first novel, The Beauty Shop, took around a year or so to do the basic research, and then another two years of writing, edits and further research.

Writing about real people is definitely a complex process. I have to know enough about the person’s character, their personality, how they spoke, dressed, the list is endless. That takes time. In another period of history, I might have been forgiven for using more creative licence there, but for my time period, the real people in my books have descendants alive today, along with friends and others who knew them.

Q: What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

When writing and researching, I utilise numerous military history books, personal biographies and newspaper articles. I also use Google a lot to conduct research. I also make use of the BBC Archives from WW2 which is a fascinating resource brimming with first-hand witness accounts from the war – locals and veterans. There are also sites such as Bomber Command, the Imperial War Museum and the National Archives where I was able to purchase copies of Nancy Wake’s war records.

Q: How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police, medics etc when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

So far in my writing, the only people I have approached for information or interviews have been either related to veterans, or veterans themselves. For my debut novel, I contacted a very helpful person from a museum which is dedicated to the men of the RAF Guinea Pig Club. Everyone has been most generous with their time and help. In seeking help, I have found the best way is to contact via email or letter in the first instance. Occasionally I have made enquiries via a third party who has managed to pass me a telephone number, having gained the person’s consent first. With regards to police or medics, I have never had any need to contact them for research. With medicine, I have quite an extensive knowledge myself as I previously worked in healthcare.

Q: If you need specialist knowledge to write a book, how do you obtain it? For instance, do you interview people? Go to the location? Use Google Earth? Apps?

I’m in the process of completing a contemporary romance, a brief escape from my beloved hist fic genre, but even that has required research. It seems there’s no escaping it. The general advice is write what you know, but if you do that there will still be things you need to research. One can never know everything. However, in search of the story, I’m a big fan of writing what you don’t know. So, a number of writers will blog about their recent adventures in Spain, or Canada, or somewhere exotic, all in the name of writing research. The reality is that unless it’s your family holiday, many people will not be able to make those trips and thanks to the internet, it really isn’t essential. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to various places around the world, and also within my own home country. So, I’ve found that I can make use of my travels, and my memories of places quite well. As for the locations I use and have never visited, Google Earth is fabulous. I love how you can zoom right in and even drop the wee yellow man onto a street.

Q: Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I would definitely advise any new writers to establish a platform for themselves prior to approaching agents and publishers. I think that if you’re writing stories, then keeping a blog is a great idea. It’s a great base to grow from, and you will gradually discover an audience there. At the same time, set up your social media accounts. For me, I believe Twitter is vital. It delivers and I reach a wide audience. Facebook is useful as even if you don’t find much of an audience there, it’s full of useful groups for writers so it’s a valuable resource of information. Instagram is growing and reported to be a great platform for writers. So yes, do all that before pitching to agents. There is no need to self-publish first if having an agent or a publisher is important for you. Yes, it will bring you more experience, but it also means you have all the financial outlay. No agent or publisher worth their salt will expect this of any writer. They will take you on based on the quality and marketability of your writing. It’s that simple. And even the greatest writers get rejections. In building your platform, you will have a leg-up when you finally have your first book published, and that is so beneficial.

From my own experience, keeping a history blog for a few years prior to my debut release brought me a fair bit of exposure. Interestingly, while I am based in the UK, around 75% of my audience was and still is in the USA. And now the majority of my book sales are in the USA.

Q: Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Writing and income is such a sticky topic. For me right now, it’s not a sustainable income, but I’m relieved to say that it has at least paid for itself with more left over. My editing bill for each book has been around £900, and then there’s book covers, book tours, set-up costs for paperbacks (if not using Amazon), proofing, advertising. However, I’m thinking positively of the future and I hope to increase the number of books over the coming years and see my income grow.

I know of a handful of successful self-published authors who are not so prolific on social media, but by the power of advertising have a very nice income, in excess of $70,000 per year. And then I know of others with more books than them who make nothing like that. So, it’s quite a fickle topic to speak of as there are so many factors involved. The best advice is not to give up the day job, if you have one.

Q: What is your favourite genre?

Well, that has to be historical fiction. I can’t help it, and believe me, I’ve tried. I read widely but try as I might I have yet to discover a crime novel I can truly enjoy. With historical fiction, I don’t just read WW2 stories either. I read stories about the Tudors, Vikings, and the odd regency.

Q: Which of your books are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my debut novel, The Beauty Shop, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was astonished by the real character, Archibald McIndoe, a pioneering plastic surgeon that not only fixed up RAF pilots and crew, when they were badly injured, but he helped them psychologically too. And I was amazed at the camaraderie and support of the club those men belonged to – the Guinea Pig Club. Not many people knew about it, and that was one of the reasons I wrote the book.

The fact that I completed the book, and self-published it, also makes me proud. There were some moments along the way that really did test me, mentally, and it took a lot of courage and foresight to persist, make the book the best I could, and publish it. Had it not have been for my amazing editor at the time, I may not have made it. She believed in me and the book, and she helped me enormously. I learned more from her during the editing process than from any writing event I have ever attended. KT Editing – she is a remarkable person.

Goodreads Amazon

Author:

Suzy Henderson lives with her husband and two sons in Cumbria, England, on the edge of the Lake District. In a previous life she was a Midwife but now works from home as a freelance writer and novelist.

 While researching her family history, Suzy became fascinated with both World War periods and developed an obsession with military and aviation history. Following the completion of an Open University Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she began to write and write until one day she had a novel.

 She writes contemporary and historical fiction and is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Suzy’s debut novel, “The Beauty Shop”, has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Her next novel, “Madame Fiocca” will be published in December 2019.

https://suzyhendersonauthor.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15954239.Suzy_Henderson

https://www.facebook.com/SuzyHendersonAuthor

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The Heat

The Burning Men Book Cover The Burning Men
DI ALEX FINN AND DC MATTIE PAULSEN. #1
Will Shindler
Noir Crime, Heist Crime, Serial Killers
Hodder and Stoughton
February 6, 2020
368

THE FIRST IN A PHENOMENAL NEW PROCEDURAL SERIES FEATURING DI ALEX FINN AND DC MATTIE PAULSEN. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Peter Robinson. When a high-rise development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters tackle the blaze. The building should be empty, but they find a man, unconscious, next to several cases of money. The fire crew make a fateful decision; leave the man, take the money, quit the service and never speak of this again. But five years later one of them is set alight in the toilets at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found in the burnt out remains of his Maserati, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did. And there are still three firemen left to go. . . DI Alex Finn and DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the last man burns. This is first in Will Shindler's Finn and Paulsen series - a British detective series that ranks with Mark Billingham, M.J. Arlidge, Staurt Macbride.

A definite 5 star read. With a great twist on the final page.

A well written, well plotted story that makes you wonder what would you have done? If you were the firemen, in that fire, and you had personal problems? And how would you have rationalised it? We do take our firemen and first responders for granted and forget just how dangerous their work is and how little they are rewarded in the scheme of things.

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