Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction
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Crack that fire: Load that ticket!

Firecracker

by Gar Anthony Haywood

A Review for Netgalley

This was a really interesting story with many twists and turns and even though all the references to ‘tight ends’ and other American Football terms passed me by I understood enough to know that people who can throw far are of value just as are people who battle their way out of scrums or run very fast.

It also brought home the ‘rapper’ life style that so many young men aspire to. The pretence of being really tough. The need to wear baseball caps on backwards. The need to wear certain clothes and be tattooed and so on, that seems to signify success to those who have used their body rather than their brains to escape poverty. And how easy it therefore is to scam these people and to bully them and encourage them to spend way above their means when they really don’t understand the value of saving as they have never before had any money to save let alone spend. We hear so often of these football stars ending up broke as their managers failed to invest wisely, sometimes because it was deliberate as a way to line their own pockets, or sometimes because the people in charge of the money are not capable – through lack of education for instance. Many of these suddenly immensely rich young men spend all their money on entertaining their friends from their old home areas as well which doesn’t help matters.

In this story we have the conflict between a young man who carelessly impregnates several women and pays his way out of trouble. But he then encounters a savvy young women who, whilst she unfortunately also falls pregnant, knows better and can manage against the odds to make things work in her favour.

Las Vegas and gambling and bodyguards with heart and faith are part of the story too as well as very nasty young man who is a wannabe ‘gangsta’ but plays the part with gusto.

A good story that kept me interested until the end.

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Obsession and Minimums

Punch 1902 vol 123

Look here, Steward, if this is coffee, I want tea; but if this is tea, then I wish for coffee.

Anon

I’m not obsessed, I’m just highly preoccupied

George Muncaster

if the minimum wasn’t acceptable it wouldn’t be called the minimum

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Jenny Oliver tells us how to make a pie

Questions for Authors:

 

  1. 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?

I wanted to write a series of books set in one place with characters who we would see again, and catch up with, as the series progressed. I love the river – I grew up living by the Thames and also rowed for a number of years. Through rowing I travelled to lots of places across Europe and the UK and have seen a lot of towns but all of them only from a boat! Writing about a little town on the water really appealed to me and cherries are by far my favourite fruit Cherry Pie Island was born.

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

Im thinking about what to write all the time and often start to think about the next book when Im halfway through the current one Im writing. I carry a notebook with me and have numerous dotted about the flat that are half scribbled in. If I get stuck I look back over them and theres usually an idea that sparks my imagination.

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

Once Id decided on Cherry Pie Island it was all quite quick. Getting the initial idea however was much slower. It took a lot of time and back and forth and dead ends to get to my answer for question 1!

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I use my family A LOT! If Im stuck Ill go round to my mum and dads on the pretence of bringing their grandson to see them and then quiz them for ideas about how to get out of a plot hole. Ill talk to my husband whos a kids book author so comes up with some bizarre solution like: just make him have a really big nose! I read a lot of blogs, cookbooks, listen to podcasts, I go to places that are similar to what Im writing about or might spark my imagination, I use quite a lot of my own memories and steal some snippets from my friends lives. Ive also spent a lot of money in our local Caffe Nero.

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

Ive never had to approach the police, but if I need some detail verifying I will usually work out who I know who might be able to help me or who knows someone who knows someone! Or I use Google.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

It was only when I wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off that I felt I had a commercial, appealing story with a beginning, middle and end and I think that was why it was accepted. What I had written in the past lacked all direction! Hahaha, it was just rambling. It felt right because I wrote most of it in a week on the beach in a cheap, crappy notebook that I had to buy really quickly (rather than pick the one with the nicest, flashest cover etc!) because the story was there in my head – and I knew where the plot was going.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No I didnt.

  1. 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 think that any opportunity to get reader feedback and to build a readership is worth taking, so would definitely encourage self-publishing. I also think the value of a good editor, copyeditor and designer is huge and its worth investigating these independent services before you put your work out there so that you can make sure its at its very best.

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

I suppose it all depends on how much you need to live on 😉 I certainly havent given up my day job.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you were given that you could pass on to aspiring writers?

Treat it as a job. Look at what you like to read and the commercial market, set a deadline and enjoy revisions – they always make the book better!

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Use the ‘packet pastry’ pie!

Puff pastry is one pastry not even Delia smith admits to making herself very often – nor Jamie Oliver – so I feel very justified in going to the supermarket and buying sheets of puff pastry that are already round and don’t even need to be cut!

The issue then comes as to what do I put under the puff pastry. Note that this recipe for a pie is being published as part of a blogtour by Jenny Oliver, the author of Cherry Pie Island – see the pdf attached to this post and also my book review on the 11th March:

Cherry Pie Island

Well for me it has to be fruit. Usually pears or rhubarb. I do love a rhubarb pie especially if it come from our garden.

A very simple pie to make of course as rhubarb cooks very quickly.

Take your sticks of rhubarb – as many as you can buy – usually a kilo works best for the standard pie dish.

Place in the dish with a tablespoonful of sugar scattered over. Raw cane sugar is best as it gives an extra flavour. Add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth but the fruit juice adds some sweetness too.

Add some orange juice (or mixed fruit juice if you don’t have orange) until it is about a quarter full. Bake in the oven at around 180 for 15 mins to start the rhubarb softening.

Remove from the oven and cool for around 15  mins and then add the pastry topping. By now the rhubarb juice will have started coming out and if the dish looks a little wet you can pour some liquid off. It should stay less than 1/3 full of liquid.

Egg wash the pastry. Make small holes with a fork and crimp the edges of the pastry around the pie dish. Don’t seal too hard as the liquid needs room to bubble up.

Scatter some caster sugar – again raw is best and bake in a hot oven (according to the pastry packet but usually around 220 or 200 for a fan oven and bake around 20 mins until the sugar is browning and the pastry looks golden and ‘puffy’!

Serve with clotted cream or vanilla ice-cream

I have included a picture of what it could look like – not mine as I haven’t made one yet this year!

rhubarb2

Nb  adding strawberries to rhubarb pie is scrummy.

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRAND REOPENING OF THE DANDELION CAFÉ is available now.

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Not forgetting:

Cherry Pie_BLOG-TOUR Novelicious_LARGE2_logo

 

 

 

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Books/book review/Fantasy/fiction/non-fiction/Romance/net galley/crime fiction
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Books I stopped reading: An on-going list

This will be a set of reviews of books I have stopped reading because I stopped enjoying them.

My principle is to read either 40-50 pages or 25% minimum to give each author a chance to hook me into the story. The problem they have is – that as I read so many books each year – I am a picky reader. I will not waste much of my time reading books I am not enjoying when there is a veritable cornucopia of books out there to choose from which I may enjoy more.

Thus this blog will be updated as I stop reading any book and will become a list.

It starts with:

Hit and Run by Maxine O’Callaghan

I initially enjoyed this book but I then found that the story dragged once I was ¾ of the way through. So I stopped reading.

There was insufficient happening and too much re-iteration of the dire circumstances of the PI – we got it – it had been described in detail several times already..

I started by feeling sorry for the PI but ended up being irritated by her.

There was an interesting possibility of a story with the old man killed before he was ru over, but it was laboured. I rather liked the feisty shop-lifter though…

A NetGalley Review.


Dream Student by JJ DiBenrdetto

Bored by this book. I read 25% and gave up- as going nowhere fast – and thus obvious how they could make a series out of it – they really stretch the story-line out!

a book about two university students who meet up physically after they ;share’ a dream. The dream gives them an emotional connection – but after 25% of the book this is as far as they have got.

Just what the series could contain I cannot guess and definitely do not want to explore.


Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland

This was a book chosen for my f2f book club and is an Irish coming of age story.

I seem to be having a struggle at the moment with Irish writers. I have not really enjoyed any that have been chosen by the Book group. There is a dark atmosphere to most Irish stories that I come across recently with very slow action and under-currents that I find very disturbing. This book gets very disturbing as the discussion with the book club members showed. Just why did the boy sleep with his mother? And what did she do with him there? The grandmother was an interesting character too with her table manners and hiding important items – just why didn’t she trust the family to know when she won money. And then there was the father. Why wasn’t he working? why did he think he was clever enough to go to university now? And just what effort was he putting into preparing himself?

Irish family dynamics baffle me and thus I find these books very hard to understand and so stop. Yet I can read complicated law and crime and thrillers with no problems, so it isn’t the complications…

Suicide is for mortals

By Alyson Miers

I am afraid that this another book that will go on my ‘incompleted’ list.

I got to 22% but gave up. I just couldn’t get interested in the differences between predatory and non-predatory vampires and the mortals they are trying to protect. The story just didn’t seem to go anywhere after the author was ‘turned’. Just a lot of chat and wanting to go back to being mortal and so on…

What more can I realistically say except that it was very simple in style and storyline and I prefer things to be more complex and complicated – where I need to think and be challenged by the story.


 

 

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