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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Ann Girdharry Tales of the unexpected, book review

This is a little unusual as book reviews go because this is actually four separate short stories from the same author. Each available on amazon. They are however artfully crafted and an interesting read if you have a short time to spare and want to lose yourself in a writers story for a while. As they are short stories there is a definite limit to how much I can say about each without delving towards spoiler territory. So the reviews for each are brief. Some of the tales hold a paranormal aspect others are more grounded in the mundane world. But each is well written and well considered.

1 Trading with death

The first of this quandary of tales is a deceivingly simple tale of two sisters and the love between them and the lengths one will go to protect the other. While simple in aspect it weaves a complex pattern around the tale that belies its simplicity. Well written it draws you in to care about the sisters, and the choice one makes to protect the other from that which awaits us all.

2  Sweet Justic

This is a darker tale than the first in the series, if only because it is grounded in the mundane. Again well told and crafted. The art of the short story requires not a word is wasted and Ann wastes none in this tale. A story which could have bene expanded to the plot of a whole novel is condensed perfectly in to the short form.  A tale of dark intents and fear, told form the prospective of a victim striving to face the fear that dwells within her home.

260033193 tell Me A Secret

This tale leads you a merry dance of half clues and snippets that keep you guessing and reading. While its starts with a simple set up it tricks you into a darker stranger path than you perhaps expect at first and draws you along. Again well written and well-crafted throughout and not a word wasted.

261216184 Written on the Apple Tree

A tale with a delightful twist. As well told as the others and exhibiting the same craft. This is a haunting tale, of loves long lost and yet remembered. It is perhaps slightly weaker than the others but that is only when judges against the authors high standards.

The short form is underrated at times. It is complex and difficult to pull off well. Ann manages to draw the complex and the simple together and tale an engrossing tale. It is something many writers fail to do. I look forward to her forth coming novel if she can write as well in the longer form it should be well worth the read. 

her website can be found at +


Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Funeral, waiting 1.5 book review

The Funeral
The Waiting series 1.5

23430206I compared the first book of this series to a soap opera of a book. Which I consider a fair comparison, the style and pacing of the first book bares this out. As a follow up to the first book the funeral is perhaps therefore a feature length episode before the start of the second season. It is more Novella than novel, and bridges the gap between book 1 and book 2. While setting the scene for the next book by both trying up events at the end of book 1 and introducing some new characters to the mix.
To carry on with the soap opera analogy. One of the major 'stars' of the first season was Milli, the heart surgeon. She is perhaps the Joan Collins of 'Rivers' the soap opera. Sexy, sassy, and bitchy in ways Alexis would have been proud of. She is the bad girl you can't help but love, and route for even while your hoping all her plans to fail.
In the Funeral you get to meet those members of her family which were only mentioned in passing  in the first season, as they run to the defence of there matriarchal queen after the events at the end of the first season leave her questioning her life and the continuance of it. This extended family are joined by other new characters that are slipped into the mix while the cast from the first season deal with the fall out of the final chapters.
As with the first book Burgess and Hewes manage to make the narrative flow between the different characters points of view. Slipping in the new members of the cast seamlessly, while giving you new perspectives on the cast from the first book. It slides along from one characters to the next with a beguiling ease that manages not to lose you in its wake. A neat trick when dealing with such a complex web of characters and inter relationships between them. While it manages to keep the same style and feel of the first book, it also manages to bring more genuine warmth and depth to some characters who had more minor roles in the previous instalment.
Indeed the novella exhibits a growth in the style and ability of the writers, there understanding of their characters and plots, that bodes well for further instalments to come. While the first novel as a soap opera of a book this is closer to a drama series, crafty and clever with characters that become more real on the page than in the first novel.  

My review of the first book can be found here :   The Waiting 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sequel Dreams or inspiration strikes when your least aware

So, I was laying awake last night, when I started to dream.
Well yes.. I know... I was awake.
While it could be considered mildly irritating, it is equally gratifying when people ask about 'The next one' when ever they read you novel. The expectation of a sequel to something you wrote as a stand alone is odd to the writer. Well at least it is to me. Cider Lane has a beginning middle and end. A very definite end at that for all I left some things open to the readers imagination. The simple truth of which is I don't like endings that tie up everything and leave nothing to the readers own mind.
Yet the most common question is always about the 'next one.'
 The simplest truth is I did not have a sequel planned, and did not expect to write one. Even though i am as aware as anyone that readers like to have the 'next one' and series tend to do better than stand alone books for the same reason. That reason been I am not the only one who does not like endings.
Instead I have several unrelated projects I am working on already.

The Passing Place a fantasy novel about half written which I started before cider lane and keep going back to.
The Wells of Time a dark steam punk novel of a twisted present.
Maybes Daughter, a lighter steam punk romance written as much for humour as anything else.

With that in mind do I really think I should consider a sequel to a stand alone novel which has yet to prove to be entirely successful after all, for all it is getting good reviews. Well in all honesty up till last night no. Not least because I really did not have any story of any kind to work with anyway. Cider Lane was not written with a sequel in mind. Or indeed even considered.

But then I lay awake in the night and ideas started tossing around in my head and when I finally drifted off to sleep I had a half formed plan. When I woke I scribbled notes furiously on the back of the most convenient piece of paper I could find which happened to be a cig packet. Smoking kills , but the packets are damn convenient when you need to scribble down some notes.

And so now I have a bunch of plot notes revolving around several characters from the first novel, the story of which is new and separate but carries the lives of other characters forwards. Its neat and clever and lets me pick up a couple of years after the first novel and tell more of my story.

The point, if I have one in this post, is that now i have had the idea I almost need to start writing it. it's like craving a cig, or any other drug, and while i may finish other things first, I am still compelled  to start.

So for all those who have been asking .................

Demon Frenzy book review

Demon Frenzy by Harvey Click
First book in the Demon Frenzy series

The thing about Genre books is this, it’s very easy to write an average one. That is to say by their nature they often follow set simple patterns which are easy to detect and replicate. This is not to say they are simplistic or that there is no craft to them. Indeed the reverse is true, in order to write something which will hold the interest of its readers in a field crammed to the rafters, an author needs to craft his work carefully and with all his talent. That is if he hopes for his work to rise above the herd.

25380073Harvey manages to accomplish this most difficult of tricks with an undeniable skill, while following a pattern well-trodden.
I normally avoid spoilers when it comes to plot but I will make a vague exception in this case because of the pattern it follows which is hard to talk about without doing so. Consider therefore this a mild warning.
We start with Amy, a woman of hidden skills, who returns home to the small town of her birth after her brother ceases to reply to her weekly phone calls. What she discovers on her arrival is that her home town had changed in the years she has been away, becoming a darker nastier place all round, and the returning girl is far from welcome.

The first third of the novel covers the first couple of days of her return and the growing sense of unease as Amy gets herself slowly in deeper and deeper to the mystery of her home town’s dark underside.
Then things get nasty in the second third when she is 'rescued' by a group of individuals planning to end the reign of terror being perpetrated on the town. Her rescuers are secretive and less than welcoming, even when Amy's skills seem to grow. All of which leaves Amy between a rock and a hard place, the Bad want her dead, the good side which is at best shades of grey don't all want her alive either, and she gets the blame when things start to go wrong.
Then everything goes wrong and all hell breaks loose in the final third. Amy's skills come to the fore but will she prevail...

In many ways it’s a reworking of so many other novels in the genre.

The important thing in all this is however the writing. Harvey manages to pull it together and make a simple genre story and make it seem fresh and initiative all the same. The action moves quickly and is well paced. The characters have a believable quality for all the unreal stuff surrounding them. They are well drawn and have individual qualities, while the setup of the plot has its own interesting quirks which help to draw the reader in. 


Monday, 17 August 2015

The waiting , book review

The Waiting by Elizibeth Burges & Marie Hewes
Book 1 of  The Waiting

Books come in many category's, many forms, and you never quite know what your going to be reading until you start turning the pages. This is perhaps even more true of independently publishes books which are free of the requirement to conform to particular genre's. The Waiting, first book of a series by the same name, is no exception to this rule. It is however a book which lends itself to a series, because the book itself is a series.
22915102It is probably best described as the novel equivalent of a soap opera. It holds all the elements of an american soap in the same vain as Dallas or Dynasty. I say this without criticism, because if you like the soap opera style then you will enjoy this series and it will draw you in to keep reading, not only to find out what happens to the characters you love, but to the characters that you love to hate as well, and there are undoubtedly a lot of characters in here.
You can think of the characters as the cast of the soap opera, and the action moves between them in much the way the action of a soap opera would as well. Strolling between scenes as one character interacts with another before the action is carry forward by that character to the next, like links in a chain which sweep you along as they progress. The narrative in this respect is the camera following one then the other, before panning over to follow the next character who wonders through the scene.
In other hands this technique of many voices each carrying there own story and there own desires forward as they weave in and out of other lives, would swiftly become confusing, if not indeed a mess. Burges and Hewes however manage to make the narrative seemly seamless. While a chapter may have one, two, five or even ten different point of view characters in scant few pages  it never gets lost in itself or more importantly losses the reader in its intricate web. This in itself is something of an noteworthy achievement because there are a lot of characters in this book.
I am also a sucker for any novel that comes with a play list at the end. But every good soap opera has a theme tune.
Handily at the back there is a set of family trees that helps you sort it all out if you do get confused. though as I reviewed the kindle version I was not able to just flip to the back as easily as I would in a print copy to check just how two characters were related. Yet some who, again in testament to the narrative skills of the authors, I never need to. I was too busy enjoying the story, all be it with a scene of impending doom that is laid out in the first chapter. The narrative carry s you along and carefully remind you of al those connections when you need little reminders without over burdening them.
The first chapter is set around events at the end of the first book. So you know the tragic events you are moving towards. Then the action drops back thirty days and you learn how the tragic events came to pass. While as a narrative trick it is hardly original it is written well. Importantly by the time you get back towards the looming event your invested in the characters and care about them. You want to know who got shot at the beginning, and perhaps more importantly if they are going to survive. To use the Soap opera comparison this is who shot JR and a whole season devoted to finding out not only who but why.
No characters are all good, or all bad, there are shades of grey running through them all that even the ones which seem at first nothing but villains you come to care about. Which again is a well played hand by the authors. It is too easy to make a character all bad, and leave not even  a glimmer of light about them. They do however play hard ball with there characters form the start. You'll love some and hate others like any good soap. and like any good soap the nastier the characters may be the more you end up loving them.
In short this is a book which should be 'Rivers' the soap opera. Named for the hospital which holds a central place in the lives of most if not all characters in the book. If it was a Soap it would be getting its second season after this marvellous opening year. And even a jaded old hack like me who doesn't much like soap operas and appreciate and enjoy a good one all the same, and this is a great one.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

writing conversations, or the voices in my head are arguing

Anyone who has read Cider Lane will know that it is not overwhelmed with dialogue. Indeed, dialogue is absent quiet often simply because characters don't have anyone to talk to due to where they are and what they are doing, except there selves or the occasional passing sheep. That's not to say there is no dialogue, in some parts there is lots of it. But allot of time is spent between the two main characters in silence. That was not deliberate; it was just what fit and how the story wanted to be written, and how the characters were. The silence was an important part of the relationship between them. What they didn't say, was often more important than anything they did say.

In the novel I am currently writing has far more dialogue, again not a conscious choice as such but how the characters interact, and it wants to be written.

Books have to want to be written, and they generally want to be written in certain ways. This may just happen to me, but when it flows, the writing writes itself. Which is occasionally a problem, because the characters often start  talking so fast that all I end up with is dialogue and nothing around it, context goes out of the window, and the 90% of communication which is not verbal goes with it, and only with the first redrafting does it start to fill out with everything else around it.

It's an odd approach, but it works for me

for example from what I am working on:-

 “I mean, it’s strange to find anything growing here… in this place… it’s unusual, to say the least.”
“In a garden?”
“In this garden, I mean how is there even a garden here?”
“Why would there not be?”
“You know what I mean.”
“So you’re asking why there is a here in the first place. That’s a very Zen question don’t you think. Like, why are we here? Because we are. Beyond that is only superstition in the end. There is a garden because Esqwith has a garden. There is a tree in the garden because Esqwith lets him take root here.”
“But? I mean why is any of this here, who is Esqwith.”
“Oh, so that’s your question.”

“Oh that’s simple, I don’t know.”

These conversations happen all the time while I am writing, often they run ahead of everything else, and I end up with pages of dialogue that get all the more confused by the lack of context. Then I have a few days off, to take down a shed ( like I did yesterday) then come back to the work and realise that I am not even sure who was talking to whom in this exchange as I saved it separate to the main document as I was playing with the conversation.

I procrastinate, it's what I do best at times. While the characters argue about the relativity of an unreal place. That conversation might seem short; it's part of several pages of dialogue. This may take a while to sort out. The joy of the first draft.

cider lane reviews

I review books fairly often here , or at least it is my intent to do so , but it would seem some what incestuous to review my own. Instead as nice people have taken there time to read and review cider lane at various places on the web, and I hardly mention it here as a rule I thought I would put up a selection of them.

from TC on good reads

A great story that really makes you feel for the characters and what they are having to experience. This book will keep you filled with curiosity about how the main characters are going to deal with the hardships in their lives. The author did an awesome job with the plot and storyline. It's a great read.

From Amazon uk 

A well paced and interesting story, this is a good book to take on holiday. With detailed description and fascinating insights about the life of a gentleman of the road, this book will catch your attention and engage your interest all the way to the dramatic conclusion.
Mr paul mellor 

A book that you have to read more than once as you just keep discovering new little gems hidden with it.
Mr R Tredwell

An excellent read, thoroughly enjoyed it and very much looking forward to the next one 👍
Janye P 

I would recommend this book it is a good read, great holiday read, for relaxing on the beach
Diane Magavey 

From Amazon .com 

Brilliant read , looking forward to your next book

and via text 

I've finished your book , it was very good  get on with the next one 

so obviously I am most pleased with the last one