Monthly Archives: November 2017

Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Deep Blue Trouble Review and Author Q&A

So, it is now a mere five sleeps until Hull Noir and, as it creeps slowly closer, I’m delighted to bring you my review of Steph Broadribb’s next novel Deep Blue Trouble but even better than that I have a fab Q&A with the lady herself.

Steph is taking part in the Brawlers and Bastards panel on Sunday 19th November. Full programme and ticket details can be found HERE.

Right, first up my thoughts on the upcoming second Lori Anderson book and then the bit you really want to read, the Q&A with Steph.

 

The Blurb

Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. Teaming up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor threatens to put the whole job in danger. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

My Thoughts

Okay, I’m starting off this review with an embarrassing confession … I have not yet read Deep Down Dead, the first Lori Anderson book. I was unable to take part in the blog tour due to other commitments and it was on my October/November reading list. I had the perfect excuse to bump it up the TBR pile when I found out that Steph Broadribb was taking part in Hull Noir. However, plans sometimes don’t go the way you want them to and I actually ended up reading Deep Blue Trouble first instead. Broadribb’s debut got rave reviews from other bloggers and having read Deep Blue Trouble I can clearly see what all the fuss is about! I LOVED this book.

As said, Deep Blue Trouble is the second book in the Lori Anderson series and it does follow up from where Deep Down Dead ended. As I have read Deep Blue Trouble first, however, you can take it from me that it works perfectly as a standalone. There is enough information to ensure that new readers are able to follow what is going on. Lori, a Florida bounty hunter, has little choice but to take on a job from FBI agent Alex Monroe in order to free her daughter Dakota’s father from prison where he is currently being held for a murder he didn’t commit. This job involves bringing in on-the-run criminal Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher and it ends up being far from straight forward.

Lori Anderson is a kick ass, gutsy, independent, fierce protagonist and yet Broadribb has manged to also make her a sympathetic character. A single mum whose daughter has Leukaemia in a country that does not have free health care, Lori is doing everything she can to ensure her daughter’s health needs are met. I liked the additional layers to Lori – while her job inevitably brings her into danger and has her having to commit violent acts herself, she does not take this lightly and she has a sense of morality and a conscience. This makes Lori an ultimately likeable character and one you root for and want to follow further in to the series.

Deep Blue Trouble is set in the USA and it’s always a bit of a worry as to whether or not an author is able to authentically create the country their book is set in when they are not from there. Broadribb does a great job of this. From the descriptions of the places to the way Lori tells us her story, Broadribb completely transports the reader to the Florida sunshine.

The plot twists and turns like a waltzer car at the fairground and Broadribb kept me on the edge of my seat, on my toes and my fingernails are now bitten down to the quick. The plot moves along at an exceptional rate barely giving you time to catch your breath.

Deep Blue Trouble is a great book and this is set to be a fantastic series. If you’re looking for fast-paced, by-the-seat-of-your-pants action this is the series to read. Deep Blue Trouble is published in paperback in January 2018 so you have plenty of time to read Deep Down Dead before its release and get fully acquainted with Lori Anderson. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Steph Broadribb and Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for the opportunity to read Deep Blue Trouble in advance.

Deep Blue Trouble is published on ebook on 15 November 2017 and paperback on 5 January 2018 by Orenda books. It can be pre-ordered HERE.

Deep Down Dead is out now and can be purchased HERE.

And finally the moment you have been waiting for … my Q&A with Steph!

It sounds like you have had an interesting life as you trained as a bounty hunter in California. Did the inspiration for Lori Anderson come from your training?
I actually trained as a bounty hunter as research for the first book in the Lori Anderson series – Deep Down Dead. I’d had the idea for Lori when I was driving from West Virginia to Florida in the previous autumn and had started writing the book, but realised pretty fast that I needed to learn more about the world of bounty hunting and also, specifically, what it was like to be a woman in that predominantly male world. I read books about it, and watched a couple of television series, but felt that for my book, and Lori, to be truly authentic I needed to experience it for myself. So I got in touch with a bounty hunter in California and when out to train with him. I guess you could say I’m a fan of ‘method writing’!

How much is Lori based on your real life experiences and people you have met?
There’s quite a lot of me in Lori. In some ways she’s a bolder, tougher, version of me! And although the characters and the action in the books are fictional, I do draw on the emotions I’ve experienced and try to put that feeling into my writing. I definitely use elements of people I’ve met in characters I create too, although it’s more like taking a mannerism from one person, and mixing it with the way another person looks, and the speech pattern of another – never a direct copy. Mind you, that said, in Deep Blue Trouble the character of Bobby Four-Fingers is named after a one of the guys I trained as a bounty hunter alongside, and I’ve used a few of his characteristics for the character because he asked me to make him into a fictional character!

Was it always your intention for the Lori Anderson books to be a series?
I’d always hoped that it would be, and luckily for me the wonderful Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books shared my vision.

What are the pros and cons of writing a series?
I think the biggest con is trying to get enough backstory from previous book/s into the current book so that the character’s past makes sense, without it coming across as too ‘tell’ and boring for the reader (or confusing). No matter what number in the series it is, a book needs to be able to be read as a standalone if a reader picks it up first, yet it also needs to develop and build on the characters from previous books. It’s a tricky balance to achieve, and I hope that I’ve managed it in Deep Blue Trouble! I think the pro of a series is that you get to carry on working with (and reading) the characters. As a reader I’m a big fan of series. Jack Reacher, Charlie Fox, Tom Thorne, John Rebus, Travis McGee, Carter Blake are all great series characters that have long running series which develop your knowledge of the characters and their stories with each book. I aspire to doing that!

Do you have the rest of the series and what happens to Lori, Dakota and JT planned out or do you see where each book takes you?
At this point, I have a rough idea of the first scene in the third book in the series, but that’s all. I tend to just see where each books takes me. There are a few things in Lori’s past that I want to explore more – either in book three or four – and there’s a job that’s been offered to her that she might do in book three, but other than that I sit down at my laptop with a blank page in front of me and take it from there!

Do you become emotionally attached to your characters?
Yes, totally! I think it’s inevitable given how much time they are in your head for as you write. But, as it’s crime fiction, you still need to put them through the wringer as much as possible too. If everything was easy for them it would make for a very boring thriller!

You are British and have spent time in the USA. Were there any difficulties that arose from setting the books in the US to ensure that the setting comes across as authentic?
I’ve lived and worked in the USA and I also have a lot of family who are American. Part of my research for the books was to travel to many of the settings used and experience them from myself – like training as a bounty hunter in California, driving from West Virginia to Florida, kayaking through the everglades and getting up close to gators, and hiking through the Blue Ridge Mountains and sleeping out under the stars. I check out phrases with my American friends, so that I can try and get Lori’s voice as authentic as possible. I’ve actually just got back from a trip to the USA where I was scouting out settings for book three.

What does your writing day look like? Do you have a set writing routine?
I tend to be better at writing in the morning so from when I get up to around lunchtime is my best time for first drafts. Then I usually take a break – take my dog for a walk, feed the horses – and then carry on, either writing or editing what I wrote in the morning, until around 4pm. I’m pretty active on social media – I love a bit of tweeting! So I’ll tend to go on Twitter intermittently throughout the day and then do Facebook and Instagram once I’ve finished writing. I usually write seven days a week during a first draft. When I’m editing I tend to shut myself away and plunge myself into the edits, only coming up for air and social media once they’re done!

You are taking part in Hull Noir this month. How do you feel about speaking at events? Do you get nervous or take it in your stride?
I actually really enjoy them. I’ve been a huge fan of the crime thriller genre for as long as I can remember and it’s fantastic getting out and meeting people who love the same kind of books as me. When I first started doing panels I was a bit nervous, and I have to admit that for my first few (evening) events I had a glass of wine or two to help my nerves! But everyone in crime fiction is so lovely, I find the panels and the people great fun – so now it’s usually just water in my glass when I’m on stage!

A huge thank you Steph for taking part and for the brilliant answers. I really enjoyed reading this. Looking forward to seeing you at Hull Noir!

Review – Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers by Terry Tyler

The Blurb

Three women, one dream: to become a successful author.

Eden Taylor has made it—big time. A twenty-three year old with model girl looks and a book deal with a major publisher, she’s outselling the established names in her field and is fast becoming the darling of the media.

Becky Hunter has money problems. Can she earn enough from her light-hearted romance novels to counteract boyfriend Alex’s extravagant spending habits, before their rocky world collapses?

Hard up factory worker Jan Chilver sees writing as an escape from her troubled, lonely life. She is offered a lifeline—but fails to read the small print…

In the competitive world of publishing, success can be merely a matter of who you know—and how ruthless you are prepared to be to get to the top.

BEST SELLER is a novella of 40k words (roughly half as long as an average length novel), a dark, edgy drama with a twist in the tale.

My Thoughts

After reading Terry Tyler’s Author Influences (you can check it out here) and discovering that her novella Best Seller was inspired by a true event in her life I just knew I had to read it. Best Seller centres around three women – of which two are friends and the other is known through writer groups on social media – and their dream to be a bestselling author. Sounds like a straight forward enough book, however, there is more to Best Seller than meets the eye.

Best Seller is only around 155 pages long and yet Tyler manages to fit so much into this small and perfectly formed book. It is a dark tale about the less attractive emotions we all have as human beings, the pursuit of ambition, the world of writing and the impact of media and social media.

The central characters in the book, Eden, Becky and Jan, are incredibly well crafted. Tyler is clearly an acute observer of people and their individual nuances as she captures everything – their characters, the impact of their social class and upbringing on their behaviour and speech, their age – about them through their dialogue and thoughts. All of the things that people say out loud in order to present an image of themselves that is in contrast to what they actually think especially when it comes to the success of others. I imagine any reader of Best Seller will recognise people they have come across within the book and, I have to say, it made me think about my own emotions in certain circumstances and how I come across, particularly on social media.

Best Seller is also a satirical look at the writing world. The misconceptions about independently published authors, the falsities of social media groups and the who you know rather than the what you know aspect of success all had me nodding my head in agreement. Tyler does not paint a pretty picture yet the honest way she portrays those everyday social interactions we all partake in and of life in general make delicious reading.

Once I started Best Seller I found it incredibly difficult to put down. Unlike anything I have read before, the plot is perfect in its pace and structure. It is incredibly current and astute and will have you questioning your own morals and the morals of those around you. Best Seller would make a great reading group book. A short read that packs a punch, I loved it!

A huge thank you to Terry Tyler for my copy of Best Seller in exchange for my honest review.

Author Influences with Carol Warham

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for another Author Influences and this week I’m delighted to welcome Carol Warham. Carol’s debut novel Resolutions is out now and I will tell you more about it a little bit later. 

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
My first love as a child was Enid Blyton. I never read The Famous Five, I preferred The Secret Seven. As I grew older I loved all her school books – Mallory Towers, Naughtiest Girl and St Clares. I was lucky enough to go to a school which encouraged reading and gave us reading lists for the school holidays. One memorable author, from these lists, that I grew to enjoy, was John Buchan.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was reasonably good at English. I was never a child that ‘stood out’ in any subject. However I had an excellent teacher for English and Literature, and I learned a lot from her and a love of classic authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
History is my first love, both fiction and non-fiction. This has not had an impact on my writing so far. However my second novel will feature some historical links. I do have an idea for an historical novel, which is a constant itch – I will have to scratch it one day!

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I would love to write a paranormal or a fantasy novel. I enjoy reading this genre and watching these type of films. It would be wonderful to create your own world and settings, however, I’m not sure I have the imagination to do it.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think one of the authors which I would love to emulate is Dorothy Dunnett. I love her Lymond series. When I get stuck, these are the books I turn to. I also have a friend, Paula Martin, who is a great writer, and has a number of published books. She has encouraged me every inch of the way.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I buy all of Paula’s books as soon as they are released. There are a number of authors that I enjoy and wait for their latest offering. At the moment I’m waiting (and have been for some years!) for the latest book from Hilary Mantel, on the Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Dorothy Dunnett has always made me feel like that when reading her books. The intricacy of her plots and the depths of her characters are amazing. If I could have a tiny fraction of her genius, in my writing, I would be thrilled.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not really. I have used my dog’s names in the story and I have a character mentioned, who lives in Houston, Texas, which is where my brother lives. These were put in for my own enjoyment.

A huge thank you, Carol, for taking part.
Thank you very much for the invitation. I’ve enjoyed coming along and, particularly, discussing my favourite authors.

Carol’s debut novel, Resolutions, is out now. Here’s what it’s about:

A few days before the New Year, Carly Mitchell returns home to the small town on the Yorkshire moors. Her intention for the short visit is to make her apologies and offer an explanation for her action. A year earlier, she fled, leaving her bridegroom and friends bewildered.

She’s met with mixed reactions, ranging from curiosity to open hostility. However, when an emergency arises, Carly agrees to change her plans and stay a little longer. Falling in love with the new local doctor, Ben Thornton, was not part of her original plan either. Especially when it appears his past is shrouded in mystery.

Complications and tensions increase during the town’s New Year celebrations and she begins to doubt whether she has done the right thing by coming home.

Can she find the resolution she needs to overcome the challenges facing her, or will she run away again?

About the Author

Writing has been Carol’s love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up she settled down to writing and having published short stories, poems and holiday articles.

In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.

Earlier this year, she represented her book group on BBC Radio Leeds, talking about books and the work on her novel.

Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam. This lovely area is the location for her first novel, Resolutions.

Website: https://carolwarham.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carol_warham

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolwarhamauthor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Review of Dark Winter by David Mark

As part of the Hull Noir countdown I’m sharing my review of Dark Winter by David Mark. David Mark is from Hull and his Detective Aector McAvoy novels are set in the city. I have to admit that this book has been sitting on my Kindle for far too long while review copies took priority. I’m so glad I finally read this book and I’m looking forward to hearing Mark speak at Hull Noir. Mark is taking part in Sleeping with the Fishes on Saturday 18th November with Nick Quantrill, Lilja Sigurdardottir and Quentin Bates and I can’t wait!

The Blurb

DS Aector McAvoy is a man with a troubled past. His unwavering belief in justice has made him an outsider in the police force he serves, a good man among the lazy and corrupt.

Then on a cold day in December he is the first cop on the scene when a young girl is killed in Hull’s historic church – and the only one to see the murderer. A masked man, with tears in his eyes…

When two more seemingly unconnected people die, the police must work quickly. Only McAvoy can see the connection between the victims. A killer is playing God – and McAvoy must find a way to stop the deadly game.

My Thoughts

‘“Hull isn’t in the North East, sir. It’s in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”’

Dark Winter is a book that has been sitting waiting on my Kindle for what seems like an eternity! This means that I am way behind everybody else with Mark’s Detective Aector McAvoy series as Dark Winter is the first in a series of six. I was initially drawn to this book because it is set in Hull and written by a Hull author.

When a fifteen year old is stabbed to death in Holy Trinity Church, Detective McAvoy is first on the scene and sees the killer. When further killings occur McAvoy is the only detective to see a link between them.

I really liked Aector McAvoy as a character. He is a big bear of a man who has a real gentleness about him. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his dark side – let’s face it, most detectives in crime novels do – and he can undoubtedly hold his own but he is principled and believes in honest justice which is something his colleagues are often willing to overlook. From a character point of view, Dark Winter works well as the initial novel in a series. The reader is given enough information about McAvoy’s past to be intrigued and there is clearly more to come with this character.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot for fear of giving anything away but have to mention that I really liked the reasons for the killings. It adds another layer and pulls together what seem initially to be disparate threads together nicely. The plot kept me interested and wanting to read more. Dark Winter is well paced and Mark ensures that the plot moves along at a decent speed.

The setting of Hull plays a large and important part in Dark Winter. It perfectly adds to the atmosphere of the novel. Dark Winter was first published in 2012 and at that time Hull was one of those northern cities that had been decimated by the loss of industry. There was always a prevailing sense of loss and hopelessness within Hull and its many run-down streets that Mark captures well in Dark Winter. However, he also captures the sense of pride and identity that people from Hull have about their city and this is highlighted when even McAvoy, a non-Hull native, points out that Hull is in Yorkshire. I very much hope that with City of Culture status and five years on from Dark Winter that Hull is able to reach its potential and become the great city I hold so affectionately in my heart. I will be interested to see if there are any changes in the way Hull is portrayed by Mark in the following books.

A great start to a detective series, I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Winter and read it in no time at all. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series now that I have started and look forward to seeing where Mark takes McAvoy. I am also interested to see if the descriptions of Hull change over time. If you are looking for a gritty, northern read check Dark Winter out.

First published 19 December 2012 by Quercus and on 5 October 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton.

You can get all the information about Hull Noir, including tickets HERE.

Continue reading Countdown to Hull Noir 2017 – Review of Dark Winter by David Mark

Author Influences with Lesley Downer

I am absolutely delighted to welcome the wonderful Lesley Downer to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today for this weeks Author Influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
The book that springs to mind immediately is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I also loved Roger Lancelyn Green’s versions of the Greek and Roman myths and Norse myths. Also The Wind in the Willows, the Pooh books, Alice in Wonderland. I was a traditional child! There was a great little library near my house and I was always there discovering treasures.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was lucky enough to have two amazing English teachers at school, which is probably why I did English at university and went on to write. I also had an amazing history teacher who told history as stories and had us all totally entranced – the little princes in the tower drowning in a butt of malmsey, Charles I having his head cut off …

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
For quite a long time I’ve been reading books and novels set in the period and place I write about – nineteenth century Japan. When I have a breather and can read anything I like, I love to read fiction. I also like to read history. And when I read fiction I like to learn something, so I’m not so interested in contemporary fiction but more in stories with a historical setting.
When I’m writing I like to keep myself engrossed in the genre of book I’m writing and the period and place I’m writing about. I started off writing travel books and had travel books on the floor all around my desk. Then I wrote non fiction and had books on my subject – geisha, Madame Sadayakko – all around. Now I write fiction and am surrounded by books on my subject (nineteenth century Japan) and by historical novels.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I don’t really think in genre. I’ve written travel, biography (Madame Sadayakko), an indefinable ‘book’ (Geisha), and now write fiction. My subject as an author (though not as a journalist) has always been Japan. Now I’m thinking not in terms of another genre but another subject …

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I’ve always been a reader and I’ve always been a writer. I love the great classics – Dickens, the Brontes, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Dostoevsky. I’d like to write great sweeping dramas like those myself that take you away to somewhere entirely different and make you see the world through new eyes.
I’m also really steeped in Japanese literature, which is by turns profoundly moving and achingly romantic (Tale of Genji), encapsulating the world in a few words (Basho), strange and subversive (Tanizaki), and has entirely transformed the way I see the world.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Peter Carey! I adored Oscar and Lucinda and went to Cheltenham Literature Festival a couple of years ago just to see him receive the Lifetime Award for Literature.

Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. David Mitchell is simply another league. His use of language, the way he writes dialogue, takes you so deeply into another era.
I also adored Oscar and Lucinda which entirely breaks all the rules of fiction writing – so baroque, so many loose ends. Wonderful stuff!
The Sheltering Sky had me gripped from sentence one. I like dense, thought-provoking novels.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My plots are all based on true historical stories and many of my characters really existed. My most recent novel is almost entirely based on historical fact. But when I imagine a character, yes, I do also think of real people I know and of how they would behave in particular situations.

Thank you for taking part Lesley and for the wonderful answers. Like you, I am a fan of the classics too and adore Thomas Hardy in particular. I have never read Oscar and Lucinda and have now added it to my TBR list.

Lesley’s latest book The Shogun’s Queen is out now and I can highly recommend it (you can read my review HERE). Here is what it is about:

The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.

When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.

Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .

About Lesley Downer

Lesley Downer lived in Japan for many years. She tramped around Basho’s Narrow Road the Deep North, lived among geisha, interviewed sumo wrestlers and enjoyed the glitzy life of Tokyo. She is the author of many books on Japan, including Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World, Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha who Seduced the West and The Last Concubine, short listed for Romantic Novel of the Year. Her most recent novel, The Shogun’s Queen, is a prequel, chronologically the first in the Shogun Quartet, and takes place largely in the Women’s Palace, a kind of harem in Edo Castle in what is now modern day Tokyo..

Twitter: @Lesley Downer
Facebook: AuthorLesleyDowner
www.lesleydowner.com
Lesley blogs on the-history-girls.blogspot.co.uk on the 14th of each month.