Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Blog Tour - The Faerie Tree - Jane Cable

I'm delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for the new book The Farie Tree by Jane Cable whose wonderful "The Cheesmakers House" was a favourite of mine. In fact I'm rounding off the tour today.



I particularly enjoy books written by women, primarily for women readers and Jane has addressed this subject in her exclusive article for this blog tour.


WRITING WITH WOMEN IN MIND - Jane Cable

In the days when I had an agent he told me that men never read books by women and women read books by everyone. Sweeping generalisation it may have been, but rubbish it was not. I thought about my own other half’s reading habits and realised that just about the only female novelist he regularly downloaded was Kathy Reichs (although he has recently confounded me by buying a cut price suite of Hilary Mantel for his Kobo).

So as a woman writer, am I necessarily writing for other women? I think so, yes. Although a large number of men have enjoyed The Cheesemaker’s House – despite it being a romance, which over 80% of the male sex pretend never to read. But was it written for them? Probably not.

It is said that as a writer you need to work with your typical reader in mind. For me, that reader was probably my mother; intelligent, young at heart, and bored to tears with predictable boy-meets-girl romances. But not someone who wanted to work too hard at a novel either – after all, reading is meant to be a pleasant pastime and not a chore. If she found herself making lists of who the characters were and how they fitted together then she knew it was time to give up on a book.

It’s one thing to recognise writing with a particular woman in mind but quite another to analyse how I write with women in mind generally. I am not an overly analytical author; I see myself as more of a storyteller, really. There’s a pressing urge to share the characters who populate my head and to make their stories so compelling that a reader will want to follow them to the end of the book – and miss them when they’ve finished reading it.

That’s probably the main way in which writing for women, by women, differs; the narrative is driven by the characters and not the action. We are generally so much more interested in other people than men are. You only have to think about the differences in the conversations men and women have on their nights out or around the water cooler to realise that.

Although a good half of The Faerie Tree is written from the point of view of a man, that man is necessarily filtered through the eyes of a woman and so will doubtless appear more credible to female readers than male. However much you watch men and try to see the world from their point of view, a woman writer can never write a man as a man would. Neither can a man create a 100% perfect female character.

That’s not a criticism – it’s a fact. I write about gay men, straight men, mothers, elderly ladies – I have been none of the above. But as a writer I have imagination and, I hope, keen listening and observation skills. As a woman I am fascinated by people and take time to understand them. It’s what we’re comfortable with – it’s what we do.

Here is a lovely photo of Jane and her Mother.



I'm delighted to say I'm reading the Faerie Tree right now - watch this space for my review as soon as I've finished reading it.

Order your copy now from Waterstones or through Matador's own website



Monday, 23 March 2015

Because she loves me - Mark Edwards - Mind blowing mess with your head stuff



From the blurb ....

When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.

But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping. Items go missing in his apartment. Somebody appears to be following him. And as misfortune and tragedy strike his friends and loved ones, Andrew is forced to confront the frightening truth.…

Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams—or the woman of his nightmares?


My thoughts ....

Definitely a five star read, this one! A completely compelling and totally terrifying tale of obsession and jealousy and how far one person will go to get the person of their dreams.

I read and really enjoyed Mark Edwards debut novel The Magpies when it was first released but this one blows it right out of the water. It's as tense and taut a psychological chiller as I've ever read, full of red herrings, great characters, and all the twists and turns us afficionados of the psychological thrills genre crave.

Told by Andrew Sumner whom we meet when he thinks he's had a bad time - he is leaving hospital after weeks of gruelling and worrying treatment on his eye following a detached retina. But things begin to look up for him when this leads to an inadvertent encounter with the enigmatic and beguiling Charlotte aka Charlie with whom he begins an intense affair and soon falls head over heels in love with.

Andrew is one of those lucky fellas whose life is filled with women, his best mate's a girl, he's close to his wheelhair bound sister Tilly, even her carer and his cleaner are young attractive women, and he has even managed to remain friends with a couple of his exes, but maybe this isn't as fortunate as at first it would seem as this triggers some insecurities in Charlie and the jealous side of her nature this reveals, worries him.

He has a right to be a worried man, if he thought things were going badly when he first had his eye complaint, he ain't seen NOTHIN' yet! Little things begin to ring alarm bells, someone seems to be stalking him and his friends, things go missing, and accidents begin to happen, all around him. But surely this can't have anything to do with Charlie? She's the woman of his dreams and he really loves her.

What happens is a nightmare and what at first seems to be a little run of bad luck builds to a crescendo of such proportions that his sanity and perhaps his very life are threatened.

What a mind blowing, mess with your head, chilling story this is. I loved it - right to the very last sentence. Bravo Mark Edwards you scared, thrilled and entertained me with your magnificent writing.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Lie - CL Taylor - tense and toxic


The blurb...

I know your name's not really Jane Hughes...

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She's happier than she's ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won't stop until they've destroyed Jane and everything she loves...

My thoughts

This exciting and fast paced chiller, focussing on toxic friendships, kept me glued to the storyline and turning the pages well into the night.

It's a dual time story, I DO love this kind of book, although the 2 storylines are set over a relatively short period, now, and 5 years ago. I must admit I liked the now part best of the 2 and wish there had been a little more of the storyline set in the present, but the main focus is on the past as there was so much going on, it gets quite frantic in some parts.

Take 4 girls, friends since university, all really different, all in their own ways flawed by their pasts and their own personality failings. Send them off on holiday together, to somewhere remote and frankly weird, and you're just asking for clashes and fallings out. But this goes far beyond a few arguments over the sun tan lotion, this leads to a terrible cataclysm, which none of them could have foreseen.

First we meet Jane who has a job she loves, working in an animal sanctuary, she has a great relationship with her fella and things are going well – but she hasn’t always been Jane, 5 years ago she was Emma and when she was Emma something happened which she just wants to forget about and move on – hence the name change, but someone won’t let sleeping dogs lie and she begins to be haunted by cruel texts and messages taunting her and threatening to blow her cozy world apart.

Back when she is Emma, her friends are Daisy, rich privileged, pretty Daisy who has always been there when Emma needs some moral support.

Al, recently broken up from a long term gay relationship, hurt and bitter.

And Leanne, part of this group of 4 girls, who Emma feels the least kinship with, bubbly and exciteable she can be rather pushy.

Ostensibly to help Al recover from her broken heart, the group plan a holiday and instead of their usual beach, booze and party shindig end up going to a mountain retreat in Nepal, only to discover that what should be the holiday of a lifetime begins to turn sour very rapidly.

It was extremely hard to warm to any of these women, I just kept thinking "Thank goodness they're not in my social group" there wasn't one of them I had much sympathy for, not even the main protagonist really I just wanted to give her a good shake to and ask her WHY for heavens sake, are you friends with these complete wasters? I think they all treated her and each other despicably, which formed the main point of the story but didn't sit easily with me. There’s a lot of bullying and sheer nastiness goes on and I'd have ditched each and every one of them before it got this far!


The storyline, however difficult to relate to, just kept me entertained and interested all the way through and I enjoyed this tense, dark, mysterious novel almost as much as the authors outstanding debut novel “The Accident”

Friday, 6 March 2015

Burnt paper sky - Gilly MacMillan - Excellent read


The Blurb

Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.

But what really happened that fateful afternoon?

Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?

The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Burnt Paper Sky is a gripping psychological thriller about a missing child and how the public can turn on a mother following a single, momentary mistake.


My thoughts

You make a tiny error of judgement which results in your 8 year old son going missing, does this make you a Bad Mother? The world begins to think so as Rachel struggles to cope with her beloved Bens disappearance on top of the stress of a broken marriage and family secrets which leak out to haunt her. Finding out who her friends are and are not leave her feeling desperate and isolated.

Jim Clemo the police officer in charge of the investigation around the missing child is stressed too, his new relationship with a young colleague is going well but he wants to conceal it from his superiors at work. We are treated to his story about the case as a series of interviews with a police psychologist following the event so we know something has left him badly shaken but is it the case itself or his own failings which have left him so affected he can no longer sleep?

We follow Mum Rachel's story as events happen, coping with the unthinkable, the loss of a child, alone without a husband to lean on she is barely keeping her head above water when the power of Social media steps in and in this high profile media case "Joe Public" seize on someone to vilify and blame and Racehl becomes a pariah overnight. Hounded by the press, the public crucifying her online and her friends and family begin to show their flaws too. With nobody to rely on but herself, she needs to find an inner strength to cope or go under. She never stoaps believing that Ben is still alive and it is this convction which keeps her going.


This is a very tense missing child thriller which will keep you on the edge of your seat, an extremely well written debut which grips and shakes the reader. For my own personal tastes there is a touch too much emphasis on the police side of the investigation but that is purely my own failing I just can't get away with detective stories, I'm certain many readers will find this adds to their enjoyment. An excellent read. My thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown Books for my advance copy.