Thursday, 24 September 2015

Book Review: The Jazz Files

I have a treat for you today my bookaholic friends. I am reviewing a rip roaring historical crime novel starring Poppy Denby.

This is the first in the Poppy Denby series and I am already looking forward to the next. Poppy is an engaging character, well rounded and full of life. I could imagine her perfectly. At the start of the book she has moved to London to look after her elderly aunt, Dot. Dot encourages her to apply for a job amd she soon finds herself working as a junior reporter at The Globe. When one of the reporters dies, Poppy sets ou to investigate. This leads to an excellent mystery which I found hard to put down. The story is well written amd the characters real and interesting. There is a good pace and this is maintained throughout the book. Overall, this is a well written mystery which I would highly recommend.

Find out more at Amazon UK

That's it for another bookaholic day. Who knows what book I will be reviewing next. Tune in to find out. Until then, keep reading.

Monday, 21 September 2015

All Together at CRT by Eleanor Watkins

Today on bookaholics we have a guest post by highly talented and prolific children's writer, Eleanor Watkins.

I spent the first part of this week at CRT (Christian Resources Together) at their annual retreat in Derbyshire, and I haven’t quite come down to earth again yet! My forty-third book, The Village, historical fiction for YA, was to be launched with Books to Treasure. It was my first time at CRT, and I’d rather expected it to be busy, bustling, and all about business, networking, making deals and selling goods. Serious business stuff!

How wrong could I have been! All of the above were happening, it was busy and often noisy, and hard work for the stall holders, staff and people behind the scenes. But along with all that, what stood out for me was the sense of excitement, expectancy, hope and sheer joy! Old friendships were reaffirmed, new friendships made, amazing coincidences discovered, interesting people met, inspiring experiences shared. We listened to some excellent speakers, applauded those who won awards in their particular fields, helped one another, prayed together, laughed a lot, sometimes shed a few tears.

Above all, there was the feeling that we, as Christians, however diverse our particular activities, were all part of a bigger whole, all on the same journey, sharing the same goals, eager to share the good news that there is light in this dark world. And that, for all of us, the foundation we all stand firm upon is the solid rock of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The last worship session, with a message from Rob Parsons, was special, and summed it up for me. With illustrations from his own family life, he reminded us that whoever we are, however high-flying or humble, we are precious. We are loved. We have a place in God’s Kingdom, and we have been brought to the Kingdom for such a time as this. The words of a well-known song adapted from an old hymn by Edward Mote, shown by Rob in a film clip of his 4-year old grandson singing in the street at a time when his mother was gravely ill, say it all:

‘ Christ alone, cornerstone,

Weak made strong, in the Saviour’s love,

Through the storm, he is Lord,

Lord of all.’

Can’t wait for next year’s CRT retreat!
Thank you Eleanor. Eleanor's latest book, The Village was launched at CRT.

You can find out more about Eleanor and her books on her Amazon Author Page

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Book Review: The Peace Garden by Fiona Veitch Smith

Good morning Bookaholics. I trust you are all well and enjoying whatever book you are reading. If you are looking for a new book then today I bring you a cracker of a crime thriller. 

This is a book on two levels. At its most basic it is about a young girl who sets out to investigate why plants are going missing in an English suburb. This seemingly simple premise leads to an exciting thriller which takes the reader on a roller coaster ride. It plays out in both England and South Africa. This is during the apartheid era and the depiction of life for black South Africans during this time is superb. The characters are well rounded and come across as real. The reader can almost palpably feel the anger emanating from Thabo, a young Black teenager. Natalie, the main character is also real and the reader sees her grow and develop throughout the book. 

The settings also play a large part in the book. They are beautifully drawn and the reader can imagine them perfectly. Veitch Smith contrasts them and then skillfully pulls them together. 

Fiona Veitch Smith is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading more from her. This is a book I can highly recommend.  You can buy it by clicking on the link below. 


So there we have it for another day Bookaholics. See you all back here soon. Until then, keep reading. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Village by Eleanor Watkins

Good morning bookaholics. Sorry I haven't been around lately. Life has been busy and I've been at 2 conferences. More about them later. In the meantime I have a review of a fabulous YA book for you..

The Village is set in an English Village during the time of the plague. It is seen from the viewpoint of three different children - Ellen, William and Sam. Each child is unique and I love the way we see the village and the effects of the Black Death through their different perspectives. The book is well researched and great attention paid to historical detail. However, do not be fooled into thinking that this is a dry book as it is not. The story is fascinating and kept me reading to find out what happens next. I genuinely could not put it down.

The attention to detail in this book is exquisite. At the top of each chapter there is a small illustration. This illustration is repeated on the page number. The icon is different for each character so emphasizes the character who is speaking in the particular chapter. I love this. It demonstrates that a great deal of thought has gone into it's production. All kudos to the publisher, Books to Treasure. 

This is a book which I can highly recommend. Children will love it and I am sure adults will too. 

Amazon UK The Village

Amazon USA The Village

There we have it for another week bookaholics.  See you back here soon.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review. At no time was I asked to provide a positive review. This is based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Writing Crossover Fiction

I have been listening to a lot of podcsts recently about both writing and marketing. A recurring theme is to understand your audience and write for them. Now to a great extent this is true, although some people may like multiple genres. When marketing your books this also holds true. 

Regular readers of this blog will know I write crime books. These are realistic and therefore deal with the seedier underbelly of Scotland. They pull no punches when it comes to description. The descriptions of the city are both real and factionalized. In other words they are as authentic as I can make them. 

Long before I heard this advice I had decided my target market was anyone who read crime books. Many people on here will know I am a Christian. Many Christian authors will only write for a Christian Market. My books are not Christian and contain no Christian themes. They have been written for the secular market. However, they have been written in a way which means they can be read by anyone. There is a fine dividing line when writing crossover crime fiction. The books need to be gritty and absorbing, whilst avoiding themes such as sex, or containing too many swear words. I feel I have managed the balance in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries.


Many people have asked me how I have managed to write a book about the police and criminals with no swear words. Especially since my books are definitely not cozy crime. I have made this issue a part of the books. Shona is totally against swearing and this is a recurring, if minor, theme. It leads to some comedic scenes and many readers have said they like this aspect of the book. It is also fun to write. 

That' sit for another week bookaholics. If you want to take a look at the books then you can do so by clicking on the links on the right. See you all back here soon. Until then, grab a good book and keep reading 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Shape of Books to Come

After all the high of publishing book two I am in the process of finishing off the first draft of my next book. Funnily enough it is number three in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. This has got me thinking of how we, as authors, shape our books. How do they come about. Well I can only speak for myself but this is how it goes for me.

To start with it is a bit like God in Genesis. Nothing exists. Not even a thought of what this could be about. Panic may set in. Then a few gentle tendrils of thoughts start to wind around the authors brain. These seem almost formless, like spectres, but slowly start to take shape and become more solid. After days, weeks or months there are enough of these to form a solid lump, like the clay in the image  above.

In writing the first draft the author makes this shapeless lump grow larger every day. It also starts to take on a loose shape. Something which is roughly recognisable and yet isn't.

Then comes the hard work. The part which makes the finished manuscript the beautiful finally displayed product at the end. This is the editing. The writer goes over and over the manuscript and the book becomes more recognisable each time. Finally the finished product will emerge and is ready to be baked (printed)  and put on display.

Whilst I am writing one book I often find myself thinking about ideas for the next book. I jot these down and by the time I come to write the book I have enough there to build on. I also have ideas for another series and am jotting things down about the next protagonist. My mind never seems to stop. 

This may seem simplistic but it is true. The feeling of forming, shaping and moulding a manuscript into a fully formed book is like no other. It is exciting at the start, it is hard work in the middle, and a mixture of relief and pure joy at the end. Being a writer is a heady experience. It is not all highs, but the moments of excitement and joy far outstrip the ones where you don't think you can write another word. I, and I am sure most other writers, think it is the best job in the world. 

Another writing blog my Bookaholic friends. However, I am reading an excellent book by Lin Anderson at the moment. I will be back soon with a review. Until then keep reading and writing. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Interview with Children's Writer Joey Paul

Today on the blog we welcome Children's Writer, Joey Paul. Today is the cover reveal for Joey's new book Dying Thoughts - Fourth Week. It is a pleasure to have you Joey. Thank you for answering the questions.

I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks Wendy. I’m 33, I live in the UK and I’m disabled. I’ve been writing since I was about thirteen, but stopped for a while and picked it up again when I was 19. I was first published at 22, and then at 28, I turned to indie publishing and released another story as an ebook. I love to write, love to read, and live with my best friend and her 10 year old daughter. I’m chronically ill with several medical conditions and use a wheelchair 90% of the time. I do love to get out and about and grab geocaches though, which is basically using expensive satellites to find Tupperware in the strangest of places!

You came to writing via a bit of a different route. What gave you the impetus to change careers to become a writer?
I'd always imagined that I'd become a doctor. From the age of five, I remember telling my parents that was what I was going to do. Obviously it didn’t work out! I went from school to college and lasted a term before my lung condition caused me to drop out. I decided that I would skip the learning and go straight into the working world. I got a proper job and worked in various positions before being hired at what would turn out to be my last traditional job. I worked there for about five months before I become sick with M.E and Fibromyalgia. I ended up going on long term sick and by the time I turned 19, I was medically retired. At the same time, I had to move back home because I couldn’t afford rent, and then went from there to live with a friend who’s parents would accept housing benefit. I was crushed at not being able to work, while also trying to juggle three chronic conditions. In the end, I decided that if I was going to be at home all the time, I was going to do something with my day. So, I grabbed a “book” I had written at thirteen, and tore it to pieces. I rewrote it several times and finally declared it finished. I then went on to write what would become my debut novel – Blackout – and was finished in ten days. The next book followed and it’s been like that ever since.

I know you’re a prolific writer. Can you give us a flavour of the books you have written?
I generally write in the young adult crime and mystery genre. I have seven books published, with my eighth coming up in a few weeks. Three of the books are part of a series, of which the next book will be the fourth. These also fall into the paranormal genre too. I’ve also written a general fiction young adult, a contemporary romance and two other crime and mystery books. They're usually all in the first person, or switching points of view, though one is third person. I like to tell the story from that angle so that the readers can see the world from the protagonist’s eyes.

I also have four other books completed, which will be released at the rate of one a year – which is my usual way – and I’m currently working on two more.

Are you able to tell us a bit about your next book without giving too much away?
My next book is the fourth in the Dying Thoughts series. They follow the life of Tara, who has a gift. She’s able to see the last moments of someone’s life when she touches something that belonged to them. She works as an informant with a local Detective Inspector, using her gift to provide him with clues as to who killed who and what evidence could be used to help catch them. She’s also solved a string of murders which everyone thought were deaths from natural causes. In this book, she’s faced with the possibility of not being able to save the person she’s closest to – her best friend, Kaolin. It’s a bit of an up and down story, and it allows for Tara to find new ways to use her gift.

Where do you get the inspiration for the books?

To be honest with you, life! I see things in my life that would make a good story. I see things in my friends and family’s lives that would make a good twist. I also have a very overactive imagination and it’s nice to be able to put it to some good use! I’ve always been a lover of crime books, and so writing my own seemed to make the most sense as it was something I am passionate about and find very interesting.

What draws you to writing YA Books?
I’ve been asked this before, and to be honest I don’t fully know. I think part of it is that when I wrote that first “book” – all 36 pages of it! I was a young adult reader. When I tore it apart and rewrote it, I was still technically a young adult reader. As time has gone past and I’ve grown older, I still find myself happier when I’m writing young adult. I don’t know if it’s because as an adult I have been fairly isolated because of my disability, and haven’t, therefore experienced as much “adult” life, or if it’s just because I'm comfortable in the young adult area now.

When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?
I read books from a wide variety of authors. I’ll read crime, mystery, romance, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy and more. Though my to-go genre in writing is crime and mystery, I do enjoy reading it a lot. It’s been the same way throughout my life. I still have young adult books on my goodreads 'to be read' list and I'll continue to dip in and out of genres. Now, if I had to pick just one book that was the best I’d ever read? That’s hard. I love the alphabet series by Sue Grafton, I love everything Harlan Coben has every written. I love Sophie Kinsella, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter and the list goes on and on! Those are only the mainstream names, I have a fair few indie authors I also love, Jana Petken, Brenda Perlin, Lindy Spencer, yourself, Jalpa Williby and Jan Raymond to name a few of those! I can’t just pick one!

Who would you say was your favourite character in any book you have read?

Now, this is slightly easier, I love Kinsey Millhone from the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. She’s just what I want to be when I grow up (though some would argue I already have!)

What is a writing day like for you?

A normal writing day for me begins in one of two settings. I'll either be in my office and therefore writing at my computer, or using my tablet and writing in bed or somewhere like a coffee shop. I spend the morning catching up on email, blog posts and any other admin duties and then focus on whichever book I’m working on that day. I write a chapter or two, before switching and writing two chapters of the other book. Some days I get four chapters done (though it’s rare!) and other days I barely get a page written. It really just does depend on my pain levels, my energy level and how much I’m inspired to continue the story.

If you could travel to any three countries in the world where would you go?
The Maldives, Australia and the USA.

Why these countries?

The Maldives, because when I started writing at thirteen, it was where I planned to go to spend my money from the book sales (never happened, but boy can I dream big!)

Australia, because it’s so far away, I have friends there I have never met and probably never will and it’s just something I would love to experience.

The USA, because while I’ve been before, there are other places I’d love to see, like Hawaii and more friends to visit!

If you ever have a day off from writing exciting books what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to go out geocaching! I try to do that at least twice a week, but I can’t go alone so I have to wait for when both B and I have a spare day or two. I recently went on an overnight stay away from home and we went on a long walk (I trundled in my chair!) and found a fair few geocaches. It was awesome!

Now that we are all excited about your next novel, when will it be available to buy?

The pre-order link for the ebook will be up on the 14th August and my hope is to release it at the end of August!