Sunday, 29 September 2013

Special Guest Naty Matos - Novel: A Brother's Vow

Today we welcome a special guest on bookaholics - Christian author Naty Natos. Welcome Naty. It is a pleasure to have you a long and to get to know more about you. Naty's book, A brothers vow will be launched officially on 1st October but we are blessed to have a sneak peak today.

This drama filled novel deals with struggles of addiction, religiosity, grief, the power of family support and faith. This Contemporary Novel expresses the reality of spiritual warfare and sends a message of hope to even those in the direst situations. It is the story of Randall Benson whose seemingly perfect life becomes unravelled after a series of unfortunate events. After making a promise to his brother he has to make a choice, succumb to his past or keep everything he has worked so hard for. I am sure you will agree it sounds good. I love the idea of the inner conflict which always makes for a good novel.

I will now hand the floor over to Naty so we can get to know more.

The Turning Point 

If we look at life as a journey we will see that along the path we encounter many crossroads. Depending on the side we decide to walk when we encounter those forks on the road will determine how our journey will continue.

Making the right decision at those times can be quite challenging. We may feel external or internal pressures to pursue either side of the path. We have to always remember that at the end of the day it is us and only us who will either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits of our final decision.

I know that at the same time sometimes we sit at that fork, thinking that no decision is better than the wrong one. This cannot be further from the truth. Staying stagnant will always make us more miserable that any pain that we can encounter.

I once heard Joyce Meyers say, “You have to make the best decision with the information you have at the moment. Even if it’s the incorrect one God will give you Grace because he knew you were trying to do the best with what you knew” Those words have stayed with me for a long time and when I know that I need to make a decision, that may constitute a risk I remember these words. Obviously I research, seek counsel because I need that portion of the best information possible to assess the elements of my decision, but at the end of the day I have decisions to make to further my growth and to fulfill my purpose.

In my new book, “A Brother’s Vow” Randall has made a promise that he never thought he would need to fulfill. Then he’s face with having to make a life changing decision in order to fulfill it. Join my journey and find out if he did and if so how it turned out.

Naty also very graciously agreed to answer some questions for us:

What inspired you to write this book?

I am always inspired by the Parable of the Prodigal Son and that’s part of what inspired this story. There were times where decisions are clouded by condemnation or rebellion; so I decided to write a story from that standpoint.

 How did you come up with the title?
To be honest my first title was “My promise to keep” Because the story centers around a promise that Randall, the main character, makes to his twin brother Brian and the events that follow him trying to fulfill that promise. I found that there were too many books with that title already so I changed it to “A Brother’s Vow” as it is more fitting to theme in the book.

 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That no matter how far gone or deep in trouble we think we are, God always welcomes us with open arms and there’s always the chance for new beginnings.

 How much of the book is realistic?

Nothing, this is a pure work of fiction.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished “Waking up Married” by Mira Lynn Kelly a few weeks ago which I truly enjoyed. I’m about to start “Until Forever” by Darlene Shortridge

What are your current projects?
I have a powerful book on the subject of domestic violence titled, “Breaking Free” that is at the second draft revision and a Christmas romance novella, “Lost Love on Christmas Day” which is also at the second draft revision level. I’m hoping to be able to release those next year.

Many people who read this blog are writers. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never give up and keep on writing. Be open to correction and feedback.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Open yourselves to the opportunity of supporting indie authors. You will find that some traditionally published books are great and some are not; the same is true for the indie books. I have recently been watching some indie movies and found some great ones. It is time to open our minds to the concept that quality doesn’t always come behind a corporate label. Happy reading!

Thank you Naty, it has been a real pleasure to get to know more about both you and your books. I for one will be buying it and  I am sure many bookaholics readers will be as well. I wish you well for your launch on the 1st October. 

You can contact Naty in the following ways





Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Strangling on the Stage by Simon Brett - Crime, Mystery

As far as I am concerned Simon Brett is a legend in the field of mystery writing. His books have kept me on the edge of my seat or in tears of laughter for many years. When I was offered the chance of an advance review copy from the publisher I gratefully accepted - fast.

The Strangling on the Stage is the latest in the Fethering Mysteries, starring meddling pensioners Jude and Carole. Jude is a somewhat eccentric character and Carole reserved. Despite their differences they are the best of friends and a feisty pair of crime fighters. In this book they find themselves involved in the local amateur dramatic society. Needless to say their is a colourful cast of characters and one of them ends up dead, hanging from the noose of what should have been, a stage prop gallows. This is the cue for Jude and Carole to investigate.

I love the characterisation in this book. Despite it being a large cast Brett brings them all to life and it is easy to see them as individuals. Most of them are so loathsome I could have quite cheerfully have killed them myself. Others are endearing but have their own flaws. Jude and Carole continue to develop throughout the series and, as always, we get to know more about them. The interplay between the characters is the crux of this book and it is handled extremely well. So much so that I felt I was on the stage with them. The writing pulled me along at a cracking pace and I wanted to keep reading. If I say I received this book yesterday, and here I am reviewing it, this will tell you just how good it is.

This book will not be released until 31st October 2013 but I would recommend you pre-order or get your local library to place an order. This is a definite must read so do not miss out.

I was given a copy of this book by the publishers in return for a fair and honest review. This review is based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book.

If you have read any of Simon Brett's previous books you will love this one. If you have not read any of Simon's books previously then you need to rectify that immediately.

So what will this bookaholic pull out of the hat next for review. Find out soon here in bookaholics.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Chain of Flames by Tony Cleaver: Gripping Christian Fiction

It has been some time since I have read, or reviewed a Christian book so I thought it was time to rectify that. Today I bring you an excellent offering from Tony Cleaver.

Right from the first sentence this book pulled me in and kept me reading. This is the story of several different characters, all with their own inner demons and/or concerns. Their stories are told in he first half of the book and this can give it a disparate feel. However, Cleaver's, writing is such that I cared deeply about these characters and wanted to know where their stories were going. The characterisation is vivid giving a real sense that you know them intimately. This can be a slightly unsettling feeling which some of the more unsavoury characters.

About half way through the book the stories start to come together and the suspense and tension rose. Cleaver pulls the strands together expertly which made me wonder why I hadn't seen this before. The overall theme of the book is redemption and the way in which lives can be changed through an intimate relationship with God. This is a Christian book and the Christian message is strong. I loved this book and found myself reading it in a day. I would, therefore, highly recommend.

I was given a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. I was not asked to give a positive review and have done so based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book.

What is at the top of my reading list this time? Tune in next time and discover another great book ob Bookaholics

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

An Officer and A Spy by Robert Harris: Historical Legal Thriller

I don't often read historical books, preferring a contemporary setting, but I always make an exception for Robert Harris. It is some time since I have read one of his books so when I was offered the chance of an advance reader copy I accepted gratefully. Actually that is putting it mildly. I leapt at the chance.

This book is set in France at the turn of the 20th century. It is based on a true story where Alfred Dreyfuss, an officer in the French army is accused, tried and found guilty of being a spy. Some years later Georges Picquart, an officer involved in the case, finds evidence that this may not be the case. This simple premise hides a book which is more than absorbing. 

Harris writing has the ability to draw you into the story and transport you to the places of which he is speaking. I could hear the stomping of the horses feet, smell 19th Century Paris in the summer and felt like I was best friends with the characters. The characters are exquisitely drawn and each, whether bad or good, felt like real people. It was obvious a lot of work had gone into the research for this book.

Throughout the book Harris had me in the palm of his hand. The storyline is enthralling and urged me to keep reading. The twists and turns had me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I genuinely cared about all of the characters and what happened to them. That was the case for all the characters even if I was urging them to get their just deserts. These are the signs of a good book and this one is more than good, it is outstanding. It is some time since I have read a book which absorbed me so completely. This is a definite highly recommended.

That's it for now on bookaholics. My next book is waiting in the wings. Until next time find a good book and keep reading. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence by Roz Morris

Following the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival I am still immersed in all things writing. Therefore bookaholics brings you another book on writing. This is the second book I have bought in the Nail Your Novel series and I am glad to say that this book was a useful as the first Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life which I reviewed recently. Before you think I am turning into some sort of Roz Morris groupie, I have reviewed both because I think they are excellent books and well worth telling people about.

This book takes you through every aspect of novel writing from coming up with the first idea to publishing. Each step is carefully explained in a way which is helpful without being patronising. There are tips and tricks throughout the book and a number of exercises and games which will help you develop as a writer. These include some which can be used to overcome writers block. Whatever our feelings about games, sometimes it is useful to put our inhibitions aside and see what happens. Some of our best ideas come from this. I certainly intend to give them a go. 

Planning is covered as is writing the first draft. This then leads seamlessly to writing the second draft and editing. I particularly liked the section on the beat sheet which can help you to ensure everything in the novel is in the right place. The other section which stood out for me was that on writing the cover letter and synopsis. This is detailed and clear and cleared a lot of things up for me. I will be using this every time.

Although this book would be most useful for those starting their first novel it does not leave out authors whoa re further into the writing process. There are a number of sections on adapting the ideas for developing and polishing your book. Roz Morris herself is an experienced writer and she has used these techniques extensively. This means that they are tried, tested and proven. Therefore, this makes this another highly recommended book in the withers arsenal.

That's it for this week. I have a crime novel ready and waiting to be read so that's where I'm headed. Tune in soon for the review from the bookaholic.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival 2013 - The Novel Life of a Crime Writer

As many bookaholic readers may know I am Scottish and this weekend has seen the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival held in Stirling. For crime writers and readers this is the highlight of the literary year in Scotland. I have, therefore, spent the last two days immersed in all things crime and murder. 

I would like to start by thanking two very talented Scottish writers Alex Gray and Lin Anderson for firstly thinking of, and secondly setting up the Bloody Scotland festival. Alex Gray was also ran 'Opening Your Novel', one of the workshops at the Crime Writing Day. I was fortunate to be a delegate   and to have her look at, and give advice on, the opening of my novel. As all writers will know, every word counts in your book, but this is particularly important in the opening paragraph. Liam Murray Bell, another Scottish author, hosted a workshop on Point of View and how this can change the tone of your writing and your book. We then had an opportunity to play with points of view and see this in practice. 

The whole day was choc full of advice about writing and publishing novels. The main theme that came across in every session was be passionate about what you do rather than trying to follow a trend. Characterisation also cam across loud and clear. Crime writers, and I am sure other writers, should make sure that they know their characters and where they are going throughout a series. Everything else will fall into place once you have done this. 

I am now in danger of turning into some sort of Val McDermid groupie, or stalker. I went to hear her three times. She delivered the keynote speech at the Crime Writers Writers Day  and a had us hanging on to every word. The advice she gave was second to none but again this theme of passion came over loud and clear. She said "In order to be successful you need to really want to be a writer." No matter what is going on, or when you are able to do it, you must write. She also said "The heart of the book needs to be characters." Later that day I also went to hear her talk about her books. As well as being one of the most talented crime writers today, she is also extremely funny. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. her new book Cross and Burn is out on the 10th of October but we were fortunate to get advanced copies at the festival. Signed by Val herself of course. The link to the book is on the right hand side of the page if you want to pre-order. 

The session with Val McDermid and Stuart MacBride was also side splittingly funny. I felt sorry for the poor chap who was chairing the discussion as he couldn't get a word in edge ways. Still the hour flashed past and came to an end far too quickly. The question still remains as to who would play DI Steel in any movie adaptation of the book. I thought Val McDermid but she assured the audience that this would not be the case. Stuart MacBride did point out the changes in the Scottish Police which were causing problems for Crime Writers. He and I both. I was slightly thrilled and excited to know that Stuart MacBride and I had something in common as authors. I reviewed one of Stuart's books in a previous post. If you missed it here is the link for Close to the Bone

Just in case you feel I am favouring the Scottish authors here, I also went to hear Jo Nesbo speak. This was slightly more serious than the others but still interesting. Did you know he had been a footballer and a rock star before writing books. I didn't, but how interesting is that. He talked about his childhood and the impact of the Second World War on his family. He also talked about his books and in particular  The Snowman which is being made into a movie. I got shivers down my spine when he talked about writing the opening of this, and I've read the book. In fact it is sending shivers down my spine now. If you love crime and haven't read this, you need to. 

So that brings me to the end of my forty eight hour immersion in crime writing. I am exhausted but I remain bloody but unbowed. Tune in again soon for another rave review from the bookaholic. Until then get off the computer, pick up a book and keep reading. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life by Roz Morris

I have been busy editing my novel recently and one of the things I was keen to do was strengthen my characters. The book I bring to you this week has certainly helped me do that.

I have been following Roz Morris's writing blog and found it to be choc full of advice for writers. This led me to her books and this one in particular. What a find it turned out to be. This is a simple book but do not let this fool you that it is not good. I have read many books on writing and I would say this contains some of the best advice on writing characters of any of them. All characters are considered, main, minor and the supporting cast. Every aspect of characterisation is covered. These are supported with examples from fictional writers which serve to emphasise the points made. I particularly liked the chapter on the mistakes that novice writers make and in the interests of full disclosure have made a couple of them. Not any more though, I can now sort them out.

Each chapter ends with a section called for your toolbox. These are tips which re-emphasise the important points made in the chapter. The book concludes with some writing exercises, some of which are novel in the extreme. No pun intended. I certainly intend to try many of them out. If you want to lift your characters out of the humdrum and use them to give your book zing and tension then this is the book for you. It will help your characters to jump of the page and have your readers standing right beside them. I would consider this a recommended book in my arsenal.

The links for this book and the other book in the series Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish with Confidence are on the right of the page. The US link is to the Paperback but it is also available in kindle. I'm not allowed to put US kindle books on a British blog.

Tomorrow I am off to a crime writing workshop at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival. On Saturday I am going to hear several top crime writers including Scotland's own Val McDermid and Stuart McBride. So I will be steeped in crime and back with more murder and mayhem soon. Until then keep reading.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Fireproof by Alex Kava - Gripping Police Procedural

We're staying in the world of murder and mayhem this week in Bookaholics. Well it is my favourite genre.

I have read all the books in the Maggie O'Dell series and have loved them all. In this, the latest, offering, Maggie finds herself investigating a series of arson attacks. People are now dying in the attacks. As if she doesn't have enough on her plate Maggie is also being pursued by the press who want to make her a part of the story.

This is a well written book with an excellent storyline. However, I don't feel it has just as much of the on your seat tension, as previous books in the series. There are a couple of new characters introduced and I am hoping those are developed more fully in future books. I think I am getting more used to the characters in the series so I didn't feel I got to know much about them in this book.

As I say the storyline is good and kept me reading. This was what made it gripping. By the end I thought I had guessed the identity of the killer but I was then tugged in a different direction. The sign of a good story. Overall I would recommend this book. However if you have not read any of the previous books in this series it might be better to read some of the others first. This will give you a more rounded picture of the characters and help you to place things in context. Saying that, the book can be read as a standalone.

Similar books which you may also enjoy:

That's it from bookaholics today. I am already on to my next book so bookaholics will be back soon with another great review. Until then, pick up a good book and keep reading. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate #Romantic #Suspense

As regular readers of bookaholics will know I am not really a huge fan of romance but I do like the odd romantic suspense. I also liked the look of the blurb on this one so decided to give it a go. This more geared towards the romantic rather than the suspense end of the spectrum but that does not stop it from being a very good book.

Every so often a book will grab you and pull you in and this one very definitely falls into this category. My problem with romance books is that they can often be sickly sweet but Lisa Wingate has avoided that trap in this tale. The characters are real and remain so throughout the book. You get a tangible sense of the different types of people who live deep inside the woods and mountains of Texas and the way in which they live their lives. So much so that I could picture them perfectly. I could feel my emotions being pulled every which way as I rooted for each and every one of them. I loved the main characters Andrea, Mart and also the little girl. I cannot say too much about her without giving away the story but needless to say she is as well drawn as the others.

Lisa Wingate has an evocative writing style and paints a perfect picture of the natural beauty of the area. I could hear the call of the birds and feel the wind in my hair as I travelled across the lake by boat. This is a Christian book but the Christian message is subtle and does not overwhelm. It is skilfully weaves I to the story I. Order to support but not take over. This book could be enjoyed by Christians and non Christians alike.

This is the first book I have read by Lisa Wingate but it certainly won't be the last. I only downloaded it this morning and I have been reading it all day. It will not come as a surprise therefore that I highly recommend this book.

What awaits us on the full shelves of bookaholics. Tune in next time to find out. Until then, as always, keep reading.