Guest Post Elaine Spires

It is my very great pleasure to host a guest post from author and actress Elaine Spires

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Meet Elaine:

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine spends her time between her homes in Essex and Five Islands, Antigua (W.I.).

Here Elaine tells us about ‘Writing About What You Know’

I know that there are authors who write about things they have no experience of and I praise them and salute their talent.  Included in these, of course, are sci-fi, fantasy and horror writers and there have been some outstandingly successful ones, such as J K Rowling, J R R Tolkein, H G Wells.  Is using initials only a prerequisite to writing in this genre?

I, however, have always found it much easier to write about what I know.  (Cop out!  I hear you shout?)  And my background is Travel and Tourism.  For twelve years I was a tour manager for a singles’ holiday operator.  I accompanied groups of singles holidaymakers to worldwide tourism destinations.  The smallest group I ever took was five plus myself to Luxor.  They were five of the nicest people you could have ever wished to meet and we have a really super time.  The biggest group was forty-five to Icmeler, Turkey and that was far too many.  Four days in and I still wasn’t sure if I’d seen everyone or knew who everyone was.  Strangely enough, though, this trip was remarkably problem-free.  The group fell into about five smaller groups – this tends to happen in most groups whatever their size – although one night we did all go into Marmaris en masse to Bar Street and that was a hoot!

As you can, perhaps, imagine, being a tour manager was fertile ground for book ideas and so after writing my first book, What’s Eating Me, I decided to write a trilogy about singles’ holidays and produced Singles’ Holiday, set in Antigua.  This was followed by Singles and Spice, which takes place in India’s Golden Triangle, Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and then Single All The Way, which unfolds in the snowy English countryside at Christmas.

All of the characters are fictitious as are the hotels and resorts in all three books, but the places the groups visit really exist.  So, in Singles’ Holiday, for example, the Mango Tree Resort doesn’t exist, but Hemingway’s Bar in St John’s does, so does Jolly Harbour and Shirley Heights.  And the same happens throughout the other two.  Sweet Lady, which tells the story of artist Eleanor West and her daughter Victoria who spend a winter in Antigua, follows the same pattern; real places but fictitious characters.  Holiday Reads and Holiday Reads 2 are short story collections set in places that I visited while I was working in tourism.

To me it makes sense to write about what I know.  Nothing annoys me more when I’m reading a book than when the writer has been sloppy, not done their research and there are glaring mistakes.  This tends not to happen if you’re comfortable and familiar with the setting and details.  I am a huge fan of Kathy Reichs, who was a forensic anthropologist and I just love the real touches in her books.  The same happens with John Grisham and the law.

I’ve recently read a book that took all my strength to finish, simply because of the mistakes in it. If writers are going to put in odd words of a foreign language they should always get a native or fluent speaker of that language to check what they are writing.  That way you avoid making your reader laugh for all the wrong reasons.  And in all the years I’ve travelled and lived abroad I have never come across ONE foreigner who uttered the phrase ‘It is, how you say?’  People just don’t speak like that!  Another mistake that gets me screaming is when a foreign character is speaking English and knows words such as sanctimonious or infrequent or distraction (I’ve just chosen three words at random here) but then needs to ask ‘It is, how you say?  Difícil, no?’  I’m sorry, but to me, that is ludicrous.

By writing about what you know you keep it real. That isn’t to say you can’t do your research and write a book on something you knew nothing about, but if you do that, make sure your research is thorough and at least get someone from that industry/sport/country/community/business/world to read it through and give it the all-clear.  That way you don’t leave yourself open to criticism from people like me!

You can find out more about Elaine here:

www.elainespires.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ElaineSpiresAuthor

http://www.twitter.com/ElaineSpires

Elaine’s Books 

‘What’s Eating Me’ What's eating me

Eileen Holloway is an obese mother of two, whose husband went out to see a man about a car one night and never came back, struggling to keep all the plates spinning.  But Eileen becomes a celebrity the day her mother puts her forward for Barbara’s Beautiful Bodies, a reality TV show which follows the journey of the seriously overweight as they are put on a rigid diet and exercise routine to change their lives for better and for ever. ‘What’s Eating Me’ looks at what happens to her once her journey to reach her target weight is over.

‘Sweet Lady’         sweet lady

The story with a couple of huge twists, where nothing is as it seems!  East London artist Eleanor West is holidaying in Antigua with her daughter Victoria before her latest summer exhibition.  When beach-bum Tyrone walks into their lives, nothing will ever be the same again.

The Singles’ Trilogy

‘Singles’ Holiday’

singles-holiday

Antigua, the Caribbean at its most luscious; cloudless, cobalt skies, silver sand, turquoise sea, and a group of total strangers, with just one thing in common: they’re single.  Some have come just to have a good holiday; some for something more.  Some will become lifelong friends; others just won’t get on.  But it is, perhaps, their tour manager Eve who has the biggest shocks of all as she takes care of her group through sunny days, boozy, balmy nights and a tropical storm as we get to know each group member, while they, in turn, get to know each other.

‘Singles and Spice’

singles-spice

A singles’ holiday to India’s Golden Triangle – Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur, tiger-spotting in Ranthambore, the noisy, crowded streets of Delhi – all go to make up a trip that is hot, humid and spicy. Eve Mitchell, Travel Together’s tour manager extraordinaire has a couple of familiar faces in her little group of travellers and others that she hasn’t met before; sexy man-eating pensioners, a compulsive over-eater, a constant whiner and a man with a personal problem. And there’s a big surprise awaiting someone -and Eve! – one morning at dawn. By the end of the tour, which sees our group travelling by plane, coach, rickshaw, train and elephant, she will know rather more about some of their innermost secrets than she’d like.

‘Single All The Way’

single_all_the_way

Travel Together Tour Manager Eve Mitchell is planning a quiet Christmas at home to rest and relax before an extra-special New Year. But she soon, very unexpectedly, finds herself in the depths of the Essex countryside looking after a singles’ group which contains some old, familiar faces and some pleasant – and not so pleasant – new ones. With its country walks, quizzes, disco and black-tie ball, the Christmas and Twixmas Break passes quickly, but just as they think it’s all over the plot takes a twist and we learn some dark secrets…

Short Story Collections

‘Holiday Reads’holiday-reads

Short stories for your sun-lounger – or wherever! Seven women, each with a different holiday problem. Meet, Olivia, who wishes she wasn’t on a tennis holiday; Estelle, alone on a cruise; Fiona who’s flying too close for comfort; Shelley, who shouldn’t have got involved with a foreigner; Alison who finds our her husband’s off on a cruise – but not with her!; Eloise who’s having a rotten time in Ibiza and Karla who’s desperate for her family holiday in Corfu to go well…

‘Holiday Reads 2’

holiday-reads-2

More quirky short-stories with a holiday theme for reading on the plane, on the beach or by the pool, your back garden on a sunny afternoon or curled up on the sofa if it’s raining.

Two Novellas

‘The Christmas Queen’ – in which we meet up with Eileen Holloway again. Her whole life through, Christmas for Eileen has always started with loads of work and preparation and ended in bitter disappointment, and involved huge amounts of energy and emotion along the way. But this year, although she knows it will be emotional, she’s determined things will be very different. This year she’s going to be a Christmas Queen…

‘Weak At The Knees’ – Estelle is out and about making her Valentine’s Day deliveries. What she discovers as she presents four very different women with an armful of flowers is a real eye-opener …

COMING SOON – THE BANJO – A trilogy set in Dagenham from 1950s – present day.

Ordinary Joe by Jon Teckman

Ordinary Joe

I was delighted to receive a copy of Jon Teckman’s ‘Ordinary Joe’ from Goodreads (www.goodreads.com). ‘Ordinary Joe’ was published by The Borough Press on 16th July 2015.

Joe West is a slightly too short, slightly too fat and slightly too balding Jewish accountant, so when he finds himself in bed with the glamorous Hollywood actress Olivia Finch he doesn’t know what’s hit him (literally at times!).

The opening sentence of ‘Ordinary Joe’ propels the reader straight into a madcap narrative that maintains its pace and attraction from beginning to end. The writing is witty and engaging so that I found myself sniggering and laughing aloud on many occasions. The plot twists along with some real surprises along the way. I thought the style was assured and well maintained throughout.

Although the central character, Joe, has committed an act of adultery for which he cannot be forgiven in my view, he is presented with such skill that I had to sympathise with him, even when I felt frustrated with him as he tried to cover his tracks and spiraled himself into greater and greater lies and difficulties. He is, however, frequently self-deprecating and directs humour at himself so that he feels like a real person rather than a character in a book. The first person narrative style is so natural it is as if a friend is recounting the events.

Scenarios are vividly described making them easy to picture. Without wishing to reveal the plot, I loved the moment, for example, when Joe finds himself in a counselling session with his belligerent work colleague Joseph Bennett.

Jon Teckman’s ‘Ordinary Joe’ will appeal to anyone who wants a well plotted, well written and highly entertaining read. It put me in mind of the classic comedies of British television like ‘Dad’s Army’ or Morecambe and Wise.

If you don’t get around to reading ‘Ordinary Joe’ then I have one piece of advice – be careful what socks you wear. And if you do read it, you’ll know exactly what I mean!

Author Interview James Silvester

Escape to Perdition

I recently read ‘Escape to Perdition’, the debut novel by James Silvester, and was so impressed by the quality of writing I was cheeky enough to ask James if he would be interviewed for my blog. He kindly agreed.

Hello James, and welcome to Linda’s Book Bag.

Hello! Thanks for having me!

‘Escape to Perdition’ is your first novel. Please can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

The inspiration came from being in love with these countries and finding their history absolutely fascinating! It does annoy me that Prague these days is more known as that place Stags go to throw up in and Slovakia is so often confused with Slovenia. The history of the region is so important and I wanted people to know about it. People forget, but the Velvet Revolution was the catalyst for the collapse of the Soviet Union and I wanted people to see that, in the right circumstances, the region could be a catalyst again.

How much time did you have to spend researching the background to ‘Escape to Perdition’ and how did you go about it?

Quite a bit, but it’s time I enjoyed spending. I actually first learned about the Prague Spring in school. There’s a bit in the book when Peter tells Herbert of his old school classes, learning about the Spring and the Velvet Revolution and those are actually my own memories of my history classes. I’ve also taken full advantage of being married to someone from the region; being able to talk to real people who lived through some of these events has been invaluable. To fill in some gaps I’d spend time scouring the internet for official records and the like. I’m a bit of a history geek so I loved doing that.

I found reading ‘Escape to Perdition’ quite disturbing as it reveals the murky underworld of officialdom. Was that your intention, or were you more interested in showing the character of the protagonist Peter Lowe?

Both (if that’s not too much of a cop out answer). I very much wanted it to be character driven; I get a bit bored of spy films where protagonists can walk through explosions, sleep with a multitude of partners, kill two dozen bad guys and saunter nonchalantly home without so much as a second glance. I wanted something where the enormity of what is typically portrayed as a simple act, like killing someone, actually had an impact on the killer. I mean, it must be a hellish experience, to commit murder and live with it. Sooner or later a job like that must take its toll on the perpetrator, however strong they think themselves to be and however noble they feel their intentions are. But I also wanted to see Peter’s other layers; his job and his reaction to it dominates his life, but he’s trying, in his way, to have a normal life too, even if just with his music and his few friends. Ultimately those attempts to cling onto normality are futile of course.

As for the unpleasantness of officialdom, I think that’s my reaction to the hypocrisy of real life politics. As a child, things are pretty black and white, there are goodies and baddies, but as you get older you realise the lines are blurred and there’s not much our beloved leaders, from all Parties, won’t do to protect their interests.

Peter Lowe is a flawed character with a love of drink and jazz. I notice your biography says you were once a DJ. How much of you is there in Peter’s character?

I haven’t killed anyone yet. There are bits and pieces in there, I think. We share a love of the same music and, like him, I first really got into it during a difficult personal time. We all have our dark moments in life (and our bright ones, thankfully), and I think that the ‘moody, blues loving loner’, is probably me at my worst. I’d like to think I’m generally more agreeable than Peter, for the most part.

(He certainly looks it!)

James Silvester photo

What do you think might happen in Czechoslovakia in the future?

Interesting. Again the cop out answer is ‘I don’t know’, but I have a gut feeling that one day the boundaries will change again. For as long as I’ve been travelling there I haven’t come across any great burning desire to reunify, however almost as soon as I finished writing the book I found out about a new movement with that precise aim. I believe they are trying to seek cross party support for a referendum on reunification in 2018, which would be absolutely fascinating to observe!

What are your writing routines and what do you find easiest and most difficult about the writing process?

I wish they were a lot more routine than they are! I have a day job and a young family so actually getting the time to write can be a miracle. I started writing Escape to Perdition in my lunch breaks at work and as it developed I’d write in the evenings and late at night. The most annoying parts of the process, for me, would be when I’d actually managed to plan out some civilised writing time, sit down, open my laptop and nothing would come. Or else, I’d be at some kid’s birthday party trying to stop my three year old from hurling herself from the top of the ‘big kids’ slide and be hit with a sudden moment of inspiration I couldn’t write down. Writing is like a drug; once you start you can’t stop, but it’s probably not very good for one’s health…

You chose to publish with an independent publisher, Urbane Publications, why did you choose them and what was the process like?

I went with them because of Matthew and his truly unique approach. I was aware of writers for mainstream publishers often being treated like cattle on an abattoir conveyor, but Matthew’s genuine interest in and care for my project was palpable. The process has been a joy and has felt, at least to me, like a genuine partnership. We discussed retitling the book to better position it from an SEO perspective (stuff I wouldn’t have even thought of) and his comments on the script were always intelligent and considered. I really can’t speak highly enough of Urbane and would encourage any writer to make Matthew their first port of call.

(Urbane Publications can be found at https://urbanepublications.com/)

As a wannabe Doctor to replace Peter Capaldi, a Manchester City fan and an emerging writer, if you could only choose one of those for future success, which would it be and why?

Matthew Smith is a Gillingham fan and has never forgiven Man City for beating them in the 1999 play off final, so it’s probably better for my writing career if I don’t choose that one! I would dearly, dearly love to be the Doctor, but hand on heart I want to make it as a writer. At the risk of sounding pretentious it just feels ‘right’, and holding your own book makes you hungry for more. Plus, if I can’t be the Doctor, who’s to say I can’t write for the show one day!

What are you currently writing and will there be a sequel to ‘Escape to Perdition’?

I have a few things sketched out to keep me busy for the next few centuries, one way or another. I have outlines for a dystopian thriller and a contemporary horror story which I’d like to get down on paper in the next couple of years. There’s also a political comedy I’d love to have a bash at, tentatively titled, ‘The Forward Halt of Michael Disraeli’.

As for a sequel, I suspect whether or not it sees the light of day will depend on how ‘Escape to Perdition’ is received, but I’m hugely focussed on writing it now. I’ve had a couple of conflicting thoughts, but essentially, ‘Escape’ is the middle part of a trilogy and the sequel will raise the stakes considerably. We’ll find out more about The Child and his motivations and see how Mirushka is driving the country. We’re coming up to the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring and the sequel will have a storyline to match that momentous event. I very much hope there’ll be an appetite for it and it will see print one day. Watch this space…

Other than ‘Escape to Perdition’, which other book do you wish you had written?

‘1984’ and ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. ‘1984’ still unsettles me to this day and remains as frighteningly relevant as ever it was. It amazes me that we, as a people, still seem intent on sleep walking into that nightmare, oblivious to the daily erosion of liberties that has haunted us for decades. And I’d love to be responsible for the adventures of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, what an absolute masterpiece.

What do you like to read when you’re not writing or trying to educate your children about music?

Will you shout at me if I give another cop out answer? I have a genuinely eclectic taste, but I’m a particular fan of the ‘Sharpe’ series by Bernard Cornwell, as well as Ian Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle. Mary Shelley wrote my favourite novel of all time, in ‘Frankenstein’ and I adore ‘King Rat’ by James Clavell, a very moving book I’d urge you to read. Recently I’ve been catching up with my Urbane colleagues. I read ‘Close of Play’ recently (loved it) and A Barrowboy’s ‘Cadenza’ is next.

James, thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

If readers would like to see what I thought to ‘Escape to Perdition’, you can read my review here:

https://lindasbookbag.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/escape-to-perdition-by-james-silvester/

James’ novel is available from Urbane Publications or Amazon

http://urbanepublications.com/product/escape-to-perdition-print/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Perdition-James-Silvester/dp/1909273791

Escape to Perdition by James Silvester

Escape to Perdition

I am extremely grateful to Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for a copy of ‘Escape to Perdition’ by James Silvester in return for an honest review.

In modern day Prague, the intrigues and machinations of the past and the Velvet Revolution still reverberate. As reunification between the Czech and Slovak republics looks increasingly likely, it is difficult to know whom to trust and just who is in charge. Peter Lowe is equally as duplicitous as those controlling him and as his missions become increasingly difficult and personal, his own life starts to spiral from his control.

Initially I wasn’t sure I was going to like ‘Escape to Perdition’ as I found tuning in to the unfamiliar political setting took a couple of chapters. I wanted to research names and details to see what was based in fact and what was fiction. However, James Silvester writes with a skill that draws in the reader and it soon didn’t matter where fact and fiction were blurred because what I had in front of me was excellent storytelling.

The plot is scarily plausible and disturbing, with twists that leave the reader reeling right up to the end when the title of the novel finally becomes fully clear. Having recently visited Prague, I wish I’d read ‘Escape to Perdition’ first to give me an added layer of perspective and I enjoyed picturing some of the settings used that are so evocatively presented. I also think James Silvester has incredible skill in portraying the rawness of emotion for his characters.

With Peter Lowe as a murderous political puppet, he initially seems little more than a drunk rueing his past, but as the narrative progresses the reader begins to feel he is a man ‘more sinned against than sinning’ and to empathise with him as someone of deep emotions and complexities. Without spoiling the plot, I was reduced to tears by Peter’s role towards the end of the novel.

Although I’m not sure if I enjoyed ‘Escape to Perdition’ as its themes are too true to life in dealing with love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, guilt and redemption so that I found it quite disturbing and unsettling, I also found it a totally absorbing read. At times I felt almost complicit in actions I wouldn’t like to be part of and this is down to the clever intensity of the writing. However, I’m so glad I’ve read it, even if it has caused me to question the balance of power in modern day Europe and to wonder what may really be going on behind the scenes.

Readers who enjoy intelligently written, tautly plotted and disturbingly executed political thrillers will love ‘Escape to Perdition’ and may well find themselves affected by it as did I.

‘Escape to Perdition’ is available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book editions

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Perdition-James-Silvester/dp/1909273791

It can also be obtained direct from the publisher

http://urbanepublications.com/product/escape-to-perdition-print/

What Happens In Cornwall by T A Williams

New Book Out Now

TAWIlliams-Cornwall-RDBBanner

I’m delighted to be able to bring you ‘What Happens In Cornwall’ by T A Williams as part of Bliss Book Promotions. ‘What Happens in Cornwall’ is out today, 20th July 2015, from Carina UK.

I’ll be reviewing the book here on my blog on 27th July – it’s a great read and you can win an e-copy and read a couple of extracts below.

‘What Happens in Cornwall’ 

For a very British summer holiday…

When archaeologist Sam realises her relationship is as dead as the skeletons she’s exhuming, she knows it’s time to make a change. But with bills to pay her options are limited…until a discovery on Rock Island in Cornwall gives her a reason to escape…

Head to the Cornish coast!

In Cornwall, questions are thrown up at every turn: who is the glamorous owner of Rock Island that the paparazzi are so interested in? How has the irresistible, but impossibly arrogant, history professor James Courtney managed to get so far under Sam’s skin? And will it ever stop raining so Sam can lose the cagoule and sip a cool drink in the sun? One thing’s for sure: there’s never been a holiday quite like this one!

Enjoy a summer of surprises and romance with What Happens in Cornwall…, the perfect retreat for fans of Fern Britton.

What happens in Cornwall

Read an extract where we meet Miles Vernon for the first time: 

At nine-thirty on the Sunday evening, fortified by a large glass of Chardonnay each and bearing a bottle of Rioja as an offering, they turned up at the party. It wasn’t in a scruffy terraced house in the heart of student town, but in a fine Georgian villa, high on the hill above the university, with a terrific view across the historic city. Even more surprising was the fact that the music was provided, not by a tattooed DJ with an earring and a couple of battered loudspeakers, but by a string quartet set up under a pergola of exquisite white roses. As they rounded the side of the house and took in the scene, both of them stopped dead in astonishment. They glanced at each other, the same thought on both their minds.

‘Bugger! We should have dressed up.’ Sam looked down at her shorts and regretted her decision not to go with a dress. Beside her, Becky was doing her best to tug her very short skirt down to her knees without baring her bottom.

‘There’s something about Bach, isn’t there?’

They turned towards the voice. It emanated from a tall man, probably in his early forties, with a patrician accent and immaculately styled long brown hair. He was wearing jeans and a plain white shirt. Samantha began to feel a bit less conspicuous about her choice of clothes. He smiled down at them. ‘Miles Vernon, Professor Miles Vernon. And you are?’ He held out his hand.

He was very good-looking and he knew it. Sam read the interest in his eyes, but she took a surreptitious step backwards, definitely not attracted to him and keen to avoid his getting the wrong idea. At the same time, she didn’t want to appear rude to a professor, even if his was a new name to her. But she needn’t have worried. Before she had time to extend her own hand, Becky had grasped his with both hands and was pumping it up and down. She beamed up at him. ‘Hello, Professor Vernon. I’m Becky and this is Samantha. We’re PhD students in the Archaeology department.’ She paused, then added for clarification, ‘At the university.’

Sam had a hard job restraining herself from giggling. Miles Vernon probably didn’t realise just how close he was to having his clothes ripped off him, Viking-style. You didn’t need a PhD to see the ‘target acquired’ look in Becky’s eyes. Sam waited until Becky had reluctantly released him and then shook hands with him in her turn. ‘Good evening. Is this your lovely house? Is this your party?’

He smiled at her, exposing a set of immaculate white teeth as he did so. ‘Good evening, Samantha.’ He pronounced it ‘Sementha’ and she repressed a shudder. ‘The answers are yes and yes. The house is indeed mine, and I thought I should do something for all my new friends at the university.’

Now find out why Sam never wants to be a passenger with Virginia again!

Virginia successfully backed the car into the parking space at the third attempt and turned off the engine. Samantha, beside her, breathed out deeply. She was still alive. Slowly, she unclenched her fingers from the seatbelt. She had never been driven by Virginia before and if it never happened again, that would be too soon. The journey down the busy A38 trunk road had been a succession of near misses and near death experiences. Driving without due care and attention didn’t even begin to describe it. When they had crossed into Cornwall and embarked upon the ever narrower lanes, Sam had genuinely expected death to come at them around every corner. Throughout the whole trip Virginia had kept up a non-stop chatter about the prospect of exploring Rock Island. Understandably she was excited at the thought of going to the island, but it was to the exclusion of all else, road safety in particular.

They climbed out of the car, Sam managing to resist the temptation to throw herself to the ground and kiss the tarmac under her feet. Instead, she took a few deep breaths, dried her palms on her jeans, and looked around. One unexpected side effect of having the fear of death put in her was that she found that she was experiencing life with total clarity, and she looked around with interest. The car park was halfway down the hill leading into Tregossick and the view across the bay to the island was as clear as a bell after all the rain. Sam glanced at her watch and was pleased to see it was just before three o’clock as arranged.

From the moment they left the shelter of the car, they were assailed by the twin noises of seabirds wheeling overhead and the regular crump of waves against the beach. While Virginia went off to get the parking ticket, Sam had time to look around. The car park was almost full and most of the cars had roof racks for surf boards. A quick glance down to the beach showed that the waves had enticed quite a number of wetsuited figures into the water with their boards.

You can buy ‘What happens in Cornwall’ here:

Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00YUTHNNY

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YUTHNNY

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-happens-in-cornwall-t-a-williams/1122082544?ean=9781474036580

Meet the author T A Williams:

TAWilliams

Firstly, my name isn’t T A. It’s Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.

If you would like to find out more about Trevor (T A) Williams here are some links:

Website: http://www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/GRTAWilliams

Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/T-A-Williams/e/B00FDVNVMA/

Win an e-copy of ‘What Happens in Cornwall’ by T A Williams

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c48fa52738/?

There are some reviews here on Goodreads, but pop back on 27th to see what I thought.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25672068-what-happens-in-cornwall

 

The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas

The Olive Branch

My enormous thanks to Frances Gough at Headline and to Bookbridgr for a review copy of ‘The Olive Branch’ by Jo Thomas which was published on 2nd July 2015 by Headline Review.

Having just split up from her partner Ed, Ruthie Collins accidentally buys a house in Italy on Ebay. When she arrives to take up residence she finds herself unwelcome and in the middle of a long standing family feud. Trying to be accepted and not run home to live on her mother’s sofa ‘leap before you look’ Ruthie has a lot to learn.

I loved ‘The Olive Branch’ which was a real relief as I’d also adored Jo Thomas’ first novel ‘The Oyster Catcher’ and it’s always a worry that the next book might not match up. It certainly did.

There is a great plot to the novel with several really absorbing twists along the way to keep the reader guessing until the end. Fast paced, the writing style is vivid, lively and engaging as Jo Thomas manages to combine humour and emotion with flawless storytelling. Her descriptions are wonderfully evocative and there is appeal for all the senses, not least taste when she describes some fabulous food, in her writing. Reading ‘The Olive Branch’ certainly made me hungry. I could envisage the writing translating very effectively into a TV or film production.

Characters are warm, human and varied giving a broad range for all readers to empathise with, love, hate or dislike. I found Daphne very amusing but you’ll have to read the novel to find out why!

The title has several meanings both in the literal sense of a physical olive branch and its more intangible one representing peace and reconciliation and it is this level of attention to detail that lifts Jo Thomas book out of the merely good to outstanding.

If you enjoy feel good fiction that will lift your mood and be totally entertaining then I heartily recommend ‘The Olive Branch’. The book is beautifully romantic and just what is needed in a suitcase for a holiday read.

Each and Every One by Rachael English

Each and every one

I was delighted to receive a copy of ‘Each and Every One’ from Rachael English in return for an honest review. ‘Each and Every One’ is published by Orion and is out in paperback on 16th July.

Gus Shine has had a successful career and carried the financial burden of his four children far longer than he should. With his business finally failing in the Irish recession and his own errors of investment, it’s time for his offspring to accept responsibility for their own lives – and their own spending. After years of profligacy this isn’t easy.

‘Each and Every One’ is a very cleverly crafted book because, although it focuses on one family, Rachael English manages to paint a highly accurate picture of life in all levels of society during the recession. She also explores what family relationships are like in a way that so many readers will recognise and I think some parents of 30-something children may want to get them a copy of ‘Each and Every One’ as soon as possible!

I particularly liked the writing style with the variety of structure and the way in which each chapter ended with a hook for reading that would be picked up later. Rachael English’s journalistic background gives a real depth and assurance to the writing, especially with regard to Tara, making the story totally convincing. There are uncomfortable echoes of stories we all know and when the Shine family find themselves making the news, rather than reporting it, the reader is touched by their predicament.

Initially, I didn’t warm to all of the characters and felt there were too many to start with, but this feeling dissipated the more I read until I even had sympathy for the totally spoilt Vee and the ridiculously pompous Damian. However, it was eight year old Ben whom I found most heart warming and realistic as he reminded me of underprivileged youngsters I’ve taught.

I hadn’t discovered Rachael English before but feel she is joining that established tradition of female Irish writers I already love and I recommend others new to her work to read ‘Each and Every One’.