Friday, 19 August 2016

Book Review - The Loving Husband

What they say:

For fans of Apple Tree Yard and The Silent Wife, The Loving Husband draws readers into a marriage where nothing is as it seems...
For better, for worse, to love and to cherish, till death us do part...

Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start.

But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control.

What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

What I say: 

I just finished reading this novel and decided there were only two reasons I read it to the end. One, because I was given the copy via Net Galley for my honest opinion and two because I wanted to know how the author was going to end what I thought was a convoluted yet annoying plot.

I don't read many thrillers but for me this one was not up there with some I've found really entertaining reading. As I've seen some three to five star reviews for this book out there, I must have to conclude that this one was not for me.

Firstly I felt nothing for the main protagonist, Fran, but annoyance. Fran's reaction to the discovery she makes about her husband in the first few pages didn't ring true and the constant need for the author to refuse to let her complete a sentence until very late in the book made it hard for me to get a sense of who this woman was, what she felt and what made her tick.

As far as supporting characters went, I found some of them cliched in the way they spoke and were described. Some of them I believed but I was not convinced by the character 'whodunnit' at all.

I'm one of these people who sits and watches films and notices when someone has a full cup of tea in one shot and has finished it in the next and by the end of the same scene there was no cup at all. I mention that because on a few occasions there were these little inconsistencies that just added to my annoyance.

To mention some of the bigger things that either didn't ring true or were far fetched would be to add spoilers so I can't say more on those.

Mostly the pace was too slow for me except for the ending which I whizzed through because the intrigue built quite well.

If you choose to read this book, you will enjoy the author's use of POV and time. But beware because Kent sometimes moves from past to present quite rapidly, blink and you'll miss it. I did like that touch as well as the way we saw through Fran and Ali's eyes - neatly done. You will also enjoy the strength behind Kent's ability to describe settings.

But in my honest opinion this is not the best thriller you are likely to read.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Book Review - Behind Closed Doors

What They Say:
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

What I Say: 
Every now and again I can't resist reading a book that everyone is raving on about and, because the price was down on this one, I thought I'd give it a try. Sadly I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the end, though. I read it quite quickly partly to get it over and done with and because behind the unbelievable and improbable plot lines there was a decent enough story that did have me intrigued.

I did like the writer's style which was easy, well paced and relatively light reading. I did enjoy the fact that the writer kept you guessing. So although you were expecting everything to resolve itself and for the victim to finally escape her fate, you couldn't guarantee that she would.

I liked the characters at first. They seemed to be well rounded but the leading male seemed to have me less and less propelled to believe his charming on the outside but psychopathic on the inside nature and the back story of how he became the way he was seemed an easy option to take and did little to build the tension as I'd heard it all before. Maybe that is unfair to say because after all what makes a person a psychopath? I suppose I just wish the author's take on it had been a little more original.

That said, I also stopped believing in the main protagonist because for an intelligent woman I can't believe that she was taken in by this man.

The supporting characters were convincing and went a long way to improving my involvement in the story.

All in all I would not discourage anyone from reading this book but in my opinion I think this debut is overrated - but that happens quite a lot doesn't it? I bet this will be a block buster film next year :)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Writing Competitions and Thick Skins!

Recently I found myself rushing to meet deadlines in order to enter some writing competitions that I'd earmarked. I'd entered a few in the past and, apart from one Highly Commended for a short story, I have never won or made the short list - until today!

This is my celebratory post and a pat on my own back for having my second novel, When Skies Are Grey, make the long list for the SI Leeds Literary Prize for 2016! I'm extremely proud and excited, I can't stop smiling to myself.
I'd vowed to knock the competition entering on the head after these recent entries because I need to concentrate on all the writing projects I have in the pipelines or on the go. Only recently I was asked to ghost write a memoir, and you may remember I'm planning to write a book series under my pseudonym. I'm up to my eyes in word counts!

But since making the long list I feel like a writing competition Ninja - I'm going to enter everything! - Well, not really. I'm sure the feeling will pass. I mean apart from all the above mentioned writing projects, every time I didn't make the cut as far as prizes went, I felt hurt. I still don't have a thick enough skin to handle rejection like a Ninja would. It takes a while to get over the disappointment, I'm afraid. So I'm going to revel in the fact that, for once, I don't have to pull myself together and self help myself into believing I can still write after a panel of judges didn't pick my story.

The short list has yet to be announced. I just hope I can survive the nerves until the end of September. I'll be buying an extra supply of moisturiser in case I need it for all that extra thick skin.

I'm keeping everything crossed until then but making the long list has meant a whole lot to me.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Summer Reading

I'm looking for inspiration. I'm after my next read and I'm not quite sure what it should be.

After finishing my last book, a pretty average novel called A Year Of Being Single,

I was on the look out for something to really get my teeth into.

I read through all the samples that had been sitting on my Kindle for ages (neglected because I had a lot writing and writing jobs on the go) and ended up deleting most of them. On a second look at the descriptions, I wasn't convinced I'd like them after all.

Waiting to be read on my Kindle I have a mixture of literary fiction, thrillers, women's fiction, romantic comedies and books that tell me how to market my own books on Amazon. A word of warning, I've never bought a single book from Amazon that ever helped me crack the world of book marketing so for now I'm sticking to fiction!

So what will it be? In contention there is:

Jill Mansell - You And Me, Always

Laura Barnett - The Versions of Us

and Amulya Malladi - A House For Happy Mothers

If you've read any of these, please let me know. I've got a long train journey ahead this weekend and that just calls for a good read doesn't it?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Never Ending Journey

It's amazing, isn't it, the tracks of our journey we leave behind that lead others to finding us. Two years ago, when Holding Paradise was first published, I wrote this article on Books By Women and since the article's publication I was in contact with quite a few inspirational women writers and I also received lots of comments from other writers, telling me that I had inspired them!

Isn't that amazing?

Especially when I think back to the start of my writing journey and of how I'd hoped it would pan out. Admittedly, it hasn't worked out the way I'd intended but that didn't mean I stopped writing.

The article I wrote (see link above) was called Squeezing It All In - Making Time For Your Passions so no prizes for guessing how that related to my writing journey. As I said, the journey was a little different than anticipated and it was a lovely comment I received this morning, two years after publishing the article, that put a huge smile on my face.

Although I have not published another book in my name since Holding Paradise, I have gone on to publish two books under a pseudonym, both have gotten into the top 100 on the Amazon Sales Ranks, getting as high as #5 in one category. I've ghost written several books and novelllas, and though I relinquish any rights over them once they are published, I know that at least one became a bestseller on Amazon, too.

And while I was squeezing in the above, I was still having a life and being part of a family and, not to mention, writing two more titles under my own name.

So what of the Fran Clark journey? Is she still an inspiration? And why does she speak of herself in the third person in this paragraph?!

Well, the journey continues and one day the track will show itself in the form of the novel I have bubbling at the back of my mind somewhere, in amongst all the other things I'm still trying to squeeze in!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Now That I've Written My Second Book...

What Next?

On the subject of my second novel, When Skies Are Grey, I thought I'd finished writing it last year. But after sending it out to a bunch of agents and having a few beta readers on board, it didn't look like it really was - it needed more.  I wasn't discouraged, I still have a lot of faith in the story so I went in for another re-draft. And I really think I've nailed it this time *she says with fingers crossed and a furrowed brow*

I haven't drafted up another list of agents quite yet. Firstly I've entered my novel into a competition and now it's a waiting game to see how I fair.

And while I know there are probably a few billion other writers hoping for some good news on the competition front, it doesn't hurt to hopeful.
I'll eventually get round to drawing up a fresh list of agents but, in the meantime, I'll keep on writing and keep on thinking up ways to market my book.

What do you do in between writing projects? Do you take a break or get straight into drafting your next book? Do you feel drained after you've written those two magic words THE END?

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Book Review - Baby Doll

I recently finished this review copy from NetGalley and wanted to share my opinion on Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
They Say:
Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she's been locked away from the outside world. During that time she's changed from a girl into a woman. She's had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know - to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend - and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily's perfect life as a teenager doesn't exist any more. Since she's been gone, her family's lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade. 

I thought:

I was taken in by the description of this book and I have to say it started with great promise. I was sucked in straight away and looked forward to picking it up each day to see what came next. But that thrill only lasted until what should have been an exciting climactic ending. Sadly, for me, that did not happen. The book should have ended a good twenty or so pages before it did. Instead I was faced with a drawn out few chapters of what happened to everyone once the ‘big thing’ happened. I prefer to have a quicker resolution after the big build up, quite frankly. I don’t want to wait ages before I can have my cigarette.
This book is described as Adult Fiction, but given some of the language and how the story itself pans out I would imagine this would be suited to the YA/Thriller genre if such a category existed.
As this was a galley version of the book I’m hoping that the editor takes another look at this as there were a couple of times I wasn’t sure if the ‘voice’ of the character was using bad grammar or if it just wasn’t picked up along with the handful of minor typing errors.
The book read like the first book of a young writer which after a while bored me somewhat.
That said, I think the writer created some believable characters here and if you are a fan of changing POV’s that are each headed up by the character name, then this could be for you. This was one of the things that made the book seem juvenile to me and I’m not a fan of that style.
On a positive note the writer tried very hard to make something different of the hostage who becomes free situation. I liked her plot twists with the sisters and the boyfriend they both desired. I liked that there wasn’t an easy happy ever after with so much devastation caused in this family since Lily went missing. And I really loved the bond of the twins. I understand the writer is a twin and she seemed to be writing from a position of authority when she described how the twin sisters interacted.
Sometimes I thought there were insightful views and a commanding style when it came to expressing how a scene made a character feel and the psychological effects the trauma was causing. But it almost seemed as though the author ‘borrowed’ those tasteful passages from someone else because the language didn’t always stay in that style.
I have been very critical of this book because I do prefer something that is perhaps more literary. But having said that I think this could be a very well received book by the vast audience that YA novels have and I hope the writer has success with this book and continues to develop her style.