Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman

Hello my bookaholic friends. I know it has been a little while since I brought you a good book but this book is worth the wait. Today I bring you a quirky and yet engaging mystery which is translated from the Spanish.

At first glance it would seem that this book is a Spanish crime novel but you soon find out it is so much more than this. you know the book is going to be good when the Inspector in charge of a missing persons case has changed his name to Manchego rather than the more humdrum (in Spanish quarters) Jandalillo. The inspector is an engaging chap who seems to play fast and loose with giving out privileged information to whomever he likes. Although the storyline had the possibility of being somewhat disjointed, the author holds it all together so well that it flows together and works. The storyline itself is good but the characters are where this book really comes into its own, they are larger than life and appear to be charicatures, but ones which work. The English characters are quinissentially upper class English with myriad eccentricities. The Spanish are flamboyant and the numerous gypsies, dark but lovable and over the top. I loved every one of them. The mystery is good, it rattles a long at a fair clip but at the same time is laugh out loud funny. It is a long time since a book has engaged me this much. I would definitely recommend it to all lovers of a madcap mystery. I shall certainly be looking out for more books by this author.

Please note I was given an advance copy of this book from the publishers in return for a fair and honest review. My review is based upon my reading of, and enjoyment of, the book. The book will not be available until January but you can preorder from the links below

Amazon UK

Amazon US

There we have it for another day my bookaholic friends. It will soon be Christmas and my hope for you is that Santa brings you lots of books.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Winter Murderland by Juliet B. Madison

Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow crime author Juliet B Madison back to my blog to talk about A Winter Murderland, her recently released DI Frank Lyle novellas collection.

Can you briefly sum up A Winter Murderland for those who haven’t read it?

Juliet:  It’s winter and DI Frank Lyle, along with his team, are hoping for a crime-free season.
DS Thomas Fox feels threatened after a chance encounter with someone from his past. Can he and his boyfriend, James Lyle, deal with the emotional consequences of both the encounter and a revelation it forces Thomas to make?
John Cassidy is found dead. As DI Lyle and his team investigate they uncover sinister secrets and darker motives as they are drawn into the unfamiliar world of pharmaceutical malpractise and the minefield of murder by prescription.
A Winter Murderland also includes two DI Frank Lyle short stories: Wishing on a Star and The Dare.

I haven’t read the book as yet, but I believe it includes your NaNoWriMo piece?
Juliet:  Yes, that’s right Wendy. I’m really very proud of Prescription for Murder. I had to do more research than normal as I had to find out about pharmaceutical practise and prescription drugs, including ones which contraindicate one another. Cathy Goddard, the palliative care pharmacist where my mum works, was incredibly helpful and her husband, Tim, features in a cameo role as a paramedic (his real life profession)

Do you think DI Frank Lyle learns anything new as a result of this investigation?

Juliet: I don’t think he learns anything new police procedure-wise as he’s already an experienced detective, but he learns about prescription drugs and gets an insight into more of the darker facets of the human psyche.
Why did you include short stories in this collection?
Juliet: Originally the first novella, A Murder-Free Christmas, was to be published separately, but I decided to put two novellas together. Wishing on a Star is a story set in 1977 when James, DI Lyle’s son, is only six. The other story, The Dare was published in the Shadows & Light charity anthology to promote the work of Women’s Aid and to raise awareness of the more subtle aspects of domestic violence. James is sixteen and it’s a kind of emotional maturity coming of age tale (although not legally coming of age as no one turns eighteen).

I understand that DI Lyle is a big fan of Joan Baez and his colleague, DI Redfern, is into Bruce Springsteen. Do your characters’ musical tastes reflect your own in any way?
Juliet: When it comes to a character’s preferences in matters like music, reading matter, gastronomic tastes and even sexual tastes I think a lot of the author’s personal preferences do tend to creep in. Yes, I do admire Joan Baez and have seen her live twice. The fact that she is still doing live performances at the age of 73 shows incredible resilience. How many X factor winners will we remember even a year from now? I suspect that there is probably quite a bit of you in DI Shona McKenzie as well.

I know from previous interviews you’ve done that you enjoy reading crime fiction, but what’s the last book you read that wasn’t in the crime genre?

Juliet: I’m currently reading “My Life”, (David Jason’s autobiography), which I’m really enjoying.  I’m a huge David Jason fan and I think that DI Frost was the best part he played. I learnt a lot from watching that series and paid homage to the airing of the first ever episode in my last novel Best Served Cold. David is one actor I would love to meet.

Do you think DI Lyle & DI Frost would get on?
Juliet: On a personal level maybe, But DI Lyle would definitely be a straight man to Frost’s constant flouting of procedure and rule-breaking. I think he would really disapprove of Frost’s methods. They both get results in different ways.

Do you think that the crimes DI Lyle investigates will change as you move the series closer to the present day?

Juliet: There will ALWAYS be murderers, but yes, I suspect he will start to investigate things like Internet crime and identity theft as time moves on.

What’s next for DI Lyle & his team?

Juliet:  Another investigation involving people and drug trafficking, murder and corruption. I haven’t gotten very far with Dead on Arrival yet though.
Would you be prepared to share a short excerpt from A Winter Murderland with us?

JULIET:  Here’s a little bit from Prescription for Murder

Jean crossed the street and pressed the intercom button for Cassidy’s flat. The receiver crackled but there was no response. She swallowed hard.
“Mr Cassidy, are you alright?” she called. Ashbeck City Council paid Cassidy’s housing benefit direct to his bank account on a fortnightly basis and she came to collect. He had once been a lecturer at Ashbeck University, but about a year ago he had had surgery for a heart problem and not worked since. It seemed wrong to Jean, he was only in his early forties after all, but, she reminded, herself, when had life ever been fair?
There was still no response. Jean gave a glance at the leaden skies, before another tenant came out and held the door open for her.
“Thank you Mr Sakura,” she said, “Have you seen Mr Cassidy lately?”
“Not for a couple days, Miss Leyton,” he bowed respectfully as was Japanese custom.
“Alright, thank you.” she watched the Japanese walk across the road and down the street before ascending a flight of stairs to Cassidy’s apartment.
She knocked on the door, but there was no response.
She hated to invade a tenant’s privacy, but she had a need.
She unlocked the door and went in, calling his name. As she approached the door to the lounge she smelt an overpowering stench of decay. Almost afraid she pushed open the door and went in. She had not gotten more than two steps inside when the reason for Cassidy’s lack of response was made shockingly clear. Cassidy was slumped in the armchair, a bottle clutched in his hand. His dead eyes stared past her at nothing.

Where can my readers get their own copy of A Winter Murderland?

JULIET:  You can buy A Winter Murderland here

Thank you Juliet. It was a pleasure to have you on the blog today and to find out more about your latest book. I wish you and all the readers of Bookaholic a very Merry Christmas

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Is there such a thing as writer's block?

As this is the month of November I have been doing the annual NaNoWriMo challenge. As always there has been a mixed approach to this. Mostly the words flow and other times I feel like I have slammed into a brick wall. This got me thinking about writer's block and whether this really exists. 

There have been times in the month where the words just would not appear in my brain never mind the end of my fingertips. To put this into context I have had a busy month. I released my first book in the DI Shona McKenzie series and there has been all the attendant work which goes with this. My time has been taken up with Author events, book signings, and generally letting people know it has been available. Add to this that November is the start of the silly season which is the run up to Christmas. Add to this the stress of playing catch up with my NaNoWriMo word count and I think life just got a bit overwhelming for me. When I felt like this it was difficult to formulate words never mind put them into a coherent sentence.

It would be all too easy to allow this to take over and to say that I could not right. That things were just not working the way I wanted them to. This could quite easily lead to a protracted period of not writing which could be termed writers block.

However, this has taught me a thing or two about myself and my writing. Firstly, I get so many ideas when I am lying in the bath relaxing and not really thinking about anything. Obviously this blasts my mental decision that I cannot write and my mind, left to its own devices, takes over. Going out into the garden and staring at the burn (stream for anyone not in Scotland) has the same effect. It calms me down and allows my subconscious to strut its stuff. 

The second thing I have learned will make me sound plain weird. Still I will throw caution to the wind and tell you. I'm a writer after all and us writers need foibles. I write better if I go into my office and sit down at the computer, dressed in my work clothes and with a pair of shoes on. I think this has to do with the fact I have gone out to work all my life and my mind cannot get over the fact that I need to be dressed certain way to produce. Slippers and a dressing gown are all very well for relaxing, but if you want to do that writing thing, boy you'd better be dressed for the part. 

So overall I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as writers block. I just need to free my mind and out the words will tumble.

Now that my mind is unleashed from its fetters I am off to do some writing. DI Shona McKenzie is off on the trail of a killer in book 2 and she is champing at the bit for me to join her.

I would like to finish with a question. What do all you writers out there think about writers block? Is there anything you do to get yourself past it?

By for now bookaholics. See you all soon.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Scottish Fellowship of Christian Writers Conference

We are off to a conference on Bookaholic today. Or rather I was privileged to be a speaker at The Scottish Fellowship of Christian Writers Conference last Saturday. This took place in the lovely Scottish City of Stirling. It was great to meet up with old friends and make new ones. The fabulous Caroline Johnston, seen below holding a copy of my Book 'Killer's Countdown' gave a really interesting talk on using Facebook. Caroline is a fascinating speaker, knowledgeable about marketing, and herself has published a book, 'What if', a YA book for girls. This is available on Amazon if you want to know more. 

Sandra Bain gave a really interesting talk on research for writers. She took a unique approach as she told us what she did wrong during her research and how she would do things differently now. She had me hooked and I was sorry when her talk came to an end. 

I was asked to speak about blogging and I had so much fun doing this. I am assured that everyone else enjoyed the presentation as well. One of the best parts of the day was chatting to other Christian Writers and getting to know more about them and their books. There are so many excellent writers in Scotland and I feel privileged to be a part of them.

The reason my books are all over the pictures is that this was the first day they were for sale. A little premature as the official launch isn't until next week. The picture at the top of the blog is when I cracked open the first box of books which was a very exciting moment. When I was asked to sign the books it took me by surprise but it was such a good feeling. I love being a writer and an author and I am so looking forward to the launch.

That brings another bookaholic missive to an end. What do I have in store for you next time. Drop by and find out. Until then, keep reading. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

There's Been a Murder

We're taking a departure from the norm today on Bookaholics. I am very excited as I have been featured as the up and coming crime author of the month on the fabulous There's Been a Murder Blog. This is a blog well worth following if you like crime books and I am honoured to be featured. I would love you to drop by and read my interview. You'll find out more about me and the journey to publishing my first book.

The excitement continues as I won second place with a humorous article in the Angus Writers Circle yesterday. My article called 'The St Swithuns on the Undertow Church Newlsetter' was warmly received. I may feature it on a future issue of the blog.

So with all these announcements over, I will leave you to read the blog, and to get back to reading a good book. See you all very soon back here on Bookaholics. Keep reading.

Friday, 24 October 2014

What Keeps a Writer Busy?

As many Bookaholic Readers will know I will soon be releasing the first book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. These are exciting times for an author and let me tell you I am excited. The book Launch is in Waterstones Dundee on 17th November, so not long to wait now. 

I hadn't actually realised how much work there is whilst preparing for a book launch. My advice to all authors is start early. The time will go past more quickly than you can ever imagine or realise. Still, I am pleased to report that all is going well and I am on track for the launch. It sounds like it is going to be a great affair and I am really looking forward to it. By the looks of things it is going to be well attended and all my various friends, relatives and the local community are being supportive and are looking forward to the launch. 

I have to give a shout out to two young men who have gone above and beyond to help me in the process. Firstly, Nathan Gevers has built my author website. I am sure you will agree that he has done a fabulous job. Take a look and find out what he has done. Website

Joseph Wilson also deserves a mention. He is busy producing a video to go with the book and his ideas have blown me away. He is also writing, playing and producing the music to go with the video. Watch this space for an update the minute it is ready to go public. I can promise you it will be well worth the wait and anticipation.

Before the book launch I will be speaking at the Scottish Fellowship of Christian Writers Conference in Stirling. If you are a writer and live in Scotland it is well worth joining this organisation. At the conference I will be talking about Blogging for Writers, and will also be running a blogging workshop. I am very much looking forward to this. 

I will be posting about both the conference and the book launch in future blogs. 

As well as all the above, I am also furiously writing to try and finish the first draft book number two in the DI Shona McKenzie series. I am having a great time writing it but there are parts which send shivers down my spine. Never fear, Shona is on the case. 

So as you an see I have been very busy. Reading has taken a little bit of a back seat, but I will be back on it this weekend. I have the first in David Hewson's The Killing trilogy ready and waiting for my attention. See you all soon my Bookaholic friends. Until then keep reading and writing. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Book Review: Miracles by Eric Metaxas

Good morning Bookaholics, and a fine morning it is too. The October sun is shining brightly here in Scotland.I am sorry there hasn't been a blog for a couple of weeks but I have been really busy getting my first book ready for launch and publication. In my spare time I have been reading this fascinating book on Miracles. 

Miracles are something that have always fascinated me, and this book did not disappoint. This is not an on the surface, this is what happened to me book. It is a well thought out and in depth look at miracles. It approaches it from many different angles. Firstly it looks the miracles in the bible and why these should be held to be true. There is overwhelming evidence that these did happen. The next section of the book looks at conversion miracles and the damascus road experiences of several, often well known, people. The discussion about C.S. Lewis's conversion was, to me, particularly interesting. 

The final part of the book looks at miracles which happen today. This outlines many different miracles including, but not limit do, healing miracles. It does not gloss over the facts that some people may not be healed and God has his own purposes in this. Joni Erickson Tada is given as an example.

I was given this book as a pre order copy from the publishers. I was not at any time asked to provide a positive review. The review is based on my fully reading, and engaging with, the book.

This is a book which is well worth preordering. Links are given below

That's it for another week bookaholics. I look forward to seeing you back here soon. Until then keep reading. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Meet Crime Author Juliet B. Madison

We are joined on Bookaholic today by Crime Author Juliet B. Madison. Juliet has agreed to tell us a little about herself and  her new release, Best Served Cold, the fifth title in the DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series. 

Welcome Juliet, it's great  to have you here. Where did you get the idea for the DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series?

I’ve been reading almost nothing but crime fiction since my late teens and I was sure I could write a crime novel too. About seven or eight years ago I came up with the idea for a paranormal crime story where the senior detective on a cold case turned out to be a reincarnation of the original murder victim, but I decided that working out the mystery would be time-consuming enough. I kept the reincarnation aspect to a degree because I had a Hindu detective. That book became Second Chances, the first in the DI Lyle series.

There may be some bookaholic readers who have not read your books. For their benefit can you tell us a bit about DI Frank Lyle.  

DI Frank Lyle is six feet three inches tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, modelled on roles played by my favourite actor Robert Bathurst. At the beginning of the series he is a recently divorced youthful thirty-nine with a young son, James, whom his ex wife makes it very difficult for him to see or spend time with. She left Frank for another man as she got sick of coming second to the job so there are some pretty acrimonious scenes. By the time of Best served Cold Frank is five months short of his fiftieth birthday. He is dedicated to justice and giving a voice to people who have none. He is also a devoted family man and happily married to his second wife, ex Detective Constable Jayseera Lyle. He is extremely supportive of his son, James, who came out in the previous book, Murder in the Wings, and he adores his little daughter, Jasmine. Unlike a lot of fictional coppers Frank doesn’t have any real vices; he is not addicted to alcohol, gambling or drugs and keeps a clear head.

How much research do you have to do for your books?

I have learnt a tremendous amount from reading crime fiction as well as watching TV crime drama and criminal investigation documentaries. I completed a Distance learning online course in Forensic science earlier this year and learnt a huge amount from that. The subjects of bereavement and Type 1 Diabetes also crop up at various points during the series, but these I can write about from personal experience. If I have a technical question I usually ask my author friend, Paul Trembling, who is a real life CSI. I also attended an inquest once so I draw on that for Coroner’s court scenes in the novels. I’m aware they don’t have Coroners in Scotland, but things are different south of the border.

The DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series is set in the 1980s and early 1990s. Why did you choose this particular time period?

I chose this time period because forensic sciences were very much in their infancy compared to what they are today, which allowed more scope for mistakes. I also wanted to remind people of a time when people actually talked to each other face to face rather than resorting to emails, ipads and cell phones. It’s the era in which I grew up. I was seventeen in 1992 when both Murder in the Wings and Best served Cold are set.

believe Best Served Cold takes the reader into the darker recesses of the human mind. Do you mind telling us a bit more about that?

This novel does go into darker places where I found it hard to go. A man who feels let down by both the local authority and the legal system, is set on a path from which he cannot turn back. The book also delves into paedophilia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and racial hatred; none of which are pleasant subjects. It looks at the question or whether or not murder can ever be morally justified and reopens the Nature Vs Nurture debate, which is whether wickedness is inherent from birth or developed due to life’s circumstances and misfortunes.

Who would you say has helped you the most in writing the series?

My editor, Katrina Bowlin-MacKenzie, who gives her time for nothing. My cover designer John Holt. My real-life CSI Paul Trembling, who gives me technical advice. Also everyone who tweets and shares my stuff on Facebook, everyone who has had me on their blogs to promote Best Served Cold. Malika Gandhi gives me advice on Hindu-related issues (especially in the first book), Caroline Lee, who did the wonderful DI Lyle sketch and edited the last part of Murder in the Wings as Katrina was on holiday.

Are you writing any more books at the moment?

I’m working on the sixth DI Lyle novel, Dead on Arrival, but I haven’t got very far with it yet. I am also working on a DI Lyle novella A Murder-Free Christmas, which should be available to pre-order from Mid-November.

It has been great to have you here Juliet. I am sure your readers will enjoy your latest, and future books. 

Thanks Wendy, it has been good to join you on Bookaholic today.

Where can we find you and your books Juliet?

Twitter: @JulietBMadison

Facebook There are a number of DI Lyle related pages on Facebook but here is a small selection: