Sunday, 5 April 2020

Book Review: The Music Box Enigma



Good afternoon, Bookaholics. If you like historical mystery with both grit and humour, have I got a book for you.

Having read, and thoroughly enjoyed, The White Feather Killer, bu this author, I was keen to read this latest book. R.N. Morris is fast becoming my favourite author and Silas Quinn my favourite detective. The victim is a thoroughly loathsome character and if someone hadn’t bumped him off, I might have been tempted myself. Quite frankly I’m not sure why anyone would want to investigate the murder but justice has to be done. Silas Quinn is a brilliant character - dogged, determined and clever. The cast of characters who surround him are bumbling and brilliant in turn. The addition of Edward Elgar as both a composer and a special Constable is a stroke of genius.  The story is part gritty crime, part P.G. Wodehouse and it works.  It trots along at a fair pace keeping the reader interested.. To borrow an overused phrase, there’s a twist you will never see coming. In this case it is seriously true. The ending was extraordinary and I was stunned. The historical aspect is well researched, well written and interesting, giving a sound basis for the setting and context. A superbly written book which I would highly recommend. 

It isn’t out quite yet but as we are all currently in lockdown this is one to pre-order and get reading the minute it is out.  

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the Advanced Reader Copy. I was not asked to write a positive review but as you can see, I loved it.


See you soon, Bookaholics, with another great review.  Until then, keep reading. 

Friday, 3 April 2020

The Christmas Fair Killer



Hello Bookaholics. I’ve a great in store for you today.

I would like to start by saying thank you to the publisher Severn House for the ARC of this book.

Amy Patricia Meade is a new author to me but I like cozy mysteries and as this had a literary and culinary theme, I was sold. I am so glad I found both the book and the author and I will be reading more of her books. I like the lighthearted fun but it is also a strong mystery.

The premise of the book is that the body of a young actress is found in a trailer for visiting Thespians at a Christmas Fair. The main character, Tish Tarragon has been hired to cater for the cast and crew of the production and, on finding the body, is catapulted into solving a murder. There is intrigue and red herrings aplenty and of course all those involved have a backs Tory and secrets to hide. All this, taken together, leads to a well written story which made me want to keep reading. There were laugh out loud moments. So, why four stars  instead of five. For me, it was a little slow to get going and I felt much of the first chapter was taken up with describing the literary name for various sandwiches and meals. I would have liked the storyline to start a little quicker. However, that may just be me and it soon picked up and the book rattled along. A great read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Whilst this book isn’t out at the time of writing, you can preorder it and I would recommend that you do.  Well worth reading.


See you soon with another great book review. Until then, keep reading.




Friday, 28 February 2020

The Dead Won’t Wait


I’ve got a cracker for you today, Bookaholics. A historical mystery you won’t want to miss. 

You know with a Michael Jecks book you are going to get quality writing and a well written story. This one is no exception. Jecks is a master wordsmith and uses every word to good effect to bring mystery and intrigue washing about in liberal dollops of humour. The humour is well placed and although slightly over the top, enhances the story rather than overwhelms. I like this in a mystery. 

The characters are well rounded and quirky, especially Jack Blackjack himself. He has a retinue of servants but never takes himself to seriously. 

The historical context is well researched and well written, giving a real insight into Tudor times. I could feel myself being transported back in time and living in the story. This is the sign of a superb storyteller. 

I can highly recommend. 

I was given a copy of this via netgalley. At no time was I asked for a positive review. The review is based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book. 

About me 

Wendy H Jones is the Amazon Number 1 best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers Choice Award. She is also The President of the Scottish Association of Writers, the Webmaster for the Association of Christian Writers, an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers and also the editor of the forthcoming Christmas Anthology form the same publisher. Her first children's book, Bertie the Buffalo, was released in December 2018. Motivation Matters: Revolutionise Your Writing One Creative Step at a Time, was released in May 2019. She is also the author of The Writing and Marketing Show a podcast for authors to help them grow their business as writers. 

Website

Amazon Author Page

Twitter 

Facebook

Instagram



Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Trainspotting Meets Hot Pursuit


Good morning, Bookaholics. Yes it is still morning as I write this in the UK. It's even earlier morning in Canada where today's post will take you. I am excited to reveal the cover and the preorder links for my friend, and fellow Princess of Pandemonium, Melanie Robertson-King's new book. This is romantic suspense of the sweet romance variety and I can assure you, you are in for a treat when you read this. Melanie is an exceptional writer. To get you in the mood, here's the blurb.

Hilary Dunbar is a uniformed constable with the Vancouver Police with an agenda to rid the streets of drugs, especially the bad ones the notorious dealer, Carlos Navarra, is trafficking.

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?


And just to really warm you up and get you ready here's an excerpt. 

Out on routine patrol, Constables Hilary Dunbar and her partner Lukas Stephanopoulos drove north on Cambie Street towards the Gastown Steam Clock. As they passed the end of Blood Alley, she shouted, “Back up. Something’s down there.”
“Your imagination getting the better of you again?” He teased, but pulled over to the curb and slowly reversed until they blocked the mouth of the narrow passage. 
Originally they called the lane Trounce Alley. Some maps still referred to the laneway as that. Others labelled the back street Blood Alley. Given the appearance, Hilary thought the latter more appropriate.
Window down, she trained the beam from the powerful spotlight mounted on the cruiser’s mirror into the alleyway. “See, beyond those dumpsters.”
“Likely just garbage.”
“Wait here; I’m going to take a closer look.”
Before exiting the car, she plucked a pair of nitrile gloves and the naloxone kit from the glove compartment. Once out, she shoved them in the pockets of her trousers. With the fingertips of her right hand brushing her gun holster and gripping the barrel of the torch in her left, she sidled towards the object. 
Graffiti tags covered the walls of the buildings as well as the wooden hydro poles. The farther into the confined space she crept, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled beneath the bun in which she styled her black hair. Whatever was down there wasn’t rubbish, as Luke said. The pong of stale urine made her eyes water.
Past the second dumpster, the body of a young man leaned against the wall. Dishevelled and filthy, his body odour was strong enough to make the foulest of skunk spray seem mild. At first glance, he appeared dead. His skin had a bluish tinge, and weeping sores dotted his face. Dark circles surrounded his eyes. Inching forward, Hilary squatted beside him. 
A blood-filled syringe protruded from his left arm. Flashlight held under her chin; she donned the synthetic rubber gloves she brought with her and felt his neck for a pulse. The rhythmic throbbing beneath her fingertips, barely discernible.
The naloxone. The kit had been made available to officers who wanted the medication. Luke was against carrying the opioid blocker in the cruiser, but Hilary persuaded him. Now was the time to use it. She took the package out of her other trouser pocket, peeled the wrapper open and placed the nozzle in the victim’s left nostril and pressed the plunger. 
She keyed the mic on her handset and started to speak. “Constable Dunbar.” As though on cue, the nearby Steam Clock began whistling — no sense in trying to outperform the contraption. Wait for the completion of its proclamation of the top of the hour — Westminster chimes followed by singular whistle blasts counting out the time. Soon relative quiet returned and Hilary tried again. “Constable Dunbar. Badge 8652. I need an ambulance at Blood Alley and Cambie Street. Suspected drug overdose. Have administered four milligrams of Narcan nasal spray. No response as of yet.”
By now, Luke had the cruiser’s roof lights on. Blue, red and white alternating then running from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
The wail of the siren grew louder. In minutes, paramedics jumped out and trundled a stretcher and medical equipment to the stricken person.
Hilary stood back, letting them do their jobs. “I gave him Narcan,” she said, handing the spent plastic bottle to one of them. 
“He’s alive ... just. You found him in time. We’ve bagged the needle so they can run tests on the contents at the hospital. Figure out what he shot into his veins.”

I'm sure you will agree it sounds exciting. I can't wait to read it and have pre-ordered already. You can preorder the book as well via the links below. 

Anyone who comments on this blog will be entered into a prize draw to win an ebook cop of It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, the first book in the It Happened Series.

Everything you wanted to know about Melanie but were afraid to ask ...

A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville, where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day, her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country many more times and is looking forward to her next trip, possibly as soon as 2020. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.

Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.

Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. One of her articles graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) as well as novel-length work.

Since her debut novel was published in the summer of 2012, Melanie has written seven more books (including two for children) and released the second edition of her first.

It Happened in Gastown is Melanie’s ninth book, and the second in the “It Happened” series of sweet romances set in picturesque locations across Canada.

Her short story, Cole’s Notes, has been re-edited and is available as a free read through her website and blog.

When not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out and about. Favourite haunts (pardon the pun) are cemeteries (the older, the better) since they have more character, and perhaps a few more characters. She also loves travel and photography.



Melanie and fellow authors, Wendy H. Jones and Chris Longmuir, make up the infamous trio – the Princesses of Pandemonium.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Covering all things Covers


Good afternoon Bookaholics. I'm going to ask a question of you today - Do you judge a book by its cover? I know the saying goes that you shouldn't but I'll be honest and say, I usually do. If the cover doesn't catch my attention, then I usually give the book a swerve and move on. I'm a firm believer that the cover has to attract in order for a reader to take the next step and pick the book up and spend time in reading the blurb on the back. I believe we humans are fickle creatures and we know what we like.

However, as an author, I have to shove all personal feelings aside and step inside the mind of the reader. Or do I? As well as being a writer of crime, I am also an avid reader of crime books and certain covers attract me. I know what covers I expect for which genre or sub genre and, I can absolutely guarantee, so do most other readers of crime. I cannot, however, even begin to imagine any designs for my own covers. I may be able to plot a good story but when it comes to images my brain does not function in that way.

With regards to covers I one hundred percent believe that it's best to call in the experts. My cover, designer Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, is truly brilliant. She's got my work spot on. When I told her my next book was set in Dundee and New Orleans she came up with the cover above. Dundee is at the bottom and New Orleans at the top, all in glorious gold, purple and green with mist effect,  which suits the book down to the ground. I could never have come up with this but now I see it, I know it's perfect. Cathy is a visionary and can work magic with the little I give her. It fits in with the branding for the rest of the books perfectly. 

Book Description

Faced with the horrific murder of two Father Christmas's, DI Shona is hurtled into the centre of another deadly spree by a killer who will stop at nothing . With no clues and a rising body count she is shocked to find herself not only investigating in Dundee but also, New Orleans and the Louisiana Bayou. As the body count rises higher than the sticky Louisiana heat, Shona joins with her American colleagues to stop a serial killer in their tracks before Christmas is ruined forever. What, and who, could possible link these cities other than one grizzly murder after another.

Killer's Curse will be released in November. You can find out more and preorder your copy now

I hope you love the cover as much as I do. I hope you love the book even more. 

Thanks for tuning in, Bookaholics, I will be back soon with more news, views, help and assistance from the world of books, reading and writing. Until then, keep reading and writing.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Reading and Writing Intertwined


“Readers make writers and writers make readers”
Carl McKever

Good afternoon my fellow Bookaholics. I've been thinking a lot about reading lately and also trying to broaden the scope of my reading material. As you know, I am a writer as well as a reader. However, writing and reading are not mutually exclusive. As the quote above so beautifully says, in order to be a writer you need to be a reader first. As a crime writer, I read a lot of crime books and I mean 'a lot' of crime books. This is my preferred go to reading material but I am making a conscious choice to expand this. Here are my choices.




At the moment I am reading the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I am on the second book, The Angel's Game, which is beautifully written and the sheer beauty of the language pulls the reader into the story and make him, or her, marvel at the way the sentences are constructed. I loved the first book but believe this second one is even better. I can highly recommend them and I am looking forward to reading the next two in the series, which are already in my TBR pile. 



I started A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity by Nick Page, previously but due to a prolonged trip abroad, left it behind. It is a rather large tome and I was conscious of weight limits on planes. Don't let the title or the size of the book put you off. This is one of the funniest books I have read. How can you resist a book with the subtitle - Being a history of 2000 years of Saints, sinners, idiots and divinely-inspired troublemakers. Nick, a Christian himself, gets to the root of things and makes the discussion easily accessible to the average man, or woman, in the street. Christians and non-Christians alike would enjoy this book. It's a perfect example of how to write about a subject in an enjoyable way.




I am also expanding my reading of writing books. One of the best I have read is, Save the Cat Writes a Novel. It gets to the very heart of what a writer should know about story structure, again in an accessible way. It essentially demystifies novel plotting. I strongly believe no writer should be without this book on their bookshelf. It should be well thumbed with tabs highlighting the relevant areas. Needless to say, the image is not of my copy. 






Whilst I haven't read this one yet, I am very much looking forward to reading it, especially with Halloween around the corner. Rosemary Gemmed is an outstanding writer and I am sure this will be an atmospheric read. 

When Cate Stewart's life falls apart, a job cataloguing the vast library at Highcrag on the Scottish east coast sounds perfect. Especially since she has a personal interest in researching the notorious Scottish witch hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. But the house has a dark past that seems to affect the present. And an owner, Lyall Kinnaird, who unexpectedly stirs Cate's damaged heart. As the Celtic festival of Samhain approaches, when the veil between the living and dead is thinnest, who can Cate trust?


I love these books and was excited to discuss them with you. Now it's over to you. I want to widen my reading choices, so let me know what you would recommend in the comments. 

Have a great week and whatever else you do, remember to keep on reading and, of course, writing. 


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Constructing a Platform that Works


One for the writers amongst us today. This is a fabulous opportunity to get free advice from an industry expert on how to develop and expand your author platform. 

For the last few months I have been following Amy Collins and listening to her advice to authors. I have been impressed by her focus on giving authors the actual tools that they need to market and sell their books. With so many options out there, have you ever wondered what works and what doesn’t? Do you know what best-selling authors are they doing to get their books on the bestseller lists? What is their secret? 

The answer is, in one simple little word: PLATFORM.
On Sept 10, I am hosting Amy on a free webinar class where she will show you step-by-step how to successfully construct a platform that works for you. During the session, Amy will teach on the following topics:

•          Establishing platform-building habits that only take a few minutes a day
•          Setting up your author's press and interviews
•          Getting reviews
•          Taking advantage of social media
•          Putting your fellow authors and readers to work for you

In essence, platform is the relationship you build with your readers over a lifetime. And platform is what separates truly successful authors from merely talented ones. Join Amy and I on Tuesday to get a road map on how to get that platform and the sales that result.

To register for the online web class or to get the invitation to the replay that will be hosted after, Go To: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3249143023256353293?source=wendy

Amy Collins

Amy Collins is the founder of Bestseller Builders and president of New Shelves Books. Collins is a trusted expert, speaker,and recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the publishing industry.She is a USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author and in the last 20 years, Amy and her team have sold over 40 Million books into the bookstore, library, and Chain store market for small and midsized publishers.She is a columnist for and a board member of several publishing organizations and a trusted teacher in the world of independent publishers.

Skype: NewShelvesBooks
LinkedIn

Wendy H. Jones

Wendy H. Jones is the best selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates, the Fergus and Flora Mysteries and Bertie the Buffalo children's picture book. She has also published two successful books for authors, Power Packed Book Marketing and Motivation Matters. As an international speaker, she regularly speaks about writing and marketing.