Tuesday, 31 October 2017

#KillerWomen #KillerWeekend DAY ONE #CrimeFiction #Events


28th & 29th October, Browns, St Martin's Lane, London

I was thrilled to spend this Saturday and Sunday at the Killer Women Weekend! For those of you who have not heard of Killer Women, they are a group of 21 female crime writers who work together to put on exciting, innovative crime fiction events around the country, for men and women. 

This is the second event from the Killer Women team I have been to and I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment! There were 6 Masterclasses each day where panels of 4 authors discussed a variety of different subjects about publishing and writing crime. There were also 4 workshops led by authors tackling various aspects of crime writing. You could also book a one to one session with various authors who could answer questions about specific legal situations or police procedure for budding crime writers. The generosity of the authors was incredible and it was an inspirational weekend. 

Here's few highlights from DAY ONE! 

Amanda Jennings, Tammy Cohen, Will Francis,  Sophie Orme

It's always a little hard to concentrate when two authors that you happen to be in love with are sitting a few feet away from you, but that's the beauty (and excitement) of the Killer Women events - it's informal, very welcoming and very friendly! I still spent most of the day completely starstruck, but I did manage to fill an entire notebook with top tips! 

So the first panel included two authors, one literary agent and one editor. 
Here's a few top tips about the road to publication:

  • One way to choose an agent is to read the acknowledgements in the back of your favourite authors' books - or of an author who you think has a similar stye / subject to you and approach their agent.
  • Choose an agent who is going to be interested in the type of novel you have written and make sure you tell them why you have chosen them in particular. Show that you are familiar with their client list. Make sure you adhere to their submission guidelines in terms of what they need and how they need it
  • Your book will go through several edits. Once taken on by an editor there will be a structural edit (the big picture - plot, pace, characters) then a line edit (just as it sounds - detailed look at dialogue, chapter endings, consistent voice..) a copy edit (grammar, fact checking) and then a proof read once the manuscript has been type set......phew!! This can take around 9 months.
  • Make sure you manage your expectations - advances can vary enormously but are rarely 6 figures! 

Alison Joseph, Antonia Hodgson, Kate Griffin, William Ryan

In this panel the authors talked about why they had chosen the era they had in which to set their stories and why they were so intrigued by that moment in history or what had inspired them to write historical crime.

They also talked about how writing historical crime can sometimes allow an exploration of the 'grey areas', morality and issues that are still relevant to contemporary society. Another tip was that the biggest challenge is trying not to get lost in research! Although fascinating, it's easy to do too much or try to use everything when writing the story. 

I haven't read a lot of historical crime fiction, but I left this panel desperate to read all of the authors books! One of the great things about weekends like this is that you discover new authors and are introduced to books that you might not have picked up before. I was delighted to hear William Ryan speak having recently read The Constant Soldier which I found a very powerful read. 

Vaseem Khan, Katherine Quarmby, Matthew Blakstad, Imran Mahmood

This was a fascinating panel that wandered through so many different topics, insights, ideas and debates it would be impossible to give a fair write up! It started by considering the impact changing technology was having not only on the way authors write and readers read, but also on how crimes are committed and how they are solved. 

There was also a discussion of genre, tropes in crime fiction, the impact of politics and events in the media on story lines or as inspiration for crime fiction novels and whether the rules were changing for crime writers. 

Some key points were:
  • the rules of crime fiction are more elastic now 
  • embrace the changes in technology and society
  • despite changes in society and technology, we are still fascinated about why people do what they do 
  • write the story you want to write and feel passionately about 
  • even an easy read is a hard write
  • write every day & write well! 

Lisa Cutts, Sharon Bolton, Kate London, Stav Sherez

This was a really fun panel and it was fascinating to hear from two authors who also work in the police force. Sharon Bolton asked some brilliant questions, I especially liked when she took four statements about the essential qualities of a good character in crime fiction and asked the authors to think of a character in one of their books who fitted the description. 

They also talked about how they planned a novel (or didn't!), how new technology can provide lots of new material and ideas but also complicates the ability to 'get away with murder' and the rise of the 'unlikable' protagonist. Each of the authors had different approaches to creating characters, stories, research and planning which led to a lively and humorous panel discussion! 

Julia Crouch 

One of the most awesome things about this weekend event was being able to listen to so many different authors, who write across the whole range of the crime fiction genre, talk about such a broad range of issues about writing and publishing crime fiction. But the absolute highlight has got to be the chance to learn more about the actual craft of writing from these masterful and highly talented Killer Women! So I was thrilled to attend Julia Crouch's workshop on plotting. I wrote 6 pages of notes for this session so I'm afraid I can't share everything here but Julia was full of very concise, clear and practical advice! 

Julia described her first draft as draft 0; the one that no one ever saw and was like a 'scramble through the woods'. Your first draft should just be a messy run through a forest where you have to put your head down and get to the other side any way you can. Drafts 1, 2 and however many more it takes, are when you go back and look at each twig, examine the leaves, clear the path more carefully. 

We looked at the 7 Basic Plots and Julia talked about the importance of conflict as being essential to creating any kind of plot. A story is what happened, the plot is why it happened.

She went on to look at plot structure in more detail with some simple acronyms that would help anyone who is writing check they had the key ingredients in their plot. It was fascinating to see how Julia planned her own plots -she shared a photo of her pinboard with its post it notes and also shared a simple grid that she also uses to ensure each scene has the key ingredients to keep the reader turning the pages. 

And a huge thanks to Julia Crouch for the envelope with a practical exercise on plotting that we got to take home. I'm looking forward to having a go! 

So what were the three key take away pieces of advice from the day?

Whatever you are writing FINISH IT! Don't give up, don't put it away, keep writing!

Write the story you want to write, write a story you love and feel passionate about and write it well!

Keep the key idea, the key question that you started your story with, at the forefront of your mind when writing every single scene. 

Thanks to all the fabulous authors, literary agents, editors and killer women who made Saturday such a fantastic day! 

Look out for my next blog post about Sunday's panels ....

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

Sunday, 29 October 2017

#BlogTour #Review #AllTheColoursInBetween by #EvaJordan

All The Colours In Between 
Eva Jordan

*My thanks to Urbane Publications and Eva Jordan for an advance copy of the book in return for taking part with the Blog Tour and an honest review of the book*

It's not a life, it's an adventure!

Last year, on Mother's Day, the cover of 183 Times a Year caught my eye on social media; I immediately downloaded it and spent the rest of my Mother's Day devouring Eva Jordan's heartwarming, humorous and at times a little weepy, story of Lizzie and her family. I absolutely adored it. With the perfect balance of comedy, drama and emotion it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and I quickly started to recommend the book to anyone who might listen. You can read my review here. Since then I have been lucky enough to meet Eva a few times and she also appeared as a guest in my Summer Scorchers Author Event which was a real honour. I have been eagerly awaiting her second book and couldn't wait to catch up with the characters and find out how life was treating them!

All The Colours In Between fast forwards about ten years from where we left off in 183 Times A Year - although I must say, All the Colours In Between can easily be read as a stand alone, you don't need to have read the first book to pick up the story but to be honest, once you've read one, you'll be craving to read more anyway so I highly recommend you check out 183 Times a Year when you get a chance! Lizzie, our main protagonist, is approaching 50. Her daughters are now in their twenties and have left home. Connor, Lizzie's son is still at home but there is a sense that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the enormous rollercoaster of the teenager years are behind them. Well, think again! Family life is never straightforward, never uncomplicated and never without angsts, upset, drama and trouble! Before Lizzie can truly sit back and enjoy the success she's discovering through her new career as a writer, the relief from moving on after a divorce, fewer money worries and what she hopes to be the lessening complexities of her blended family, a visit to her daughter sets off a niggling concern that all is not well. And then, as is often the way in real life, a series of events tumble across the page and interrupt the harmony and peace Lizzie was attempting to achieve. Once again Jordan creates a fantastic catchphrase on which to hang a great story - life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between... 

Sometimes you start a book and the narrative voice immediately appeals to you, drawing you in like a friend will over a cup of coffee, like a conversation you cannot leave. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of something and you cannot walk away, turn it off or shut down the screen. Sometimes there is nothing better than letting yourself become immersed in someone else's family, someone else's drama and someone else's dilemmas. Jordan's books are just this. With such lively and vivid dialogue and description it's very visual and easy to imagine so it is a bit like binge watching a complete series of something like Cold Feet. All the Colours In Between is also fast moving,  packed full of gripping moments, heartbreaking scenarios and plenty of humour making it a book that you just don't want to put down. It's a great story that's entertaining, rewarding and full of the numerous ups and downs that are sent to perplex, try and test us all. 

I actually think I might have enjoyed this book a little more that 183 Times A Year! Jordan's writing is so fluent, so funny, so candid, so open, so honest and so realistic that it is impossible not to engage with the characters and form a strong emotional attachment with them. I had forgotten how strong Jordan's writing is, how her turn of phrase makes me laugh out loud, roll my eyes, sigh and smile. Jordan is a great observer of people and has a sound understanding of the complex dynamics within a family unit making her comments, dialogue, interaction and presentation of people authentic, believable and full of conviction. Her use of speech is particularly effective and I admire the way, to me, she captures the voice of each of the different family members who are all struggling with their own issues. One thing I think Jordan is particularly gifted at is capturing a modern day family and exploring the issues that are relevant in contemporary family life.  

Although Lizzie is the main character, the story of the novel is really shared by various members of the family and I liked that we switched between the different plot lines. As there are some more challenging story lines and some quite emotional issues in the book, I think this use of multiple viewpoints really works, not only in creating more authenticity and depth, but also in creating balance for the reader. 

This is a good book. It is packed with a lot of themes and a lot of characters who all have their own journeys but it is well managed and well delivered. Jordan does have a skill for creating characters who we relate to and feel empathetic towards and I like her style of writing. This book is perfect for people who enjoy Marian Keyes, for fans of popular fiction  and I am sure All The Colours In Between is going to be a huge hit with anyone who loves a story about fathers, sons, mothers and daughters. Even though some of the issues addressed are emotional and upsetting at times, this is ultimately light hearted, very readable, tender and poignant. It's about life, from coming of age to the end of life. I recommend! 

Release Date: 19th October 2017
Publisher:  Urbane Publications
Genre:  Contemporary fiction, women's fiction



Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novels, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four grown-up children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women's refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. All The Colours In Between is Eva's second novel.

If you want to know more you can find Eva at all the usual places. She loves to hear from readers and reviewers so please feel free to contact her.
Twitter: @evajordanwriter

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

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

#IRememberYou #YrsaSigurdardottir #Review

Yrsa Sigurdardottir 

So I ignored the warning on the front and back cover of  I Remember You. A not-to-be-read-in-the-dark-novel, it said... a-not-to-be-read-alone-book, it said...Yeah, well whatever I said. I read loads of crime, I love a good psychological thriller, I could murder a good gothic novel...But Mrs Yeah, well whatever hasn't read any Sigurdardottir before! I should have paid more heed to these warnings on the cover - they are there for good reason!

This book re-defines chilling. Using the words 'horrifying' and 'thrilling' feels like I'm doing the author a disservice. Other reviewers say 'spooky', 'scary' and 'creepy' which although seem perhaps a little lacking in the world of sophisticated adjectives, they totally do the job in capturing the atmosphere of this haunting story. 

 I loved I Remember You. Course I did. An isolated village in the Icelandic Wesfjords, three friends alone, cut off while they renovate a derelict house...What's not to love? It's the perfect premise for a story and the author doesn't miss a moment in building an atmosphere of tension and ghostly suggestions that will chill you through to the bone. 

"How had she ever imagined this could work? The three of them, all alone in the dead of winter in a deserted village way up north in the middle of nowhere, without electricity or heat, and the only way back by sea." 

I loved the setting and the location. It is so well conveyed with such excellent prose and the village buildings, the weather and the sense of isolation are as significant as the characters. There are many passages that describe the oppressiveness of the place and create a palpable sense of suspense and fear. 

"[Katrin did not] want to break the profound silence to which she is becoming accustomed."

There is perhaps more exposition than dialogue in this novel but the prose is very readable and fluent. Most chapters end with a cliffhanger and although the paragraphs look longer and the text perhaps appears more dense, the writing is polished and moves at an engaging pace which enhances the growing sense of trepidation. Sigurdardottir's writing is also perhaps more dense because of the overlapping layers of plot which she manages to control so effortlessly. We start with the three friends at the village who realise that they are not alone - that there is some kind of malevolent presence that wants them gone. Then we cross the fjord to another town where a doctor is investigating a suicide. As his investigation develops, he realises that the elderly woman who hanged herself was obsessed with his son -his son who vanished, never to be found. This is a novel which embraces dark, foreboding, threatening story lines and as they begin to collide, the reader is caught up in a terrifying journey as the truth is eventually uncovered. 

Not only does the author spend time creating the atmosphere and great plot lines, she also ensures the characters are fully formed, well crafted and that the dynamics between them are exposed, generating further layers of tension, suspicion and suspense. This is a compelling story and the reader is transfixed as the characters' stories begin to come together and the pieces of the jigsaw start to fall into place. 

I did love the concept and the characters, I loved the plot but I think I loved the descriptions the most. I loved how claustrophobic the weather felt, how it pre-empted events, how it added incredible tension and how it raised the risk for the characters. This description of sleet was particularly memorable.

"It appeared like a black, vertical curtain, against which the feeble moonlight was powerless."

And then I also loved this cliffhanger:

"Just as he said the last word, the house was struck by a huge blow that even the storm couldn't deaden." 

Yes, take heed. Don't ignore the warning. Don't read alone, don't read in the dark. 

Yeah well whatever, I don't really mean that! I don't want you to follow these instructions just as I didn't! 

DO read this book! If you like giving yourself the "heebie jeebies", if you like scaring yourself silly and you love a mixture of ghostly thrills, dark mystery and Icelandic Noir then this book is definitely for you! 

It is dark, threatening, foreboding. It is creepy. It's a great read...with the light left on.

I Remember You was published by Hodder in 2013.  

I heard the author speaking at Bristol Crime Fest this May, added the title to my wish list and purchased the book recently. It has waited very patiently on my TBR pile and I wish I hadn't left it there so long. I have more books by this author also sitting waiting to be read - I hope to get to them very soon!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

#TheLastMrsParrish #LivConstantine #Review

by Liv Constantine 

*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received an advance copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an unbiased review*

Watch out for Amber Patterson; she is fed up with being ignored and being in the background. She's had enough of never being given a second glance by the wealthier, more glamorous women who exercise alongside her in the gym. Why shouldn't she have a life of wealth, luxury and leisure too? 

And so Amber sets her sights on Daphne Parrish - well on Daphne's husband really, and puts into action a long term, cunning, manipulative and meticulously calculated plan to make sure she gets the life she thinks she deserves. She sets her sights on Jackson Parrish.

This is a good story which explores themes of envy, greed, desire, infidelity, jealousy and cruelty. It's domestic noir with an extra dose of spite. 

We start the story with Amber who has very few redeeming features. Amber sets out to befriend Daphne, the golden girl of Bishops Harbour, Connecticut, slowly but surely working her way into every aspect of Daphne's life until she can catch the attention of Jackson, Daphne's husband. Her diligence, perseverance and outright nerve is impressive and it's amazing how quickly Amber instates herself in Daphne's life. It's not long before she is sharing meals with Daphne's family, squeezing out old friends and even getting herself a job in Jackson's office. There is nothing Amber will not consider doing to ensure she is Daphne's new confidant and best friend; nothing is too low or underhand to get the prize she so coverts. The lies fall fast and fall easy. 

Amber's voice is very direct and strong; the sarcasm, distain and dislike for the women she interacts with was at times amusing in its bluntness or wry insight, but by and large she is actually quite unpleasant. But then we are not going to warm to Amber as she is so openly manipulating a woman who has done nothing to warrant such deception. Our sympathy and alignment is with Daphne, a woman who loves her daughters, runs a charitable organisation and shows nothing but openness and hospitality to Amber. I thought it was bold of Constantine to leave us with such an unlikeable character for so long and was intrigued to see what Constantine had in store for us.

 Constantine rewards us for our patience and for enduring Amber. Just when I was getting weary of this character who was so callous and malicious, there is a change in narrative and suddenly everything Amber thinks she has been clever enough to secure, looks very fragile. Has someone discovered something about Amber's past that could undo all she has been trying to gain? Is someone else as clever, as cunning and as duplicitous as Amber? Yes, things suddenly became much more intriguing indeed....!

I liked the twists, I liked the themes and premise; I found the ending very satisfying and well executed. I liked Daphne. I would say that possibly Amber's narrative was a little over long at the beginning, but the book was very readable and kept me entertained over a couple of evenings. I think the author shows a sound understanding about how to create tension, pace, manage converging plot lines and can craft bold characters that provoke reactions from the reader. Perhaps there are echoes of other novels in this one, but stories about jealousy, envy, female friendships and the phrase "be careful what you wish for" are always going to be popular. This is definitely a book for fans of Liane Moriarty. I think it would also appeal to fans of the TV shows Doctor Foster and Liar.

The Last Mrs Parrish is published by Harper Collins on 17th October 2017. 

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

Sunday, 15 October 2017

#HerLastSecret #BarbaraCopperthwaite #BlogTour #Review


*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received this book in return for being part of the Blog Tour and for writing an unbiased and honest review*

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

This novel is dark, it's chilling and it's full of secrets. Her last Secret is a gripping story of hatred and anger, bitterness and resentment. Every single character has a motive, every single character has a secret and every single character seems to be capable of murder. I was captivated. You will be too. 

Her Dark Secret is about the Thomas family; Ben, Dominique, their teenage daughter Ruby and their younger daughter Mouse. They seem to have it all. Success, wealth and emotional stability. But, as all of us who love a psychological thriller know only too well, appearances can be deceptive. 

Copperthwaite starts the novel by introducing the crime scene. We know it happened on Christmas Day. We know there is a lot of blood, we know a brutal crime has taken place - one that shocks the police called to the house where some harrowing tragedy has occurred. Immediately this builds tension as the reader is then taken back in time and shown the events that lead up to this horrific crime scene. The novel then moves forward in almost chronological order with a few chapters from the present day police investigation taking place on Christmas Day. This means there are revelations not only from the characters' narratives but the revelations from the police findings also increase the suspense, moments of surprise and intrigue.  Copperthwaite manages both story lines with such a perfect adherence to pace, tension and dramatic effect. They never seem to overlap, only add complication, but gradually things start to converge with a crescendo that is exciting, impressive and completely breathtaking.

What makes this novel so fabulous is that the reader is constantly having to reassess their opinion of each character and reconsider who might be responsible as the police uncover the victims. At times it reminded me of a game of Cluedo, or a Christie novel as we know the crime, we know the characters involved, but we are not entirely sure which ones are the victims and which are the perpetrators. As the story unfolds the links, issues, problems and concerns that exist between them develop and deepen and suddenly it seems that each of them could be responsible for causing murder - each have a motive, each have the potential to act on their emotions and each could be dead. It's very clever.

I also love Copperthwaite's characters. They are all well crafted. Some gain our empathy, some gain it and lose it, some leave us not knowing how to feel about them and some quite frankly are not worthy of our empathy. Each voice is distinctive, authentic and with palpable emotional reactions to situations and other characters. The way the characters impinge on each other's lives is also very well done and once again, executed with great accomplishment. I liked that every character might make a slip or error that showed they might be capable of carrying out a murder but then our instinct was never to really believe them capable until the point when things become so desperate that actually, may be each of them does have enough anger, fear, jealousy, guilt or frustration to commit a deadly crime.

Her Last Secret is so readable and well written. It's easy to visualise, compelling and evocative. I particularly noticed the number of times 'hate' and 'kill' were used and how Copperthwaite used these words to great effect. Everyone says "I could kill them" flippantly, but what if this flippancy becomes a truth or the level of emotion behind the sentence is ignored or not taken seriously and the person actually is stating an intention. "Hate" and "Kill" are simple, blunt, short words and their repetition was very effective in highlighting the bleakness and darkness in this novel. I think her use of "the shot rang out" - sometimes considered a cliche in crime fiction - is used for huge dramatic impact and other comments such as characters putting on '"the mask of normality" showed real insight into human nature.

There are some really interesting issues explored in the novel. Sleepwalking, trauma, self esteem, bullying, infidelity, financial problems and disastrous business decisions mean that this really is family noir. But the number of layers, different plot threads and character flaws are so well written and so well woven together this is a truly gripping novel that cannot fail to hook in every reader that picks it up.

I have to say that the ending was truly thrilling. I was literally unable to breathe or turn the pages fast enough. Knowing half of the outcome of the story was heading made it even more captivating as events hurl towards one of the most masterfully delivered denouements I have read for a while. The countdown to Christmas Day ensures that a high level of anticipation is maintained throughout the story, and as the day fast approaches I kept panicking as so much was still unresolved, still spiralling out of control and, to me, there seemed to be so many potential endings I could not wait to find out what was actually going to happen.

When a book carries the blurb that it is for fans of "The Girl on the Train" I can be a little sceptical but do you know what? Forget "The Girl on the Train", this is the psychological thriller you want to make time to read! Her Last Secret is dark, compelling and as thrilling as any of the big crime fiction hits this year and it deserves the comparison. Utterly breathtaking. Full of heartfelt characters, emotion and a complete roller coaster of a ride. The only secret you need to know this year is that Barbara Copperthwaite is a writer to watch out for.

Her Last Secret was published by Bookouture on 13th October 2017.

Author Bio:

What people say about Barbara's books:
"Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed... Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact," Sunday Mirror 
"Enthralling, tense and moving," Real People magazine 
"Totally gripping, and scarily believable," Bella magazine

Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. She is also the author of THE DARKEST LIES, and her latest book HER LAST SECRET is out on 13 October.

Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years' experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She's interviewed the real victims of crime - and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That's why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs. 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCopperthwait
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_barbara_copperthwaite/
Website: www.barbaracopperthwaite.com

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk