Book Riot Read Harder 2018

ReadHarderChallenge2018-768x994.jpgI like to consider myself fairly well-read, as snobbish and pretentious as that might sound. I read voraciously and my tastes are varied. There’s always room for improvement though, so I’ve decided to take part in Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge

There are 24 categories, so I will aim for two per month which I’ll review here. The official rules dictate that you can count one book for several categories, but I’m never one to take the easy option so I won’t be doing that.

  1. A book published posthumously
  2. A book of true crime
  3. A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance)
  4. A comic written and drawn by the same person
  5. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)
  6. A book about nature
  7. A western
  8. A comic written or drawn by a person of colour
  9. A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
  10. A romance novel by or about a person of colour
  11. A children’s classic published before 1980
  12. A celebrity memoir
  13. An Oprah Book Club selection
  14. A book of social science
  15. A one-sitting book
  16. The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series
  17. A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
  18. A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image
  19. A book of genre fiction in translation
  20. A book with a cover you hate
  21. A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author
  22. An essay anthology
  23. A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
  24. An assigned book you hated (or never finished)

If you’re taking part or if you have any recommendations for any of these categories please let me know!

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Review: Its always the Husband by Michelle Martinez

About the book

516uLn119OL.jpgIt’s Always the Husband…unless it’s the best friend.

Kate, Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable at college – friends who promised they’d always be there for each other.

But twenty years later, their friendship is about to take a deadly turn.

Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door, but when one of the friends dies in shocking circumstances, will everyone assume that it’s always the husband? Or could it be the best friend?

I loved this book. I’m a huge fan of domestic thrillers and this new take on the genre really appealed to me. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.  The narrative flits from the past -the three friends at college – to the present day, when something unthinkable happens and I found this really built the characters well for me. For me, the best thing about this book was the characters – each felt very real and authentic. Each has their faults and each made me want to scream at them as I was reading, but this only made for more compelling reading.

The twists and turns were gripping, but telling of the varying dynamics of female friendships was what really made this novel stand out for me.  I highly recommend this book.

Buy your copy here!

Review: The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan

9781786692863About the book

A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.

Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.

By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.

It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I’ve never read anything by Faith Hogan  (I’m looking to rectify that as soon as possible) but her writing felt familiar and cosy – perfect for this time of year! I loved the characters and found myself genuinely caring what happened. Both Tess and Amanda are very real, flawed but generally lovable characters.

The two women’s stories, how they ended up with the sad, mundanity of their everyday lives and how they fought back and chased their second chances had me enthralled from the start. I can’t recommend this book enough. In fact, Santa may be dropping off a copy for my mum on Christmas Eve!

Faith Hogan portrait for inside cover of her bookContact Faith Hogan:
Twitter (her favourite) https://twitter.com/GerHogan
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/faithhoganauthor/?hl=en
Web Page. http://faithhogan.com/

Buy the book here!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jAvtfS
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2B3d9PO
iBooks: http://apple.co/2zZzAbk

Review: Liar Liar – Sarah Flint

9781786690715.jpgAbout the book

From the bestselling author of Mummy’s Favourite and The Trophy Taker.

DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford returns with a superb new, brutally gripping serial killer thriller, where the hunter becomes the hunted. Perfect for the fans of Angela Marsons.

A faithful dog lies wounded beside the mutilated body of its owner.

A woman is discovered bound and gagged, dead in her own bed.

Both are police officers.

Both have a red rose at their side… worryingly more will follow…

Lies and accusations abound but who is behind the murders and why are the victims being targeted?

Charlie, Hunter and the team must find the killer targeting their own before another body is found.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love a good police thriller and this is a great example. Sarah’s 35 year long career with the Met Police is evident here: the details are perfect and really draw you in to the action.  I have to admit I have a ghoulish fascination with serial killers, so the thought of a serial killer targeting the police won me over before I even started to read and Sarah really does justice to the premise.  I was gripped from the first page and the little twists and red herrings along the way kept me hooked.

This is the third in the series and though I hadn’t read the other two, I didn’t feel like I had missed out too much. Obviously, the book refers to events that had gone before, but not enough to be truly off-putting.  Not that that will stop me from rushing out to buy the first two books (or wait anxiously for book four).

 

Buy your copy here:

Sarah FlintFind out more about Sarah:

  • Facebook: @SarahFlintBooks
  • Twitter: @SarahFlint19

 

NaNo Update: Week 3

Well … what to say about Week 3!  I haven’t managed the recommended 1667 daily word-count in the whole week.  Work and life commitments meant I expected this week to be tricky, but throw in my being hit by the lurgy and my writing efforts have been well and truly scuppered.  For the past few days I’ve literally stumbled home in a flu induced haze and gone to bed. Staying up to write has not been an option.

With one week to go and two week’s worth of words to get through, things are looking pretty bleak. But you know what they say – it ain’t over ’til it’s over …

 

NaNo Update: Week (1 &) 2

Can you believe its the end of Week 2 of NaNoWriMo? We’re now half way through and I’ve just passed the 25k wordcount mark. Ta-dah!

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 08.40.54

So, how has it been? Erm, okay.  I hoped to fill these updates with words of wisdom or tales from the trenches of speedy novel writing, but there’s not really much to say. The process has been relatively pain-free. Yes, really.  And I think I’ve uncovered the secret:

Planning.

Yes, I know – wash my mouth out with soap.

Its weird, because Work Emma, Mum Emma and Wife Emma are very much planners. These versions of me live for to do lists and Excel spreadsheets and plans. So many plans.  Writer Emma, by contrast flies by the seat of her pants. She doesn’t need a plan – oh no, siree! She’s a writer, an artiste; she writes from the heart; she is a free spirit. Plans and sensible things play no part in her life.  Except … they kind of work.

I knew November would be a busy month for me, with work and real life events plus impending Christmas festivities getting in the way.  The last couple of attempts at NaNo failed miserably and I was determined to succeed this year, so I approached NaNo like I would approach a work project.  With a detailed plan.

I created a lovely table, colour coded to reflect different strands of the story. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of my word count and I made plans in my calendar. When November 1st rolled around, everything felt very much under control.  Obviously, things have changed as I’ve written but I’ve just made a few notes in the corresponding table cell and off we go. I’m reluctant to admit that this seems to be working for me. Of course, there’s still two weeks to go and I’m away this weekend, but so far it’s looking good!

Are you NaNo-ing this year?  How’s it going? Any tips or motivation to share?

Author Interview: Linda Smolkin

linda-smolknToday, I’m thrilled to be hosting an interview with Linda Smolkin, author of one of my favourite reads of the summer, Among the Branded.

First of all, I absolutely loved Among the Branded; how did you come up with the idea for the novel?
I usually think up book ideas by doing the ‘what if’ scenario. With “Among the Branded”, I started thinking, “What if my main character found out something about her newest client? What would she do, especially if she didn’t own the company?” The story took off from there and the moral dilemma became a focal point, along with themes that included family and friendship.

There are quite a few historical elements in the novel; how did you approach researching the novel?
I approached it in various ways. Even though my book is contemporary fiction, it has some historical elements. For example, there are scenes where my characters attend a World War II living-history event, so it was important to get details right about the uniforms and other information. I checked out books from the library and read a lot on a variety of history-type websites. For the scenes where my characters are at the office, I used some of my own knowledge because I’ve worked in advertising/marketing industry for a long time, so I didn’t really need to do much research for that. They’re not my own experiences, but those parts were easier to write. And, believe it or not, my very patient son let me read some of the teenager dialogue to him to make sure it sounded right.

What inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing forever, in some form or another. After getting my journalism degree, I began working as a copywriter, and I still work full time as a writer. I work on my novels in my spare time, so I’m basically writing, editing, or researching when I’m not sleeping!

How do you combat writer’s block?
What’s writer’s block?! What I do get fairly often is the inability to figure out how to take a good idea (one of those ‘what ifs’) and turn it into a novel. I have those what-if ideas floating around in my head all the time, but most of them don’t go anywhere for one reason or another. I’m in awe of authors who come up with ideas and are able to make great stories out of them year after year. For someone who’s dealing with writer’s block, I’d recommend a few things: take a break; go somewhere new to write; or read the part you’ve already written out loud to help continue with the next scene or section.

What is your favourite novel of all time? Is there a novel you wish you’d written?
My favourite novel of all time is The Book Thief, and I wish I’d written it. It’s a great novel that’s beautifully written.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m really excited about my next book, which I hope to release in Spring 2018. It’s not contemporary fiction but also involves a dilemma that my main character faces. It follows three generations of women, their relationships with one another, and a secret that only two of them know. The story takes place mostly in the 1990s and in a few locations, including Russia.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
I spend most of my time on Twitter @lindasmolkin so please connect with me there. Also, you can find out more about me at lindasmolkin.com, and I’m also on Goodreads.

A huge thank you to Linda for agreeing to the interview. Among the Branded can be bought online – trust me, you’re in for a real treat! 

My full review of Among the Branded  will follow.