Recently Read – Acid by Emma Pass

The Recently Read posts will tend to be books I have enjoyed. For a full roundup of books I have read and their reviews you can find me on Goodreads Here.

Acid by Emma Pass

Genre: YA

AcidThe year is 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna’s violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary.

When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn’t know who to trust?

My Thoughts:

I’m generally not a big fan of futuristic or apocalyptic novels as they just seem a bit too dark for me – says the girl who mostly reads about murder and bloodshed! But I have been following Emma for a long time on Twitter, in fact since before she got her book deal and I have also fairly recently started a love affair with YA fiction, so I thought I would check Acid out. And I can say, I’m glad I did.

It’s set 100 years in the future and we find Jenna in prison and a very hard nut of a girl. It all seems very bleak, but she’s not in there long before she’s broken out and her life changes. She doesn’t understand why and neither do we as the reader because it’s told in first person present tense narrative so we only ever know what Jenna knows. There’s no flipping between viewpoints to fill us in at any point, we really are sitting with Jenna the whole way. And it’s a roller-coaster ride for her because life is difficult 100 years from now and for a girl trying to stay out of the authorities way after the prison break she has to make some rapid decisions that land her in some difficult predicaments.

I thought it was well drawn and I could easily see the image of the future that Pass wanted us in. Some of the political areas of how the country changes were scary in the way that you could maybe see small aspects of how changes like that could occur.

It’s a fairly long book for a YA and at times I thought the adventure was going on a little too long and became a little confusing from Jenna’s point of view, but I still wanted to see where it ended so kept reading.

It’s a book that keeps you on your toes and turning the pages. I liked the world building and the characters Pass had created. I enjoyed them and stayed with the novel because of that. The denouement was suitably dramatic and had me glued to my sofa when I should have been doing other things. I refused to move until I’d finished the book.

If you’re happy to contain your disbelief and enjoy a romp in a futuristic YA world then you’ll enjoy this book.

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Why Would You Want To be The Next Gone Girl?

I read a book a couple of weeks ago. A great book. A book I absolutely loved. This book made it onto my Favourites list on Goodreads. The thing  was, on the back cover of this book was a quote supplied by someone or other stating that this book could easily be the next Gone Girl.

Now this is a statement that is starting to get on my nerves. OK, it’s not just starting to, it does get on my nerves.

What does the statement mean?

  • Does it mean it’s a mimic of the story and this author has done a bloody brilliant job of cloning it in tone and clever twist?
  • Does it mean it could be the follow on novel to Gone Girl?
  • Or does it mean it could be a brilliant selling novel, that could talked about by many in the way that Gone Girl was?

I’m betting it’s the third option. But if so, it could be the next Harry Potter, or the next Fifty Shades. Granted if we’re sticking to genre then you’re going to go with the Gone Girl analogy. But if you’re looking at hype and sales, then what about The Cuckooo’s Calling in 2013 when JK Rowling was identified as the author. I don’t think you could surpass that by much.

To be honest, and I’m probably going to be slated for this, but I didn’t like or even read much of Gone Girl. The chapters from the females point of view just irritated me. She was just so whiney. Maybe if I’d stuck with it, I’d have seen the reason for all the hype.

silhouette

Image by Phashinphoto at freesigitalphotos.net

My point with this post though, is why would you want to be the next Gone Girl when you can be the next – *INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR OWN BOOK HERE!* -

See? Why are we constantly underselling ourselves? Or aspiring to be someone else? Even on the cover of our own work? Yes, have quotes from great authors on your covers saying how great it is, but comparisons? Do you really want to be someone else or do you want to be the best you that you can be?

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What’s Your First Draft Like? – Anya Lipska

AnyaToday I’m pleased to have on the blog squirming over the First Draft questions, crime writer Anya Lipska.

Anya Lipska lives in London’s East End with her Polish husband, and is currently working on her third Kiszka and Kershaw book. When she isn’t scribbling she produces TV documentaries on science, arts and history subjects.

When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

I drag my husband, Tomasz to the pub to run it past him and to start working out the plot, the narrative arc, my characters’ ‘journey’ and so on. He’s a useful sounding board in any event, but particularly so because my series hero, private detective Janusz Kiszka, is – like him – an émigré Pole who’s lived in London long enough to have absorbed a good deal of UK culture.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

Not consciously, but I am now writing my third book in the series and I’m aware that I tend to follow a pattern, which I would describe as creating a firm skeleton for the story while allowing a good deal of deviation in the 10 months or so it takes to go from concept to delivery of an MS.

Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

Bones of the story and ideas in a Muji notebook on the pub table, which will also have the first of many scribbled Venn diagrams of how the plot/characters connect and emerge.

Anya NOTEBOOK (2)

How important is research to you?

Very important. I’m a journalist by background so I’ve a firm view of what can be pure invention and what ought to be factually accurate. As well as my contacts in the Polish community, who keep me up to the mark on contemporary issues, traditions, food, and Polish idiom (especially swearing…), I also have police and pathologist contacts whom I run things past. I would hate to have a glaring procedural inaccuracy, such as getting wrong the circs in which the police could realistically arrest someone, or interview them under caution, for instance, but there are other areas where I think a little poetic licence is positively desirable. A classic example would be reducing the time that some police/forensic processes take in the real world to fit the timeframe of a crime novel which demands action to unfold over a matter of days and weeks rather than months.

How do you go about researching?

It’s a combination of speaking to my contacts, which in the case of the police usually involves a good deal of alcohol, and consulting the incredible range of information available in printed form and on the net. In book 3, I have a Polish character who was a wartime code breaker, so naturally I did some research on whether that was consistent with a history of Polish exiles in the UK during and after the war. I surprised to learn that two Polish mathematicians had played a critical role in breaking the Enigma code – laying the groundwork for the well-known breakthrough by Alan Turing and Bletchley Park – an achievement recognised only this year.

Anya tinHow do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?

A mixture of online bookmarks, notes, a file overflowing with newspaper cuttings, and good old-fashioned ink and paper reference books. While writing my current book, I needed an image of an old brand of Polish pipe tobacco, something that would once have been unimaginably difficult to find but which a Google image search produced swiftly and easily.

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

I don’t think of my manuscript as a first draft because I’m an adherent of the ‘edit as you go’ school: I find that if I don’t resolve any issues as I go along then it has a huge knock-on effect and leaves a very much bigger job of unpicking and polishing to be done on the final pass. I have a writer friend who’s a crime fiction aficionado and she kindly reads the ‘work in progress’ two or three times as I go along and makes invaluable observations and suggestions. All in all, I’d say I spend nine to ten months writing, editing, and honing the words to complete what might be called a first draft, and I will then spend a month or so addressing notes back from my publisher which usually involve ironing out any plot wrinkles and fleshing out key scenes and characters.

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

No. Although since I do a lot of writing in my job as a TV producer and then another c.90k words a year as an author, I have invested in voice recognition software to ward off RSI. It always amuses me that the software behaves like a maiden aunt who is selectively deaf, ignoring bad language of any kind, so that I have to manually correct its wilful misunderstandings, such as ‘flock’ in place of the better-known Anglo-Saxon expletive…

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?

Alas, I find that zoning out from the world and its endless administrative chores, washing to be hung out, dinner to buy/cook, spam phone calls, e-mails, social media… is a real challenge. When a kind friend offers me a week at their coastal or rural bolthole, I jump at it, because once away from distractions and the unrelenting reproach of all the things that need doing around my own house I find that I can write much more productively.

What does your work space look like?

Like this

Anya workspace

Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

Edit as I go. Always.

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?

Obsessive word counter. Although never allow it to dissuade me from going back to fine tune words and content as I go.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

Ten months – by which time it ought be at least 90% of the way there (feels like I’m tempting fate…) but will definitely benefit from the input of my reader and most especially my publisher, Scott Pack.

In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?

On the laptop: too many trees die in this business already …

What happens now that first draft is done?

I will send it to my publisher, gripped by the sudden conviction that it’s 90,000 words of irredeemable rubbish, and anxiously await his verdict…

Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.

Thank you: it’s been surprisingly illuminating for me to put the process into words.

 

You can find Anya on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Death Can’t Take a Joke

DeathThe second Kiszka and Kershaw crime thriller.

When masked men brutally stab one of his closest friends to death, Janusz Kiszka – fixer to East London’s Poles – must dig deep into London’s criminal underbelly to track down the killers and deliver justice.

Shadowing a beautiful Ukrainian girl he believes could solve the mystery, Kiszka soon finds himself skating dangerously close to her ruthless ‘businessman’ boyfriend. Meanwhile, his old nemesis, rookie police detective Natalie Kershaw is struggling to identify a mystery suicide, a Pole who jumped off the top of Canary Wharf Tower. But all is not what it seems…

Sparks fly as Kiszka and Kershaw’s paths cross for a second time, but they must call a truce when their separate investigations call for a journey to Poland’s wintry eastern borders…

 

As usual, if you want to take part in the First Draft series, just let me know! You can find a list of the previous Q&A’s Here.

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Recently Read – Rain Girl by Gabi Kreslehner

This is another dual purpose post, as was Tuesday’s. It is a Recently Read post, reviewing a book I’ve read and I am also including it in the 2014 Global Reading Challenge I posted about Here where Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise is running the challenge.

I’m doing the Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2014:

Africa, Asia, Australasia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America (please include Central America where it is most convenient for you)

The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it). 

From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

This is my European book.

Rain Girl by Gabi Kreslehner, translated by Lee Chadeayne

rainVeteran homicide detective Franza Oberwieser prefers her job in the winter. Summer is for growing, not for dying. So when the body of a beautiful young woman is found on the autobahn, dressed in a glittering party dress and bathed in June rain, Franza is determined to give her justice.

Revealing victims’ hidden lives is part of the job, but as Franza and her partner, Felix, peel back the layers shrouding the girl’s disturbing past, darker mysteries emerge. Everyone has something to hide—even Franza, who must face her own secrets to reveal the truth.

 

My Thoughts:

Rain Girl starts with a young girl in a sparkling dress staggering along the autobahn in the pouring rain, before being hit and her life ending. It does rely on the word rain quite a lot in the first few chapters…

It’s a book that shows you the scenes it is moving through very descriptively by senses, predominately smell, touch and taste. This was refreshing and made for a different tone of reading which I enjoyed as it effectively transported you into the scene.

I enjoyed the tone of the main protagonist as well, Female detective Franza Oberweiser. She was a direct woman and though she had quite a lot of life baggage, it didn’t feel emotional and this detachment along with the sensory input of the story itself worked well together.

It’s a quick and enjoyable read, though the tone of the book seemed to change at the end. It became a bit more frantic as we had chapters from the killer’s point of view (who was frantic) and for me this didn’t gel with the sensory descriptive and detached tone of the rest of the book.

I did like Oberweiser though so I would probably give her another read should this be a series detective.

With thanks to the author and publisher for my copy via Netgalley.

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Shelfie Blog Hop

Today you get to see my silly smiley face with my bookcase behind me as I take part in Tara Tyler’s “Shelfie” blog hop. It’s a fun hop where you take a selfie with your books. It’s running until Monday 6th October so why not take part and get all Shelfie! Show us your smile and your books! :)

You can find the hop details Here.

For the faint of heart, you can look away now!

Shelfie 2

 

 

 

 

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Recently Read – Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

This is a dual purpose post. It is a Recently Read post, reviewing a book I’ve read and I am also including it in the 2014 Global Reading Challenge I posted about Here.

I’m doing the Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2014:

Africa, Asia, Australasia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America (please include Central America where it is most convenient for you)

The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it). 

From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

This is my North America book.

 

The Recently Read posts will tend to be books I have enjoyed. For a full roundup of books I have read and their reviews you can find me on Goodreads Here.

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

daughter‘As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I’m not.’

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?

My Thoughts:

As you can see from the blurb, the book is told in the first person narrative of Jane Jenkins AKA Janie Jenkins and starts when she is released from prison for the murder of her mother. A murder she doesn’t believe she committed, but doesn’t know if she did or not. Unknown due to the stressor of finding her mother and alcohol consumption at the time.

Jane isn’t very likable at first. In fact that is an understatement. The tone of her voice nearly put me off continuing to read the book when I was not far into it, but I’d heard a lot of great things about it and I did like the clean and acid sharp prose of Little, so I continued on. And I’m glad I did.

As I kept turning the pages Janie started to grow on me. I found her spiky but veracious dialogue amusing – in a way that I was glad I wasn’t on the wrong side of it!

Her journey took her to a small town where we got to know a set of small town characters through Janie’s eyes. A set of characters she needed to get to know while all the time pretending to be something she wasn’t – kind! – in order to get answers to her questions.

There is tension as a country we know is obsessed by celebrity tries to track her down and news reports and blogs punctuate the book as they draw ever closer to their prey. And Jane draws ever closer to her answers on whether she killed her mother.

This book keeps you hooked right until the very end to get your answer and then when you do, the last page provides another twist you don’t expect. It’s one I’m annoyed at Little for but at the same time can see why it was perfect for her to do that.

If you fancy a book where the protagonist isn’t clean-cut and perfect but is sharp and troubled with brilliant prose and thought from the author, then this is worth picking up. I loved it.

 

 

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The Importance of Reading

Following on from my post last Tuesday where I discussed how to engage children with reading, I stumbled upon this extremely short YouTube video on the importance of writers reading. It was a perfectly timed find so I thought, as I do, that I would share it with you.

 

I love to read and I read daily. It helps that I take to my bed early in the evening. That is my time to read. I read in the genre I am writing in so that I am aware of what is out there and because I love the genre. I read outside the genre because I love other books as well. I read for enjoyment. But, with writing, you can’t help but take notice of how the writer is structuring their sentences, or their scenes, or plots. Reading does have a different nuance to it when writing.

If you write, do you give yourself time to read as well? Do you find it encourages you and in what ways?

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What’s Your First Draft Like? – Amy Bird

Today I have a different type of First Draft post for you. It’s an amalgamation of a first draft post and blog tour of crime author Amy Bird. I was happy to be a part of Amy’s exciting tour and asked if she wanted to do the first draft Q&A which she quickly agreed to. So with both of those in place, it seemed like the perfect solution to do them both together.

Amy Bird (2)Amy is the author of the thrillers Three Steps Behind You and Yours Is Mine, and now Hide and Seek.

Having moved all over the UK as a child, she now lives in North London with her husband, dividing her time between working part-time as a lawyer and writing.

 

When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

Usually an idea will strike me as a ‘What if?’ proposition. I’ll play with the idea in my head for a bit to see if it has novel-length scope. For Hide and Seek, I was struck by the idea of someone not knowing something about an aspect of their own past that was crucial to their identity. As soon as the character gets a hint of that, an obsessive search for the truth begins. It is in the lengths to which that obsession will drive them, and the attitudes of other characters to that search and the secret, that a novel was born.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

Once I’ve turned the idea round in my head for a while, I’ll take an old-fashioned bit of paper and pen, and plot out the key ideas, characters and turning points. I might not then actually start writing the novel for a few more weeks, but that piece of paper acts as the grounding for my thoughts.

Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

When I start writing the novel itself, I go straight to keyboard. I work as a lawyer as well as a writer, so I spend a lot of time at computers. It’s the medium I’m happy with – it’s so much easier to get a handle on a project and to go back and change things. For a thriller like Hide and Seek, it’s crucial to get the twists just right at sentence level, as well as at a plot level, so I need to be able to play with a sentence on screen. I used to believe that I only thought creatively when writing on paper. But now my creative processes are more aligned to a computer and I will get fresh ideas as I type. Plus how much time it must take to type up handwritten notes!

Amy Shareable_HideandSeek1a (2)How important is research to you?

It depends what sort of book you’re writing. Because my books are based on human psyche, rather than say historical episodes, I tend to find myself reading up on ideas and theories, not facts. For Hide and Seek, I read a lot about memory and trauma, and on brain injuries. I also chose to structure the novel as a concerto, because of the fictitious piano concerto at the heart of it, which drives forward the protagonist’s obsessive search for truth. I therefore did a lot of reading up on concerto structure, and listening to a wide variety of composers, so I could get the pace and rhythms of my work just right.

How do you go about researching?

I stockpile a lot of books on a particular topic. I’ll do a little bit of reading at the start of the novel, or use the internet to search for a particular point. Then I’ll get on with writing so I can develop the characters and plot progression. Eventually there’ll come a point when I really want to indulge in the research and the ideas it generates, so I’ll down writing tools for a short while. I find that if I’m already a little way into the novel, I’ll view the research through the prism of the novel and the characters, and the research will give me ideas for scenes, not just facts. I do get out from behind my desk occasionally, though – for my second novel, Three Steps Behind You, the protagonist takes up fencing so I attended a class to grasp the basics, feel what it was like to actually use the kit, and get a sense of the rhythms. You can’t learn that just from watching a YouTube video.

How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?

Lots of different ways. I’ll set up a dedicated notebook for a novel, which usually stays at home. I’ll also make notes on my phone as they occur to me. Plus on lots of scraps of paper, which I try to keep – but often just writing down the idea secures it in my head. I also have a box-file labelled ‘Ideas’ where I keep newspaper cuttings or research articles that I’m either using or could be useful for later books.

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

I don’t start the first draft until I have a clear idea of the characters and the plot arc. I also wait until I have a forceful sense of the opening. That way I can just start from the beginning and work through in a linear way. I generate ideas and motifs as I write though, so it stays organic.

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

I try to avoid ritual as it limits when and where you can write. I need either my laptop or my iPad, but only as tools. I usually try to go for a short walk before I begin, to keep my focus sharp.

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?

I work part-time as a solicitor so I have to inhabit the outside world for four-days a week! On my writing days, I do like to shut the rest of the world out. I’ll stick on some comfy clothes, keep away from emails, and focus on the writing. Then in the intervening days, I’ll be thinking about what I’ve written, and how to structure the next chapter. In the early stages of a first draft, or at the climax, I like to take a week or two from lawyering just to really get into the book. Hide and Seek and Three Steps Behind You have both been first person narratives from fairly weird characters, and I find spending a concentrated amount of time in their heads helps me to access their obsessive thought cycles.

Amy Desk (2)What does your work space look like?

Very green. I usually write in my study, which has one of those mock-antique desks green leather insets, in front of which there are green curtains, and I look out into the garden (which is… green). I find it a calming space. The rest of the study and my desk are less calm – I tend to surround myself in a clutter of papers and books. It doesn’t bother me, but I suspect it bothers my husband. I’ve also been known to write on our family boat in the middle of the Norfolk Broads, or curled up in a hotel room. Once you start writing, the key space is in your mind and on the page.

Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

It depends. Usually I’ll just keep getting the words out, but if I have a sudden structure or character revelation part-way through, I might need to back and edit. I don’t endlessly re-read my work while I’m mid-draft for the sake of it, though – I tend to push on unless I know there’s a problem.

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?

Both. The reality is that with a deadline, you do need to keep track of words. Otherwise, you could write a beautiful piece of 200 words, but you would be running behind. I have a target of around 8- 10,000 words a week for a first draft, but for an individual day’s work I think it terms of chapters and key plot developments.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

About two months for a first draft if I’m working full-pelt. That sounds quite intensive, but it’s just about making sure you sit down and get on with writing. Usually there are bits of my first draft that impress me, and other bits that depress me. You have to read very carefully to see whether what’s on your head is actually on the page.

In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?

I print out the full first draft and put it in a lever-arch file. I take it to a different room in the house, and read it at a calm pace. Using a paper copy, I can make notes on it easily, or physically move chapters around if I need to.

Amy Annotated first draft (2)

What happens now that first draft is done?

The polish! After I’ve read it through, I’ll make a list of all the major pick-up points: perhaps a character’s motivation isn’t quite right, or I need to add a new motif, or a plot twist is too melodramatic. It’s at this stage when all the detailed points and ideas spring into my mind late at night or on the Tube, and I need to write them all down. I’ll work away at it for a couple more weeks, then read the whole thing out loud to myself from my iPad. That gives me draft 1.5, which is basically a sound book. I then send it on to my editor – and also let my husband read it – so that the real process of honing begins. Each plot twist is scrutinised, each character interrogated, and every motif threaded through. We probably go through about two more drafts. Only then is it ready for my readers.

Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.

You can find Amy on her Facebook, Twitter and on Goodreads.

 

Amy Postcard2_HideandSeek_P#3BB (2)

You can find Amy at Carina. And now for the exciting bit, there’s a competition!

Amy win

 

As usual, if you want to take part in the First Draft series, just let me know! You can find a list of the previous Q&A’s Here.

 

 

 

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September’s Crime Book Club Meeting and October’s Reading Choice

Last night we discussed Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night at the Crime Book Club online meeting. It was a great meeting as usual and extremely entertaining. I do love meeting up once a month to discuss these books because having that ability to meet in a face to face way with fans of the genre is just brilliant fun, especially if there is a slight difference of opinion. And with books you’ll get that because they’re subjective. We all like different things and the genre is so wide open, it gives us plenty to play with.

Anyway, enough of me fawning about the club itself, back to the book. As I said, there was a difference of opinion about the book last night, but if you’re watching the video below you’re going to have to wait until we get about half way through before you see it. Most of the members did really enjoy the book and the protagonist, 82-year-old, Sheldon Horowitz. A real different take on the genre. There was disagreement about whether the book mashed storylines together well. Watch the video below. It’s an interesting one.

 

Next month we are reading Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes

CrossbonesIntroducing Alice Quentin, a London psychologist with family baggage, who finds herself at the center of a grisly series of murders

Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London—it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing—until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard.

The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer—and the danger to her and the people she cares about—may already be closer than she ever imagined.

 

We are meeting on Wednesday 15th October at 8 p.m. GMT on Google+ Hangouts.

We would really love to see some new members. Don’t be shy. Please join us. You’d be warmly welcomed. The how-to post is at the top of the blog Here. I look forward to seeing you next month!

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How Do You Engage Children With Reading?

We all love reading right? I’m sure you’re not following this blog without being a fan of reading. But how did we get here? To be lovers of books? Was it something we picked up all by ourselves or did someone show us the way?

Were there several people in your life who helped you on the path to reading or was it one bright light of a person who struck that match and lit that spark of love?

Reading is so important. It can take us places. It can educate us. It can improve our lives and can energise us to stretch ourselves. It has endless possibilities. Yet with children it can be a fine line between showing them the way and pushing them over the edge where they feel bullied into reading and start to resent it. Show them, let them explore, find the love themselves and they’re on the path.

I have let my little man loose in Waterstones and he’s found his own love of books. He’s found his current niche so to speak. And his niche is fantasy. He will read for an hour at night with me in bed before he goes to sleep. He loves the Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson books. He’s read the whole series, so now he’s reading the Egyptian series Riordan has written.

We also wandered over to the YA stand as he’s running out of choice in the 9-12 section and he selected another book for our book-case now waiting to be read. He is way above his reading age and above most of his classmates. He loves reading. It’s often a fight to get him to close his book to get him to go to bed. And these aren’t small books, they are 500 pages long.

Yet, why is it when he finished one book and took in a similar book to school his teacher asked him if he had read Wonder. He said he had started it (I have it) but didn’t enjoy it. Her response? That’s not the point……

Can someone please tell me what exactly is the point? I get she may want him to explore other books, but to tell a child to read a book that they’re clearly not interested in? Aren’t you at risk of putting them off reading? I’ve told him to tell her when he’s finished this one he has a different type to read next.

I just want him to keep reading and to enjoy it. He will choose different books as he reads his way through the ones he has.

And on a side note, at his last parent teacher meeting last year with a different teacher, I was told his ‘big writes’ were exceptional and the teacher had not seen that standard before. I can see me butting heads at some point over this reading thing.

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