Recently Read – Before It’s Too Late by Jane Isaac

I know this month I’m supposed to be reading NetGalley books only but Jane asked me for a quote for her book so I slipped this one in. And that’s a disclosure for this novel…

Before It’s Too Late by Jane Isaac

Genre: Crime

23422340 (1)I concentrated hard, desperately listening for something familiar, the sound of life. I heard nothing. Just my own breaths and the wind, whistling through branches above… The thought made me shiver. I am buried alive. Following an argument with her British boyfriend, Chinese student Min Li is abducted whilst walking the dark streets of picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon alone. Trapped in a dark pit, Min is at the mercy of her captor. Detective Inspector Will Jackman is tasked with solving the case and in his search for answers discovers that the truth is buried deeper than he ever expected. But, as another student vanishes and Min grows ever weaker, time is running out. Can Jackman track down the kidnapper, before it’s too late?

My thoughts:

As I’ve mentioned, Jane is a friend and I was an early reader of this novel and have just read it again, so in so far as this goes as a review, take it as slightly biased (as we did with Mel Sherratt’s, Follow The Leader) and I’ll be as factual as I can.

This is a break from Jane’s usually series of DI Helen Lavery. Will Jackman is a new protagonist and one I really liked and connected with. To be honest, every time he’s mentioned I just picture Hugh Jackman so she’s off to a great start there! He’s down to earth, has a daughter and is driven at work. There is some back story, but it doesn’t overshadow the main story which is excellently done.

Jane covers the issues of Chinese culture within Before It’s Too Late as missing student Min Li is Chinese and her parents are back home in China. Rather than feeling as though you are reading from a textbook, it’s part of the characters which is what it’s supposed to be, but Jane must have done an awful amount of research to get it right. The novel is told from two narratives, that of Min Li, where we find out about her life here and her life back home, the expectations of her parents and extended family, and then the third person narrative of the police investigation.

I was just immersed and swept along with it all. The bleakness of Min Li’s situation was dark and sinister but was broken up by the determined and commanding protagonist Will Jackman as he searched for her and also fought the usual office politics that occur within policing. I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

This is a great read with a protagonist I hope we see more of because I rather like him.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit

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This is a regular book related Tuesday Meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish which I am going to do here. There is a different Top Ten every Week. You love books, why not give it a go?

This week it’s; Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit. You will see there is a real mix in there. When I was trying to remember what I read I was surprised by what a mixture of books were in there. As for Jilly Cooper’s, Riders, well, all that sex and mischief…. I adored it as a teenager!

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What did you enjoy and what would you go back and read now?

Shallow Waters – Goodreads Giveaway!

Goodreads - Book giveaway for Shallow Waters (DI Hannah Robbins #1) by Rebecca Bradley Mar 18-Apr 29, 2015(showing 1-30 of 183) entries.clipularI finally got around to sorting out the Goodreads giveaway of Shallow Waters last week (it had to wait for verification by staff for it to become live). It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be because the copy of the book I had listed on there is an e-book version and I’d forgotten that specific versions are listed, even though I’m a regular user and see that some versions have different covers! So, what I had to do was list the paperback onto Goodreads system so that it could be put into the Giveaway. Finally, all is done and 2 copies of Shallow Waters are now listed for giveaway on Goodreads.

I will sign both copies before sending them out. This is open to person in the UK, US and Canada. So if you live in any of those countries, just click HERE to be taken to the giveaway. It’s running until 29th April so you have plenty of time to enter.

 

On a side note while we’re talking about Shallow Waters, I did mention this on Twitter at the time, but if you missed it, Shallow Waters is now available in a couple of libraries in Australia! I am beyond excited. A lovely Twitter reader requested her library stock it and they did! And as you can see from the below image, it is also being borrowed! So that was last week’s good news :)

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What good news do you have to share from last week?

Shallow Waters – Chapter 2

Last week I started sharing Shallow Waters on the blog because I had opened a Wattpad account and thought as I was sharing on there, I would also share on the blog each Sunday, so today we have chapter 2. (This won’t run to the end of the book I’m afraid….)

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Blue and red lights sliced through the night as I approached, the rotations casting eerie signals of death around Nottingham’s city community. I parked in front of a beautiful three-storey terraced town house, which had probably been broken down into several flats by now, the insides a distant remnant of its former glory. This was a contradictory street: old stone buildings on one side, shops and restaurants with run down flats above them on the other. It was as close as I could get. The perimeter cordon and the parked liveried vehicles of the first responders made it difficult to park adjacent to the alley I needed to be in. I climbed out of my Peugeot 308 and locked it. Pocketing the keys, I approached on foot, digging my hands into my coat pockets, shoulders hunched up to my ears in an attempt to keep warm. The end of October brought a definite drop in temperature and I hated the cold. It was bloody freezing here and the wind bit at my face, snapping and sucking the living warmth out of me. As I walked towards the scene I could see the uniformed officers on point duty, preventing the ghoulish section of humanity from entering the area. It disgusted me, the horrors people wanted to see. Looking up above the shops and restaurants in front of me, my breath made a smoky pathway through the dark. Dirty grey nets and floral curtains twitched. Pasty faces of woken residents peered out at the disruption below.

My DS, Aaron Stone, came over, pulling his blue face mask down so it hung around his neck like a second chin. We walked to the Crime Scene van parked next to a flapping blue and white taped police cordon. Aaron updated me.

“The body’s behind the restaurant where the industrial bins are. Girl’s been dumped behind them. Naked. She’s pretty bashed up. One of the workers was taking the rubbish out at the end of his shift. Poor bloke got sucker punched big time when he saw her on the ground. He’s a bit of a mess. Uniform are with him at the ambulance, trying to get some details. Jack’s on his way and Doug’s already here with the other SOCOs.” Though the new phrase for the forensic officers attending the crime scene had been Americanised to CSIs, there were some that hung on to old traditions and called them SOCOs. Aaron was particularly bad at change.

“Thanks, Aaron.” I collected a sterile packaged forensic suit from the back of the van and started to pull it on, wishing I’d worn something warmer. I felt tenser by the minute. The chill in the air was biting at my fingers mercilessly. “Do we have an ETA for Jack?”

“He shouldn’t be far behind you. I know he lives further out, but he drives like a newly qualified teenager with a heavy right foot.” White booties, hooded suit, gloves and mask in place, we headed into the alleyway.

 

Shallow Waters UK.  Shallow Waters US.

 

 

 

 

What’s Your First Draft Like? – Carol Hedges

Today I welcome Carol Hedges to the First Draft chair.

Carol Hedges PictureCarol Hedges is the successful UK author of 14 novels. 11 for teenagers and young adults, one ebook and two adult historical novels. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes and her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal.

Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery is her first adult novel. It was published in 2013 by Crooked Cat Books, and is available as book and ebook on Smashwords, Nook, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or to order in bookshops.

The second book in the series: Honour & Obey, A Victorian Crime Thriller is now available via the same outlets. The third, Death & Dominion A Victorian Sensation Novel will be published later this year

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

1. Fear – that I can’t sustain another book
2. Panic – that I have run out of ideas
3. Denial – that it doesn’t matter if I never write again

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

Kind of. I certainly seem to go round a set loop: as soon as I decide to write a new book (I’m there now, having just submitted Death&Dominion to Crooked Cat Books) the following happens:

1. Thoughts – maybe there could be something left in the pot.
2. Stirrings – ah….. what about THAT idea ….
And then I’m away …. this process takes a couple of weeks. I’m not one of those ‘can write new books continuously’ writers. I wish I was.

Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

Keyboard. I start a new file and use it as a notebook. Paper is too unreliable, it can get lost, and I can’t read my own handwriting any more due to RSI. Though I do download and print out a lot of historical stuff too. I usually top up the notes as I go and write in front of them, if you get me, so I have to scroll further and further down as the book gets longer.

How important is research to you?

As a writer of historical fiction, research is the most important part of the writing process. If I get it wrong, some expert in the field will be sure to tell me, either in a review or on Twitter. If I can’t find what I need, then I know it is safe to make it up.

How do you go about researching?

I dip into various areas:
1. Contemporary writers. Both fiction, and non-fiction. I have a huge library of novels and facsimiles. I also raid all the local libraries.
2. Online documents. Luckily the Victorians were great documenters and there are a lot of online archives available to print out.
3. Locations. I try to visit the places I write about. If you look up, beyond the modernisation of many streets, you catch a glimpse of the original buildings. I take pictures and store them on the laptop
4. Historical images on Pinterest. There are a lot of collectors of Victoriana out there, and I download and store pictures of people, objects or places that I think might be inspiring.

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

I store everything on the laptop.

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

I always write in the same way: I get down the opening ‘hook’ and the closing paragraph. Once they are written, I then develop the story from the beginning working towards the end, but I never start writing the story until those two landmarks are composed.

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

007All writers have ‘lucky’ objects on their desk and I am no exception. I have, in no order of importance: a knitted pink cupcake, a glass Littala duck, a fossil I found in the garden, a piece of alabaster from my best Twitter friend Lynn Gerrard, and a peculiar gear thing with teeth that I can spin round. Sorry, you did ask …

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

Haha – yes. The famous ‘writing time’. It’s so true. When I’m writing, particularly if the story is pouring out, then time does funny things. I have come to the end of a writing session, looked at my watch, and a couple of hours have passed. No idea where they went. Sadly, this is not conducive to my spine and hips now that I’m in my 60s, so I am having to limit myself to thirty minutes writing, then a stretch and a walk round the house, before I resume.

What does your workspace look like?

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Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

I do reread as I go and may make an immediate alteration, but on the whole, I prefer to leave the writing alone until at least the next day, when I can read it afresh with a new eye. I don’t wait until I’ve finished the whole book before beginning the editing process; I like to be initially content with each section before I continue, though I will wait until the end before doing a whole book edit.

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

I’m not an obsessive word counter and I don’t set myself targets for each day. That way madness and frustration lies. I will check the word count every now and then, mainly because after 14 books I now know where I should be in the narrative, so I like to make sure I haven’t overrun or underrun on the storyline. I think there are so many stresses with writing a novel that I try to limit the amount I inflict upon myself, where I can!

(15) Facebook.clipularSo, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

First drafts can take anything from 6 to 8 months. I have other ‘jobs’ ( looking after my granddaughter and invigilating public exams) so I don’t always write every day. Because I do mini read throughs and tiny edits, it’s in reasonably good shape. Not good enough to submit to Crooked Cat though…. not yet.

 

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

I always do first read throughs on my eMac – the computer I wrote it on in the first place. After editing it and adding/cutting scenes, I transfer it to the Toshiba, which has an enlarge facility and a better spellcheck. That’s for second edits.

What happens now that first draft is done?

Then it goes to my publisher, thence to my editor. The FINAL FINAL read through, after all my and her edits have been done, is always on paper. I still find I get the pace and flow of the narrative better if I can actually see a whole page in front of me.

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

You can find Carol on her Blog, Twitter, and her Amazon author page.

Honour & Obey

H&OCOVER!10703714_10152904947207578_6403308767871687948_nThe long awaited sequel to Diamonds & Dust , Honour & Obey brings together Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his assistant Detective Sergeant Jack Cully. It is London, 1861 and a serial killer stalks the dark gaslit streets.
In another part of the city, Hyacinth Clout, bullied and despised by her older sister, decides to find love via the lonely hearts column of a newspaper. But will it be romance, or ruin?

 

 

Give me a shout if you fancy doing the First Draft Q&A. You can find the list containing all previous authors Here.

 

 

Redefining Disability – Interpersonal Relationships

Back in February I did a post that was the first in a list of 52 questions on Rose B. Fischer’s blog. It was part of an awareness raising campaign called Redefining Disability. I do mention my own disability a few times, I’ve seen a lot of campaigning for the raising of mental health awareness recently and I’m following the Models of Diversity campaign so I decided to join Rose’s Redefining Disability project and occasionally pick a question and talk about how my own disability affects me and my life.

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The question I’ve chosen to talk about today is number 19 on Rose’s List.

In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities? — Examples might be that it’s harder for you to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability.

This one is a difficult one to write about because it has been a recent painful lesson in what friendship really is.

Mostly, nothing has changed with friends. They take me as they find me and all is good. I have one friend who calls me a teapot because she’s worried I’m going to break at any second. But she cares.

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Online friendships are easy, if I’m here, typed words portray who I am, not what I can’t do.

Then there was the meal four weeks ago. A group of friends I keep in touch with every few months by going out for a drink or a meal. I hadn’t seen them for a while. They were already seated when I arrived, because, as usual, I was running five minutes late…

It was the first time they had seen me in my collar and didn’t know anything about the craniocervical instability. I didn’t even get to the first course. I managed to drink half a glass of wine before I left that restaurant in floods of tears.

One of the girls shouted (and yes I do mean shouted, in the middle of a busy restaurant on a Saturday night) at me, when I defended myself, that I wasn’t giving up on life, I was simply trying to tell them what was wrong and I had a good life, I had published a book and sold several thousand copies, she shouted – ‘Why the hell didn’t you lead with that? We don’t want to hear about this shit. We’re out to have a good night.’

At which point, I upped and left. I have not spoken to or heard from them since. Though one of the girls is training to be a nurse and followed me out and has been in touch, she wasn’t a part of it.

So, in the main, I haven’t experienced any changes in relationships – other than that one episode. It’s funny how you don’t see the real person through the mask they wear sometimes.

Real friendships are worth their weight in gold and more. They should be treasured. You never know when circumstances could change and one of you could need the other.

Kindness is free.

 

Recently Read – Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Genre: Crime/psychological/mystery

20505127Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

My thoughts:

This novel isn’t quite crime in the way you usually read a crime genre novel. Though, thinking about it, it probably is, but because you are coming at it from a slightly backwards and forwards angle at the same time it has a completely different feel about it. You will also notice that under the genre category at the top, I’ve listed psychological and mystery, not just crime, because the book is more about these aspects, the effects on the family, than the missing child. And no-one really knows what, if any, crime had occurred other than they are looking for a missing child.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Jenny at the time just before, as Naomi goes missing, and after, then about 14 months later where you see the complete and devastating effect something like this has had on the family.

It’s a story of the unraveling of a family. As secrets are discovered and how in extreme circumstances you cope with those. What I found as the book continued to open up to me was how brilliantly Shemilt had woven everything together. It’s not easy running two different timelines and then planting the secrets waiting to be found out at a later point. It was done flawlessly.

At first I found Daughter a little difficult to get into and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I didn’t know what to expect or because the prose was so beautiful it just didn’t sit with me that this was going to be a great ‘mystery’ read. I’m one of those readers who think that there are too many books and not enough time, so I do put books down if I’m not enjoying them and I considered doing that, but something about Daughter was holding my attention and I’ll tell you what, I’m so glad it did. As I continued reading I became more and more sucked into Jenny’s world. Her sense of loss and her confusion as she found out she didn’t know the people closest to her were so beautifully and breathlessly portrayed I just couldn’t look away. I think I read the last third of the book in one day.

Do we find out what happened to Naomi on that fateful night, in the later timeline? I think that’s one for you to find out yourself. All I can say is that Jane Shemilt wrote this so beautifully, I will be thinking about this book for a while.

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

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Books On My Spring To-Be-Read List!

toptentuesday

This is a regular book related Tuesday Meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish which I am going to do here every week. There is a different Top Ten every Week. You love books, why not give it a go?

You may notice some of these aren’t technically Spring release books. Some have been released and I haven’t yet read and one has sneaked in that isn’t released until July, but such is my enthusiasm for it, it’s staying :)

So here are my top ten books, on my Spring to-be-read list!

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Book Review – The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Rebecca Bradley:

Today’s book review over on Sourcerer’s blog is an interesting one and I have Marina to thank for getting me to pick it up in the bookshop! Check it out and see what I thought…

Originally posted on Sourcerer:

Today I have something different for you again. This is contemporary with an existential kind of feel to it. Go on, let’s just try everything we can right? OK, here we go.

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

17830958Funny, clever, surreal, and thought-provoking, this Kafka-esque masterpiece introduces the unforgettable Bjorn, an exceptionally meticulous office worker striving to live life on his own terms.

Bjorn is a compulsive, exacting bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works–a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his coworkers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn’s bizarre behavior eventually leads his coworkers to try to have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room. Author Jonas Karlsson doesn’t leave…

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Shallow Waters – Free!

A couple of days ago I joined Wattpad. Wattpad is a writing community where anyone can write stories and share them for free. They are mostly in chapter format, building into something larger as the weeks go along and with it, building a following. The biggest thing on there is teen fiction and fan fiction.

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I’ve decided that I’m going to share Shallow Waters on a weekly basis, chapter by chapter as I write and compete Hannah Robbins two, but without ever completing it to the end. It does have 96 chapters! If you are on Wattpad and haven’t yet read Shallow Waters and want to check it out, my profile is; http://www.wattpad.com/user/RebeccaBradley0 but for anyone not on there, every Sunday, I will share a chapter here on the blog – but not to the end, so you have been warned!

Amazon UK.  Amazon US.   Kobo.  Nook.   Google Play.

Shallow Waters

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The noise unnerved her as she tried to shift her body in an attempt to ease the pain. Instead, the slight movement caused every bone and fibre of her body to howl out in objection. She could no longer tell where the pain was coming from, but the receptors in her brain kept up their constant transmissions. The shrieking of her nerve endings blended into one mindless assault on her senses. The stench of her own urine was sharp in her nose as it burnt her bruised and bleeding body.
As she shifted, it creaked and rattled again. She froze, the sound reawakening her terror, returning her to the reality of her surroundings. Her eyelids felt heavy and hot, drawn down and protective, but she forced them open. Just to check.
Her body throbbed. Blood crusting on dry and broken skin added to the acrid smell assaulting her nostrils. It tasted bitter and vile in her mouth. The room was unlit, a faint light sneaking under the door at the far side of the room casting shadows, playing with her mind. She could make out shapes in the gloom, furniture she knew was there in the daylight, shape-shifting in the dark. It was quiet. She strained for any sound of someone else in there with her.
She tried to turn her head to check he wasn’t there, watching from the corner. Pain seared through her skull like hot metal rods. She was alone. Slowly, she lowered it back down onto the damp, sticky plastic base and let her eyelids close. The dog cage surrounding her was left behind for the blackness that now enveloped her.