Recently Read – Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Genre; Crime

daisyFamous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

My thoughts:

OK, today we have more book love. But, would you be surprised to hear that considering the author is Sharon Bolton? I adored her previous standalone book, Little Black Lies, as you can see in this Post. Daisy In Chains is equally as stunning a read. And another of my holiday reads. I really did get to read some great books as I lay about in the sun this year. I made some good choices.

I adored reading about Maggie Rose. She is a strong female and has her own distinct sense of self that I was envious of. She had the courage to wear her hair blue and not care what people thought. She was self-assured and confident and she wasn’t taking any demands from Hamish Wolf or his fan club.

Hamish Wolf, in prison for the murder of several young women was once a well-respected doctor and there are people who believe his innocence. He’s an interesting character. You never quite know how to take him, which makes the writing absolutely brilliant.

And then you have the investigating detective on the case Pete Weston and his team, who are the middle of Maggie and Hamish. They are trying to make sure their case is still tight in case Maggie does decide to take his case, but they seem to have a good working relationship as Maggie is wooed by the project to support Wolf’s appeal.

The characterisations are solid and believable and really draw you in. The story is a complex web which will leave you guessing until the last-minute. I mean – does a book like this end with him being guilty or innocent? It really could go either way and you need to read it to find out…

You won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough to find out what on earth is happening, though.

An absolutely fantastic read.

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

Using Food In The Battle For My Health

My health is deteriorating, but I’ve found a new way to take charge and to help myself in this constant battle with my own body.

Food.

Yes, the food I am putting into my body, or more specifically, the food I am now no longer putting into my body, is helping in my day-to-day battle with pain.

Let me explain.

dietBack in June, I read a book called The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet by a Dr Michael Mosley. The book is geared towards diabetics, specifically, type 2 diabetics. Dr Mosley claims that he can cure type 2 diabetes through diet alone. I’d also read a post on Facebook where a woman claimed she had lost a huge amount of weight in only a month after reading this book – and she had the photos to prove it. I was curious. I’m not diabetic. I have a family member (married into – not blood) who is, and I tend to put my weight straight to my stomach, so as I get older I am easily at risk of going into the prediabetes category anyway.

I loved the science behind the book. It was in simple speak and backed up by the evidence of people having followed Dr Mosley’s simple plan.

Basically, sugars and carbs are bad.

I then thought back to Ella Woodward, the young woman who had changed her diet to support her recovery back to health. (Though I have one caveat with saying diet can cure POTS – with what I’m saying in this post I completely believe her recovery was down to her diet, but there are two types of POTS. I have the secondary type, due to EDS, my veins are too loose to pump my blood around my body properly and you are never going to tighten them up with food. I just wish the fact that there were two types of POTS were made clear when she made the claims, as it is with Dr Mosley’s book with and diabetes. There’s no way he could cure type 1 diabetes.) Anyway, thinking back to Ella, I realised that food is important to our bodies and is in fact very impactive and does play a bigger role in things than maybe we understand.

I then got speaking to Pam, a friend of mine, who has a massive allergy problem, so much so that she needs an EpiPen, she is having to control her life through food because a lot of her allergies are food related. And they’re not the usual culprits. It’s bizarre. But she’s had to pare back to basics and it was interesting (sorry Pam) to watch the process of food and its impact on the human body.

So, between these three things, I decided I was going to do this for myself.

In mid-June, I cut out sugars and carbs. In 4 weeks I lost 10 lbs and I’d halved my painkiller intake. Halved it.  

I had also had a pain crisis from overdoing it during the book launch and needed to go to A&E, but changing my diet isn’t a magic cure for an unstable neck and head. It is, however, another weapon in my arsenal against the daily pain I live with and if it works then I’m taking it.

I’ve lots to learn about the diet yet. I haven’t been rigid – I ate too much in the way of sugars on holiday and am now losing the 5lb I put on (2lb off in 5 days). I haven’t touched bread, pasta or potatoes since I started in June, but my diet is very basic at the minute and I need to learn more about what I can eat. But, it’s a start and I’m enjoying the journey. I hope I can share it with you?

Recently Read – So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Genre; Non-fiction (Social commentary)

shameFrom the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world’s most under-appreciated forces: shame. ‘It’s about the terror, isn’t it?’ ‘The terror of what?’ I said. ‘The terror of being found out.’ For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control. Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and the very scary part we all play in it.

This edition includes a new chapter about Jon Ronson’s own public shaming, encountered thanks to the publication of this book.

My thoughts:

I can’t rave about this book enough. No matter how much I have raved about any book on this blog, this is one book I think everyone must read. And I kid you not, with that bolded out statement. I am deadly serious. If you’re using social media, then you need this book in your life and you need to read it quickly before you keep typing into your tweet stream or Facebook feed. It’s that important.

This book scared the living daylights out of me.

I was already aware of the power of social media before I read it. It was one of the reasons I picked it up from the shelf in the bookshop. I’d heard about it and had an understanding of where it was coming from.

We’re a society using public shaming to control people/organisations/governments. To make change happen. It can be for the good. But when directed at a single individual, it can be terrifying. 

Have you ever heard of someone who has hurt a friend on social media by their words or actions and then gone on to castigate them for it, making it public so others can see the error of their ways? Or have you seen a wrong doing already circling and shared the tweet or Facebook post, sharing the outrage?

It’s this simple act. You/me, a single person, who makes the whole monster. A monster who is uncontrollable and who, actually, the offending person, really doesn’t deserve that level of anger. Yes, they may be an ignorant idiot, but fired from their job? Don’t kid yourself.

One guy in this book was at a conference, sat with a friend, he made a remark that could have been taken as sexual innuendo (to his friend) about the slide on the screen in front of them (a dongle joke – it was a tech conference). A woman sat in front turned around, took his photo, indignantly tweeted it and it went viral. He lost his job.

It’s that easy.

Was he wrong? I don’t know, maybe if she was really that offended, then he should have thought about how loud he was speaking or if it was an appropriate place etc, but did he deserve to be publicly shamed and lose his job? Absolutely not.

Now, you may say you wouldn’t tweet something like that, but this weekend I saw a Facebook post where a woman was rude on a plane. She’d been rude to a family who had a child with an invisible illness (autism). She’d said can they shut that kid up. A few times I believe. Yes, she was rude. – But, the family took her photo (side profile) and shared a Facebook post saying they hope she was sleeping well because their daughter was distressed and in the hospital, hashtag autism (because obviously that was going to get more shares – cynical, me?) It had, when I saw it, 106 thousand shares on Facebook.

Did that rude woman deserve her photo and this story to be this big because she was so rude? Some would say so. But what if she was invisibly ill? And it was giving her a bad day? And now she has this. And what if she actually loses her job because she works in a place where she needs to be polite and her employer sees it? The family, if they felt like voicing outrage could have simply created the s

The family, if they felt like voicing outrage could have simply created the same post but without the photo and it would have had the same impact for them, the same sense of outrage and disgust that they felt someone had behaved badly to them and their daughter, but adding the photo and potentially identifying her adds a whole other realm to it.

I once read and shared a blog post where an invisibly disabled woman wrote an open letter to another woman who had tutted at her for using a disabled toilet. It was an amazing blog post. She was using a colostomy bag that was full to bursting and the other toilets were full and if she hadn’t rushed into the disabled toilets there could have been a real mess (if I remember it correctly). A powerful post, identifying a problem in society, without the need to publicly castigate the specific individual.

Our actions have consequences.

Where we think we are sending one tweet in support, we are actually building a momentum, an avalanche, a deluge that sweeps away the person at the other end. It completely washes them away.

Yes, Twitter is great for getting big organisations to listen to the masses, but not to target an individual. It smacks of playground bullying in the extreme.

Really, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s fascinating. And not just about how you can affect the lives of others, but also how people are watching what you tweet…

This is an interesting TED talk by Ronson on one of the topics in this book.

Back To Basics – The Police Rank Structure

As I was sat around last night, trying to figure out what Policing topic I was going to cover, I realised that we were leaping ahead in some of our posts. I had wanted to try and work my way from the beginning of a crime scene to the end of a case, but with a couple of questions coming in, I’d thrown myself off course somewhat. So, I needed to focus.

Don’t worry, this can all go tumbling sideways again…

Making Your Crime Fiction Realistic (6)But, the first post I did was on Police Working Relationships, Here, where I discussed the differences between uniformed officers and detectives (nothing in the case of rank) and what officers would call each other.

I realised, what I hadn’t done, for anyone wanting to write crime, who really didn’t know anything about the policing structure, that I hadn’t mentioned the rank structure itself. I mean, that really is remiss of me.

So, let me put that straight. Bear in mind, this is for all UK forces, other than the Met.

Constable

Sergeant

Inspector

Chief Inspector

Superintendent

Chief Superintendent

Assistant Chief Constable

Deputy Chief Constable

Chief Constable

The Metropolitan Police – after Ch Supt

Commander

Deputy Assistant Commissioner

Assistant Commissioner

Deputy Commissioner

Commissioner

City of London Police  – after Ch Supt

Commander

Assistant Commissioner

Commissioner

You can find all previous posts in the Policing series, Here. And if you have any questions you’d like answering in a post, please leave them in the comments below.

 

Sunday Blog Round-Up

I’m going to start a Sunday round-up of all the posts that I’ve created in the week previous. That way, you can catch up with any you may have missed.

It’s been a strange week. I’ve been away for most of it – Monday-Thursday, and yet, I managed to post all 5 weekdays. It’s not something I usually do.

Being away for two weeks holiday has shown me that when I was at home, I manage my time quite poorly and if I want to, I can be quite productive, without it causing me any problems.

IMG_3386I enjoyed getting up in the early morning and grabbing a peaceful hour before everyone else was up and doing some work while I could access the pool WiFi with no problems. The view was wonderful and the temperature perfect. Then I’d spend all day reading and doing holiday stuff when everyone got up and in the evening when my energy was drained, I’d do another hour of work in bed.

I was on top of my emails even though I had my out of office assistant on, my blog was running better than usual, I finished the first draft of my novella, I nearly wrote the synopsis of my next book (I didn’t quite finish it) and I read 11 books. And I had a fabulous holiday.

And within all that, I have come home with a renewed enthusiasm to organise my life so I can achieve more without feeling stressed out about it because I certainly didn’t feel stressed out while I was there. I know it’s a better and more relaxing environment and there aren’t the trials and tribulations of everyday life when you’re on holiday, but I do think I can achieve this. I’ll post more about it in other posts.

This week, we’ve seen;

Monday5 Criminally Gross Body Disposals

TuesdayRecently Read – The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

WednesdayDo You Want To Be A Character In My Upcoming Novella?

ThursdayRecently Read – Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

FridayWhat’s Your First Draft Like?- Claire Seeber

What’s Your First Draft Like? – Claire Seeber

Today I’m thrilled to be able to welcome Claire Seeber to the First Draft hot seat. (Which I have filled for another few weeks, before it finally gives way to the revisions process, to come you will be pleased to hear.)

seeberClaire Seeber is a Londoner who started professional life as a (bad) actress and became a documentary maker, a journalist and a writer of, so far, psychological thrillers. The Observer said of her first novel: ‘a disturbing debut’ whilst The Guardian called it ‘powerful’…she keeps writing whilst also studying psychology and (trying to) to manage a home of slightly feral kids and animals. Luckily she’s got a very nice partner to help too.

 

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

It depends really on whether I am writing to a deadline, or ‘for myself’.  Since my first book LULLABY was published, I’ve mainly written books that I’ve been under contract for – and that affects how I approach the first draft.  But the two times I’ve written books out of commission, it’s been a very different experience.  More, um ‘organic’ shall we say!  Or perhaps free range sounds better🙂

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

Er…a brief synopsis usually for my editor…then she says ‘Not so much’; then I sigh/ cry/ pull my hair out.  Only joking.  No, not really a set routine…I tend to just try to get pen to paper as it were any old where and begin!

ClairePen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

Bit of both!  I often start a novel in a notebook – I always have one on the go and I have to have a particular kind of A4 ringbound book, and a different colour for each new book.  Ooh just the thought of it makes me giddy.

How important is research to you?

Good question!  I don’t like to have out and out factual errors in a thriller – but I have definitely been known to make stuff up!  If I didn’t make it up, then it would take me years!  And I can get a bit carried away with research once I get started.

How do you go about researching? 

Asking people in the know.  For FRAGILE MINDS, handily, there’s a senior policeman in my remote family, who kindly let me barrage him with questions.  For NEVER TELL, my neighbor and friend’s a barrister & he helped out re the court case (and was horrified when I occasionally ignored him!).  And of course, a bit of Google never goes amiss!  For a much more historical book I’ve been writing, I’ve read A LOT of books too.  But I have to be careful to not then shove lots of unnecessary research in just because I think it’s fascinating.  It might not actually help the story!

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

Note books/ magnetic boards/ pulling articles out of papers/ bookmark stuff on the computer & never look at it again!

How does first draft take shape?

I just write and write and write.  Then I look at it and think ‘My, what a load of old baloney’  then I pull stuff out.  I have brainwaves in the bath/ on the bus/ walking the dog sometimes, and I’ll think ‘Oh of course!’

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

My brain is quite helpful to have with me though sometimes it goes missing in action!

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

Yes I can get lost most definitely, though I have to get away from the internet etc.  And my children!  Nothing bursts the creative bubble quite like my little darlings🙂

What does your workspace look like? 

Cluttered!  I am not a super organised person though I’m working on it, really!

Edit as you go or just keep getting words out? 

Both – depends on the deadline…always a little editing, but sometimes much more as  I go along, sometimes just getting the story down and then going back in proper detail

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

Oh God I hate the word counter!  But it is both the writer’s enemy and our friend, don’t you think?  Editors have a word count expectation and if the book’s too short, you’re in trouble!

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

The fastest I’ve ever done it is for The Stepmother I think as I was writing full-time for a few months.  In the past the writing time has been more spread out between child-care and doing TV jobs (given that up now!)

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

Definitely on paper; I don’t even own an Ereader (note to self: must rectify). I think you spot more mistakes on paper!

What happens now that first draft is done?

I collapse in a big heap!  Sometimes I ask someone else to read for errors/ plot holes.  Then I give it to my editor, cross my fingers, try to keep breathing etc.  And finally I start draft 2!

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

Thank you for having me – it’s been great fun!!

You can find Claire on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Stepmother
stepThe perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…
Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.
No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.

After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending … doesn’t it?

A compelling, dark and twisty psychological thriller that will grip fans of Behind Closed Doors, Between You and Me and The Teacher.

 

Recently Read – Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Genre; Psychological thriller

cryIn downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

My thoughts:

This is Kubica’s third novel and it is the third novel I have loved.

I’m currently on holiday (flying home today) and I’ve had a wonderful time catching up with my TBR pile as you may have been able to tell. I still have a few great books to talk about. Laying in the sun reading has been blissful and it’s a time when I always seem to read Kubica’s next novel.

There are two narratives in Don’t You Cry. That of Alex, a small time boy of 18, who lives at home with his drunk of a father, being the adult of the house, and Quinn whose Chicago roommate suddenly goes missing one night.

You think you know how the two narratives are bound together, but you are never quite sure. However, it never seems to matter because the story is just beautifully told. It’s not a fast-paced “page-turner” but a real honest look at people, their lives, emotions, hopes, dreams and fears, and it pulls you into the pages and holds you in its spell. You love the frailty of Alex and how he admits to his first kiss and how it all went wrong with the telescope. You love the drive of Quinn to stay in that place in the world where she fits and she can be a better friend to someone she cares about.

And, Don’t You Cry – well, it had me crying! Luckily I think I was in my room by that point and not laid around the pool otherwise, it would not have been a good look for me.

Another highly recommended Kubica novel. Awaiting the next one for next years holiday!

Do You Want To Be A Character In My Upcoming Novella?

It doesn't have to be a woman...
It doesn’t have to be a woman…

That’s right, you have the opportunity to be a character in the upcoming novella that is due for release this Autumn. It’s a DC Sally Poynter prequel who you will have met in Shallow Waters and charts her very first case in the Major Crimes Unit in Nottingham.

The novella is written but there are a couple of characters whose names are not set in stone and can be changed during the editing process.

So, if you fancy being immortalised in a crime novella then now is your chance. Just follow the simple steps below.

  1. Sign up to the Members Reading Club, HERE.
  2. When you get a return email, reply to it “Yes please, I’d like to be a character in the novella!”

Simple as that! You’ll then be entered into the draw.

Being a member of the reading club means you get lots of perks like this, as well as exclusive extracts, early previews of covers and giveaways.

Looking forward to seeing what my new character is going to be called. If you read Made to be Broken. Chief Superintendent Trevor Youens was a reader who was drawn just like this. Who could you be in this book?

Recently Read – The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

Genre; psychological thriller

devilIt was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.

My thoughts:

I reviewed Mark’s last book, Follow You Home, Here, not too long ago and I’d loved it. So when he asked if I wanted an advanced reader copy of The Devil’s Work I obviously jumped at the chance.

I wasn’t disappointed.

It is an entirely different read but it still has Mark’s unique style about it. His voice. He has an ability to keep you turning the pages, wanting to know more all the time. He holds back, just teasing the story along. Keeping you engrossed but at the same time, without you quite realising it, not giving you enough to fill you.

The Devil’s work follows two timelines for our protagonist Sophie. The current timeline set in 2015 where she starts a new job in a publishing house (how great to see a novel set in the book world!) and one several years earlier when she was a young and insecure woman at university. You realise that of course, these two timelines have to converge at some point but you can’t quite figure out how that will come about, so, you have to keep reading.

But, in the meantime, she really is quite anxious by events that are occurring in her new dream job that she doesn’t feel quite so dreamily about now. It starts fairly small and innocuous (though maybe not for other people) and gradually has her feeling extremely nervous and worried about her life.

With the two running timelines, I enjoyed seeing that Sophie had actually grown into an adult and wasn’t still the same person she’d been at university, just at a different time. Mark had made her a fully drawn and well-rounded character.

As the timelines start to converge, the page turning gets to erratic levels as you just have to know how things are going to play out.

It’s another great read from Mark Edwards and I have to thank him and the publisher for my advance copy.

 

 

5 Criminally Gross Body Disposals

Over the last two weeks we’ve discussed if our body was found, how it would be identified, and then how it could be disposed of. 

Today, we are going to look at, 5 ways we may have been disposed of had we been at the hands of an unsavoury criminal who had not wanted our body found…

5. Woodchipper – Yes, the good old woodchipper, used in Fargo and I’m sure the X-Files used a woodchipper once. I may be imagining that one, though.

4. Lye – The alternative name for Sodium Hydroxide. Place your body in a container that won’t also be damaged – so an old metal bath would be ideal. It’ll make the majority of your body disappear, leaving only small bits of bone for a forensic scientist to try to identify you with.

3. Concrete – Ever wondered how many bodies are actually buried under buildings in large cities?

2. Cannibalism – as in the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer. Though you’d really need to be very hungry to dispose of your victim properly.

pig-214349_12801.. Pigs – I love this one. It’s just the most gross way I can imagine of getting rid of a body. I mean, pigs. They eat every last morsel of you (other than teeth and hair, I believe so get ready to pick those bits up and throw them somewhere no one is going to be looking) and then if the owner wasn’t in on the murder or disposal and the pig was for sale for meat, then… I’ll leave that one to your imagination…