Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writing round up

This post is a departure from my normal boating rambles. I thought I should write something about writers. It's been some time since I did a weberview, I know, but right now I don't really have the time to organise questions and set one up, so I thought I would just do a round up of the authors I have particularly enjoyed over the past months. Most of these are not what you would call big names, which is rather gratifying. I have to say that this is what has been marvellous about Twitter. It has put me in touch with  a wealth of new and talented writers whose books I am reading with great pleasure.

The first name on my list is someone I have known since the beginning of my blogging days and who I have been lucky enough to meet twice when she and her husband came to Europe for their summer holidays. Anne-Marie Klein is the author of a series of 'rock and roll' novels with the overall name  'Behind Blue Eyes'. Amazingly, Anne-Marie wrote the bulk of this story when she was still a teenager in Toronto, Canada, but had sufficient maturity then to know that her life experience was not enough to give the books real authenticity.

She took up a career in teaching and only finally polished her books (now extended to four novels) during a 'gap' year from teaching last year. I 'met' Anne-Marie on Blogger and we shared our writing on special blogs. We would each read and give comment on the other's work as we progressed, so she has been a great support and encouragement to me as well. Three of her books are published now and each one charts the life and story of Ian Harrington, a young rock guitarist who is tormented by tragic events from his youth first and later by an equally tragic event in his adult life. The books could be film scripts. They are vivid, lively and full of humanity. They are also pacey and at times, quite raunchy. I have read them all so far, both as blog posts and as printed books and enjoyed them twice over. I understand Anne-Marie is busy with the fourth an final part of the series now, so I'll look forward to reading that when it's out.

The second author on my list was a surprise for me. The books are the YA novels by Carol Hedges, whom I 'weberviewed' here back in December 2012. I have now read both Jigsaw Pieces and Dead Man Talking and thoroughly enjoyed them both even though I am not exactly YA anymore... The link here is for Jigsaw Pieces, which is the slightly more mature novel of the two. Carol writes with a true understanding of teenagers and I really love her characters for their spunk and wit. I can imagine they are quite a reflection of the good author herself! The stories are sharp, well paced and well developed. They keep you turning the pages when you should be doing something else - even an 'older' soul like me! Amazing! Actually, I thought Jigsaw Pieces was great for any age, but Dead Man Talking seemed to be a bit more geared to the teenager.  That said, both of them were really good reads and I recommend them without hesitation.

Then of course, I have read Chris Hill's excellent novel Song of the Sea God. However, I'm actually going to read this again as I feel I did not do it justice the first time round. I'm happy to say that now I have a real paperback version of the book, so I can savour it properly. I bought it in Kindle at first but I'm not the best of screen readers. I also prefer to read in bed and as I don't have an e-reader, it meant using my laptop, which doesn't work so well for me. I admired the book very much at the first reading and was impressed by Chris's crisp imaginative prose, his plot and the wide array of characters he draws in the book. Now I have the paperback version, I shall take my time and read it again because I think it well deserves a second reading. By the way I also 'weberviewed' Chris here early in the new year.

Another author whose books I have come to know and enjoy is Jo Carroll. Her gap year book 'Over The Hill and Far Away' was a real 'come travel with me' book and I genuinely felt I was with her on her journeys. I have also read Hidden Tiger, Raging Mountain and Bombs and Butterflies, her two beautiful e-books about Nepal and Laos respectively. I particularly loved the latter and was deeply moved by Jo's account of how Laos was so heavily bombed during the Vietnam war years. There are still more buried bombs than people in this war torn country that was never at war. This is a book rich in colour, emotion and poignancy.

Last but far, far from the least, I read Christina James' In the Family, a book that restored my faith in crime fiction. I thought this faith had been irretrievably lost  after a series of increasingly disturbing novels with ever more graphic descriptions of the horrors inflicted on the victims. I realised I didn't need this anymore - either for my somewhat vivid imagination, or my overall peace of mind. Christina's book, which I also reviewed here, focused more on the puzzle of solving an old crime than on the committing of the crime itself and I was totally absorbed from page one. I am now looking forward to the second of Christina's DI Yates novels, Almost Love,  for my summer reading.

But then what am I doing myself? Well on July the 15th, I am planning to release my own novel going by the name of How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics. It is about a girl who tries her hand at self-sufficiency in the wilds of rural Dorset. Her efforts are thwarted at quite a few turns by a totally eccentric mother, a flock of wilful sheep, a dotty aunt, a charming but ineffective boyfriend and a swarthy, but highly desirably agricultural auctioneer. The mix produces some novel and humorous situations, but that's all I'm going to say at the moment.

I will be publishing this myself through both Lulu.com and also through Kindle, so watch out for a few promos leading up to the big day.

Bells, whistles and horns will be blasting from this blog to make it a day to celebrate.

Well - it will be something for me to shout about in any event! There might even be cake!

20 comments:

  1. Thank you, Val.

    And reading - one of life's greatest pleasures. Do make a fuss when your books come out, so we can all join in.

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  2. Thank you too, Jo! And yes, reading is the best. It can make you laugh, cry, travel, learn, study, create and escape into a different world. I have loved it since childhood and it's still my favourite form of relaxation.

    About the fuss bit, I'll do my best :-)

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  3. Hey will it be virtual cake? So many great new writers out there, thank you for sharing them! On that note, I will go open a book!

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  4. String, I'll do a specially virtual cake just for yo :-) Yes, I've read some great books lately, and these are the most memorable of the pile! I love finding my own new 'goodreads' :-)

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  5. Val, thanks for the kind words and all the support. Looking forward to the launch of your Eccentrics! they will feel like old friends. xx

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  6. Great reviews for interesting books with unique offerings! Congrats on your upcoming story, and I'm looking forward to the big day!

    Julie

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  7. Anne-Marie, I still want to do that weberview with you too! As soon as this term is over, I shall be in touch!

    Julie, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my min-reviews :-)

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  8. Val, that would be great, thanks! One more week left here. What about you? xx

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  9. I hope you know, Valerie, just how moved I was to chance upon a blog post of yours which contained a picture of your bookshelf... and 'In the Family' had found a friendly home there amongst your chosen books.
    Here I am now, finding my books lined up with other favourite reads by authors I have met on the social networks, and I am just as touched and honoured to be included with them. Your words are the more to be valued by all of us here, for your critical judgements are balanced and shrewd, and they certainly mean a lot to me.
    Hurry up and publish the Vereeniging story, please, so that we can discover how you managed all that painstaking refurbishment! Can't wait!

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  10. Good luck with your book, Val, I am sure it will be great and I look forward to reading it. Yes, Jo's books are brilliant, I think she is on the up! I don't know the other writers you mention but I love books with a good understanding of the characters, whether be teenagers, kids or old fogies.

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  11. Thank you, Christina, That feeling of surprised pleasure is mutual. I felt the same when found your review of my book :-)

    Jenny, thanks to you too. I think you would enjoy all of these then!

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  12. Thank you so much Val - just found this and didn't realise I was 'reffed'. You wait till I come 'barging' onto your barge! We will have such fun! Looking forward to reaading your new book!!

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  13. Thanks for including me in your round up Val - I'm very honoured! I agree with you on books as opposed to downloads too. I do have a Kindle and do read books on it, but you can't beat a book and I find it easier to focus on the detail of what's being said when it's printed on paper too, don't know why!

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  14. Carol, I am looking forward to the day I can invite you for real! We will have a blast!

    Chris, it's funny about e-books. I don't have a Kindle myself, so have to read on my laptop. I can manage short books, but anything longer than about fifty pages is difficult as I have eye problems. I also find it difficult to concentrate on a screen for very long (one of the reasons I don't watch many films).Song of the Sea God is a special book, and I'm very happy to have bought the paperback now. I have just started reading it again and it IS different. I don't know why, but it just is.

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  15. Some lovely comments about some of our lovely friends here and I must say your book looks good too. Keep us posted... I'm sure you will!

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  16. Thanks, Ros. I'd love to do the same with one of yours soon! I think it's great that I now know so many good writers in this circle, and my reading range has broadened as a result. I am learning a lot from diversifying like this :-)

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  17. I like the sound of these books Val. I have read Carols and Jo's books. I didn't realise you were getting ready to publish a book,I hope I can review it on my blog for you. Have you read Trish Nicolson's travel books? Along the same line as jo's books she has one about Buthan. She also has a book about how stories began I think you would like it. Think it's called from Apes to Apps. One more thing ,get yourself a kindle!!!!

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  18. Anne, thank you! I will certainly look for Trish Nicholson's book. I love travel books! I also love books about people making a new life in other countries. My favourite of all is Micheal Wright's C'est La Vie. About the Kindle, I've thought about it. It's just that I have problems with my eyes and any kind of screen is difficult for more than short spells. Apart from that, I just love a real book. The feel and smell of them is one of my favourite things in life…maybe I'll get one for the short books - or maybe it should rather be for the very long one…haha! Saves the weight of carrying a huge tome, I know!

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  19. PS, I think the problem with commenting is the fact I've got moderation enabled for posts older than seven days! I was getting a lot of spam, but it seems to have stopped now, so I'll make it a longer period.

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  20. Pfff, I just mention the spam has stopped and now it's started again!

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Apologies for switching on comment moderation, but this is to make sure everyone can comment without jumping through captcha hoops!