Wednesday, 27 April 2016

My 'One Woman' Twitter Campaigns - why?

If you've been on Twitter over the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed my two 'One Woman' Twitter campaigns, encouraging people to:
(1) 'not just buy bargain books' 
(2) 'review the books they love'

I've had authors and publishers thank me for my tweets and a large number of comments and retweets. I appreciate every one of them. But that's not why I'm doing it. 

Good books are priceless
I LOVE reading. Always have done and always will. A good book can whisk you off to faraway places, introduce you to the wonders of the world (or other worlds) and enable you to meet a whole host of characters (good and bad). It can make you smile, laugh, cry, think, contemplate, shake, gasp ... a well-written book can trigger so many emotions. 

If a book's THAT GOOD, you'll want to read it again and again. 

So why just stick to the bargains? 

Look around Amazon, visit your local bookshop, local library, follow #BookLove on Twitter to see ALL the fabulous books out there, not just the cheap ones or the free ones. 

People don't think twice about paying for a coffee that lasts a few minutes. Books can last a lifetime. Choose books because they sound FANTASTIC, not based on their price.

Authors spend months, sometimes years, writing - and re-writing - their books. Their blood, sweat, tears and heartache fill those pages. They've deliberated over every word. Created characters that you can believe in. Developed stories that will wow you - and will last forever. 

A beautifully-written book really is priceless.  So why not splash out? 

There are so many brilliant books available. 

It's just a case of finding them. 

Which brings me on to my other 'campaign'.

#WriteAReview - Review the books you love
If you love a book that much, you'll want the world to know. Help the author out by telling your friends, family, Twitter pals, Facebook friends... even people in the street. And don't forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other websites/online book clubs. 

If you don't tell people about the books you love, no one else will find them. Books often only get promoted on Amazon (i.e. picked up by the algorithms) if they have enough good reviews. Which means fantastic books may not get near the top of the charts. Most people only look at the top charts when they're choosing a book, or just choose bargain, reduced price or free books.

Anyone can write a review - you don't need to be a book blogger. Just a few words will do. Write from the heart.

Even if you don't like a book, you can still leave a review. But remember that authors are people too - with real feelings!

So this is why I've started my two Twitter campaigns. I have no idea whether anyone is listening or taking notice. But these are both #BookLove issues that I feel strongly about. 


Monday, 25 April 2016

The Other Side of the Mountain by Fiona Cane

The Other Side of the Mountain
By Fiona Cane
Published by CreateSpace (11 June 2015)
ISBN: 978-1512237481

Publisher's description
It’s 2001, and amidst the political turmoil in Haiti, three disparate lives collide: Yolande, an impoverished farmer desperately looking for the sister her abusive husband has sold into slavery; Maddy, an eager British journalist on her first overseas assignment, set on making a name for herself; and Clare, an ex-pat gynaecologist who’s devoted the past eight years to healing Haiti’s downtrodden women. Divided by language, lifestyle and personality yet all driven by painful memories buried in their pasts, the three women unite to search for the missing child. It’s a quest that takes them deep into the city’s underworld, where poverty is rife, black magic thrives and violence is king; a world in which appearances can be deceptive and where survival is by no means certain.

My verdict
The Other Side of the Mountain is the story of three very different women who meet in Haiti at a time of political turmoil. It's a passionate and heart-wrenching book that's beautifully written and not easy to forget.

Young farmer Yolanda is hiding from an abusive husband. Maddy is seeking the ideal story that will further her career as a journalist. And Clare, a gynaecologist, is helping to heal Haiti's women. All are escaping their past in some way. Their search for a missing girl (Yolanda's younger sister) brings the three women together - and helps them overcome their personal challenges and fears.

The Other Side of the Mountain is a fascinating story with sad undertones, set in a country of poverty, destruction and violence. The tiny details, vivid descriptions and rich dialogue within the narrative are truly stunning and transported me to Haiti, with its sounds, aromas and sights. Fiona Cane is an amazing writer and storyteller. The story of these three women really touched me, especially as some of the events are based on real life.

This is certainly a book I'll be recommending!

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Tenacity Naval Toasts blog tour - 'A Bloody War or a Sickly Season' by James Law

Today marks the final stop on the Tenacity Naval Toasts Blog Tour. Tenacity is published in paperback by Headline TODAY (21 April 2016). And I'm delighted to welcome James Law to my blog talking about 'A Bloody War or a Sickly Season'.

I may have mentioned 'once or twice' that I LOVE this book - and that I'm REALLY looking forward to James' next one. I even visited the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Portsmouth soon after I finished reading Tenacity and told everyone on the tour that they should buy the book. At the time, we were in an enclosed space and no one couldn't escape easily - so I reckoned this was the ideal opportunity to do some book promotion.

A Bloody War or a Sickly Season
by James Law

If you’ve followed my blog tour at all, you’ll know that at mess dinners in the Royal Navy, immediately after the Loyal Toast of ‘The Queen’, the youngest officer present will normally offer the traditional drinking toast of that day.

‘A Bloody War or a Sickly Season’ refers to the will for a good old dust up to thin the ranks, or a spell of illness and associated deaths, to allow for quicker promotion and advancement through the ranks. I like this toast because it’s so damn honest! It’s also one of the toasts that actually appears in the book, thought it's misused, said to Dan as 'A bloody whore with a sickly lesion'.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the instances when Dan is subjected to a frightening situation, but the toast holds true in its intent – the speaker is wishing harm upon Dan to his own ends, but Dan’s unlikely to step aside easily and today, Tenacity finally sets sail, so you can find out exactly how far the other sailors will go to stop her…

About James Law
James joined the Royal Navy in 1993 as an apprentice and went on to serve for twenty years, the majority spent in the Submarine Service. He rose through the ranks, taking a commission as an engineering officer in 2001, and serving as a Senior Engineer and Nuclear Reactor Plant Supervisor, where his responsibilities ranged from the safety and operation of the submarine’s nuclear power plant to hydraulic plants, fridges and toilets; it was the latter of these tasks that brought the majority of any pressure.

His final years in service were spent training future submariners in the role of Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Reactor Engineering, where he lectured and mentored future submarine operators of all ranks and rates.

Having written short stories and novels throughout his naval career, James completed an MA in Creative Writing at Portsmouth University shortly before leaving the navy in 2013, completing his debut novel, Tenacity, shortly afterwards.

James lives in Hampshire with his wife, Elaine, and two children. He spends what spare time he has riding his bike around the South Downs and travelling to Edinburgh to watch Scotland play rugby at Murrayfield stadium.

Readers can find out more about James on his website and Facebook page and follow James on Twitter - @JSLawBooks 

By J.S. Law
Published by Headline ( 21 April 2016)
ISBN: 978-1472227911

Publisher's description
Suicide must be investigated.
Especially when a Royal Navy sailor kills himself on a nuclear submarine, only days after his wife's brutal murder.
Now Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy's finest Special Branch investigator, must interrogate the tight-knit, male crew of HMS Tenacity to determine if there's a link.
Isolated, and standing alone in the face of extreme hostility, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival.
Justice must be served, but with a possible killer on board the pressure is rising and her time is running out...

Read my review here.

And click here to visit the website of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Portsmouth - in case you want to experience the claustrophobic setting for yourself.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Lindsey Davis: Veni, Vidi, Vici - Dialogue in Historical Fiction

I'm delighted to welcome Lindsey Davis to my blog today. Lindsey's latest Flavia Albia novel, The Graveyard of the Hesperides (Flavia Albia 4), was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 14 April 2016.

I loved all 20 books in Lindsey Davis's Falco series - I remember taking the 9th book (Three Hands in the Fountain) on my honeymoon in 1997!  Although I'm currently lagging behind with her latest series - featuring Falco's adopted daughter Flavia Albia - I'm definitely turning into an ardent fan of these books too.

Recently I put the following questions to Lindsey:
You write dialogue in today’s language. Why, as you are so historically accurate, do you give your characters today’s attitudes? Does it bring in readers who wouldn’t usually read historical fiction? How important is humour in your writing, especially in relation to your dialogue? 

Read below to discover her answers.

Dialogue in Historical Fiction
by Lindsey Davis

Well, I am loth to be too stroppy but I disagree. I don’t think my characters have today’s attitudes – or no more than the Romans really did (read Senecca, for example, on gladiators, read Cicero’s brother on how to get elected, which was the spin-doctoring tract behind Deadly Election, read any of the Roman satirists on trying to be a writer when nobody thinks they need to pay you for your work, read Ovid on sex…). Both Falco and Albia frequently muse on the idea of Romanness, its traditions and myths, its good and its bad points as they affect people and society. Falco is a proper Roman, even though he pretends he’s critical, and Albia is giving us the woman’s and the outsider’s viewpoint; she comes from Britain so she views the city as a foreigner might.

On language specifically, if I was entirely accurate I’d be writing in Latin, and a street-level kind at that. (What do you suppose the Roman version is of the “Thou art a varlet, sirrah, quoth he” style of historical writing?...) I choose modern idioms, while trying not to be anachronistic. People don’t get mesmerized, they are fascinated or struck dumb. They don’t say Oh my God, they mutter Titan’s turds! I invent swear words (and others – but Shakespeare did that, all the time). There is a fine movement in Australia to bring my ‘nicknackaroony bowls’ into current parlance. I would only use ‘parlance’ in a particularly mannered passage, incidentally, perhaps when being ironical. It’s all a question of selection. So long as whatever you say is clear in context, that is the only thing that matters.

I can be accused of being too English, too American, too slangy, too formal (I know how use clauses), or just too modern. The Microsoft grammar checker (which I turn on just so I can shout it down) thinks I use too many unfinished phrases. Its use of verbs does not comply with mine. People who think that way should just go and read a more pedestrian, ‘safe’ author instead. But I am writing in the first person, in a fast, elliptical, conversational style. If Falco and Albia are composing their ‘memoirs’ (as they both sometimes joke) then they are doing it as if they were talking directly to us.

About Lindsey Davis

Lindsey has been writing books for over 20 years, including the Falco series, the Albia series and several standalones (set in either the Roman period of during the Civil War. 

You can find out more about Lindsey on her website

Click here to discover more about her books.

The Graveyard of the Hesperides
By Lindsey Davis
Published by Hodder & Stoughton (14 April 2016)
ISBN: 978-1473613362

Publisher's description
Life is sweet for Flavia Albia and her soon-to-be husband Faustus. But his new job as a building contractor runs into a problem: At the Garden of the Hesperides a barmaid went missing years before; now the workmen start unearthing her bones.
Albia takes on the task of finding out what happened. Five more skeletons are discovered. Despite the fact that nobody seems to know or care who died, violent attempts are made to stop her enquiries.

Soon Albia is exploring the world of Roman streetlife, where bars are brothels, workers lead brutal lives, foreigners are muscling in on the gambling syndicates, and extortion is commonplace. What's more there's little time to solve the mystery before the wedding day when Albia is expected to show Rome that her affair with Manlius is a much more than a casual fling. The gods, however, have other ideas...

My review of The Graveyard of the Hesperides will be coming soon.