Monday, 13 April 2015

Book Review: Forfeit - An Inheritance Fraud by Carol White


Here's my review of debut author Carol White who lived in the North-West of England (hey, fans of Wilmslow and Alderley Edge!) , but was born in Malta. Now if only I could be as interesting.....

Synopisis: One minute living the Chelsea highlife, the next drinking vodka with a down-and-out, money-driven Londoner, Jess Wallace only begins to make sense of her life when a crew of ultra-slick con men embezzles her out of her inheritance.

Anxious of reporting the crime, for fear of further incrimination, and also sensing her troubles have only begun, Jess unwittingly manifests wanton chaos into her life until the moment a book on the Law of Attraction changes her entire perspective. When she learns that everything in life is profoundly connected, and that her deception, rather disturbingly, was no random act, leads her to further unearthing shocking family secrets she could neither have predicted nor even imagined. Armed with an unwavering belief that everything in life happens for a reason, Jess knows she must summon all her courage if she is ever to triumph over her adversities.

Forfeit is the first of an engaging and refreshing revenge read, incorporating elements of Hustle and Rhonda Byrne’s (The Secret).

Review: Everyone in this story (apart from a tramp who appears later on) seems to be a well-to-do person and so at first, I wasn't sure if I could relate to the characters. Fortunately, Carol White is an accomplished author - yes, it can be said (!) and writes like someone who has been writing a long time.

Forfeit: An Inheritance Fraud is a fast paced, taut thriller that mixes risky romantic interchanges with some heady falls from grace.

The way Jess, our main character rebuilds her life - literally from scratch, is believable and I think you would have to have a heart of stone not to feel for her. This is the author's power - her character elevates above certain parts of the story, lifting her situation off the page and into your mind. That's powerful writing.

Sometimes the characters seemed a little overwhelming for me, and I felt Alec was made a little one dimensional - it seems he couldn't say or do nothing right! But maybe this is how the character was meant to be.

The story is a complete one in itself and will please those who stick with it. It's an entertaining ride, full of little sub plots that engage the reader. The old lady and the cat subplot was a particular fave of mine, and the iPhone story was just fantastic.

There will be a sequel, and I think that could be even better than this tale. If you want a fast paced story with entertaining characters and a really excellent reveal at the end, get this debut novel now! 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Book Review: Facade - Unveiling the Masquerade by J Kahele


It's starting to get a lot like Stephen King....

Okay, that's not a saying. But anyone who reads, then re-reads a favourite author will know where I'm coming from.

When I get a new SK novel, I pretty much know what I'm going to get - the standard is going to be good, very good, and with J Kahele, having read three of her other books, I can only see more greatness to come from her in the future.

Facade was a wonderful book, and was a break from the heady brutality of the Mine books, but if anything, Miss Kahele has upped her game once again, and in Facade: Unveiling the Masquerade, we have a pulsating thriller with a heart.

And I thought the bar had been well and truly reached and breached with Crazy on You!

Liam Sheldon is back, but so is Ally, Washington (I like him, he's great - want more of Wash in future stories please JK!) and, intelligent Liam is not a happy man.

He misses Ally so much, and wonders what he can do to repair the damage from when he last saw her. I can honestly say I didn't see THAT ending coming, so this is why Facade: Unveiling the Masquerade is such an utter delight.

Liam is a man on a mission. Well, I think we understood that from book one - he knows what he wants, and he'll go for it.

Ally is what and whom he wants.

When they finally meet, it is well done and superbly orchestrated. Most of all, it is believable because yes...Ally cares for him too. I don't think it's all about sex - though there's plenty enough here to satisfy readers who love those scenes. It's more about needing each other....not in a desperate way, and this is where I feel the book scores very high indeed. Now they are back together, I want them to stay together.

Most of all, I wanted to punch Stark, as I'm guessing Liam did, because he's a bit too much of a hugger. Back off dude...we're dudes!

Owen is relegated to the brotherly friend of Ally...obviously, in one rather painful scene, Ally demonstrates that she just doesn't see Owen in the way he would like her to see him. Fair doesn't stop him from squaring up to Liam at some point....but it's a bit like a hyena taking on a grizzly bear....utterly pointless.

The Caras dude - remember him, and the shady Shendoahs are never far away from the action, and you just know they are going to wreck any happiness that Liam and Ally may have.

And this, even though this review is hidden because of spoilers, is where I must leave it, because the ending is truly terrific and the whole book is treasure...but those last few

With each book I read of Miss Kahele, the standard just keeps on getting higher. Whatever will she come up with next?!

Weekend Writing Workshop #4: Characters or Story? Which should Writers attempt first?

Stories start with inspiration. Maybe you visited somewhere, or you saw a new programme that reminded you of a factual event, and you decide to put a fictional spin on it. Then, there are other stories that beg to be told simply based on your experience of life

And of course, a writer is inspired by the other books he or she reads.

In my case, I am inspired by all of the above, and many more I haven't listed. I mean, one of the latest books I am reading, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, is based on one of the key moments in US history, and is proudly stating the fact that it is SK's first time travel novel.

I think time travel is a tricky concept to make work, so maybe I'll do that when I'm better at the writing craft.


If you write the Story first, that's fine, but unless it is a novella or mini-novel, you'll find yourself running out of things to happen to character 1 2 or 3.

Unless your book is really tight, and features just a handful of characters, you end up adding a new character to flesh out a plot line that would have eroded with say characters 1 and 2.

The story must have a hook, or a MacGuffin, which, in the case of my favourite film, the martial arts wuxia movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, really needed. For fifteen minutes, nothing much of note happens. The cinematography is a work of art, and it is like director Ang Lee is trying to seduce the viewer with his visuals, and indeed, the film is a visual feast.

Pretty pictures alone do not a good film make, and just like your story, it must have that MacGuffin - the thing that is hard to describe to anyone else, but if it's in your story, and you have a McG....then you have a hook that will keep your readers interested.

Even when you have this in place, you might run out of steam after say 30,000 words, so a full novel won't happen. Maybe this is one story in a short story collection - you might excel at that kind of writing.

A sharp, witting, engaging story is what I believe people want. Even if it is a horror, make it fun. It doesn't have to be terror on each page, it can be paced so it creeps up on people. You can add funny episodes inbetween. Why should you do this? Well, people want to be entertained. If it is a constant barrage of depressing vignettes, you may lose your reader, even if it is a perfectly good story.

Shape your story, and you will keep your readers attention. 


If the story is like a cake with a nice texture, your characters are like the flavour of your book. If you don't like the taste, it's unlikely you'll be rooting for them. Of course, some authors go out of their way to create unlikeable characters - but that doesn't mean that they are not interesting. How many times have you read a book, hoping that the Bad Character who wants to hurt the hero or heroine of the tale will meet a grisly end (The Lovely Bones, anyone?). So bad characters may taste ugly with a capital UG....but you kind of have to have them to make the overall dessert more enjoyable!

I've read stories that were perfectly fine in themselves, but had forgettable or pointless characters. If you read about Adam's predicament on one page, then Sarah's on another, before Becky, Drew and Penelope are dropped in on you, you may have forgotten who Adam was - and worringly for the author - why you are supposed to care about Adam in the first place. 

So, what's the answer?

Everyone can have their view, so I'll tell you what works for me. I sketch an outline of the story. Now these notes could run into several pages, so sketching an outline is not a quick exercise, nor is it for the faint of heart. Sitting down and writing is hard enough without having an outline, which includes:-

  • A start
  • A middle
  • An ending
  • A brief description of each character (not necessarily what they look like or what they wear - what is their FUNCTION in the story)
  • If writing a series, try and complete as much as you can in one book before just ending it. Readers dislike books that appear to be padded out to fill a trilogy, so don't do it if you don't have enough story in the first place
  • Not every book has to have a prologue or an epilogue - do this on your terms no-one else's
Once you have your outline, look for plausibility and logic. Could the story happen? Even in fantasy worlds, it has to sound / read as a believable plot. Logic - do the characters do stupid things? If your character hears a noise in the night, but just has to go and investigate it, perhaps this needs a rethink. Sometimes hiding out of sight is an option. You'd do it in real life (unless you are totally kick-ass) so why wouldn't your characters? Just because they are fictional and free from actual harm, doesn't mean you should treat them that way. Logic must play a part in your characters' actions.

The 2am Lightbulb Moment

You're asleep, and you know you should be asleep at this time, but you awake to find ideas flooding your brain like some kind of orgasmic aneursym. DON'T go back to sleep before you jot these things down! Truly, I had a lot of inspiration after hitting the pillow. And the ideas are often good. Maybe it happens because we are truly the daytime you have to fit writing in around the cat, the girlfriend, the parent, the guy selling something of no interest at the door.  Oh dear, looking at the above, I really do need to get out of the house more!

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

Previous WWW Tips are here

Friday, 10 April 2015

GoodReads Giveaway: Innocent While She Sleeps (A Tale of Vampires, 3)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Innocent While She Sleeps by John    Hennessy

Innocent While She Sleeps

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends May 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Gone Girl was one of those books where I saw the film first, then read the book. Usually I promise myself I will read the book first, and if the film ends up shuffling itself out of the cinema before I have seen it...well....that's what DVDs are for.

However, I really like Rosamund Pike, having seen her in Die Another Day (which was terrible in my view but she was good) and whilst I thought the casting of Ben Affleck was strange, perhaps that's because I think all the films he stars in are strange.

Anyway....this is about the book, which certainly isn't a fun fest. I think much has been written about this story so what I can add to the party I don't know...but:-

It's a really well crafted thriller, and I enjoyed the story from the different character perspectives. When head hops are done well, as they are here, it's an easy story to relate to.

Yes, sometimes the names are choppy, like 'Go' for Margo....I really don't understand the recent trend to reduce everything (such as R-Pattz, and K-Stew ffs...WHAT? use their clucking names, man!)

But this is a small point.

This story kept me guessing throughout. The violent scenes are pretty dark and intense, and felt more darker on the page than was depicted on screen. The book could have been a little shorter, but it manages to hold the reader's attention.

Anyone who has been in a deep relationship where you have been cutting bits off each other, perhaps even without knowing it, will understand where this book is coming from. Implausible? yes. Fun?  oh yes!

This was the first GF book I read, and I plan to read others.


Monday, 6 April 2015

Inspirational Places for Writing: Packwood House

Packwood House, in Warwickshire is a little gem of a place, boasting some of the loveliest topiary I've ever seen. As this is early April, a lot of the garden was fenced off, which is a real shame as it is a joy to walk amongst those amazing trees.

The house itself is over three hundred years old, and although this is my second visit to the place, my last recollection was of how many tapestries they had in the place.

There's no real paranormal history to the place, as far as I know. But at over 350 years old, something must have happened there.

This place is just 20 miles from where I live. That's why I often think Birmingham and the Midlands trumps the more cooler places like London, Manchester or Liverpool. You can be in the countryside if going for 10 minutes in any direction in the city. That's got to count for something!

The topiary garden was closed off this time. It's probably too early. Last time I visited it was late August and you could walk anywhere in the place.

The house itself is lovely, quaint and understated.

I really love the rotunda style pillar on the left.

The man was creating all sorts of things, using a method from the near past. It's a shame if these arts actually die out.

One of the many tapestries inside the house.

 Overall, Packwood House is a nice place to visit. The website, hosted by The National Trust, is often up to date. I just think maybe they could offer a concession for when certain areas are closed off. I'm a member, but two of our party are not...and whilst the gardens are the star attraction, maybe the site needs to inform when certain section are closed. If I was rating this like a book, it would be an easy four stars out of five!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Book Review: An Accidental Murder by J New


I find murder mysteries absolutely fascinating, even when say Poirot has got them all in a room, dissects each person's role (or non-role) effectively, before revealing the killer.

Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the most famous of sleuths. I thought An Accidental Murder would run something like these great classic detective tales, but having read Miss New's superlative Predator or Prey story collection, I should have known better.

Miss New has weaved a tale that seems quirky at first. It's hard for me to say exactly what is going on without revealing what I think are key plot points, but it would not be a give away to say that the cat 'Phantom' (he of the cover) is not all he seems to be!

I know they say don't judge a book by its cover, but look at it - don't you want to be on that train to find out what's going on ??
This book is utterly intriguing and I would say it's biggest strength, apart from the elegant story telling, is the beautifully crafted detail the author has put into this book. Everything is so wonderfully described, placing you in the moment.

Things get really claustrophobic as the killer is revealed. Even then, one is not sure how the story is going to end. There are many great characters in the story, of course, our heroine Isabella is a given, but I liked Ginny too (though that could be explained by the fact I loved her namesake in Harry Potter).

Mystery and murder intertwine in a deliciously wicked way that make the reader yearn for more. Not sure how many books will be in this series, but sign me up for the lot.

I rarely read a book in one go, but this totally did it for me.

Get it today.