Win 2 novels by Emma Viskic!

Today I am delighted to be able to offer a very exciting giveaway thanks to the lovely Pushkin Press, namely a copy of two novels from CWA Award shortlisted writer Emma Viskic.

If you haven’t yet tried her debut novel Resurrection Bay and its stunning sequel And Fire Came Down, then this is your chance to delve into the world of deaf detective Caleb Zelic. Caleb lives in Melbourne and has been deaf since the age of 5. We first meet him in Resurrection Bay where he discovers the body of a friend who has been brutally murdered. Determined to get to the truth and prove his innocence Caleb teams up with another friend Frankie, a former policewoman who struggles with addiction, to try and track down the killer.

I enjoyed Resurrection Bay, the Australian setting gives this novel a really original feel. The two main settings of big city and small coastal town gave a good contrast highlighting the differences between Caleb’s childhood and his grown up life. It was also interesting the way that Caleb is portrayed, he may have a disability but he is certainly not someone courting sympathy. The story was fast paced and kept me riveted.

I would highly recommend Emma Viskic’s novels and if you would like to give them a go then you can win a copy of both ‘Resurrection Bay’ and ‘And Fire Came Down’.

To enter simply comment below, retweet the tweet @cj_colbourn, comment on my facebook post or just email me at candic13@yahoo.co.uk. The winner will be chosen at random on December 21st 2018and will win a copy of both books.

Please note your name and address will be passed to Pushkin Press to distribute the prize but all details will be deleted after the competition.

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An Interview with Leye Adenle – Q&A

A couple of years ago one of the panels I attended at TOPCWF had a late substitute on it in the form of Leye Adenle. Not an author I was aware of at the time, he was such a fantastic addition to the panel that I rushed straight out to buy his book at the book tent. Clearly I wasn’t the only person as by the time I got there they had sold out, so I had to wait a while to get my hands on a copy of Leye’s crime novel ‘Easy Motion Tourist’. Once I did though Leye soon became one of my favourite authors and so as part of October’s Black History Celebration Month I was delighted to be able to do a Q&A with the man himself.

Hi Leye and thanks for your time. Firstly have you always been a writer and who inspired you? Do you prefer writing short stories, novels or articles?

I have always written, even when it was just crayon on the walls of my parent’s home. For as far as I can remember, and since when I was reading, I’ve wanted to be a writer and I’ve written. As a child I started with poems, short stories and even comics that I drew with my brother, then I had many failed attempts to write complete novels, then I did even more short stories and even managed some complete manuscripts that I shall never allow anybody to read. I lost one manuscript that I really loved, and recently, while searching for something else, I found a complete novel I wrote in longhand in a notebook. Of all the forms of writing, I like writing articles the least, but I still like writing them.

The books I read from a young age inspired me to write – it must be that because I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a writer. 

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

My working day starts with the alarm, followed by a mad dash to get to work. I take the long bus route when I’m not running late. This gives me the chance to read whatever book I’m reading at the moment on a upper deck window seat. Each day at work is different, apart from reoccurring meetings, due to what I do. I coach software developers, software development teams, and organisations. After work, depending on the day of week, I either go to the gym then go home to write a few pages of the book I’m writing at the moment, or I go straight home and write a few pages of the book I’m writing at the moment. 

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

The perfect afternoon away from the day job would be spent in my favourite coffee shop on my favourite chair next to the socket to plug in my laptop. 

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again? 

I love books. ‘Wouldn’t be a writer otherwise. These days I read two books at the same time; one fiction and one non-fiction related to my day job. I tend to only read non-fiction when I’m writing which means I go all greedy in-between writing as I catch up with all the titles I’ve been stockpiling. 

I have read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart almost every couple of years for the past twenty years or so. If any unpublished manuscripts of his were to suddenly surface, it’d be like winning the lottery for me.

I cannot stop reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. I was crazy about James Patterson but got exhausted trying to keep up. It’s kinda comforting knowing that there’ll always be a new Alex Cross novel.

What is the one thing that you wish people knew about Lagos that no one ever knows?

Lagos is a state, not a city. Yeah, it’s big. Massive. Twenty million people. That’s because its a state! Argh!!! 

Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

I’m working on some Unfinished Business with The Amaka Series. 🙂

That’s great news and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for that.

This is a series that I would highly recommend for all fans of gritty crime fiction. If you would like to find out how good this Nigerian Crime Series is for yourself then you can find both Easy Motion Tourist and his latest When Trouble Sleeps from amazon.

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Gentleman Jack by Christina James BLOG TOUR – Q & A

When Salt Publishing got in touch to see if I would like to read a copy of the latest by Christina James I jumped at the chance. It is not often that you get a novel set in the lovely(?) fen land near my home town of Peterborough. Gentleman Jack starts with an investigation into the theft of expensive farm machinery (this the fens after all so there has to be a farm involved!) However the story soon turns more sinister as a serial killer makes his mark. I am delighted to welcome Christina to Acrimereadersblog.

Hi Christina and thanks for joining me today. Have you always been a writer?

In a certain sense, I think all writers believe they have always been writers – or at least, have always been both inspired and tortured by writing dreams!  I certainly intended to be a writer well before I left primary school, and was writing (very derivative) Angela Brazil style writing stories at that time.

Are your main characters such as DS Juliet Armstrong inspired by people you know?

All my characters except one – one of the more minor characters who occurs in only two of the books  and is based directly on someone from  ‘real life’ – are either entirely invented or composites of several people I have known.  Juliet comes from my imagination only; Tim Yates, her boss, shares certain characteristics with a couple of people I know – but only traits –  he is very much his own person as well.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

I have a day job which is quite demanding and involves a lot of travel.  I therefore don’t have a ‘typical’ working day.  But I expect you mean a typical day as a writer – and I do try to block out periods of time when I do nothing but write.  Typically, then, I would write 1,000 – 2,000 words in the morning, revise them after lunch and then either write a post for my blog or do some work for other authors (I’m a part-time editor as well).  The next day I would revise the previous day’s work again before starting on my next 1,000 – 2,000 words – revise, revise, revise is my mantra.  (By this I generally mean ‘simplify’, rather than ‘embroider’.)  Every few days I will also revise the previous block of about ten chapters or so, to make sure the tone is right and I haven’t committed to any contradictions.  On days like this I will also fit in a brisk country walk.

 How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Either going on a leisurely walk in the country or reading a good book.  Or making a cake – I am a keen baker.

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Absolutely!  I always have several books on the go.  The only author I read time and again is Jane Austen – I read her whole oeuvre every five years or so.  I also return to some of the other classics sometimes – for example, I have just re-read The Moonstone. I read as many books by other Salt authors as I can.  My all-time Salt favourite is The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times.  I also think that The Litten Path is an outstanding debut novel; and there are other Salt authors with whom I am in frequent contact whose work I admire: Marie Gameson, Mark Carew and Catherine Eisner, to name but a few.

Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

Yes: it is a modern take on a country house crime novel, set on an island in the River Welland, near Spalding, which actually exists. One of my friends suggested the island as the setting for my next novel and I thought it was an inspired choice.  The owner of the island has very kindly shown me round it since I started work on the book.

That sounds fascinating, I look forward to reading it.

Thanks very much for joining me today Christina. To find out more about Gentleman Jack please visit the other stops on the blog tour and pop over to Randomthingsthroughmyletterboxtomorrow for the last stop on the tour:

Gentleman Jack blog tour

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The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin – a review BLOG TOUR

I have to confess that I hadn’t actually heard of Celia Fremlin until I opened up a nice surprise package from the lovely people at Faber and Faber, however I always like to discover new (to me) authors and so I jumped at the chance to be part of this blog tour.

The Long Shadow is the ninth novel by Celia Fremlin and tells a Christmas story with a difference. Imogen’s celebrated husband has died recently and she is trying to come to terms with the grief. In the run up to Christmas her house becomes full of her late husband’s family. However things take a rather sinister turn when she receives a phone call from a young man she met at a party accusing her of murdering her husband. As we begin to find out more about Ivor her husband, we also realise that things are never what they seem.

Celia Fremlin is described as Britain’s answer to Patricia Highsmith and I can completely understand why, this is domestic thriller writing at its best. The novel was originally published in 1975 and yet when reading it you wouldn’t have known it was 40 years old (apart from the obvious lack of mobile phones and other technology of course) The writing is superb and it draws you into the centre of the family as secrets are unearthed. Most of the action takes place in Imogen’s home and it gives it a claustrophobic, closed door mystery feel which was gripping.

I thought The Long Shadow was a fantastic piece of observational writing, Imogen’s place at the centre of the family is fragile as she is surrounded by people from her husband’s past that she is not sure she really wants there. All the usual niggles of family life are within these pages but they are heightened by distrust and grief as well as the pressure of Christmas.

The Long Shadow was a great read that was superbly written with a story that sped along, yet remained calm and almost gentle in its execution. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely be searching out more of Celia Fremlin’s work.

Find out what other bloggers on the tour thought:

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Strangers on a bridge by Louise Mangos – a review

Alice is out running one morning and meets a man called Manfred on a bridge threatening to throw himself off. She manages to talk him down and after chatting returns home feeling unnerved but relieved that she has helped. When Manfred turns up at her house initially it is just a nice gesture to say thanks, however things start to take rather dark turn and she soon realises that her family might be in danger.

This was a really hectic ride of a story. Told only from the viewpoint of Alice this is a fast pace story that draws you in from the moment that Manfred comes into view. Personally I thought that Alice as a character was quite annoying, but this is partly what
draws the story along. A lot of her actions seem a bit suspect, such as getting in a car with a complete stranger and driving them miles. However we all love a flawed character and Alice is certainly one of those. The fact that the book is told only from the viewpoint of Alice means that you can’t tell how true things are as obviously she is biased. It also means that it gives the story a very claustrophobic feel, as you feel as though you are in Alice’s head.

Strangers on a Bridge is set against the background of the Swiss Alps. Alice is a loner in the village, an outsider who the police think is just being an hysterical English woman. There are some lovely descriptions of the place and the writing conjures up a wonderful atmosphere that adds to the tension of the novel as Alice get more and more desperate. The beautiful scenery is a terrific contrast to the dark obsession that fuels the story.

The story starts out as a seemingly simple tale of one man obsessing over a woman. However the twists soon turn this into something more unique. I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a compelling read. The tale becomes more gripping as the obsession within it grows and the ending was one I really didn’t see coming. I’d highly recommend this novel that will keep you questioning who is right and who is wrong throughout.

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond – a review

This is a book that had been sat on my kindle for a while and for some reason it had never made it to the top of my list until a recent trip to Manchester. When I realised I was sat in a bar with no new books to read and no internet connection I opened this without really knowing what it was about.

The Marriage Pact follows newlyweds Jake and Alice who are given a mysterious wedding gift, a membership of a very exclusive club that guarantees they will never get divorced. They just have to sign an agreement that states they will live by the rules of the Pact. Of course that seems to be an easy enough statement when they are still in that honeymoon phase, rules include always answering the phone when your spouse calls, buying them a present every month, arrange a trip away every three months. However these rules all seem fine and a bit of fun, until one of them gets broken and the full force of the pact takes effect. The crimes they committee against the marriage pact start off small, lawyer Alice is late at work a few days on the trot, she puts on a bit of weight so is made to see a personal trainer at 5am every morning. All of these things seem relatively small yet as the punishments keep coming the fear of the consequences of the pact become much bigger.

The Marriage Pact is a cracking little read, although you do have to suspend belief a bit. The concept that perfectly sane educated people would join what is essentially a cult that dictates how they have to act in their own lives is clearly not something that would happen in real life. However when you put that to one side this was a story that kept me hooked through to the end. The characters whilst a little annoying are quite likeable, and you feel for Alice as she tries to keep the full force of the punishments away from Jake. Yet on the other side you do wonder why both her and Jake don’t just say no!

I enjoyed the plot of this novel and the writing is good. The story is told from the point of view of Jake, and I think that was made me prefer Alice to him. He works as a marriage guidance counsellor and yet seems to completely miss the signs that there might be problems in his own relationship.

The Marriage Pact is an intriguing little tale, and whilst it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea due to the unrealistic plot, personally I really enjoyed it. Thanks to netgalley for my copy. 

 

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The Office of the Dead

I am a very lucky person to have a job I enjoy. One of the things I really enjoy about my job is the fact that I’m often out of the office. Now of course this is great for a reader like me, hours either sat on trains with a book, or driving round in a car with an audio book blaring are never time wasted. The other big bonus about my job, is I’m often out of the office.

Yes I know that is a repeated sentence, but frankly it is such a bonus it is worth repeating. Offices are funny things. People who have never worked in offices will never understand the day to day resentment that builds up amongst normally sane people. Those that outside the shackles of the 9-5 would normally be nice people inside those hours become like extras on The Walking Dead, out to drink the blood of anyone that dares to get on their nerves. Little things take on huge significance and can take up whole days, first with the discussion around the perceived misdemeanour and then the inevitable policy that will be introduced to attempt to put a stop to the war.

Take for example the phantom porridge bowl leaver in our place. Every day someone has their breakfast in the office. This is of course the first gripe, should it be allowed? Some say yes, some say no, some say this is akin to treason and should be dealt with as such. When finished with the bowl it then gets left in the sink rather than put in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is next to the sink, is it really so difficult to put it in one rather than the other? Of course like all good office workers no one actually works out who the offender is and confronts them. Instead people write big notes which they hang over the sink to be completely ignored by the phantom porridge bowl leaver.

The latest scandal to hit the office however relates to toilet roll. Someone is taking the nice big industrial toilet rolls that I purchase for the office bathrooms, removing them and replacing them with cheap lidl versions. Why would anyone do that? Maybe they have a cat related to mine that likes to ensure all toilet p20180817_045849.jpgaper is in as tiny pieces as possible and preferably laying on the floor. Yet unless they have an industrial sized toilet roll holder in their toilets how are they even going to hang it up? Maybe they are getting ready for Halloween and are going to throw it over houses that don’t have good enough sweets. Yet we are a bunch of middle aged women, not American children! Of course what I should do is calmly call a staff meeting and explain that the toilet roll is for staff use and shouldn’t be replaced with cheap tracing paper. However that would not be proper office etiquette. Oh no, I’m going to write a big sign to stick in the toilets, and if that doesn’t work I think I might write a policy about correct toilet paper usage. If that doesn’t work I’m thinking of installing CCTV in the toilets to catch the offender, surely there is nothing wrong in that?

Luckily for both me and the rest of the staff I am not currently in the office. Therefore I shall stick to reading my book and hope that by the time I’m back in Halloween will be over and the need for industrial size toilet rolls will no longer be a problem. Like I say the big bonus in my job is I’m often out of the office!

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