All about Books, Just life, Writing journey

Hello September or Where the heck did Summer go?

It’s September already, another month has gone by without a peep from me on here; I still haven’t told you all about the RNA conference and there was much I could say. My plan was to blog about it while there or at least, give a round up the following week but nope – life had different ideas. My draft box was checked in the hope I could redeem myself by sharing one I had not finished but all that came up was this:

 

Summary of RNA conference

 

It is not quite the detail I had planned but it sums it up. It was an amazing weekend. I highly recommend it to all romance writers; the knowledge, support from speakers, authors and fellow newbies and the friendships made are priceless. The one to one appointments I had with the two agents and editor boosted my confidence, helped mould my proposed ending of A Blend of Magic into something more fitting and encouraged me to keep writing.

I met authors of books I have read and loved, all were lovely and encouraging including magical Jenni Keer and Sarah Painter, and the wonderful Dorothy Koomson. It was hard not to be starstruck when Katie Fforde talked to me, never mind when she bought me and friends a drink.

I also met fellow writers and bloggers I talk to online and they are all as lovely in person as they appear behind the computer screen. Watch this space for when they finish their books and their talent will be available for all to read. They include Kate Baker (https://violableu.com) , Emma Wilson (https://www.glasshousemagazine.com) , Jenny Kennedy (https://jekennedy.co.uk), Sandra Forder and Julie Morris (https://alittlebookproblem.co.uk).

Excuses, Excuses

My excuse for not being active blogging is I have been juggling having my in-laws to stay, frantically writing my manuscript to meet the New Writers Scheme deadline and dystonia flares and fatigue. Dystonia was always going to fight back and  I’m grateful it waited as long as it did.

I only submitted a partial rather than full manuscript to be critiqued by readers for the RNA. My in-laws were supportive at the beginning of their month long holiday but they soon became bored of seeing me type, dream or talk about my fiction. I am happier with my WIP than before I started to edit/rewrite it but I need to know if I am on the right track or if the magic element too much, too boring or the plot is just blurgh. Their advice will gratefully received however devastating it may be. Meanwhile I’ll keep plodding on with the knowledge that at least 3 people at the conference liked my first couple of chapters.

Books, Bookshops and little Gems

Last month, I read some wonderful books including The Lost Daughter by Sylvia Broady, The Unlikely Occultist by Isobel Blackthorn and the phenomenal The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland. Their reviews can be found on my book blog From under the Duvet.

I also discovered a wonderful new independent book shop,  The Little Book Emporium  in Driffield, East Yorkshire. This tiny store is full of old and new delights, literary surprises and is dangerous for the budget. Who needs to eat if you can have an unusual book? I have found this gem:

20190901_084246.jpg

And these:

How wonderful and useful will these be for witch research?

Enough rabbiting for now, it is time to write my next chapter while the house is quiet (apart from 3 Jack Russell snores from under the duvet).

Happy writing!

Love

All about Books, Writing journey

The Pigeonhole: A New Reading Experience

I recently signed up to The Pigeonhole, described on the website as a book club in your pocket. It offers a selection of new releases from top publishers and classics. The new Sophie Kinsella book is an option which I am looking forward to if I get chosen to read it.  The books  are released in sections and you read along with other readers. More on how it works can be found here

The Pigeonhole a new reading experience
First stave of The Flower Girls

I saw an advert for it on social media and not only did the blurb of The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts look good, the promise of a free book drew me in.  I am on a strict book budget this year. The more I read about the idea of the business the more I realised it could also help with my aim of reading more classic books. The big tomes, even on Kindle, are daunting but this way the book is broken down into staves or instalments. It reminded me of the Dickensian scenes in The man who invented Christmas where readers eagerly wait for the next part of the story out side the book shop. If it was good enough then, maybe the updated version will be good now.

I started reading The Flower Girls this week and so far I am enjoying the experience. As an insomniac it is exciting to receive the next part at midnight. It adds to the suspense of the thriller because you are left dangling mid story everyday and you are eager to know more. On the flip side, this could be frustrating depending on your outlook but the whole book is available to binge read a month once all the staves have been sent out or those on the read at leisure bookshelf can be read quickly. With crime or suspense novels, I also have a bad habit of reading the last page to discover who did it or who is alive, this curbs that temptation.

Alongside the story, there are options to interact with readers – share opinions of characters or scenes and writing style. I think this will come into its own with the classic books but I am enjoying the Q and A with the author which is also available.

One bonus I was not expecting was that as a procrastinator with words to write, this way of reading increases my productivity because I can not fall into the trap of reading just one more page or chapter. I am reluctant to start new book to read concurrently so it is a win-win situation.

Have you tried it? Let me know your thoughts below.

Love

Discovering Charles Dickens
All about Books, Just life, Writing journey

Discovering Charles Dickens at Christmas

I love A Christmas Carol and part of the joy of the run up to Christmas is reading taking my copy off my forever shelf for its annual read as well as binge watching the movies from Disney’s cartoon starring Jim Carey, the Alastair Sims to the best version The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This year I had the luck of reading Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye which is a beautiful read and complements the original perfectly. It is a warm, heartbreaking tale but has thread of hope throughout. It will be added to collection to read every year as will the film The Man Who invented Christmas.

Have you seen it?

I love it for the festive and book theme, the era and acting but mainly because it gives a glimpse into the creative mind of Charles Dickens. It tells the tale of how under pressure to produce a book readers will love he produced A Christmas Carol in only six weeks. I am sure it skims over the negative aspects of his personality to produce a high energy fantasy with an insight into the writer’s mind when they suffer writer’s block, find inspiration and how they act when characters appear.

It also shows how he decided to self publish and his battle with plagiarism which are relevant topics for today’s writer.  I wonder what his tweets would say if he was in the situation today.

As many of you know I am lot a great fan of classic books but this and Miss Marley have encouraged me to find out more on this enigmatic man beyond snippets I have picked up along the way – I doubt Dr Who Christmas special from a few years ago is the most reliable source of information. The book the film is based on by Les Standiford is on my TBR for next December and I am also going to  attempt to read at least one Charles Dickens novel next year. Maybe then, I will not feel as much of a dunce at writing group when they discuss literature. Any recommendations would be great.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

 

Book review Down in the Woods by MJ Arlidge
All about Books

Book Review Down in the Woods by M.J Arlidge

I returned to the forest this month but it wasn’t for the relaxing stroll of forest bathing but a heart stopping race against time to stop a killer with DI Helen Grace.

Book Review: Down in the Woods by M.J Arlidge

 

Book review Down to the Woods by MJ Arlidge

Down to the Woods by M.J Arlidge

Title: Down in the Woods

Author: M.J Arlidge

Publisher:  Penguin UK – Michael Joseph

Genre: Mystery and suspense, thriller

Release Date: 20th September 2018

Blurb

If you go down to the woods today

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – a serial killer is on the loose.

You better not go alone…

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator, before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

My Thoughts

I love crime thrillers but M.J Arlidge is one of two writers I eagerly wait for the next instalment.  DI Helen Grace is a complex character and has been through the wars since she first arrived screeching into the fiction world on her motorbike in Eeny Meeny. This novel is menacing, creepy and unnerving with heart-stopping chase scenes deep in depths of New Forest which send shivers down my spine even now.  There is a good balance of the investigation and the familiar characters’ personal lives. As the series continues, DI Helen Grace evolves and it is a joy to read as is catching up with Charlie who is juggling with motherhood and pressure of a violent case. This series has not faltered.

Would I recommend?

If you love gripping suspence and not shy from grusome crime add this to your TBR list now. It is perfect for the run up to Halloween for the setting alone.

Happy reading!

 

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

Bright spotty background
All about Books

Book Review: A Spark of Life by Jodi Picoult

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult so was very excited to recieve an advanced copy of her new release A Spark of Light. Thank you NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity to read this.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Book Cover of A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Title: A Spark of Light

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughon

Genre: General Fiction

Release date: 30th October 2018

Blurb

Whose choice is it? 

The masterful new novel from the Number One bestselling author of Small Great Things.

The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.

Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.

Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.

And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

My Thoughts

This is another divisive novel by Jodi Picoult told sensitively as it tries to deal with all sides of the abortion debate. It is honest, gritty and hard-hitting and doesn’t shy away from the heightened emotion abortion evokes and the physical aspects of the procedure. Some may find parts distressing and a trigger.  The plot revolves around the stories of the women and doctor at a women’s centre in Mississippi when a gunman attacks – these include a 15-year-old girl, her aunt, doctor and nurse. Each have their own reasons for being there that day and all different characters. Unusually, it is told in a reverse chronological order taking you from the end of day to the beginning. This could have been an awkward format but Jodi Picoult’s style and talent carries it off.  My heartstrings were pulled because I felt an attachment to all characters whatever their beliefs and was on the roller coaster of emotion with them as the terror unfolds. It is a story about life and should read to start a conversation.

After all, as Jodi Picoult says

“Honestly, I do not believe we, as a society, will ever agree on this issue. The stakes are too high, and both sides operate from places of unshakable belief . But I do think that the first step is to talk to each other—and more important, to listen. We may not see eye to eye, but we can respect each other’s opinions and find the truth in them. Perhaps in those honest conversations, instead of demonizing each other, we might see each other as imperfect humans, doing our best.”

A Spark of Life Jodi Picoult 2018

Would I recommend?

Yes, whatever side you are on this novel shines a light on the shades of grey in the abortion debate which divides many in all countries. It is not an easy read but you come out of it a different person.

Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

All about Books

Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The premiere of A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls books  aired last week so it’s time to catch up with the rest of the trilogy book reviews starting with Shadow of Night.

Warning: Spoilers for the first book of series A Discovery of Witches may follow.

Book Review: Shadow of Night
Shadow of Night by  Deborah Harkness

Title: Shadow of Night

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction, supernatural

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 14th February 2013

Blurb
It began with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.
Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.
Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.

My Thoughts

As Matthew and Diana timewalk to 1590 when the witches’ powers were strong this sequel has a different feel to the first; it is historical fiction with a paranormal twist. I love the historical details and Deborah Harkness excels at bringing everyday Tudor life alive. I could smell and feel London as the characters walk through the city and interact with old characters and new. The introduction of recognisable personalities of the time such as William Shakespeare and Kit Marlow works well and inspired me to look into their works but it was the witches which fascinated me. The world of All Souls is expanded with new witches, daemons and vampires.

The pace is different and in places slower so not as page turning as A Discovery of Witches but it is still a strong book. The characters and twists keep the plot moving forward and all the details help bring things together in the Book of Life.

When I first read this book, A Discovery of Witches remained my favourite of the series but the more I reread this one the more details I see and has become the one I love most.

Would I recommend?

Of course. It has prime place on my forever bookshelf.

Thank you Headline and NetGalley for a digital copy.

Have you read this yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

All about Books, Writing journey

September arrival and summer goodbyes

August Catch Up and September Plans

September is here with the promise of my favourite season  — Autumn. Cold, crisp mornings with colourful leaves littering the ground tempts people to run through them like a toddler. They always make me smile. Or am I the only one who feels that urge to do that when faced with a pile of leaves? Colder days also make me want to curl up, read  and write.

 

September Catch Up

 

My visitors left a few days so writing is back on my agenda and I hope to see my word count increase as I get my writing room back but best of all writing group has begun again. Two hours a week of uninterrupted writing time, catching up with friends and of course, eating biscuits or if we are lucky cake. I lost a stone over the summer by not eating carbs – I wonder if this will continue when fresh homemade cakes such as warm chocolate brownies are brought in. I have missed the companionship of fellow writers, the exercises and prompts but especially the laughs our stories will bring either by design or accident. I have my new notebook and pencil ready to be filled.

Last month reads

This month planned reads

  • The Lost Children by Helen Phifer
  • The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden – watch out for a review this week at Duvet Dwellers books
  • Josie James and the Teardrops Summer by Lily Mae Walters – watch out for review on Duvet Dwellers books this week.
  • Titania’s Book of Hours A Celebration of the Witch’s Year by Titania Hardie – a bargain find in the charity shop

I am cutting back on blog tours and reviews to focus on my WIP but it would be impossible not to read and luckily, writers need to read. I wonder if there are any writers who find reading a chore.

Happy writing and reading!