A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Competition – ‘The Cult of Nostalgia’ by Bruce Bruschi


Thinking that her neurotic boyfriend Simon is planning a surprise wedding for them, Carly, a bohemian life coach with no real clue as to which direction her life should take, rushes across San Francisco in time to witness him marry a member of the Morningside cult. Realising the newlyweds have stolen her great-uncle’s diary, she follows them to Paris, determined to discover why, and maybe win back Simon in the process.

Carly’s story is interwoven with that of her great-uncle Edward, as he recalls revisiting Paris in the 1960s and attempts to diarise his experiences in the 1920s, when he rubbed shoulders (and more) with Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

‘The Cult of Nostalgia’ is a hugely evocative portrait of Paris and all its charms, as well as a brilliantly witty account of yearning for lost years and breaking away from modern-day cynicism.

I am giving away 2 copies of this book.  To enter, leave a comment telling me who your favourite authors are.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th September 2013.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send the prizes out.

Good Luck! :-)

Competition – ‘Weaving Water’ by Ryhaan Shah


Cutting Edge Press has agreed to me running a couple of competitions on my blog in which I will be giving away two of their books.

Formed in 2010, Cutting Edge Press is the home of quality fiction and non-fiction titles which aim to address contemporary issues in an accessible way.

In this competition, you have a chance to win 1 of 2 x copies of ‘Weaving Water’ by Ryhaan Shah.

In 1917, the last ship taking indentured labourers from India to the sugar plantations of British Guiana sets sail, carrying with it Rampat and Parvati, a childless couple looking for a new future. During a furious storm at sea, a child is born and put into their arms as the unwed mother dies. They adopt her and call her Neela.

From the outset, Neela’s birth engenders talk of the mystery surrounding the legend of the sea goddess, Ganga. Fifteen years later, and Neela seems to imbibe some of this adoration and fear herself, viewed as both divine and human; a destroyer and a saviour.

Neela’s story, told against the backdrop of the growing racial conflict between Indians and Africans, reveals a country and a people shaped by history and mythological superstition.

Shah’s elegant, assured prose is used to great effect, incorporating magical realism into a tale that fearlessly confronts the uncomfortable truths of a country steeped in slavery and indentureship, while remaining ultimately hopeful.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me a bit about the types of books you like to read.  Do you enjoy discovering new authors?

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th September 2013.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send the prizes out.

Good Luck everyone! 🙂

Competition – ‘Let it Burn’ by Steve Hamilton

Let it Burn

‘Let it Burn’ is Steve Hamilton’s brand new book.  It is being published by Orion on the 29th August 2013 in hardback and ebook.

Half a lifetime ago, Alex McKnight was a young cop in Detroit. Now he’s an occasional private eye up in Paradise, Michigan, and trying hard to put the past behind him. Then he gets the call that every cop dreads: a killer he helped put behind bars is getting released, and he might just have payback on his mind.

Suddenly the years fall away, and in his mind Alex is back in that hot summer in Detroit, hunting the brutal murderer of a young woman. The problem is, something about the case no longer makes sense, and Alex feels compelled to retrace the steps that led to the arrest and conviction of Darryl King. But it’s not just the case that looks different: returning to Detroit, Alex finds a city that is almost unrecognizable from the one he left, a city that is quite literally dying on its feet, where crime and decay hold sway, and law and order are in retreat.

And as Alex searches for the truth among the shadows of the past, he discovers a story more shocking than the one he thought he knew and a danger more threatening than an ex-con looking for revenge.

10 very lucky people will win a copy of this book.  To enter, please leave a comment telling me where you like to read.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 15th September 2013.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Orion who will send out the prizes.

Good Luck everyone! 🙂

Interview with Steven Dunne

Publicity (1)

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Steven Dunne’s fourth novel, ‘The Unquiet Grave’.  To me it was crime fiction at it’s very best.  I asked Steven if he would be willing to take part in an interview for my blog and he very kindly said yes.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I’ve written since university when I became more interested in the expressive arts. I wrote sketches and stand-up routines for myself then moved on to comedy pilots and even wrote the book for an award-winning pantomime version of Hansel & Gretel. It was when a Channel 4 pilot fell at the final commissioning hurdle that I decided to move into novels because it was a form that required no-one’s approval to bring to completion.

Does it take you a while to research for each book?

Research tends to get done on an ad hoc basis as and when the story needs it. I don’t have a big list of research topics when I set out, rather at any given point in the story some unchecked fact will glare out at me and I will either research it there and then or make a note, usually in CAPITALS, in the MS if I don’t want to disturb the flow. I won’t leave it too long to do the work because the results may change the direction or tone of what you’re writing from that point.

How long does it take you roughly to write each novel?

I still have a part-time teaching job in Derby so my turnaround is about fifteen months. Without the job it would take a year. And it’s only just enough time but these are the demands of a publishing contract. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

You’ve done it, your new book has been published.  Do you celebrate in any way or buy yourself something nice?

I honestly don’t reward myself with anything other than really mundane things that I will have missed during the final frantic days of meeting a deadline – a couple of days staring at a wall to uncouple my thoughts from the myriad plot points that I have tinkered with in the final week. Exercise is another treat. A walk in the Peaks as antidote to fourteen hours a day confined to a chair and a laptop. A week later, I’ll shake my head and realise I have to start the next novel soon.

On publication day I’m usually too wrapped up in the next novel to go overboard on celebration. Honestly it’s more a time to worry about whether people like what you’ve produced.


What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a novel?

Sit in a chair and do it. Take pleasure from the lack of deadline and enjoy what you do. Writing is its own reward; don’t write with a view to publication. Only when you’ve finished and read it and rewritten it should you show it to someone else. If it passes that test then start thinking about the process. But don’t set out to do anything other than please yourself.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

It pains me to do so because a writer’s life is soooo boring. An early start if possible, all the better to hit a word target – yes, you must have targets and generally you must stick to them – endless cups of tea and saunters around the house mulling things over. If I reach my target, and am loving it, I’ll keep going. If I reach my target and I’m not, I’ll stop and go to the gym, do some chores, go for a walk. Life and your mental health take precedence sometimes.

What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Being stuck behind a desk means exercise is important. I swim, walk, read, cook, watch TV. All the normal things, not forgetting Twitter, of course. I’m not the best tweeter. I find any remote communication problematic as I prefer face-to-face conversation which means I don’t breeze around all the small-talk that flies around on Twitter.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading 1Q84 by Murakami. It’s a very interesting book and I’m enjoying it immensely. I don’t actually read that many thrillers, unusually. Possibly because it’s a bit of a busman’s holiday and possibly because I love top quality literature, usually American.

When can we look forward to your next book?

I can give you my deadline which is April 1st 2014. I’ve only missed one deadline and that by only three weeks for my first book written to order – The Disciple. Having said that, it was three weeks well spent when I found my killer ending. After delivery it’s up to Headline when The Companions is released.

Is DI Damen Brook still going to be the main character or are you planning to work on something completely different?

DI Brook is the main character in The Companions, yes. As for the future I’m always exploring different possibilities and storylines for Brook in my head. When they dry up – and I’m always expecting them to – then I may come up with a new lead character.

I would like to say thank you to Steven Dunne for agreeing to this interview and providing me with the pictures.  I’m really looking forward to your next book.


‘Longbourn’ by Jo Baker


I was thrilled when I won a limited edition proof copy of ‘Longbourn’.  Published by Doubleday on 15th August 2013 in hardback, ebook and audio this book coincides with the 200th anniversary of the first publication of ‘Pride and Prejudice’.  It follows the lives of the servants and is a really fascinating read.

Life is very busy at Longbourn House below stairs.  Mrs Hill the housekeeper is in charge of Sarah and Polly, the two housemaids who came there as young children.  Though forceful, Mrs Hill is kind and caring.  Little do they know however that everyday life at Longbourn is about to be disrupted.  James Smith arrives and is employed by Mr Bennet as a footman.  But all doesn’t seem right to Sarah, things just don’t add up.  She is sure James is hiding something.

When I received ‘Longbourn’ I had the feeling that I would really enjoy this novel.  I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t let down.  This was one of those books that I just couldn’t wait to get back to and I wish it could have carried on.  It has been beautifully written and Jo Baker has described everything so well, from the clothes that were worn in those days to the different places.  ‘Longbourn’ has been split into three volumes.  Volume Three is where all becomes clear and it contains a few shocks and surprises.

My favourite character was Sarah.  She worked so very hard and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for her, especially when her hands were all sore and bleeding.  I just wanted her to find happiness.

I think this book will appeal to lots of people, whether fans of Jane Austen or not.  For those of you who read ‘Longbourn’ and like it there is more good news.  It is due to be made into a film produced by Focus Features.  I am keen to see this when it is released to see how it compares to the book.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

‘The Unquiet Grave’ by Steven Dunne

The Unquiet Grave

I was lucky enough to win a proof copy of this book.  Until recently I had never even heard of Steven Dunne.  ‘The Unquiet Grave’ was published by Headline on the 4th July 2013 and it is Steven’s fourth novel.  Based in Derby this really is crime fiction at its very best.

DI Damen Brook has recently been on suspension.  On returning back to work he is assigned to work in the Cold Case Unit of Derby Constabulary.  To Brook it feels like a morgue but he decides to just get on with it.  His task is to look through old files, cases which haven’t ever been solved to see if he can shed any light on them.  Whilst reading through the files and making notes Brook uncovers a series of murders, the first of which happened in 1963.  He feels that he has no choice but to dig deeper.  For one thing, he doesn’t understand how the killer has managed to get away with it for so long.  Using his razor sharp intelligence and excellent instincts, Brook delves deep into both suspects and colleagues pasts not knowing where his investigations will lead him.  He hasn’t got much time though as a significant date is approaching fast.  Will Brook discover who the killer is and save the day?

‘The Unquiet Grave’ has all the required ingredients of a great crime thriller.  It’s gritty, exciting, has lots of twists and turns and some very shocking revelations indeed.  It really kept me guessing and the result wasn’t what I expected.  I can tell that Steven Dunne has given lots of thought to this book.  I recommend it to fans of crime fiction.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Unquiet Grave’ and I really hope to read Steven Dunne’s previous three novels; ‘The Reaper’, ‘The Disciple’ and ‘Deity’ all of which feature DI Damen Brook.  I’m also looking forward to his next novel, whenever that may be.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

Well done Steven on a great novel!  🙂

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