In a reading slump? Here are two books guaranteed to make you fall back in love with reading.

Category: Favourites

Looking for some inspiration to reinvigorate your 2016 reading challenge? Lucy selects two books that she think will help you get your book mojo back on track.

Solomon Creed

Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne
If you’re suffering from reader’s block, look no further than Solomon Creed, the start of an electrifying new series by Simon Toyne. You’ll be hooked from the first page; from the moment the mysterious Solomon emerges from the burning wreck of a plane crash. Dressed entirely in white, he has no memory of who he is, he knows only that there’s a man he needs to save … but that man is already dead. If you’ve read Simon’s previous books, you’ll know that he’s the master of intrigue, and Solomon certainly doesn’t disappoint. It will hold you in its thrall to the last and, more than that, it will make you fall in love with one of the most original and enticing characters I’ve ever met.

 

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant
Friend by Elena Ferrante (Neapolitan Novels: Book 1)
My own brilliant friend recommended this to me a few months ago, and now I can’t seem to stop talking about it. This is, simply put, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read; a vibrant and touching story about a friendship between two girls as they navigate their way through adolescence, set in a small neighbourhood near Naples during the 1950s. And the best news? There are three more books in the series, so plenty to get you through your reading slump!

Pick a character, any character – by Michael Wood

Category: Author Post

I had the story for Outside Looking In long before my first novel, For Reasons Unknown, was published. However, I didn’t want to write a follow-up in case my protagonist, DCI Matilda Darke, never saw the light of day. Thankfully, she did.

Outside Looking InAs soon as I signed my contract for book one I wasted no time in starting book two. The first draft went well. I researched, I plotted, I wrote, and I loved where the characters were going. Just as For Reasons Unknown was published I finished writing Outside Looking In. It was time to relax, take a step back from writing for a while before tackling a second draft.

Then the comments and the reviews for book one started coming in.

The reviews were very positive and I was thrilled the crime fiction community were welcoming Matilda and me into their lives. One aspect I wasn’t expecting was for people to tell me who their favourite character was, especially so soon into a series. To write Matilda, I needed to get into her head; to experience her thoughts and feelings. I had to understand loss and grief and use my own first-hand experience with panic attacks to figure out how her day-to-day life was going to play out. As such, she will always occupy a special place in my heart. Of course, as an avid crime fan, I know that the readers’ favourite character isn’t always the same as the author’s. Gossip lover and keeper of the snack drawer DS Sian Mills is a strong contender, as is Matilda’s best friend, pathologist Adele Kean.

As a reader, I enjoy getting to know the personal lives of supporting characters. DS Edgar Wield from Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series is a brilliantly drawn character. In the earlier novels he is difficult to get to know, private, quiet, an enigma, but over the twenty-three novels he slowly emerges. As a lifelong fan of Ian Rankin I have enjoyed watching Siobhan Clarke flourish from a DC into a DI and step out of Rebus’s shadow (although not too far). Of the newer crime fiction series Sarah Hilary has created a wonderful supporting character in DS Noah Jake. We are only three books into this series and I am looking forward to discovering more about Noah as much as I am the protagonist, DI Marnie Rome.

When I sat down to write the second draft of Outside Looking In, I started to worry for my supporting characters. Did they need more of a role? Should they take their share in the limelight and rub shoulders with DCI Matilda Darke? A tweet from a reader quickly made my mind up. She described Matilda as a ‘wonderfully created and well-rounded character’ and ended her message by saying it was nice I had created such warm and compassionate allies for her. That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing. Matilda doesn’t have to be the clear favourite. As long as she has the love and support of the secondary characters then she will have a place in the readers’ hearts.

Outside Looking In wasn’t easy to write (no book should be) but I have enjoyed taking these characters on another journey. So, whether your favourite is determined Matilda, motherly Sian, sympathetic Adele, or even fun-loving Rory Fleming, I hope you enjoy my second book, and if you have a comment, don’t keep it to yourself – it may shape book three.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

WHY REVENGE IS SWEET

Category: Uncategorized

Mme Release

The new thriller from Avon/Harper Collins – The Madam – is arousing a great deal of interest, partly because of its topical subject matter.

It tells the story of a woman who is jailed for a crime she didn’t commit.

Lizzie Wells was an escort who was accused of stabbing one of her clients to death. But while she languished in a prison cell tragedy struck, and her only child died because she wasn’t there to save him.

When she’s finally released she sets out to prove her innocence – and to seek revenge against those people who framed her.

The author, Jaime Raven, gave this insight into how the book came to be written:

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Madam 4 (002)I was inspired to write The Madam after reading a newspaper article about a woman who spent time in prison for a crime she didn’t commit.

Out of interest I researched other miscarriages of justice and was shocked at just how many there have been over the years.

It occurred to me how easy it is for innocent people to be framed, especially people such as prostitutes who might be considered easy targets.

That became the starting point for the story. Before creating the main character, Lizzie wells, I spoke to a woman who used to run an escort agency in Southampton, where the book is set. She gave me an invaluable insight into how sex workers in the city operate and how vulnerable they are.

I didn’t realise until then just how big the business of prostitution is in this country.

Figures released in 2014 showed that at least one prostitute – or escort – is attacked every day in the UK.

What’s more bad experiences with the police deter most sex workers from reporting crimes, which encourages criminals to attack them.

Some reports claim that there are over 80,000 female prostitutes in the country. While most of them work in the major cities, a fair few operate in smaller centres such as Southampton.

It’s a sordid, risky business for all those involved and it’s clear that it will continue to grow along with the population.

In The Madam I focus on how one woman’s quest to make easy money by selling her body eventually brings her world crashing down.

Who knows? Perhaps it could be seen as a valuable lesson for anyone who might be thinking of taking up the world’s oldest profession.