Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions....

Do you still make them?

I don't.  A cold day in January when you might not be at the peak of your energy/positivity levels (to say the least) is not the day to stop doing things you like, or to start to demand great things of yourself.  Also, the giving stuff up type don't work because most people can't deprive themselves of things they love to order; you break bad habits when the time is right for you to do so, not because the calendar's flipped over.  You might suddenly get in the zone for dieting, or capture out of nowhere the willpower to give up smoking, on some random Wednesday in April, not on January 1st.

My thoughts on some popular NYRs:
  • Losing weight - well, I first made this one on January 1st 1972, I think, and did so for many more years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  Obviously never that successfully or I wouldn't have kept making it for 43 years!
  • Giving up smoking - see paragraph above the starfish picture.
  • Going to the gym - signing up for a gym in January then not going is such a cliche I'm not even going to mention it (oops...).
  • Be a nicer and more tolerant person generally - that will work until something really gets on my nerves, which might be in about two hours' time when I'm in Morrissons.
Happy new year, peoples!  I hope y'all have a good one, and celebrate the evening in whichever way you see fit.  I shall be sitting in bed watching The Walking Dead, and will probably not even notice when the clock strikes midnight! 

Saturday 27 December 2014

So what did you get for Christmas, then?

As per my earlier post about the difficulty of buying Christmas presents (HERE) I finally managed to think of things to get for my family and in-laws ~ my father was very pleased with his cashmere scarf, even though I went to about six shops that only sold them in blue, red, garish stripes or ... grey.  Sorry, Daddy, I did try to find one in Dad-ish green or brown but, alas, the store buyers decided that no-one should like those colours this year!

My favourite present was a fab rock chick bracelet from my sister: 

For the discerning Aerosmith lover!  Here's the website if you'd like to have a look for yourself: Twin Rocker Gems.

I also loved my black leather gloves from one of my sisters in law, and my bathroom now smells of strawberries, courtesy of some Body Shop stuff from the other one!  In fact, the strawberries are vying for pole smell position with the L'heure Bleue I got from my father ...

... at least, he said "What do you want for Christmas?" and I said "I'm running low on perfume", so he said, "how much is it, I'll put the money in your bank account,"  and then I ordered it from Amazon, so it's more or less from him, anyway!

Talking of things that smell nice, my husband now has enough shower gel, stuff that you spray on all over, after shave and post shave balm, etc, to last him until about 2017.  He's still using some of the stuff he got last Christmas.  Still, at least it saves buying anything of that type, like, ever again.  I've got shower gel and body lotion and curious preparations called 'body butter' and 'body polish' (???), too, yet no bubble bath.  Don't any of these gift packs include nice bubbles to lie in, anymore?  Do the makers think we're all too busy to lie in the bath?  I've also got lots of those netty type scrunched up things that come with every bath product gift set.  What are you supposed to do with them?  I always leave them hanging about in the bathroom for a few months until they inch themselves into that place in the airing cupboard from which nothing ever reappears.  

Oh, and whatever happened to bath cubes?  Remember them?  Blocks of solid stuff smelling of lavender that never properly dissolved, so you'd find little lumps of them in the bath when you pulled the plug out.  (One of Dad's socks filled with tangerines, nuts and bath cubes.  Nostalge, nostalge).

I won't mention all the chocolates.  The Thorntons, the Lindt, the Heroes...  I'm trying to pretend they're not there (not very successfully, it has to be said). 

I wonder if anyone can beat this present for novelty?  My sister's chap, who is called John Morgan, got a wonderful present (or set of them) from his brother.  John Morgan being a very usual sort of name, his brother, Richard, took it upon himself to find every book and CD he could find by other John Morgans.  Here is John with some of his presents - I like 'The Killer's Manual'!

 Best of all, his brother discovered a 1970s type gents' outfitter, and obtained a Harris Tweed jacket, 'made especially for John Morgan'.  I love this, what a brilliant idea!!

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful time with your loved ones.  Now, I must go and take a bath.  I shall be having approximately four per day from now until April, in an effort to get through all that shower gel.  That's if I can fight my way past the boxes of chocolates.....

My Top 20 books of 2014

I've thought long and hard about these!  

All the books in this list I've given 5* or 4.5* on Amazon and Goodreads.  I've reviewed other books this year, too, many of which might be of interest to you.  Here is my full list of reviews on Amazon UKMost of them are also on my book blog, here.

Amazon UK and .com links are provided for each book in my top 20.
  • I have not included my re-reads of old favourites in this.  If I did so, The Job by Douglas Kennedy would be in the top ten every year.  Etc, etc.
  • I have not included wonderful tomes I've read during research for my own books, or those by internationally famous writers; Phillipa Gregory, Stephen Alford and David Starkey don't need any help from me.  
  • I will not label a book as 'traditionally published' 'indie press published' or 'self-published' - to me, a book is a book.  I also think that the only way for the second two categories to gain true acceptance is not to make this distinction.  The twenty include a mixture of all three.
  • I have not included two books by the same person, which I did think extra long and hard about; instead, I have put links to any other books by that author that I've reviewed.

Here we go!
Numbers 20 - 11 are in no particular order.

20.  A wonderful anthology of short stories about mothers and daughters - every one a winner!  I read it on my Kindle and was so impressed I bought the paperback for my sister-in-law for her birthday.  A Kind of Mad Courage by Wendy Janes, Francine La Sala and others.

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

19.  A fascinating tale about Frank and Chloe, two homeless people who battle against the world and find happiness.  Losing it All by Marsha Cornelius.

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

18.  Here's a terrific long-short story I read a while back; I was very impressed by it.  Psychological drama A Fractured Understanding by Hache L Jones


My full review on Amazon UK and the link

17.  Chick lit, me?  One of my least favourite genres, but this is the best I've read, I really enjoyed it!  Much more than a romcom:  Mother of the Year by Karen Ross

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

16.  I didn't even know what 'urban fantasy' was until I read this.  I do now, though, and this was great, really sharp and funny!  Don't Touch (Null City Book 2) by Barb Taub.

 My full review on  Amazon UK   and the link

15.  I loved this, and so did lots of other people too!  17th century witch hunts in The Black Hours by Alison Williams.  Brilliantly researched, not for the faint-hearted!

 My full review on Amazon UK and the link  

14.  A bit of light romance and country music in Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot.  Great fun, and a lovely example of the genre!

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

 13.  A collection of short stories now - Spanish folklore retold.  Tales of the Mantequero by Jenny Twist.  Loved these!  

 My full review on Amazon UK and the link

I have also read and reviewed An Open Letter to Stephen King and Other Essays  and Doppelganger by the same author this year.

12.  I'm not much of a one for crime thrillers, but I thought this was exceptionally good.  I'd recommend it to anyone who loves the grittier side of this genre.  Killing Instinct by Darcia Helle.

My full review on Amazon UK and the link 

11.  Here's another one I feared I might not like, but couldn't put down - Court of Conspiracy by April Taylor.  It's a fantasy about what would have happened if Anne Boleyn had not miscarried her son by Henry VIII...

My full review on Amazon UK and the link


The Top Ten
These are in proper countdown order (very hard making the choices!) because I thought it would be more fun! 

10.  Slipping neatly into the last place in my top ten books of 2014, the best 'how to' book I've ever read, and an essential for all writers.  Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

9.  Backpacking in at number 9, a fascinating travel memoir about Jo Carroll's time spent in Nepal, Laos and Cuba.  From the Inside Looking Out - I was totally engrossed in this and thought about it a lot afterwards.  Paperback only, it's collection of three books which are all available for some ludicrously cheap price on Kindle!

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

8.  Now a terrific Native American historical adventure/drama.  Two Rivers by Zoe Saadia, who is an expert on all things pre-Columbian America.  I was so pleased to have discovered this writer's books, and I shall be reading the sequel to this any day now.

My full review on Amazon UK and the link 

I have also read and reviewed The Highlander by the same author

7.  A tongue-in-cheek Victorian murder mystery at number 7 ~ Honour and Obey by Carol Hedges.  Colourful, witty, atmospheric and fabulously well researched.  

My full review on Amazon UK and the link 

I've also reviewed the prequelDiamonds and Dust this year

 6.  I adore historical fiction, and this superb story about two runaway girls in 17th century London really hit the spot for me. The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift

My full review on Amazon UK and here is the link

5.  My number five choice was another big surprise:
 Great Bitten: Outbreak by Warren Fielding.  I didn't realise zombie apocalypse books were actually about people, I thought they'd just be a load of turgid blood and gore stuff and daft monsters.  How wrong was I!  Smart, smart writing.

My full review on Amazon UK and here is the link

4.  Dark and fascinating psychological drama Carla by Mark Barry is at number four - a book I read all in one sitting. Terrific stuff.  How talented is this guy!  A real flair, different from anyone else I've read.  So impressed!

My full review on Amazon UK and here's the link

Earlier this year I also read and loved The Night Porter by the same author.

The Top Three!

3.  The bronze medal goes to the wonderful Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack by Phil Conquest.

Phil is an amazing writer.  Some people could make a jewellery heist or an escape from a POW camp boring; Phil can make a chap walking down the road and getting irritated because his tie keeps flapping up in the wind, interesting and funny.  Get it.  It's great.

My full review on Amazon UK, and the link


2.  Number two!  The silver medal goes to the magical African Ways by Valerie Poore.  An account of Val's three years living up a mountain in South Africa. Just delightful, an absolute joy to read.  Another reviewer said that it made him feel happy just reading it; I couldn't agree more.

My full review on Amazon UK and the link

This year I also read and loved Watery Ways and Harbour Ways by the same author.

Drum roll.....

1.  Gold medal time!!  If you follow my blog(s) you probably won't be surprised by my favourite book of the year - The Dead Lands by Dylan J Morgan which I've been raving about since I was a third of the way through it!  

My full review says it all!  Here on Amazon UK and

I've also loved Flesh by the same author.


I do hope you find something that interests you among these books ~ if everyone who sees this post read just one of the titles, it would go so far to getting some little known authors more well-deserved recognition.  Often, the best writers are not the ones who scream 'bestseller' all over the internet, and so rely on word of mouth and blog posts.  A big thank you to book bloggers Rosie, Bodicia, Cathy, Liz, Liz, Storm, Suzanne, Di, Roy, Claire, Jade, ESR, Charmaine, Sonya, Shaz, Agi, Kerry, Angie, Andy, Sterna, Madi and any others - you do a wonderful job!

Perhaps we could make 2015 'discover a new author' year!  

Thursday 25 December 2014

Last Child - cover reveal!

Writing a blog post on Christmas Day?  How sad does that make me????

But Him Indoors is busy doing bloke-ish things, and I have just received this - the cover for my soon to be published novel, Last Child, which is the sequel to Kings and Queens!  I'm absolutely overjoyed with it, it's exactly what I wanted!

I hope it will be out in February 2015.

Here is the (rough!) first draft of the blurb:

LAST CHILD is the sequel to Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler’s modern take on the story of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Harry is gone, his legacy passed on to his children.

Thirteen year old JASPER amuses himself in Lanchester Estates board meetings by imagining the directors as Harry Potter characters, but discovers that first love is somewhat less than magical...
Eldest daughter ISABELLA is lonely and looking for love; she returns from a holiday in Spain with more than just a suntan…
… while wild, independent ERIN, battles with her two passions: her love for transport manager Rob Dudley, and the need to do justice to her father's memory.

Last Child reconnects with old favourites Kate and Hannah, and introduces new characters into the lives of the Lanchesters: the ambitious Jim Dudley, Rob's long suffering wife Amy, and Raine Grey, whose nine days as PR manager for Lanchester Estates has a devastating effect on her life.

Will Harry's children suffer for the mistakes he made?

Saturday 20 December 2014

I am now a member of ....

Thanks to fellow new member Vanessa Wester for giving me the idea of doing this post!

Rosie's book review team (click on big purple name above for more details) is NOT an author-author review team, which is what makes it so great. Authors joining as reviewers cannot have their own books featured for six months, and vice versa. There is no review swapping, in other words!  Most of the reviewers on the team are book bloggers, or simply avid readers, like Rosie.  Whereas Rosie would not allow a team member to completely trash a book, the reviews are always honest, something else that made me want to take part in this.  Books of most genres are included, as we all have different tastes; we select which books we want to read from the list provided.

We post our reviews on Amazon UK, and Goodreads, and on our own book blogs if we have one (I don't).  

Rosie's blog has many other features to interest the book lover: Rosie's Avid Readers, in which anyone can take part - simply recommend a favourite book (anything from a self-published one to an international bestseller) to Rosie and write a few words about it.  She also does themed months, such as Romancing September, which features a different book each day of the month along with a short interview with the author. This is always a great favourite!

If you love reading, I do hope you will follow Rosie's blog!

Monday 15 December 2014

I become a born-again BOOKWORM!

While I was doing the final editing for my most recent novel, Last Child, I made a decision.  I would not write in December.  The two novels and one novella I am gagging to write can wait until the new year.

This decision was partly provoked by the general lack of housework done recently (when you've been saying "I must give that kitchen a real thorough clean" for two months, you know you really must), the amount of times I'd told my husband I would do a,b and c "as soon as I've sent Last Child off for proofreading", but mostly because of my 'to read' list, which now covers two sheets of A4.  

So, on November 23rd, I officially became an Avid Reader!  I read a book, I review it straight away while it's still in my head, and move on to the next. You know what?  I'm loving it.  I haven't given myself all this reading time for years, not since I started writing again in 2010, after a break of (too long), and it's great.  No more do I think, "yes, I could read a bit of that book I've had on the go for three weeks, or I could edit Chapter Nine."  I'd usually go with the latter. Now, my business of the day has become reading.

In the last three weeks I have read no less than twelve books.  Well, twelve and a half, actually; as soon as I have written this post I shall go back to KILLING INSTINCT by Darcia Helle, which is bloody terrific - it's a murder/thriller type thing about two hit men who uncover an organisation that facilitates its clients most depraved fantasies.  I bought the book ages ago because I read about it in one of those '50 indie books worth reading' posts. If I hadn't taken this month off, I might never have got round to finding out how good it is. Incidentally, clicking on the title of each book I've mentioned will take you to its Amazon UK page.  That's the title, not the book cover!  

I've read some I knew would be terrific - HONOUR AND OBEY by Carol Hedges, for instance, the Victorian murder mystery follow up to Diamonds and Dust, which I thought was excellent, and the sequel is even better.  Then there's another chapter in the life of Val Poore, AFRICAN WAYS, about the three years in the 1980s when she and her family lived up a mountain in South Africa.  I've read Val's books about life on the waterways of Holland, so I knew I would love this too.  My favourite genre overall is historical fiction; the first book of my readathon (!!) was the 17th century THE GILDED LILY by Deborah Swift, which I liked so much I bought another book by her straight away.

I always read on my Nexus, on which I have the Kindle App.  I've come to appreciate this thing more and more, and actually prefer it to paperbacks. I love how I can just finish one and select the next. Yes, I've abandoned some, but I've made myself a vow to read to at least 10% before I decide if a book's not for me.  If I can't give a good 3* I won't review, simply because I won't have read the book.  So far I've only abandoned four, one of which I may give another go, because sometimes you can just be in the wrong mood for a certain type of book.

I've surprised myself by discovering genres I didn't think I'd like.  Fantasy? Magic? I always thought I began and ended with Game of Thrones.  But combine it with history and you have the excellent COURT OF CONSPIRACY by April Taylor.  I'm promising myself the next one in the series soon!

Other books I've given a well deserved 4* to are:

PATTERN OF SHADOWS by Judith Barrow (WW2 family drama)
BECOMING BEAUTY by Sarah Boucher (fairytale retelling)
LUKE'S #1 RULE by Cynthia Harrison (family drama/addiction)
MADE IN NASHVILLE by Mandy Baggot (country music scene romance)
SHEER FEAR by Geoff West (crime/child abuse cover up)

But now I must tell you about my Big Discovery!  
Which is Dylan Morgan.  You know how great it is when you find a new writer and think, I am going to love everything this person produces? Dylan writes horror, but not overly blood and gore stuff, more like Stephen King, including the totally brilliant THE DEAD LANDS ~ a post apocalyptic thriller.  

I didn't even know I liked this sort of book until I read it.  I loved it so much I keep boring people with how good it is, and straight after I'd read it I bought another of his, FLESH, abandoned my reading list and got stuck in straight away - it was just as good!  I'll be reading his whole catalogue before too long, including the vampire ones - she says tentatively... vampires stories are usually down in the 'genres I only read if I really must', like chick lit and comedy sci-fi.  I bet I'll still like it, though.  I won't rave on about Mr Morgan any more, though, in case I embarrass him - I'll just advise you to read my reviews of the books on the Amazon pages, and BUY one!

At the end of the year I'm going to do a Top 20 rundown of my favourite books of the year - now I'd better get stuck in, as I am determined to read at least eight more.

More anon!