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Sunday, 21 January 2018

Fantastic fiction

Any keen reader of books must know about this website, but on the off-chance that you don't, it's a useful resource and definitely worth exploring.

fantasticfiction here



Thursday, 18 January 2018

'A compelling read!'

The Bread of Tears

'I found it refreshingly different and a compelling read!'
Joy Lennick, author of My Gentle War (Memoir of an Essex Girl), Hurricane Halsey, Running Your Own Small Hotel and Jobs in Baking and Confectionery

Thank you, Joy.

The Bread of Tears available as a paperback and e-book here



When she was a cop, she made their life hell.
Now she’s a nun, God help them!

Before taking her vows, Sister Rose was Maggie Weaver, a Newcastle policewoman. While uncovering a serial killer, she suffered severe trauma, and after being nursed back to health she becomes a nun. In her new calling she is sent to London to run a hostel for the homeless. Here, she does good works, and also combats prejudice and crime.
            As she attempts to save a homeless woman from a local gang boss, events crystallise, taking her back to Newcastle, the scene of her nightmares, to play out the final confrontation against drug traffickers, murderers and old enemies in the police.
            She finds her spiritual self and a new identity. She is healed through faith and forgiveness. It’s also about her surviving trauma and grief – a triumph of the human spirit, of good over evil.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Book review - WONDER WOMAN – The art and making of the film



Titan Books has produced yet another lavish offering. This is a big book - 27.9 x 2.2 x 31.1 cm and a weighty 192 full-colour pages. Written by Sharon Gosling, foreword by Patty Jenkins, director.


If you’ve seen the film, you might want to own this book. If you haven’t seen the film, this tells you a great deal – through pictures and words! – about the film without providing too many spoilers. Certainly, we could have done with more text (though what is there is enlightening), but it's clear that the writer and company have gone for the credo 'a picture is worth a thousand words' - and it works well enough.

The layout is broken down into various parts: Themyscira features short chapters on the design of the island, the armoury, the characters, the weapons and the exciting beach battle – all enhanced with anecdotes from the production team and artwork and stills. The Journey is a brief account of Diana’s departure from the island and the construction of the boat – a vessel that never in fact touched water, thanks to CGI wizardry. The final part is Man’s World with chapters about London recreated in 1918, Etta Candy, Steve Trevor, the villains, and the trench warfare, again enhanced with illustrations and movie stills.

Reading this book it’s obvious that Director Patty Jenkins found the film a labour of love, as did so many others involved. The palettes of colour were deliberately chosen – the bright shades for the Themyscira section, the sombre leached shades of Man’s World at war.

Like the film itself, this book is an excellent homage to the icon created in 1941, Wonder Woman.

***
See also 
http://nik-writealot.blogspot.com.es/2017/10/book-of-film-wonder-woman.html
 

 

Monday, 15 January 2018

Book review - Kingdom Lock


Debut novel Kingdom Lock from I.D. Roberts harks back to the old-fashioned adventure yarn and reminded me slightly of the early Sharpe novels in its evocation of a bold new fighting man, though perhaps not as well written as Bernard Cornwell’s novels.

It’s 1914 and when we first meet Australian Kingdom Lock he is in the Hindu Kush rescuing Amy Townshend, daughter of a general serving in India. She’s no wilting violet, either; there’s unexpected affection between them, but nothing untoward.

Shortly afterwards, Lock is assigned by British Intelligence to undergo a mission in Mesopotamia. Apparently, a German spy is intent on fomenting rebellion in order to seize the precious oilfields. As it happens, Amy has joined the nursing corps against her father’s wishes and is to serve in Basra…

Lock is not only up against a cunning adversary, a master of disguise, but he has to compete for the affections of Amy against an obnoxious fellow officer, Captain Bingham-Smith. Lock is given charge of a few surviving Indian soldiers and quickly impresses them with his sense of fairness and within a short time he is aided by Siddhartha Singh. He also has to contend with the unpleasant and possibly treacherous sergeant major Underhill.

The characters come alive enough to care about them and there’s humour, with certain pompous characters being put in their place; and the final battle scenes are well described and exciting. I feel Roberts captured the period, too.

Overall, I enjoyed the adventure very much and intend buying the second book, For Kingdom and Country where I can reacquaint myself with the above protagonists. 

Editorial comment

The book would have benefited from tighter editing. Word repetition is one of the biggest faults, but the overuse of Lock’s name is another. The book was good, but it could have been very good.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

'Unexpected twists and turns'

5-star review of The Bread of Tears on Goodreads as a result of a 'giveaway' offer:

'I wasn't sure how a gun-slinging nun protagonist was going to work out, but it did. 
'Good character development, unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the ride!! 
'I look forward to reading further novels by Morton.'
Linda Donohue, Arizona, USA 

Thank you, Linda!

The Bread of Tears is available as an e-book and a paperback here


A Sister Rose crime thriller When she was a cop, she made their life hell. Now she’s a nun, God help them! 

Before taking her vows, Sister Rose was Maggie Weaver, a Newcastle policewoman. While uncovering a serial killer, she suffered severe trauma, and after being nursed back to health she becomes a nun. In her new calling she is sent to London to run a hostel for the homeless. Here, she does good works, and also combats prejudice and crime. 

As she attempts to save a homeless woman from a local gang boss, events crystallise, taking her back to Newcastle, the scene of her nightmares, to play out the final confrontation against drug traffickers, murderers and old enemies in the police. 

She finds her spiritual self and a new identity. She is healed through faith and forgiveness. It’s also about her surviving trauma and grief – a triumph of the human spirit, of good over evil. 

'All the characters and horrific events in this crime thriller are extremely visual and well-drawn, making this a riveting read. It would make a brilliant TV series!' – Jan Warburton, author of The Secret, A Face to Die For

Saturday, 13 January 2018

'One tough nun!'

A 5-star review on Amazon from a US reader of The Bread of Tears, part of which reads:

'There are several stories going on: the new murders in the hostel are connected to her past, the dead girl in the alley belongs to another murderer, and then there is the criminal empire involved in drugs and prostitution of young girls, and they will kill her if she intervenes. And add to these problems, she may be having certain feelings for one of the investigators.

'Wow, I found Maggie Weaver, aka Sister Rose, one tough Nun. The author weaves the three stories together into a neat pattern, dropping Sister Rose into traps that she must escape or suffer a horrible death, yet she holds to her Faith as she struggles against great odds. In the end she isn’t afraid to send evil to Hell a little early. ... Highly recommended.'


Thank you, Virginia!

The Bread of Tears is available as an e-book and a paperback here


A Sister Rose crime thriller When she was a cop, she made their life hell. Now she’s a nun, God help them! 

Before taking her vows, Sister Rose was Maggie Weaver, a Newcastle policewoman. While uncovering a serial killer, she suffered severe trauma, and after being nursed back to health she becomes a nun. In her new calling she is sent to London to run a hostel for the homeless. Here, she does good works, and also combats prejudice and crime. 

As she attempts to save a homeless woman from a local gang boss, events crystallise, taking her back to Newcastle, the scene of her nightmares, to play out the final confrontation against drug traffickers, murderers and old enemies in the police. 

She finds her spiritual self and a new identity. She is healed through faith and forgiveness. It’s also about her surviving trauma and grief – a triumph of the human spirit, of good over evil. 

'All the characters and horrific events in this crime thriller are extremely visual and well-drawn, making this a riveting read. It would make a brilliant TV series!' – Jan Warburton, author of The Secret, A Face to Die For

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Book of the film - The Spiral Staircase



Originally entitled Some Must Watch when published in 1933, Ethel Lina White’s book was renamed The Spiral Staircase after the film was released in 1946 under that title. It would be three more years before her most famous book was published, The Wheel Spins (retitled The Lady Vanishes). 


Both book and film have similarities, but the film diverges in important respects, notably in character relationships. Though the book was set in England, the film transposed the setting to New England. In the book, the heroine Helen Capel is an unskilled diminutive woman, a so-called ‘lady-help’ employed by Professor Warren to attend his sick mother, Lady Warren, in their country house, The Summit. In the film, Helen is a mute, having lost her voice due to extreme trauma when young. Bearing in mind that this was written at a time when it was commonplace for eugenics to be espoused for improving the human gene pool towards 'purity', the film’s version is perhaps more pertinent to the plot.

Other characters are Mrs Oates, the cook and housekeeper, Mr Oates, driver and handyman, Nurse Barker to attend to the ailing Lady Warren, the professor’s son and daughter-in-law (Simone) and a resident pupil (Stephen Rice) the professor was coaching for the Indian Civil Service. And Dr Parry, ‘clever, young and unconventional’, and lastly the mysterious Lady Warren herself: ‘The household was waiting for her to die, but she still called the tune. Every morning, Death knocked politely n the door of the blue room and Lady Warren saluted him in her customary fashion with a thumb to her nose.’ (p162) 

Mrs Oates exhibits mood changes. ‘For no apparent reason, she was swaying to and fro, like a weathercock. Whence came the mysterious wind which was blowing on her?’ (p221)

Simone fancies Stephen, but he isn’t interested: ‘He did not run from her pursuit, he merely shoved her away... he was in the kitchen, helping Mrs Oates. He had been offered romance – and he chose onions.’ (p197)

As can be seen above, there’s humour, too. Take also, for example, p200: ‘Is it still raining heavily?’ asked Helen.
‘Not near so much,’ interposed Mrs Oates bitterly. ‘Oates brought most of it in with him.’

Recently, in the area there had been four women murdered, all seemingly committed by a maniac. And we first encounter Helen amidst her thoughts walking back to the country house as night closes in: ‘… the place was suggestive of evil. Tattered leaves still clung to bare boughs, unpleasantly suggestive of rags of decaying flesh fluttering from a gibbet.’ (p165) White has a knack of creating atmosphere, and it was captured well in the black-and-white film. ‘Every now and again a twig tapped the window, like a bony finger giving a signal. The clock ticked, like a leaking tap, and the wind blew down the funnel of the chimney.’ (p317)

It seems as though the murderer is getting closer to the house. Dr Parry was called out to the latest tragic case. He warns everyone to stay inside. A wet dark night stretched ahead. And gradually, on one pretext or another, individuals left the house, or were incapacitated – or vanished. Leaving Helen and Lady Warren to face the early hours by themselves… ‘(Helen) … dreaded the night which divided her from the dawn.’ (p244)

This is one of those early examples of a psychological melodrama. Some chapter headings offer warnings: 2, The First Cracks; 12, The First Gap; 13, Murder; 16, The Second Gap; 18, The Defence Weakens; 30, The Walls Fall Down. Aided by lousy weather, almost a character in itself: ‘Only the wind shrieked, as though a flock of witches sailed overhead, racing the moon, which glided through the torn clouds…’ (p321)

Helen may be small in stature, but she is nevertheless brave. When she spotted the figure of a man merge with the silhouette of a tree, she went to investigate! By which time, he was gone – if he had existed… Finally, ‘Helen knew. The acid of terror cleared the scum from her mind…’ (p331)

White employs a good turn of phrase from time to time: ‘She believed that, even as shadows on the sea betray the presence of rocks, so trifles indicate character.’ (p263) And: ‘She must not think of the horror which had actually taken place within these walls, or wonder if the girl still lingered somewhere in the atmosphere, the dust or the stones.’ (p290) And: ‘She remembered how the bushes had writhed, like knotted fingers tapping the glass, and how the tentacles of the undergrowth had swayed in mimicry of subaqueous life.’ (p293)

A fascinating period piece; certainly worth reading.

It may be of no significance, but this book pre-dates Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (1939), where characters in an isolated home ‘leave’…

[The page numbers for excerpts relate to the double volume, cover depicted.]

Editorial comment
A strong tendency to repeat words close together, and also to head-hop from one character to another in the same scene, but these traits do not affect the pace of the story.

A commendable abrupt (but fitting) ending; no lingering about.
 

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Live life, love life



We may think of departed loved ones at any time of the year, but the memories are often particularly poignant as we’re about to see in a new year with all its promise.

Words can console. Like music, poetry speaks to the soul, and reminds us we all share in the ‘human condition’ no matter what colour, creed or political or sociological persuasion.  

Our dear departed could be saying this:

‘I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.
I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you
To sniff the sea’s aroma that we loved together,
To continue to walk on the sand we walk on.
I want what I love to continue to live.’
- From 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Open the door into a new year, and live life, love life.


Wishing all who read this a peaceful and healthy new year, 2018.