Want to Guest Post?

I was talking to a local blogger recently, whose niche wasn’t books, but had been thinking about writing posts about books. However, since it wasn’t his niche (or necessarily books his current readers would be interested it), he was wondering how or even whether to go about it.  I found myself offering “well if you want to write a few guest posts on my blog to get your creative toe in the water, then let me know”. i'm not calling in sick

So I decided it was about time I started offering space on this blog to people who want to guest post. Here is what I suggest you consider:

First of all, read my blog. See if how I write, and what I write about suits you and your core message.  If you want to talk about non fiction, poetry, or Christian fiction, this is probably not the blog for you. I am not going to dictate style, or necessarily content, but we need to be in tune.  I do occasional posts about crafty stuff – sewing, cross stitch, patchwork, reviews of shows at the NEC, events at museums etc. I am happy to consider these.

Second, think about your “story” and what your plans are. A one off about your local Library, book shop or author event. A regular/irregular series on audiobooks spotlighting a specific author genre or voice actor.

Contact me (wpnordie@gmail.com) with details of your pitch so we can work together. Make sure you mention guest post opportunities in your mail.  If I don’t get back to you to discuss its a “no”. This is really important.

Make sure your post has working links and rendering photos, with suitable attribution.  I tend to aim for up to 4 images per post (negotiable), with a minimal number of gifs. If your style is  multiple gifs and minimal text, we’re not going to work well together. Please include a short bio as well, including links to your online presence (twitter, your own website etc).

#QuercusSummer #BookReview: Florence Grace by Tracey Rees

Florence Grace

Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It’s a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone.

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie’s life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth.

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

Paper Copy from Quercus Books, in exchange for a review, as part of their #QuercusSummer campaign.

It’s the middle of the 19th Century and Florrie has an enjoyable, if poor, beginning in Cornwall, where she lives with her father and grandmother – at least until her father dies when she is 8. Then she has to drop what schooling she has been getting and start helping her grandmother, skills that put her in good stead for later in life. However, she does get to spend time with Old Rilla, the local wise woman, who brings out her natural affinity with the local environment.

However, she’s not long into her teens when her grand mother dies, and she is sent to live with her mother’s family – the wayward Graces in London, whose Grandfather – Hawker – is trying to pull the family’s finances up by the bootstraps. Florrie, now called Florence, gets on well with two of her cousins (Turlington in particular), but reacts badly with the rest of the family, as they try and make her acceptable to London Society. The majority of the book is Florence trying to strike the middle ground, and deal with her growing feelings for the troubled Turlington, but after a few years realises that she has lost herself, and that should she tie herself to Turlington she will never be happy. Finally she remembers that everything is a circle, and returns home to Cornwall, not quite the same but not totally different.

It is good to see Florrie mature over the 5 or so years that she is away, and learn to use her knowledge and skills – the period after Hawker dying means that the power and situation has been flipped on it’s head, and the hard work that she grew up doing suddenly became vital rather than something to be ashamed of. Her friendship with Rebecca allows her the escape of outside friendship to give her an escape valve and give another outlook on situations. In particular it allows her to come to terms with her Aunt and female cousins (who, after the early part of the book, disappear into the background, rarely to be heard of again).

It was an easy and enjoyable read, with a decent comparison between the open spaces of Cornwall and the tight, dirty space of London where you can barely see the sky. Whilst things move forward, life can also move in a Circle, both on a personal level and a family scale.

#BookReview: Marked by P. C. Cast

Marked by P. G. Cast

After a Vampire Tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is mis-using her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them)

 

Paperback from my bookgroup.  It looked interesting, on paper at least. However, the execution……Written in the first person, this is the story of Zoey, who is marked whilst at school and has to immediately move to the House of Night, whilst waiting to fully transform into a Vampyre.   The local community know about and fear the school, and everyone knows the dangers that await – not everyone will survive the Change and those that reject it die a “permanent death”.

The rest of the book is a mix of Harry Potter (bad home life, doesn’t fit in at school, starts a new school and immediately at odds because of the unusual mark on the forehead), The Craft (lots of goddesses and learning Witchcraft), and Twilight (pale, swoon inducing male Edward – sorry Erik – who immediately starts following Zoey around) and Mean Girls (Aphrodite and all her coven). The mix of witchcraft and Vampire had the chance of actually being interesting, but it ended up being a lot of witchcraft with the bad girls drinking blood as part of their ceremonies – very little vampire action was involved.

I tried to ignore the 16 year old valley voice the book was written in, as I’m not that au fait with YA and thought it was just my bad reaction to it. Unfortunately not – the reviews I have seen are unanimous in their dislike of everything about this book. The reviews seem to pretty much sum up what I think about the book too. Whilst I did finish it, more to spite myself than because I was enjoying it – I will be unwilling to read the other two books in this series – I’m sure there are other YA and other Vampire stories that are presented so much better.

#FoylesBrum – Storybox Blogger Breakfast

I’ve decided to take part in more Birmingham related events, and talk about them, so I joined the Facebook group Brum Bloggers UK. One of the first events I chose to go to was at Foyles Bookstore which opened in Grand Central Shopping centre late in Foyles Grand Central Birmingham shopfront2015.

On the 17th July, the shop opened an hour early for a number of Book Bloggers, a week ahead of the kick off of StoryBox:

the interactive children’s and YA book festival taking place over three weeks across all our shops in London, Bristol and Birmingham.

Storybox will inspire children to create their own stories, whether they record their own radio show, make some new animal friends, meet their favourite author or learn to draw with a renowned illustrator.

Hosted by Andi, the YA/Children’s bookseller, there was breakfast (croissants etc), and a brief interview with @ChelleyToy (who I think I’ve met before at another YA Event last year), in her capacity as YA reviewer and award winner. There was the chance to come up with ideas as to how the team could work better with bloggers – since I’ve realised there was someone there that I know from twitter, but not in real life, then I think name tags could be useful!

foyles book bench #2

Foyles Book Bench #1

 

There are two book benches in store as part of The Big Read, which whilst pretty to look at, can be a little bum-numbing to sit on after a while!

Then there was time to browse the bookshelves and chat with other bloggers, and get 20% off at the till. I currently still dont know much about YA books – even though Chelly was raving about a number of authors, so instead I picked up a couple of books from the British Library True Crime.

BL Publishing haul

 

 

As part of the event, all the bloggers got a goodie bag (I’m a sucker for a goodie bag!), which included the chance for further discounts and free tickets, buttons, colouring pencils, bookmarks etc.

foyles storybox goodiebag

Inspector Montalbano: The Shape Of Water, Collection 1 episode 3

The Shape of Water book coverThe Shape of Water is Episode 3 of the TV series but the first in the Commisario Montalbano books.

The episode starts with a blond woman being dropped off at Mannara, which is a red-light area of Vigata. She walks off and is picked up immediately as if someone was expecting her.

The following morning two street cleaners, Pino and Saro, are clearing the area of rubbish. Saro, whose son is sick, finds and pockets a gold necklace. Pino finds the dead body of Luparello, an engineer of some standing in the car, and the men debate ringing Cusumamo (the deputy leader of a political party) and Luparello’s puppet . Instead, they ring someone called Rizzo, who they believe is Luparello’s best friend. He cuts them dead, telling them to do their duty

It turns out that Luparello had just been elected provincial secretary having kept himself in the background of politics for years.  Rizzo is a lawyer and Luparello’s connection to the mafia. None of the papers or the TV news reports want to say how he was found and the autopsy says he died of natural causes.

Salvo meets Gege, a pimp and one of his informers – they went to school together only to take different routes in life. It’s Gege’s girls who work Mannara, and  the prostitute who saw the girl get out thought she didn’t seem the Mannara type.

Salvo searches Pino’s room, finds notes of the conversation had with Rizzo then visits Saro who he gets to admit he has the necklace. Salvo confiscates the necklace, giving a receipt dated 2 days previously so that Saro can claim the “finder’s fee” – enough to get the child to different doctors.  Salvo sends it to forensics in such a way that gossip would spread fast.

Pino comes to see Salvo – he had written the conversation down because as an amateur actor, the conversation didn’t make sense – Rizzo wasn’t interested in how or where he was found (as if he already knew), only why HE was being called.il commisario

Cusumamo gets elected the provincial secretary and Rizzo hears Salvo has the necklace. Dinner with Nicolo makes Salvo realise there is a reason the press are not talking about how he was found…the layer of silence will damage his reputation rather than rescue it.  Rizzo says the necklace belongs to the son of Cusumamo and his wife, a Swedish woman who we find out later to be Ingrid, the 6foot tall blonde rally driver.

Salvo goes to see Luparello’s widow who adds something new to the mix – that her husband had affairs in a little cottage. She believes he was forced there for political reasons but he died before the full plan could take effect so they dumped him. We meet Giorgio, Luparello’s nephew, who has a form of epilepsy, and has a fit whilst Salvo is leaving, so is not in the right state to be interviewed.

Whilst at home, Salvo gets a call from his father for the first time in a year, to tell him that a couple boxes of this year’s wine will be sent over. His father sounds remote, Salvo gets depressed. The indication is that they never really had a good relationship (if you watch the corresponding The Young Montalbano series, their relationship has been strained since Salvo’s mother died).

We meet Ingrid, who admits the clothes at the cottage are hers, and that she meets someone there for sex. She later proves she could have driven down the riverbed to Mannara with no problem. Turns out that the person she meets is her father in law (Cusumamo), and she hates doing it. Seems she is being set up so that Salvo will think she killed Cusumamo.

The following morning Rizzo is found shot dead and dumped in the manner of a mafia execution.  It seems Giorgio had been out all night and is unavailable to come in to make a statement.  Salvo returns to his house to find the wine has arrived, along with a letter from his father’s business partner, which tells him that his father is sick and not expected to live long. This devastates Salvo, who cries alone.

He goes to have dinner with the commissioner, and he outlines his theory regarding how the death and set up was done, including the involvement of a guy with the nickname Marilyn in order to set up Ingrid. Of course, it’s not provable.

Salvo takes the day off and goes to see his father at the hospital, only to find he had died, alone, the night before. Salvo buries his father, again alone, as Livia doesn’t get there till the casket is being lowered to the ground. He gets his father’s watch from the business partner who is in hysterics because he’d been banned from telling Salvo just how sick his father was.  Salvo tells the team not to disturb him for a few days and that evening he and Livia have sad sex. Later, when he can’t sleep, he goes for a walk, then fills in the blanks with Livia and that Giorgio is the uncle’s lover and the killer of Rizzo.  Livia doesn’t like some of what he says, accuses him of thinking he’s a god, but he’s a second-rate one at that.

Seeing Livia off at the airport (they’ve made up), he runs into Luparello’s widow and learns the fate of Giorgio – he’s died by “accidentally” driving off a cliff. Salvo visits the spot and can tell it was no accident – the way the road bends and with no skid marks, it was a deliberate move. In a rare monologue at the end, Salvo ruminates on where his life is, and comes to terms with what Livia accused him off.

#BookReview Whisper of Magic by Patricia Rice

Whisper of Magic by Patricia Rice

The death of Celeste Rochester’s father on the voyage from Jamaica to London leaves her and her young siblings nearly penniless in a foreign country. Forced to battle lawyers for her inheritance and the roof over their heads, Celeste has only one weapon: her mysteriously compelling voice.

Having become a barrister to fight injustice, Lord Erran inexplicably incites a riot with his first impassioned speech. Barred from the courtroom, he acts as solicitor for his brother, the Marquess of Ashford. His first job for Ashford requires moving tenants from his brother’s townhouse—a simple task until Erran meets the uncommon beauty living there and realizes she is under attack.

Erran cannot heave Celeste’s desperate family from their home, even though his blind brother needs the property. Nor can he sit back and watch unseen enemies do the job for him.

Can Celeste trust him to defeat their foe? And if Erran succeeds in saving the lady with the intoxicating voice, can he bear to evict her—when she alone understands the turbulence ruining his life?

Received from LibraryThing via an LTER batch in exchange for a review. This is the second book in the Unexpected Magic series

I have read books by this author before, notably Notorious Atherton and Trouble with Air and Magic. In reading my review of the latter, it seems I had the same issue with that book as I did with Whisper of Magic – coming in on book 2 in the series, there’s a lot of backstory referred to from book 1, but not really explained.  Whist yes, it is a standalone book, there has been the assumption that the reader has read the first book (and recently), which can make the reader a little unsettled.  It turns out that this book is also related to the Trouble with Air and Magic, concerning an earlier and different branch of the same family (in this case, the Ives instead of the Malcolms).

Erran works on behalf of his family as a solicitor – the book has started with him in court, realising that he can use his voice to influence people and essentially cause riots. Celeste has come from Jamaica with her small entourage  – unfortunately her father dies on the trip over, leaving them under the influence of nefarious family members who want to use her estate to pay off their significant debts.  The solicitors magically losing the will, which would make her legitimate, and the main beneficiary of the estate is the start of the problems and it is for Erran and the family to ensure this doesn’t happen.

It turns out that Celeste has a similar skill to Erran, which means that they not only can resist the influence of each other’s voices, but become more in tune with each other as the book progresses.

A side story is the matter of Duncan, a member of Parliament, who has recently become blind (presumably in book 1) and not handling it well. He needs to be closer to Whitehall in order to conduct his business but unfortunately, Celeste has taken a 5 year lease on the house. Some of the book therefore is concerned with working out how to share the house, then making adjustments for a blind man to run his Parliamentary surgery from it.

I have to admit I did struggle with this book, and keeping my interest going, and I think it was mainly due to not having read Book #1. I dont know if I would fare *that* much better, but who knows?

#BookReview The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

From the publishers, via Netglley, in exchange for a review

This is across 2 different timeframes, with 1999’s Madeline planning to visit her mother for a week.   Hours before she leaves, she has an argument with husband Phillip – it’s not a raging argument, as Madeline is too used to giving in, but she’s finally reached a turning point (another business dinner with people she doesn’t like, wearing clothes she didn’t choose and still being told she’s fat and being made to feel guilty for eating just one cookie that day).  The parting shot from Phillip is “perhaps they should get a divorce”.

Her mother, small, with perfect hair and makeup and an apparently perfect life, is apparently going to sell her house, which Maddie only finds out when she gets out of the taxi, and is greeted by the real estate agent (an old school friend, the local rebel).  Maddie decides to hide from Phillip under the guise of helping her mother prepare to sell the house. Having forgotten to pack a book for her trip, when she finds her grandmother’s diaries in the attic she decides to read them.

Margie’s diaries are from 1924, and tell of how, at 24 years old, she’s classed as a spinster (having refused the proposal of a business man twice her age), and is sent to chaperone her cousin (Evelyn) in a trip around Europe. Evelyn dumps Margie almost as soon as they hit Paris, taking most of the shared money with her. It is too soon for her to return home, even if she had the money for the ticket.

Having met an artist, Margie is persuaded to get a job a private library and stay in Paris for what seems like an age (but what is in fact only 3 months). This is a slightly different format that the standard “first person narrative” where we get to read Margie’s diaries.  We see it from Madeline reading and reacting to the diaries and assessing her life accordingly.

Having reached rock bottom, Madeline starts gaining the strength to reassess her life and start defining it on her own terms. It helps in having friends around her – both old and new – including the owner of the next door Restaurant (something that is driving her mother demented). She also get to see that the down town part of her home town has regenerated itself into something new and interesting.  In clearing out the basement, she finds hew old painting tools and starts investing her time in her hobby, even when her mother seems to deride her choice.  There is a bombshell in the diaries, that puts a new spin on things, and it takes Madeline a while to deal with the effects on her family and it has the potential to affect the relationship with her mother.

At her mother’s prompting, she gives it another go with Phillip, but realises fairly quickly that things will never change, and that she does need to take control of her life and stop being walked on. She finds her voice, returns to her mother’s house to help finish selling the house.

This is a great book that covers defining yourself against because of, or despite of, the definitions of others, and how each person can be constrained (or constrain others) by making assumptions.

About this Author

Eleanor Brown is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the novel The Weird Sisters, and of the fitness inspiration book WOD Motivation.

Looking for a safe, supportive place to write? Join Eleanor’s writing workshops: www.TheWritersTable.net