Archive for the Authors Category

Bryant and May – The Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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The latest instalment of the series featuring the elderly detectives Bryant and May and their colleagues in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU). The wild chambers in the title refers to the various parks in London, which feature heavily in the book as Christopher Fowler continues to give potted histories and oddball facts about London and its peoples through the ages. Indeed Arthur Bryant has vivid hallucinations following some lifesaving treatment and meets various characters in these who help him solve the case, including a cameo by a young Queen Elizabeth II.

The PCU are tasked with catching a possible serial killer who makes their kills in the parks of London. In the background the PCU’s arch enemy Leslie Faraday plots to close the PCU down and all the PCU characters are back including Bryant’s suave partner John May, along with constables Colin and Meera with their ongoing ‘will they, wont’ they’ become an item. There is an added character this time as an exchange German policewoman, Steffi Vesta, joins the team hoping to pick up some good policing tips!

Christopher Fowler cleverly uses the characters in his books to make comments on the current social and cultural landscapes in London, a city he loves and that comes across in his writing. If you have never read a Bryant & May novel you are missing out and this is a good a place to start as any. They are a winning mix of ‘cosy crime’ with a supernatural edge and a good dose of humour.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , , , on September 28, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Viking [Published 02.11.17]

Short story collections never seem to sell really well, unless there is a big name author and this will hopefully be the case here as William Boyd collects together some entertaining short stories and a novella as the collection’s centre piece.

Turning first to the novella and the character who gives this collection its name, Bethany Mellmoth is a 24 year old who we follow on a year of her life as she tries various ways to find her career path and the relationships she has along the way. I actually preferred the short stories to this longer piece as I struggled to feel any empathy for her.

Of the other stories the last one is an excellent page turning thriller where the main character calls upon his past roles in a series of failed thriller films to help him in an unusual encounter. The film industry does weave its way into a few of the other stories, showing the less glamorous side of the industry.

William Boyd has a great knack of switching genres, be it how relationships thrive and fail, takes on modern life, ‘must read’ thriller – that is the beauty of this collection in that you never know what to expect next.

Some Fantastic Place by Chris Difford

Posted in Authors, Books, Classic albums, Netgalley, pop, Pop rock with tags , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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W&N [Publication date 31.08.17]

Chris Difford is the lyricist to Glen Tilbrook’s music and arranging in Squeeze, a band who have split up twice and now since reforming again in 2007 seem to be enjoying a purple patch both in terms of touring and making new music.

Chris’s memoir is very much written from the heart as he describes his struggle with alcohol and bouts of depression, and the effect this had on his personal life. However, he comes across as a positive soul and one that is grateful for what he has. There are of course plenty of tales of Squeeze and how they rose to fame in the late 70’s and early 80’s with a string of hit singles.

His musical life outside of Squeeze is given insight including his time as helping coral the lyrics for Bryan Ferry. He also felt like Bryan Ferry’s chauffer at the time! He also worked on lyrics with Elton John and became good friends with him, which helped a band Chris was mentoring the Strypes, who signed to Elton’s Rocket Music Management in their early days. His solo career is covered, although not as extensively as Squeeze.

You do get a little insight into the relationship between him and Glen Tilbrook, something that has remained constant throughout the years since when they first met back in 1973.

Reading about Squeeze it is pretty amazing they are still going, as at one time in the 90’s they seemingly had a revolving door on drummers and keyboard players. Luckily for music fans the Difford and Tilbrook axis on which Squeeze turns remained and the Squeeze story continues as they have a new album ‘The Knowledge’ out in October.

Chris Difford has penned an honest account of his life in and out of Squeeze, where he is very honest about his past mistakes and his struggles with depression and drinking. Highly recommended for both fans of the band and anyone wanting to see how the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle isn’t all glitz and glamour.

Review by Jason Ritchie

 

Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Serpent’s Tail [Published 06.07.17]

First time I have read anything by Adrian McKinty. Set in the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the late 80’s the plot and characters are top notch.

Belfast 1988: a man has been shot in the back with an arrow. Uncovering exactly who has done it has Detective Inspector Sean Duffy sees three masked gunmen forcing Duffy to dig his own grave at the opening of the story. From this opening it backtracks looks at events that led to this, before the plot returns to the opening scene half way through the book.

The main character Duffy is  a Catholic detective working for the RUC. McKinty gives you potted history of various real life events and history that happened during that time. The writing style with dark humour and fast paced plot reminded me of Colin Bateman and Stuart MacBride.

Highly recommended and deserves to be more well known.

Best thing about finishing this book is knowing that I have all the previous Duffy books to enjoy now.

Authors interview: JON BOUNDS & DANNY SMITH

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , on August 22, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Jon Bounds and Danny Smith have written a very entertaining road trip book, ‘Pier Review’, where they set out to visi the piers of England and Wales. They have kindly answered a few questions regarding their book…

Have you been pleased with the sales and reaction/reviews for ‘Pier Review’?

D – We made our advance back, and more besides. So that’s a real win in the way the industry is at the moment. And because of the learning curve about promoting a book is so damn steep. We did alright. just getting it published was a massive achievement.

J – The reviews and reactions that mean the most are those that come from people that don’t know you: they’re under no obligation to be kind or interested. We’ve had enough good notices to give us a bit of of a warm glow, as well as the couple of people that were very angry upon finding out that there wasn’t that much about piers in the book. Through the book we’ve got to speak to and meet lots of nice people too and had a great visit to the Isle of Man where the people battling to save their pier were kind enough to dub Danny and I ‘pier consultants’ so the insurance covered us having a good nose at the structure.

How easy/hard was it to pitch the idea of visiting all the English and Welsh piers to publishers?

The process wasn’t too bad itself, we just wrote every version of the things that publisher required. Half page synopsis, full page, chapter breakdowns etc. and kept a spreadsheet., we knew the idea had a large audience because who hasn’t been to the seaside in britain, we’re an island. Its we’re surrounded by it. Plus the genre of bored white guys do something stupid and write about it is well trodden.

I think the idea was easy to grasp and once it was a book – rather than the idea of us wanting to do it in the first place – people liked it. Them finding out that it was an odd dual-narrative (like these answers) and slightly psychogeographic book with class analysis and some dick jokes made some love it. Others not so much, but we got there, and our agent did all the really hard work.

Any plans to visit the Scottish piers (three in total I think?) – maybe even as a eBook exclusive?!

I’d still like to make a radio documentary of it, and record but edit out Midge’s voice. Rule one of Pier Review – Midge doesn’t get a voice.

Scotland remains a long long way, and very cold. Never say never though.

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Can Blackpool ever redeem itself in your view?

It can and has, I’ve been since and enjoyed it. But I’m normally a big fan of sleazy and broken. Just on the trip lack of sleep and being trapped in a car with the same two people was doing things to our brain.

Blackpool obviously isn’t as dark as we paint it, and certainly isn’t as dark as the stuff that the publishers edited out from those passages on the grounds of taste. I’m positive that it has interesting things going on, lovely residents, a vibrant cultural scene and a fascinating history. I just do not think it is any fun whatsoever to be there, though.

Music and radio played a big part in the traveling between piers. What was the worst radio station you had to endure?

All three of us are big music fans just of slightly differant things, we expected more arguments about the radio. Even the bad radio is good though, the Southend local dj DJ SLAPDASH stands out though. At one point he was doing a crossword live on air. Can’t remember if that made it into the book.

Apart from Essex’s most quotidian station that Dan mentions, we firmly kept the dial locked to BBC 6Music. Which meant we got a firm dose of that month’s playlist: every line of Brett Anderson’s Brittle Heat is branded on my brain. I’m sure it’s a decent track but… nah it’s a joke of a track, a man trying to reclaim his youth in public. I can’t condone that.

After visiting all the piers and sea fronts, do you still have a generally good opinion and feelings for the British seaside?

I do, because even the places that have been redeveloped and are quite new, still have remained a smidge tatty and human. The seaside will always be a place where we go for fun and as such have a special type of slightly crap glamour.

Oh yes, we couldn’t have done the trip or written so much about it if we didn’t really love these places. And now I have a ton of memories to add to that love. That’s what our country is all about.

Are there any plans for another joint book together?

We’ve talked about a couple of ideas, one is sticking out at the moment so maybe…

We had a good chat about a couple of ideas, and the conclusion was really that we would as we’d forgotten how hard it was the first time. The process of writing about something that you’d both experienced wasn’t as hard as it might have been: we took out precious little material that we’d written that overlapped even when writing about the same things. The process of doing the thing in the first place is another story: it’s not surprise that the idea that is sticking out is one where there are separate bedrooms.

Anything else to add… (feel free to plug away with links etc.)

My links are

Edgetrinkets.co

@probablydrunk

If you really want to help any author WRITE THEM AN AMAZON REVIEW popular books go to the head of searches and popularity is decided on number of reviews. Amazon presales are a big deal now also, often deciding how much promotion a publisher is going to give a book. So, yeah, write us an amazon review. And we’ll owe you a pint or something next time we see you x

You can find most things I write or links to them at popandpolitics.co.uk or @bounder. At the moment Dan and I, alongside a couple of our mates, are just about to launch a podcast where we take a ‘sideways look’ at the universe of the Hitchhiker’s’ Guide to the Galaxy. You might think that that’s already a bit sideways looking, so we’ll end up looking at it head on, but we think the idea has got legs. It’s called Beware of the Leopard and can be found at http://btlpodcast.com

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A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Harper Collins [Pub Date 20 Apr 2017]

This is a stand alone novel, although it takes place in Oldcastle and locations used in the Ash series of novels.

The book revolves around DC Callum MacGregor, who is part of the Misfit Mob, drawn up of members of the force who have various misdemeanors to their name or are recovering from serious illness, or in one case terminal illness. The Misfit mob get the cases no-one else wants and the action starts when the team are assigned to see where an ancient mummy was stolen from after turning up at the Oldcastle tip. But then Callum uncovers links between the ancient corpse and three missing young men, which leads him and his fellow Misfit Mob into investigating a serial killer.

It is a long read at over 600 pages, however Stuart MacBride’s trademark black humour and ability to relay the less glamorous sides of policing keep the reader engrossed. I have to say DC Callum is one unlucky fella, as despite his often best intentions it often turns bad for him. His childhood links into the case the team are investigating and there are plenty of twists and turns you’d expect in a good crime novel.

Stuart MacBride excels at having you laugh one minute, then shudder as he describes how the serial killer treats his victims. Never read a duff book by this author and ‘A Dark So Deadly’ will please both longstanding fans and anyone who has yet to try this enjoyable crime writer.

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Published by Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books [Publication date 28.09.17]

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

Four short story ghost stories from an author who has a good background in ghostly tales. These are in the classic ghost story style, similar to MR James, rather than more modern ghost stories such as Peter James’s ‘The House On Cold Hill’, which is much more graphic and violent ghost story.

The title story reminded me of a Sherlock Holmes tale in the setting and telling of the tale. The story’s ending you guess early on, although that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story.

Boy Twenty One and Alice Baker both have you thinking about the endings. Boy Twenty One in particular gets the brain ticking over in possible scenarios before you reach the end of the story.

The Front Room is the most chilling tale in the collection. A wise warning about having your mother-in-law living with you!

Classic ghostly tales, perfect for when the nights are drawing in.