Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson begins with a setting on the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast. Ellie Brook, a British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. The island has an interesting history much of which Ms. Lawrenson touches on, but I didn't find Ellie to be a character that was life-like. The book then skipped to The Lavender Field which appeared to have no connection to The Sea Garden novella. I didn't continue reading the second and third novellas, but after looking at some of the reviews, apparently the ending ties them all together. Instead of interspersing the past with the present, the novel is written separately. I think the interspersion might have made more sense to the reader.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Peter Bartram Guest Post

Peter BartramPeter Bartram, author of the Colin Crampton series, has kindly stopped by today to give us a little insight into his work as an author and his life as a journalist.

Morning, Noon and Night are Mr. Bartram's latest books in the Colin Crampton series.

Q: Tell us a little about the Crampton of the Chronicle series

A: When I sat down to write a crime mystery series two years ago, I spent ages trying to think of an original way to portray a private eye or a cop. But everything has been done in those areas. Then it hit me. I'd spent my life as a journalist. I'd make my protagonist a journalist, too. So Colin Crampton chases his stories - and killers - as crime reporter on the fictional Evening Chronicle in 1960s Brighton. A lot of readers have told me that having a reporter rather than a cop as the hero gives the books a fresh feel.

Q: Which authors inspire you?

A: When I was 14, I came across a copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in a second-hand bookshop. I was hooked from the first story, Silver Blaze. In the seventies, as I was broadening out my reading of crime fiction and thrillers, I enjoyed writers such as Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Victor Canning. One of the all-time greats I admire is Raymond Chandler, for his sheer ability to pack a punch in a single sentence.

Q: What are you working on next?

I've just started writing the fourth full-length Crampton novel which is provisionally called Murder Hot Off the Press. But I've spent the first half of 2017 writing the first Crampton trilogy - Murder in the Morning Edition, Murder in the Afternoon Extra and Murder in the Night Final. It's been hard work, but I've thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Each book is a self-contained unit, but the mystery continues from one to the next.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself?

A: I started work as a reporter on a local newspaper in my year between school and university. After I graduated from the London School of Economics I went straight back into journalism, with a job as a reporter in London. It wasn't actually in Fleet Street, but my office was in Ludgate Hill, a continuation of Fleet Street! I went freelance early on in my career because I wanted to have more choice in the work I did. Since then, I've written thousands of articles for newspapers and magazines and pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and Buckingham Palace. I wrote 21 non-fiction books, including five ghost-written, in areas such as biography, current affairs and how-to titles, before turning to crime writing.

Q: What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?

A: Keep at it. People who write books are the people who sit at their laptops doing it - not the people who sit around talking about it.

Q: What's your favourite season?

We have four seasons in England - winter, winter, winter and, by far the wild and wettest, summer. I love all of them!

Q: Who do you imagine is your reader?

A: I first started to write crime fiction when I couldn't find a book I really wanted to take on holiday. So now I try and write the kind of book that cozy mystery fans would like to read while they're lounging around the pool. Or even in it, if they can find a way to waterproof their Kindle!

Q: Where is the Crampton Morning, Noon & Night trilogy available?

A: Just head over to Amazon where you'll find the books ready to download to your Kindle. For all my other titles, check out my website at www.colincrampton.com which gives pointers on where to find the books.

Q: How can readers find out more about you?

A: It's that website, again! www.colincrampton.com.

Peter Bartram is offering Murder in the Morning Edition free - but be warned you won't be able to stop at just one mystery.

Peter Bartram Facebook Page

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Whiskey Baron by Jon Sealy

I found The Whiskey Baron on the Friends of the Library bookshelf at our local library (all books are 10c). Jon Sealy is a gifted writer (The Whiskey Baron was his debut novel) and his descriptions are detailed with beautiful prose, something sadly lacking in many of the modern day novels. I found the story intriguing with a sadness for the people living through such hard times in 1930s South Carolina. This is going on my favorite list for this year.

From the cover:
Late one night at the end of a scorching summer, a phone call rouses Sheriff Furman Chambers out of bed. Two men have been shot dead on Highway 9 in front of the Hillside Inn, a one time boardinghouse that is now just a front for Lartham Tull's liquor business. . .  Sheriff Chambers' investigation leads him into the Bell village, where Mary Jane's family lives a quiet, hardscrabble life of working in the cotton mill. While the weary sheriff digs into the mystery and confronts the county's underground liquor operation, the whiskey baron himself is looking for vengeance.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Modern Museum - Fort Worth

Fort Worth is a small town with big ambitions and has a great cultural area. Last week-end we visited the Modern Museum, which offers a free viewing of exhibits on Sundays. The Cafe Modern is also a great place to eat with views over the pebbled bottom shallow lake.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Headline Murder by Peter Bartram

Most of you know I'm a huge fan of Peter Bartram's Colin Crampton series and I'm working my way through his constantly growing list of mysteries. As a journalist, Peter Bartram puts all his background knowledge into his books which results in a fast paced and humorous story. Another plus for me is the setting of Brighton on the English coast where I find myself constantly remembering places I used to visit such as Devil's Dyke, Hove, Brighton Pier, and Black Rock as I read. To add to my nostalgia, Colin Crampton also drives a MGB (I used to race around England in my blue MGB GT - model picture below).
But I digress from the story. Regardless of whether you are familiar with the area or not, Headline Murder is a great read and Colin Crampton's character is sure to produce a few LOL moments.

Headline Murder
It's August 1962, and Colin Crampton, the Brighton Evening Chronicle's crime reporter, is desperate for a front-page story. But it's the silly season for news and the only tip-off Crampton has is about the disappearance of the seafront's crazy-golf proprietor, Arnold Trumper. Crampton thinks the story is about as useful as a set of concrete water-wings. But when he learns that Trumper's vanishing act is linked to an unsolved murder, he scents a front-page scoop. Powerful people are determined Crampton must not discover the truth. But he is quite prepared to use every newspaper scam in the book to land his exclusive. The trouble is it's his girlfriend, feisty Australian Shirley, who too often ends up on the wrong end when a scam goes wrong. Crampton has to overcome dangers they never mentioned at journalism school before he writes his story. Headline Murder will keep you guessing and smiling right to the last page.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mermaid's Bane

I'm putting the finishing touches to my latest cozy mystery in the Lowenna series (5th book) and hopefully it will be ready to publish by August - at least that's the plan!

Mermaid's Bane
When Flora, one of the ladies in the Lowenna Knitting Circle, dies suddenly it puts everyone on edge. The woman the Circle refers to as The Mouse, surely didn’t have any enemies, but is there more to Flora than meets the eye? And why are women who wear a mermaid pendant suddenly in danger? Gia can never miss an opportunity to uncover a mystery, but she has much more to contend with: Her pregnancy, and the possibility of neighboring shops to Lowenna Antiques closing. And then there’s a newcomer who gathers bouquets of flowers – some of which are known to kill!

Hop on over to my Amazon page to view my other books

Friday, June 30, 2017

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

Ragtime is a combination of early 1900 events woven together around a fictional family. This seems to be common in E.L. Doctorow's books.

From Goodreads:
The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, NY, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. Almost magically, the line between fantasy & historical fact, between real & imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud & Emiliano Zapata slip in & out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow's imagined family & other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler & a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence. 

My thoughts: I like the historical events happening around a family, but I found the writing difficult to be engaged in. The sentences were short and "choppy" and in one paragraph nearly every sentence started with "He."  I gave up and didn't finish the book.