The Sleepwalker – A Review

The Sleepwalker is the third in the Aidan Waits series of books by Joseph Knox. You may have seen that I have posted about Joseph Knox and his incredibly captivating protagonist in previous posts, a character who has so much hidden in his past but we know very little about. He makes you want to go back for more.

The Sleepwalker

And this book is no exception.  I honestly have to say that the way the book starts, very much sets the whole tone for the rest of the book. There’s a sense of tension building throughout, a feeling that whilst reading, settles in the stomach and makes you on edge about what is to come. Aidan is once again catapulted into an investigation that is complex and has connections to some old familiar faces.  The relationship between Aidan and his new partner, Naomi Black, could have easily have fallen flat but somehow Joseph manages to introduce enough intrigue and tension that makes the dynamic between the two believable. In this book we find Aidan very much looking over his shoulder at enemies from his past, work colleagues, suspects and his new partner.

It’s hard to talk about the plot line of this book without giving away too much but it is much grittier than Knox’s previous work, and dare I say, his best one yet. Once again we see softer aspects to the otherwise mysterious Waits and the way Knox highlights the issue of the Spice epidemic in Manchester and its impact upon homeless people and those incarcerated is particularly hard to read, but incredibly important. It is the moments that take place within Strangeways and an inmate there that made me particularly emotional.  Once again Joseph has penned a masterpiece in Crime Fiction/Crime Noir.  Giving us plenty of drama, intrigue, twists and turns and also moments that will make you wince. This book is not for the faint hearted and the best thing is how he ends it. There’s no way of knowing what will come next, and that is why you should read it.

A rip roaring, page turner and one I highly recommend to those who love a good detective novel, trust me, there are things you will not see coming and they will leave you reeling.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read it, so comment below. Happy reading!

G.
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Meet the Bookworm – Elika Jacobs

Next up in my ‘Meet the Bookworm’ feature we have Elika Jacobs from Manchester, UK. Elika is a fellow Leo, and for as long as I can remember she’s always been into horror so her answers do not surprise me. There are some books on here, that I’ve never heard of or read, so without further ado, please welcome Elika and her creepy book vibes.

Elika JacobsWhat age did you get into reading? I would say I was around eight years old when I fell in love with reading. I was obsessed with R.L Stine’s Goosebumps books growing up.

What’s the first book that really struck a chord with you and why? I think the first book that struck a chord with me, I was 14 years old (and it’s nothing profound in anyway) but it would have to be when I read the first book of the trilogy ‘The Rats’ by James Herbert. Simply because it freaked me out! My imagination went into overdrive with that book. The part that has always stayed with me was this character was left absolutely terrified in his basement in pitch black listening to these blood thirsty rats the size of small dogs, scratching and getting closer and closer to him, until he can feel them tearing at his skin and he is eaten alive in complete and utter darkness. I read that section of the book in bed turned my light off, got back into bed, I moved my leg and felt something scratch me! I jumped out of bed screaming thinking there was a fucking rat from the book in my bed. Nope just my spring sticking out of my mattress!

Do you have a favourite genre? I don’t have a favourite but similar. I love thrillers, horror, true crime etc

Is there a fictional character or characters that you can relate to?  I think I resonate with a few characters from books I have read. However, I could see a little of myself in the sisters from ‘The secret life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read and why? I don’t really remember the book that I would class as the worst one I have read. It came free with a magazine and wasn’t really up my street. I just remember not finishing it.

What’s  your favourite book to screen adaptation and why? That is a hard one as there is so many that you don’t even realise! But I would have to say ‘The secret life of bees’ I have recently re-read it and it is a phenomenal book. The director and cast did a sensational job bringing it to life.

What was the last book you read? The last book I read was a biography of the former slave who became well-known as an abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights called ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ by Sojourner Truth.

What are you currently reading? The current book I am reading is called ‘Need you dead’ by Peter James.

If you could recommend just one book to everyone you ever met, which book would it be and why? Oh, wow that is a tough one, but I should’ve known it was coming! I think I’m going to give a cop out answer and say ANY of James Herbert’s books. If you’re into your horrors, thrillers, dark fantasy, etc he is the author for you! I’ve spoken about him that much recently that I think I’m going to have to take a trip down memory lane and re-read one of his books.

And finally, if you were to write an autobiography of your own life what would you call it? Lemony Snicket stole my autobiography name (laughs) I think I would call it ‘My life! Fuck it, it is what it is’

If you would like be a contributor for the “Meet the Bookworm” feature then please get in touch.

Thanks for reading.
G.
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Everything I Know About Love – A Review

I’ve had this book sat on my shelf for a good few months; it came onto my radar when I overheard some female colleagues discussing it. I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. Dolly Alderton talks us through her teenage years and her first realisation of boys/men. Instantly I found the content relatable when she discussed MSN Messenger and the way you’d sign out and then back in again to get your crushes attention. I was guilty of this, I was also guilty of having the courage of being hidden behind a computer screen to say to a guy “You’re so cute, I really fancy you!” and then having the instant panic a second after hitting send of being rejected or laughed at so covering my back with a “Omg sorry, my cousin wrote that!” which when I think about it, was the worst excuse ever.

As the book goes on we learn about Dolly’s adult life, her early 20’s, nights out where she drank until the early hours of the morning (and still went to work) and the whirlwind relationships with men. There are moments of the book that are laugh out loud funny and some that really struck a chord with me. Especially when talking about her anxiety and relationship with drink. She looks at the power of female friendship and dissects how, as women; a lot of us tend to put what we think a man wants ahead of what we actually want. It’s these moments that I found myself nodding my head in agreement and feeling so happy to see someone being so open and candid about these things.

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It’s not a book that men should avoid either, Dolly hasn’t written this as some feminist manifesto or celebration of sisterhood, but actually takes ownership that there are no bad men or bad women, just some bad timings, decisions and ways of dealing with things. As she says later on in the book, and I’m paraphrasing here, no break up happens because you did nothing wrong, on some level you were responsible for the relationship breaking down, no matter how small. So don’t lay the blame on the man. You have to take responsibility and courage to look at what you did wrong too.  She also talks about dating in your 30’s (something I had some experience with) and once again I found her words to be incredibly true. Everyone has a history, especially if they’re single in their 30’s! One line particularly jumped out at me.

“If you lose respect for someone, you won’t be able to fall back in love with them.”

This made me think of my ex and our marriage breaking down, but it also made me think of myself. For many years I had no respect for myself and consequently found it hard to love myself and see anything worthy in me. It’s taken time for me to get where I am, and I still have days where I long to be that 17 year old girl with no worries or loss or heartbreak and that unshakable confidence I had at such a young age, but I’m getting there. I’m learning to know who I am, faults and all, and respect who I am, even love who I am. This book is more about friendship and the power of the “mundane” aspects of love that often get overlooked for not being particularly awe inspiring. But they’re actually the moments that mean the most (and the ones you should cherish) they’re the moments I know I long to share with my mum since her passing. The moments that seemed insignificant at the time but actually they were perfect moments between me and her. Dolly puts it more beautifully than I ever could.

“…it also happens when you’re lying on blow-up air beds in a childhood bedroom, sitting in A&E or in the queue for a passport or in a traffic jam. Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.”

It’s hard not to read and finish this book without taking stock of your life, thanking the world silently for all the good it gives you and enjoying the sun on your skin. It’s more than a book; it’s a hug and an awakening.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Have you read it? What were your thoughts? Comment below, happy reading beauts.

G.
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The Importance of Reading

I’ve always been a bookworm. For as long as I can remember I have taken solace in the pages of a book to help me through breakups, heartbreak, loss, grief and stress. I also read just for enjoyment and find it really relaxing. But I know many people find it hard, some because they struggle with concentration, some because they suffer from dyslexia and feel intimidated and some people associate it with being forced to read the set curriculum at school. However reading is important and it’s something everyone should do and here’s why.

Reading has been found to enhance the connectivity in the brain and keeping the brain active can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also requires you to use your memory muscle which can decrease the decline of your memory. Not to mention reading expands your knowledge and vocabulary, but is also improves concentration and increases empathy. In the current climate we’re living in, I think empathy is lacking and the fact that people can gain more empathy from a book and gain more understanding of people and situations that they are likely never to find themselves in, is important. We could all benefit from being a bit more understanding to our fellow man.

Reading is also important as a form of entertainment and relaxation. Where possible, I always try to read the book version of a Film/TV series before I watch it’s translation to film. There have been times where the adaptation has been done pretty decently, but often the image I build up in my head is much more complex and multifaceted than it is on the screen. It’s also incredibly personal; it’s my mind’s interpretation of what I’m reading. Which is one reason I love hearing other people’s opinions of books I’ve read, to hear how they imagined it.

My boyfriend is one of those modest people who believes he’s not very smart, but actually he is. He thinks he doesn’t read a lot, but he’s always reading. Which brings me to my next point. Just because you don’t read books on the regular, it doesn’t mean you’re not a reader. You could be reading articles or forums, but you’re still reading! So don’t let someone shame you for not reading a conventional book. You’re still keeping your brain engaged and learning more so block out the haters.

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Likewise when you are reading books don’t let someone shame you for the subject matter or genre.  I’ll admit “chick lit” (I hate that term) is not for me but I wouldn’t shame someone for reading it, I really hate this modern mentality of shaming someone’s enjoyment of something. Just because it’s not your cup of tea, doesn’t give you the right to guilt someone else for enjoying it, so enjoy that book about the history of the Regency Revolution, or that tie-in Star Trek book and ignore what anyone else says. Just do you!

But above all my favourite thing about reading is the way it can bring people together, it opens the floor to discussion, it allows you to learn other perspectives and see the world through the eyes of someone else. It is the best way to escape without going anywhere. I don’t think I will ever stop reading and I’m proud to be a bookworm.

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In fact I would like to hear from you! I am looking for 5 people who would allow me to feature them on my blog, discussing your favourite book(s) and the impact they had on you. If you’re interested and happy to be involved, then please comment below. Until then, happy reading.

G.
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Breaking the Silence

As you can imagine, I’ve been adjusting to life and trying to find my feet again. I’m hoping to get back into writing again soon, as well as carrying on with the book reviews. Now I have my book bug back, I think I’ll be reading a lot more than I have been or was.

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I’m attending a book event on Thursday evening in Manchester, with the author Joseph Knox. I read his first book Sirens and tore through it. I think the fact his books are based in Manchester (my city) make it easier for me to imagine the surroundings more, I also liked the way he named the chapters of Sirens after Joy Division songs (one of my favourite bands) His style of writing is great and he makes it easy for you to fall into the story without trying too hard. I’m currently reading his second book in the series (The Smiling Man) and I’m finding it hard to put it down and figure out who the culprit is. He’s brilliant at weaving storylines within one another, often linking one with the other through the most subtle of means.

I’m really looking forward to hearing him read an excerpt from his new book ‘The Sleepwalker’ and what he has to say about his methodology when writing, his favourite character(s) and of course whether there will be any other Detective Aidan Waits books.

I’m hoping I can use reading/writing as a cathartic process and hope that at some point I may even be able to write more poetry and eventually start writing short stories again.

G.

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An Interview With….

When I made the decision to start writing a book blog it was as a medium to help me get my thoughts and opinions on the books I was reading out there. Over time it has evolved and turned into a way for me to meet like-minded individuals, find dozens of inspirations for books to read and also helped me showcase the work of indie authors. Just a couple of weeks ago I reviewed the ‘Americosis’ by Haydn Wilks. He was kind enough to give up some of his time for a quick interview for the blog and here’s what he had to say.

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If you had to use three words to describe your book ‘Americosis Vol.1’ to someone who was contemplating reading it, which words would you use?

Judging from feedback I’ve gotten from readers so far, ‘vulgar’, ‘violent’ and ‘wild’ seem to crop up a lot. Whether you consider those adjectives to be positive or negative should give you a good idea of whether you’ll enjoy the book or not!

Do you have a routine or a special place that you do the majority of your writing and how do you overcome writer’s block?

I try to just force myself into writing as often as possible. I’ll often go to a coffee shop to write, as I find knowing I’m basically paying to be somewhere with the purpose of writing makes me less likely to get distracted. In the same way, I find I get a lot more done following a method of doing a first draft by hand and then typing it up on a computer later. Writing on computer, it’s far too easy to go back and change stuff as you’re going along, spend ages rewording the same few sentences over and over again, then just click onto Facebook or Reddit and lose an hour clicking links, watching clips and reading articles. Writer’s block isn’t so much of a problem as just getting the work done; I’ve lots of ideas I’d like to write about, sitting down and getting them written is the hard part

Is there any particular authors or books that have inspired you? And what is it about their writing that you love so much?

I really got obsessed with Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis when I first read their books as a teenager, than a few years later I did the same thing with Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski. I think Palahniuk and Easton Ellis’ books have an air of cynicism that was irresistible to my angsty teenage self, while the back attraction with Kerouac and Bukowski is how they weave fictional narratives out of their own real-life experiences.

Americosis has a lot of storylines going on, how did you come up with the plot and interweave them together so well?

Thanks for saying they came together well! Americosis is the second book I’ve put out, and my first novel, The Death of Danny Daggers, also focused on a large cast of characters whose stories overlap and interweave. I think in some ways it felt more instinctive to me to do that, rather than focusing on a smaller number of characters. Maybe it’s kind of an attention deficit kind of thing, wanting to jump between lots of different stories, and I think with the first book more than Americosis, it was kind of reflecting the way everyone you ever meet now ends up on your Facebook friends list or permanently connected to you in some way. You meet someone in a bar on holiday, have a fun night, add them on Facebook and never speak to or see them again, but you’ll have this constant stream of updates about their life – I guess this idea of expanded social networks is something that’s worked its way into my writing. As for the plot itself, it was a gradual idea that kind of snowballed over time as I would add more and more notes about it until I had enough elements to work with that I decided to sit down and start writing it.

One of the things I loved about Americosis was that it pulled me in enough to want to read more, what would you say the trick is to engaging your audience in a novella?

I’m glad you think so! My first attempts to write something were all screenplays, and something that I’ve carried over from the reams of screenplay writing guides I pored over as a teenager were each scene needing to have some kind of purpose. I ended up cutting tens of thousands of unnecessary words from my last novel, and it made me release that in a novel you may have way more space to go off on tangents and divert from the plot, but scenes still need to have some kind of relevance to be engaging. I think with the first volume of Americosis, having lots of different strands and characters that I want to introduce that will be built on more in the rest of series, it was quite easy to make the novella very fast-paced.

I believe you’re currently penning the 2nd volume to Americosis, can you give us an idea of what we can expect?

I’m nearing the end of the writing and editing process, I’m hoping Volume 2 will be out within the next few weeks. It’s carrying on directly from the end of Volume 1, so all the story strands that are introduced there are continuing, but it’s going to become bigger as well, covering more of America, both in terms of the story’s geography and the kind of characters included. In Volume 1, the time traveller who’s come to save America says he’s gained all his knowledge of American culture from movies; in Volume 2, he decides there’s a particular group of movie superheroes who he needs to reach and a supervillain that he needs to take out, not releasing they’re all just actors. And Hank is in hot pursuit, so you can expect some action-packed scenes where those two collide. Back in New York, the virus is spreading further and further, and John Baldini decides to target his estrange wife, Erica. It’d be giving too much away to say what goes down between those two!

What are you reading at the moment? Are there any books due to be released that you’re looking forward to?

I’ve just started reading David Mitchell’s ‘The Bone Clocks’, and found it really engaging so far. In general, it takes me a while to get around to books, so I don’t keep an eye on the upcoming release lists; I’m much more likely to hear about a book through reading reviews when it’s just come out, or pick up on a recommendation from a friend. A couple of books I’m looking forward to reading when I get around to them are the autobiography of Frank Turner, an English singer-songwriter who went from a moderately successful but really good post-hardcore band to selling out Wembley Arena with his solo stuff. I’m sure his years of roughing it, sleeping on sofas and touring the world playing shows will make for interesting reading. And I just heard the other day about a writer from my hometown of Caerphilly, Thomas Morris, who’s written a short story collection set there called ‘We Don’t Know What We’re Doing’ that’s gotten good reviews, I’ll definitely be interested to check that out.

 Any final words?

If anyone reading this is interested in checking out Americosis Vol. 1, the eBook is now available completely free from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. Volume 2 will hopefully be out by the end of the month, early September at the latest. And you can also get my first book, The Death of Danny Daggers, as a paperback or eBook in all the same places!

You can read more about Haydn here http://www.haydnwilks.com/ which also includes links to the places you can buy his work.

If you’re an indie author and would like me to review your work then please do get in touch.

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

Georgina

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Superheroes, Sass & Mystery.

The First Death of August is the debut novella from Matt King. This is the first of many short stories that are connected to the Circle War series, which Matt is currently writing.

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I can’t quite remember how Matt came on my radar but I think we must have exchanged a couple of tweets for one reason or another and it wasn’t long before I started following him. On Twitter he’s funny and engaging and when he posted that his book was available on the Kindle, I just had to buy it. The thing that first struck me about ‘The First Death of August’ is how instantly likeable and mysterious August is, you don’t learn or find out much about his origin, which adds to the intrigue.

Before long it’s easy to see that August is a no nonsense guy, on a mission to track down the even more mysterious Gemini and stop their evil ways. There’s plenty of action involved in this first instalment as well as plenty of humour, and sass. It may seem odd to say this but girls are going to fall in love with August and guys are going to want to be him. The way he deals with the situations he finds himself in is effortlessly cool and he takes everything in his stride. Well written, perfectly balanced and ending with a cliff hanger, this will leave you wanting more.

Matt was kind enough to share some more information about the novel, the series as a whole and even tell us what’s he enjoying right now in the literary world with More Books Than Shoes. Here’s what he had to say.

August was a really intriguing character, but there wasn’t much mentioned about his origin, can you tell us more about that? I’m not a huge fan of superhero origin stories simply because the origins aren’t nearly as interesting to me as the characters and their actions as a hero. That being said, I included August’s origin in the first chapter of GODSEND. It’s short and sweet and totally doesn’t involve a lab disaster. You can check it out on my site: www.kingwrites.com

There was a lot of mystery surrounding the storyline and the character of Gemini, can you tell us what we can expect from that character? Gemini starts out as more of an urban legend. He’s a destructive force that’s never been seen. When you finally meet Gemini, you start to realize what drives him and maybe feel a little bit sorry for him. Not too sorry, though. He’s still a maniac.

One of the most interesting traits of August is that he can’t seem to be killed, what inspired this trait? August is so excited to be a hero, he flaunts his healing ability as though it’s something special. Among the other champions, healing is kind of a basic requirement. What August finds out later is that he’s easily the weakest of the people chosen to fight in the Circle War and that having the power to heal doesn’t mean much when your opponent can rip your head off.

In this first book August managed to get tied up with a snake and scared the town bully, can we expect more of the same thing? Oddly enough, there are more snakes in GODSEND. Not sure what that says about me. Maybe I just like limbless villains. He spends most of the book tracking down others like himself, though, which is a group pretty far above town bullies in terms of abilities.

There seemed to be a lack of female characters in the story, are there going to be any popping up? Definitely. Two of the central gods in the book are women, including the series villain. One of my favorite characters, Aeris, shows up as a co-main character of the second and third book.

Which novelists and books inspire you the most? My books are like a combination of traditional novels and comic books, so the people who influence me come from both fields too. I love Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, and Victoria Schwab, to name a few. As for books, some of my favorites are The Stand, To Kill A Mockingbird, Preacher, Bone, and The Lost World.

Can you tell us what the hardest process is for you when it comes to writing? What have been your bigger challenges? My biggest problem is that I’m a fairly slow writer. It takes a while for me to finish a novel. That’s mostly because I spend too much time editing as I go along, so in recent years I’ve tried to do less of that and concentrate on getting stuff completed, regardless of whether it’s the perfect sentence or not. That’s what revisions are for.

Is there any advice you could offer to people wanting to write their first book? Finish it. That’s the hardest part. The next hardest part is realizing that your first work may not sell. So many people quit the process early on because they get discouraged. Don’t let that happen. If your book doesn’t sell, keep writing. The only way you make it is to keep writing.

What’s the best book you have read this year? I’ve actually hit a bad patch as far as my reading goes. Too many DNFs lately. I’m really loving what I’ve read of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab, so I’ll go with that as my favorite so far.

Any final comments you’d like to share with the readers of the blog? Both THE FIRST DEATH OF AUGUST and THE TRIA are short stories connected to the Circle War series of superhero novels I’m writing. I hope to write at least one more before the first book comes out. The next one may center on the gods of the series. Or maybe it’ll have August fighting orangutans. Haven’t decided yet.

Well it’s certainly got me intrigued. You can check it out for yourself, the book is available on the Kindle from Amazon.co.uk for just 99p.

Happy Reading fellow book nerds!

Georgina

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