Book Review – Murder by the Book – Eric Brown

Published 04/07/2013 by julierkendrick

Murder by the bookI enjoyed every minute of reading this book. I loved the authenticity of the 1950’s as written by Brown. I am not old enough to have lived at that time but I really felt I was there with Langham et al. The story was a true old fashioned whodunit which kept me guessing until the end.

Brown’s style of writing is very easy to read, his characters are well rounded as are the locations he describes. Once again I praise him for transporting back to a time before mobile phones, internet and women’s lib.

The chaste relationship between Langham and Dupre is beautiful and a welcome change from the modern descriptions of love and sex (especially in the wave of the erotica movement sweeping the world at the moment).

I absolutely loved this book. I hope there will be more Langham/Dupre books to come because I for one will definitely be buying them.

5/5 stars

Book Spotlight – Cold Killing by Luke Delaney

Published 22/06/2013 by julierkendrick

ColdKilling_CoverSynopsis: 

After a young man is found brutally murdered in his own flat, DI Sean Corrigan, responsible for one of South London’s Murder Investigation Units, takes on the case. At first it appears to be a straightforward domestic murder, but immediately Corrigan suspects it is much more and it soon becomes clear he is hunting a particularly clever and ruthless serial killer who changes his modus operandi each time he kills, leaving no useable forensic evidence behind…

Excerpt

ONE OF THE STRANGEST THINGS ABOUT THE CITY was the sudden way it disappeared around the edges. One minute you were down on Sunset Boulevard surrounded by glass and concrete, and the next thing you knew you were up on Mulholland Drive, alone in the rough country. From a high window or a rooftop almost anywhere in Los Angeles you could see the mountains, and there was always something ravenous up there looking down.

I was up among the hungry creatures, standing at the edge of a cliff, with Hollywood and Santa Monica far below me in the distance. One step forward and I would be in midair. I was looking down and wondering if Haley had considered how suddenly you could go from city to wilderness. Then I wondered if it was a distinction without a difference, if the city might be the wilderness and the wilderness the city, and maybe Los Angeles’s edges seemed to disappear so suddenly because there really was no separation between sidewalks and mountain paths, buildings and boulders. Up in the mountains or down in the city, either way the carnivores were in control.

I imagined Haley, out of her mind, running full speed off the cliff. I wondered what it had been like, that final second or two before she hit. Had she realized what was happening? Did she recognize the city lights below for what they were, or did she really think she was flying toward the stars? And did she think of me?

Stepping closer to the edge, I slid the toes of my shoes into the air. I looked down two hundred feet, toward the spot where she had broken on the rocks. I stood one inch from eternity and tried to imagine life without her. I could not summon up a single reason why I shouldn’t take that final step, except for one. I thought about the kind of animal who would drive someone to do what my wife had done. Predators like that were everywhere. I should know. I had trained for half my life to be one of them. I was hungry, looking down on the city. If I was going to live, the hunger would have to be enough, for now. But I would sink my teeth into him, sooner or later. I would do that for Haley, and for myself, and then maybe it would be my turn to see if I could fly.

I stepped back from the edge.

Buy Cold Killing here.

 

Book Spotlight – Birthdays of a Princess – Helga Zeiner

Published 11/06/2013 by julierkendrick

BirthdaysofaPrincess_cover

 

Synopsis

Almost from age one, Tiara has been a star of the American Child Beauty Circuit. When she grows too old to win anymore, her mother leaves Texas and returns to Vancouver. Tiara is twelve years old, she refuses to attend school or interact with other children, becoming more and more reclusive. Her relationship with her mother deteriorates and they become estranged.

One morning, three years later, Tiara’s mother is shocked to find her daughter the subject of a big story on the morning news. A violent assault has just occurred at a local coffee shop and it seems Tiara is the perpetrator. The brutal and seemingly unprovoked assault lands her in the Burnaby Secure Youth Centre for a court ordered psychological assessment.

When the police investigate the incident they begin to slowly unravel her confused and dark childhood. They discover her history as a child beauty queen star, managed by her mother and aunt while living in Texas. It also becomes increasingly apparent that explicit photos of Tiara were taken and posted to many internet sites The photos seem to capture Tiara over many years and lead the detectives to wonder whether she is the victim rather than the perpetrator.

Tiara herself cannot provide any insight. She has buried the memories of her childhood deep in her sub-consciousness, and even if she could remember, she is deeply traumatized and unresponsive. Any attempts by the authorities to probe result in more withdrawal and unexplained expressions of grief and anger.

Carefully guided by the adolescent forensic psychiatrist in charge at the Secure Youth Centre, she begins to write a journal, anchoring her memories on her birthdays as she remembers them. At the same time, her mother tries to explain the past from her own perspective, insisting she only wanted the best for her daughter and refusing to acknowledge any responsibility at all for what Tiara has experienced. It becomes very obvious that Tiara has been greatly damaged by her childhood.

Slowly the two story-lines merge until they arrive at the moment when mother and daughter recall the trauma that eventually leads to the attack. Tiara begins to understand the horrific nature of her abnormal childhood. She allows the psychiatrist to read the notes in her journal, subconsciously guiding him toward the truth.

But the truth is not clear cut. Tiara is guilty of aggravated assault. Even the detectives can’t find motive to explain her action, which means the judicial system has no choice but to keep her locked up as a dangerous juvenile criminal. Tiara remembers much of her past but she has no idea why she stabbed a strange woman in a coffee shop. Her mental isolation doesn’t allow her to confront this important question. Only the psychiatrist, with the assistance of the detectives who keep digging in the past, might be able to unlock the secret buried in her soul.

And they are successful, but in a way they never expected. When Tia remembers all that had happened and what had motivated her to attack another human being, the final answer, the solution to the puzzle, surprises them all.

Author Bio

Helga Zeiner

Helga Zeiner

Born and educated in Germany, Helga left her home country when she was 18 to travel the world and experience the magic of life she was passionately reading about.

She spent the next 15 years in exotic places like India, Thailand, Australia and Hong Kong, where she worked her way up into excellent managerial positions in large international companies. To achieve this she had to further her education and enrolled at night classes at the ‘Chinese University of Hong Kong’ for her Diploma in Management Studies.
Love eluded her for many years. She was nearly 40 when she finally met her dream man and settled in Canada, where she now lives, neatly tucked away in the wilderness. She has previously written several suspense novels which have been published in Germany.
Her first novel written and published in English is called. ‘Section 132”. A thrilling fact-based page-turner about a young girl forced into a polygamous marriage that has received countless 5-star reviews.
Birthdays of a Princess’ is her second novel and will be published in June 2013.

Buy Birthdays of a Princess here.

D is for Dads

Published 11/06/2013 by julierkendrick

As we are fast approaching Father’s Day here in the UK I thought it would be appropriate to make D for Dads.

Last year I posted a tribute to my own dad which you can read here if you wish so I won’t talk much about him in this post. Over the years dads have had a bad rap. When a relationship breaks down it is usually the man that leaves and the mother that brings up the kids. Now before you all leave comments saying that I am generalising etc please read on. Of course there are dads that leave and never see their kids, or become someone that pops in and out of their lives when it suits but that is by no means the norm now. I have heard of plenty of mothers doing the same.  I have many male friends who are dads and this post is really a tribute to them.

dad 2

One of my friends has been separated from his wife for a few years now and he has willingly brought up his kids. He does everything for them and although he has a full time job he runs his house like clockwork. He spends quality time with them, has instilled good morals and values in them, he is silly with them and strict with them. These two kids are so well rounded and happy that they are a testament to him and he is a testament to dads everywhere. He proves that a single father is as good as a single mother. In fact in his case he may even be better because they are all happy and that is surely preferably to being in an unhappy marriage!

I also have a friend who is a dad and and few years ago came out as being gay. As shocked as his family was, they accepted this. His son, however has been completely unaffected by this revelation. His dad is his dad and they love each other deeply. They are so close and spend as much time together as possible. My friend has a partner now and as often as they can all three go on holidays together. My friend has never felt he has to over-compensate for his sexuality. He is still the boy’s father and he disciplines him and gives him support and advice like any good parent would. Once again another example of a great dad.

dad 3

Of course I know plenty of dads that are still in a relationship with their children’s mother. I love it when I see hands on dads over the park, playing football, doing food shopping, watching ballet lessons and generally spending time with their offspring. It makes my heart go all fuzzy. I don’t know why this is but it may be because I like the fact that old generalisations and opinions of dads are wrong.

My husband, Trevor is an amazing dad. What makes him so fabulous is not only the relationship that he has with our son, Sam but also the one he has built over the years with my other 3 sons. When we met I was already a mother to 3 little boys aged under 6. That must have been a daunting prospect for him to take on 3 children that young. But he did it without question and in the 15 years that we have been together the boys and he have cultivated great relationships. All 3 are very different boys and he has a unique bond with each one. I am very proud to say that over that time, even through teenage turmoils and hormones they have never said the dreaded words “You’re not my dad”. They respect him as their step-dad and one of my boys even told me that he felt lucky in that he had two dads.

dad

I do hope that this post hasn’t come across as patronising, it certainly is not meant that way. I just want to give a all dads a cheer and say

Happy Father’s Day you wonderful men.

 

 

Julie 🙂

 

 

 

C is for Children

Published 02/06/2013 by julierkendrick

I imagine you are thinking that this blog post will be about my 4 boys and how wonderful they are and how much I love them etc etc…. WRONG!

Don’t misunderstand me, all of the above is true but I am feeling the need to have a rant about other peoples kids.  I have heard many times, people say “I really can’t stand other peoples kids”, well I have to say I sympathise with them. Generally I feel the same. Now obviously my friends have kids and they are lovely, for the most part (ha ha ha sorry friends) but there seem to be so many parents that have no idea how to bring up their offspring.

Working in Waterstones brings me into contact with children and their parents on a daily basis and regardless of how they behave I have to be polite and helpful. But believe me some of these kids, and parents push my buttons.

So, here is a list of my pets hates in ranting format:

1. Kids that don’t say “Thank You”. As obvious as this is it still really irks me. A child will come to the till and give me their book and the money and I have a little chat with them about what they have chosen and then when the transaction is complete I hand over the bag. I expect to be thanked for this but 95% of the time the kid takes the bag and walks off. What tends to make this worse is that the parent invariably says nothing to the child. They usually thank me themselves but I don’t want thanks from them. They have send their child up to buy the book and they look on proudly as Johnny/Jenny gives the money over and takes their purchase but they haven’t taught them how to complete the process with a polite ‘Thank you’.  Much to my colleagues amusement I have taken to holding on to the bag whilst the child tries to wrestle it from my grasp as I wait for the thanks I am due. Some kids, cotton on and say it but others just looks dumbly at the parents who look dumbly back at me until I give up and let them have the damn bag.

2. Kids that say “I want”. This one again falls into the category of manners. It’s not just the words ‘I want’ that bother me so much as the demanding nature in which they are expressed. “I want that Gruffalo”, “I want 2 books” and the worst, “I want more money”. Whenever I hear these words I look at the parents and hope that they will firmly but quietly tell their child that these demands will not be tolerated and that “May I have” is a much better way of expressing ones wishes. Yeah, that almost never happens. What does happen is one of two things. Either the parent gives in and the child is presented with said Gruffalo, books, money or the child is completely ignored by the parent and continues to repeat “I want….. I want….” ad infinitum. It takes all of my will not to march up to the child and give them a lesson in manners that hopefully the parent will learn from too.

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3. Screaming toddlers. Now I know that toddlers can be a nightmare. I know that they have no sense of spacial awareness. I know that they have no social skills. I can accept all of these things with a sigh and a smile. What I cannot bear, though, are toddlers that just screech for apparently no reason. Kids between the ages of 18 months and 3 years tend to have the highest pitched voices and can scream louder than Janet Lee in Psycho. Why, why, why do they do this? What do they hope to achieve by bursting the ear drums of everyone within a half mile radius? I have taken to glaring at the child to try and encourage them to shut up; and I have a very scary glare. If that doesn’t work then I glare at the parents. But then I realise that these are probably the parents who will end up giving in to the child in a few years once it starts in with the “I want…..” routine.

4. Destructive brats. I don’t know about you, but I taught my children not to touch when they went into shops. Our children’s section is bright and colourful and of course invites kids from 0-17 to explore so I don’t expect the no touching rule to apply here. I do, however, expect the no mindless destruction rule to apply. We have a spinner for Mr Men books so that they can all be easily seen. I have lost count of the times that a destructive brat has spun the display so fast the books fly off. Not the worst of crimes, I grant you, but once again the parent from hell steps in to make the situation just peachy. They pull the child away leaving the books all over the floor, sometimes even treading on them as they leave. (Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little). I have even heard parents say “Don’t worry about putting them back, the lady will do it for you.” What the hell??? I did not clear up after my own kids when they were deliberately messy, I made them do it. I am certainly not going to do it for some spoilt brat who thinks it’s OK to tread on books. My colleague, Della, who runs the kids section has her work cut out for her every day. She spends most of her time putting books back where they belong and straightening bent pages. Don’t even get me started on the problems we have during half term.

5. Nose pickers. Bogies are disgusting I think we are all agreed. Kids pick their noses, we are still agreed. But please please please tell me why they feel the need to wipe them on something that is not a tissue. I’ve seen bogies being wiped on our display tables, chairs and even on a book that the kids was holding at the time. It was this particular child’s parent I told that she was wiping her nose products on our merchandise. The mother smiled and said “Yes, she does it all the time.” Unbelievable. The only saving grace was that she bought the book. Urgh!

6. Smelly teenagers. It’s not just small kids that drive me insane, teenagers that don’t wash test my patience too. Teenagers are bags of hormones and sweating is a prerequisite to growing up but it is the parents job to inform their young adult that they need to pay attention to their personal hygiene. There now, that wasn’t difficult was it? Apparently that doesn’t generally happen in these kids’ households. The other thing about teenagers is that they tend to hang around in large groups. This at least triples the smell and I am surprised that there is not a grey cloud above their heads like there was over Pig Pen in the Peanuts comics. When these youngsters wander in to the shop I want to formally introduce them to a bar of soap or a roll on deodorant at the very least but instead, when they leave, I spray the shop with polish to restore the lovely book shop smell.

Pig Pen

Pig Pen

I have found compiling this list quite therapeutic. I am sure you all think I’m a grumpy old cow now and yes, at times I am but is it so wrong to expect children to behave when they are in public? And when they don’t is it too much to expect the parents to deal with them effectively?

I, of course invite your comments below but please don’t pick your nose when you type them.

Until next time.

Julie 🙂

B is for Books

Published 26/05/2013 by julierkendrick

Continuing the A-Z theme, B is unsurprisingly for Books.

Being as passionate as I am about writing, it obviously follows that I am just as passionate about books, A is for Author has already laid testament to that fact.

Working in a book shop is the most amazing job for me and I am extremely lucky that I work in one of the best. Being surrounded by brand spanking new, pristine books with their crisp pages and intoxicating smell is a joy I get to experience for about 20 hours every single week. I have had many jobs from being a driving instructor to a police officer but I have to say that this is by far my most favourite. I love it when our daily delivery arrives and I get to rummage through the big totes full of books to see if any new releases have been sent, and of course keeping one or two (or three) aside for myself.

The Best Book Shop

The Best Book Shop

There is, of course, a down side to working with books….. oh yes there really is.

Firstly, most of my wages end up going in the till. 😦

There is also the very minor matter of having no more room for books in my house. Of course I bought a Kindle, and I love it, but there is no substitute for the real thing.

I have persuaded my long suffering book widower to fill our spare room with shelves because I have made a radical decision. I will only keep books that I haven’t read. (Excuse me while I have a few palpitations here). Now that may not seem radical to you but when you have been reading for nearly 40 years and have still got most of the books you started reading at 6, you have a slight storage problem. When I told Trevor my plan I could see he was genuinely pleased that books would be leaving our house but, as he knows me so well he knows they have also continued to arrive in their droves. My ‘to read’ list is huge and this isn’t a metaphorical list. Oh no. I actually buy the books I want to read even though I haven’t read the last 200 I bought.

A small sample of my 'to read' books

A small sample of my ‘to read’ books

Anyway, my latest project was to get my books organised. A very exciting job.  I piled all of the unread ones on my bed and got one of my many many notepads (another addiction, but we’ll leave that one for now) and labelled the pages A-Z. I then entered each book, alphabetically by author until every single one was recorded.

OK, so what is the point? Aha! that is the ingeniousness of this plan. When you have as many books on your ‘to read’ list as I do, you can imagine that I invariably forget what I have already got. How then can I add books unless I have an organised record of each one? See… genius.

Just don’t tell Trevor.

My book bible

My book bible

 

Catch ya later – Julie 🙂

A is for Author

Published 03/05/2013 by julierkendrick

Well it is the start of my new blogging journey. Blogging from A – Z. Unsurprisingly I will be starting with A and I think it would be silly if I didn’t write about being an author.

Most authors have someone who inspired them to start writing.  It may have been a teacher or parent but I would guess that for most it is someone who wrote the books they loved to read as a child. I, like most little girls growing up in the 70’s and 80’s loved Enid Blyton. I devoured everything I could get my hands on that had been penned by her from The Wishing Chair to Malory Towers.  So quintessentially English but nothing like the childhood I knew.   Growing up in the heart of East London couldn’t be further removed from the beautiful countryside and lashings of ginger beer the Famous Five were used to. But for me that was the appeal. Stories of boarding school, children detectives, a wonderland at the top of a tree and a chair that could fly constantly stimulated my imagination and the stories I wrote in my wallpaper covered exercise books were full of amazing fairies and rainbows and don’t forget lashing of ginger beer.

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton

As I grew older my love for reading grew with me. I moved on to books by Judy Blume which helped me through my teenage years with stories such as “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” and Deenie. I still had a good stock of Enid Blyton’s to read and re-read though.

It was when I reached the age of about 15 that I discovered horror, in the form of none other than Stephen King. I still remember the first book of his I read; Cujo, the story of a dog who catches rabies told from the dog’s point of view. Amazing! This was a whole new world of reading for me and probably the first book that made me cry (I could never watch the film). This book was quickly followed by Pet Semetary, Thinner, Salem’s Lot and It (which was the inspiration for my story Chuckles). How could one author, scare me, amuse me and make me cry all in one book? I just wanted to be able to do that too.  Richard Laymon, James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Sean Hutson are amazing horror writers all of whom have inspired me and continue to do so.

The Original Cover I Had

The Original Cover I Had

Stephen King

Stephen King

Now, though there is an new genre it’s called YA or young adult. Wow, this didn’t exist when I was a young adult. So there was nothing to ease us in to the world of adult fiction.   That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I am envious of the teenagers of today, so many authors writing just for them.  The world of writing has expanded like never before and as subject matter pretty much anything goes. Young adults are not stupid or gullible and they don’t like to be patronised or humoured with watered down adult fiction. Oh no, YA tackles gritty subjects like  death, puberty, sex, divorce and an endless list of issues that affect the youth of today. But they are also still very young at heart and have the joy of books like Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In fact the YA genre has exploded on to the scene so comprehensively that more adults than ever are buying books from this section.  Some of my new favourite authors write for the YA market, Amanda Hocking, Cassandra Clare and Lauren Kate to name but 3 and there are more being published every day.

So with all of this inspiration, all of these wonderful stories written by extremely talented authors how the hell will I ever measure up? You know what? It doesn’t matter, but I wont know until I try.

With 14 published short stories under my belt I am now in the process of writing two books, both aimed at the YA market. One is a paranormal romance and the other a genre fusion of paranormal and crime. I’ll keep you updated with how they progress.

Oh and by the way I still have a copy of The Wishing Chair on my shelf.

Wishing Chair

Wishing Chair

See you all soon.

Julie 🙂