A Life in books with author Faith Mortimer

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Today I welcome author Faith Mortimer to discuss A Life in Books.  Faith writes in three genre: psychological thrillers, murder mystery and for a little light relief, women’s fiction with romance!

 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I was born in Manchester, England. My childhood was spent on Royal Air Force camps around the Globe, kindling my lifelong enthusiasm for seeing new places and meeting new people. After returning home from boarding school (Kinloss House) in Singapore, I attended Purbrook Grammar School in Hampshire but there was never enough time for study; life was for reading, writing, painting, amateur dramatics and sport! I left school with a handful of ‘O’ levels but a wealth of interests.  

My love with books began at age 4. Early favourites were those by Enid Blyton and found myself joining the Famous Five and Secret Seven on their many adventures. This love for books remains. The mysteries and secrets of novels dance around the edges of my mind often keeping me awake into the long hours of the night.
Writing now takes pride of place in a very full lifestyle which includes, walking, hashing, drama, reading and of course sailing and skiing whenever time permits. A 19th book has already been started!

What was your favourite book from childhood?

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I didn’t have just one favourite book – I loved Enid Blyton; the Famous Five and Secret Seven series. I also enjoyed the Mallory Towers books which was all about life away from home at boarding school. I enjoyed the adventure and found myself lost in them – school work suffered as a result!

 

 

What type of books did you read as a teenager?

I enjoyed historical romance and straight historical stories. I enjoyed delving back in time and different periods captured my imagination. I suppose anything which was adventurous and exciting!

 

When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

Difficult one. I remembered being interested in Shakespeare and some of the classics. For some reason, Macbeth was a favourite! I loved the long speeches and drama in the history.

 

What is your favourite classic book?

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, written in 1908. Maybe not as ‘classic’ asIMG_0934 the Bronte’s but alternately slow moving and fast paced, focusing on four animals in a gentle pastoral version of early Edwardian England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality and camaraderie, and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the then beautiful Thames Valley. If you read carefully you’ll find it covers all aspects of life.

 

What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years

The Far Pavilion by M M Kaye…I’ve read this at least four times and still love it. To quote The Times, ‘Rip-roaring, heart-tugging, flag-flying, hair-raising, hoof-beating … the very presence of India’. I liken it to a Gone with the Wind’ only set in India. It is also brilliantly written and conjures up vivid scenes from India.

What book to you think you should read but never get around to?

Far more Charles Dickens. I’ve read a few when I was a teenager but at the time considered them to be very dull and gloomy. Now I’m ‘grown up’ I can appreciate them more! It’s just finding the time to indulge in a good read….

 

What do you consider to be your favourite book?

IMG_0935I can’t answer that as I have a few…as I’ve already mentioned The Far Pavilions, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, the early Wilbur Smith novels, especially those set-in Africa. The Poldark series by Winston Graham, Shogun by James Michener, also Chesapeake and Hawaii by the same author. All good stuff!

Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

Quite a few lately. I wonder if more books coming out are not being edited properly…I mean both for product and grammar.

If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you

Hm. They would have to be great tombs…probably time to read more Dickens and The Far Pavilions once again.
Kindle or Book?

Both have their unique uses. The kindle for ease of use and brilliant for holidays, but there’s still nothing like getting your hands on a new paperback.

 

Me at To HaniYou can find me on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaithMortimer.Author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FaithMortimer
Website/blog: http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com/
Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2967303.Faith_Mortimer
Amazon US Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Mortimer/e/B002EQ8HH6/ref
Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faith-Mortimer/e/B002EQ8HH6/ref

 

 

The Escape by C L Taylor published 23 March 2017

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One evening as Jo Blackmore is leaving work to collect her daughter, Elise, from nursery when she is approached by a woman she doesn’t know who asks her for a lift.  Jo may not know Paula but Paula knows a lot about Jo and her journalist husband Max.  Paula wants something from Max and threatens Jo and her family in an attempt to get it, putting Jo in a living nightmare.  The problem is Max doesn’t believe her, says he doesn’t know Paula and the Jo is being paranoid,  a feeling held by the police and social services after they become involved due to Jo’s erratic behaviour.  Jo has nowhere to turn and wants to protect her daughter at all costs, the only option is to run,  flight rather tan fight.

The Escape is one of those book that you can’t escape; it hooks you from the first page and doesn’t let go until until the last full stop.  The plot is very clever as it centres around a situation that could occur to everyone in life, there is a real sense of reality to this book.  The characters are all ordinary people, with ordinary lives and everyday issues; it deals with post natal depression, agoraphobia, miscarriage, terminal illness, separation, and pressures at work.  These situations are not over dramatised but just included as part of life, pressures we deal with on a daily basis.  The fact that the events that occur in this book happen to people we can identify with adds to the tension of the plot.

For the most part the book is in the third  person and follows Jo and Max as they deal with the threat to their family and the events that occur to add to Jo’s paranoia.  Every now and then there is a chapter that is told in the first person, presumably from Paula’s point of view, why she is targeting Jo and playing on her insecurities and almost goading her into making a mistake.

This book is fast paced from the start and doesn’t let up.  The character’s secrets, lies, deceit, fear, and paranoia enable the plot to keep changing direction as the truth is slowly revealed.  Tension heightens throughout as the book hurtles towards its shocking climax, that won’t disappoint.

As with her previous novels, C L Taylor has achieved a story that is dark, suspenseful and addictive. Be prepared to be consumed by The Escape you will want to read it in one sitting; just brilliant.

 

 

Finding Secrets by Lauren Westwood published 1st March 2017

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Alex Hart has worked as the manager of Mallow Court, an Elizabethan House, for three years.  She took the job after leaving her Phd in Medieval History after the relationship she was in fell apart.  Mallow House has become her place of safety where she can hide herself away.  Whilst curating a Costume Exhibition, Alex discovers a jewelled  mechanical locket in the pocket of an old jacket, and as she tries to discover its provenance  her own life begins to turn around.  After being single for three years she finds a chocolate eyed, dark haired barrister and a mesmerising clock maker come into her life.  As pages of a diary from the London Blitz of 1940 appear, and strange occurrences begin to happen at Mallow Court, Alex digs deeper  into the mystery of the locket and finds that the past could also change her future.

I do love a book that has a dual plot line, history and contemporary, that collide in a mystery.  This is a well written book with a detailed and knowledgeable look at ambulance drivers in London during the bombings of 1940.  The descriptions are evocative of the time and I have to admit I had never really thought of the looting that took place in the bombed buildings.

In the present the plot follows Alex’s discovery of the history of the locket and of her own personal history.  The characters, past and present, are well developed and are very eclectic; Alex’s Yoga teacher father, Tim, a London Barrister, a female vicar, an old man who still lives the days through the blitz and many more to keep the readers interest.

The cover of this book is very twee and pretty and doesn’t really represent the story within.  We all know the saying ‘You should never judge a book by its cover‘ and in this case its true.  If I had seen this cover in a shop I probably wouldn’t have paid it much attention which would be a shame as it is a good book.

I found this an engaging and interesting read and I felt invested in the characters lives.  There is a lot of mystery along the way with the plot shifting in direction several times. It is a perfect mix of history, romance and mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life In Books with author Claire Buss

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Today I welcome author Claire Buss to be the first person to feature in A Life In Books.  She had her first published The Gaia Effect in 2015.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am a stay-at-home mum, avid reader, cake baker and sci-fi & fantasy writer. My husband, little boy and I currently live in Barking but we should be moving soon, it’s all very hush hush! I love the hecticness of trying to be super mum, super wife, star baker, famous author and prolific reader – not sure I manage to tick all the boxes but that’s all part of the fun. My debut novel, The Gaia Effect, was released December 2015 and I am currently editing a humorous fantasy novel called The Rose Thief.

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1. What was your favourite book from childhood?

Favourite books from childhood include all the Famous Five & Secret Sevens as well as anything else I could find by Enid Blyton, the Swallows & Amazons series, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Animals from Farthing Wood series & Watership Down by Richard Adams, the Chalet School series, Dr Doolittle, the Anne of Green Gables series, Narnia series, The Hobbit & LOTR, The Railway Children and those are just the ones of the top of my head!

 

2. What type of books did you read as a teenager?

I remember finding the Point Horror series and reading those whilst scaring myself silly! It was also at this time that I discovered the science fiction and fantasy section of the library so I began to read books by Piers Anthony, Greg Bear, I discovered Terry Pratchett, Katherine Kerr, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, Sara Douglas among others and that genre love just grew and grew staying with me. I remember borrowing great big huge fantasy books that had six or so in a series and them being too big to fit into my school bag and having to juggle all these books on the bus on the way home – and of course starting to read one of them. Harry Potter came out while I was late teens, early twenties so of course I’ve read those, several times!

 

3. When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

I loved Shakespeare, I found him easy to understand and to critique, I excelled at English Literature coming top of the year at both GCSE and A-Level. We read Macbeth, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. I also remember doing Tess of the d’Urbervilles and enjoying that as well. I have to admit that although I read all the set books at school, I had usually finished them before class discussion began and so used to read something else within the covers of the set book. I’m sure my teacher knew but he also knew I would be able to answer questions intelligently so he just let me get on with it.

 

4. What is your favourite classic book?

My favourite classic book would be Great Expectations by Charles Dickens although I also loved reading The Pickwick Papers. Little Women by Louisa M Alcott had a huge impact on me as well.

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5. What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?

There are a few. When you read fantasy series you do get very emotionally involved especially with something like Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, there are 14 books in the series and the last three were writing posthumously with Brandon Sanderson (another fantasy writer) after Jordan died from cancer. Then there was the final Discworld book by Sir Terry Pratchett which they released unfinished, yet you could see how brilliant it would have been. I really enjoyed I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh and April Skies by Ian Ayris. Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star by Pierce Brown, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, The Girl With All The Gifts by MA Carey, The Rosie Project by Don Tillman, The Martian by Andy Weir, On Writing by Stephen King, The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy – I could probably go on and on!

 

6. What book to you think you should read but never get round to?

I always see these list of 100 books you should have read and I always think to myself, I must have read loads on there but I never have. I only recently read To Kill a Mockingbird and have to admit to not thinking much of it. Grapes of Wrath is one that pops up a lot. And I haven’t read many of the books that got turned into movies, they always say the book is better don’t they.

 

7. What do you consider to be your favourite book ?

51h6id98v2LMy favourite book is that one you read over and over and over right? Well it’s Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, book 1 in the Wheel of Time series. My favourite collection of books that I read over and over and over are Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

 

8. Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

Several! Despite my leaning towards the sci-fi, fantasy genre I will read anything and belong to a more mainstream book club. A lot of what they pick I don’t finish, there are so many books out there I think if it hasn’t grabbed you in the first 100 pages then don’t waste anymore time on it – you’re not going to like everything.

 

9. If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you?

Ah! That’s horrible. Ok … well….I have 1800 books on my Kindle and the Kindle sort of looks like a book right? And let’s say this one is solar powered so I’ll take my Kindle and…Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, but not my copy as I don’t want it to get ruined.

 

10. Kindle or Book?
I prefer book BUT kindle has it’s place – great for trips when you can’t decide what book to take, great for the tube and also for reading whilst walking, which I do a lot.

 

Please see below for links to Claire’s social media and her book The Gaia Effect.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16197976.Claire_Buss

http://www.facebook.com/busswriter

 

 

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly published 7 March 2017

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Karen Bloom expects nothing less than perfection from her children.  Ewan, her son, has let her down and spends all day in his room above the garage smoking weed.  She has a troubled relationship with her step daughter Verity, her husband Noel’s daughter from his first marriage.  Karen’s attention is solely focused on ten year old Bronte, her daughter with Noel.  Karen fills Bronte’s schedule with Piano, Harp and dance practice as well as after school tutoring, and doesn’t let her have play dates or sleepovers. Just how far will she go to achieve the perfect child, and what about the consequences for Bronte and the rest of the family for whom she has no time.

This is a brilliantly thought out thriller that looks at the idea of ‘Tiger Mothers’ in society today.  As a character Karen is horrible, she only cares about her one child at the expense of her son, step daughter and husband.  She has tunnel vision where her daughter is involved and god help any one who gets in the way of her goals.  I do wonder about how manipulative she is as she got pregnant with her her son and then daughter whilst the relationship was fairly new; its like she has a need to live her life through her children.  Her husband Noel is a local GP and no match for Karen’s strong character.  I had an empathy for him, some may find him a weak character but I found he was just to resigned to the fact that this was his life and he didn’t want to upset the apple cart and put his children through another marriage break up.

The plot is very thought provoking and makes us ask the question of whether this just a parent wanting the best future for their child or whether it is a form of child abuse; pushing the child to their limits and not asking them what they want.  It also looks at the dilemmas faced in todays ‘blended family’ and the problems that can arise with jealousies and allegiances formed.

The Trophy Child is a well written novel, with characters that are very real in their circumstances and situations faced.  The plot changes direction several times so you are never quite sure where it is going.  I found this book thought provoking and erudite read.

Mount by Jilly Cooper, paperback published 23 February 2016

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Rupert Campbell Black is back and now he wants to dominate the world of Flat Racing, in particular he wants Love Rat to be crowned Leading Sire.  Long time rival Cosmo Rannaldini also wants the title for his sire Roberto’s Revenge so the gloves are off and the fight is about to begin.  Rupert’s determination to win takes him round the world from Dubai to Australia and LA, leaving wife Taggie at home and his stables in the hands of Gav Latton, a recovering alcoholic.  Whilst away Gala is employed to care for Rupert’s father but has more care for the horses so moves to the stables, and into Rupert’s affections.  Jan is now Gala’s replacement, he claims to be gay but seems to want to take care of Taggie rather then Rupert’s father, Old Eddie.  As strange occurrences begin to happen in the stables and at the race courses, and Rupert is tempted by Gala and Taggie by Jan, the stage is set for for a year of drama, both on the race course and off.

Mount! had a lot to live up to for me.  I was fifteen when I first read Riders and became enamoured by Rupert Campbell Black, and I have followed him over the following nine books.  I was relieved to say this book did not disappoint, it is Jilly Cooper at her best.  The writing is flawless which makes it a real pleasure to read.  Her descriptions and observations of people and life are brilliant and her characterisation is second to none.  All the regular characters are back; Rupert is turning sixty but still has his roguish charm; Taggie is still devoted to him, but for the first time we see her being tempted by another man; the villains are still there in the form of nemesis Cosmo Rannaldini and Isa Lovell, the son of his rival from Riders Jake Lovell.  It is like coming home to friends and family after a long vacation.  As well as brilliant human characters Jilly Cooper also characterises the animals: Mrs Wilkinson, the Grand National winning horse who loves the limelight and attention to Titus Andronicus, who like his namesake is a tyrant who bullies horses and staff.

This book will take you laugh, cry and everything in between.  It is a great big book of joy, mischief, sex, and horses that will engage you from start to finish.  It is pure escapism, a fabulous read.  I can’t wait for the next book.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I have been nominated by Mairead O Driscoll Hearne to take part in this fun post, so are it goes.

eBooks or physical books?

I much prefer a real book, I love the feel and smell of a book.

Paperback or hardback?

Paperback for me as I always have a book in my bag when I go anywhere and find hardbacks too heavy with my spondylosis.

Online or in-store shopping?

I much prefer going to a bookshop and finding books I may not have heard of but due to health issues I do buy the majority of my books online.

Trilogies or series?

I do love a good series and the excitement and anticipation of a new book coming out.

Heroes or Villians?

Definitely a villain, especially a good looking one.

A Book you want everyone to read?

Possession by A S Byatt, it is a beautiful book; part thriller, part love story and part historical.

Recommend an underrated book?

I found this difficult so looked up books tat were classed s underrated and was surprised to see The History of Love by Nicole Kraus.  This is such a beautifully written book about the power of the written word and the importance of love.

The last book you finished?

Mount by Jilly Cooper – absolutely brilliant.

Wierdest think you have used as a bookmark?

I can’t think, I always have a bookmark in a book, I have a collection of them.

Used books, Yes or no?

A big yes, I love having a book that someone has read before me, it makes it more special.

Top three favourite genres?

Historical, Contemporary fiction and thrillers.

Borrow or buy?

I always buy my books, I used to borrow from my mum when she was alive but thats the only time.

Characters or plot?

I find both very important, you need both to make a good book.

Short or Long book?

Long book for me, I like value for money and love a big tome of a book.

Long or short chapters?

Depends on the book and plot.

Book to movie or book to tv adaptation?

I hate any book I have really loved being adapted for film or tv as they tend to change too much and loose the essence.  If I had to choose I would choose book to movie as I have a lot of DVD adaptations of the classics which I love watching.

 

I am passing on the Rapid Fire Book Tag gauntlet to:

Jessica at Jessica Reading Room

Alison at Alisons book reviews

Noelle at crimebookjunkie.

 

 

The Ballroom by Anna Hope published September 2016

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1911 on the Yorkshire Moors lies Sharston Asylum.  Ella Fay finds her self a new patient after breaking a window at the mill where she worked.  In the asylum the women and men are segregated except on a Friday night where they meet in the large ballroom to dance.  Ella meets John, admitted to the asylum with melancholia, and they begin a relationship that transcends the walls of the asylum and breaks all the rules.  A love develops that will change their lives, and the lives of others forever.

This is a beautifully written, poignant love story set in the beautiful landscape of Yorkshire.  The setting of the asylum gives a lot of scope for a cast of interesting characters, and Anna Hope does not disappoint.  Ella and John are very different in character but are boht a product of their upbringing.  Ella broke a window so she could see the sky as she worked all day in a mill, she only remembers having the love of her mother. John lost his daughter which  set him on a path of grief that ended in his incarceration.  Unlike Ella he was brought up in Ireland on a farm, and is educated but there is much of his past he finds hard to recall.  their reasons for being admitted, like many others seems strange to us today but in historical context this was a time where books were thought to corrupt women, and enjoyment of sex could also put you in an asylum.  I think the most complex character was Dr Charles Fuller.  He is the doctor who admitted Ella and at first seems to want to help the patients and hopefully enable them to be released back to society. However, after an illness we see a mania, he becomes mad himself, and his ideals change.  There is a great supporting cast of characters; Clem who starved herself to stop her marriage, the ‘German’ with her ravings, the old lady with her imaginary baby and an old sailor, all add colour and context to the plot.

The plot deals with controversial concept of Euthagenics that was a popular thought in the early twentieth century.  The Eugenics society believed in sterilising the poor an lower classes in an aim to eradicate those who were a drain on society.  This bill as discussed in parliament but never passed.

 

This is a compelling read, if at times emotionally difficult at times.  It is a beautiful and tender love story told with insight and sensitivity.

 

 

The Girl Before by J P Delaney published 26 January 2017

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Number One Folgate Street seems the perfect place to live, cheap to rent and in a good location, however it is no ordinary house.  Designed by an award winning architect, and run by technology to live there is to be part of an experience; to live a minimalist lifestyle and live by hundreds of rules.  For Jane it seems the perfect place to start again after loosing her baby, a chance to de clutter her life.  After moving in she looks into the life of the previous tenant, Emma who died a mysterious death in the property.  The more she delves into the past the more she sees the similarity between Emma and herself;  is she going to meet the same end as the girl before.

 

This is a well written original read.  The narrative goes between Emma’s story in the past and Jane’s in the present from when they move into One Folgate Street.  I was fascinated by the idea of a house run by technology that adapts to the current tenant and in turn adapts the tenant to the house.  Delaney is clever with his plot in that the house is a character in its own right and one that is a suspect in the death of Emma, a place not to be trusted with its technology.  There is a verisimilitude to the characters, they are flawed, vulnerable and face difficulties in life that many can relate to. I found they gained my empathy to the situations they found themselves in.

The plot itself is original, and compelling; each chapter is left just at that point an important piece of the puzzle is to be revealed, so it is a hard book to put down.  It is full of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged up until the last page.  A real creepy, spine tingling read in parts with thrills a plenty. I think this is going to be one of the best reads this year, I highly recommend it.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller published 26 January 2017

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Gil’s wife has been missing for twelve years. believed drowned.  One day as he looks out of a bookshop window he sees a woman standing in the rain, as she pushes her hair out of her way Gil recognises her, its his wife Ingrid.  Her chases after her but an accident stops his pursuit.  Gil’s accident and believed sighting brings his two daughters, Nan and Flora home where they begin to confront past events and the mystery of their mothers drowning.

This is a beautifully written, lyrical novel that deals with love, family, forgiveness and hope.  The story moves between present day and the year 1992 when Ingrid disappeared.  In the present Nana and Flora have to deal with looking after their father which initiates them contemplating their relationships with their father, mother and each other.  In June 1992, just before her disappearance Ingrid writes a series of letters to Gil chronicling their relationship with all its up and downs.  These letters are never sent but placed in books for Gil to find.  The letters open up Ingrid’s psyche and her journey from an independent young women, full of hope and love, to the role of mother and eventually to the disappointment of betrayal. I had sympathy for character, falling in love with an older man who promises the earth but doesn’t deliver.  As a reader we are never really sure what happened to her, there was never a body found only the clothes she was wearing on the beach. Flora and Gil both believe that she could be alive but Nan doesn’t.  Nan is the sensible, grounded character unlike Gil and Flora who are both have artistic temperaments  and flights of fancy. She takes on the role of mother to Flora and carer to Gil, at the expense of her own life; she is the only one willing to take responsibility in the family unit.

With a title like Swimming Lessons is is not surprising that water plays an important part in the narrative.  For both Ingrid and Flora the sea is a place where they can go when life gets difficult, it is a place that helps wash away their anguish and gives them a sense of freedom, of being themselves.

This is a charming and erudite novel that will delight and engage the reader.