Stormy Weather – Placid Read

‘After The Storm‘ by Isabella Muir

See what others made of ‘After the Storm’ today in Louise’s Reading Corner http://louisesreadingcorner.com/

When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.

Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place.

During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.

But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.

‘After the Storm’ is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line.

Grab your copy today and enjoy the intrigue of traditional English mystery, cleverly combined with a continental twist.

I’m beginning to think of Isabella Muir as some sort of old friend. I have previously reviewed both The Invisible Case, set in fictional Sussex town, Tamarisk Bay, https://pajnewman.com/2021/02/09/aunty-and-niece-on-the-case/ as well as Crossing the Line, the first of a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi based in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, a novel I enjoyed even more than the doings of young librarian sleuth Janie Juke. https://pajnewman.com/2021/03/08/the-line-is-a-dot-to-you/

Here Bianchi is still in Sussex and now investigating the dark hearts of Sussex’s inhabitants, all the while that a brutal storm surges across the South Coast.

Muirhas a lovely protagonist in Bianchi. A conflicted man with a troubled past, his uneasy relationship with his brother, the charming interaction with his reporter niece all make him a charming companion as he works through his latest investigation.

Isabella Muir conjures the period setting of Sussex and it’s movement towards modernity with clarity and poise and – for anyone who likes Dorothy L Sawyer and Agatha Christie – or even more modern writers such as Donna Leon – they will not be disappointed.

Purchase Links

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/After-Storm-Giuseppe-Bianchi-mystery-ebook/dp/B08P534Y2K 

US –  https://www.amazon.com/After-Storm-Giuseppe-Bianchi-mystery-ebook/dp/B08P534Y2K

Author Bio –

Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then she has gone on to publish six novels, three novellas and two short story collections.

Her latest novel, After the Storm, is the second novel in a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.

Her first Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Social Media Links

https://isabellamuir.com

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor

Blood Loss is the Reader’s Gain

Blood Loss by Kerena Swan

See what others think about ‘Blood Loss’ over at http://www.bforbookreview.worpress.com and https://www.instagram.com/karenandherbooks

Sarah

With one eye on the rear view mirror and the other on the road ahead, Sarah is desperate to get as far away from the remote Scottish cabin as she can without attracting attention. But being inconspicuous isn’t easy with a black eye and clothes soaked in blood…

… and now the fuel tank is empty.

DI Paton

When a body is discovered in a remote cabin in Scotland, DI Paton feels a pang of guilt as he wonders if this is the career break he has been waiting for. But the victim is unidentifiable and the killer has left few clues.

Jenna

With the death of her father and her mother’s failing health, Jenna accepts her future plans must change but nothing can prepare her for the trauma yet to come.

Fleeing south to rebuild her life Sarah uncovers long-hidden family secrets. Determined to get back what she believes is rightfully hers, Sarah thinks her future looks brighter. But Paton is still pursuing her…

… and he’s getting closer.

Kerena Swan’s brilliant novel explores how honest mistakes and human frailty can have terrifying and long-reaching consequences. It’s a tale of family ties and loyalty, revenge and redemption that you won’t want to put down.

Kerena Swan’s novel, ‘Blood Loss’ is something of a strange beast. To be honest, it sort of shouldn’t work.

It has a narrative split between Sarah, a woman from a difficult background fleeing a traumatic incident, Jenna, a trustafarian with a ghastly sister and DI Paton, a man who has more on his plate than most – a son with Downs Syndrome, a wife with cripplingly depression rendering her a ghost-like figure and an extreme aversion to blood which would make Inspector Morse blush.

That narrative is further fragmented as it jumps in time as well as perspective – the sort of trick which can make reviewers gnash their teeth – you have to have a bloody good reason to ask a reader to want to leap between people, place and time as it can leave your head spinning.

Also, Swan does not do the usual crime writer thing of making the place a character. She has a detective based in Perth – a heartbreakingly pretty, oft-overlooked gem of a small city – and doesn’t really describe the location surrounding it at all: except to say it’s in the highlands. Which it isn’t.

Another writer might have had fun contrasting this semi-rural gem with one of the other locations which is also famous for how it looks… Milton Keynes. Swan does not.

But, do you know what? In a novel as well written as this, it just doesn’t matter. Swan’s goal is to sweep you along and make you want to find out more – how will the murder be solved? Can the relationship between the sisters be healed? Will Sarah be able to make different choices from her Mum rather than be doomed to repeat the cycle?

All of which she does with aplomb. Crime fiction can be leaden with poor dialogue and this is a noteable exception. The characters have individual voices, clear motivations and emotionally resonant wants and needs.

‘Blood Loss’ is a pacey read, skilfully handled by a writer of real breadth, ambition and talent and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Purchase Links

US – https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Loss-Paton-Investigates-Book-ebook/dp/B08ZLPV615/

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Loss-Paton-Investigates-Book-ebook/dp/B08ZLPV615/

Blood Loss will be just  99p for a limited time only!

About Kerena Swan

We are thrilled to be introducing DI Dave Paton and his son Tommy, the stars of the first novel in Kerena Swan’s new series, to the world. Before coming to Hobeck, Kerena had published three novels, Dying To See YouScared to Breathe and Who’s There? and has built a solid fan base around her writing career thus far. She is a juggler extraordinaire: driving forward a successful care business she runs with her husband yet finding time to write. She loves to write, here and there and everywhere when she’s not working. We don’t know how she does it but we are glad that she does! Kerena talks about her writing, her influences and how she came to Hobeck in this video.

Social Media Links

Website: https://kerenaswan.wordpress.com/   

 Twitter: @kerenaswan

Facebook : @kerenaswan  · Author

Wax On and Get Away

Memoirs of a Karate Fighter by Ralph Robb

Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.

Most readers who pick up this book will, I would guess, be attracted by their memory of The Karate Kid (the proper one with Ralph Macchio  – piss off Jayden Smith) and the 80s karate craze it inspired – admit it you were tempted to paint your father’s fence, or wax his car or catch the flies with chopsticks.

This is not that story. This is a sad book in many ways. Ralph Robb recounts his time in the dojo and is effusive in his praise of the discipline and positives which karate brought into his life.

But it is hard not to see a narrative shot through with injustice, toxic masculinity and societal inequalities which mean that these young men are forced to fight constantly just in order to be left to go about their daily business.

The memoir is littered with racist skin heads targeting Robb and his friends for the colour of their skin or for refusing to rise to the bait while they work on the door of a nightclub. Robb himself risks serious long term health damage because he cannot show weakness to his peers inside the dojo and continues to train with a terrible injury.

All of which made me terribly sad. I would like to think that we have moved on as a society but I fear we really have not. Perhaps the best that can be said is that Ralph Robb is an engaging guide, with a captivating style leading his readers through a Midlands beset with all of the problems we see in society.

And yet, by never losing hope , Robb points a way towards optimism for all his readers and the hope of a better life.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Memoirs-Karate-Fighter-Ralph-Robb-ebook/dp/B08X2WB8RT/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Karate-Fighter-Ralph-Robb-ebook/dp/B08X2WB8RT/

Author Bio – Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RalphRobbBooks

Twitter: @RalphSRobb

Webpage: www.ralphrobb.com

Some Vivid Colours and Intriguing New Cases

Old Cases, New Colours (A Dudley Green Investigation) by Madalyn Morgan

Sick of working in a world of spies and bureaucracy, Ena Green, nee Dudley, leaves the Home Office and starts her own investigating agency.

Working for herself she can choose which investigations to take and, more importantly, which to turn down.

While working on two investigations, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.

A lovely little novel for anyone interested in the murky world of London before it began to swing, Madalyn Morgan’s Old Cases, New Colours is positively rooted in its setting.

London here is greys and browns and people not delivering the new office furniture in time. It is a city where people keep petty cash in biscuit tins under the sink and have to cash in both their money and their husband’s to open a detective agency.

Morgan peppers her cast with the sort of bounders, dolly girls and loyal young men from GCHQ which one might expect in a novel of this sort and the plot bounces along pleasingly.

If you were a fan of Channel 4’s television programme Traitors, you like your crime on the hard edged side of cozy and a nice soupcon of espionage mixed into the broth, then you should definitely be uncovering some Old Cases, New Colours.

Purchase Links

UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cases-Colours-Dudley-Investigation-Sisters-ebook/dp/B08Y9887QM/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Cases-Colours-Dudley-Investigation-Sisters-ebook/dp/B08Y9887QM/

Author Bio

I was bought up in a pub in a small market town called Lutterworth. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be an actress and a writer. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live with so many characters to study and accents to learn. I was offered Crossroads the first time around. However, my mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job that I could fall back on if I needed to, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful salon and wig-hire business in the theatre for a place at East 15 Drama College and a career as an actress, working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.

      In 1995, with fewer parts for older actresses, I gave up acting. I taught myself to touch-type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau and began writing articles and presenting radio.

    In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I swapped two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. Since then, I have written nine novels. The first four, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, tell the stories of four sisters in World War 2. My current novel, Old Cases, New Colours, is a thriller/detective story set in 1960. I am writing Christmas book – Christmas Applause – and a Memoir; a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns from my days as an actress.

Social Media Links –

Madalyn Morgan’s books- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Madalyn-Morgan/e/B00J7VO9I2

Blog – https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter – www.twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Pinterest – www.pinterest.co.uk/madalynmorgan

Instagram – www.instagram.co.uk/madalynmorgan1

No Sleep for the Frantic Nighthawks

‘Nighthawks’ by Lambert Nagle

When art, money and power collide…
A Mafia boss addicted to beautiful art. A Catholic priest who knows too much. A modern-day Jay Gatsby. And a woman on the run.


Disgraced London detective Stephen Connor is given an ultimatum: take a transfer to Rome or kiss his career goodbye.
With his love life in tatters and his confidence at an all-time low, can Stephen find the world’s most valuable painting before it disappears forever?

You know, the only hybrid writing partnership I am aware of having read up to now are the stellar Swedish series of detective novels featuring glum policeman Martin Beck by Maj Sjöwall and ‎Per Wahlöö.

However, based upon ‘Nighthawks’ by Alison Ripley Cubitt and Sean Cubitt this is a model not to be discounted.

A country hopping, international thriller in the style of Daniel Silva, Nagle continent hop from Australia to Rome to… Well, you get the idea.

Cinematic in scope, ambition and execution, ‘Nighthawks’ zips along at a breakneck pace. This is a novel for those who like their action packed and their scenery ever changing.

Purchase Link

https://books2read.com/u/4NXA1W

Author Bio –

Lambert Nagle is the pen-name for Alison Ripley Cubitt and Sean Cubitt, co-writers of international thrillers, mystery and crime. Alison is a former television production executive who worked for Walt Disney and the BBC before pivoting to become a multi-genre author and screenwriter. Her short film drama Waves (with Maciek Pisarek) won the Special Jury Prize, Worldfest, Houston. Sean’s day job is Professor of Film and Television, University of Melbourne, Australia. He writes about film and media for leading academic publishers.

Other titles by Lambert Nagle include Revolution Earth (featuring detective Stephen Connor) and Contained in Capital Crimes, a short story collection from members of ITW (International Thriller Writers) with a foreword by Peter James.

With six passports between them, they set their books in the far-away places they live and work.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://www.lambertnagle.com

Author: Instagram:@alisonripleycubitt

Author page Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonripleycubittwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lambertnagle

The Line is a Dot to You

‘Crossing The Line’ by Isabella Muir

Tragic accident or cold-blooded murder?

Retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi, travels to England to escape one tragic death, when he comes face-to-face with another. When the body of a teenager is found on a Sussex beach, Giuseppe is drawn to the case – a case with no witnesses, and a case about which no one is prepared to talk.

National news reports of a missing 12-year-old in Manchester spark fear across the nation. The phrase “stranger-danger” filters into public consciousness. Local reporter, Christina Rossi, already has concerns about her local community. Families are not as close-knit as they first appear.

As the sea mist drifts in and darkness descends, can Giuseppe and Christina discover the truth and prevent another tragedy?

‘Crossing the Line’ is the perfect listen for everyone who loves Agatha Christie style twists and turns, with a Mediterranean flavour. Imagine the charismatic Italian police series, Montalbano, combined with those TV favourites set in the 1960s – ‘Endeavour’, George Gently, and ‘Call the Midwife’. 

Purchase Link  – http://viewbook.at/CrossingtheLineaudio

I only came across the work of Isabella Muir fairly recently. I wrote positively of the third Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay. https://pajnewman.com/2021/02/09/aunty-and-niece-on-the-case

However, I have to say, that I think I enjoy this departure, Crossing the Line, the first of a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi based in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, even more than the doings of young Janie Juke.

It may be because I used to live in Hastings and, therefore, know Bexhill-on-Sea quite well. Never discount nostalgia as a reason for liking something (although the sixties had been over for a while before I moved there).

It maybe because Charles Johnston does such a fine job narrating this twisty audiobook, imbuing encounters with a quiet menace and capturing that Agatha Christie-like undercurrents that Isabella Muir writes so well.

Or it might be because, in Giuseppe Bianchi, Muir has created a well-intentioned, quietly dignified and rather charming detective who carries his heavy emotional burden while investigating the shocking death on the seafront.

It might be all three. Whatever, Muir has created a scenario to test her fish out of water detective to the core and this taut tale will engage all readers who like historical fiction, the Golden Age writers and fans of the south east.

I’m already looking forward to the second instalment.

Author Bio

Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then she has gone on to publish six novels, three novellas and two short story collections.

Her latest novel, Crossing the Line, is the first of a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.

Her first Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor

Jumping for Jailbirds

Jailbird by Caro Savage

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan has been out of the undercover game since her last job went horribly wrong, leaving her with scars inside and out.
When her colleague Alice is found dead whilst working deep cover in a women’s prison, Bailey steps in to replace her.
Working alone, Bailey embarks on a dangerous journey through the murky underbelly of the prison and soon discovers that Alice’s death was part of a spate of brutal murders.

Surrounded by prison officers, criminals and lowlifes, the slightest mistake could cost Bailey her life.
Illicit drug trafficking, prison gangs and corruption are just some of the things she’s up against… and behind it all lurks a sinister and terrifying secret that will truly test her survival instincts.
Heart-stopping and gripping. Perfect for the fans of hit TV shows such as Line of Duty, Orange is the New Black and Bad Girls.

I’ve said it before and I’ve got to say it again, Boldwood Books are producing some top quality work. If you like your crime fiction on the gritty side – with splashes of gangster glamour and the grit in the oyster of, often, quite extreme violence, Boldwood is for you.

This novel is a little strange for me as I come to it having reviewed Caro Savage’s (still the best name in crime fiction, eat your heart out Karin Slaughter!) sequel to this novel, ‘Villain’.

This debut instalment sees DC Bailey Morgan returning to undercover work by tracking the killer of a fellow officer in a dilapidated women’s prison.

Whilst the character of Morgan is well drawn by Savage – she is already dealing with her scars both mental and emotional – for me, ‘Villain’ is the superior novel. That shell-shocked lingering horror and consequences of violence which was such an important part of ‘Villain’ is only at its beginning here and so packs less of a punch.

What does not lack punch are the vibrantly written scenes of violence and the characters in the women exuding menace. Some of these are terrifying and some of them – Bailey’s cellmate, for instance – memorably irritating. Savage has an eye for the telling detail in her characterisation and we long for Bailey to make it out as safely as possible.

A very decent crime novel from a writer of crunching action, punchy dialogue and characters you want to investigate with. Make sure you follow her in her further adventures – it is well worth it.

Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/JailbirdAudible

Author Bio –

Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing.

Social Media Links –

Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/CaroSavageStory

https://www.instagram.com/carosavage/

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/CaroSavageNewsletter

Soaring Again

‘Flying Duo’ by Zoe May

Can true love go the distance?

London lawyer Rachel Watson has wound up in an Indian ashram with hippy heartthrob lover, Seb.

A high-achiever, Rachel has always lived life according to her Life List, ticking off goals along the way. But now that she’s in India, Rachel is going with the flow, or at least trying to…

Rachel’s visa is running out and it’s time to decide whether her relationship with Seb is a holiday romance or built to last.

The pair embark on a trip to Nepal for an Everest base camp trek, but will their relationship survive this gruelling expedition or is it time to part ways?

Flying Duo is the second romantic comedy in the ‘Flying’ series, following on from bestseller, Flying Solo, which was described by the Daily Express newspaper as ‘a must read that will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Beth O’Leary and Mhari McFarlane’ ★★★★★

As we enter what feels like week one million of lockdown, I am becoming more and more convinced that light romantic fiction is the escape route we all need to take advantage of.

And few offer as enticing a route map as the writing of Zoe May. Flying Duo is the second in the ‘Flying’ series and I’m yet to read the first. However, I can tell you that this won’t matter.

May offers vivid descriptions of picturesque locations, realistic travails of love and it’s many barriers  as well as the sort of happy ending that has you clutching the book to yourself and going, “ah.”

Flying Duo is a warm bath for the brain and a charming addition to my lockdown escapism shelf of books.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08C8Q8FZM

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08C8Q8FZM

Author Zoe May with the ridiculously cute Bella

Author Bio –

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, ‘Perfect Match’. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe couldn’t resist writing a novel about dating since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

‘Perfect Match’ was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Social Media Links –

https://www.instagram.com/zoe_writes

www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Do More in that Year

‘52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, Vol. II’ by Mariëlle S. Smith

‘With this book by your side, anything feels possible.’ Jacqueline Brown

Tired of not having a sustainable writing practice? You, too, can get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be!

52 Weeks of Writing:

  • makes you plan, track, reflect on, and improve your progress and goals for an entire year;
  • helps you unravel the truth about why you aren’t where you want to be; and
  • keeps you writing through weekly thought-provoking quotes and prompts.

With this second volume of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, writing coach and writer Mariëlle S. Smith brings you the same successful strategies to craft the perfect writing practice as she did in the first journal. The only difference? Fifty-three different writing quotes and prompts and a brand-new look!

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Bill Gates

I can’t stress this enough: I’m not a spiritual person. I was dubious about reviewing this publication because I’m also not a big believer in self-help books. There are an awful lot writing guides out there and I tend to find them full of opinions.

And we all know what opinions are like, don’t we? Everyone has got one.

My spirit sank lower when Mariëlle S. Smith mentioned yoga in her introduction. I like a good stretch as much as the next man but stretchy pants, meditation and wellness aren’t for me.

But then she pointed out they are not for her either and I began to see why this is a great purchase for people who struggle to get down on paper what they want to get down on paper.

Smith has that wonderful Dutch quality of giving it straight and without nonsense. What are your goals? What can you do to move it forward?

She also has a Facebook group, accessible for people who buy the book, to help keep us accountable. I’m investigating it now.

There is a story about the late comedy genius Peter Cooke. He used to say, “I met a man at a party. He said “I’m writing a novel” I said “Oh really? Neither am I.”

Well, with the straightforward accountability that ‘52 Weeks of Writing’ perhaps that old chestnut would not be as relevant any more.

Purchase Links

A printable PDF is available through: https://payhip.com/b/0YgJ Get 50% off until 31 March 2021 by using the coupon code 52WOW during checkout.

Author and writing coach, Mariëlle S. Smith

Author Bio –

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, and a writer. Early 2019, she moved to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mswordsmith

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mariellessmith/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtnYOpjmj83mvMM2L348F1w

A Young Team With Serious Staying Power

‘The Young Team’ by Graeme Armstrong

Azzy Williams is ready. Ready to smoke, pop pills, drink wine and ready to fight. But most of all, he’s ready to do anything for his friends, his gang, his young team.

Round here, in the schemes of the forgotten industrial heartland of Scotland, your mates, your young team – they’re everything.

Azzy Williams is fourteen; a rising star, this is his life and he loves it.
Azzy Williams is seventeen; he’s out of control.
Azzy Williams is twenty-one; he’d like to leave it all behind.
But a way out isn’t easy to find . . .

Inspired by the experiences of its author, Graeme Armstrong, ‘The Young Team’ is an energetic novel, full of the loyalty, laughs, mischief, boredom, violence and threat of life on these streets. It looks beyond the tabloid stereotypes to tell a powerful story about the realities of life for young people in Britain today.

I am not given to hyperbole when it comes to books. I try to take a balanced approach and judge a work by its own standards. A repeated pet peeve of mine is reviewers who criticise a book because it’s not the one they want written. “Well, put your crayon in your mitt and write the book you wanted to read then!”

Even so, this book has to be one of, if not the most, important novel for Scottish arts of the millennium thus far.

Graeme Armstrong has battered into the limelight of the literati with this debut like a Reebok Classic to the coupon.

This is a novel of profound pathos, tapping into the world of a class of people who don’t get heard, who’s voices are perennially misunderstood, marginalised and stigmatised.

But this is no poverty safari. There is an understanding here that people are people. That light and shade and good and bad are universals. That people can change and escape and grow but that these are choices and that personal responsibility is a factor. And an acknowledgement that society is stacked against these young people and hope is just a chimera if you can’t live beyond today.

I almost cheered when the Strathclyde Violence Reduction Unit and the folk hero that is John Carnochan got into the text (“You just need to give people a chance,” and the big man knows what he’s talking about.)

There’s a clear lineage between Irvine Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’, Alan Bissett’s ‘Boyracers’ and ‘The Young Team’ but, for me, this novel surpasses both its forbears.

Yes: they are written in the dialect and vernacular of their surroundings; yes: they are populated with the pop culture references of their settings (although if, like me, you were training to be a teacher in 2006 and not heading to Fantasia, a lot of the Trance references fly over your head. I’m really quite old.)

However, what sets the Young Team ahead of those two is that – like one of those t-shirts you see with the evolutionary stages of man is that ‘Trainspotting’ is like a primordial swamp of black comedy and social realism ending in a swamp of despair. ‘Boyracers’ is lighter, more pop culture fixated and makes a case for education as freedom. ‘The Young Team’ does it all and leaves you longing for Azzy to make the right choices to meet his potential, to free himself for good.

Armstrong is more than a voice to watch. He is potential behemoth of the literary scene up here. A book which will sink into you and stay with you forever. It should be compulsory reading for all teenagers in Scotland.

Purchase Links: https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/graeme-armstrong/the-young-team/9781529017328 Where you’ll also find an extract

Debut author Graeme Armstrong

Graeme Armstrong is a Scottish writer from Airdrie. His teenage years were spent within North Lanarkshire’s gang culture. He was inspired to study English Literature following his reading of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting at just sixteen. Alongside overcoming his own struggles with drug addiction, alcohol abuse and violence, he defied expectation to read English as an undergraduate at the University of Stirling; where, after graduating with honours, he returned to study a Masters’ in Creative Writing.

His debut novel, The Young Team is inspired by his experiences.

Social Media:

Twitter @G_Armstrong21