Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Friday Fail - Fiction Friday on a Tuesday

Damn, I appear to have gone into stealth mode and have failed to post anything to my blog for the last two weeks. I blame the Easter holidays, final (hopefully) edits on my WIP ‘New Lease of Life’ while I ready it for submission, and beta work with a tight deadline *side-eyes KH*.

That means I’ve missed two weeks of Fiction Friday. So let’s get the ball roll with that. Yes, I know it’s Tuesday.

My favourite read of the last two weeks, and much anticipated by me from the moment it was announced, was JL Merrow’s Heat Trap. Heat Trap is book three in the Plumber’s Mate series and I’m hoping it won’t be the last.

The wrong secret could flush their love down the drain.

It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.

Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.

With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.

The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.

Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.

I love Tom and Phil as a couple, but I have found that I want to spend a lot of my time smacking some sense into Tom, and this book was no exception. In fact, I might have wanted to slap him more in this one than in both of the other two books put together. And add in some of his friends and family for the slapfest, too.

I thought the investigation was weaker this time around and I couldn't quite put my finger on how I was supposed to feel about Carey and what he had, or hadn't, done, before or during the story. I was disappointed that Phil and Tom didn't work together as much in this one and I guessed the 'secret' Phil was hiding in the cupboard from the off (I'm hoping this means we're getting another book). 

Does that mean I'm taking off stars? No. Who am I kidding? I loved it. As always, the writing was sharp and funny. And despite my propensity for sticking one on Tom, I do think their relationship feels real.

I have only one real complaint about this book (and the series as a whole): I want to be able to get these books in audio and, as far as I can tell, Samhain don't do them.

Heat trap - 5 stars with an overall series rating of 5 stars.

Honourable mentions go to:

Boats in the Night by Jo Myles. Why this book had been languishing unread on my Kindle for 3 years is anybody’s guess. I love Jo Myles' quirky characters and is Smutty is just another in a long line :)

For a Rainy Afternoon by R J Scott. Which I actually read on a bright unseasonable warm spring day, not a rainy afternoon, and was perfectly suited to both my mood and the weather.

The Inventor’s Companion by Ariel Tachna. Another book that had been hanging around on my Kindle for 3 years. Possibly because at 350 pages it is a long book by romance standards. It’s a steampunk story with excellent but unobtrusive world building and a cast of supporting characters who are likeable and well rounded. The book took me nearly a week to read because I kept waiting for ‘something bad’ to happen. The anticipation gave my reading an edge that meant I struggled to read more than a couple of chapters at a time. However, Luc and Gabe are a great couple and I was rooting for them from the very beginning. 

Have you enjoyed any particular reads in the last couple of weeks? Or do have any strong opinions on the books I singled out here?

Friday, 3 April 2015

Fiction Friday - All She Wrote

My read of the week was actually an audiobook and a re-read.

All SheWrote (audiobook) by Josh Lanyon

Giving screwball mystery a whole deadly new meaning.

A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly the death of Anna Hitchcock, the much-beloved American Agatha Christie and Christopher Holmes s former mentor. Anna s plea for him to host her annual winter writing retreat touches all Kit s sore spots traveling, teaching writing classes, and separation from his new lover, J.X. Moriarity.

For J.X., Kit s cancellation of yet another romantic weekend is the death knell of a relationship that has been limping along for months. But that s just as well, right? Kit isn t ready for anything serious and besides, Kit owes Anna far too much to refuse.

Faster than you can say Miss Marple wears boxer shorts, Kit is snooping around Anna s elegant, snowbound mansion in the Berkshires for clues as to who s trying to kill her. A tough task with six amateur sleuths underfoot. Six budding writers with a tangled web of dark undercurrents running among them.

Slowly, Kit gets the uneasy feeling that the secret may lie between the pages of someone s fictional past. Unfortunately, a clever killer is one step ahead. And it may be too late for J.X. to ride to the rescue.
Warning: Contains one irascible, forty-year-old mystery writer who desperately needs to get laid, one exasperated thirty-something ex-cop only too happy to oblige, an isolated country manor that needs the thermostat cranked up, various assorted aspiring and perspiring authors, and a merciless killer who may have read one too many mystery novels.

Having listened to Somebody Killed his Editor last week how could I not follow that up with All She Wrote. Once again narrated by the fantastic Kevin R Free I have to confess I luxuriated in this book, stretching it out over the entire week on my journey to and from work.

Having read the ebook I knew who the murderer was so I was in no mad rush to get to the end to salve my curiosity. And with that in mind I could focus on the budding relationship between Kit and JX. The way the narration breathed an extra layer of life into Josh Lanyon’s already superb prose. Kit’s self-deprecation and neurosis. (How I wish I had known Kit before David and Dickie. FYI, Josh, I would love to read about that weekend so long ago.) JX’s patience and love.

Oh, and for those of you that haven’t read the book, it’s another cracking mystery a la Agatha Christie but happy to take a sharp stick to those cosy detective/grand house mystery tropes. Like the first book, it is set in the world of writers and publishing, this time having a poke around in writing circles, wannabe authors and *shudder* writer’s block.

The original book got a resounding 5/5 for me and as I said before the narration gives the entire story another layer.
My blog, my rules: 6/5.

For an actual read Anne Tenino’s Too Stupid to Live gets a recommended from me.

It isn't true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now—possibly—ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong . . . can they?

A story in parts funny, sexy and sad. There were moments I wanted to punch things, other times when my Kindle damn near got a good shake, and then me giggling like a loon. There is IMHO to much sex in the book. I know it can be argued that sex was Ian's primary means of relationship communication, however I think in order to really show this it would have been better for the on page sex to peeter out as Ian became emotionally invested. However that is a small complaint, and one not every reader would find a problem.

I'm always up for recs, so did you enjoy any particular read/audiobook this week? 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

World Autism Awareness Day

 photo Autism Awareness Graphic_zps0bmsicos.jpg
I’m taking part in RJ Scott’s Blog Hop for World Autism Awareness Day. Click the link to see all the other great authors and bloggers taking part.

Since this isn’t the first time I’ve taken part in RJ’s blog hop to raise awareness for autism I decided that I would look more deeply into the history of autism and when it became a recognised condition.

The following pocket history was taken from this site

Where Did the Term "Autism" Come From?

From the early 1900s, autism has referred to a range of neuro-psychological conditions.
The word "autism," which has been in use for about 100 years, comes from the Greek word "autos," meaning "self." The term describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction -- hence, an isolated self.

Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first person to use the term. He started using it around 1911 to refer to one group of symptoms of schizophrenia.

In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use the term "autism" to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University, used it to describe the withdrawn behaviour of several children he studied. At about the same time, Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, identified a similar condition that’s now called Asperger’s syndrome.

Autism and schizophrenia remained linked in many researchers’ minds until the 1960s. It was only then that medical professionals began to have a separate understanding of autism in children.

From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioural change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the role of behavioural therapy and the use of highly controlled learning environments emerged as the primary treatments for many forms of autism and related conditions. Currently, the cornerstones of autism therapy are behavioural therapy and language therapy. Other treatments are added as needed.

What surprised me, but probably shouldn’t have, considering the way that perceived mental health issues have been dealt with in the past, was this revelation. From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioural change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment. I suppose my shock came from how late in the century we were still considering trying to cure people—and by people I actually mean children—by quite literally beating the condition out of them.

The practise sounds similar to attempts to cure homosexual behaviour several decades earlier. And just as barbaric.

Enough, of the doom and gloom. *inserts photo of rubber ducks to lighten the mood* 

photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc photo prejudice_zps3b5d76aa.jpg
photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc

Thankfully, although we live in a time that is not without its issues, the world we live in is, for the most part, more enlightened. And we can do our part by teaching our kids, hell no, teaching anyone we come into contact with, to be open minded and accepting of all and to encourage them to embrace the differences in people.

To raise awareness for World Autism Day and celebrate all things different I’m giving away one copy of Theory Unproven (or another book from my backlist).

a Rafflecopter giveaway